Q&A – Questions Wanted!

Hi, all!

This post is just a quick announcement/request:

In anticipation of reaching four thousand followers on Twitter (getting close!), I’m planning a Q&A video to celebrate! If you’re curious about my writing process, The Broken City of Crows, other work, my personal life, or anything else, comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter @NatePhilbrick!

I want the video to be ready to post when we hit 4k, so I’m getting a head start. Help me make this a fun project!

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My Dream Cast for The Broken City of Crows

I don’t usually post blog content during the summer, but today I’m making an exception! I thought it’d be fun to put together a dream cast for my serialized Wattpad novel, The Broken City of Crows, a medieval fantasy centered around escaped slaves Amos, Emery, and Saremis as they struggle to survive. (I post a new chapter every five days, and you can get caught up right here.)

wattpad cover - dark 500x800

Please note that some of the following characters have not been introduced in the story at the time of writing this blog post. So if you see a name you don’t recognize…you’ll have to wait and meet them!

Obviously, these are not perfect matches. Nor do I want to force readers to imagine my characters a certain way (that’s why I don’t do detailed descriptions in my chapters!). This is more like “given today’s selection of actors, who would be the best fit?” Also, my choices are based on physical appearance and personality ‘vibes’ only. I know next to nothing about most of these actors beyond that.

Let’s begin!

Asa Butterfield as Amos

asa butterfield

“I’m not as brave or as strong as you, but I know what I stand to lose. I’ll protect them. I promise.”


Kristin Kreuk as Saremis

kristin kreuk

“I learned that no matter how hard my life was, there was always something to find joy in. I don’t hate the world anymore.”


Tom Holland as Emery

tom holland

“Anytime rich people in Rausten did me wrong, I’d slip a spider down their collars. Have you ever seen a Rausten spider?”


Kristofer Hivju as Brand Barrylow

kristofer hivju

“We’re dealing with the low tiers of the market here. If you want to rob people blind, I suggest you take your wares farther south—Galaratheas, maybe.”


Allison Mack as Denna

Allison-Mack

“I may be a bit of a thief and a bit of a liar, but when I shake hands, the deed is as good as done.”


Caitriona Balfe as Avora

caitriona balfe

“I would have given my life for my city, once upon a time.”


Gerard Butler as Gwinn

gerard butler

“Don’t meddle with the forest, trader. Don’t coax the mountains out of slumber.”


Kristanna Loken as Ember

kristanna loken

N/A


Damián Alcázar as Glavis

damian alcazar

“The Untamable Mountains are like the Queen of Braesting–rich in beauty, but deadly dangerous if disrespected.”


Michiel Huisman as Darius Gyles

michiel-huisman.jpg

“Not so brash this time, are you? You’re hiding in the rubble, wetting yourselves for fear you might be next.”


Craig Horner as Tarks

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“A loyal man fights with his captain.”


Oona Chaplin as Taralin

oona chaplin

“It’s a game for men with too much blood in their veins and for women without enough. I’m blessed to be neither.”


Liam Neeson as Lord Durn

liam neeson

“I am the sharpened axe, and they will all bare their necks beneath me.”


Jeremy Irons as Lord Clamant

jeremy irons

“Silence the priests, and their deity becomes a myth to be forgotten until the time is right.”


Imogen Poots as Scarlet Clamant

imogen poots

“The only way you’ll catch my eye is if you outduel me. That, unfortunately, is something you can’t do.”


Willa Holland as Lunah Clamant

willa holland

“Aldazar Baerish revels in bloodshed, but he also brought me chocolate, so why shouldn’t I marry him?”


Will Poulter as Pawk

will poulter

“This is my tribe. These are my laws. If you can’t contribute, you can’t stay.”


Inma Cuesta as Aru

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“They meant to kill me; now I’m their queen.”


More readers are discovering The Broken City of Crows on a daily basis. If you’re already a reader, let me know what you think of these mock castings! And if you haven’t yet given it a try, you’re more than welcome over on Wattpad. I’d love to see you there!

P.S. Not all of these characters make it. Just felt that I should point that out ahead of time. You’ve been warned.

In the meantime, have a great day!

 

 

Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick

How could I not share this?

The Page Dreamer

Title: Where the Woods Grow Wild
Author: Nate Philbrick

  • Date read: June 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2016
  • Pages: 375 (Kindle)
  • Series: I’ve heard rumors of a sequel…! *excited bounce* *NEED*
  • Fave character: Martin… and all of them! ❤
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author for review purposes (many thanks! :)). I was not required to write a positive review; these opinions are my own.
  • Links:AmazonGoodreads • Author’s Blog

First thing’s first: I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! *hugs it* (Warning: Fangirling zone ahead.)

Where the Woods Grow Wild (don’t you love that title?) is SO much fun, as well as extremely well-written and completely gripping. It’s original fantasy, yet at the same time has this classic feel, so that I almost feel like I’ve known it forever, even though I just…

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Book Review | Lords of the Sith (Paul Kemp)

I’m slowly working my way through the canon Star Wars novels, and Lords of the Sith is my most recent read. I just finished it today, so here are some thoughts.

I’ll do my best to keep this review spoiler-free, though I may mention a few minor plot points or details as examples. Any major spoiler sections will be preceded by a warning.

General impression

Lords of the Sith was, in my opinion, a polarized book. There were aspects I really liked and aspects I really disliked. Generally speaking, I’d say it’s action-packed and simple (in a good way), but it also has some stand-out problems, which I’ll discuss in a bit.

What I liked

The simplicity: I don’t tend to enjoy reading books that get too wrapped up in complicated politics and subplots, and though Star Wars novels can easily lean that way, Lords of the Sith doesn’t. The plot is very simple: try to kill Darth Vader and Palpatine. There aren’t a whole lot of subplots, and those that do exist are more for character development than anything else.

Isval: without a doubt, Isval was my favorite character. She has, in my opinion, the strongest characteristics, and towards the end of the book, she’s the one I cared about most.

Vader’s scenes: one of my qualms about the SW films is that we rarely get to see Darth Vader perform at his full capability. For the most part, he just walks around and looks intimidating. Lords of the Sith, however, shows us just how much absolute demolition he’s capable of singlehandedly.

Twi’leks in the limelight: finally! Twi’lek oppression and enslavement during Imperial times has always been a factor in the SW universe, but this is the most up-close and personal representation of that civilization we’ve gotten to date. I’ve always thought Twi’leks as a people group deserved more recognition, and now they have it.

What I disliked

The pacing: okay, the book IS action packed, especially in the second half. But the pacing is…wonky. Despite all the hack-and-slash action, the plot takes a long time to get going, and every now and then the author throws in some random scenes that feel out of place. For example, in the third act, I had to trudge through three or four chapters (chapters!) of Vader and Palpatine fighting giant bugs. Entertaining for a few paragraphs, but dreadfully dull for twenty pages. It wasn’t even that relevant to the plot.

The predictable outcome: [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT IN THIS SECTION] Okay, one big problem shared by all Star Wars books is that we already know, generally speaking, what the outcome is going to be because of what we know from the films and t.v. shows. In Lords of the Sith, that’s a glaring flaw.

Here’s what I mean: the premise of the book is that Cham Syndulla and his friend/partner Isval want to assassinate Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. The whole plot builds up towards a big showdown between those four major characters. Anyone in tune with the Star Wars universe can VERY easily guess how that ends. Vader and Palpatine survive, obviously, as does Cham, because we see him in Rebels. But it’s safe to assume at least one major character will die, so that leaves poor Isval. Before I’d made it 1/3 into the book, I’d predicted that Cham’s plan would go horribly wrong and that Isval would sacrifice herself to ensure his (and others’) escape. That’s exactly what happened. It stinks when your favorite character in the book is all but guaranteed to die by the end. R.I.P. Isval.

If you know much about Star Wars and you pay attention to patterns, Lords of the Sith is 100% predictable, which is too bad, because it nullifies a lot of the potential tension (which was definitely there).

Miscellaneous complaints: 

  • The character names felt a bit lazy (Pok? Goll? Eshgo? Crost? Really? I know these are Twi’leks and secondary characters, but even Aayla Secura had a cool name, for crying out loud!)
  • Palpatine’s dialog got on my nerves. Everything was ‘it seems’, ‘it would appear’, or ‘my old friend’. Seriously…everything. I know it’s consistent with his film character, but still. Annoying.
  • The back-cover blurb is misleading. Based on the summary, I expected Vader and Palpatine to crash-land on Ryloth in the first act, but then I discovered that the space-battle that causes the crash-landing fills about half the book. (Refer back to the wonky pacing). I also thought there would be a lot more conflict between the two Sith Lords, but on that front, I was a bit disappointed.
  • The author had a handful of phrases that he used over and over. Moving with preternatural speed, for instance. He used that exact wording at least five or six times, and those small things stand out as distractions.

My final rating: 3 out of 5 stars. I wanted to give it 3.5 (maybe even 4) for Isval’s sake, but I just couldn’t rate it that high with much honesty. I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to Star Wars fans, as long as you’re not too overhyped for it.

5 Writing/Reading Goals for June 2017

#1 Write 1000 words a day

I haven’t been very disciplined these last few months when it comes to daily writing. I’ve been doing a good amount of editing and writing new content whenever the need arose, but in June I want to set a daily goal of 1000 words. Not an astronomical amount, but something easily achievable.

My works-in-progress will benefit, as will my creativity flow.

#2 Make a plan for Where the Woods Grow in Flames

…Which will boil down to two factors: a.) recalibrate my outline and incorporate some structure changes, and b.) decide if to self-publish the sequel later this year OR take the project to Wattpad.

#3 Finish reading all the books I’ve started

May was a month of starting books and not finishing them. Not because I wasn’t enjoying them, but because I had a lot on my plate (and plenty of distracting hobbies as well). This month I’m (finally) going to finish The Beast of Talesend (Kyle R. Shultz), Aftermath: Life Debt (Chuck Wendig), and Lords of the Sith (Paul Kemp).

I’m also super excited to get my hands on the new Darth Vader comic coming out this month.

#4 Post four more solid chapters of The Broken City of Crows

As many of you know, I upload a new chapter of The Broken City of Crows to Wattpad every Friday. June will be my first full month of uploads, so I’m looking forward to getting four exciting chapters going. I’m hesitant to set any numerical goals in terms of reads or votes, so I’m just going to enjoy the process and make June’s chapters as good as I can.

#5 Create digital paintings for Gwinn and Ember

Speaking of tBCoC, after sharing my digital painting of Avora last week, a lot of readers asked whether I’d be doing more characters and if so, if Gwinn and/or Ember were on the to-do list. The answer to both those questions is yes. I’ve already started thumbnailing a sketch of Gwinn, and I hope to have completed paintings of him and Ember by the end of the month. Perhaps by the end of the summer, I’ll have painted the whole Red Vanguard. You never know!


What are some of your goals and plans for June? Let me know, and go get ’em! In the meantime, have a great day.

May 2017 In Review

Ever since I graduated from college in 2015 (you know, way back when), it seems that time has accelerated. Months fly by. I’m pretty sure it’s still February.

But it’s not, so let’s take a look at some highlights and decisions from the past thirty days.


Wattpad beginnings

My foray into Wattpad territory was probably May’s most significant turn of events. On the 11th, I launched the first chapters of a new fantasy novel, The Broken City of Crows. I didn’t have many high expectations. I just wanted to post for fun and see what happened.

wattpad cover II

Two and a half weeks later, I’m loving the experience. tBCoC is getting close to 800 reads and has climbed as high as #444 in the fantasy genre. Not bad for a two-week-old novel, eh?

Avora.png
Avora, captain of the Red Vanguard (The Broken City of Crows)

My favorite aspect about Wattpad so far, besides the interaction with readers, is the tangible lack of pressure to make sales or pull off marketing stunts.


Monthly reading

I don’t devote as much time to reading as I should. I am ashamed. I have, however, made progress on some books.

In progress: The Beast of Talesend (Shultz) and Aftermath: Life Debt (Wendig)

Finished: Kanan: The Last Padawan and Kanan: First Blood (Marvel Comics)

AftermathLifeDebt-Hardcover The Beast of Talesend kananlp kananfb


A sequel dilemma

I honestly don’t know what to do about Where the Woods Grow in Flames, my NaNoWriMo 2016 project and the sequel to Where the Woods Grow Wild. The first draft is about 70% complete, but I don’t know if it’s worth finishing.

There are people who I know would want to read it, but not that many. Is it worth spending an entire summer finishing a book that even fewer people will read than the original? I don’t know, especially since I’ve got a lot of other activities on my plate.

I’m considering different options: finish and self-publish, turn it into another Wattpad project, or leave it for the time being. Feel free to offer any advice or suggestions!


What sort of adventures did you have this month? What are you planning for June? Let me know! In the meantime, have a great day.

5 Reasons To Draw Your Story World Map

I love drawing maps. In fact, I got into map-drawing before I ever started writing stories. I remember sitting in my room as a kid, taping together sheets of paper to form fantasy lands big enough to cover my floor. My love for squiggly coastlines and pizza-slice mountains translated nicely into world-creating for my fantasy stories.

 

Map
Map of Akor, the fantasy continent for my Wattpad novel, The Broken City of Crows. (Drawn by hand, then colored and detailed with Photoshop.)

 

 

I’m a firm advocate of having a complete map for your fantasy setting, and even if your map-drawing skills aren’t exactly Ptolomeic, I think creating your own map is a valuable resource for fantasy writers. Here are some reasons why:

#1 Map-drawing forces you to develop a complete story world

To fill your map, you’ll need landmarks, cities, political boundaries, etc., and it’s way easier to keep track of all that information if you’ve got a map on the desk beside you. Gone are the days of having to make up awkward city names on the spur of the moment. Even if your story takes place in a reduced area, having that complete map gives your book that behind-the-scenes development it needs.

#2 Map-drawing gives you ideas for in-story locations

If you draw your map before or during an early draft, odds are you’ll get inspired for a cool setting for that scene you’ve been trying to nail down. Penciling in a lake in that one trout-shaped valley? That might be a fun setting for a battle…well, “fun”. You know what I mean.

#3 Map-drawing provides a reference for important information

Wait, how long should it take my protagonist to get from this river to that town? Oh, I’ll check my map measurements! Could an army actually make it through that forest? Check the map. Where does the city import its goods from? The port-towns? Good! How far away are they? Check the map.

You’ll be surprised how often you reference your map for questions you never thought you’d have to answer. Laying it all out on paper helps you avoid inconsistencies or fallacies of time and distance as you write.

#4 Map-drawing results in a valuable resource for readers

Most readers appreciate having a visual reference to help keep track of your story’s locations, especially in the fantasy genre. Once you get your map drawn out, you can share it on social media, on your website, or even in the very pages of your book, if you think it’s good enough.

I don’t know about you, but anytime I find a map at the start of a fantasy novel, I take a few minutes to study it so I remember where the major points of interest are as I read.

#5 Map-drawing is just plain fun

Drawing maps is, at least to me, another extension of the creative engine all writers have. It’s an artistic expression that complements and develops our story ideas, and sometimes it just feels good to take a break from writing and scratch out some of those squiggly coastlines and pizza-slice mountains.


Do you enjoy drawing maps as much as I do? Tell me about it! If you’ve never made a map, I highly recommend giving it a shot. In the meantime, have a great day!