Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I'm still here. I'm still writing.

Hello again. I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. Mine has been quite busy, but I'm still here, and I'm still writing. Accordingly, I felt it appropriate to provide a quick update about my latest project.
The prequel to The Runes of Issalia series is now 80% complete, with beta reading and editing phases coming soon. What's it about? Rogue Legacy tells the unrecorded story behind critical events that occur hundreds of years before the Runes trilogy.
The story centers around a teenage girl named Lyra, a girl with a fiery spirit and a roguish attitude. I'm having fun with the book, and I feel that readers will enjoy Lyra's tale. To add a bit of flavor, I've included the book teaser (synopsis) below. Enjoy.
Synopsis for Rogue Legacy by Jeffrey L. Kohanek
The girl who saved the world…despite her rebellious attitude
When tragedy strikes, Lyra runs for her life…directly into the hands of fate. Destiny places her at the heart of a plot to overthrow the rulers of Issalia, a plot she must help thwart. Led by a man armed with powerful magic, and joined by a single soldier who wields an enchanted weapon, the three must face the most massive and fearsome army the world has never known. Even if they survive this epic confrontation, the future is not secure…for the threats surrounding Lyra do not end there.
Sometimes history forgets the details. Sometimes history forgets the truth. Meet Lyra: an orphan, a thief, a liar, a bard, a pirate, a warrior, a princess…a rogue. Her story reveals what truly happened, hundreds of years before The Runes of Issaliaseries takes place. Within these pages, resides her legacy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Prophecy and Its Future in Fantasy

Prophecy has deep roots within fantasy novels, making it a desired-and maligned-trope within the genre. As a reader, I’ve long considered the concept of prophecy intriguing, that visions from the past might predict future events. It’s a belief that has captured the imagination of millions of humans, spanning civilizations that predate recorded history.
However, the very word prophecy has become cringe-worthy to many readers. Why? Do they really hate prophecy, or have they have just become jaded by poor execution of the trope?
Stories about a fabled Chosen One, destined to save the world, tend to devalue the protagonist and the choices he or she makes. If their actions are preordained, are the characters then just going through the motions? If the protagonist is fated to save everyone, do the events that occur up to that point have any consequence? Does he or she even face risk of failure or death if destiny is on their side?
As a fantasy author and reader, I believe that prophecy can enrich a compelling tale if properly executed. I see prophecy as a vision of a possible future, but is just one of many such visions, each containing its own result. The prophet’s role is to note the unique aspects of a benevolent vision relating to a future event and then communicate those aspects in written form for others to use as reference. The recorded prophecy acts as a warning and can be used as guidance. However, if visions are nothing but a series of images, interpretation is required. The person who experienced the vision might not understand the imagery, but they can record it in hopes that others might understand and take appropriate action.
To distill it down to basics, a prophecy could be as simple as:
If you see a person who matches description xyz, don’t kill them. Help them, because they have things to do, things that could prevent some really bad stuff. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I know it’s important. This person is not your savior, but they might be the spark needed, in the right spot, at the right time.
The key is to maintain a vagueness that leaves multiple paths open, while also providing the hints required so those involved can make informed choices when they happen upon a crossroad.
I find the mystery of prophecy the most intriguing aspect. Somebody must do something at a certain time and good things will happen, but we don’t know who, when, or what. A good author cleverly masks key details until the right moment, but in hindsight, the answer becomes obvious to the reader. Isn’t that how the real world works anyway? Being in the right place at the right time can change your life.
As a reader, I'd rather not see prophecy disappear just because it’s a well-worn trope. If authors avoided all well-worn tropes, there’d soon be nothing left to write. Instead, I beg authors to use prophecy wisely, for with such power comes great responsibility.
Full disclosure: I’m guilty of this trope
I included prophecy in The Runes of Issalia series, but attempted to do so in the manner I found interesting as a reader. In the excerpts below, you get an idea of how prophecy works within the world of Issalia and how it impacts the story.
An Excerpt from The Buried Symbol
Background: This excerpt involves a classroom session from book one, where the Brock first learns about the art of prophecy.
Varius smiled. “I will now introduce a third ability that can manifest through Order: prophecy.”
She glided down the aisle as she spoke. “Prophecy is an ability relating to the prediction of future events. While it can appear in various forms, the most common form is often perceived as simple intuition. It’s that little warning in the back of your mind that causes you to react to something about to happen, even before it occurs.”
“I realize that this is a complex concept, so let me give you an example. Someone who has a strong connection with Order might enter a room but stop suddenly, not knowing why. A second later, the chandelier above falls to the floor right where the person would have been if he or she hadn’t stopped. In this case, a subtle ability in prophecy becomes a sort of additional sense, catching the smallest glimpse into their own immediate future.”
“You may wonder how this is possible. How could one see into the future? To understand, you need think of Order as a force that exists not only in the present, but also in the past and in the future. I’ve explained that Order is within all living things as the life force that binds us. While we only experience time in this moment, always moving forward in a linear fashion, the Order existing within you has existed throughout your whole past and extends into your future, stretching forward like a thread through time. When connected to that force of Order, you may be able to extend that connection out just a bit into the future, giving you a glimpse of what is coming.”
“There are two key items to note. First, it’s far easier to see into your own future than the future of others, because it’s tied to you. Second, the near future is much easier to determine than a more distant future. Your thread of Order extending in the past has been defined and is singular, but your future is an array of possibilities, fanning out wide from the present. The closer you are to now, the less variability there is to your future and the easier it is to foretell.”
“There is also a far more rare manifestation of prophecy. This is true prophecy, where a person will experience a vision of some critical event in the future, possibly a distant future. In this form of prophecy, one must connect to the more broad force of Order that exists in all living things. How this occurs is unknown, though many theories exist. In all documented cases throughout history, though there are few, this type of prophecy has served as a warning used to guide and prepare for some critical event.”
“You won’t find this in any books, for it is only handed down verbally.” She paused, scanning the room. “Without a doubt, mankind would not have defeated The Banished Horde if the Ministry hadn’t followed the guidance of such a prophecy. Ignoring that prophecy would have resulted in our utter defeat and in the extermination of mankind.”
Here is an Excerpt from The Emblem Throne.
Background: A tribal people called the Tantarri capture Brock and his companions. Upon discovering that Brock can wield a fabled lost magic, a Tantarri mystic forces Brock to experience a grim vision of a possible future-a future in which a dark force destroys the human race. The Tantarri then relate the details of an ancient prophecy intended to help prevent that dire outcome.
Brock asked a different way. “I still don’t understand what this has to do with me.”
“To understand, first you must understand how true prophecy works.” The old man explained. “Imagine you toss a stone into a pool, sending ripples across the peaceful surface of the water. Now imagine the water to be the calm of life magic, what you call Order. When a world-changing event occurs, it is like the stone dropping into the peaceful pool of Order, sending ripples outward, even into the past. Those with the ability of true prophecy encounter these ripples in the form of visions. Since these events are in the future, there are variations in the outcome, dictated by people’s actions leading up to the event itself. You see, our future is not pre-determined, it is the result of a convergence of what might happen and the choices we make in life.”
Brock nodded, confirming that he understood. “So you are saying that this vision is one of many possible futures, which means there are other possible outcomes.”
“It is good that can think with reason.” Yuranni shared a small smile. “I have seen similar visions of this event hundreds of times. All but once, I have witnessed the same heartbreaking outcome.”
“So this prophecy, you’re saying that it describes me.” Brock realized it was difficult to argue, based on the specifics described. “Where did you get this?”
Elder Yuranni spoke. “It was written by my ancestor, Elder Duratti, roughly four hundred years ago. He was the first of the Tantarri elders and was the first to experience visions of this event. Like me, he had hundreds of prophetic visions, all but a single instance ending in despair. The prophecy you just heard are the words he wrote after his vision of hope.” Yuranni paused, frowning. “Since his passing, his ancestors have seen many times that number, never again seeing this single path to an outcome of survival. That is, until the night I entered your dreams.”
Brock swallowed hard. Four hundred years was a long time for these people to wait. One vision resulting in survival among thousands ending in doom spoke to poor odds. Though disheartening, it wasn’t in his nature to give up hope.
“Okay, let’s say I believe you. What can I do? I can’t stop an army, I’m just one person.”
Head Clansman Turan spoke again. “There is more in the prophecy. Listen closely.”
He unrolled the scroll again, finding the passage he needed. “Guided by a single warrior of the head clansman’s line, this Outlander must lead a quest for secrets hidden within a throne marked by runes. Guard the Outlander well, for the quest will be fraught with peril and death. With this prize in hand, they must free the lost magic and meet the armies of evil in the heart of Tantarri lands when the portent reaches the evening sky. Should the quest fail, the end of humanity is certain. Of this fate, there can be no doubt. This vision is the greatest truth I will ever record.”
Turan paused, glancing at Brock and then at Puri before continuing. “There was more to my vision, though I know not what it means.” He read, unrolling the scroll to reveal the bottom. “The Outlander must close the world’s wound and stop the bleeding before it’s too late. He must also find the truth and set it free, for the lost magic hides within a web of lies. The coming days will be dark for mankind. Remember, when the portent shifts to the evening sky, death will roll across the plains of Tantarri.”
Admittedly, Brock walks away from this discussion quite confused. However, he is merely the leader of the group and others provide information that gives them initial direction. They set off on a quest filled with surprises, some being informative toward fulfilling the prophecy as they prepare for a final battle with the fate of the world at stake.
I find it fun and I hope you will as well.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: An Empire in Runes

By the time I signed my publishing contract in early 2016, I already had two books written and had an outline for the final book in The Runes of Issalia trilogy. Despite the need to actually write book three and a daunting number of edits before any of them could be published, I believed that it might be possible to complete and release all three books within a twelve month window. 
Amazingly, it all came together and the release of An Empire in Runes is on the near horizon with an official publication date of April 27, 2017! 
I'm looking forward to the release date, eager to receive reader feedback on the culmination of the plot I first envisioned so long ago. 
As the story coalesced from my imagination into words on paper, I found myself deeply connected with the cast of characters, experiencing joy in each of their victories and sorrow when they endured loss. While the story of Brock and his friends ends with book three, the impression that they leave on the world of Issalia is significant and future tales within this world will undoubtedly hearken back to them in some manner. Until then, I hope they live on in your heart and imagination as they exist within mine.
Anyway, on to the COVER REVEAL. It depicts a key scene within the book. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It's Been a Great Year

A year ago, I was an unpublished author who was eager to share my imagined adventures with the world. Now, I have two YA/fantasy books published with a third on the way (coming in April). I've been exposed to the pains and joys of publishing and have been able to engage with a group of awesome readers, many of whom are now fans. While I won’t reach my one-year anniversary as a published author until May 5th,  I HAVE hit another milestone this week: It’s been oine year since I launched my online presence, including my Facebook page and author website. Accordingly, I thought I’d share some statistics for those who are interested in numbers.
As I write this, my Facebook Page has 462 followers, with more joining each week. In addition, my page and associated content has reached over 173,000 people in the past year. One quarter of that reach has been organic while the other three quarters relates to paid ads. Below, you will find charts associated with this data.
 Author Jeffrey L. Kohanek Facebook Page Total Likes Chart March 2017
Author Jeffrey L. Kohanek Facebook Page Total Reach March 2017
My author website is my home base, which includes info on my books, the world of Issalia, upcoming author events, and my author blog. In addition to acting as a resource for interested readers, I intentionally created an ecommerce site to make it easy for friends, family, and fans to purchase signed print copies of my books, regardless of payment method.
A year in and I an excess of 4,000 hits to my website, consisting of more than 3,600 unique visitors. As with any website, users originate from all around the globe. While the vast majority of visitors come from the United States, some of the other countries on the top ten list might surprise you. Check out this information, along with the social media referral sites below. As you can tell, about a third of my website visitors accessed my page from a link on social media. Interesting stuff.
 YA Fantasy Author Jeffrey L Kohanek website visitors  YA Fantasy Author Jeffrey L. Kohanek Website Visitor Referrals
Thanks to everyone who has liked or shared posts on social media and I especially thank you for reading my books. Book three of my series comes out in April. I am eager to hear what you think about the book and about how The Runes of Issalia trilogy ends. While THIS particular story comes to a conclusion, there are other tales to tell and I'm working on the next one as you read this. Look for more info in my quarterly newsletter, coming soon. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It All Started With a Map

The first time my twelve-year-old self opened The Fellowship of the Ring, my eyes lit-up upon reaching page four. I found the map of Middle-Earth a revelation, painting this new world in a manner I had never before experienced. As I read through The Lord of the Rings, I would go back to that map countless times, studying it as Frodo and company journeyed across dangerous and fantastical lands.
Something special occurred while those books and I found my reading experience permanently corrupted. I would go to the bookstore or library, seeking stories that could capture my imagination as Tolkien did. As a result, I discovered authors such as David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weiss/Tracy Hickman, and others. One thing that each of these books had in common was a map. I would scan the bookshelf for a cover that teased my imagination and I would immediately page through the first section of the book. Without fail, if I found no map, I would put the book back on the shelf and move on to the next.
After tasting the intriguing universes that high fantasy books offered, anything that took place within our own world seemed bland in comparison. I found that a map was the key to unlock these exciting new worlds, worlds that came to life within the pages that followed.
When I decided to enter the fray as an author, creating my own world and the stories of the characters that existed within it, I started with a map. Before I even created a plot outline, I needed a map to shape the world, a world with a rich history and a unique culture. Once the ancient kingdoms and current Empire of Issalia were drawn on paper, the last details of the plot and the magic system somehow became self-defined. Everything melded together as if it were a grand performance, perfectly orchestrated.
I am now deep into the final rounds of edits for the third book in The Runes of Issalia trilogy and I anxiously await for its April release. Although this particular adventure comes to an end, the world that surrounds the story contains many other tales waiting to be told. You can look forward to a prequel and even another series, taking readers to places and experiencing discoveries that I have only begun to imagine.
And to think, it all started with a map.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Beginning of the End

It’s been a while since I shared a blog post. That darn thing called life has been in the way, limiting how much time I could spend writing. Well, it’s a new year and I’m back. Let’s do this.
I began constructing the world of Issalia and Brock’s story almost three years ago. Now, I find myself writing the conclusion of the third and final book in the series. As Brock’s journey nears the end, I've found it an unexpected struggle to finish what I started so long ago. It’s not that I don’t want to complete the book. I’d love to get it done so I can share it with others as soon as possible. However, I found it a challenge to make it live up to my expectations.
Like many authors, I begin the writing process with an outline that identifies the major events and plot elements that I want to include. That outline is nothing more than a map, reminding me of the places that the plot needs to hit along the way. An outline does not define HOW I reach my final destination. In fact, HOW I navigate through the plot is often a surprise, coming to me organically as the words flow out. It is this “HOW” that eluded me when I entered the final chapters of the trilogy. I believe that I owe it to the readers and to myself to ensure that the conclusion to Brock’s journey lives up to the rest of the adventure. After all, I’m emotionally invested in these books and I hope that my readers feel the same way.
When I hit this veritable wall, I wanted to avoid the issue so badly that I shifted from writing new content to pouring through the existing chapters with a round of detailed edits. This bought me a month and then I was again forced to work on the ending. Who knew it would be so difficult?
I’m pleased to report that I had a breakthrough in the past week and the HOW came together, shaping nicely into something that makes me proud. With a new sense of momentum, I now have a clear path to completing this novel and plan to contact my editor next week so we can begin the next phase.
An Empire in Runes, which is the third book in The Runes of Issalia series, is set to release in April 2017. I’m excited to share it with you because I think you’ll love it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prepare for Your Quest

I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming release of my latest novel, The Emblem Throne. It is the second book in The Runes of Issalia series and releases on October 6, 2016.
When can you place an order? VERY SOON!
On Friday, September 23, I will reveal the book cover and will begin accepting preorders on my website,JeffreyLKohanek.com. Not only will you receive a SIGNED first edition print copy of the book, but you also get it at a special discounted price when ordered before October 5. Preordered copies of The Emblem Throne will ship out on October 14.
Wait, there’s more.
If you have yet to read The Buried Symbol, I am offering a SERIES bundle deal. Place an order for the bundle and you will receive books I & II at a discounted bundle price along with a coupon for $2.00 off book III, which releases in spring 2017.
Come back on Friday to see the new book cover(teaser below) and to place your preorder.