Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The Sword Bearer's Awakening: Book 3" by Monique Rockliffe

The Sword Bearer's Awakening: Book 3
by Monique Rockliffe

I am very pleased to welcome Monique Rockliffe today to discuss her latest release, The Sword Bearer's Awakening, the third book in The Sword Bearers tetralogy. Monique has also kindly donated some wonderful prizes for our giveaway below. First prize is an ebook copy of each of the three books in the series, whilst second prize is the winner's choice of one of the books. Please show Monique your support by entering. Best of luck to everyone!

She'd never experienced such agonising loss before, not even when she lost everything to the demon on her home-world, Theras, five years ago.
Driven into the darkness of emotional torment and despair, KC, the Sword Bearer, slowly struggles up towards the light to try and find a way to continue on with her life after losing the one person who made it possible.
But her lust for revenge may yet undo her – and if she succumbs to it and loses sight of who she is, then the entire Universe may forever fall into the claws of Drakoor s'et, arch demon and destroyer of worlds!

Galinn sat outside under his favourite tree sipping tapukki, his favourite drink at his favourite time of day – late afternoon when the sun had lost its burning heat and the clouds on the horizon burned brilliant orange and gold. Lyira, his beautiful life-mate and the love of his life, was giving Tiryin, their energetic and hugely talented son, a bath before Lyira started making their evening meal. Galinn sighed deeply, feeling contentment settle over him like a soft, cosy blanket, and he smiled while he read the latest reports on how their home planet, Almora, continued to flourish – even more so than in the days before the jewel of heaven began to lose its power. He thought back to the visit from the Sword Bearer and her friend, Lord Talis de Ochre, and his smile deepened. If it wasn’t for KC their home would have died; if it wasn’t for her willingness to risk her life for them then they would have been forced to flee their home and look for a new planet to inhabit, not an easy thing to do in a hurry. Millions of lives had been saved because of her and she had, in consequence, made friends of them all. There was nothing they would not do for her.
            He leaned forward to place his empty mug on the table in front of him and reclined back into the comfortable couch again. A cool breeze caressed his face and removed the last lingering heat of the day. The reports were full of successful harvests and abundant sowing and reaping across the planet depending on where one was geographically. Whether it was summer, autumn, winter, or spring the news was excellent, and the Almorans were still celebrating new life and new hope after nearly two years since KC had been with them. For years they’d lived in fear when they’d begun noticing the ground dying and the air changing, so since the re-energising of the jewel every inhabitant treated every day as if it was their first of a new beginning.
            He was chuckling over a story about a farmer whose prize bull had not only copulated with one cow but four – Kurrn be praised! – when he was wrenched out of his musings by Lyira’s cry of alarm. He immediately sprang up and raced into the house towards the washroom from whence he heard her calling his name frantically. He barged in to find Tiryin thrashing around on the floor, whipping his head from side to side; he was in a full seizure!
            His young son had been born with a very powerful gift of prophecy and was renowned as the most powerful and gifted across the planet. It wasn’t unusual for Almoran children to have the gift – it was, after all, the result of the jewel’s saturation into everything and everyone on the planet for many, many generations now – and Tiryin had exhibited incredible abilities despite his blindness. But whereas normally blindness would incapacitate a child’s growth and maturity and ability to learn, it did nothing of the sort to Tiryin who from a very young age had overcome his so called disability and had lived – and still did live – a normal life with an uncanny aptitude for knowing where every obstacle was and so easily avoided them without the benefit of sight. In the beginning his parents had been amazed by this but they’d soon gotten used to it and had easily and happily accepted his incredible gift. They never told him he couldn’t do something and as a result he grew into an energetic boy with a freedom and joy many envied.
            “Galinn, help him!” Lyira begged her mate. “I don’t know what happened. The one moment he was laughing and singing that new favourite rhyme he’s learned, and the next he fell to the ground and began having this seizure!”
            “It’s alright, my love,” said Galinn, sounding a lot calmer than he felt. He knelt down and lifted Tiryin’s head off the floor so that he would not bash it on the tiles. “Let the seizure run its course and then we’ll take him to bed and I’ll give him a thorough examination, yes?”
            Lyira’s eyes were filled with tears but she nodded because she trusted her mate, an excellent physician, completely. The seizure ended a few moments later and they both lifted him gently and carried him to his room and laid him on the bed. He was already dressed and Lyira pulled a light blanket over him while Galinn went to fetch his medical bag. When he returned Tiryin was coming awake and Lyira immediately began crooning to him to keep him calm. But he seemed calm enough.
            “Ti, are you alright?” Galinn asked him as he placed a therma-stone on his forehead. Although the reading showed his temperature was a little high there was no cause for concern, and both parents sighed in relief.
            “I’m fine, dia,” Tiryin said in a soft voice. “But the Bearer is not.”
            Both Galinn and Lyira gasped as one and looked at each other and then back down at their son. “Tell us, Ti,” said Galinn.
            “She is in danger and it will lead to terrible pain and possibly death.” Tiryin’s face twisted into a mask of pain and fear and he sat up and gripped Galinn’s arm tightly. “Dia, you must go to her now!” he shouted. “She’s going to need you! You must go! You must go now!”
            So, my Lord, that which you warned us about has come, and all too soon, Galinn prayed silently.
            “Alright, Ti, calm down,” Lyira said gently while stroking his damp forehead. The mothering calmed her son and herself. “Why don’t you tell us what you saw.”
            Tiryin did, and when the telling was over a heavy silence filled the room. The previous contentment Galinn had earlier enjoyed fled to be replaced by foreboding and great concern for their friend. KC was in terrible danger, and according to Ti she’d need medical assistance very soon and would possibly die if she didn’t get it. Galinn had no doubt the prophecy was true, but why did he have to go to her? “Ti, why do I specifically need to help the Bearer? Surely there are others closer to her?”
            “You are the only one who can help her, dia. You will understand what she needs when you see her,” said Ti in a small, stressed voice, and hugged his father tightly.
            Galinn felt his son tremble against him. There were many times when the things his son saw terrified his young, innocent mind, and he and Lyira would be left giving him comfort all night while he cried himself to sleep and suffered nightmares that left him exhausted and badly shaken for days. But those kinds of prophecies were very rare. This time Galinn could tell that Ti was suffering and in great distress over what he’d seen happen to the Bearer, and because he never doubted his son’s incredible accuracy he knew that what Ti was saying was very important and absolutely true.
            “If you say I must go then I will go,” he said at last, and felt his son hug him tighter and nod into his shoulder. Galinn looked at Lyira whose eyes were wet with tears of fear and concern for her son and for her mate, and Galinn lifted a hand to stroke her cheek gently. “Go pack a bag, my love. I have a feeling I must depart immediately.”

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Interview With the Author
Hi, Monique Rockliffe, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book The Sword Bearer's Awakening: Book 3.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I have read many great authors, but these are my top favourites: Stephen King, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, Tad Williams, Tolkien, Dean Koontz, and Clive Cussler to name but a few.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
It is for young adults (16) and up.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I first saw Star Wars when I was eight years old. This incredible movie, way ahead of its time in scope and vision, opened my mind and stirred my already voracious imagination into overdrive! I was amazed by the imaginations of others to be able to create such brilliance like Star Wars and the incredible adventures of the unique characters in space, and I wanted to be able to do it, too! I began rearranging the story and coming up with characters of my own – and, of course, I was the heroine in every scenario. I was the female version of Luke Skywalker, because why couldn't a girl have a light saber and be a powerful warrior, right?
From these imaginings The Sword Bearers story began to take shape, and it never lost its influence and potency as I moved through life and became an adult. The story morphed and rearranged itself over and over again as I grew older, until in 2009, after hearing me go on and on about how fantastic it would be to make a movie about my story, my hubby suggested I start by writing it down. And, voila, The Sword Bearers tetralogy, once just thought, became tangible, and now I'm already writing the last book!!
Wow, that's a great story, Monique! Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
The fascinating main character, Khyri/KC – the Sword Bearer – was created before the story, and she, in fact, guided the creation of the entire story from beginning to end. I, of course, knew how the story would end before starting to write it because it's all about KC, about who she is; I built everything – worlds, characters, main antagonist – around her and it all fell into place very easily because she's such a powerful, memorable, and unique character.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Well, in Book 3 there are a lot of emotional scenes, and I had to make very sure that I translated what the characters are feeling with enough detail and style to enhance the readers' experience and draw them in emotionally, too. This takes time and attention to every aspect without laying it on too thick. It takes patience and a true understanding of the characters down to their very cores in order for me to make it feel real. I believe I did that successfully.
How to you hope this book affects its readers?
I learned a lot about myself and grew in my writing skills from doing the above, and now the readers will have a powerful experience as they share in what the characters are going through. The Sword Bearers tetralogy is quite an emotional ride from danger to desperate flight and great adventure, much sadness, new love, loss, grief, torment – both physical and spiritual – and it never stops. The action grabs the reader from the beginning and just keeps going, and in Book 3 some things are resolved for the reader and some have been left for the final book, The Sword Bearer's Ascension. Although the books are long they read fast, and the reader is easily drawn in and fully involved in the dangers and challenges of the characters.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Book 3 took me about six months. Interestingly, this was the first book I wrote out of the four because it is the crux of the story. I built the rest around it, so, in effect, this is the most important book to me and to the story.
That's very interesting, Monique. A bit like the Star Wars series. What is your writing routine?
If I have a day off from teaching (ballet) I start off with getting all the social media/email catch-up out of the way so that I have no distractions, then I sit and write all day. On a good day I can get to between five and eight pages (once I actually wrote ten!), especially if I have a clear vision of where the story's headed. In those instances the individual scenes and general plot take care of themselves.
How did you get your book published?
With The Sword Bearers series I went with a self-publishing company called Xlibris Publishing. They came along at the right time and made a decision to go for it. What's nice about publishing through a company is that they provide printed copies as well, which was a big thing for me. There's nothing like holding that very first paperback in your hand, tangible proof that you did something amazing, that your dream came true!
That's great to hear! What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
It is vital that you believe in yourself and in what you are doing, first and foremost. When you believe in your story, and believe it will make an impact on the world, then there's nothing to stand in your way, not even the doubts when they come. And they will come. Once you make up your mind to write that first novel don't let anything distract you, not even your family and friends. If there's a story inside you dying to come out then you must write it; then it is meant to be written.
As to how to publish: do your homework and get advice from published authors – indie and traditional – to see what suits you. Some prefer going on the hunt for an agent/publisher, but many prefer the freedom of being indie – like me. Weigh all the pros and cons, and then go with your gut. If you really want to go traditional but you're finding that it's taking a long time, why not self-publish in the meantime until you find the perfect agent/publisher? That way, you're creating and expressing yourself while waiting for the opportunity you want.
Great advice, Monique. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I do a lot of reading, naturallyJ, and I love watching all my favourite shows on TV when I have the time, and also going to the movies to see the latest blockbusters.
I have always been a very active person. I started dancing at five years old and it eventually turned into a professional career. Around the same time I stopped dancing I started writing, but by then I'd been teaching dance for many years. If I'm not teaching, which keeps me fit only to a point, then I'm playing squash with my hubby. I also love hiking and photography.
What does your family think of your writing?
They support me 100%! Every book is dedicated to my hubby because without him I don't think I would have started and would now still be just playing with the idea. My dad-in-law is my biggest fan and always reads my books first.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
Being an only child, you can imagine what I had to do to keep myself occupied! This, of course, led to an overactive imagination for which I am now eternally grateful. Television only came to my country when I was seven or eight, so before that I read everything I could get my hands on and watched tons of movies – mainly sci-fi, action, and fantasy! This is interesting because I was incredibly active and loved playing and running around and dancing, yet that quiet, intense need to read stories and become lost in another world also existed within. I was quite a paradox.
At age five I started tap dancing, and by primary school I was doing ballet, as well. In high school I went to an Art School and majored in Ballet, and I eventually matriculated as Ballet Valedictorian. From there I went into my first professional ballet company. During my school years I also pursued modern dance and performed in hundreds of dance festivals, competitions, and exams. Dance essentially was my life growing up. But I loved my movies and books and always played around with the idea of writing down my ideas. But life was just too busy with dance at that stage.
Did you enjoy school?
Primary school not so much. I was always a small person and had to fight for my place in the world; successfully, I might addJ. But high school was great because of the many opportunities to perform on stage. I've always been a natural performer and even dallied in acting, doing a few plays in and out of school, one being Young Estelle in Great Expectations in a professional production. Besides that, I hated all forms of studying and couldn't wait to become a professional dancer.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Guess I answered that alreadyJ but yes!!! I lived in comic books and adventure books, and when I was old enough I read fantasy, horror, and sci-fi.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Since I realised I had an imagination! I loved taking a story I'd just read or a movie I'd just seen and rearranging it where I became the main character. I especially loved the stories where the antagonist (I had no idea what that word meant until I started writingJ) was very mean and powerful and I did battle with him/her/them and won, naturally!
In school, whenever we had to do creative writing, I would inevitably turn any topic into a science fiction or fantasy story, because reality was just plain boring! This frequently drove my teachers nuts! He-he!
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think you've kinda guessed that by nowJ, but yes, absolutely!
What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series (author Enid Blyton), The Hardy Boys (according to Wikipedia these books were written by many different authors under the name Franklin W. Dixon) and Nancy Drew (author Mildred Wirt Benson, aka Carolyn Keene) series, and then every single superhero comic book I could get my hands on.
Who were your favorite authors as a child?
I mentioned the ones above already. As I grew older, Stephen King became my favourite storyteller, and the very first fantasy novel I read was Raymond E. Feist's Magician, which just totally rocked my mind! Later came Terry Brooks and others who were masters in their genres. So, as you can see, I had quite an incredible array of talented storytellers to learn from and be inspired by to begin writing my own stories.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have been blessed with such great reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads, and my friends and family have really loved my books. I must just say that some in my family don't pull punches when they tell me what they think of my books, so they're in no way being biased. For a reasonably new writer I'm doing pretty wellJ, I think!
I can tell you one story that blew me away because it was so utterly unexpected. Aren't those the best? A mother of one of my ballet students had read Books 1 and 2 without me knowing and had spoken to the lady I work for. The mother said to her, "Why is Monique teaching and not writing full-time?" When my boss asked her what she meant she replied, "I've just finished reading Monique's books and I can't wait for the next one. I couldn't put them down. In my opinion, they're the sequels to Harry Potter!"
Now when I hear something like that from a stranger then I know I've done good! I might still be growing and improving my craft – as every writer should be – but I know for a fact that I'm a great storyteller!
That's fantastic, Monique! What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I am busy writing the last instalment in the tetralogy called The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4, and I'm looking at release in early 2014.
Last year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a short novel in a completely different genre (I challenged myself to do something out of my comfort zone) called Avalin: A Vymparii Legend, that I want to release straight to ebook sometime this year. It's a very unique twist on the vampire thing, and as far as I know it hasn't been done before. It's finished and awaiting a rewrite and then editing. Depending on time, I hope to get it out around September, 2013.
I also love writing short stories, many of them based on dreams I have – boy, do I have crazy dreams! – and I have one in the works at the moment, a horror this time. My first sci-fi short story The Door is available on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.
Thanks for visiting today, Monique. It's been a pleasure having you.
Thanks so much, Lynda, for this wonderful opportunity. I had a great time doing this interview.

About the Author
Monique Rockliffe was born in South Africa, where she currently resides with her husband.
Always the avid reader, she spent every available moment since childhood reading, which fueled her already boundless imagination. She loved watching as many fantasy and science fiction films as possible, establishing her love and passion for storytelling of the Otherworldly kind.
She became a dancer at age five which turned into a successful professional career, but she never lost her first passion. She began writing seriously in 2009 when her dancing career came to an end and her husband and greatest supporter urged her to finally make a start.
She currently has three Epic Fantasy novels published: The Sword Bearers: Book 1, The Sword Bearer's Journey: Book 2, and The Sword Bearer's Awakening: Book 3 are part of a tetralogy. The final installment, The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4, is being written and is aiming to be released early 2014. She has also written the science fiction short story, The Door.

Thanks to Monique for donating these fabulous prizes. First prize is an ebook copy of each of the three books in the series, whilst second prize is the winner's choice of one of the books. Please show Monique your appreciation by entering.