Friday, February 19, 2021

Change of Plans?

 So ... I've not been getting the interaction I was hoping for with the Rizkaland Readalong. Furthermore, I am ... not as close to finished as I want to be with Love and Memory, and so ... well, the time investment that this Readalong is taking is not worth it. 

Guys, I have TWO MONTHS LEFT. And I still have to write all of part five.

And so, instead, let's have this:

That's right! Signup for Love and Memory's blog tour is now open! Click here to sign up, and here to request an ARC

If you're interested in spotlighting the book on your blog, newsletter, or other social media, without being part of the official tour, that is an option on the blog tour form. Just check the box, and I'll send you the info packet when I mail it out to everyone else.

And, yes, you probably ought to have read Water Princess, Fire Prince and Lady Dragon, Tela Du, first, which is why both have their prices reduced until release. 

Also, I have this for Instagram.

For the record, I am funneling the Readalong entries into the giveaway below.

But, as a peace offering, how about a snippet?

Petra, this wasn’t the way. Reuben’s thought was stern, and his grip on her arm tightened.

She twisted back to stare at him, preparing to defend herself, but his lips crushed against hers, and his anger and disappointment blazed through her.

Petra didn’t fight him, but this kiss was an argument. She threw up every defense she had, but he shattered them. It didn’t help that a memory of three little girls with green scales and hopeful eyes made them weak to begin with.

When he pulled away, she was trembling.

Also, did you know that I have a Discord Server for my readers? It's actually where I most consistently post writing updates and other goodies, so I highly recommend checking it out.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Rizkaland Readalong: Water Princess, Fire Prince Part 5 - The War

First off, if you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

Second off, if you don't have your own copy of Water Princess, Fire Prince, you can nab it today only free on Kindle! And, since next week begins Lady Dragon, Tela Du, you can go ahead and grab it for free, as well! ALSO, today is the last day to preorder Love and Memory for just $0.99! So go nab up the whole series. Don't worry. I'll not go anywhere while you're off grabbing them!

Third off, there's a giveaway at the end, so do stick around!

Let's get into it.

Andrew has been in Amber's prison for two weeks, Clara's still an ice statue. Granite shows up and reveals how to break the ice magic and how to get out of the prison, and Andrew follows the instructions, and they make their way out of the abandoned city ... only to be attacked by cat-like creatures called etrinas and Andrew goes down for the count. Clara stays to fight them off, but it's only when Kath, Rich, Stephan, and Kiona show up on hinequa-back that they're rescued. Then it's into full-swing for war, though there's a quick detour to get Essua, since she didn't melt, and then it's battle time. Amber attacks, they spend the day fighting, and then Andrew gets the brilliant idea to chase Amber out of town with fire AND water (y'know, the stuff they found inside the Mountain), and lo and behold! It works, everyone lives happily ever after. At least for the next twenty-five years, when it's time for Clara and Andrew to return to their own world.

Things of note:
There are four kisses in this section. The first is when Andrew has to defrost Clara, then she returns the favor moments later 'cause fire down her throat wasn't comfortable and she wants to have a first kiss worth remembering, and then they share another one that night as they're talking over their relationship, and then the final one is right after they chase Amber out and win the war. *happy sighs*
No, he did not actually pour fire down her throat. It just felt that way to her because she was so cold.
It's revealed in this section that Bugslayers, due to the poison in their system, can't have children.
So that kiiiinda puts a wrench in Jill Anna's relationship.
But then she dumps a bunch of Ia beetles onto Amber's head and Amber has to completely destroy the poison to get out of her system. I don't completely state in-book that it cures her of her inability to have kids ... but it does.
It's revealed here that Amber's offer to Andrew - about how she'll give him "the life he always dreamed of - was also offered to Princess Renee ... who turns out to have been Andrew's mother. Hmmm... weird.
Andrew's pretty badly scratched up after the etrina attack, so Clara insists that they wait until he's healed before they counterattack. 
Andrew breaks a vase the night before Amber's attack, which results in him and Clara falling asleep cuddling on a couch and !!!!!
Rich and Kath skip town in the middle of the fight.
In the epilogue, their youngest daughter seems a bit fixed on a story about Rich. Hmmm...
Oh, and yes, it turns out that their parents are the Ten. 
And Clara gets given a locket that has pics of all their children, after they leave.
Andrew realizes why Granite seemed familiar - he looks just like his friend's cousin, Reuben. Who has a best friend who looks just like Amber. (dun dun duuuuuun). Yes, this realization was added in the revision.

Favorite scenes/other stuff in this part:
Andrew just has noooooo idea what to do with a Clara that isn't hostile. It's adorable. And also him being all embarrassed when Rich finds them asleep together on the couch and everyone else is like ... yeah, you're Tied to her. It's FINE.

But Clara's just gone in heart-whole for Andrew. Also, random thing that just occurred to me ... her fear of falling ... may have extended to falling in love? I dunno, but it does line up with her personality? Which is why she'd have fought it so hard, but then he just represents security to her, it never felt like falling, 'cause it was so gradual and here she is!!! 

The convo between Clara and Rich was great. Because, like, he's happy for her that she's happy in her relationship now, but also ... well, he's still in love with her and now he's lost her completely.

Parker finding a schwazle in his bag of animals was ... cute. 

I'm going to skip favorite quotes, as this is going out late, and blogger's being nasty about formatting with these.  

Behind the scenes:
I am aware that the war was a rather ... abrupt ending. I have a ... very good explanation for that. See, the first draft was written by hand, and I was running out of pages on my third notebook, and I just didn't want to get a fourth, so I just put the story out of its misery? Okay, not a good excuse ... but I'm not good at wars, 'kay? 

I kiiiinda feel like I needed to have a Clara/Jakob/Essua scene where he askes Clara about Jill Anna, and Essua's just like, bro! Go ahead and pursue your lady-love. If she can't give you kids, then you can just hand the crown over to me and I'll just have to go find myself a husband. Just ... chill out. Because that's actually 100% what happened, and how Jakob finally convinced Jill Anna to marry him because she was just this insecure bean who didn't want to take the risk. (They did have kids, though. Their eldest daughter actually married Clara and Andrew's eldest son and became queen. And I don't think Essua ever did marry)

So, fun fact ... the kiss on the beach was going to be their first kiss, during plotting, but then Clara just had her balcony moment (like, I have a reviewer say I forced the balcony, but ... that was Clair. I'd plotted for her to keep fighting to the end), and she just fell into his arms and !!!

Shortly before writing their first kiss, I'd just done CPR/artificial respiration training, which is why it happened. My certification has long-since expired ... but I do still carry the card in my purse 'cause, y'know, if it comes down to it and I'm the difference between life and death for someone, at least I have had the training.

Also, randomly, while writing that scene, I was at my aunt's watching a Barbie movie (Princess Charm School, I believe), and my uncle joked about getting all those ideas about romance from said movie, and I just fell out of my chair laughing because I'd just written "You kissed me!"

I tried to cut their third kiss, 'cause I wasn't sure if it was necessary (Four kisses were waaaaay too much for one book, right????), but then the scene got better and I kept it. (And, joke's on me, six years later, as I'm writing Love and Memory, I've had a good 20+ kisses and no regrets.)

Discussion Questions

(Every question you answer in the comments below is an entry to win one of the Rizkaland Legends in paperback, or all four - for a total of five winners. Giveaway is U.S. only.)

1. Thoughts on Clara being afraid of "falling" in love?
2. Have you ever had CPR training/certification?
3. Anything you're excited about happening in the sequels?
4. Any favorite quotes?
5. Would you mind, pretty please, leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere else?

Friday, February 5, 2021

Rizkaland Readalong: Water Princess, Fire Prince Part 4 - The Kastle


First off, if you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

Second off, if you don't have your own copy of Water Princess, Fire Prince, you can nab it today only free on Kindle!

Third off, there's a giveaway at the end, so do stick around!

Let's get into it.

They are now in the Kastle where they meet up with the Wind Prince and Leaf Princess, who turns out to be Kath and Rich. Clara is not impressed. Then, the next night, they have a ceremony where Clara and Andrew are knighted, crowned, and Tied. I.e. Rizkan equivalent of married. She is even more not impressed. They spend the night together on the Hill, get a tour of the Kastle the next day while their hands continue to be stuck together, and then the next day get shipped off to Rizkaland proper. There they recruit allies, mostly in the form of the energetic Queen Kiona and her quiet husband, King Stephan. They then go have a ball, where Clara and Andrew are kidnapped by the Dragon.

Things of note:
This section covers the least amount of time of the book (about three and a half days), but it's also the longest section of the book!
We finally find out why Kath was teasing Clara about redheads in the beginning! And singling out Andrew in particular!
Laura the Doorkeeper finally joins the party to stay in this section, and offers her help on condition. In the original published version of the book, we didn't find out what the condition was, but when I I rereleased a revised version in 2017, I was able to add it in: basically, she wants Clara and Andrew to name a kid after her.
Other thing that I added in the revision: Expanded end to the last chapter. It's still a nasty cliffhanger, but it used to end with Amber merely snatching them off the balcony. Now she deposits them in their prison and has a bit of a chat with Andrew.
Kath and Rich came to Rizkaland in a hang glider crash about a year before the opening of the book. Said hang glider crash is one of the things that aggravated Clara's fear of falling.
Clara spends most of this section at war with herself. As we'll recall, she'd been on the brink of accepting the situation with Andrew, but with Rich and Kath's appearance as the Wind Prince and Leaf Princess, it's a sudden, blatant reminder that she's been railroaded into the relationship and her inclination is to rebel. Except that he's won her trust and became her safe zone, and ... well, she's in a state of imminent implosion.
Kiona and Stephan are of the line of Violet, her gift is excellent aim, and his is commanding speech, and that's why he's so quiet. Because what he does say has power.
Jill Anna meets up with the Bugslayers in the castle and she's promoted to third-in-command of the company.
Them getting Tied meant that Kath and Rich bound their upper arms from fist to elbow in a special cord that their arms absorbed over the course of the next ten to eighteen hours. 

Favorite scenes/other stuff in this part:
Ugh! All the flirting! Having seen her at her most vulnerable, Andrew's growing more comfortable with Clara in this section, and she, well ... since she's Tied to the guy, she may as well have some fun with it. I especially enjoyed the scene where they're duling in chapter 9, and then her coaching him in how to ask her to dance.

Clara's chat first with Jill Anna and then with Kath, in chapter 8. All the feels. Kath just wants her best friend back, but Clara feels that Kath snatched away her last bit of control in her life, and !!! 

TBH, all of chapter 10 was gold. It was such a teetering, trembling bubble of tension to write. Andrew's speech, then their talk in the stairwell, then the dancing, then the balcony!!!

I also freakin' love the encounter Andrew has with Amber in the hallway. It's a fun testament to the fact that no one actually knows what Amber looks like that she's able to wander through the halls with no one noticing her. (Though, I think she might have been invisible for a good chunk of the time). And then Clara sees them and she's all like "BACK OFF, THAT'S MY MAAAAAAN." And it's such a turning point, and my heart!!!!

While we're at it, her crying herself to sleep in his arms after they're Tied, 'cause that's her last remnant of control gone, and he's just determined to be there for her as much as he can, even as he knows that it's his very existence that's her problem. 

Am I a flaming bundle of fangirl over my own characters in this part of the book? Why yes! Yes, I am!

Favorite Quotes:

  “So, this is your boyfriend?” Rich asked.
  “Ah, no,” said the Fire Prince, immediately dropping his hand.
  “He’s just the Fire Prince,” said Clara.
  “And you’re the Water Princess.” As though that meant anything. Which it did, but Clara wanted to conveniently forget that part.

  Andrew knew the question was a dangerous one, but he couldn’t help but ask it, and hope she wouldn’t react too … violently. “I’m a … match for you?”
  She stiffened, and almost pulled her hand from his arm – but his hand was over hers. He wasn’t trying to restrain her hand, and she could have gotten free if she fought, but the fight went out the moment she hit resistance. “Well, I had to say something to her to shut her up,” she countered, stiffly. “Besides, if she is working for Amber, it wouldn’t be good for her to take back a report that we stand divided.
  Andrew found he had no answer for that, but instead found himself falling, drowning in that pair of blue, blue eyes that stared up at him. It was a strange sensation, one he found he didn’t mind.

Behind the Scenes:

Parts two and three were written together in about seventeen days during NaNo. Then, right as I was getting into this meaty section of the book, our whole household got hit by a naaaaasty cold. I'm talking, lungs full of crud, every nerve of my body on fire, what is breathing anymore???? type of cold. As a result, the Tying/crowning/knighting ceremony wound up lifted pretty much wholesale from the original notebook (the words of it, the surrounding actions were rewritten), 'cause I had no energy whatsoever to do anything creative for a good solid week. (Actually, the fact that I was able to rebound so quickly and still had the book finished by the end of December was legit amazing.)

I channeled Clara hard while writing this book, and I believe it was in the middle of this section that my aunt was like "I get being upset over a book you're reading, but when you're writing it??? Aren't you the one in control???" and I was just like noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. My feels were all over the place.

As stated, there were portions added to this part's last chapter in the revised edition. The convo between Amber and Andrew in the village after their capture wasn't written until after the book was initially released, and I wrote it in back drive thru in a fit of inspiration, then posted it to the AA blog. If you'd like access to the AA blog, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter! (points to blog sidebar) But yeah, I posted it, and the AA readers were like "this should have been in the boooook," and I was like, yeah, you're right, it should have been, so when I had a chance in the rerelease, I added it.

Rich actually has a crush on Clara! This is actually one of the things that tilts her over the edge once they get into the Kastle, because it's something she's aware of, even if neither of them had ever discussed it, and she was just starting to consider reciprocating when he pulled back after the hang glider crash. Now she knows why he pulled back and she's just ... not having it. (And, yes, fun fact, had Andrew not entered the picture, she and Rich would have probably wound up together, though it wouldn't have worked out as well. She needed Andrew's quiet stability and Rich ... well, you'll see when you meet his lovely lady ... eventually.)

I made the mistake of letting Laura mention parents in this part, which was kiiiinda a Doctor Who/River Song reference (As Laura exists as a Doctor Who/River Song reference, though her initial concept predates my knowledge of the show), and now all my readers are obsessed with figuring out who those parents are. *tsktsk* 

Discussion Questions

(Every question you answer in the comments below is an entry to win one of the Rizkaland Legends in paperback, or all four - for a total of five winners. Giveaway is U.S. only. Don't forget, you could also win a copy of LaM by preordering the kindle edition!)

1. How would you react to finding out that your best friend is suddenly thirty years older than you thought?
2. So, did you catch that the mystery girl was Amber? What do you think she wants Andrew for?
3. What are your favorite romance tropes?
4. If you were to attend a fancy ball, what dress would you wear?
5. Any favorite quotes?

Friday, January 29, 2021

Rizkaland Readalong: Water Princess, Fire Prince Part 3 - The Mountain


First off, if you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

Second off, if you don't have your own copy of Water Princess, Fire Prince, you can nab it today only free on Kindle!

Third off, there's a giveaway at the end, so do stick around!

Let's get into it.

Clara has arrived at the Mountain, and eventually finds Andrew hunting in "her" clearing and challenges him to a duel. He loses until her mask gets knocked off, revealing that she's a girl, and she's not happy that he's her Fire Prince. They then spend a night together rescuing Jasmine and Karlos from a cliff. After a few more days of not knowing what next to do, Andrew has a dream about Alphego, and he and Clara then begin having alternating dreams that gives them riddles and challenges that get them through a system of caves.

Things of note:
Clara and Jill Anna chose to "summon" the Fire Prince with mistletoe muffins, because it's said, if you sleep with one under you pillow, you will meet the person you'll marry over the course of the next day.
There are five challenges. The first and last are puzzles. The second involves finding a lever, and third and fourth involve letting someone take a more dangerous route ahead of the rest of the party. (The first also involves rock climbing).
Clara and Andrew quickly realize that they have ... connections. I.e. - remember Rhoda's cousin that Kath was teasing her about at the start of the book? Yup, that's Andrew. What a weird coinkydink.
His mom was also in the circus with her parents. 
It is in this section that we learn about the trauma that shaped both of them as people - her, falling from a trapeze when she was four, giving her an intense fear of falling - and failing - and he reveals a truth about the accident where they lost his mother: They never found her body because she vanished into thin air before the crash even happened. Weird.
Clara and Andrew make an agreement pretty much from the start that they aren't going to rush their relationship, and this section sees them gradually opening up to each other + learning to trust and depend on each other. Clara isn't quite ready to call it love by the end of this section, but ... shippyshipship, anyone?
This is also the part where we find out that Jill Anna likes Jakob. And also that he harbors secret feelings for her as well. Ahhhhh, forbidden love...
Laura makes another appearance in this section. This time she comes from a wedding and mentions a Lucy.
Here we also find out an interesting tidbit about Jill Anna's past - she's a Bug Child. As in, she was given immunity to a poisonous beetle as a kid, and now it's her job to seek out and kill these beetles. 
For some weird reason, that I cannot understand, before she lost her mask, Andrew thought that Clara was a giraffe. Why he thought this, even though she was so very short--


Favorite scenes/other stuff in this part:
Fun fact! The "our adventurers must face a series of challenges before reaching their goal, and each challenge seems tailored to the talents/weaknesses/whathaveyou of one or another adventurer" happens to be one of my favorite fantasy tropes, and I'm honestly kiiiinda sad that this is the closest I've come to it 'cause, with seven adventurers that make it into the Mountain, and only five challenges, I kinda missed some of them? (Mostly I missed Abraham, but ... there was only so much mountain.) Still, this was one of my favorite parts of the book to write.

Clara and Andrew do establish some recurring inside jokes between them, such as "I see" (Which actually gets a revisit in LaM!) and Dihydrogen monixide (which may get a revisit, for though it hasn't happened yet, I do have an entire section of the book left to write.)

I get a lot of people complaining about how Clara initially dislikes Andrew for no reason ... and that's kinda the point? She was so upset by the fact that she was in this fated romance with a guy she'd not met, that she was prepared to find every reason to dislike him from the start. She didn't go into the relationship looking for the positives, she went in looking for the negatives. And Andrew, being the shy, nonconfrontational boi that he is, does the exact thing that disarms her - he steps back and gives her space to figure herself out. And, honestly, given where things end, I think they're in shape to continue a trend of trust and interdependence as the rest of the book goes. 'Twould be a shame if something were to happen to ... derail that.

Andrew's attraction to Clara is a bit more of a "oh, pretty girl, and apparently she's supposed to be mine?" He'd never really given much thought to romance until this point, and so he's mostly just stumbling through just trying to make the most of the situation he's been thrust into. He's attracted to her, but she also scares him. But, from that first night, he gets to see a softer side of her, and, well ... the way to his heart is through the kids that he cares about, and the fact that their first team project was "rescue Jasmine and Karlos" was intentional.

Favorite Quotes:

   “I think you’re going to wear a groove into the floor,” Andrew observed, the third day they’d been stuck there. He was so tired of watching and hearing her, he was willing to take her snap.
  “Maybe that’s the way out,” she informed him, whirling around and leaning against the wall. “Wear a hole in the ground until we fall through. I mean, do you have anything better for me to do?”
  “Ah, maybe sit down and give your legs a break,” Andrew suggested. “Wearing grooves has to be a tiring business.”
  She shrugged. “I’m bored right now. Moving makes me less so.”

  Here, at last, were answers, a way into the Mountain. A thrill of excitement ran through Clara, and without thinking, she threw her arms around the Fire Prince’s chest.
  He drew back, raising both hands uncomfortably. Realizing whom she was hugging, she drew back as well, folding her arms over her chest. “That was an ‘I’m glad we’re finally headed somewhere,’ hug, not an ‘I like you’ hug, by the way,” she pointed out.
  “Ah. Thanks for the … clarification.”

“So,” she continued, as he pulled out a package of beef jerky, “how’d a guy like you end up with the choice position of Fire Prince?” she asked, “beyond the obvious fact that you have matches.”
   Andrew shrugged. “I’m still not sure. We were on a road trip, I was getting the car packed, and then there was a forest fire, and then I was here. I didn’t want to come here and be the Fire Prince if that’s what you’re asking. So, what about you? How’d you get to be the Water Princess? Beyond the obvious fact that you can fight.”
  She snorted again, clearly amused by his decision to imitate her phrasing. “I froze to death,” she answered.
  Andrew blinked. “Um … you…”
  “Really?” asked Karlos.

Behind the Scenes:

The scene where Clara and Andrew meet and duel for the first time was probably my most prewritten scene (aka, I wrote it ahead of time to help pin down the feel of the characters, conflicts, and goals of the book) in Water Princess, Fire Prince. It went through a number of changes to pin down exactly how I wanted them to meet and it's actually the reason Clara became classics-obsessed and started quoting everywhere. 

I stole the dihydrogen monoxide joke from my english workbook. #shameless

The scene where Clara becomes self-aware and comments on them being in a book is based on something I, myself, said, one day when I passed my younger siblings watching some sort of cheesy CGI movie. I don't remember what the movie was, only that I knew, then and there, that Clara would have to comment on movie magic at some point in the book.

Clara being in a circus was inspired by a real-life family that my mother read about at some point and told me about. I don't remember much about said family, except that they would take their kid with them onto the trapeze and toss her between themselves. Her being terrified of falling happened after a RP I let her play in, where she and Andrew got to go watch the circus due to some weird time funkiness, and she was freaking out. When I asked her why, later, she told me about the fall.

Andrew has resting frown-face. Like, straight-up. A lot of people comment on him being stern, scary, always frowning (not necessarily in this book, but Clara does mention it when she observes him asleep), but that's his face.

Also ... this is a thing. I don't know why people let me get away with it, but it's one of my favorite comparisons and contrasts between Robin and Clara.

Discussion Questions

(Every question you answer in the comments below is an entry to win one of the Rizkaland Legends in paperback, or all four - for a total of five winners. Giveaway is U.S. only. Don't forget, you could also win a copy of LaM by preordering the kindle edition!)

1. What are some of your favorite fantasy tropes?
2. If you're an ardent Clarand shipper ... at what moment do you think the ship sailed?
3. What's your favorite "old wives' tale" regarding romance (or any such stuff)?
4. Do you like it when characters lean on the fourth wall?
5. Any favorite quotes?

Friday, January 22, 2021

Rizkaland Readalong: Water Princess, Fire Prince Part 2 - The Fire


First off, if you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

Second off, if you don't have your own copy of Water Princess, Fire Prince, you can nab it today only free on Kindle!

Third off, there's a giveaway at the end, so do stick around!

Let's get into it.

Andrew's busy corraling his brothers and organizing a camping trip when he sees a swirling vortex of fire, thinks he hears his youngest brother inside, and runs into it. He emerges in Rizkaland, where he's promptly proclaimed the Fire Prince, much to his annoyance. He's a pretty typical, non-athletic, brainy type, so none of the men are very impressed with him, though Lord Abraham seems to think he can make something of the boy. And Lord Abraham's young son, Karlos, latches onto Andrew as a surrogate younger brother. One day, they get attacked by a kirat, Karlos almost gets caught, Andrew risks himself to free him, and then one of the older men rescues them. Andrew is shaken and decides that it's time for him to own up and be the Fire Prince. They then head Up to meet the Water Princess.

Things of note:
Like Clara, he only gets told about half of his prophecy until after a moment of crisis, but while, for her, it was their reign that was withheld, for him it was the fact that there's a Dragon.
His counterpart to her room of stuff is a cave of weapons, where he has a chat with Laura, the Doorkeeper, which is a mysterious girl who's apparently responsible for bringing him and Clara to this world.
Karlos is Lord Abraham's oldest son, but not his heir, because Rizkan law requires that the heir be the child of the Lord AND Lady, and Karlos' mother died before Abraham became Lord, and thus was never Lady. 
He also gets a pretty sweet sword.
Andrew finds his mysterious stranger a little bit familiar...

Favorite scenes/other stuff in this part:
Every scene with Karlos was awesome, but most notably the one where he gets into Andrew's bag.

The Kirat scene was so thrilling to write, and I really liked how it drew out Andrew's determined nobility that 

I actually plotted Andrew's section to parallel Clara's structurally with a few reversals, though his last two chapters got combined. The major reversal is that his Action chapter happened in #8, while hers was #10. Meanwhile, she had a chat with a mysterious stranger in #10 and she had one #8.

So ... small thing that some people notice in part 1 is Jakob/Essua, but I packed in a number of references to the Patriarchs in this book. Abraham's daughter is named Iska, and he has an older son who isn't his heir due to having a different mother. And then the twelve men of the hunting trip were all each given a name corresponding to one of the twelve sons of Jacob. I didn't get to refer to all of the men (I tried though, and I actually did have names for them all written down on the back of a bulletin), and Rhodan/Reuben is a bit of a stretch, but I didn't want him getting confused with Reuben in the next book, so...

Favorite Quotes:

Yes, Kyle, you may take Josh and Parker for a hike before we leave,” said Andrew, without looking up from the map he was examining. “Just don’t push them off of any cliffs. We don’t have time to call 911 right now.”

“That wasn’t what I was going to ask, Andrew,” said Kyle, with a groan. “I—”

“Well, it happens to be what I just gave you permission to do, unless you want to stay and help me pack up the tent. On second thought…”

“I’ll take them hiking,” Kyle quickly amended, before Andrew could finish the thought.

“People aren’t the only ones to fall through doors, not always.”
Andrew spun around, waving his flashlight’s beam violently until it fell on a girl seated on a rock, dressed in a tank top and jeans, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her hand went up to shield her eyes.
“Didn’t your parents teach you not to shine those things in people’s eyes?” she protested.
Andrew lowered the flashlight, frowning. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” he asked.
“The name’s Laura, though most people call me the Doorkeeper,” she answered. “As for what I’m doing here – well, it’s a room full of powerful weapons from all sorts of worlds. I sorta belong here.”

“You said you’d never held a sword before in your life,” Karlos continued, seemingly oblivious to Andrew’s foul mood, so much like Parker it almost hurt. “I can’t imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have a sword, but I suppose you get used to it.”
“You can’t get used to something if you’ve never experienced anything different,” Andrew pointed out. “You’re just used to it.”

Behind The Scenes
As with Clara, I wrote Andrew to be the opposite of the conventional view of fire, but still 100% fire. He's not angry (as long as you don't hurt someone he cares about) and impulsive. He's more of the hearth. He's warmth and home. But, yeah, if you hurt those he cares about ... watch out.

Those who have followed me for a while know that Andrew was originally not the oldest, but the youngest of his family. If you're new here ... well, now you know. I don't know what I was thinking with that plotline, but eventually, I got it straight and it made the character so much easier to write. Mostly 'cause I myself an oldest child and I very much knew his mentality. 

Also, random thing, in the original draft of the book, Karlos wasn't there at all. He was a character I added for my cousin to play while we were acting out the story in the backyard ('cause letting him play Andrew when I was Clara was ... awkward), and the original draft doesn't have the kid join the party until they reached the Lower Kastle. This cousin also inspired Quintin, who will have a major role in book 4 of the series.

The scary creature that nearly eats them was called a Kirat because I'd been watching too much Reader Rabbit and had Pi-rats stuck in my head. Very glorious, I know.

There's not a lot that I would rewrite on this section, but there is a lot of exposition and sum-up that I think could have been tighter.

Discussion Questions

(Every question you answer in the comments below is an entry to win one of the Rizkaland Legends in paperback, or all four - for a total of five winners. Giveaway is U.S. only.)

1. How would you personify fire?
2. What was your favorite one of the creatures that they encounter/hunt/hunts them?
3. Are you an oldest? Youngest? In the middle? Only child?
4. What's a fantasy world that you find incredibly interesting?
5. Any favorite quotes?

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