Kaye Thornbrugh's Blog
July 29, 2016
Grace Under Fire (Gift of Grace #1) by Frog and Esther Jones
My Review: Grace Under Fire, book 1 in Frog and Esther Jones’ Gift of Grace series, is a criminally-underrated indie gem. If you like smart urban fantasy, you’ll find a lot to enjoy about this series.
In the Gift of Grace world, magic users are known as summoners, due to their ability to summon (that is, move around) matter from place to place. Summoning is an incredibly diverse brand of magic; it can be applied in about a million ways, from combat to healing. Unfortunately, summoning is also totally illegal, which means summoners like Grace have to keep their abilities hidden from the non-magical population. The underground network of summoners, called Groves, are like one giant, secret mafia family. (Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.)
The relationship between Grace and Robert is my favorite thing about this book. They’re wonderful foils—the brash young guy with more raw power than training, and the exasperated older woman who solves problems with cleverness. In fact, Grace Under Fire delivers one of my favorite tropes, rarely seen in the wild: a tough young guy whose mentor is an older woman. (Bonus points if he has to fetch her coffee at some point in the story.) Watching Grace and Robert play off each other, always in unexpected ways, is a delight.
Now, if you know me very well, you probably know that I’m deeply interested in traumatized, emotionally-damaged teenage boys who do magic. That said, it’s no surprise that I’ve become very attached to Robert. He’s an orphan who has bounced from foster home to foster home—and, unbeknownst to him, he’s got some pretty serious magical chops.
I admit that it was hard for me to connect with Robert at first, on an emotional level—but then I realized that was by design. Robert is a very closed-off person. He’s guarded, understandably so. He doesn’t let anybody in right away, not even the reader. I had to get to know him over the course of the story. By the end, I felt like I’d gone on as much of a journey of discovery as Robert himself.
And then there’s Grace, my love and my darling, the light of my life. Grace is an unapologetic foodie with a wild fashion sense. The first time she used her highly-illegal powers to summon takeout from a faraway restaurant, I knew I loved her. While she doesn’t have the same kind of raw magical power that Robert has, she makes up for it with her technical abilities and tenacity.
I have a weakness for stories set in the Northwest, and as such, I can’t say enough good things about this setting. I love Spokane, and it’s so fun to see familiar places become the backdrop of a magical adventure. (Say, is this what people from New York feel like all the time?) Seriously, I’ve never viewed the Spokane Valley Mall quite the same way after reading about Grace and Robert’s epic battle with a demon from another dimension.
All told, Grace Under Fire delivers everything I want in an urban fantasy, in a well-written package: rollicking adventure, a smart magic system, a realistic setting, and most importantly, fleshed-out characters I can root for.
Pick up a copy of this book. You deserve it.
April 28, 2016
With an official summary, to boot! Be warned, if you haven’t finished Brightly–the summary for Lights contains some spoilers:
Lee Capren’s life is complicated. She’s in love with a boy whose heart she broke to protect him, her home is wrecked—and she and her friends have just been arrested for practicing magic illegally.
With the evidence stacked against them, they’re given a choice: serve the Seattle Guild as apprentices, or serve time in prison. The decision seems simple, but the consequences will be greater than anyone can imagine.
Navigating Seattle’s magical scene is tough enough, even before the Summer King requests Lee as his emissary to the Winter Court—a request she can’t refuse. Suddenly, she’s entangled in a conflict brewing between two ancient powers. But there’s more to this faerie feud than meets the eye—and signs point to a shadow from Filo’s past.
The coming storm will destroy all that Lee holds dear, unless she sacrifices everything to stop it.
You can add Brightly on Goodreads here.
I don’t have an official release date yet, but I’ll keep you posted here, and on Facebook.
April 25, 2016
And it’s a big one: At long last, the first draft of Lights is finished!
I almost can’t believe it. I feel like I’ve been writing this book forever, so it’s a little surreal to be finished with it. I’ve got a few repairs to make before it’s ready for human eyes, of course, and then it’s off to my trusty beta readers.
I’ll have a description ready soon, I think–turns out, it’s hard to get those things exactly right! And I’ll keep you all posted on any updates about publication. We’re so close to releasing this book into the wild, friends! Just hang on a little longer!
In the meantime, here’s a little something from the Lights playlist, which I had on loop while writing the final scenes: “Still Left with Me” by Craft Spells.
April 23, 2016
There’s something weirdly flattering when you see that your books have popped up on a torrent site. It’s a bit like: “Hey! I’m well-known enough that people want to make my books available illegally in the shadowy corners of the Internet! That must mean I’m doing something right.”
That feeling lasts about two seconds. It’s immediately followed by: “Wait a minute. People are making my books illegally available in the shadowy corners of the Internet. There’s something really wrong with this picture.”
Like a lot of authors, I have a Google Alert set up for my name. Usually, when I get a Google Alert, it’s something like a new review of one of my books that was posted on a blog somewhere. But sometimes, it lets me know that someone has made one of my books available for free download–which, as I’m sure you know, is both totally rude and totally illegal.
I got one of those alerts last night.
A few times, in situations like this, I’ve been able to leave a comment in the thread linking to the illegal download and successfully guilt and shame the original poster into taking it down. (I guess it’s nice to know that a few pirates out there have a conscience, at least when confronted with the person they’re stealing from.) A few other times, I got banned from forums for doing just that. Funny how that works.
Ninety percent of the time, when my books crop up on “free download” sites, there’s nothing I can do about it. And it sucks.
Please remember that I’m an indie author, so it’s all on me. I have to handle all aspects of publication myself. I put countless hours into writing my books–and that’s just the first step!
After that, I hire my own editor. I procure my own cover art. I format my own ebooks and paperbacks. I do all my own marketing. I pay for any expenses out of pocket. The only way I get paid for those countless hours of work is through legal book sales.
I didn’t enter the wild world of self-publishing because I want to be rich or famous. (If that was my goal, I’d pick a different profession!) I did it because I had a story I wanted to share, one I thought other people might like.
By and large, I’ve been deeply satisfied with my experience as a self-published author. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a reader who enjoyed Flicker or Brightly, or from someone who’s eagerly anticipating Lights (which is coming very soon, I promise). That’s what it’s all about, truly.
But I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I be compensated for my work–and I think that the 0.99 cents I charge for Flicker and the $2.99 I charge for Brightly are more than fair prices. Buying one of my books is cheaper than going to the movies, and when you’re done, you can reread them as many times as you like. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.
It really weighs on me that some readers out there disagree.
If you’ve downloaded my books legally, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You help make it possible for me to keep writing. (I’m not a full-time author by any stretch of the imagination; I have to do other paid work as a necessity, and fit my creative writing into that schedule.) I appreciate each and every one of you.
If you’ve downloaded my books illegally and you’ve found your way to my blog–well, I hope you’ll take this post to heart. Consider buying my books legally. It’s good for me as a creator, and it’s good for your conscience and karma.
Remember: Stealing books doesn’t make you a fan. It just makes you a thief, and it hurts the authors who create the books you enjoy. Instead, show your support for authors everywhere and buy your ebooks legally.
February 10, 2016
It’s that time again! This weekend (February 12-14), I’ll be at RadCon 7 in the Tri-Cities. If you happen to be there, too, come say hello! Here’s my panel schedule:
Friday, 12:30-1:30pm, 2201
Are You Geek Enough?
From casual video game players to new Whovians, how do we determine if somebody belongs? Should we be more welcoming regardless of what brings a person to the realm of Geekdom? How do we define “geek” anyway?
Saturday, 11:15am-12:15pm, 2203
I Am (Want to Be) a Writer, But I Need Some Questions Answered!
How do you self publish? Should you self publish? Do I need an agent? Why? Should I use a Pen Name? What if I do? I heard… but then I heard…? Bring your burning questions about being a writer, and we will do our best to salve them!
Saturday, 1:00-2:00pm, Autograph Table
I’ll be signing autographs with Bobbie Benton Hull, David Boop and Herb Leonhard!
Sunday, 10:00-11:00am, 2203
Our world, and our fandom, is expanding. How is a simple SF/F author to keep up? Come talk with a panel of authors who know a thing or two about inclusive writing. Find out how to go about, why to go about it, and when to go about it (Hint: The answer is now!)
Sunday, 12:30-1:30pm, 2203
The Devil’s in the Details
How well the author visualizes the scene is crucial to keeping the reader from confusion. How do you avoid yanking the rug out from under the reader by suddenly changing night to day, enclosing forest to moonlit plain, burning peril to a cakewalk, etc.? Learn common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Sunday, 1:45-2:45pm, 2203
To Outline or Not to Outline
Do you sit down in front of the keyboard and the story just spills out, taking you places you didn’t know you wanted to go or do you write your first scene, then find you are stuck? If the latter, you might be an outliner!
January 26, 2016
I recently got a request for a teaser from Lights that features Clementine. She’s one of my favorite characters, so I was more than happy to oblige. Originally, I posted the teaser on my Facebook page, but I decided to share it here, as well. Without further ado, here’s the teaser:
“It was my idea, you know,” Clementine said, rubbing her nose with one hand, hiding half her face for just a moment. “Blackmailing you. Davis and Henry didn’t go for it at first. We argued about it for weeks. But eventually, they came around. Nothing else was working. There was no other way. So we all went in on it together, just like we do everything else—together.” She gave him a smile that was half-grimace. “I didn’t think it would be so hard to lie to you. You were all just names on paper. You weren’t real to us yet. We didn’t know you.”
“Would it have made a difference?” Nasser heard himself ask. “If you had known us then?”
She didn’t answer for a moment. Then she shook her head. “Not if I believed that was the only way to break the curse,” she said. “It’s just the three of us. We’re all we have. And when all you have is each other, nobody else really matters. You know what I mean.