Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Shattered Blades by Aidan Russell - Book Tour and Giveaway

The rivers turn to blood and the mournful cry for judgment.

Reslo returns to his family in the forest of Miradep, but his quest is not finished, and he will not fail in his duty.

Gratas and Jerah return to the idyllic town of Dunkhau, their bodies wounded and spirits scarred by battle. But if they thought war was tiring, they must now face the unknown horrors of peace.


The captain turned in his desk chair toward the door. The Rovichian swordsman thrust the gladius into the Esivion captain’s throat and held it there. Red, arterial blood squirted across the blade and splattered the swordsman’s black tabard. The captain tried to curse, but no air could pass his lips. He made one jerk, trying to pull the blade from his throat, and died.

The swordsman behind the Rovichian descended on the woman stretched out on the captain’s bed. She had only begun to stir before the gladius split her skull. The others swept into the room. No words were exchanged. The others rushed the captain’s desk and grabbed handfuls of papers and ledgers. They stuffed them into the backpack that one of the Nolterite knights wore. Anfor gave them one minute to grab up what documents they could and ordered them out of the quarters with a slap to Thrain’s shoulder.

Sir Fashtin awaited them at the bottom of the quarter’s steps. The team fell into line behind Sir Fashtin and quickly made their way through the darkness. Fashtin’s sword came out and took a guard’s head off. He caught the body and lowered it to the ground. Then he continued to lead the column of soldiers down a ladderwell below deck.

The ship’s creaking seemed amplified in the enclosed space of the crew quarters. Other than that, the only sounds were of snores and a group of sailors in one room doing what sailors do best: gambling and swilling the liquor. They were the first to die. Fashtin and one of the Nolterites rushed the room and cut the four men apart before they could raise an alarm. They checked the room quickly for any records or information Gwynnud or Maras could exploit, but found none.

Two by two, the men moved quickly and silently into each room and slit the throats of each sleeping crewman, wizened petty officers, and slave-boys pressed into service aboard the ship.

Guest Post

A Beginners Guide to Story Structure and Outlining
Aidan Russell

When I wrote my first book, I did very little pre-planning. I had no idea where I was going when I started and was going one chapter to the next with no plan. This ultimately delayed the release of my first book by years and it took nine drafts until I got it right. If you’re a new writer, this probably sounds pretty familiar. By the time I released the third book in the series, The Shattered Blades, I had been all across all the writing blogs, read a few books on craft, and honed by planning abilities. I outlined the book during my free time across three days and had it ready for publication after three drafts, which includes the draft after being reviewed by my editor.
Before we go on, I need to give a huge thanks to Cary over at Her blog is a great resource for learning more on this topic.
The first step I take is to lay out a sort of timeline that hits all the major points along the four-part story structure. Below is what I made for a Warhammer 40k adventure I will probably never actually write:

From the beginning of the story to your 1st Plot Point is your Setup. You are preparing the reader to go on an adventure. At the 1st Plot Point, your hero(s) are off; they’ve passed the point of no return. This plot point should happen around the ¼ mark, but this is art, not science, after all. The next part is your response. Something happened at your plot point, and now your protagonists must react to the catalyst that has sent them on their adventure. Somewhere along the way to the midpoint, you should have your 1st Pinch Point, a demonstration of the antagonistic forces at work in your story to remind the reader what’s at stake and what’s keeping your hero from achieving their goal.
The Midpoint, this is your big unexpected twist. There’s not a whole lot to tell you on how to execute this one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be some grand double-cross, it just needs to make your reader’s eyes go wide.
After the Midpoint, we enter the Attack. Your hero has been reacting up until this point. Now they’re taking charge and getting stuff done. But oh no! We have a 2nd Pinch Point along the way to make sure the hero can’t get too much done too easily.
We then hit the 2nd Plot Point and are on our way to the Resolution. We have the plans to the Death Star, we know it’s inbound to blow us all the smithereens, and it’s time to end this. Hop in your X-Wing. Things are going down.
We now have a few checkpoints along our journey. There’s plenty of wiggle room for us to work and some of these points we’ve plotted may not actually end up being those defining moments in the story at the end. But, we at least know where we’re going and how we want to get there.
What I do next is make my outlining grid. This is often called a series grid, but as an epic fantasy writer, I use it to keep track of all the moving parts, conflicts, and characters inherent to the genre rather than underlying and recurring themes. Below is the beginning of my outline to The Shattered Blades:

I have the chapter numbers on the left, when that chapter occurs (so I can keep track of the passage of time), and then the main plot of the chapter. After that is a breakdown of all those moving parts: The main party, Reslo, the Great Weapons Detachment, and the Seelie Court. I used the Seelie Court column as a notes section as well since that plotline didn’t have quite as many chapters devoted to it as the others. This meant I had room to come back later and jot something down or I had extra room if the details of a certain chapter’s plot just kept coming.
If you’re a dedicated pantser and it’s been working for you, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re new to writing, I highly recommend you start out plotting. I don’t have to put much thought into hopping in my car and driving to the grocery story, but when I turned 16, I had to plan and plot my course just to go down the street. And if you’re new to writing, there’s one piece of advice that every author seems to agree on more than plotting vs pantsing: Get your butt behind the keyboard and WRITE!

About the Author

Aidan Russell is a Marine Corps veteran living in Las Vegas. He spent his youth following the adventures of wizards and space demons and decided one day to write his own tales. His short fiction is available in the Never Fear and Uncharted Worlds anthologies. When not writing, he enjoys skiing and heavy metal.

Aidan Russell will be awarding a Kindle Paperwhite (INTERNATIONAL) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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