5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Blastoff!

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about why I was abandoning the quest for a traditional publishing contract on my books. I was burned out on writing query letters and trying to come up with multiple length-ed synopses. I also mentioned the company that my family was trying to get started.

A year and a half has passed, and those dreams, which seemed so distant on the horizon back then, are coming to fruition.

At first we were just a name and a dream. After six months of compiling lists of ideas and voting on names, we settled on STORMCAVE STUDIOS. I think it’s the perfect name :) (no, I didn’t come up with it).

Another half a year was spent working on King’s Warrior and that was published at the end of February this year. Stormcave Studios resided on the back-burner for those six months. We referred to it, talked about it, but nobody seemed to know what, exactly, SCS would do. I was writing books, Angelina was continuing to paint, Brittany was recording music… and we were each doing our own marketing to varying degrees.

Then my dad contacted Barnes and Noble to try and orchestrate a book-signing for me when we are all home for Thanksgiving. The staff at B&N has been wonderful, and they have shown us what hoops we need to jump through to make this happen and been helpful at every turn. As we began to navigate the world of publishing (not just writing a book and making it available, but “publishing” that book in the hopes of making it successful) we began also to see what role there is for Stormcave Studios.

After almost two years since we first began talking about going into business together, we have a name and a purpose: Stormcave Studios is a publishing company. And as of a few days ago, Stormcave Studios became a real and recognized business, complete with an EIN and its own bank account.

Also as of a few days ago, we got the green light from the Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble and will be having a book signing there in three and a half weeks! Tune in on Monday and I’ll tell you all about it!

~ jenelle

Quotes

I was going to title this “Top Five Favorite Book Quotes” but then I realized that I can’t pick just five. This will be a topic I have to come back to upon occasion, because there are far too many quotes that I love to pick just five! But for today, here are five of my favorites, in no particular order:

“The Faraway house was built on books as surely as though its foundations had been all hard covers instead of fieldstone.” – Gwen Walker – The Ordeal of Lady Godiva

 “Time stole away commitments and loosened ties. Friendships were reduced to tales of the past and vague promises for the future, neither strong enough to recover what was lost. But that was what life did – it took you down separate roads until one day you found yourself alone.” – Terry Brooks – First King of Shannara

“It was a sad song, a heartbreaking song, wild and proud… about all the losses a human heart might hold dear and remember. We are alike, you and I, she thought, homeless wayfarers in a world that is not our own.” – Stephen R. Lawhead – Taliesin

“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” – C.S. Lewis – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

And, in honor of the upcoming elections:

“It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” – Douglas Adams – The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

~ jenelle

Karradoc: the game

Every now and then, as a writer, you might find yourself creating something totally by accident. For example: you might be writing a story about a physical struggle between two parties and suddenly decide that it would be cool to have a few scenes in which the two parties are playing a board game – a sort of symbolic way to show the mental struggle accompanying the physical battle.

Now, you could use a reference to a game that already exists, like, say… chess or settlers of catan … but the story you are writing takes place in another world, and you think to yourself, “Hmmm, do they HAVE chess or settlers in that world?” Then perhaps you decide that they don’t. So you have to come up with a name for a non-existent game.

Later, you might decide that it would be cool (this being the final book of the series) to have “quotes” at the beginnings of all your chapters – but you don’t want to use actual quotes, since then you’d have to figure out the legality issues and the rights to those quotes… so you decide to create your own. As you do so, you suddenly realize that the game you have your opponents playing is a perfect tool for coming up with fictional quotes from fictional historical figures, which is fantastic, but also means that you now have to figure out the rules and how to play this game that was only supposed to be in one or two minor scenes.

Before you know it… you’re having to sit down and create a whole board game from scratch just so you can use it in one percent of your entire story.

Not that I’m speaking from experience… hahaha.

From The Minstrel book four of The Minstrel’s Song I give you a sneak peek at something I never intended to create – but once I got started it just sort of came to life all on its own:

Karradoc: The Game
The board
Large board 20×20 squares
On each side of the board in the center (not facing the players) there are two black “shield” slots.
A player may have anywhere from 6-20 pieces to start with.
Pieces range in point value from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.
On simple, cheap boards, all the pieces of the same value look the same. On high-end, expensive boards, every single piece is unique – and usually made out of some precious or semi-precious material.
Players may choose their pieces in whatever variety they like, so long as the total number of points on the board equals 30 points.
All pieces may move in whatever direction they like (and may change direction mid-turn) however many spaces corresponds with their point value (e.g. 1 point pieces may move one space in any direction, but 5 point pieces may move 5 spaces in any direction and may change direction mid-turn) however, a piece may not touch any square twice in one turn.
A player captures his opponent’s piece by both moving one of his pieces onto the same square as that of his opponent’s piece and playing a “capture” token. Pieces can only be captured by a piece of equal or greater value, or with a token that allows for an eight-sided die (that has three 1s, two 2s, two 3s, and one 4 printed on it) to be rolled and added to the value of a token (thus a 1-point piece could, conceivably, capture a 5-point piece with a roll of 4).

Winning Condition

The game is won by whichever player can capture all of his opponent’s pieces, or by whomever has the most points left on the board once all the capture tokens have been used.

Tokens (80 total)
Tokens in ordinary sets are carved on small pieces of wood, in ornate sets they are made out of a thick parchment.
Players hold five tokens in their hand at all times. During their turn, they may move one piece and use a token. Sometimes more than one token may be used. Tokens must be used in conjunction with they piece being played during a turn.

Types of tokens:
Capture Tokens - there are 45 of these tokens in a deck. They are used in conjunction with a move where one player attempts to capture his opponent’s piece with one of his own pieces.

Shield Tokens - there are 4 of these in a deck. These are defensive tokens and they can be used to thwart an opponent’s attempt to capture a piece. They not only block the attack, but they also move the attacked piece to a “shield” slot on the board, where it can remain in safety for up to three turns. A piece can never attack from this position. It must move back into play first, and then in a second turn it may attack.

Die Tokens - there are 25 of these in a deck. These are also defensive tokens and allow for the outcome of an attack to be determined by a toss of the dice. Each player rolls the 8-sided die once and the highest number wins. If the attacking player wins, he continues with the capture as he would had the die token not been played. If the defending player wins, the attacking player must move his attacking piece back to the “home row” on his side of the board. These can also be used as offensive tokens if played before moving, they may be used to allow a player to add the roll of the die to his piece’s number of allowed spaces. (e.g. Player whose turn it is lays down a Die Token, chooses a piece, and then rolls the die. Thus, if he chose to move a 2-point piece and rolls a 3, he may move his piece 5 spaces)

Dragon Mage Token - there is one of these in a deck. This token acts like a shield for an entire army. It prevents the opponent from making any attacks in his next turn, allowing the one who plays it two turns to move any threatened or important pieces to safety. No pieces get put in the shield spots.

Rescue Tokens - there are 5 of these in a deck. They allow a player to either rescue a captured token or replace it with a token of equal or lesser value. This token may only be used if the player has lost at least 5 points.

The Die
One 8-sided die is included in the game. It is used in conjunction with the “die tokens.” When one player attacks another, the attacked player may play a defensive token such as a Shield Token, Dragon Mage Token, or Die Token. If the player plays a Die token, then each player takes a turn rolling the die. Whoever rolls the higher number wins the battle. The die can also be used to enhance the number of spaces that a piece is allowed to move. (For more on how to use the die tokens, see “Die Token” section of the instructions).

~ jenelle

The Lonely Book – Review

I love the way my three-year-old picks books at the library. She runs at a break-neck pace, pulling anything that looks interesting or has substance (and by “substance” I don’t mean it in the metaphorical way, I mean in the “it has mass and can be picked up” sort of way) off shelves and plopping them in the basket below the stroller. I rarely even see what the titles are before we get home. Limiting her to ten books or less is often impossible.

Many of these “choices” result in myself being required to read aloud boring or uninteresting or inane stories (or sets of words and phrases that appear between two covers but cannot, with any truthfulness, be called a “story”) over and over again.

Some few, however, result in rare gems. After a trip to the library last week, I have had to make an addition to my list of “all-time favorite children’s books.”

Joining ranks with the likes of “The Polar Express,” “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” “Ben and the Porcupine,” “William and Grandpa,” “Arabella,” “Stopping By Woods,” “A Child’s Book of Poetry,” and “Owl Moon” comes:

“The Lonely Book” by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Sheban.

It’s new, published this year (2012), and it is fabulous. If you have a young child I highly recommend getting a copy and reading it to them. But I warn you, if you are a lover of books; if books have often been your best friends, if some of your favorite memories are ones of your parents reading out loud to you when you were young, and if you’ve ever stayed up late re-reading a favorite book, or slept with a favorite book under your pillow… then you might want to keep a box of tissues nearby! My almost-four-year-old was a little perplexed by my inability to read past the catch in my throat a few times during the story.

This book is beautiful. Not only is the story one that resonates with a book-lover like myself, but the illustrations are also gorgeous. It’s rare for me to find a new book or story that I love as much as the old ones that I have loved forever, but this one is an instant new favorite.

~ jenelle