I’m Just Saying…

“Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you’ve got a pretty neck.”
Eli Wallach

I just read ANOTHER post on the pitfalls of praise. It even had a cute trendy title and came from a, gasp, respected trustworthy source.

Why is it that somehow praise is always to be regarded with a skeptical attitude, but criticism is not? I realize that this is rarely stated as being 100%, but it still seems like every other blog post I read these days is all about gleaning nuggets of wisdom from the negative reviews and “plugging your ears” when the praise comes around. I’m not saying that there isn’t some truth in being cautious with how you interpret reader reaction, be it positive or negative, but this #trendy topic I think has grown a bit big for its britches.

You know how small our percentages are as authors, how much we get paid in reality (even those of us on bestseller lists), and yet the one thing we get to really enjoy … we’re to plug our ears to? This was a great post that I just read, and I understand where she was coming from, just like I’ve understood the perspective of every other post on this subject. Yet, it still chaps my ass a little. Why?

Because we grew up in a world where things like 5th place exists. Because every other profession gets to celebrate, regardless of where they fall on the continuum except, it seems, for authors. Honestly, I’m a little tired of it. Who really stops growing as a writer because they think that they’re made of awesome? Seriously, are there that many authors out there who are throwing all their forward momentum into the trash because their latest novel was well received and they’re reveling in it a while?

I doubt it. Maybe one or two … but it’s hardly the epidemic that the blogosphere is making it out to be. If the temperature of the literary community is in any way related to how bloggers see this subject, we’d all be proclaiming our own worth like Capote on steroids. But, we aren’t.  No one writes blog posts about how much they rock (no author I’ve ever heard of anyway).

Unwarranted praise? I believe in the existence of unwarranted criticism, but a wealth of praise from the anonymous public without cause seems … um, legendary? I can’t even think of the right word for this. I get what she’s saying if the praise is coming from friends and family, but give us some credit for not being totally brain-dead here. We know genuine praise from total crap. And even if it is from family, it depends on which member of the family the praise is coming from. If your uncle has told you that your stuff is shit, 9 books out of 10, then you’re more than free to take that 10th book’s praise to heart.

I’m SO tired of hearing this chanted like a mantra for newbies. The Pitfalls of Praise. It’s cute. It’s catchy. It’s everything you’d want in a viral blog post. It probably even looks good printed out and posted over an aspiring author’s desk, but I can’t bring myself to agree with it. I think if you’re in-tune enough with your voice, as an author, and your editor, as a professional, then you’ll be just fine.

If, for some ungodly reason, there is a giant steaming batch of unwarranted praise hanging out there for a novel, your publisher/agent and/or editor, will tell you not to let your head get too big over it. I’m sure. Can’t say that I see that scenario actually happening in real life, but perhaps for someone the words, “All those comments about how strong your characterization is, are total shit. You need to seriously work on it in the future,” have been spoken.

Whatever. All I’m saying is that I doubt Stephen King takes advice like this. Or J.K. Rowling, or Dean Koontz. Or hell, even James Patterson. Maybe they just don’t care and I’m too bitter to see the forest for the trees … or, just maybe, we’ve let Twitter and Google Ads overtake our want for genuine writing guidance and sound mentoring. Most things worth hearing don’t fit into the viral scheme, so that stuff doesn’t get blogged about all that often. It doesn’t easily fit into packages with shiny ‘totes fave’ Blogger of the Week badges, or into the top five sponsored Twitter topics.

Real gold takes a little searching. It doesn’t pop out at you from a laminated sticky note above your desk. It comes from inside your head or your heart. The real gold is you, your special gifts, and your unique voice as an author. It’s the stuff only you’re capable of telling yourself.

So, instead of shunning praise and scouring criticism … how about we spend a little more time invested in finding out who we really are as authors?

I’m just saying …

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The Biggest Lie of Them All

“I grew up in a place where everybody was a storyteller, but nobody wrote. It was that kind of Celtic, storytelling tradition: everybody would have a story at the pub or at parties, even at the clubs and raves.”  Irvine Welsh

It’s visceral, isn’t it? This calling that we’ve entered into?

It’s no wonder we take things like criticisms, rules, guidelines, reviews, and the like, so seriously. I posted a link on my FB page several days ago that led to a post written by a good friend of mine over at The Lit Lab. The heart of the post was centered around the lies we’ve allowed ourselves to believe about writing and about being a professional author (you can find that post here). Reading that inspired list led me to start thinking…what lies have we told ourselves, or allowed ourselves to believe, about what it means to BE an author—a storyteller?

*You can’t develop your voice as an author until you’ve written for years and nothing that you write prior to your first published work will be worth holding onto.

Um…shall I list all of the famous works of literature that were the author’s firsts? I’d rather not, since it would take me more room than a single post on WordPress allows. This is utter bullshit, I don’t care if an agent (or any other authoritative figure) has told you otherwise. Think of it like this: Not everyone needs to date around before finding the one they’re destined to spend their life with. Some do. Others know the moment they meet them. Some authors spend years in silence, never penning a thing, then suddenly they find their voice and set off writing like their keyboards are on fire.

*All advice from reputable sources (agents, publishers, editors, critique group members, alpha & beta readers), is good advice.

Need I mention again, Tolkien’s advice to Lewis to nix Father Christmas from the Chronicles of Narnia? Even as I type that it sounds like good advice doesn’t it? Except for all of those children who listed it as their favorite part of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And the fact that Lewis, in his heart, knew that Father Christmas couldn’t be cut from the story.

*You MUST know everything about the craft of writing, in order to be a good storyteller.

Have you never been to a bar before? Have you never sat around a campfire and heard Uncle Whoever retell his childhood escapades in such a way that has the whole crowd dying with laughter? Have you never been to summer camp and been huddled beneath your sleeping bag in dread terror while some counselor (me), or fellow camper (also me) told you the scariest story you’ve ever heard? Do you live under a rock? Storytelling, to some folks, is second nature. I think I can safely say that I’m one of them. You likely are as well, but haven’t gathered the guts to state that you believe that for the record. And before you go there, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn the basics. All I’m saying, is that the first guy or gal who told a story, likely didn’t know the parts of the story by what would become their “proper” names. Those are merely formalities. Imagine it like two people who speak different languages, meeting and falling in love. Sure, there might be a little fumbling around in the beginning, but eventually you develop your own method of communication and everything else falls into place. If it’s meant to be, you don’t have WORK at it that hard. It. Just. Is.

*In order to be a great author, you have to be able to write outstanding queries.

I’m sorry, I can hardly type from the tears I’m shedding in laughter over this one. I’ve read this on more than one agent’s blog, and a couple of publishers, but ironically, I’ve never seen it on an author’s blog. Wonder why? Gee…hmmm….give me a second. ‘Cause it’s…you guessed it….total shit. Some of us, just aren’t short-winded. Period. Yes, it’s a fault. Yes, it sucks. YES, it means it’ll take longer to get someone’s attention if you’re in that category and you’re unpublished. Does it mean you won’t ever be successful or famous? No. Not at all. And frankly, I have no idea where this idea came from. Queries and novels are not the same thing for a reason, and the pervasive idea that if you can’t sum up your novel in 300 words or less, then you don’t know what it’s about, is LUDICROUS. And I don’t mean the band.

Seriously, this one is one of the worst bits of writing “truth” I’ve read. It’s terribly discouraging and does nothing but make writing a query harder for those of us who struggle with writing them in the first place. So, do yourself (and me) a favor and don’t spread that horse manure. If you only knew the number of NYT bestselling authors who hired a ghost writer to write their queries for them…(how do I know this? Because I know a handful of ghost writers who have written them for NYT bestselling authors).

*The difference between authors and writers, is that authors have been traditionally published.

I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. Really? I’ve read that one on writers’ sites. Shame on you! You ought to know better. Do you think that because you are published that you have the right to make others feel less worthy than you? No, writers are folks who write. Period. This encompasses everything from obituaries and classified ads, to text books and personal weblogs. Authors, tell stories. That’s all. That’s the distinction. Check out Webster if you don’t believe me. Now, I will give you the caveat that in order to be an author, you do have to have actually *finished* a novel, short story, or novella. Publication has nothing to do with it. That’s merely recognition for having done something, it doesn’t have any bearing on whether you’ve actually done the thing or not. If you’re still “researching” that first novel, and have been for the last ten years, then you’re still a writer. Only when you’re done do you get to call yourself an author. Even if your cat is the only sentient being to set eyes on it after that.

I think even Donald Maass may have stated that in one of his many manifestos on how to be a bestselling author.

How ’bout I’ll just settle for being an author, and let the cards fall where they may. Hm? K. Thanks.

*But, the biggest lie of them all is this: As an author, I am worth the value that others place on my work.

Nothing, nothing, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve told myself this one. I’m willing to bet that at some point in your writing life, you will too. There are two kinds of authors: Those who’ve bought the bullshit, and those who will. Not a single one of us is exempt from taking a reviewer too seriously, or a crit partner, or an agent, or an editor. Not a single one of us is exempt from wondering, at some dark moment, has this all been worth it? Not a single one of us is exempt from feeling, in a moment of weakness, like our hold on the English language is a tad more tenuous than we’d suspected.

Truth is, we’re all learning, and no work is perfect. No work is without its quirks. No author is free of them either, but isn’t that what makes our calling so great? No other profession in the world is quite like it. Some might come close, but they’ll never reach the heights that being an author will show you. You’ll never take another path and reach a higher summit.

Whatever lies you believe…don’t believe the biggest of them all. At the very least, do yourself, and the rest of us who will (or already do) love your writing, and your characters, and your worlds, do us the favor of having faith in your natural instincts.

Writer’s Conferences, Ravens and Writing Desks

Our trip was restful and rejuvenating. I am sleeping well and while I am not fully where I’d like to be on my current projects, there is at least a little more hope on the horizon. I found myself looking up writer’s conferences today, along with low residency MFA’a in popular fiction…only to find myself at a loss as far as where I fit into all of this ‘professional’ writing business. See, I don’t write short stories and with great frustration I found that MOST endeavors require them to be in your portfolio–if you are to attain any level of serious respect, as an author, anyway. Hmmm. I simply don’t manage ‘brevity’ well. I write epic level, worlds at war, kind of stuff. It doesn’t occur to me to write in short order.

Oak Mountain 2009

Oak Mountain 2009

So, after flipping through one non-encouraging blog after another, reading all of the necessities to become a successful full time writer, I decided that I should do something wholly non-official and unproductive (professionally speaking, of course)…I signed up for NANOWRIMO (or National Novel Writing Month). Now, before you laugh or condemn me to hell, let me explain why I don’t give a damn about your opinion on this either. See, I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for me. And I’m fairly prolific anyway, so 50,000 words in a month doesn’t sound like any big whoop–considering that I can easily crank out 30,000 in a week if I don’t have anything else (much) going on. Yes, dear, I realize that quality is more important than quantity…but talk to Asimov (actually, I think he’s deceased) and King (whose status among the living has been debated since the publication of ‘The Stand’) if you want reasons for why being prolific doesn’t mean you’re a naffin at your craft. But, there are MULTITUDES of bloggers, experienced writers and generally recognized nit-wits out there who loathe this whole idea and spend an absurd amount of time whining about its existence in the universe. That might also be the other reason I have decided to devote November to this endeavor. You say it is ridiculous and a waste of time and will likely produce nothing but drivel…well, ‘swell’ I say. I wasn’t producing much more than that these last few weeks anyway.

So, in November, I will ideally begin work on a novel loosely titled “Ravenwood” and leave all of my other projects on a shelf till I have at least 50,000 words down (which if success is to be mine, will be the end of said month). I’ve drafted the characters and have a general idea of where the novel will go–it deals with warlocks and whatnot, since I’m all vamped out for the time being (what with playing vampire wars on facebook and all…*sigh*). So, wish me luck–or laugh at me, whatever fits your fancy. Why did I title this blog this way? Well, just why is a raven like a writing desk?

Nature’s First Green is Gold

Oak Mountain 2008

Oak Mountain 2008

I am a Fall and Winter child. Nothing touches my soul quite like those two seasons. The yellow, red and orange leaves paired with the chill in the air, somehow inspire me. Maybe it’s the northern girl in me. I’ve spent most of my life in the south, but it’s no different from being born in Ireland and then moving to LA. You’re still Irish.

All of this seasonal chit chat got me thinking about my writing rituals. (You’ve already blogged about this! You scream…yeah, yeah. And I’m blogging about it again.) I have a hard time writing in the summer months. Serious trouble. I don’t know what it is about the heat that bothers me, but it stifles my creative chi. Spring can be just as bad down here, though not as miserable. I like to be cold, near frigid. I love a hot cup of coffee or hot tea (usually the former) and something to munch on. And there are three scents of candles that I burn on a regular basis, regardless of the time of year; mistletoe, harvest wreath and pumpkin spice. Awesome. I also tend to write better late at night.

We have a camping trip planned for next weekend, as long as it doesn’t pour on us. We try to go every year about this time. I need some peace and quiet. I REALLY need some time away from the internet. I love freelance writing, but this has been hard on my fantasy projects. But, I persist. I have been polishing the second book of Fable and I’m really close to being able to wrap it up and start the final edits on book three. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to putting the first trilogy away and starting work on the second. I’ve still got Icarus and Nightshade to finish too, though those both are only a handful of chapters away from being done (first draft anyway–we won’t discuss edits for those yet. It’s always best to shelve a project for at least a month or two before going back and editing.)

Ben, my husband, has had tremendous luck doing his part-time cop stuff this past weekend and he scored a long term part-time  job yesterday. That’s exciting. He loves his job and really enjoys doing stuff on the side. Today and last night he got paid to eat free food and hang out at a football game. I mean, I realize that if the stuff hits the fan, he’s there with taser and gun in hand, but more often than not, nothing happens. We’re getting adjusted to me being at home and I am finding my comfort zone with Demand Studios, as far as how many articles a week I can handle. I put a bid in for a few significant projects, which I realize I am woefully under qualified for, but what is there to lose? I have to start somewhere and I’ve finished over 45 or so articles for Demand Studios, so I have enough of a portfolio now to get some exposure. I also recently put in for Trails.com, which I am more qualified for since I love the outdoors so much. The titles in that arena are much more in my area of expertise. We’ll see how that goes.

So, I am going to spend the rest of the day and this evening, working on my own projects. Maybe that will encourage me to crank out a few more articles for pay tomorrow.

Demand Studios, eHow and all things wonderful

So, after my last cathartic post, I am feeling slightly better. Every now and then you just need to blog and get it out of your system before you can move on and be productive. I guess that was my two minutes of crying and pitching a fit…and now for something completely different.

I’ve been doing pretty well on the article writing. I just recently got my internet hooked up, so this coming week will likely be a little more productive. It’s odd with my husband working 6 days on and 3 days off. My ‘weekend’ changes from one week to the next. But, honestly, its nice because my schedule is now totally wide open and flexible. Yesterday, I didn’t feel much like getting dressed and sitting in the office, so I turned on the tube, made breakfast and worked in my jammies. From bed. Sooo awesome. I don’t recommend it for daily use, but it rocked yesterday. Fresh, cold, organic tomatoes and hot corned beef and potato hash…mmmm. Total comfort food. Not to mention the orange juice that tasted like it was freshly squeezed.

I’ve learned that having what you want comes at a price, and the question you need to ask yourself, is ‘what are you willing to give up?’  I was willing to give up security (clearly), tenure, several shards of my self esteem, a steady paycheck and most definitely my ego. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I would give it all up again in a heart beat, even with all the crying and fit pitching associated with it.

So how do you work from home without losing your sanity? I’ve done some research, and of course some short term trial and error, and here are my two cents.

1. Drink Coffee. Still have breakfast like you normally would. If you used to munch at your desk or sip on a latte while getting your morning started, then do it at your home office. Spend a few moments each morning at rest, waking up. Watch the news, the weather channel, or have quiet time with God, whatever your thing is. I have a friend who watches Good Morning America every morning, religiously.

2. Take a shower, brush your teeth and ‘get dressed’ just like you would if you were going to work outside of your home. Now, this being said, I don’t mean wearing ‘dress’ clothes, but if you’re a woman–put on light make-up, wear a bra, etc. The rule of thumb, if someone were to come to your door, would you be embarrassed? I personally prefer comfy pants and fitted t-shirts or sweaters. But, I make a point to ‘get’ ready each morning like normal.

3. Invest in whatever you need to make your office space comfortable and productive. A really good chair, with padding, etc. I have a huge chair and a half that I have in my office so that when my back and knees start hurting, I can stretch out and still write. I also have a plethora of candles that I love to smell. I made sure to position my desk so that I can look out of the window and see the wood line.

4. Set aside days for stuff like housework and laundry. Don’t try to do this while you’re working. Believe me, its the same with novel writing, you’ll suddenly find that those household chores are FAR more interesting and in dire need of your attention.

5. Don’t work 8 hours straight. Or eight hours a day if you can help it. I’ve read that 5 hours a day is more ideal if you are working at home. There are a myriad of reasons for this, and why you can get away with working less. If you were working at a typical office/cubicle job, and if you’re real with yourself then you’ll admit you did an awful lot of staring at your desk. It’s why I love the movie Office Space. (There will likely be a whole separate blog dedicated to this).

So, I will leave you with this thought…

“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. Should a man challenge me, I would take him forgivingly, lovingly, by the hand to a quiet place and kill him.”  —Mark Twain.

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!

Why do things always, without exception, hurt worse than we think they will? And if this is the case, why don’t we learn to anticipate more? My apologies for blogging again about personal stuff instead of my usual (if you are reading this on facebook—go to the actual blog page at www.jschancellor.wordpress.com).

I recently quit my job, see Associated Content for an article entitled, “The Psychology of Job Loss,” and you’ll see that I need to take my own advice. But is that ever possible? If you can manage to figure out how, do tell. This was my first real week away from the job. I know that this will take time and that five years is a decent stint for someone my age, especially since it’s all I’ve known since college. Despite all of that, I feel like horse crap. Why? I don’t know—maybe something about feeling kicked off of a cliff; that I was running toward of my own volition. Friday was anti-climatic, which was to be expected considering that I was practically on my own as I closed up shop. But there was no goodbye, no screw you—nothing. I dropped my keys off in the drop slot Monday (no one even asked me for them), and there was something hollow and empty about that. There was no gathering for margaritas or farewell lunch, or even a good riddance card. I don’t know what I expected after five years. I don’t think I gave it any thought at all until I noticed how empty I was feeling. How empty I am feeling.

Bottom line is that it doesn’t matter in the end. I made my decision and I am married to it now. I don’t regret quitting. In fact, all of this has made me that much more pleased with my decision. I guess it just didn’t feel real until now. It’s been a rough week. My writing is going fine. Demand Studios pays on time for the record.

So, what have I learned from all of this? I’ve learned that you can’t place your worth on your job, unless you are working for yourself and doing what you can call a true passion. Find something you love to do and then find someone who will pay you for it. If you wouldn’t do it for nothing, then you’re in the wrong industry. Yeah—someone out there is saying that there needs to be garbage collectors and who would do that voluntarily? Truth is, I don’t know. All I know is that everyone out there has something that they excel at/in and our world would be a better place if all of us focused on our strengths instead of a paycheck. Again, I realize I’m being a bit idealistic. Aren’t I always?

I suppose what really bothers me is how little, the company I worked for, cared. Things in our economy are still rough, I get it, but don’t put me in a position to fail and then act like it was in everyone’s benefit that I decided on my own accord to leave. I functioned quite well for four and a half years before growing intensely miserable—for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which was my inability to work in mass confusion and disorganization. This hurts because I left feeling totally incompetent and like I was a waste of air. I understand corporate America is cold—that it won’t coddle you and that career placement is cut throat. But the problem is, this company was supposed to be different.  This company was supposed to be family oriented and in reality, it’s just like any other property management company. Nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary and if average is all they are shooting for, then I wish them the best of luck. I have no doubt they’ll reach utter anonymity in the industry and moderate efficacy in employee retention, with startlingly little effort.  It’s a shame too, because they were so damn close to being more. It wouldn’t be tragic if they were light years from being exceptional. Employees who come first will keep their customers first. Employees who are treated as more than a means to financial gain will work harder for every dollar they make for themselves and for the company. Employees who are valued as human beings, with unique personalities and strengths, will purpose to overcome the obstacles that will inevitably come.

Have I burnt a bridge by posting this? I write under a pen name, so probably not, but honestly—I don’t care anymore. I hate to feel this way, but I won’t deny it. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Upward Mobility in a Downward World

So, I’ve done the deed. I turned in a two week notice to my perfectly fine, but absolutely miserable job.  Ask me if I had something lined up. Haha, nope. Not a thing. Not even a shadow of something. But, there are times in your life when you’ve just gotta do what you know is the right thing for you…whether it makes sense to everyone else in your life or not. So, I did.

I knew my husband would be able to pick up some part time gigs, paying three times what I could get paid, as a cop. And I had this vague notion that I might be able to do some freelance writing on the side. When I say vague, I mean microscopic. So, when I read of another blogger’s experience writing full time for Demand Studios, I checked it out. I sent in my resume, a writing sample and prayed. A lot. I’ve read they’re quite picky and it can take awhile to get on board or even hear back with a rejection. But, low and behold, I was accepted. I thought it was too good to be true, but there is something about filling out a W-9 that’s encouraging.

So, I suppose I’ve left security behind for freedom–as my friend put it. Am I freaked out? You bet. But honestly, there is a part of me that has come alive and feels completely renewed with the power of my own future. I control directly how much money I make and where I want to make it. I can write at Starbucks, or on the couch in my pj’s. This blows me away. I realize that there are freelance writers out there who make quadruple what I’ll be making, but by working 25 hours a week, I’ll make more than I make at my current job–so I’ll take the steady work.

And what’s most important to me–my novel writing–will finally be able to take center stage. I’ll still have a schedule. I think this is absolutely pivotal to making it on your own as a freelancer. I’ve always been organized and able to effectively manage my time. All that to say that I’ve never been so excited about something that could very well turn out to kick me in the ass three weeks from now. Hope abounds and my soul feels like its been revived. I know, dramatic much? Sorry, I don’t normally blog about my personal life, but as a writer we are still deeply connected to our every day lives. I’m learning this more and more everyday.

Now, telling my in-laws is a whole other story. I’ll get to that eventually, but hopefully it will be with a few checks in hand to show that I wasn’t completely out of my mind (I say that because my father-in-law does our taxes and will inevitably know if I fail at this). For now i have my own father’s grumbled acknowledgment of what I truly believe was a good decision. And that’s enough to contend with. One day at a time, folks. One day at a time.

As far as that novel writing goes, I am on the last few chapters of my fifth novel and wrapping up the last quarter of my fourth. I’ve been writing both of those on an alternating basis. Interesting endeavor since they are in different tenses. I don’t recommend it. And I owe some of you an apology–I’ve teased some of you for writing/reading about vampires and you have the right to call me a hypocrite because my fifth book is an urban fantasy…about vampires. Oops. I swore I wouldn’t, but what was supposed to be an exercise in first person morphed out of control and 86,000 words later–I have another novel. Who knew?

Some stories are just like that; they come crashing through your front door (or frontal lobe whichever the case) and demand quarter. Other stories have to cultivate for years and age before they can be written and they take every ounce of your soul as payment. I know, Fable is one of those series: Nine books total, only the first three are finished, Fable spans multiple worlds and has a truly epic cast of characters that range from a disgruntled warrior to a voracious pet dragon named Cryx. I will die with this story still on my heart.

Fable was born out of a dream I had when I was eleven. Let me share the beginnings of that dream with you:

The Ereubinians, gifted with the power to steal the human soul, rule Middengard: the realm of Man. In the beginning, Middengard was successful in defending its people, but as the first age of war came to an end, and the Ereubinians conquered the once legendary city of Eidolon, Man began to weaken in their resolve and a fable began to take shape; first in whispers heard at battle’s end, then in legends passed down from one generation to the next. Soon, myth became prayer and an unwavering faith in an unseen realm was born.

For centuries that fable fueled the vitality of the human heart, but eventually the free lands waned and Eidolon’s rule overshadowed the few that subsisted on their own. Finally only one stronghold, Palingard, remained.

As Palingard falls, three individuals will discover that their lives are intertwined, and everything they once thought to be truth will be irrevocably changed…

Ariana, spared in Palingard by her would-be captor, journeys in her father’s last known footsteps only to discover that not only are the legends of Adoria real—she is more a part of them than she could ever imagine.

Garren, High Lord Commander of Eidolon, and sworn enemy of Adoria, must grapple with his suddenly waning faith after he saves the life of a girl in Palingard, and weigh what remains of it against the light he never knew existed.

Michael, sovereign ruler of Adoria, bears the same burden of guardianship as that of his forefathers, but when the divide that has always protected Adoria fails, and an elaborate conspiracy to keep his sister’s existence from him is revealed, he must decide if man’s soul can still be saved – and at what cost.