Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sora's Quest

Title: Sora’s Quest
Author: Theresa Sheffler
Genre: Fantasy

Book Blurb:

Sora Fallcrest was born into Nobility. She had it all: money, maids, a fancy estate. But she never expected to be kidnapped.

Abducted from her manor, Sora is plunged into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore. She finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won't let her go -- not when her Cat's Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.

But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power -- or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)


Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Sora looked in the mirror, staring at the swirls of face paint and the long, layered, elaborate dress. It was burnt pink, a shade too close to her skin tone, with sparkles and sequins. Several crystals were sewn expertly into the neckline.

“It's hideous,” she finally said, tugging at the long ruffled skirt.
“No!” her handmaid, Lily, burst from her side. “No, not at all! It's... decorative. You're beautiful.”
“I look like smoked salmon.”
“My Lady....”
“Honestly, Lily?” Sora turned to look at her maid, one sleek blond eyebrow quirked. The expression bordered on comical, exaggerated by her gold-flaked eyebrow paint, which arched dramatically across her forehead. She hadn't been able to touch her face all day. The artisans had come that morning to paint her skin in rich, deep tones, all in preparation for the Blooming. It had taken hours to apply. “I don't want to go through with this,” she said. “I've never had a birthday party before. Why start now?”
Lily opened her mouth, but she appeared speechless.
Sora turned to face her fully, her solid blue eyes lit with sudden opportunity. “Let's cut out, Lily!”
“Leave the ball! Forget the Blooming! Let's just go!” Her eyes returned to the mirror, to the thin gold clay that caked her face, the silvery powder overlaying her cheeks. “I've never gone to town before,” she murmured. “It's my birthday, isn't it? Let's go exploring.”
Lily, a frail young woman with bobbed black hair, seemed rigid at first, like a ruffled swan. Then her shoulders slowly melted. Her face softened. Her long, pale neck lost its tension. She took her mistress gently by the arm, turning her toward the vanity, perhaps the least decorative article in the room. It was broad and antique, standing on four solid oak legs, the bases carved to appear like lion's feet.
Sora's bedroom was large enough to house several families. A rich, heavy rug covered the floor, a deep rouge, far more vibrant and beautiful than her salmon-pink dress. It was thicker than grass and softer than wool. A massive bed took up an entire corner of the room, enclosed by red drapes, decorated in smooth silks, thick furs and a dozen pillows, all of the softest goose down. Her furniture was ornately carved of dark cherry wood and most of it had been passed down for generations. Frivolous silks clung to every surface. Intricately detailed tapestries covered the walls, portraying outdoor tea parties, great hunts, dashing hounds and a giant, rearing stallion.
“It's not just a birthday party, you know,” her handmaid said, assisting Sora into her chair. Lily was five years older and knew her mistress' moods as surely as the weather. She undid Sora's hair, a cascade of deep golden waves, and combed it out with a boar-bristle brush. “Your father has been preparing for this all year. He's invited half the royal court and almost the entire Second Tier.”
“Second Tier, that's fine. I am one, after all,” Sora murmured, rolling her eyes. “Country Nobility I don't mind. It's the City Nobles that I can't stand. Snooty gossips, the lot of them. I hope they don't show.”
“Oh, hush. Your father invited a few. Marrying into City Nobility would be quite a dream come true-”
Sora turned in her chair, staring up at her maid—who also happened to be her closest friend. “Truly?” she exclaimed. “Have you forgotten every other conversation we've ever had?”
Lily shrugged in exasperation. “I still don't understand it! Any normal person would jump at the chance to marry City Nobility. You would never have to lift a finger again, not even to eat your own breakfast! Huh, what I would do with that kind of coin....” And her eyes glazed over, as they always did when Lily thought about money.
Sora sighed and turned back to the mirror. She understood as much. As Country Nobility, or the “Second Tier,” she lived with comfortable wealth. Just not considerable wealth. Noble blood didn't guarantee fistfuls of money, after all. Her family's nobility had been won through military service. The Fallcrests had spawned several generations of Captains and Generals. But now the times of war and battle were long past. Peace had flourished in the Kingdom of Err for five-hundred years. It had been a long, long time since a Fallcrest had done anything of note.
Her father would be ecstatic if she landed a City Noble. Slip into the highest ranks, the First Tier, second only to the King himself. Rumor had it that she was beautiful enough.
But she wasn't like other Country Nobility, who daydreamed of the Royal City of Crowns, of riverboats, masquerades and, of course, the yearly Carnival. An entire four weeks of mystifying feats, fine wines and legendary debauchery. No, Sora's experience of City Nobility was much the opposite, and it left a bad taste in her mouth.
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T.L. Shreffler was kind enough to sit and answer a few questions for me and here's what she had to say...

1) Would you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I am a crazy red-haired writing maniac! I live in a closet. I eat Babybel Mini Cheese Wheels and drink far too much tomato juice (thus the red hair?). I recently graduated with a Creative Writing degree from the noble Cal-State Northridge, and now I am pursuing my dreams!

2) Which project are you currently promoting?

Sora’s Quest, which is free on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and pretty much every other ebook store out there. Free free free!

3) Can you tell us what the book is about?

Basically, a girl is kidnapped by an assassin and goes on an amazing adventure. Along the road, she meets forgotten races, arcane magic, and has to travel through a cursed swamp. It is an epic fantasy adventure for all ages.

4) How did you come up with the title for this book?

“Sora’s Quest” was named after the main character, Sora. “The Cat’s Eye Chronicles” is derived from her magical necklace, which turns out to be an ancient weapon from the War of the Races, called a Cat’s Eye.

5) What inspired you to write this book?

I really love epic fantasy and I wanted to go on my own “journey.” I wrote the first version of the book when I was very young. This is a re-written version from after I graduated from college, so yes, the quality/story is very fleshed out and improved.

6) Did you have the main character’s names already picked out before you began to write?

Yes, I did!

7) What can you tell us about your main characters?

Sora is a naive noblewoman who dreams of going on an adventure.

Crash (or “The Viper”) is an assassin on the run from an evil sorcerer. He has a dark past and is trying to change his life. He kidnaps Sora when he realizes she has a Cat’s Eye necklace, which is an ancient device that protects the user from magic.

Volcrian is the “bad guy.” He is very very bad. :p

8) Did you have to do any research in order to help you with the writing of this book?

Yes! A lot. I think every good book needs lots of research to make it realistic. I looked up the French revolution, different kinds of armor, weaponry and dress, aspects of an medieval estate (Lord, manor, serfs, etc), river basins, famous swamps, the Amazon, survivalism, etc.

9) What made you decide to become a writer?

I never really “decided” to... I started writing stories when I was very young, and no one told me to stop, so I just kept writing. Then someone told me I could make money from my writing, so now I am publishing. :)

10)What genre do you generally write?

Epic Fantasy. I’ve also tried my hand at Paranormal Romance, but pretty much all of my books are Fantasy.

11) Are you interested in writing other genres?

No, not really. Though I might try for a paranormal detective series eventually. But I know how my imagination works and it’ll always be in the realm of fantasy or paranormal.

12) Do you follow a routine when you begin to write a scene or chapter?

If I’m feeling uninspired when beginning a new chapter, I like to “skip a bit of time” and drop myself into the middle of the scene. I find that once I have something on paper, it’s much easier to go back and rewrite the chapter to make it perfect.

13) How long does it usually take for you to write a book?

With appropriate plotting, research and writing, I can finish a 80-100,000 word book in about 6-8 months. I work really fast once I have a concept down.

14) Do you have a general idea of what direction you want the plot to take ahead of time or does it come to you once you’ve started writing?

Both, actually! I like to write the first chapter “cold.” I usually have a spark of inspiration, a first sentence or a cool concept, or a new character I want to try out. Then I write the first chapter and see where it takes me. I might write a second chapter as well. Then I’ll sit down and really start plotting everything out: character background, world histories, geography, conflict, etc. I feel that the plotting and writing process go hand in hand. While writing, a new character might present himself or a new side conflict, so then I sit down and plot it out a bit before continuing.

15)What character out of your most recent work do you admire the most and why?

I really enjoy writing from the perspective of Lorianne. She’s the main character’s mother and, while still young (mid-thirties) she is an experienced Healer and very worldly. While I write her character, I like researching different natural remedies and symptoms for illness. I try to incorporate her Healing abilities into every aspect of her character, even her private thoughts and perceptions.

16) Have you ever had second doubts about a story you’ve written? If so, have you wanted to rewrite some parts of it?
Of course! I’m a manic editor. Da Vinci once said “Art is never finished, it’s only abandoned,” and I think the same goes for writing. Every time I read over one of my stories, I find myself rewriting it in my head. Very frustrating! I’ve had plenty of doubts about my stories but I also have a lot of confidence in my writing ability, so it’s a bit of both.

17) Are there any authors you admire?

Neil Gaiman, because his career is so massive. Robin Hobb, who write beautiful descriptions (even if her more recent work isn’t as gripping as it once was.) George R. R. Martin for the intensely complicated plot!

18)What are your favorite titles from this or other authors?

The Game of Thrones series, The Sandman, The Assassin’s Apprentice. I also love the Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, he’s the author who truly inspired me to write.

19) Have you written any series? If not, are you planning to write any in the future?

Sora’s Quest is the first book in The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, which will eventually be a 5-book series. I am a very prolific writer and I wouldn’t be surprised if all of my stories turn into series.

20)What other projects are you currently working on?

I recently started a side-project, it’s a new fantasy series incorporating dragons. I’ve always loved Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern, and after watching “How to Tame Your Dragon,” I think I want to try my hand at this whole “dragon rider” thing.... We will see how it goes. I probably won’t release the first book until The Cat’s Eye Chronicles is almost finished.

21)When you begin a new MS, does it start with an idea, concept, or both?

It begins as a sentence. One grows into two and into three. Eventually, a rhythm takes over and it’s like my mind/fingers are just running away on their own.

22) Once you begin to work on a new MS, do you have the ending already mapped out or do you envision it as the story progresses?

I have “ideas” for endings... usually I have a sense of where I want to “leave off”... but in my mind, no story really has an ending. It’s like our lives. One story always transforms into another one.

23) Are there any writing styles you prefer?

I prefer third-person limited perspective. I’m currently writing a side project in first person and I feel very “boxed in,” because I can only write from the perspective of one character. I absolutely hate first person narratives that switch back and forth between characters, because the narrative style always stays the same and the characters all sound like each other.

24) Did you self-publish? If not, is that something you will be willing to consider in the future?

I did self-published! And I am very happy with it.

25)What is your least favorite part about getting published?

Having to promote my books. What a pain in the A$$! It’s also hard to find a good editor. Sure, lots of people can “edit” but very few are well-versed in writing techniques and as thorough as a manuscript really needs.

26)Was the road to publication a long one for you?

I began trying to get published when I was 14. I just couldn’t understand why I got so many rejections! (laughs at naive younger self.) I kept trying through my teenage years, dealing with bitter jealousy towards authors like Christopher Paolini and Stephanie Meyer. Then I finally went to college and graduated with a Creative Writing degree, and since then I’ve been published in magazines and the like. I didn’t bother querying agents after I graduated, since I knew the process is very hit-and-miss. I went directly into self-publishing, and I’m loving it!

27) Do you use a pen name? If so, why?

If I decide to switch genres, then yes, I will use a pen name. But for now I write everything under my real name, T. L. Shreffler.

28)Where do you see yourself in five years?

10 books published, living off of royalties, buying a house, getting married, having my first kid.

29)What is the best advice you can give to a new author?

Write write write. Study your craft. Attend workshops. Challenge yourself to improve, no matter how good you think you are. Don’t compare yourself to other writers (it’ll mess with you.) And most of all, learn to take criticism in stride.

30)Where can the readers find more information about you?

The Cat’s Eye Chronicles fan site:

My personal blog:

My facebook page:

About the author:
T. L. Shreffler lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy, and thrift store shopping. She recently graduated with a BA in Badass (Creative Writing) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review.
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