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Archive for August, 2011

Cover art by Melanie Herring

Cover art by Melanie Herring

Author: Heidi C. Vlach (author website/blog)

Genre: High Fantasy medical drama

Word-count: 96,300

Cover Art: Melanie Herring

Synopsis:

(excerpt from back cover of print copy)

In a far distant land, where magic flows, three peoplekinds face their troubles together.

Peregrine wishes he could set Tillian free. But he is an aging dragon deafened by his mining career – he still needs his keen-eared adoptive daughter to relay the world to him. Their two lives are knotted together by love, custom and Peregrine’s self-induced weakness.

When a dreaded plague menaces the land, Peregrine has no more time to delay his choice. He must fly for supplies on his weakened wings, while Tillian nurses critically ill strangers. Separated for the first time in Tillian’s life, they will work for the same cause: saving the young mage Rose and her dying village. In light of this mission of mercy, Peregrine decides to leave his selfish ways behind – which means leaving Tillian, whether she wants to live for herself or not.

Review:

Remedy is a book that ambitiously explores what it means to be family. Not just the families that share our blood but to the people we choose to bring into our lives, the communities we make our homes in and our world at large.  The result is a refreshingly positive vision that rejects the current trend towards dystopian themes. If the story is lacking in the backstabbing machinations so prevalent in fantasy today it more then makes up for it in the strength and courage of it’s unique characters.

The writing is lush and descriptions are often ripe with scent and flavour metaphors. The descriptions of the non-human characters make it is easy to visualize how they move and interact. Throughout, the characters swap myths and stories about their world and because of the magical nature of their realm these can seem to be either allegorical teaching stories, true tales of fantastical magic and heroism or a blending of these. The mythology and world building is cohesive and gives the story a rich and interesting foundation on which to be told. Personally I was delighted to find that there is  supplemental material on the races, myths and origins of Aligare available on the Author’s website.

Ultimately what made me love Remedy so much was its optimism. Because of its reliance on outside conflict rather than character conflict this is the kind of book that only exists in the new world of self publishing. It is a prime example of how our reading lives will be enriched by access to books that don’t fit the established publishing paradigm especially now that the industry seems to be taking less and less risks. Ms. Vlach has created a world where the people strive to do their best and make a better world for everyone. I don’t just want to read  stories set in this world, I want to live in it.

Availability:

eBook: Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel eBooks, Scrollmotion and Apple iBooks

Print: CreateSpace and Amazon

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In the wake of finishing my WIP first draft I was high on the rush of accomplishment. It felt great (to be honest it still does) and that first burst led me to set some lofty goals.

The July novel. The plan was to write roughly twice what is required by Nanowrimo but in half the time. Just two weeks. I know I am capable of 10k a day when I work hard so two weeks would give me an extra four days, weekends off if you will. I knew this was a nearly impossible goal but there was a sliver of possibility and I was high on success.

In those two weeks I wrote less than 1000 words of draft. But that was okay because I ended up using the time to write a detailed 16 page scene-by-scene outline, something I’ve never done before. I extended my deadline to the end of July and kept going.

2000 words later I was stalled again. I had my main character set up but it was time to introduce the supporting cast and suddenly I needed to know who they were. For the first time I needed to write scenes where multiple important characters interact. This meant being able to differentiate their voices and since not all of them would make it out alive and it behooved me to make them matter before I killed them. I needed to know more so once again I closed up scrivener, picked up pen and paper and got busy. I wrote 10 character sketches of varying complexity.

By this time it was the end of July. I looked at what I had and then checked a calendar and set myself yet another  goal. I would finish by August 15. Another “write a book in two weeks” deadline but this time armed with an outline and character sketches. How could I fail!

Today is the morning of the 11th and I admit it. It is just not going to happen. This book is different in tone and content from my earlier works and writing it has been a painful struggle for each word and sentence. With every step and detour I have tackled new techniques and learned new skills. I have struggled to meet my impossible goals and have failed.

Except I haven’t failed. The entire slow, winding, painful process has exhileratd and excited. The draft I am writing is, so far, the best first draft I have ever produced. It is the most cohesive, it has the least amount of diversions or talking head placeholders and it already resembles a real story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still just a first draft but I can see already where I have improved between writing the last book and writing this one.

I am ready to push back the impossible goal to the end of August. At that point it won’t be an impossible goal anymore just a difficult one. If the draft doesn’t get finished by then I might even put it away unless I am very close to the end. This July Novel was never supposed to be more than something to do while the real WIP first draft simmered at the back of my brain. I have already gotten more out of the process than I thought possible.

Whatever happens at the end of August I know something else I’ve learned. Setting impossible goals makes me reach harder than setting easy ones. Impossible goals inspire me and that assures me that I am a writer. After all to write is to strive for the impossible goals. It’s a tough industry. Bring it on.

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Next post: That book review I promised.

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