I have to be perfectly honest—the fantasy/sci-fi genre isn’t at the top of my reading list. It’s on the list, yes, but it just doesn’t take first place. However, this book by Yvonne certainly made me question why I start each fantasy book with a little reservation, because this one very definitely confirmed how much I do enjoy the genre.

What did we have in this book? We had romance, war, spies, traitors, an epidemic, rape, politics, prediction, troubled souls, tragedy, patience and understanding, and greed. What’s not to like?

Marja survives the retaliative overthrow of Catania by Bargia. Gaelen is the surviving heir to the rule of Bargia and convinces Marja that marriage to him would be for the good of all. Reluctant and dubious of the merits, she nevertheless agrees. The possible controversy and disapproval of the union necessitates close scrutiny by Gaelen’s faithful counsellors and protection of Marja by his own right-hand man, Klast. But Gaelen has a ruthless traitor in his midst and aided by the loyal Klast and his committed seer, Liethis, Gaelen must out him and punish him accordingly without delay.

This is my first outing with Yvonne and won’t be the last. She has a very clear, expressive, thoughtful, and insightful style. I loved it. I was fascinated by Klast – he was my favourite character. He was multi-layered, an enigma, and Yvonne gave him strength of character, tenderness, decency, and loyalty. Marja and Gaelen were a well-matched young couple – both suffered personal losses, both were focussed, determined and commanded respect. Gaelen’s traitor was perfectly calculating, smug, avaricious, and ruthless.

A well-constituted cast of characters, a good mix of action and romance, and well written. Yvonne has certainly caused chaos in my preferential order of genres.

See Cathy’s blog at Cath’n’Kindle Book Reviews, http://cnkbookreviews.blogspot.ca/

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Hello friends. Please have a peek at the blog I wrote for Indies Unlimited. Indies is a relatively new group dedicated to promoting Indie authors. Their team members are all writers whom I admire and respect. And I have the true honour of being invited to join their team. This is my first post as a contributing member.
http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/02/20/man-i-love-words/

A topic that has come up among my writer friends deals with the problem of categorizing our books. Book stores, on-line outlets, libraries and and publishers all want, and indeed need, a label for what we write. Labels help readers and sellers group books in ways that reduce confusion and facilitate choice.

But  the reverse can also be true. Labeling  books, choosing what genre or category to place them in has become increasingly difficult. The problem affects some areas more than other. Fantasy seems to be particularly plagued. For instance I chose to call my books Epic Fantasy. My story spans at least three books, has many characters, and takes place in an imaginary society. Yet, because the paranormal element is not a major feature of what I write some have suggested it ought to be called Fantasy Romance, or Historical Fantasy, even Historical Romance. My problem with those is that romance is not the major theme of my stories. Romance plays a part, it is true, but is there to support the sweep of the tale and to offer readers characters they will identify with. Since my books are not based on a real society (even though there are elements readers may relate to) they cannot rightly be called historical. Even the fantasy label can be called into question. I have no dragons, no magic spells, or fantastical creatures, so those looking for anything in the vein of Tolkien, Rowling, or even C. S. Lewis will be disappointed. Yet I do have seers with abilities we mere mortals do not possess. There is also the earth personified as a goddess.This makes Fantasy the correct designation.

I have had so many readers tell me they loved my books. These are folk who took a chance because I had an opportunity to explain my labeling problem to them. They told me they do not usually read Fantasy, and ask  me “what is Epic Fantasy anyway”.  But after reading  Book One they couln’t wait for the next one. The oft heard comment has been “but it’s not really Fantasy”.

Even within Fantasy, Epic Fantasy seems to be a very nebulous category. I have read many descriptions and definitions, none of which much resemble each other. But no other label fits. So what’s a writer to do?

The result is that I am missing a wide audience that would enjoy what I write but will never find me because I have been lumped with, not only the wide range of books called Fantasy, but also with Science Fiction. Why these two are grouped together I will never understand. They are, in my opinion, at opposite ends of the imagination spectrum.

I would love to hear from other writers of Fantasy to hear how they are dealing with this. I know we are legion. Well, maybe not quite, but you get the picture.

I hope people will overlook my recent absence. I have been running around like a chicken with my head off getting ready for the big launch of “Through Kestrel’s Eyes”. Everything is set to go. Just a few more posters to put up, bookmarks to hand out, goodies to get and it will be ready. The whole experience for the last several weeks has been a bit overwhelming but it is finally coming together.

I know, I know – details. Both versions of both books are now available on amazon.com. Just go to books and type in my name and all four will come up. But be careful if you want the Kindle version of “Back From Chaos”. iUniverse has not removed their version yet (even though I have a letter from them stating that they agree to terminate out contract) and are charging $9.99 whereas I am offering that one for $.99 so that those who have not read it yet and are interested in the new one can get the first inexpensively.

If anyone is willing to post a review of either book on amazon that would be appreciated. It is really easy. No big essays necessary – just a couple of sentences and a star rating.

The official launch is on Saturday, the 26th of November at Callan Books, 40 York St., Stratford, from 12 noon until 2 pm. I hope to see lots of you there.

Thanks to all those who have given me such wonderful support. This could not have happened without you. I promise to be quicker with the next book “The Dreamt Child”.

I felt no pain now; not the weariness from my headlong flight, not the burning of the pain in my fingers, nor the bone deep chill in my limbs. The cold brought peace and the desire to sleep. If this was what Earth wished for me, I resigned myself. This sleep would be my last.
As if from far away I became aware of the sound of voices. Almost unconscious, I had not the strength to move and so could not indicate to them that I lived. Truth be told, I knew I hovered near death. Perhaps Earth had no further need of me and would allow me to sink back into her eternal embrace. Is that what I wanted, to be free from my duties to Earth, released from my gifts? I had not had a choice in receiving them.
Perhaps rescue would be no more than a wishful dream. But no, this was real. I had been found. The voices above me penetrated dimly through the foggy haze of my awareness.
“Ho, what is this?” I heard one mumble as he stumbled over my cocoon of branches, leaves and snow, and his boot uncovered a patch of my red cloak. With my seer’s sight I sensed him scrabble the remaining cover of snow, leaves and branches away with his hands.
“Farsh! Merrist! Over here!”
“Hey, watch out! That branch almost took my eye out,” one complained as he emerged out of the trees to stand behind the one who had discovered me.
“Not so loud!” cautioned the other as he joined his companions. “Do you want to be heard? Corrin will not thank you if we are taken.”
“What have you there? A woman? Is she dead? What is a woman doing in the snow here?”
My discoverer stopped trying to tug me out of my burrow, put me back down and checked. “She breathes, barely. Help me get her to the cabin, or she may yet die.”
“I do not know if that is a good idea. She will learn our location. Corrin will be furious! Best to let her stay where she is.”
“What? That is murder! Have you no honour, Farsh? Corrin may not be pleased but he would not expect us to let her die.” I could hear eagerness in my finder’s voice. “Merrist, run ahead and stoke up the fire. Put the blankets close to heat them. We need to warm her up if she is to live, though I fear it may be too late already.” He grunted with effort to lift my lax form from its cocoon. “Come on, Farsh, give me a hand!”
Farsh bent to help, grumbling half-heartedly, “I like this not, Larn.” Then, curiosity overcoming reluctance, he added, “How came she here, do you think?”
“Mayhap she will tell us when she wakes. Get ahead and put a kettle on. She will need hot tea when she does…if she does.”
I sensed the excitement their find brought the one called Larn. This mystery called to his imagination. His thoughts came through clearly. She is no peasant. I can tell even through the dirt that she is young. And her clothes are fine, so she had not been poor. What tale might she tell? What brought her to this outpost, hidden deep in the woods? Whose side is she on? The questions tumbled over one another in his mind.
I experienced, with my sight, what Larn thought and felt as he carried me, my ability heightened by contact. His awareness became mine. I hope Lord Dugal is not too angry. What a find! Three moons in this cabin and nothing happens. And now a woman finds us…no, we found her. Surely a woman can pose no threat.
I caught the smell of wood smoke as Larn followed his nose. Through his eyes I beheld the small, rough cabin that served as safe house for his young lord. Soon I could sense the glow from the hearth fire seeping out from behind the oiled leather that covered the small window. The door opened, and I saw Merrist limned by the light of the fire.
“I cleared the bed. You can lay her down there.” Merrist closed the door tightly as we entered, then pressed close behind, as my rescuer carefully lay me on a straw mattress.
“We best see she does not get away,” Farsh worried, standing behind the other two. But in him, too, I could tell that concern had overcome reticence, and I knew he hovered behind the others.
“We need to undress her and get the warm blankets on her.” Two opposing needs warred in the young man’s mind. She needs to be warmed up but she might not take kindly to three strange men seeing her without clothes on. Finally, need overcame decorum, and he began to tug at my cloak.
“Her clothes are all wet. Help me get them off.” I sensed the exact instant his eyes fell on my left hand. He looked up at his friends, all of his previous eagerness replaced by shock. “Oh, dear Earth, she has been tortured! Look!” He held up my hand for the others to see.
I knew what they had discovered. The two outside fingers of my left hand each ended in a pulpy red mass, stark against the icy white of the rest of my hand. My nails had been torn off in an unsuccessful bid to get me to divulge the whereabouts of Lord Merlost’s wife and children.
I felt Larn shudder, and sensed him imagining the pain in his own fingers. He looked at his friends and I knew he saw the same horror mirrored in their eyes.
A low moan, unbidden, escaped my lips. I could not hold it in. At that same moment I understood death would not claim me today.
The men’s conversation reached me clearly now, with normal hearing. I felt the warmth of the cabin begin to insinuate itself into my body. It awakened my conscious mind, much against my will, while it increased my pain.
“Help me get her undressed. Hurry. Get a blanket around her before she wakes. She will be frightened enough, without waking to strange men undressing her.”
I caught an image from him, imagining my reaction if I came to while being mauled by three ruffians.
Mercifully, I managed to feign unconsciousness until after they had replaced the heated blanket three more times. Gradually, as the warmth brought heat to my blood, I began to shake, unable to control myself, an effect of the cold beginning to leave my body. Even then, I did not allow them to see signs of my waking.
Without warning, and completely beyond my tight efforts at control, I lifted my injured hand away from my body and moaned again. I forced it slowly back to the bed as if it had never happened. I knew, then, I would have to let them see that I was awake.
All three jumped back from the sound, eyes wide with shock.
“It must have been the heat,” Merrist offered. “I have had frostbite. When the flesh warms, the pain is almost unbearable.” His voice hushed in empathy. “It will happen again I think. What can we do for her?”
Before the others could respond, the door flew open, banging hard against the inner wall.

I have just received the revised cover for the edited version of Back From Chaos. It will be available on both Kindle and Amazon within the next two weeks, fates permitting. My daughter Lyrra has been seconded to help me with the up-loads next week-end. Please refer to the ‘take a peek’ page for the first several pages.

Here it is.