A Writing Journey

A reminder that chapter one of Cartographer’s Quest is live on my Patreon page. The first chapter is available to patrons, but the accompanying map is available for viewing to anyone who pops over!

Check out the teaser here if you haven’t already.

Much love,

Emily

A reminder that chapter one of Cartographer’s Quest goes live tomorrow morning at 8:00 Eastern time on my Patreon page. The chapter will be available to patrons, but the accompanying map will be available for viewing to anyone who pops over!

Check out the teaser here if you haven’t already.

Much love,

Emily

Cartographer Lacey Wentwether has worked hard to claim her place in the Empire. When not restoring maps for the august University Library, she travels across the continent with a team of archaeologists to map and catalogue distant ruins. Tom is one of those archaeologists – and the man Lacey secretly loves.

While working in the remote Dosid Mountains, Lacey and Tom make a chance discovery triggering a chain of events that threatens to destroy the life she’s built. To protect her future she must uncover the secrets of an era past and as she delves deeper into the mystery, she finds both allies and enemies in unexpected places.

Joined by her steadfast friend Kosaeken and the imperious Prince Nicondre, Lacey embarks on a harrowing journey that risks everything she holds dear. As she faces the reality that her life may never be the same, Lacey must decide who to trust, who to protect, and what she is willing to sacrifice.


The first chapter of Cartographer’s Quest will be released on my Patreon page on Saturday, May 1st to patrons. In addition, the first map of Ilruin, the world in which this story is set, will be released at the same time to the public on my Patreon page. Don’t miss it!

Follow this link to view my page on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/emilyfelixart

March 2021 News

Greetings! If you are still here after all this time, I thank you. If you are just finding me: welcome.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about how best to share my stories and work with the world. I’ve decided I don’t want to wait to be told that my work and words are worthy – I know they are worthy. That’s all that matters. As such, I have decided to begin releasing chapters of my novel on my Patreon page, as well as accompanying maps. I will also be sharing lore, short stories, and unrelated maps. If you have enjoyed my blog here in the past, I would be honored if you would migrate with me to my Patreon page.

https://www.patreon.com/emilyfelixart (I have had a name change – don’t worry, it’s still me!)

Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to seeing you at our new home page!

-Emily

Book Review: The City of Brass

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. A fantasy story about a young woman? Please. And she gets swept into the magical world, having to survive by her wits? Yes. Not the typical European-style magical world. Even better. 

I wanted to love this book. The premise was great, the plot is actually pretty intriguing, the characters well developed (especially the morally conflicted Ali). Even the secondary characters shine – from the servant who tries to help the main character, to the prince and even the princess gets a moment near the end of the book in which we understand her more fully. There were a lot of reasons why I wanted this book to be exceptional.

Unfortunately, despite the good points, it did not live up to my hopes. Despite an overall writing style that is concise and functional, the descriptions were too much. The same buildings and places were described multiple times from different characters perspectives – but with the exact same voice, the exact same flowery language, and the exact same result: skipped.

The plot was fairly unpredictable – until secrets started being revealed. Then I could see exactly where the story was going, and it lost some of it’s allure. Now this is a point that isn’t necessarily bad – sometimes it is fun to be proven right. However compared with the other points, it was a bit of a disappointment. And I will add, some of the “historical” plot points were a little confusing when it came to a certain group of people. Maybe I missed something, but it seems like if everyone hates one group, there isn’t a real reason for conflict over their treatment.

I really enjoyed getting a bit of non-European fantasy. I think if this book were marketed as a YA novel my expectations would have been different, and they would have been met. So if you are looking for a book for the fantasy-loving teen in your life, this is definitely one to consider. And I recommend reading it even if you aren’t a teen, just adjust your expectations.

Trust yourself.

A long time has passed. Longer than I’d ever intended, and so much has changed in my life. But if you are here, it’s to read about writing, not me. So here is what I have to say:

Trust yourself.

You may have heard before that as writers we have to trust our readers, they will follow where we lead. But trust yourself, too. You know your story, you knew it when you wrote the first draft, even before then. If you are revising or editing, hold off on the pen. Maybe you want to include something – chances are you already have – and in a better way than your gut reaction is telling you to. If you are writing the first draft, just write it. Don’t get hung up on conventions or the perfect word. Trust that you will get there. Because you will.

Thank you for sticking with me through the years.

What are you reading?

I’ll admit, I went to the library after I finished The Queen of the Tearling to get the sequel – and I’ve barely touched it. I tried, I really did. But it is, if possible, worse than the first one. I even skipped ahead to see if anything caught my interest later, and it didn’t. So today I’m headed to the library again. Hopefully this time I’ll find a book that I really enjoy.

What books are you reading right now? I would love some suggestions!

Okay, so I just got my new library card about four weeks ago. Shameful, I know. To counteract the shame, I decided to grab a book, any book, and write a review when I was finished with it. I grabbed The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. When I picked it up, I didn’t know there was any hype about it. I’d like to begin by saying: I have tremendous respect for anyone who writes a book. I don’t intend any criticisms about any book to be taken as criticisms of the author, or dislike for them.

Beware, spoilers ahead.

The book is about a young woman who has been hidden from her country for her entire life. At the beginning of the book, she is retrieved and taken to the capital to be installed as queen in place of her uncle, who has been serving as regent.

My first impressions of this book were that it was poorly written and the storytelling was sloppy. I was intrigued by the plot, though. I was interested in the “epic battle between light and darkness” that is supposed to take place between young Kelsea Raleigh, the new queen, and a “malevolent sorceress” you turns out to be the queen of a neighboring country. I’ll admit, I was only interested because I wanted to see how another author balances a heroine and villainess, as that is a key pairing in my own book. So I was willing to overlook my unfavorable first impressions to get to the meat of the story.

The first half of the book moved exceedingly slowly. Countless characters were introduced, described in annoying detail, given excruciatingly boring backstory, and barely touched on again. The main character herself was not a likable heroine. She wasn’t a Mary-Sue, because other characters didn’t like her either, but that made it almost worse. Them not liking her made Kelsea seem even more poorly written than in the first few pages. I will admit, by the end of the book I grew interested in her character, but not invested. The interest comes from an apparent descent towards villainy herself – a descent that I doubt Ms. Johansen intended.

It is clear, from Kelsea’s ending of the slave shipments to Mortmesne, her unwavering commitment to what is, supposedly, good, that she is meant to be a true hero. However, she is cold and cruel to the people around her, unwilling to give an inch of understanding (at least until the end of the book, when faced with traitor Mhurn – but I’ll get to that). She treats her subjects like silly children. In fairness, some of them act like children, but they’ve been under the regent Thomas’ guidance for nearly twenty years, and he allowed hedonistic indulgence in every way. When Kelsea refuses to try to guide these people into different ways, it comes across as the will of an intolerant ruler.

Kelsea thinks of anyone who doesn’t agree with her as below her, and unintelligent. This is especially pronounced when, obsessed with obtaining books, she degrades the captain of her guard constantly. He is trying to keep her safe in a city of people that want her dead, and she chooses to not only disrespect that task, but berate him for not agreeing with her that books are the utmost priority. The tendency continues to the end of the book, when she threatens to kill the captain if ever he disobeys her (which he has only done in order to save her life). She likewise threatens her bodyguard, who has done everything in her power to keep her safe. The only time she shows understanding is to Mhurn, a member of her guard who betrayed her more than once due to a drug addiction. With him she seeks understanding for why he did what he did, gives him morphine, and then kills him herself. In any other situation, a heroine killing a traitor herself might be honorable, but combined with her other unpleasant traits, this act only served to show that she has a thirst for blood.

Early in the book, I thought perhaps another character would have been a more interesting focus, and if Ms. Johansen continues to paint Kelsea as heroine, that is still true. However, seeing a character slip into villainy is an exceptionally engaging read, and I would be delighted if this is how the books continue.

As for the book itself, in part two I found myself skipping pages of unnecessary descriptions and conversations that added nothing to the story (but served to showcase Kelsea’s cruelty). There were many info-dumps throughout the book that could have been woven into the narrative, and many times we were outright told things that were better left to the reader to surmise. These points broke my engagement with the story. Jumps in perspective outlined what the antagonists were doing, and cut the tension of the story so much so that it was at these points that I set the book down entirely.

There was gratitude, yet poorly executed, violence throughout the book. I imagine that these acts were meant to inspire fear and worry, but they only made me disinterested. Mention such things a few times, and we understand the threat. Mention them on every page, and we become desensitized to it.

The only time I felt anything was at the very end of the book. Kelsea’s captain told her the story of how he’d delivered her to her now-dead foster parents, and that her foster-mother had sacrificed showing her love in order to help her be strong. This realization, coupled with the impossibility of resolution, brought tears to my eyes. But I’m also a sucker for such moments.

My final impressions of the book are much the same as first impressions. The storytelling was sloppy, the writing was at times painful. I am disappointed that the Crossing, a much alluded to historical event, seems to be the crossing of an actual ocean, and not space-travel. The story, for all of its shortcomings, was good and I am interested in reading the next one.

Growing

About a month ago I posted about rewriting the entirety of my novel (and subsequent sequels). During this process, I have learned things I didn’t expect about my characters and about myself. Some of it is benign, and some of it is deep, telling to the story and the characters’ motives.

When  I first wrote QFS, my focus was only Lacey. Hers was the only story worth telling in my mind. I was writing from a place of sorrow, and she, too, bore her own sorrow. As I revised, her sorrow grew smaller and smaller. In this rewrite, it is an old sorrow, that informs her character but is rarely mentioned. She’s grown up, she isn’t a child holding onto her pain and loss. She has desires, motivations, dreams, and morals. And she isn’t alone.

There is a famous piece of advice that says we should write every character as if they believe they are the main character. In earlier revisions I’d begun doing this with my antagonists – after all they must have a believable backstory. Now my market vendors have rivalries and vendettas, my sailors have worries, my teachers have prejudices and faults. And my main characters have secrets. The story is about Lacey, yes, but it isn’t just about Lacey.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you when you write, don’t stop after the first or second or third draft. Let it sit. Read psychology and self-help books while it’s sitting. Get into your characters’ heads and out of your own. Believe that your book will be something, because it already is.

Happy Sunday, friends!

Well, I didn’t quite hit my goal of a page a day this week, but I did write more than I have in months! It feels good knowing that I can pick back up with just a little will-power.

Other than writing, I have been reading more again. I’m about 3/4 done with “Within the Sanctuary of Wings” by Marie Brennan. Just like her previous books in this serious, I have been totally captivated. I will have a  full review when I finish the book.

In the meantime, I’m trying to come up with some good blog posts for here. I was thinking about doing a full story, chapter by chapter, but I also want to get back to some of my early style posts, talking about elements of fantasy or inspiration and things like that. I would like to know what you think – are there specific things that you think would be beneficial or are there things you have questions about? Let me know and I will work on answering your questions!

Adventure well,

Emily

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