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Broken Arrow by Azaria M.J. Durant - Book Blitz + Giveaway

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Broken Arrow
Azaria M.J. Durant
(Darkened Destiny Saga #1)
Publication date: July 29th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
An ancient power long kept dormant stirs in the shadows once more as one boy embarks on a quest to earn his freedom and the freedom of his world!
Magic has turned to myth, the Vaelhyreans of old to legend, and the power wielded by the ancients has long been forgotten. However, with Ealdred, a mere half-breed slave boy, myth becomes real, the forgotten remembered, and the power of legend is reborn within him.
Ealdred is merged into a world of mystery, brimming with deceit, where the remaining Vaelhyreans are in a desperate fight for their very survival. When Ealdred is kidnapped by the power-mongering dark lord Zeldek himself, he must make a choice; to commit his newfound magic to Zeldek’s service or die. But when he meets Bellator, clever yet treacherous servant of Zeldek, an alternative is presented to him: to escape from Zeldek’s stronghold and embark on a quest to find a cursed arrow and free the Vaelhyreans from the spell that keeps their powers at bay.
Yet how can he survive in a world where magic is illegal, half-breeds are hated, and the four countries are on the brink of war?

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“That time is already upon us,” the Master stated, rising to his feet. “Many nights now, my gaze has been turned to the stars. The constellations Heroi and Retsu are aligning for the first time in two and a half millennia. Prophecies connote these coming years as the last of mankind. This is the opportunity I have been waiting for. I must not fail!”
His eyes glowed with the passion his words expressed, and murmurs of agreement echoed through the room.
“Our toils have been rewarding and our preparation has been long,” the Master went on. “Yet we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that our position is secure.”
The murmurs fell to silence. The Master had never spoken so freely of such things before. The most this council had ever discussed were the brief updates concerning the progress of each respective country and its assets. There was the occasional new order from The Master, but such a thing was rare, and was always followed by a long, tedious discussion concerning the politics of the task, and thus was never interesting.
“It has been predicted that there is one who has the potential to stand in my way; one who may have the power to end my supreme rule before it has begun.”
“My lord, who could possess the power to rival you?” Valamette asked, bewildered.
The Master lifted his gaze to glare at Valamette from beneath the shadow of his hood. “You of all people should know.”
Understanding dawned on Valamette. He nodded slowly. Bellator glimpsed the other figures, looking to find a shred of understanding among them. But they too turned to look at Valamette, hoping to glean what they could from his bearing.
“The boy, my lord?” he asked.
“Yes,” the Master replied. “The boy.”
Bellator was intrigued. When had a boy ever entered their conversation?
“But my lord, how could he be a problem? Didn’t we do away with him as an infant? How is it possible that he still draws breath?”
“Does it matter how?” the Master snapped. “What matters is that he lives and that he will pose a threat if we aren’t careful to hone his abilities to our favour.”
“I can do it.” Valamette took a breath. “I can kill him, if you wish it. I will not fail you.”
“No!” The Master’s fist slammed on the altar. “If I wanted him dead, I would have let him die! I wouldn’t have kept him safe all this time.”

Bringing the Characters of Broken Arrow to Life – by Azaria M.J. Durant

 When I think back on the creation of the cast of Broken Arrow, it looks less like Aslan singing the people of Narnia into existence, and more like the orcs being ripped from their sacks roaring and kicking. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Me, creating the main character: She will be beautiful (but won’t know it), flawless, everyone will fall in love with her, she’ll be good with the bow, with a fiery temper that gets her into trouble, and is ‘not at all like other girls’.

Bellator, looking at herself: What the heck is this? This isn’t me! Where’s the personality? Where’s the fear, the respect I call with just a flash of my eye? This perfect do-gooder with irrational emotional breakdowns is pathetic.

Me: Oh, sorry… I’ll give you a cute love interest. Is that good?

Bellator, her temper boiling: You think a love interest will fix this? And who even is this idiot? This guy’s unbearably perfect! And since when do I need saving?

Ealdred enters with the script, taps me lightly on the shoulder: No offence, but I’m not like this.  This guy is… well, he’s a bit of a jerk, isn’t he? I get what you’re trying to do – you know, make me dashing and all that – but it’s just… not working. It isn’t me.

Me: You’re right, you’re right. I knew something was off. You need a better character arc.

Bellator crosses her arms: This’ll be good.

Me: You need more pain, more suffering…

Ealdred: That isn’t what I—

Me: But there’s still a problem. How can I express all of this through Bellator’s unfeeling eyes?

Bellator: Just forget about that idiot. What point is he anyways? I don’t need a love interest.

Me: That’s it! This story needs a gentler perspective. Someone people can actually care about. *glares at Bellator* Ealdred, you’re now the main character.

Ealdred, in shock: Oh… um, thanks?

Bellator in her quietest, deadliest voice: WHAT!?

Ealdred, backing away: It wasn’t my idea!

Me: It works better this way, Bellator. Now you can be the mysterious and terrifying assassin that you’ve always wanted to be.

Bellator, narrowing her eyes at Ealdred: Fine. But I’m not going to forget this, half-wit.

And that’s pretty much how it was creating all of the characters. Hamish was the big bad villain, but begged and pleaded until I changed my mind. Uri was in an entirely different book, but stole his way into the pages of Broken Arrow when my guard was down. Annalyn was a random extra in one scene that turned into one of the six main characters. Banner was a normal, mysterious bagger when I realized he was hiding his true life from me. Jambeau was both good and bad without reason, so to fix it I had to split him in half, one remaining Jambeau, and the other becoming Ralcher. Leonel was a good and wise king before he showed his true colours. And on it goes.

Looking at it, Marianna and Zeldek are the only ones that haven’t been difficult so far and have stayed in the roles they were originally placed.  We’ll see how long it lasts.

            I’ll see if I can narrow down each step…

            For this cast, I started with pulling out a pad of paper and googling “medieval baby names” with a bit of an idea of the cast of characters that I wanted for the story. I went through a couple of different sites, and wrote down every one that caught my eye, felt right, or that I liked the meaning of.  A couple of names popped off the screen right away, and fit perfectly with the ideas that I had. Hamish, for example, which means “usurper” or “to supplant”, was the perfect name for the villain I had in mind. Elroy was another one that fit well with the heroic love interest, though I also liked Ealdred a lot too, so I decided on both. Bellator was actually the last character named, and it took me five years to finally figure out the perfect name for her. Before that, Briella, Bree, and Gailene were names I alternated between using, but she hated all of them. It was about a year ago when I integrated using Google Translate to find names that I discovered the word “bellator” which is Latin for warrior. And it was perfect.  She has never been happier with me than she was that day.

            Once the names were figured out, and I had a (very large) cast in mind, I then had to figure out the ages. At the time, I was fourteen, but I wanted the book to be relatable to all teens, so I had all of the main characters be sixteen. Not that I knew how to write a sixteen year old at the time, but I thought it couldn’t be too hard. Since then, pretty much all of the ages have changed to have more or less variety, and I have the experience to be able to write a proper sixteen year old. Even if Ealdred is now fifteen, as he is quick to point out.
            After all of the ages had been established, I started coming up with faces. At first, Pinterst was my guide, and I came up will all the face claims that I could. But as my art started to progress, I was able to start to work out the details of each character, and the face claims no longer worked. The clothing style of my world was also something I worked on at this point as I tried to think up each character’s signature outfit. I had to settle with signature style, though, because I’m not sure I’ve ever once been able to draw a character in the same outfit. I have a designing streak, as it turns out.

            Discovering the roles and personality of each character was something that happened as I started writing. And even when I thought I had them all figured out, roles switched, personalities changed, and back stories formed. I’m still trying to work out a lot of their back stories and personalities, to be honest. But now I used character development lounges to work out most of that. Character development lounges are where writers put their characters in scenarios along with another person’s characters and watch as they interact, go on crazy adventures, and find who they are.

As my characters changed, so did the story, until it all became the epic tale that it is today. Though the story may be good, it is the characters that make it so good.

Author Bio:
Azaria M. J. Durant is a young, passionate writer of fantasy with plans to branch out into sci-fi and dystopian. She enjoys writing stories with action, adventure, unexpected plot twists, and fleshed out characters that challenge gender roles and expectations.
Azaria lives in Atlantic Canada with her family, cats, and dogs, and her big dreams to travel the world. In the moments when she isn’t writing, she is sketching concept art for her stories, participating in community theatre, or curled up with a good book and a bag of mint chocolates.


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