Thursday, November 8, 2018

Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway ~ WAR OF STORMS by Erica Cameron


War of Storms (The Ryogan Chronicles, #3)
by: Erica Cameron
Series: The Ryogan Chronicles
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: November 5, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing ~ Teen
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Save the world or end it...

The immortal mages have risen, and they're out for blood.

Khya arrived at the Ryogan coast too late to stop the invasion. Now, cities are falling before the unrelenting march of an enemy army, and Khya's squad is desperately trying to stay ahead of them. Warning the Ryogans, though, means leaving her brother imprisoned even longer. Time is running out for everyone.

But how can her squad of ten stand against an army of ten thousand?

Calling in help from every ally she's made in Ryogo, Khya tries to build a plan that won't require sacrificing her friends or her brother. It's a tough balance to find, especially when the leadership role she thought she wanted sits heavy on her shoulders, and her relationship with Tessen is beginning to crack under the strain.

The end is coming, and there's no way to know who'll be left standing when it hits.


The world of … (World Building)

Every author of every book worldbuilds, even if they’re writing a contemporary. Worldbuilding isn’t just magic systems and alien species, it’s also backstories and family dynamics and sociopolitical outlooks. The very act of writing a book is constructing a world, it’s simply scale and workload that changes across genres.

My first lessons came from books and movies I loved, but I didn’t begin truly analyzing the means and methods until after I’d graduated college. I did study psychology, which is an immense help for this particular artform, but unfortunately, even in an undergraduate creative writing program, worldbuilding isn’t usually an offered course. Instead I read essays posted by various masters and studied books like Holly Lisle’s “Create a _____ Clinic” series of guides. After that, it was trial and error, experimentation, and research. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, for example, is an incredible look at the history of humanity both from a biological and a sociological standpoint.

However, all the research in the world isn’t necessarily enough to build a city, country, planet, or universe. Trying to mold hundreds of pieces of information into a cohesive whole is the tricky bit. The facets of a world aren’t sides like a diamond or layers like an onion—neither metaphor is connected enough. To me, everything interconnects like a particularly ancient cobweb, and pulling one filament free alters every other section of the web. The landscape in which people live impacts what and how much they have to eat which impacts numerous social divisions which impacts subcultures and social pressures which impacts individual outlooks on life, death, and the workings of the universe. Reality, be it our or an invented one, is made of relationships, both human and causal, and each one is a link in a chain or a filament in a web. This is why, when building a world, it’s so important to zoom in as well as out. The individual fibres are just as important as the overall beauty of the web.

Prologue

Lightning cracks through the sky, fast and close. Thunder is a continuous rumble that shakes the foundations of Shiara. Every rock on the island trembles and vibrates, and Yorri has felt it for so long he can’t remember what it’s like to be still.

Days. Weeks. A moon cycle or more. Yorri can’t be sure how long ago the Miriseh abandoned him and the other prisoners in the mountains, leaving them to the torment of the elements. The storms haven’t broken once.

Thunder shakes the air and the ground. Heavy raindrops batter him from above. Lightning blazes overhead, leaving glaring streaks even against Yorri’s closed eyes. He wishes he was numb to all of it—shouldn’t he be by now? He’s not. Whatever power heals the burns from lightning strikes and keeps him alive without food also seems to make him feel each drop of rain as if it’s the first to strike. It makes each deafening crash painfully fresh. Lack of sleep should’ve sent him into delirium and unconsciousness ages ago, but the fresh sparks of pain continuously shock him into alertness, and his mind processes each moment in perfect clarity.

He wants to scream, to struggle against the magic binding him to the black platform he’s laid out on. Instead, he presses his lips together to hold back outbursts of agony and anger. He doesn’t think anyone is guarding the valley, but he can’t be sure, and he refuses to give the Miriseh the satisfaction of screaming for the help no one is going to give him.

Swallowing the pain, he tries to find something else to focus on. The only option, though, is staring at the others trapped on their own platforms. Some are as still as their stone beds, but others thrash and flail, arching up against the cords binding their wrists and ankles to the rock, their mouths open in shouts Yorri can barely hear over the thunder.

If Khya were in my position, she’d find a way to free herself from this, he thinks. By now, she would’ve found a way to free us all. He knows his sister sees him as the problem solver with a mind that can see its way out of any situation, but this… What the bellows is he supposed to do about this? Not even his enhanced strength can break his bindings, and the storm isn’t the only anguish he’s suffering.

The ache in his chest has been getting worse. Between his lungs is a spot where a pale yellow warmth bloomed when he bonded with Sanii, but they’ve been apart for too long. The connection has stretched and strained and soured. The spot has grown cold. It’s sent out barbed vines; they wrap around his lungs and heart and slowly constrict. He didn’t notice at first—not in the midst of the storm. Now, it’s impossible to ignore.

The only way he has to mark the passage of time is the steady increase of that pain and the water slowly filling the small, rocky valley. Now, swells lap at the base of his black stone bed, and sometimes wind forces the waves to crest over him. When the water covers him completely, will it bring death or just a new kind of torture?

Lightning strikes the closest peak. Thunder cracks and rumbles. Huge chunks of stone break off the slope, dropping into the valley below. Several land in the water, sending up massive waves. One cracks off a piece of the platform closest to Yorri, missing the prisoner’s hand by inches. One falls straight on someone else’s leg, crushing it completely.

I can’t do all the work, little brother. The whisper sounds like Khya, and his sister’s voice soothes even though she’s not here; all he’s hearing is what he guesses Khya might say. I’m fighting to save you. The least you can do is help.

We never gave up on you, Sanii, his sukhai, would likely add. Don’t you dare give up on us.

Tessen’s imagined voice throws down a challenge. Khya always bragged about how smart you are, Yorri. Prove it.

But he can’t. There’s no way to win a fight against magic, a mountain, and a storm.

He stares at the bloodied mess of the prisoner’s crushed leg, only blinking to clear the rain from his eyes. Over time, the flattened, pulped places round out and the skin smooths. The injury heals completely; only their torn pants and the faint bloodstains not washed away by the rain prove it happened at all.

Yorri huffs, and then he laughs. He laughs despite how the pain between his lungs pierces and pulls. In part, he laughs because of it. His pain will never be enough to kill him. His injuries will always heal. He can’t die, and for some Kujuko-cursed reason, he doesn’t even have the partial oblivion of false unconsciousness anymore. He’s awake, he’s aware, and he’s watching as the water gets higher with each hour of rainfall.

How long, he wonders, will he be able to drown?

Purchase War of Storms from:

The Ryogan Chronicles Series:

Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.

Places to find Erica Cameron:

You can follow the War of Storms Blog Tour here.

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