Absent Parents, Fantasy Literature, and Conquest of Greystone Valley

Magic ElfinWarning: Spoilers for Greystone Valley below.

Kid heroes are a staple of fantasy fiction. It’s part of the wish fulfillment of the genre – many of us fall into fantasy tales when we’re children, imagining ourselves taking on our greatest fears and earning the fame and fortune that are normally reserved only for adults. But where are those kids’ parents? Continue reading

Batman versus the Blues Brothers: What Makes a Good Sequel?

Parcel and BookConquest of Greystone Valley will be coming out midway through 2016, and will be my first published sequel novel. In writing it, I spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a good sequel. Novels seem to have a higher success rate than films, but both media have challenges when writing a follow-up story.

Novels and movies have different challenges, but a lot of similar lessons can be learned between the two. In thinking about what I wanted in Conquest, my mind continually gravitated to the best and worst movie sequels I could think of – specifically, The Dark Knight and Blues Brothers 2000. Continue reading

Greystone Valley: Pan

Pan

At first, Sarah assumed the creature next to Keeley was one of the beast-men. He had hairy legs and hooves, but his head was human – save for a small pair of goat horns that protruded from his forehead. He wore a crown of leaves, colored with the many bright colors of autumn foliage. When he saw Sarah looking at him, he got out of his throne of brambles and called for the other creatures in the forest to be quiet.

A jaded trickster, Pan is recognizable to most people even if they don’t come from Greystone Valley. As far back as the days of ancient Greece, tales have been told about the goat-legged man who lures men and women alike into the forest for feasting and celebration. Some of the legends paint him as more dangerous than that, but at his core Pan is a person who lives for the thrill of a celebration – or at least he used to.

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Conquest of Greystone Valley Confirmed for 2016!

Flower and Book

In Greystone Valley, a girl named Sarah found herself whisked away to a magical world where she teamed with a mouse-sized dragon, a depressed warrior, and a bumbling wizard to defeat a dangerous warlord. Sarah’s adventures in the valley are far from over, and she will team up with new friends and old in Conquest of Greystone Valley, which will go on sale in 2016.

There will be previews and information about this sequel in the coming months, so check back here. To whet the appetite, here are a few tidbits of information about Sarah’s new adventure. Continue reading

When War Comes to Greystone Valley

Knight Statue“He and his army come and go as they please in the valley, but they never get too greedy. He sends his troops on missions, and they keep to their task. Even the more stubborn beast-men know that they can’t just kill and plunder as the wish. If they did, the folk of the valley would finally join together and raise an army of their own. Even the greatest warlord in the land can’t afford to fight everybody.”

“Why don’t they raise the army anyway?” Sarah stepped carefully through the streets, avoiding sharp rocks that could cut into her bare feet. “These people can’t enjoy having an entire army tromping through their village at the drop of a hat.”

“What land do you come from?”

“Me? Um…America.”

“And does everyone get along in this America of yours?”

“Of course!” Sarah immediately felt foolish for blurting out the poorly thought-out answer. “Well…not really. It’s complicated.”

“It’s complicated here, too. The valley hasn’t had a king in over fifty years. It’s mostly just tiny villages like this one. Each town has its own way of doing things, and none of them likes having someone else telling them what to do. When people can’t even agree on what side of bread to butter in the morning, how are they supposed to cooperate on something more important?”

Greystone Valley is no stranger to conflict, but it rarely has full-scale wars. Even the greediest of warlords tends to realize that the land is too small and isolated to make a true conquest worthwhile. That doesn’t mean that war never comes to Greystone Valley. History tells of the three great wars and the effects they have left upon the land.

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Greystone Valley: The Great City

Clock TowerListen for the clock chimes in the Great City…When the clock strikes midnight, count the bells and make a wish. If the chime rings thirteen times instead of twelve, your wish will come true.

Most of the communities in Greystone Valley are small towns and villages where those trapped in the valley along with a scattering of natives farm out a living. The Great City is an exception to that rule, with a bustling population and a number of tall buildings. It stands in the center of the valley and seems quite out of place with the otherwise pastoral landscape.

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Greystone Valley: Baelan

Fantasy Sword“The world is made for strong people, Sarah. You either impose your will on others, or you let them push you around for the rest of your life. You should know what I’m talking about. You have parents, don’t you?”

“I have a mom,” she said.

“And she probably tells you that she loves you very much,” said Baelan, his voice growing harder. “But whenever she gets a chance, she forces you to live by her laws. She rules over you. Wouldn’t you like a chance to do the same?”

“But my mom doesn’t use threats to tell me what to do. You did. You threatened an entire village with your army, just to get at Kay. When my mom lays down a rule, she’s trying to help me. You’re just trying to help yourself, and you don’t care who you need to push around to do it.”

The corners of Baelan’s mustache twitched. His face seemed to grow darker. “I’ve offered you power and glory, Sarah. Don’t be stupid enough to throw it away. I will master Castle Greystone, one way or another. It is my destiny to rule, and to conquer as many new worlds as I can find. If you tell me where Kay hid his spellbook, I will give you entire countries as your playthings. If you refuse me again, I will throw you in my dungeon and make sure you never see the light of day until you’re too old and gray to even remember your precious home and your beloved mother. Now tell me…where is the spellbook?”

Known as the Warlord of Greystone Valley, Baelan is a cunning middle-aged man who seeks a life filled with conflict and conquest. Unfortunately for him, the magical confines of Greystone Valley prevent him from achieving that goal.

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Greystone Valley: Meeting Keeley

Fireball“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began. His voice came out as a squeak, so he cleared his throat and started over again. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he repeated, louder this time, “I am sorry to say that we have a slight problem with today’s performance. As it happens, Dramadia the dragon has…well, she’s escaped into the mountains.”

An angry murmur ran through the crowd. Sarah’s own face fell in dismay. Dax, however, didn’t look surprised at all. If anything, his nod of understanding meant that things now made a little more sense to him.

“Please, please, please,” said Noron the beast tamer, patting the air in front of him in a desperate attempt to calm everybody down. “We know the show must go on, so we have found a suitable replacement. She isn’t quite the same as the great black-scaled dragon, but she is a dragon nonetheless. And it’s without any further ado that I present to you all, Keeley, the dragon of the Northwood Caves!”

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Magic in Greystone Valley

Magic ButterflyGreystone Valley is a world where the myths and legends of our world run wild. That means that magic is abundant in this world, with different people wielding different kinds of sorcery. Some people in the valley have even tried studying magic like it’s math or science, gathering together in schools to discuss theories on different spells. These studies tend to be frustrating because magic is an ever-changing art form. While there are many different ways for a person to learn this art in Greystone Valley, these are the three most common forms of magic.

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Greystone Valley: Keeley

Keeley“Um…excuse me,” said Kay, who had been silent for quite a while. “I don’t mean to pry, but are you really a dragon? From everything I’ve read, I expected a real dragon to be…well, quite large.”

Keeley hopped and turned around on Sarah’s shoulder. Her tiny claws dug into Sarah’s pajamas a little bit, but they were too small to really hurt – though they did itch slightly. “And who is this one?” asked the dragon as she peered at Kay. “He looks quite handsome, even if he does wear funny-looking robes.”

“This one’s name is Kay,” he said. “I’m a wizard. Or at least, I’m working on becoming one.”

“And he does have a point,” added Sarah. “You do seem rather, um, shorter than one would expect of a dragon.”

“Well that’s easy to explain,” said Keeley, bobbing her head from side to side. “Keeley’s only ten years old. She’s still a growing girl. Someday, she’ll be bigger even than Dax. She just needs to start eating more.”

“Even if she does get that big, that’s still pretty small for a dragon,” whispered Kay. “And for some reason, I don’t think it’s her diet that made her so small.”

If Keeley heard those comments, she gave them no heed. She had already hopped off of Sarah’s shoulder again. Now she flew in circles around Dax’s head. The old warrior was marching the group back toward the site where they had lost track of Kay’s book. He didn’t look like he wanted to talk all that much, but that hardly seemed to stop Keeley.

“Where are we going, Dax? What are we going to do? Will there be good food there? How have you been? Is your mother feeling well? Does Keeley look like she’s put on weight since last time?”

If there are any dragons smaller than Keeley in Greystone Valley, they are probably too tiny for most people to see. This mouse-sized dragon is only about six inches long from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail, but she has a big heart and a few surprises that will help Sarah through her journey back to her own world.

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