Kara and Mai, side by side

Now that the cover of the “Guild of Assassins” has been revealed, I can finally indulge in something I wanted to do for such a long time: putting the pictures of Kara and Mai side by side and seeing how good they look together. If these two fought side by side, they would be practically undefeatable, won’t they?

Kara-Mai

As a disclaimer, I did not exactly envision them this way when I wrote the book. Kara, in my mind, was more feminine and slender. Mai was more elegant and dashing, a man of iconic beauty whose image does not go well with weapons and killing. Yet, when the artist Alejandro Colucci took my descriptions and transformed them into the actual cover art, I realized that these images make more sense, and are definitely more realistic than those in my head. After the cover art was created, I’ve grown to think differently about my characters, giving them more down-to-earth qualities.

Mai is my favorite character, and the biggest surprise to me from the start. He was initially conceived as a deceptive and dangerous man who can defeat Kara, and represent a threat to her everyone would believe without being obvious about it. What I did not realize originally was that in the process of creating his character he had to become a perfect match for Kara in every possible way, for it takes this kind of a match to be able to defeat a warrior of her skill. And that, in turn, gave rise to my desire to see them together, which drove one of the themes for “The Guild of Assassins”.

The big questions that still remain are: how well do they match? And, can their union possibly lead to anything good?

I would love to hear about this from readers, before and after they read “The Guild of Assassins”, upcoming this summer.

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“THE GUILD OF ASSASSINS” cover reveal

It’s today!!! I am so thrilled to introduce the cover of “The Guild of Assassins”, book 2 of the Majat Code and the sequel to “Blades of the Old Empire”:

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I was thrilled with the choice of Mai for the cover, and with the way the artist Alejandro Colucci portrayed him so well. This man is handsome, romantic, and dangerous man, but also down-to-earth and practical, the side of Mai I did not originally envision, which makes so much sense. In my head Mai still looks somewhat different, but for the cover this image works very well, and I hope it will create the right expectations for the fans.

Read the full post at Angry Robot web site.

And, look at the two covers side by side. They go together so well, and it feels so rewarding for me to be able to see them like this:

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“Blades of the Old Empire” Kindle edition back on Amazon!

After nearly two weeks of suspense as the entire print and electronic run of my book was being replaced due to a missing chapter error, Blades is finally getting back to Amazon!

The good news? This is, finally, the shiny corrected version, with maps and all the chapters included. If you have previously bought a defective copy, all you need to do is synchronize your Kindle to get the updated one.

Room for improvement? Of course. The updated mass market paperback edition is not linked to the page, and the UK trade paperback appears as a separate listing. Hopefully all these will come together by the time of the upcoming cover reveal for “The Guild of Assassins”, rumored to be scheduled for later this week!

And yes, there is more. When the book temporarily disappeared from Amazon, it lost a number of customer reviews, as well as its sales rankings, which were pretty high at the moment. I am still hoping to restore the missing reviews, so if anyone posted a review and does not see it right now, I would really, really appreciate a repost. The book had wonderful rankings, thanks to the support of my readers and fans, and I would love to see it do well out there.

Thank you all so much for all the tweets, shares, and e-mails I got during the limbo of “Blades of the Old Empires” updates.

And yes, don’t miss the ongoing Goodreads giveaway for 10 print copies! Enter to request yours at:

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https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/84972-blades-of-the-old-empire

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Does the main character have to have a point of view?

When I stared writing, I never questioned this. The answer was a definite “no”. For example, in Sherlock Holmes stories, my childhood favorites, Holmes is definitely the main character, yet the point of view belongs to Dr. Watson, the man who admires Holmes and always stays by his side. Brought up on the classical literature, I have seen many such examples. The most powerful one is probably Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”, where getting into the main character’s head would have likely destroyed the book.

As I started participating in writing groups and author discussions in the US, I was surprised to find that a different opinion prevails among the readers and authors in some of these circles. By a majority vote, at least on my lists, someone without a point of view cannot be the main character. Seeing these discussions, I began to wonder if this may be genre-specific, since most of my circles are related to speculative fiction.

As I write, I tend to feel so personal about my main character that often I find it difficult to write in his/her point of view and maintain the tension and drive in the story at the same time. Giving a point of view to a main character can often destroy the image, the mystery and excitement that surrounds this character. In such cases, the story and the character have to be shown through someone else’s eyes, someone’s who is close to this character and ideally admires him/her, but never sees into this character’s thoughts.

I have written books both ways, inside and outside of the main character’s point of view. But to me, some of my favorite characters have to maintain the enigma, much the same way as the enigma built around Sherlock Holmes. While I do not parallel my writing with that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (or Dostoevsky, for that matter), my point of view choice in writing has been inspired in part by reading their books. Would it be fun if we sometimes get to learn what Sherlock Holmes thinks and feels? Probably yes. But to me, it would destroy his image, make him too accessible to marvel at, too similar to everyone else. As I now realize, this was one of the reasons why I liked the movies much less than the books.

In my recently published epic fantasy “Blades of the Old Empire” such a point of view switch has apparently become a controversial point with some readers. The book  has several major characters, but the majority of the story revolves around Kara (who is also the focus of the cover art and the publisher’s blurb). She does not have a point of view in this book, even though she acquires one in the sequel, “The Guild of Assassins”, to be released in July. To me, this lack of the point of view has been important–and made lots of sense.  Apparently, however, lack of her point of view in combination with this cover and blurb came as a surprise to many readers. (As a disclaimer, while the cover and the blurb were not written or chosen by me, I felt happy about these choices, because they showed how well the publisher has tuned in to my feelings about the book). And, during the first month since the release, I had many occasions to feel special, and gratified, to find readers who tuned in to these feelings as well, and reflected it in their praise.

I tend to think there are no “rules” in fiction and everything is possible. Yet, I see many discussions out there stating what is expected and what goes outside the bounds, at least in the speculative genres. My point of view choices seem to fall into this category.

I am very curious to know what other people think about it:

Does the main character have to have a point of view? Does having a point of view always make the character stronger? And, is your opinion on this genre-dependent?

Please let me know, by leaving comments!

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“Blades of the Old Empire” disappearance act…replacement copies on the way!

As the speedy efforts are being made by my publisher to replace the entire printed stock of “Blades of the Old Empire”, which has been printed without a key chapter at the end, I was surprised to open the Amazon web site last night and find my book…missing from Amazon.com. Talking about Bermuda Triangle and magical disappearances.

The book can still be purchased at Amazon.ca (in fact, the only place at the moment that seems to carry Kindle edition), as well as other retailers, but as of today there are no e-books or mass market paperbacks listed at Amazon.com, and the trade paperback UK edition shown there does not have any reviews or sales ranks associated with it.

The good news: corrected paperbacks are on their way, and everyone who purchased a faulty copy would be able to replace it (or keep it as a collectible item for later on :-). And, once the e-books reappear, they will all have the missing chapter and the gorgeous maps, previously omitted from the electronic edition.

Since the release of my book on February 25 this has been one huge roller coaster, not something an author would normally look for in an exciting new release. I am so grateful for everyone’s support through these difficult times, and for those hundreds of readers and reviewers who tweeted and shared their support and contacted me or my publisher to express their sympathy during the past couple of weeks.

As a positive outlook for the future, I just got a look at the gorgeous new cover for “The Guild of Assassins”, soon to be revealed. Would things go smoothly from now on? I hope so!

Please visit back for updates on the Blades at Amazon, replacement copies, and the upcoming Guild cover reveal.

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Guest post by Anna Kashina

Originally posted on Bibliotropic:

Anna Kashina, author of the recently-released Blades of the Old Empire , kindly agreed to drop by a write a guest post for Bibliotropic. After reading her latest novel, I was particularly interested in the culture of the Cha’ori, and she was good enough to shed a bit more light on their culture.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, and for coming up with such a rewarding topic!

As it happens, I did develop the Cha’ori culture quite a bit, even though only glimpses of it are shown in the book. It is a pleasure to talk about it.

bladesoftheoldempireThe Cha’ori are a nomadic culture somewhat similar to Mongols but not militant. They live in horts, groups of about 200 people (sometimes bigger or smaller), and they travel on horseback in the area called Grasslands, a large grass plain that lies between the kingdom of Tallan Dar and…

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“Blades of the Old Empire” bookstore display and Goodreads giveaway

10 print copies are available. You can request yours until March 26th at the following link:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/84972-blades-of-the-old-empire

Here are some pictures from my recent appearance and book signing event in Charleston, SC:

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The revised print copies are on their way to bookstores. For the sake of space, these copies will not contain the sample chapter from “The Guild of Assassins”, which was included in the originally printed version, but the Guild will be out soon, at the end of July.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the signing and reserved a copy at the bookstore!

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