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

craig horner.jpg

“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

inma cuesta.jpg

“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!

 

 

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.

The Ideal 10 Star Rating System + Big Announcement!

At the end of this post I’ll be sharing an exciting announcement with you all, so be sure to get in on it!


I’ve always been pretty vocal about my dissatisfaction with Amazon’s five-star rating system for books, the main reason being that five stars seriously limits the flexibility I’m able to have while expressing my opinions. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and construct a template for a ten-star rating system.

Currently, Amazon suggests the following criteria:

1 Star = I hate it

2 Stars = I don’t like it

3 Stars = It’s okay

4 Stars = I like it

5 Stars = I love it

Yuck. So…basic. So pessimistic. It sounds more like one of those convenience YA protagonists monologuing about her crush than a respectable review system. Does anyone even follow those criteria? I don’t.

Allow me to propose the following ten-star reviewing method:

1 Star = I read two chapters, burst a blood vessel, and fed the book to my pet turtle Franklin II.

2 Stars = I read three chapters, got a headache, and shook my head disapprovingly in Franklin II’s general direction.

3 Stars = I finished the book, but frankly, Franklin II is more interesting. And he’s a turtle. He doesn’t do anything. And his food smells weird.

4 Stars = The book’s okay for some light entertainment if I’ve got nothing better to do. Unfortunately, Franklin II and I had a game of marbles scheduled for today, so I won’t be reading much. Franklin II is bad at marbles. This could take some time.

5 Stars = I don’t regret spending a few bucks on the ebook. I enjoyed the general story, but there wasn’t anything remarkable about it. I might recommend it to Franklin II, since, being a turtle, his literature standards are fairly low, but he’s more of a mystery novel chap.

6 Stars = It’ll probably find a spot on my shelf, assuming the cover looks nice. Franklin II is irrelevant now. He can’t even see the shelf.

7 Stars = I quite enjoyed the book. I tried to have a meaningful discussion about the character development with Franklin II, but he was chomping on a lettuce leaf quite rudely, so I got mad and left.

8 Stars = Hmm, impressive. This book really stands out, possibly enough to earn a spot near the top of the shelf, where over time it’ll acquire a Franklin II-esque aroma. Gross. Franklin II stinks.

9 Stars = I read this book out loud to Franklin II after I’d finished it. We both teared up at the end. I’ve never seen Franklin II get so emotional. It was a beautiful bonding experience.

10 Stars = This book is extraordinary. Franklin II and I built a shrine for it, and on the second Tuesday of each month, we spend ten minutes in contemplative awe in front of it. Sometimes we even split a potato chip.

I hope the King of Amazon sees this post and takes the necessary steps to make my method official. In the meantime, Franklin II escaped his tank again. Gotta go find him.


Okay, now for the big announcement!

After a week or so of careful consideration, consultation, and calibration, I’ve decided to start a Wattpad account and serialize one of my backburner novels. Whaaat? Yes. I know. I think the earth just shifted on its axis. Here’s a fancy shiny thing for you to look at and be amazed:

wattpad cover copy

A band of escaped slave children face a world that wants them back in chains…or dead. Their struggle for survival begins in the uncharted wilderness and ends in a city ready to tear itself apart.

Placeholder cover art by yours truly. 

So why take this project to Wattpad? Several reasons. I’ve been puttering away at the manuscript for the better part of five years now, never really prioritizing it, so I figure this will be a good way to stick with it and finish it. It’s also the only novel I’ve written that doesn’t follow a developed outline, so a weekly chapter system fits perfectly. Third, The Broken City of Crows is longer and more ‘traditional’ fantasy than what I usually write. Why not try something different for it? Lastly, I really like the idea of getting feedback from readers as we progress through the story.

The first two chapters of The Broken City of Crows are already posted on Wattpad. Go read them here and tell me what you think! Any shares, tweets, or promotional smoke signals are greatly appreciated as well.

From here on out I’ll be posting single chapters every Friday or Saturday (depending on which works better for potential readers). And yes, I’m still writing Where the Woods Grow in Flames, don’t worry!

Anyways, I’m really excited to try this out. I don’t have super high expectations, but I’m curious to see how far we can go! Any support from you guys means the world to me, so let’s get going. Come along, Franklin II. We’ll be late!


Have a great day, friends!

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Elodie Tuck

I’ve decided to start a new blog post series in which I share fun or significant facts about the characters from Where the Woods Grow Wild, facts which aren’t mentioned or developed much in the book. These facts won’t be spoilers, so no worries there! It’s mostly just for you to get to know the characters ‘behind the scenes’ a bit more. And why not start with my favorite character from the book, the mayor’s Speediest Courier?

(For more info about the story and the characters, this in-blog page is the place to go.)

So, without further ado, here are ten facts you probably didn’t know about Elodie Tuck:

#1 Her parents are alive

Both of Elodie’s parents are presumably alive, though their whereabouts are unknown and irrelevant, as they abandoned Elodie on the doorsteps of a bakery in Aldenturf when she was only a few months old.

#2 She was raised by Mayor Clarenbald

Horatio Clarenbald unofficially adopted Elodie at the persistent request of his wife Marigold several years before he was appointed mayor of Bardun Village. They were visiting Horatio’s brother in Aldenturf (a certain baker), and Marigold threatened to put salt lumps in Horatio’s tea for the rest of his life if he didn’t agree to care for baby Elodie. Marigold became ill and passed away a few years later, and she made Clarenbald promise to continue providing for Elodie for as long as she needed it.

#3 She created the position of town courier for herself

Before she turned sixteen, Bardun Village had never needed an official courier. After her sixteenth birthday, it still didn’t, but Mayor Clarenbald insisted Elodie was well old enough to work for her room and board, and she refused to join his maid-infested staff, so she appointed herself as the Mayor’s courier, and that suited Clarenbald just fine.

#4 She once broke her arm in the apple orchard

She was eight years old the first time she tried to climb one of the trees in the apple orchard, and it didn’t end well. It was then that Horatio Clarenbald decided she ought to learn to read and write. Those first few lessons didn’t end well, either.

#5 She refers to Clarenbald as ‘Mayor Clarenbald’ on his request

While Clarenbald was willing to raise Elodie for as long as was necessary, he and Marigold never had children of their own, and he didn’t feel capable of developing a fatherly bond with Elodie, so he kept their relationship as formal as possible and taught her to always call him by his title.

#6 She tried to teach herself to swim by throwing herself into Clarenbald’s pond

It didn’t work very well. Clarenbald had to throw one of the current maids after her. Subsequently, Clarenbald let the pond dry out and replaced it with a flower garden. Elodie learned to swim in the creek north of town the next year.

#7 Martin Colter was her first real friend

The Colter family came to Bardun Village when Elodie was nine years old. She tried to befriend Martin right away, but it took him a full year to work up the courage to say a word to her, so for a long while she gave up entirely.

#8 Her birthday is on October 14th

When Mayor Clarenbald told her she ought to pick an official birthday (purely for legislative purposes, of course), she chose October the 14th because that was the very next day and she couldn’t wait to celebrate for the first time. In future years she wished she had chosen a warm summer date, but Clarenbald insisted it was too late to change her mind.

#9 She once saved Percy Durbity’s life

Though to be fair, it was her fault he rolled off the table to begin with. She was looking after a one-year-old Percy while the Durbity parents had a garden lunch with Mayor Clarenbald. Percy wouldn’t stop crying, so she put him on the kitchen table while she ran to find a sock or something for him to play with. Long story short, Percy rolled off and Elodie caught him in the nick of time. She never told him about the incident when he grew up because she didn’t want to be pestered with admiration for the rest of her life.

#10 She often dances in her room at night

Because she can, and she doesn’t need any other reason. She kept her shoes on the first time, but a coincidentally-awake, candle-wielding Clarenbald calmly informed her that dancing was for nymphs and nymphs weren’t real, therefore dancing shouldn’t be real either. Elodie decided she wanted to be a nymph, and so she danced with bare feet from then on.


I hope those were interesting facts! I’m definitely going to do more of these in the near future (maybe making it a weekly series?). Drop a comment below to suggest which character I should explore next! Or, if you have any more questions about Elodie, feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer those that I can.

Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Twitter to receive your complimentary fuzzy duckling. And as always, have a great day!

 

22 Types of Books on Your Bookshelf

The perfect, beautiful one that has a private shrine somewhere near the top.

The brand new copy you pull out just to sniff. 

The one that always finds a way to tip over.

The one(s) with the coffee stains. 

The one with the awkward height that stands out like a pink lemming.

The mass market paperback that never looks good anywhere. 

The one you haven’t read and never will but looks nice so you keep it.

The one with the ugly spine that you try to cover with a Funko Pop. 

The one that’s part of a magnanimously uniform series (sigh of satisfaction).

The yard sale classic that makes you feel more sophisticated because it has fancy squiggles on the spine. 

The series that has to go lying down because some nincompoop at the publisher decided to print them 1/4 inch taller than your bookshelf height.

That one installment in the series that you own in a different edition so it doesn’t look like all the rest and basically says ‘lol what’ every time you frown at it. 

The one you’re embarrassed to own but haven’t taken it off the shelf for some reason.

The one that’s the only book on the shelf of a genre you don’t read but you kinda have to keep it because it was a gift. 

The tome you keep handy in case you ever need to knock out a moose from a second story window.

The one that came late to the party so it has to lie awkwardly across the tops of the others. 

The one that you own only because Booktube hyped it (even though it sucks).

The Tolkien copy you’ve never actually finished but you pull out and dust off every time you need a classy Instagram filler. 

The one with the missing dust jacket that still looks good because it has shiny gold letters on the black spine.

The paperback you’ve read so many times that the spine looks like a 1:1000 scale model of the Himalayas. 

The one you’ve kept since you were a kid and now the pages are yellowed and it smells like good memories.

The one that’s missing from the series because cousin Gustav “borrowed” it three years ago and you hunted him down but gave up when you lost his scent in a cold mountain spring somewhere south of Zurich. 

I’m coming for you, cousin Gustav. 

My 2017 Multi-Genre Reading Challenge

I’ve hatched a reading plan for 2017. Now, normally I ready almost exclusively fantasy. As a matter of fact, the last book I (tried to) read that wasn’t fantasy was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park , and I couldn’t finish it.

So I got to thinking the other day (a rare occurrence), and I realized I need a bit of variety in my life. So I proposed the following to myself: what if I read one book each month in a genre that I normally don’t read? I liked the idea, so I drew up a plan and here we are.

My self-imposed rules:

  1. Once I start a book, I have to finish it.
  2. I’m not allowed to pick a book I’ve previously read.
  3. Each book must be read within the month.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be following this chart:

January – Historical Fiction

February – Young Adult

March – Crime/Mystery

April – Play/Script

May – Thriller

June – Science Fiction

July – Graphic Novel

August – Biographical

September – Dystopian

October – Non-Fiction

November – Romance

December – Young Adult

Now, you may notice there are some popular genres I haven’t listed, such as horror, paranormal, etc. While I want to try a variety of genres, I also have to draw a line somewhere, and there are certain genres or elements that I simply will not sample for personal reasons. (Genres aside, I won’t read anything with explicit content, or strong language.)

You may have also noticed that I included Young Adult fiction twice (February and December). I figured it was a broad enough genre, and includes enough subgenres, that I should pick from it twice. Also, I had an extra month and had to fill it with something.

I have some ideas for a few of the months, but I’ll definitely need suggestions for most of them, so feel free to drop a comment or hit me up on Twitter! And if you’d like to do this challenge, or something similar, then join the fun!

In the meantime, have a great day.

Stop, Drop, and Enter this Book Giveaway!

Everyone, stop what you’re doing this instant! (Unless you’re putting out a fire, giving birth, administering CPR, in court, or swimming away from a shark, in which case…carry on).

I’ve teamed up with a group of fabulous independent authors to host a December Book Giveaway. It’s simple: you have a few options for how to enter, and you can do any or all of them for a shot at winning one of eight ebooks! Who doesn’t love free stuff, right?

all-ebooks

Le Fancy Official Giveaway Link (You Know You Want to Click It)

Here’s a list of the Amazon links to each book in case you want more information! I regularly interact with a few of these authors as well, and they’re awesome people, so check out their blogs as well! All links open in new tabs.

Song of the Sword – by Hope Ann

Be Thou My Vision – by Faith Blum

Befriending the Beast – by Amanda Tero

Alen’s War – by Hannah Krynicki

Water Princess, Fire Prince – by Kendra E. Ardnek

The Wings of Antheon – by Ellyana J. Wenceslao

Becoming Nikki – by Ashley Elliott

Where the Woods Grow Wild – by Nate Philbrick (a.k.a. me!)

To get the most out of this giveaway period, which ends in just over two weeks, be sure to follow these folks on social media for upcoming interviews, new releases, and maybe even a pigeon crashing into your window (you never know!). In the meantime, good luck, and have a great day!

Oh, and tell all your friends to participate, too. Seriously, all of them. Even that one kid from grade school you haven’t seen in ten years and only know he’s a ventriloquist apprentice because you saw it on Facebook. Tell him, too.

Where the Woods Grow Wild – Available for Pre-Order!

That’s right, you heard it here first: my adventure-driven fantasy novel, Where the Woods Grow Wild, isn’t releasing until December 10th, but starting today you can pre-order it on Amazon for your ebook reader of choice!

This is…extraordinary. WtWGW is my baby, and I’m pushing it out into the world. It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. But I’m not here to talk about me, I’m here to talk about the book.

Where the Woods Grow Wild will be available for pre-order right until December 10th, the official release date. Pre-orders apply to ebooks only, so if you want to wait for a paperback copy, make sure to stamp your calendar!

Ready to pre-order your copy? Read no further (or do, I can’t stop you). Either way, click here to go straight to the Amazon page!

If not, here are some of the reasons why you totally should pre-order today (or tomorrow, if you really must):

  • You save money! The e-book will go up to full price once the pre-order period is finished, so grab it now and treat yourself to a snowcone with your savings. “But Nate, it’s too cold for-” Be quiet and enjoy your snowcone!
  • You’ll be the very first person to get your hands on a copy! Well, you and everybody else who pre-ordered. We can’t all be unicorns.
  • You get to wear a special badge! It’s a metaphorical badge, and all it says is ‘I pre-ordered this book’, but hey, it’s shiny. All that to say, if you pre-order and tell a friend, you get bonus points. And you feel good on the inside.
  • You help me out a lot! I only bring this up because the more pre-orders roll in, the more momentum we’ll have on release day. If you’re just deciding between now or later, do it now!

Also, I made this gorgeous thing. Look at the thing. Now do what the thing says.

A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tan.jpg

Pre-order Where the Woods Grow Wild

Now, let’s sit back and giggle over cups of hot cocoa until December 10th gets here. I know I’m excited, and I know a lot of you are as well. Thanks for coming along for the ride. We’re almost there.

In the meantime, have a great day!

Final Cover and Release Date for Where the Woods Grow Wild!

The blog’s been pretty quiet these past two weeks or so, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working non-stop behind the scenes (hint: I have). And, as a result of said productivity, I have several bits of exciting news to share! Remember that series we did a while back, in which you got a glimpse of the synopsis, characters, and story-world of Where the Woods Grow Wild? Well, now I’ve got more for you. Specifically, I’ve got the finalized cover design, and…wait for it…a release date!

That’s right, this is happening. I’ve just about finished working with the feedback from my beta readers, and that means the end of the journey is just around the bend (fittingly, since I started this project about a year ago).

In the near future, I’ll talk more about release specifics (parties and celebratory snacks and pre-orders and all that fun stuff), but for now, I just want to share the two main biggies. So, without further ado, as they say…here’s the final cover for Where the Woods Grow Wild!

Book1CoverFinished.png

I’m not 100% sure how the image will show up, so here’s the back-cover blurb in case it’s not at a readable size.

A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.

Now for the release date. I have yet to sort out details such as pre-orders (there will be plenty of time for that, don’t worry), and we all know how fickle Createspace can be. However, barring any unforeseen nasties, Where the Woods Grow Wild will be available in ebook and paperback forms on Amazon on December 10th, 2016. A month minus one day.

Mark your calendars, friends. We’re almost there. In the meantime, have a great day.

Book Ratings: What’s Your Criteria?

Today’s post is a quick barfing of my thoughts on Amazon’s five star rating system, specifically when it applies to books.

I’ve finished a handful of books recently, and each time I go to review one of them on Amazon or Goodreads, I feel so limited by the five-star system. How can 1-5 stars accurately represent my reaction to something as complex as a novel, a novella, or even a short story?

I don’t think it can. I would much rather work with a 1-10 star system. I know Amazon will probably never do that, because, on a base level, their review system works. It’s just frustrating sometimes.

Here’s the criteria I follow when deciding how many stars to give a book I’ve recently read:

one-star-rating

One star reviews are harsh. I’ve never actually given a book a one star review before. To me, one star books are those that lack any sense of objective creative dignity. In other words, if I feel the author put any sort of effort into their product, I’ll be very reluctant to give it a one star rating.

Two-star-rating

I assign two star ratings to 99% of the books I simply don’t enjoy (I try to be objective. If I don’t enjoy a book for purely subjective reasons, I probably won’t bother reviewing it). My motives for giving a book two stars include consistently poor editing, subpar plot or character development, or if it’s just a boring story.

3-stars

Three star ratings are where I have the most issues, because I feel there should be a much bigger gap between two stars and three stars. To me, three stars mean I liked the book. I finished it and I was entertained. Maybe there were a few mistakes, and maybe it wasn’t my favorite book ever, but there were no glaring faults to make me quit.

I think writers generally get discouraged by three star ratings because they’re perceived negatively. But for a bit of perspective, on a ten star rating system, these books would earn 6-7 stars from me. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

four-stars_0

For the aforementioned reasons, I generally skip straight to four star ratings if I like a book (a ten star system would give me a lot more flexibility, though).

Four star books are properly constructed and edited, and they rise above the base entertainment factor. Maybe there’s a character I really like, or a plot twist that caught me by surprise, or a subplot I was genuinely engaged in. They may not be perfect: a few typos here and there, or the occasional weak character or plot point. Those are all relatively minor issues that I can overlook as long as the main plot and the protagonist keep me turning pages.

get-five-star-reviews

I give books five stars quite rarely. For a book to get five stars, it has to meet all the qualifications of a four star book (see above), but it also has to impact me. That’s the determining factor for me. Impact. Whether it’s emotionally, intellectually, or personally, a story has to really hit me hard for me to give it a full five stars.


I know rating books is an incredibly subjective process. I’m definitely not saying my criteria should be the rule.

How do you decide how many stars to give a book? Is your thought process similar to mine? Totally different? Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, have a great Monday.