Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: Crimson and Cream

Book Review

Crimson and Cream

Crimson and Cream is the debut fantasy novel from author, C.M. Skiera, and a wonderful beginning to what promises to be an exciting series.  

The story begins with Flotsam and Jetsam, twin orphans nicknamed for the water they were pulled from after fleeing from the men who killed their parents. Their parents had been killed for being sorcerers after the king outlawed magic.  On their birthday, they sneak onto the grounds of the king's castle at the behest of the headstrong Jetsam, in hopes to procure fruit from the abundant orchard there.  After being spotted, the twins are sent into a dangerous chase, one that serves as a catalyst for the adventure to follow.  

This seemingly innocuous beginning turns into a quest to discover the secrets of the twins' past while being hunted by a bounty hunter whose sole motivation is to cement his legacy, no matter the cost.  Intense battles with trolls, being abducted by a group of men with questionable motivations, fleeing from a vicious bounty hunter, and encountering a massive beast out of legend are just a few of the exciting situations we find the unlikely protagonist thrust into.  And let me tell you, it's an intense, fast-paced ride until the end.

One thing that really struck me with Crimson and Cream is the massively emotional whack over the head that  C.M. Skiera introduces fairly early into the story(sorry, not going to spoil anything here).  Although the story doesn't quite reach the same level of emotional impact afterwards, the scene is bold, and is plays a pivotal role in character growth throughout the book.

The story is very well written and plotted.  C.M. Skiera has a wonderful talent for description and dialogue, and his characters are unique and interesting.  The story introduces several original concepts, though also treads familiar fantasy ground, mostly in Tolkienesque fashion(completely meant as a compliment).  Though having Book One included in the title of this book, you can't help but be a little disappointed as the last page ends, leaving many unanswered questions.  Hopefully we won't have to wait long for the answers!


You can find out more about C.M. Skiera on:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Dragon Gem: Chapter Two Commentary

Commentary from The Dragon Gem Chapter 2 - Counts and Contracts


-This chapter introduces Galius Firmon, the count that employed Korin to find a stolen gem.  Originally, he was going to play a much larger role as a villain when I still thought of Korin's Journal as a series of novellas. His reason for wanting his stolen gem returned so badly was because he planned to use it to blackmail the dragons into helping him take rule over the entire kingdom. In this version of the story, dragons were not banished, but were an endangered species who Galius assumed would do anything for the gem.  Not only did I make major changes when the idea for a trilogy coalesced, but I though that the story was a bit weak.

-Two details foreshadow the gem's power that is revealed later on.  The first is that Galius, a completely detestable man, was elected to his position.  Despite Byweather being full of corrupt politicians, the fact that Galius, basically a whiny child in a man's body, was elected indicates that there is something else behind his position.  The second is that Galius's thugs leave him to work for a man with lower political rank.  Such an action would be unheard of in a city where money and power is everything.  Later on, these two events can be linked to Galius's loss of the gem.


-After the lighthearted feel of the first chapter(if a tavern brawl is lighthearted . . . ), I wanted to ensure with this chapter that the reader realizes just how much Korin has at risk.  Korin is not some super human.  He is vulnerable and the stakes he faces are high.

-Korin's nicknaming Galius's thugs Thug One and Thug Two is a not-so-subtle reference to Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat :).

-If you find it strange that Korin can remember the details he does of his birth parents when he'd only seen them as an infant, you'll get your explanation at the end of The Forgotten King.

Okay, so I feel like there's a few more points I wanted to make, but given my mind isn't completely back to reality yet(just coming off a vacation), it's not coming to me.  Maybe they'll get thrown in with the next chapter.

As of now, I'm projecting a late Aug/early Sept release for The Dragon Gem 2nd Edition.  Afterwards, I plan on releasing a novelette in September that has some awesome things in the works for it.  I'll share more soon, I promise!  I'm really excited about it, though, and can't wait to share!

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there and to all the mothers who fill the same role!

Brian Beam

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Dragon Gem: Chapter One Commentary

Alright, I don't have a ton of time for this with my family vacation coming up tomorrow, so I'll pretty much do what I did in the last blog and post some little facts about the Dragon Gem, this time pertaining to Chapter 1: Come on, It's Only a Game.

  • I wanted to start the book out with a little action to draw the reader in, but also give the reader a good feel for Korin in the first few pages.  Korin's obviously the hero, good, but flawed.  I wanted that to come across naturally by putting him in a dangerous situation (Nothing pulls out a character's personality more than great loss or danger in my little ol' opinion).
  • Korin was also the name of one of the protagonists of my first novel(the unfinished The Secret of the Kolari: Book One of the Broken Cycle Saga).  He had a twin in that novel.  Korin was planned to die at the end of the first book after appearing to be the good guy and his twin, Kris, the bad guy.  I guess I used to have a little George R.R. Martin in me . . . on a much smaller scale.
  • The story begins in the city of Geeron, the same name as the village that The Secret of the Kolari started with.
  • Brennor was originally intended to be a recurring character, almost as comic relief.  He was going to show up through the book several times, bumbling his attempts to retrieve the gem back from Korin.  I quickly scrapped that idea; it was a bit sitcom-y and though I try to put a decent amount of humor in the book, I thought it was going a bit far.  Therefore he only makes one more appearance, albeit in a more realistic and logical fashion.
  • At first, the chapter was written with Korin chasing after the black-cloaked gem thief, chapter 2 consisting of a chase through the city.  I scrapped it in order to move into the story a little quicker.  I felt that two major action pieces in the very beginning with no plot progression would make this a Michael Bay movie . . . er, would lose the reader's attention.
This chapter was a lot of fun to write, and with it under my belt in the 2nd ed., I really like how it flows (the 2nd ed. version can be found here.   I'm nearly a fourth of the way through the 2nd edition edit/rewrite now, so progress is being made, even if slowly.  I also have a new project that I'll be releasing later this year which I'll be announcing very soon.

Hope you've enjoyed these little tidbits, and if not, here's a cute picture of my son to make up for it :)

"Daddy says buy The Forgotten King!"
Note: Jonas never actually said this, but feel free to imagine he did.

Brian Beam

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Dragon Gem: Behind the Scenes

Working on the 2nd Edition of The Dragon Gem(a much slower process than anticipated), I have realized that it could be fun to talk a little about the chapters as I make my way through them-a commentary, if you will.  My favorite author, Brandon Sanderson, has done this with nearly all of his books, giving insight into his writing and providing a little behind the scenes information about the story.  So, starting next week, I'll start doing this for each chapter, posting a couple chapters worth of commentary each week. 

To kick things off, I'd like to list a couple general facts about The Dragon Gem(well, really the Korin's Journal trilogy as a whole)

* The series was originally going to be a series of novellas, each one focused on the individual Activated Contracts Korin takes on as he travels.  Each would add a piece to a larger story, while allowing for pretty much as many smaller stories as I wished to write.  However, just a couple chapters into the first book, something bigger took shape in my mind and inspired me to shift to an epic trilogy.  Trust me, it's better this way.

* The name of the land that the Dragon Gem takes place in, Amirand, is a not so subtle nod to my wife, Miranda :).

*  I actually prefer not to write in first person, but Korin's character was just begging to be expressed in such a perspective.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Now, back to editing/rewriting/revising The Dragon Gem(Now 20% complete)!