Second Edition Book Release

Get the Second Editions this weekend at Comic-Con!

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Edmonton Comic Con!

Image result for edmonton comic expoJoin me this weekend at Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. I will have Second Edition Copies of the Essence of Galenia Series and a teaser for the new Series Coming this fall!

Hope to see you there!

Goodreads Giveaway!

Cover1bordermapEnter to win the first book in the Essence of Galenia book series: Journey to Kokoroe

Contest is now open and ends on April 2nd. It is open all over the world so don’t miss your chance to win!

Journey to Kokoroe by Laura L. Comfort

As Hanna begins to realize that home is not just around the corner, fear begins to grip her. Greeted with kindness, fear gives way to curiosity. As she learns of the destructive history of Galenia she becomes resolved to help her new companions maintain their idealized way of life. Hanna’s not the only one with a new purpose. Nandin discovers the history he grew up believing may not have been accurate and the suffering he’s witnessed may have been caused by the very people he trusted. Two travellers on opposite paths; both convinced they’re on the side of the greater good. One path leads to the salvation of Galenia, the other to it’s destruction.

 

A Bit of Essence – #2

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Students entered into their Journey to Kokoroe Minecraft session through the hub. This amazing Asian inspired palace was where they found the links to take them to the weekly build site. The challenge for this week was to build the town of Erdo. Here is a summary of the story so far along with some terminology:

Terminology from Galenia:

Essence – this mystical substance is in all things; without it you die.

The Three Original Races:
  • Juro – this race has the ability to manipulate the Essence, they are long lived and have an average height of 3’
  • Jivan – these people are intelligent and work in all trades, are philosophers and have an average height of 5’5”
  • Jagare – these are the hunters and protectors with an average height of 6’ and have a muscular physique
The New Races: created by Mateo
  • Kameil – some were born Kameil others may have been Jivan or Jagare originally but were experimented on leaving them without any Essence and making them a sickly race
  • Yaru – born Jivan or Jagare Mateo’s treatment increased their Essence making them taller, stronger and with Ninja-like abilities
The Story:

Hanna was starting to get worried. She was enjoying her time in the small village of Kayu, but the longer she stayed the more aware she was that she was trapped on Galenia. She finally accepted the advice of the village leaders to seek out Master Juro; they insisted that if anyone had answers it would be him and he would be her best chance at finding a way back home. She tried to convince herself to just go along with it but when she realized it would be a two-week journey to Kokoroe, her travel companions had to convince her to carry on. Kazi, with his unshakable good mood and bright-side view of things, made it impossible for her to quit. He was so excited to be heading to Kokoroe to begin his training and she became more than a little curious as to what that might entail. What he revealed about Galenia fascinated her, but some things left her feeling conflicted. The treatment of the Kameil was unsettling – she felt she had a lot in common with them as she too was without Essence. Their banishment filled her with dread; she hoped she would not be condemned to the same fate. Hanna grasped the Essence gem she wore around her neck grateful to the people of Kayu for giving her the chance to survive.

Students at Gamed Academy were given this passage:

Six days after they left BaDaal they arrived at Erdo. Hanna loved the entrance to this town. The narrowed road was covered by a solid canopy of green as the trees merged together. The town itself had an interesting layout. It was made of three ring roads one inside another. Each road was packed with buildings leaving no space between them so the only way to the center of town was down the main road that cut straight through each ring. Like a bull’s-eye, a three-tiered fountain dominated the main square. Hanna wished she had more time to tour around each ring road, but they arrived late and left early, seeing only the small inn where they slept and the view from her window.

A Bit of Essence: 1

 

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Journey to Kokoroe is the first book in the Essence of Galenia fantasy-adventure series.In this first entry of A Bit of Essence there is a summary of the book and then a passage to go with Minecraft builds from students at GamEd Academy. Enjoy!

Seeking out a way home, Hanna discovers a world being torn apart. Her curiosity takes her deeper into the mysteries of Galenia as she learns she possesses skills and abilities exceeding those around her. But the novelty of those skills will be put to the test as the dangers on Galenia become all too real and home becomes a dream.

Excerpt From Journey to Kokoroe Chapter 1: Cause and Concern

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‘Hanna took in a deep breath. She could smell flowers and freshly cut grass. Imagining she must have fallen asleep in the woods behind her house, she was surprised when she opened her eyes and saw a peculiar ceiling above her. Often she had lain on her living room floor staring up at the ceiling, imagining shapes in the stucco. This ceiling, however, had thick wooden beams and wood slats across them. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye and turned her head.

“You are awake! Thank goodness. You must be very thirsty; lie still for a moment and I will get you
some water.”

Hanna was puzzled. She had never met this person before yet she spoke to her like a concerned parent. As she watched her pour water from a jug, Hanna tried to think where she’d seen this lady before. Her hair was curly and her face had a pinkish hue. Confused and unsure where she was, Hanna tried to think of the last thing she could remember.

She recalled having another typical day at school, of noisy hallways and bright fluorescent lights that left her with yet another migraine to end her day. Following the nauseating bus ride home, the smell of sweat mixed in with perfumes and cologne, she had escaped civilization by hiding in the woods behind her house. She gazed up at the canopy of the trees as she lay on a bed of greenery. Taking in the refreshing smell of moss and pinecones, she twirled her hair around her fingers, unconcerned of the dried leaves and twigs that became entangled in it. Her daydreams were interrupted by a cracking sound, like a person walking on branches. She jumped to her feet and glanced around; perhaps twenty feet away, she saw her. Completely taken by surprise, Hanna was more curious than worried. She had never seen anyone in the woods before; today was the first. A lady with a kind face that had a pinkish hue was meandering through the bushes.

‘That’s it!’ Hanna thought. She recalled watching the woman taking cuttings off the bushes, then pick up a basket and begin walking in the opposite direction. Aside from being in the usually vacant woods, something seemed strange about this woman, but Hanna couldn’t really explain what it was. Her clothing was simple and dated looking, and although filling a basket with plants may not have been typical it wasn’t odd enough to warrant suspicion.

Still, Hanna was unable to contain her curiosity and followed her. The woman disappeared behind a tree. Hanna quietly moved in closer. When she peered around the tree there was no sign of the lady. Hanna scampered in a little further. She wondered how she could have lost her so easily. When there was still no sign of her, Hanna’s curiosity increased. She desperately wanted to talk with her and find out who she was; when her headache’s didn’t get the best of her, she tended to be a social creature.

Hanna caught a glimpse of her, only to lose her again behind another tree. Feeling as if she was being pulled, Hanna ran calling out to get the lady’s attention and proceeded to trip on the protruding root of a rather large tree. She flew into the air and, as luck would have it, hit her head on a rock. That was the last thing she remembered.’

This passage is what the students were given for their build:Kayu1

‘Hanna was pleased to find that instead of looking out onto a concrete world, she was surrounded by wooden houses and shops, grass and trees, benches and even a large, stone fountain. It reminded her of a Christmas village she had seen in a store window one December.’

Stories Alive!

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What I love about movies is seeing worlds come alive. For the stories we read it is up to us to visualize what the author has created. I’m so excited to say that my readers can experience both! In my upcoming blog series A Bit of Essence, I will share excerpts or summaries of my trilogy accompanied with photos of Minecraft builds created by students of GamEd Academy.

Students were given build challenges of certain scenes from the books – I love what they have created! (The above photo is a Minecraft version of Jack and the Giant on the Beanstalk.)

What is GamEd Academy you may have asked? It’s where learning & gaming collide! Students learn about a subject such as 7 Wonders of the Ancient World or the Boston Tea Party and are then given build challenges that go with their learning. In the creative writing series they learned some writing techniques as well as doing a novel study. The year is broken down into 6 week sessions and each session focuses on a different novel: Journey to Kokoroe, Flight to the Citadel and Into the Valley. In addition to these fantasy adventure stories they also learned about Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland to name a few.

If you want more information about this amazing online school check out their website. For now, here’s a glimpse at some of the awesome builds students did in my first creative writing series Stories Alive. Some were builds depicting scenes from fairy-tales and others were from their favorite stories.

Here we have a pixel version of Alice in Wonderland, another Alice crying her eyes out, the Gingerbread Man, the Golden harp from Jack and the Beanstalk, Humpty Dumpty on his wall, A Minion from Despicable Me (check out the laptop in the background from another story), and the Quidditch Pitch from Harry Potter complete with the characters on their broomsticks. What great creativity these kids have!

Top 5 Creative Writing Goals

Before I wrote my Essence of Galenia series, I wanted to be clear of what it was I wanted to achieve. What did I want to say or do that hadn’t been done many, many times before? It started with a list. I wrote down the names of stories that I loved, stories I was disappointed in and one’s that were in my genre. I then proceeded to jot down all the things I liked about them and what my pet peeves were. There were some interesting patterns that began to emerge and it gave me a way to make clear goals for what I wanted to achieve with my story; ways to make it unique and to avoid falling into the same patterns as many fantasy stories do.

  1. Likeable villains; Good guys with flaws
    • Sauron, Voldemort, The White Witch: all iconic villains. And they are all the epitome of evil.  They are the embodiment of all things dark and sinister; there is no doubt that they need to be destroyed. Yet, having doubt of whether or not someone really is evil or if they have a chance at redemption can make for an interesting or even likable villain. There are many tales of how the protagonist becomes a hero—in my story I wanted to include a believable journey of the villain; the tale of a normal character’s descent into darkness.
    • On the flip side, I wanted ‘good guys’ who weren’t so polished. Every well-written protagonist has some flaws that they struggle with or fears they must overcome, but typically you know that they are the heroes. I wasn’t interested in flipping everything and everyone on their heads, but I did want to create characters that caused the reader to question the very concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. In RL people are both; even ‘nice guys’ can say or do things that are unpleasant. One of my favorite lines from the Harry Potter series is a quote from Sirius Black:
      • “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
    • My Goal: To blur the lines between good and evil; even the characters don't know what path they are truly on.
  2. Being Heroic Without having to Kill
    • Even in beloved children stories the heroes kill. From Snowwhite and Hansel and Gretal to The Harry Potter Series and The Hunger Games, killing is key. It is true that in some of these stories the hero indirectly gets the villain killed, but it seemed to me that in so many stories there is this unwritten theme of ‘bad guys’ killing = murder, ‘good guys’ killing = heroic. Very rarely do heroes have repercussions for their actions – usually because the story ends. In some fantasy books the heroes are constantly in battles and the death count on their hands is impressive —orc or not that’s got to get to you…While death and killing is not a theme nor the goal in my series, when the issue comes up I try to deal with it in a realistic manner and there are always consequences.
    • My Goal: Not every story ends with a war. You can be a hero without having to kill.
  3. Consequences of Choices
    • Another theme I found was the chosen hero. It is their destiny to be a savoir. Their coming has been prophesied—they will save the day. One of the things I loved about Lord of the Rings was that Frodo made the choice to be a ring bearer; Aragon chose to become King. To me, having choice makes the characters all the more heroic. The consequences of these choices—for better or worse—have a greater impact on who the character is. It is the difference between being told what to do and doing something of your own free will and, therefore, you are not only responsible for your actions, but accountable for the outcome.
    • I also wanted this kind of accountability for my protagonists. I love the Harry Potter stories, but again I will use Voldemort as an example. Tom Riddle (later to be named Voldemort) came from the Slytherin lineage (the only founder of Hogwarts to get kicked out for his controversial and morally unacceptable views). Tom was  abandoned by his father, had a somewhat psychotic mother, was raised in an orphanage where he was bullied, and pretty much never knew love. What choice did he have but to become a villain? Seriously, if you saw the movie, meeting young Tom Riddle through the aide of the pensive, the whole thing screams ‘I’m going to be a villain!!’ He tortured animals and people. Now you may say that Harry had also lost his parents, was raised by bullies, but he chose to be a nice guy, and I agree, he could have absolutely been a jerk. Had it not been for his friends and his good genes, then it’s likely he would have been Voldemort’s sidekick. My point is that Tom was pretty much denied that choice; he had nothing in his favor.
    • My Goal: To create heroes and villains with equal choices and opportunities. They are not destined to be saviors or corrupters they chose their path.
  4. The logic of Science vs  the convenience of Magic
    • Magic is easy. At least when you are writing about it. It can get you out of any circumstance. And many times when writers use magic they don’t even give themselves parameters. Need to get somewhere? Enchant a carpet. Don’t like someone? Turn them into stone. The trouble with magic is that the rules can be very unclear to authors and readers alike. YouTube has great tributes to these undeclared limits to powers. Why not just use the time turner to kill Tom Riddle before it all happened? Why not send the eagles in to mount doom to begin with? Of course, the point is not the magic, it is the journey of our protagonist. But if these powers come with some sort of  limit or clear-cut rules then we wouldn’t have to quietly suspend all plausibility when losing ourselves in the story.
    • Now I’m not suggesting it all has to be explained. Too much of that and not only do you take the fun out of it, but it would leave little left for the imagination. I’m also not suggesting that there is a right way or wrong way to add wizardry into a tale. Alice shrinking to the size of a mushroom or Percy Jackson having the ability to control water are wondrous, magical scenes that would lose their appeal if the writers gave us a full account of how it all happened. All I’m suggesting is that whatever guidelines, whatever limits these powers have, it’s important that the readers can come to understand them and that we as writers don’t abuse those powers.
    • So what has this got to do with science? Ancient people believed in magic. It was all around them. Fire, the Aurora Borealis, I’m sure even caterpillars becoming butterflies was miraculous. And of course it was. It was also explainable, they just didn’t have the knowledge or tools to work it out. When writing a story the readers can be swept away by the magic as much as they want, if the writer sets rules and parameters for these miracles and reveals them to the reader as needed then a trust can be built: the unwritten promise of being consistent.
    • My Goal: To apply the logic of Science to the Essence in my story.
  5. End on hope
    • I read the whole Hunger Games Trilogy just hoping and waiting for a rewarding victory—something that made all the darkness that I waded through to be worth it in the end. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I was mad. Okay, the book is about kids having to kill each other, what did I expect really? A Star Wars ending I suppose. I expected Lord Vader to redeem himself, the Emperor to die and the Han Solo to get the princess. Regardless of all the crap that the heroes had to endure, it would be worth it in the end. Without that, why would I even want to read the book? Life is full of disappointment, failures, deaths and misery that is out of our control. Stories can point that maybe we don’t have it so bad. They can also give us the encouragement to keep moving forward for the hope that it is worth it in the end. Of course, The Hunger Games is meant to be a tragedy and knowing that going in you know it just won’t end well. This realization made it clear that this was not the type of story I wanted to write.
    • My Goal: Victory or not, each book ends on hope, no matter how slight.