I Didn’t Mean To Kill Her

I swear I didn’t. She is beautiful, funny and has a wicked repartee. My protagonist might be a bit wooden, excusable given all the tragic events he has gone through and the overall mission he is on. He is moody, serious, but very good at killing the bad people. While he has great depth, she lightens him up.

And I’m going to miss the sex. She is as creative in this realm as she is with her comments.

It was an accident. Really.

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An assassin came to kill the prince. The protagonist chased him all over the castle battlements. They both had bows and shot at each other from some really cool angles, or while jumping or falling. I had a great time and if there are any video game designers out there, it will make a great video game addition to the movie (oh, and if there are any producers out there…).

So the good guy and the baddie are running and jumping, and I’m having a ball as my fingers speed around the keyboard. Suddenly they find themselves face-to-face with the prince and my aforementioned heroine. 

Now all this had been planned, in as much as I thought of the chase while at the gym in the morning. What came next surprised even me.

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Hero does a neat role and kills assassin, who gets off a shot at the prince. Sexy woman dives on the prince and takes the arrow herself.

Ooops!

I am staring at the screen. My reflexes press save and I curse that holy ethic that pompous authors such as myself are wont to say over a Merlot in a party (it would be legit to imagine mine accompanied by an English accent, acquired at birth, cultivated for maximum pretentiousness: “Oh yes, I let the story guide me.

Kind of like my protagonist and the prince, I am now staring at her prone, slight body, red hair splayed around her, and blood ominously seeping from her chest.

It was time to pick up my youngest from school. As we walked home, he asked if I was okay. “I have a problem,” I said and described the above scenario.

“Of course you can change it,” my 10-year-old says. “It’s your story,” and he spent the whole walk home offering various scenarios from his vivid imagination.

Sometimes it takes a child to add proportion. My fantasy woman will live… for now at least. I’m old enough to know I am not master of my own destiny, but I’ll be buggered if I cannot be master of my own muse.

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So tonight I will make the necessary changes. And if the critic cops point fingers at me, I’ll just hold up my hands: “But… I didn’t mean to kill her.” 

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Ashbar – Book 3 – is due for release in October 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

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World-Building: How Much Detail?

I’ve noticed a number of adult reviewers of my Wycaan Master series have been critical of my world-building, suggesting that I do not go deep enough or that the books are too fast-paced and that more description of scenery and environment would help to pace the book.

There seems a definite age issue here. I asked a number of my sons’ friends (ages 10-16) who have read the book and they did not agree. In fact, the younger readers were happy to describe to me the fortress of Galbrieth from Book 1, and mighty Hothengold, the dwarf capital, which is situated in a huge cavern. Admittedly, each child described it differently, but I am not sure that matters.

Girl Browsing Books at the Library

It seems there is a certain richness in each (young) reader’s imagination forming their own world, but why do adult readers not want to exercise their minds in such a way? Why does the generation of instant gratification seem willing to work their imagination muscles, while those who always had to work hard to discover anything, do not? In an earlier blog post – The Art of World Building – which I wrote at the beginning of my epic fantasy writing journey – I assumed that it would be exactly the opposite.

I suspect age is not always a factor. The adult who is often challenged to find reading time, wants to push the plot along, something my books are complimented for, and not spend a chapter describing every tree in Mirkwood. Ironically, when the same readers lost themselves in Tolkien’s Middle Earth decades ago, they had more free time to meander with the master.

Over the summer, I have indulged myself in writing an adult fantasy novel, a Game of Thrones wannabe, and I will soon shelve it to focus on editing Book 4 and writing Book 5 – the cycle never ends. But I realize I have been no more generous with my world building than for the Wycaan Master series.

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So my question to you, dear readers: How much detail of the environment is needed for a YA in comparison to an adult fantasy novel? Is there enough world-building in the Wycaan Master series? Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section below. I really appreciate every comment.

Talking of feedback: I have been reading a number of books about Amazon.com and how to improve your ranking and exposure. I really need reviews on both At The Walls Of Galbrieth and The First Decree, on both the US and UK sites. Apparently less than 3% of readers leave reviews and I admit, until I began writing, I was one of the 97%. But now from the other side of the fence, I would really appreciate that if you have read either book, please take five minutes and leave a review.

It will be a huge help to a struggling author and if ever we meet in Odessiya, the next round of ale will be on me!

hobbits in pub

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Ashbar – Book 3 – is due for release in October 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

Eat, Pray, Love, Write.

It is a very exciting feeling. Hope you enjoy. I set a goal for September to garner 10 reviews on Amazon.com for either At The Walls Of Galbrieth (http://tinyurl.com/m38wopm) or The First Decree (http://tinyurl.com/adl8n6m) – it is really holding my rankings back. If you have 5 minutes this weekend, please share your impression .

Left Coast Voices

This week I received the galley proofs forAshbar, the third book in the Wycaan Master series. I recall, when I first held a copy of The First Decree, writing that I hope this special feeling never grows old. The process for writing a book, from tentatively typing the word Prologue to holding a copy of a book is long and arduous.

Ashbar front coverIt is also an integrated part of a multi-book process. The previous book is still being marketed, the next book being written, and sometimes there is a sense of never-ending cycle. This is good and how it should be. I can only imagine that the alternative is far more disconcerting – no new story, no end product. But it sometimes feels like I am pounding the treadmill and the clock is not moving as fast as I want it.

I decided to take a break this…

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