I am thrilled to participate in the Snowy Wings Publishing Middle Grade Blog Hop!
For this entire week, great posts are being written by Snowy Wings authors and shared by our special blogging partners, the Snow Angels. (By the way, if you’re interested in becoming a Snow Angel (and receive Advance Reader Copies of books, cover reveals, and other fun perks, check out this link!)
I’m so excited to share my middle grade fantasy novel, Keara’s Raven: Escape.
If you’re not familiar with Keara’s world, here’s the back of the book blurb:
I take your rebellion. Forget it. It is mine.
In the sheltered village of Silver Hollow, Keara knows exactly what she must do: Follow her mother’s strict rules and worship the twelve gods. But Keara’s twelfth birthday is looming, along with an obligation she dreads. She must sacrifice her beloved darkbeast on a holy altar.
Other children despise their bonded scapegoat animals, but Keara loves her raven, Caw. He’s her only friend, the sole creature who understands her headstrong ways.
When a traveling theater troupe passes through the village, Keara glimpses a way to escape. But the Great Road comes with its own dangers, including dread Inquisitor priests who hunt down heretics.
Will Keara find the strength to flee the only home she’s ever known? Or will she be forced to slay her closest friend on the altar of the gods?
Keara’s Raven is the only creature in the world who knows all of her secrets. Keara tells Caw everything she thinks, about her mother and her village and everything that happens to her. Caw listens and gives her advice, because he’s her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend.
In Keara’s world, most darkbeasts are ugly or scary animals. Keara knows people whose darkbeasts are toads and snakes and rats. With Halloween just around the corner, it’s easy to think of frightening darkbeasts. What animal would you choose, if you could choose your own darkbeast? (Tell me in a comment, below!)
I’ve put together some fun activities related to Keara’s Raven: Escape. You can have a birthday party with a Keara’s Raven theme. Or you can do some fun book projects.
Thank you for stopping by on the blog hop! As a thank you for participating, Snowy Wings Publishing is offering a chance to win eight (8) ebooks and two (2) paperbacks from our middle-grade authors!
An ebook of Something Wicked by Sarah Dale (releases Nov 2019)
An ebook of The Falling by T. Damon
An ebook of Keara’s Raven: Escape by Mindy Klasky
An ebook of The Missing Guardian & The Mer Queen’s Daughter by Melanie McFarlane
An ebook of the World of Aluvia series (Fairy Keeper, Mer-Charmer, and Dragon Redeemer) by Amy Bearce
A paperback of Life and Death & Gods and Demons by Selenia Paz
You can enter the drawing here:
Hop around and make sure to visit all the other Snowy Wings Publishing Blog Hop blogs today! (The dates indicate when the blog is featured, but you can read every one of them right now!)
October 25th – YA/NA Book Divas
October 26th – Selenia Paz
October 27th – Mindy Klasky
October 28th – I Love Books and Stuff
October 29th – Amy Bearce / The Reading Faery
October 30th – Melanie McFarlane / Jenifer Reads
October 31st – Sarah Dale
I am thrilled to announce that Keara’s Raven: Betrayal is now available in print and as an ebook! (Print editions are rolling out, even as I type… If they aren’t at your favorite online store yet, they will be soon. And if your local bricks-and-mortar store can’t order yet, it will be able to in very short order!)
When I first wrote Keara’s tale — the story of a twelve-year-old girl who rebels against the expectations of her society to save her raven best friend — I knew there were some dark themes in the book. After all, Caw needed saving because he was about to be sacrificed, on an altar, in service to an unknown and unknowable god.
Some people told me that story was too dark, especially for a children’s book.
But I remembered the children’s books I loved when I was a kid. I adored A Wrinkle in Time — where one child must overcome all her fears of inadequacy to rescue not only an enslaved and mind-ripped sibling, but also to save a parent. I gobbled up all the Narnia books, with their overt religious symbolism of sacrifice and redemption. I fell hard for The Lord of the Rings, reading the trilogy without benefit of a film interpretation, after I read The Hobbit for my fifth-grade English class.
Keara’s story wasn’t too dark. It wasn’t too religious. It wasn’t too hard.
Alas, the original cover didn’t do a great job of selling my story. When my agent first saw the design, he said, “It looks like a Christmas card for orphans.” We had complained about the first book, explaining that the girly cover would alienate boy readers who would otherwise love Keara’s and Caw’s adventures. In response, the second book’s cover had a small figure of a boy in the middle ground — an even clearer message (to those who wanted not to like the story) that boys were secondary in Keara’s world.
So. Here is Keara’s Raven: Betrayal. Once again, Elisabeth Alba has done an amazing job with the cover art — capturing the scary things, the hard things, the things that make Keara the brave heroine she is.
You can buy your copy today!
Buy your print book today:
Buy your ebook today:
Once upon a time, I wrote a short story, and it grew up to become a book.
It was called “The Darkbeast”, and it was published in the anthology Fantastic Companions, which was edited by Julie Czerneda. Every story in the anthology involved a human boy or girl and an animal companion. (I originally wanted to write a story about a griffin or a dragon, but Julie already had those stories. I “reserved” a raven, and then I thought and thought and thought and came up with my story.)
Over the years, that story stuck with me. I loved my courageous heroine, who chose her best friend over the only home she’d ever known. Eventually, I decided to write a novel based on that story.
I changed things. A lot of things. My sixteen-year-old heroine became twelve years old, mostly because I wanted to focus on the pure decision my character made, rather than complicating social factors (like, um, boys.) The society that was the basis of the story became more developed. I built its religion, focusing on twelve gods and goddesses, because that made sense in a society where a coming-of-age ceremony would be held at age twelve. I built its political system, focusing on a distant ruler, because that gave my characters a reason to travel. I built parallel language structures, where people’s names were based on Celtic tradition while place names and government structures were built on Latin, because… well, because those names interested me.
The result was a book called Darkbeast.
Darkbeast was published by a fancy New York publisher. It had a rough life, though. It came to market just as Borders closed its doors forever. Barnes & Noble was nervous about the story’s focus on a child who rebels against the religion of her parents. The original cover was gorgeous, but it had a very feminine girl in a very feminine pinkish-red dress against a bright blue sky, at a time when books for middle-grade readers had dark colors in browns and purples and jewel tones (and books hoping for male readers featured at least one boy on the cover.) It was published under a pen name, to keep younger readers from easily finding my spicier books.
Darkbeast never found its true home. The publisher was wonderful about the market failure. They reverted rights to me promptly, allowing me to publish my own version of the book.
I attempted to rehabilitate Darkbeast, placing it in a position to best be discovered by adult readers. I gave it a new name – Rebel Flight – and I gave it a gorgeous new cover.
But, alas, Rebel Flight never found its true home. Who knows why? Maybe because it has a young heroine. Maybe because it’s relatively short (compared to the doorstops of some of the most successful fantasy novels.) Maybe because I was otherwise publishing cozy paranormals, and readers didn’t understand what this fantasy novel was all about.
I still loved Keara. And I was over the moon about Caw. And I found myself getting lost in their world, every time I thought about writing fantasy again.
Around that time, I found an author-run publishing cooperative, Snowy Wings Publishing, which understood how to get books into school libraries. I applied to become a member of Snowy Wings. After I was accepted there, I interviewed artists to find someone who could create the dream cover I envisioned for the book. I found that one of my favorite artists, Elisabeth Alba, was available. I talked to a lot of author-friends about book titles, etc.
And Keara’s Raven: Escape was born.
I love it. I love the way Elisabeth’s original painting captures Keara’s attitude. I love how the magic of the world is captured in the colors, the lettering, the entire design. And, of course, I still love the story.
So, I’m thrilled to share Keara’s Raven: Escape with you. I hope you love it as much as I do!
You can read the first chapter here.
Or you can buy your copy here:
(Print editions will be available very, very soon!)
Bounce, bounce, bounce!
I’m *FINALLY* able to share the amazing cover created by Elisabeth Alba (from Alba Ilustration) for KEARA’S RAVEN: ESCAPE. The book will be in stores will be in stores March 19 – but pre-orders are up now! You can read the first chapter here!
Elisabeth was a joy to work with. And the best news of all? Next month, I can share her outstanding cover for KEARA’S RAVEN: BETRAYAL!
(This book, currently published by Snowy Wings Publishing, used to be Rebel Flight, which used to be Darkbeast. With this incredible new cover, I know it’s going to soar with its intended middle grade audience!)