Monday, November 10, 2014

Blog Tour: Quickbane by Chelsea Starling

Title-  QUICKBANE, Part One 
Series- The Vale Chronicles 
By- Chelsea Starling 

Genre- YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy 


Jesobel Vine wants nothing more than to be a typical Pyxie teenager.She wants to ride her 
beloved horse, Firefly, shoot her bow, and fall in love with her dreamy best friend, Glyn. But 
Jesobel is marked not only as the future Royal Starkeeper of Pyxis, but as the Heart of 
Azimuth—the one to lead her people back to their lost realm—a burden too dangerous for 
daydreams. As Jesobel struggles to accept her destiny, reluctantly studying mystic magic, she 
becomes doubtful she will ever be worthy to rule. And when her fiery temper enrages the 
daemon-possessed Starkeeper of Equuleus with a hex-gone-wrong—igniting an orphic 
war—Jesobel must find a way to alter the global disaster foretold by a celestial legend. 


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What inspired you to write this book?
The Vale Chronicles has been organically developing in my mind since childhood. I think it’s safe to say that my childhood friends, Jay & Guerin (sadly, they both left this world too soon) had everything to do with inspiring me to write this series. Quickbane, the first book in the series, was inspired by a vivid dream I had when I was fifteen, about a girl locked in a dungeon with a bunch of other girls beneath a huge castle on an impossibly tall cliff. She had to find a way to rescue everyone. In that dream, a boy with magic eyes came out of the sea to help her. I used many elements from that dream while writing Quickbane, but I gave Jesobel the magic eyes.
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
Glyn, Jesobel’s love interest, always has a bar of soap in his pocket, because his mother is a soapmaker, and she can’t resist shoving a bar in his pocket every single day. He usually whittles them into animals and gives them away to Pyxie kids. Otherwise, whoah amounts of soap!
How did you choose your title?
I had several title options for this book, and it was through an online vote that Quickbane was chosen - people liked that it was original and intriguing. Quickbane is a type of magical tree whose destiny is intricately woven with Jesobel’s, and in fact, these trees support the entire magical system on Vale. Quickbane is also a holiday which marks the transition from Spring to Summer, much like Beltane. This holiday also happens to be Jesobel’s birthday. Pretty significant to the story!
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
OMG. Now here’s a story that probably deserves its own blog post at some point, with pictures. This book has had no less than a zillion cover designs. A ton of them were designed by me, one was designed by an artist who wasn’t happy with the outcome, which made me feel weird about using it, (I loved it, for the record) and the final version is by Yu Cheng Hong, whose work blows my mind to smithereens. I love my cover art so much, and I feel so grateful to have this artist in my corner for this series. I designed the typogoraphy, background color and layout, using a crop of the painting Yu Cheng made for me.  
Did you self ­publish or publish traditionally and why?
As of today, I am an indie published author. I spent many years researching traditional publishing, and have had opportunities to go that route, but by the time I had a polished, publishable story ready, the industry had changed so much that I decided to just go for it on my own. Having just published my first story in June, I can’t say yet whether I regret this decision, but I can say that the indie publishing community is unbelievably welcoming and supportive. I’ve met some extraordinary authors, bloggers and readers by choosing to publish as an indie!
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
This is such a weird question, because different people will give different answers. Someone who only likes reading romance is going to say romance is the most important part of a good story. Fantasy readers want to be swept away into a well-imagined land and have grand adventures. Mystery readers are going to say that without a murder to solve, there’s no mystery, therefore no good story. Bottom line, I guess, is that a good story should entertain its reader, by taking the reader on an emotional journey, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns, but with enough of what the reader expects to keep it familiar and relatable.
What is your writing process?
I generally write in silence, and I like to have Aussie licorice and herbal tea on hand when I’m feeling peckish. I write best when I have a solid chunk of time to work - at least four or five hours. I prefer to write propped up in bed all cozy with my laptop, Mark Twain style.
How long have you been writing?
If keeping a journal counts, I guess I’ve been writing since I was in second or third grade.
How did you get started writing?
The first time I ever wrote any sort of cohesive story was when the first Vale Chronicles book began to appear to me in dreams. I started writing it on a napkin on an airplane on my way to Atlanta. I couldn’t stop. It took me four years to finish that first crappy draft, and then another four years before I decided to give writing an earnest attempt. In 2010 I took an online writing class, which led to more classes, and I guess about two years ago I realized that this wasn’t just a hobby for me, but an obsession, and a thing that wasn’t going to go away. I still struggle to put writing first in my life, sometimes it feels like a guilty pleasure. But I love it. And I’m not going to stop.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m more of a hybrid. I started out as a pantser, but this got me into a lot of trouble where plot was concerned. I’d develop my setting and characters and they’d be doing cool stuff in awesome places, but there was a clear lack of plot. I am always paying attention to ways I can strengthen my plot, and ramp up tension, and I’ve learned that it takes planning to do this well. These are skills that I will always strive to strengthen for the rest of my writing career.
What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
Battling procrastination. Carving out time to write without feeling guilty about it.
What tips can you give on how to get through writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think all “blocks” to writing could be labeled “procrastination.” Writers are famous for inventing the most elaborate ways to procrastinate, including the invention of “writers block.” The reason people procrastinate can usually be traced to an emotional or psychological issue that is rarely related to the actual story or the writing process. My biggest block is wrestling with this ridiculous voice in my head that tells me I don’t deserve to be a writer, since it’s not paying the bills yet. And that maybe I’m not good enough, or that nobody will want to read my stories. I think you could even go so far as to say that procrastination is really fear, at its root. Fear of success? Fear of failure? I don’t even know. But it’s there, and it’s ugly. My only way around it is to address the fear by punching it in the face and writing anyways. Sometimes the courage to do this takes a few days. Sometimes a few weeks. In the mean time, I read as much as I can. Preferably books that both inspire me, and make me feel 100% certain that I should just quit, because I’ll never be that good. Somehow, the inspiration always sticks, and the quitting doesn’t. So to make a short story long: Read a lot. Keep writing anyway, even if you’re afraid it will suck.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
I usually write in silence. If I do remember to put some music on, it will be something ethereal, like Native American flute music, or Celtic music or gypsy jazz guitar. Or something a little strange like the Cocteau Twins or Enya or trippy Tibetan bowls or something. I like mood-evoking music. Sometimes movie soundtracks are nice to write to, especially if I’m working on a dramatic scene.
Who is your favorite author?
Tolkein, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman. Maggie Steifvater. I don’t know. A whole bunch more. Those are just a few off the top of my head. That’s like asking me my favorite band or my favorite meal. I don’t have one. Variety is the spice of life, and I change my mind as often as I change my mood!
Who is your favorite character from a book?
Hm. I supposed I’d have to say Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s sidekick in the Lord of the Rings. He’s courageous, loyal and true, totally determined to ensure that Frodo carries out his quest and gets that damned ring to Mordor. He gives moral support when necessary, physical support when necessary, and is willing to sacrifice his life for the love of his friend. I think I love Sam so much because I don’t have a Sam in my life. I think everyone needs a Sam.
What is your favorite book?
As a reader of many books in many genres, this is a tough question to answer. Different books leave an imprint on me relating to the time in my life when I first read them, much like certain songs often do. Here’s a random sampling of some of my favorite books in no particular order: The Hobbit, LOTR trilogy, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Frances Hodgsen Burnette’s Secret Garden and A Little Princess, The Count of Monte Cristo, Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater. The Bridge to Terabithia. Neil Gaiman’s Stardust & Neverwhere. There are just countless others, depending on my mood. I loved Ender’s Game. Wool by Hugh Howey. Halo, by Frankie Rose. Ask me again tomorrow and you’ll get a totally different list.
Read anything good lately?
Recently enjoyed the first Outlander book immensely. Neck deep into the second one, and finding it less engaging. I’m usually reading four or five books at once, including some non-fiction. Current non-fiction book is Drawing out the Dragons by James Owen. Highly recommend to anyone feeling like their destiny is out of reach. Inspiring stuff. 
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read, dance, make awesome things out of leather, play with my kids, watch movies, travel, cook. Be sparkly.
What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Write as often as possible, for as long as possible. Take classes if you feel that the process of writing mystifies you. I recommend Jordan Rosenfeld. When you finish a draft of a novel, know that you’ve only just begun. Strive to make your story the best it can possibly be. This will not be the case with a first draft. Hire an editor. Revise like crazy. Edit some more.
I would also say that writing is a marathon, not a sprint. People get into the business of writing hoping for overnight success, and it’s just so rare and so unlikely to happen, but people are still disheartened when they aren’t selling a billion copies in their first year as an indie author. If you’re choosing this road, you have to be tough, you have to be determined. You have to realize that you’ll be squeezing your writing time between your day job for quite some time before the books will pay the bills.
Deciding to be an author is not a career path for people who aren’t ready to work their butts off, putting in long hours for no pay. If you’re hoping for a quick road to financial success, you’d have better luck weaving baskets from the back hair of rabid badgers and selling them on Etsy. But for all the crazy amount of work involved, writing is also absolutely the most rewarding career choice you’ll ever make, so never give up if it’s what your heart yearns to do.
Have you had anything else published?
Not unless you count an article I wrote when I was eighteen for a small medical newspaper based in San Diego. It was about the local Humane Society. I saw the Little Mermaid in theaters that year no less than twelve times.
What's your next project?
I have several upcoming projects! Quickbane Part Two & Part Three, a time travel novel I’m co-writing with Christina Mercer, and a Dragon Anthology with a group of kick ass authors. I also have the next nine Vale Chronicles books (with new characters) outlined, and it’s anybody’s guess which one will come next!


Warrior, mermaid, wordsmith, performer for kings and queens, Chelsea Starling is fucking 
awesome. She raises bear cubs with one hand, and conjures whole worlds with the other.  

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