More Fifth Grade Fans!

So many thanks to my awesome friend, beta reader, and fifth-grade teacher Keri, who delivered yet another round of THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP fan mail and fan art from her class!

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Now this is my kind of criticism! “I just don’t understand why it had to end”. LOL! Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not averse to the idea of the endless middle grade fantasy novel. It’s just that I’m not quite sure I have the time to write it.     🙂

Relic Pit

I simply LOVE THIS. In chapter 1, our hero Aril falls into a pit at night and breaks her ankle. Eventually her friend Truly rescues her with a length of rope. This drawing is so fantastic! I love the emotion on Aril’s face, and the pain lines around her ankle. I received more than one critical comment from this class about Truly; apparently some of the kids want to see a lot more of her. Maybe in future books?

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Now that’s faith, my friends. In case you can’t read it, this fan writes “I want to read it again when it comes out in local stores.” Well, ME TOO! Let’s see if we can make that happen.

Running Sands 1

This is a great drawing from Aril’s perspective when she first arrives at the Running Sands and sees a desperate person drowning in the fast-moving powder.

These drawings and letters warm my heart. These kids are so creative and are very good at expressing their thoughts about what they heard in the story! I will post more soon, so stay tuned.

Thanks!

~Kevin

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Big News! The DOON Book Series Optioned for Television!

Greetings all! It’s time to take a moment to celebrate the success of two great friends, Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon!

The #DOONSeries Has Been Optioned for TV!!!

Check out the link above from the USA Today exclusive article and interview!

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It’s been so much fun getting to know Carey and Lorie over the past few years, and I can’t even tell you (though I’ve tried over these blog posts) how much I have learned from them as my writing mentors. Along with Melissa Landers (STARFLIGHT and the ALIENATED series) and Jennifer Osborn (The Shilund Saga and THE DAWNING OF SCARLETT), they form a nexus of amazing people that I am so blessed to call my writing “tribe”.

I’m a huge fan of the DOON series, and now Hollywood shares my opinion. It’s so great to see this happen for them (and for all of us fans). If you’re a reader of YA fantasy-romance, or YA fantasy of any stripe, I can’t overstate my recommendation for the four-book Doon series (Doon book 4, FOREVER DOON, is pictured above). Besides, if you read them now you’ll be all caught up by the time DOON makes it to TV!

You can check out more at their website http://www.DoonSeries.com, or look them up on Facebook. If you’re addicted to Twitter like me, follow them at @CareyCorp and @LorieLangdon.

Thanks for reading!

~Kevin

Sage Advice from the Fifth Grade!

Greetings all! This one is too good to not share:

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In case the writing is not clear for those on smartphones, here is the gist of the message:

“Your book is amazing! I don’t know where to start. One of my favorite parts is when Aril and Pritenn go to the slave yard and Pritenn gets taken by men. When she gets beat up its very sad and cruel but very cool and interesting. I’m sure your book will be published, but just in case it doesn’t I saw a commercial saying ‘if you need a publisher don’t wait call: 1-800-622-1421’. So if your book doesn’t get published you can call that #.”

I absolutely LOVE this! Friend and beta-reader Keri’s fifth grade class is totally looking out for me! The fact that this young reader (well, listener… Keri is reading THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP aloud to the class) took the time to write down the phone number is just beyond great.

Right after I stopped smiling, the student’s comment really made me think about the long process of trying to get published and the inevitable question of self-publishing. I have been actively writing for nearly nine years now and still do not have a publishing credit to my name. The argument could be made that the first five years were required for me to learn *how* to write, but the point remains. Maybe I should self-publish?

I have considered it many times. I’ve researched several different ways to self-publish. I’ve probably learned the most, however, from watching the efforts of other successfully self-published authors. Just as before, I come to the same conclusion now; while it’s not out of the question, it is very unlikely that I will ever self-publish either THE PROVING, its sequels, or the Magic Stones collection. While the reasons are many, the most important one is really more a gut feeling than a fact. Something within me continues to strongly believe that traditional publishing is the right path for my work. While it may not ever happen, it will be a very long time before I stop trying to become a traditionally published author (if I ever stop at all!). This is in no way a critical comment about the self-published; they work far harder than I could probably manage! But I am going with my gut.

More to come soon! In the past week I have received requests for partial manuscripts from two agents, which is very exciting. In the meantime, I am continuing to actively query agents about the Magic Stones books and THE PROVING while still writing new stories.

Thanks for reading!

~Kevin

Fifth Grade Fans!

I’m not sure that anything in the land of writing could have made me more excited than this.

My awesome friend and beta reader Keri is also a fifth grade teacher at a local elementary school. After she finished THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, she asked me if she could read it to her fifth grade class. Naturally my response was a resounding yes! But I didn’t expect what happened next. The students not only love the story, they’ve given letters and fan art to Keri to deliver to me! See below.

IMG_20170912_143414 The letter above says “Chapter 3 was amazing when she got stronger and indestructible because of the stones. And also when she threw the barrel of water that landed on her head after she threw it. And before that when she pushed and threw both guys all the way across the room. I love the book so far and we only read chapters 1-3 so far.”

I can’t explain how fantastic that little note made me feel. What an encouragement! Then a few days later, two more arrived via email.

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The first drawing shows the main character, Aril, during chapter 1 when she finds a pair of magic stones while stuck in a pit near Midnight Keep. The second, with accompanying letter, shows one student’s depiction of a fearsome Dramini Bonecrusher – MUCH more fearsome and awesome than any version I could’ve managed! I absolutely love these pieces of fan art and the wonderful messages of support. So wonderful! Many times I have imagined one day seeing fan art and letters about my writing… but I never thought it would happen before I even had an agent (much less a publishing deal)!

Needless to say, I am advertising these comments and pictures to literary agents and acquiring editors ad nauseam. What could be better proof of the potential of a book series than feedback like this from the target audience!

Many thanks are due to Keri and her fantastic fifth grade class. Hopefully there’s an acknowledgement page out there in the future with all of their names on it.

Until next time,

~Kevin

The Running Sands

dads desert boat final

From THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, Chapter 5:

I drank a little extra water and pressed on through the hot wind. But at the top of each rise I could see the long depression a little more clearly, and it really did look like there was a river flowing through it. Dark colors stretched along its length, stark against the bright sand, and it appeared to be flowing east. I began to worry; I hadn’t counted on what the heat might do to my mind despite the presence of the stones.

But as I drew closer, I doubted my doubt. It really did look like a river of dark, churning water. Could heat visions seem this real?

Topping another tremendously tall dune, I stopped with a gasp. Far below me and stretching from horizon to horizon in an almost straight line lay my river. Through the misty drog I guessed it about one hundred yards wide and flowing fast with breaking waves of various heights churning in the stiff breeze.

But something was wrong. The waves moved much too slowly, and peaked with bursts of dark mist that carried with the wind far too long, giving the drog a shadowy hue. And the sound was unlike any river I’d ever heard; this was not the rolling rush of water, but high-pitched and hissing as if it was made of…

“It’s sand,” I said, removing my head-wrap. “Diamonds! It’s flowing black sand!”

Original artwork, as always, by the incomparable KTJ.

Interested in reading an advance copy? Just let me know.

~Kevin

Further Up and Further In

Yes, that’s a shameless Narnia quote. But this is no “Last Battle”. Instead, this is likely just a new beginning.

Greetings all! In my last blog post I promised that my next post would be “soon”, where soon was defined as less than 8 months away. Well, it’s been 6 months, so I suppose this post represents a Pyrrhic victory. But it’s a victory nonetheless.

First, the agent update. As of this post I am no longer represented by Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary. I still hold Jessica and her team in the absolute highest regard, but over time (and after much prayer) it became clear to me that I needed to move in a different direction for agent representation. I am therefore back in the hunt for a literary agent, which is a scary prospect given how long it took me the first time. But I must be as brave as my main characters and set off on the next leg of my writing adventure.

Second, I have completed a new Middle Grade (MG) novel! The http://www.KevinEJackson.com website now features new pages for THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, the second entry in “The Magic Stones” collection. As with the first book, THE MAGIC STONES OF LAKESDAWN CASTLE, the new book takes place in the same areas of the Known Land as THE PROVING and there is at least one cameo appearance by characters in The Proving Trilogy. Just as when I wrote Lakesdawn Castle, writing THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP was an extremely fast-paced and exciting event. It clocks in at around 49K words and – including a first draft re-write – was complete in less than 30 days. Some books just write themselves! Here’s the blurb for the new book.

Twelve-year-old Aril’s parents, teachers, and even the General in charge of Midnight Keep always warned about the desert’s dangers. But Aril loved adventure despite her parents’ desire for her to become a scholar like them. Besides, decades of peace continued between Aril’s home country Touran and the barbaric Dramini Warriors who lived far away among the dunes. What’s the worst that could happen while sneaking out to explore the ocean of sand?

Dramini scouts kidnapping Aril’s friends and the General herself, that’s what!

The night of the terrifying attack, Aril finds a pair of mysterious magic stones that give her amazing powers. With the help of the stones, she treks into the heart of the desert to find her friends. But instead Aril discovers rivers of magically flowing sand, strange villages and creatures, and a pair of evil sorcerers planning to destroy all she holds dear.

In the end, it will take all of Aril’s courage, her new-found magic, and the help of surprising new companions to unravel the desert’s endless secrets, save those she loves, and learn the truth about her destiny.

If you are a MG reader of any age and would like to read-and-critique THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, please let me know. I am a huge fan of critical reviews… all they do is improve the final product. Be warned, however… the book does not standalone. THE MAGIC STONES OF LAKESDAWN CASTLE is a prerequisite. Check out the new book and read chapter 1 at THIS LINK.

Finally, an update on the long-awaited YA sequel. I am making progress on the first draft of THE COUNCIL OF LORDS, book 2 of The Proving trilogy. Most interestingly, the events and characters that came to light within the two MG novels have directly improved the plot of THE COUNCIL OF LORDS (TCoL). More specifically (and spoiler alert!), both of the main characters in the MG novels appear in TCoL with significant roles and impacts. This has the “tie-in” feature between the two series rising to a whole new level, one that I have not personally seen done before in YA-MG crossover books. I imagine readers as young as 8-10 enjoying The Magic Stones collection then learning a few years later that there are pre-teen-and-older books set in the same world that continue the adventure. Similarly, YA readers of all ages will find interesting clues and Easter eggs about The Proving trilogy and the greater Tome of Pasaron books by reading the Magic Stones collection. I find this idea very compelling, and yes, I am biased. But my hope is that an agent and acquiring editor out there will soon share my vision. TCoL is up to 40K words now, with a target length of 90-100K words by the completion of the first draft this fall.

That’s all for now, friends. Thanks for reading.

~Kevin

Under the Radar…

Greetings, everyone!

The Tome Writer is back, finally, to blogging. And as usual, I will likely blog pretty consistently for a while… until suddenly I don’t again. But truly, it is my intention to remain engaged here in the blogosphere indefinitely. I initially intended to have my comments here be reflective of the writing that takes place in the background, the under the radar wordslinging upon which this entire escapade relies. But I’ve failed at that. The blog has been silent forever, but my writing has not.

As of this moment I am about 37K words into the first draft of THE COUNCIL OF LORDS, Book Two of The Tome of Pasaron. And it’s really going well. I can’t wait to see where the story goes, especially given that it’s already taken some very surprising turns (that I will blog about in the near future). And I have completed my initial planning for the sequel to THE MAGIC STONES OF LAKESDAWN CASTLE, my middle grade novel.  It’s working title is THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, and it signifies that the Magic Stones series is going to be a collection of related stories featuring different characters at different times throughout the history of Pasaron.

Meanwhile, I remain hopeful that the work my most excellent agent Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary is doing will soon result in some exciting good news for either or both of the completed manuscripts. Only time will tell! But she has some acquisitions editors in her sights that look promising.

More to come soon! Where “soon” equals LESS than eight months.  🙂

~Kevin (The Tome Writer)