Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Connecting with Readers

Today’s authors have numerous means to connect with readers, far exceeding what was available twenty years ago. The growth of the internet and the advent of social media have dramatically expanded the possibilities for unknown authors to gain a following. While it is paramount for authors to take advantage of these tools, nothing can truly replace face-to-face interaction. Accordingly, I have a busy fall schedule with a steady stream of personal appearances, where I hope to find new readers and meet my growing list of fans. Here is what is currently scheduled:
  • September 2-3: My fall tour kicks off at Meta Con on Labor Day weekend in Minneapolis, where I will be hosting a booth with another Minnesota-born author, Christopher D. Schmitz. On Friday and Saturday of the event, I will be there selling and signing books, meeting readers, and answering questions.
  • September 7: I am the featured author at Barnes & Nobel Bella Terra in Huntington Beach, CA, where I will be signing books and meeting readers from 6pm to 8pm to raise funds for the Fountain Valley High School PTSA.
  • September 17-18: Come see me at the Long Beach Comic Con. It will be a fun event with cosplay and prize giveaways for attendees who stop by my booth.
  • October 6: October begins with the launch of my new novel, THE EMBLEM THRONE, the second book inTHE RUNES OF ISSALIA Look for pre-order specials to appear on my website in mid-September with copies of the book shipping out in mid-October.
  • October 9: You can’t make it to any of the locations I have listed? Join me online as I participate in Virtual Fantasy Con as a featured author of Epic Fantasy books.
  • October 15: I am the featured author in Black Rose Writing’s booth at the Vegas Valley Book Festival in historic downtown Las Vegas.
  • October 16: You can’t make it to any of the locations I have listed? Join me online for Virtual Fantasy Conas it features authors who write YA Fantasy books.
  • October 28-30: I am hosting my own booth at Stan Lee’s Comikaze at the LA Convention Center. It will be three days of fun for attendees who to revel in comics, cosplay, and geek culture. Yes, my books can be lumped into that last bucket.
  • November 1: Are you interested in learning more about my writing process and about the possible routes to publication? I invite you to attend my workshop, A Writer’s Journey, at the Huntington Beach Public Library at 6pm to kick off …..month at HBPL.
Beyond the events listed above, I will somehow squeeze in a launch party for THE EMBLEM THRONE in the third week of October, despite the fact that I am also in the process of remodeling a house and moving.
No matter how busy I am, I will always have time for my fans. I sincerely thank those of you who have read my book and am extremely grateful to those who have provided reviews on AmazonGoodreads, and other book-related sites. I hope to see you amidst my upcoming events.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sitting Upon The Emblem Throne

I began seeking a publisher once I finished writing The Buried Symbol, a novel that is part of a larger story designed to span three books. Still entrenched within that story and seeing a clear path for where to take it, I decided to work on the second book while conducting my search. Although it took me a whole year to write the first draft of book 1, I was able to crank out a draft of book 2 in just four months, completing it before I even found my publisher.
With a contract signed and a release date to meet, the editing and production cycle for The Buried Symbol required my attention, while my draft of the sequel gathered dust. By the time I began editing book 2, The Buried Symbol was about to release and my productivity was limited with the distraction of marketing and sales efforts.
Here comes the good news: On August 13, 2016, almost a year after I began writing it, I submitted the final copy of book 2 to my publisher. Yes! It feels so good!
Before I discuss the book’s contents, I want to thank my family members for their roles as beta readers and send a special thanks to my editor, Sheryl, for doing a wonderful job in challenging me to produce the best book possible.
Now, about the book:
While Brock remains the protagonist throughout the series, The Emblem Throne reveals more about the other main characters, exposing their backgrounds and motivations so readers feel more connected to them. Expect more magic, more discoveries, and a lot more action in book 2. In fact, I find it almost exhausting because so much happens in the last third of the book. This is necessary because the payoff is coming in book 3 with a lot more action and there is no time to drag things out. Hopefully, readers will be surprised by what occurs and what is revealed.
I have included a synopsis of book 2, The Emblem Throne, below as a preview. Look for it to go up for pre-order in September. I thank all who purchased The Buried Symbol. Without you, there would be no second book.
The Emblem Throne will release for print on October 6, with the eBook following two weeks later.
A Synopsis of THE EMBLEM THRONE: Book II of The Runes of Issalia
Journey on a magical quest to save the world
In pursuit of their dreams to become Masters within the Ministry, Brock and his friends resume their training at the Academy, an institution founded on magic, science, knowledge, law, and combat. Unbeknownst to them, an expansive web of conspiracies and deceit exists within the Ministry and the Academy, hidden behind a veil of benevolence and piety. The exposure of one of these secrets forces Brock and his friends to flee the institution with their lives in the balance.
Joined by a fierce Tantarri warrior, the group embarks on a dangerous quest beset with monsters, both human and beast, to locate a throne that has been lost for centuries. Guided by the cryptic words of an ancient prophecy, and backed by a forbidden magic that they are still learning to wield, they journey across the continent to save humanity from extinction.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

And now, for a little insight...

Here is a transcript from a recent author interview that featured yours truly. Enjoy.
Today I have the privilege of having Jeffrey L. Kohanek, author of the book, The Buried Symbol, for an author interview. If you leave a comment below before the end of July, we’ll put your name in a hat, and one lucky responder will receive a copy of The Buried Symbol, book one in The Runes of Issalia trilogy. So, don’t forget to drop a comment below for a chance to win!

Thanks for joining us today, Jeff! What inspired you to start writing a fantasy novel?
From a young age, I’ve felt driven by an internal desire to create. With an early love for heroes with super powers, I found my childhood-self creating my own comic books. In my adult life, I’ve spent a number of years writing in a business-marketing role, which allows for creativity but not to the extent that I would like. Two years ago, I decided to harness that creativity in a new way and focus on writing novels.
I had ideas in my head about a world, a magic, and a story that I wanted to tell. Inspired by other amazing fantasy authors, I spent the next year writing the first book. Six months later, I signed with a publisher and have been on a wild ride ever since.
I was that way as a kid, too. Bet there's a lot of guys who hoarded comic books, but creating our own, that's a different story. What authors have most influenced your life? What did you like about their work?
Different authors have influenced various points of my life. In grade school and middle school, I first grew to love fantasy novels during my journeys to wondrous lands such as CS. Lewis’ Narnia and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. In my teens, my love for epic fantasy grew to a crescendo with David Eddings’ Belgariad and Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar series capturing my imagination, leaving me enthralled with the idea of discovering magical abilities and learning to harness them. When I finally decided to write The Runes of Issalia trilogy, it was with the desire to instill that same sense of wonder in my readers.
More recently, I would say that my favorite authors are Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss. I consider Jordan to be the king of worldbuilding, Sanderson to be the best at creating interesting magic systems, and Rothfuss to be a grand storyteller. When you read my series, you should see some influence from each of the authors listed as they have all shaped my work in some manner.

I can see some of Jordan in your writing, especially the good/bad magic of Saidin vs.Saidar. I would agree on his worldbuilding, it's amazing. Your Issalia is pretty immersive as well. Not only present day, but it seems to have a very rich history, which I'm sure we'll get a peek at in later books.

Brock is an overcomer, sort of like Aladdin at the beginning. Tell us about him. Was there a real-life inspiration behind him?
I often gravitate toward the underdog, finding their ability to succeed against difficult odds to be extremely compelling. Thus, featuring a protagonist that is the classic definition of an underdog was as easy choice for me to make.
Brock is the embodiment of the human spirit, refusing to give up though he has little history of success in his past. As the story progresses, things become easier for him partly because of his dramatic status change and partly because he finds himself in a position that takes advantage of his natural abilities.
I modeled Brock after myself, but a better version of myself. While he certainly isn’t perfect, I wanted a protagonist is likable and perhaps even inspirational. He is small of stature, but has a big heart. He has good intentions, but is willing to break the rules when necessary. He is selfish enough to look out for himself, but shows compassion toward others whenever possible. Brock wants to do the right thing because that where his moral compass points him, even if doing the right thing is against the law or against popular opinion.

The plight of the Unchosen in The Buried Symbol is similar to several people groups in our world today who are discriminated against, treated as a bit less than ‘people’. The Untouchables in India comes to mind. Was there something that inspired this facet of your novel?
The evils of discrimination is definitely an underlying theme in the book. By placing the reader behind a main character who is treated like a social outcast, it provides perspective that I hope will have positive impact. However, I cannot lie and say that was my only goal. The existence of Unchosen is a critical plot element for the series, leading to a number of secrets that come to light during the story. The first reveal occurs near the end of book one, but there is more to come as the plot unfolds.
I know what you mean, but of course saying more would be introducing spoilers. :-)

The idea of Runes being a source of power, or a way to identify or harness power, is new to me. Was there something that gave you the idea, or was that something you dreamed up on your own?
Rune magic in various forms exists in other fantasy works. However, the particular approach I took is something that I dreamed up while reading book two of The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. Having an engineering background, I gravitate toward magic systems that are logical, considering magic to be a kind of science that we haven’t yet discovered. When readers follow the story, I want them to feel as if they know how to work this magic and can put themselves in Brock’s position as he discovers the limits of his abilities.
Is that common to engineer authors? Magic 'mechanics' or science, is intriguing to me as well. 

What was your favorite chapter (or part) in the book, and why?
Three specific chapters jump out at me, but they likely aren’t what you think.
  1. I love the chapter where Brock has a flashback dream of his childhood, drawing tears every time I read it.
  2. I also really like the chapter where Brock and Ashland first kiss because it stirs memories of how it felt to be seventeen and fall in love for the first time.
  3. However, my favorite chapter is the morning after Brock’s first experience drinking wine at The Quiet Woman inn. Fantasy books often feature dark taverns filled with rude men groping pretty waitresses. I created The Quiet Woman to be the opposite of that trope, filling it with women drinking coffee or wine and feeling welcome and empowered. Since it rarely has male patrons, Brock’s gregarious nature quickly makes him a favorite of the women who frequent the inn. When Tipper describes Brock’s antics from the previous evening, Brock groans in embarrassment at what he did while under the influence of too much wine. In addition to making me laugh, I see the chapter as a good lesson for all ages as to what can happen when you abuse alcohol. I wrote the chapter from experience, knowing that I need to keep the lesson in mind as well. As a side note, I’m known to take my shirt off and do some acrobatics from time to time, so you know where that part of the story came from.
Is there a message in your novel that you hope your readers will grasp?
I don’t want to sound preachy, nor make my book seem that way. However, if my writing can influence some readers to be a bit more compassionate, I’ve made the world a better place. I also hope to inspire others to overcome the obstacles in their life.
I’d love to read more of Brock and Tipper and their friends at the Academy. When will the sequel be out, and how can readers nab a copy?
Book 2, The Emblem Throne, is releasing on October 6, 2016. Readers will be able to pre-order signed print copies from my website in early September. It will also be out in print and ebook formats with major book retailers after the release date.

How can readers get in touch with or follow you?

For the original interview, visit: Christian Indie Book Reviews