Blood Song eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99!

Blood Song by Cat AdamsThe ebook for Blood Song by Cat Adams is now on sale for $2.99!*

About Blood Song: Bodyguard Celia Graves has definitely accepted her share of weird assignments, both human and supernatural. But her newest job takes the cake. When she is betrayed by those she is employed to help, and everything goes horribly wrong, Celia wakes to find herself transformed.

Neither human nor vampire, Celia has become an Abomination—something that should not exist—and now both human and supernatural alike want her dead. With the help of a few loyal friends—a sexy mage, a powerful werewolf, and a psychic cop—Celia does her best to stay alive.

Buy Blood Song today: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

*Sale ends March 4, 2016.

Royal Street eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99!

Royal Street by Suzanne JohnsonThe ebook for Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson is now on sale for $2.99!

About Royal Street: As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

Buy Royal Street today: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

*Sale ends March 4, 2016.

Join Susan Dennard and Veronica Rossi on Tour!

TruthRider

Susan Dennard and Veronica Rossi will be on the road February and March for the official #TruthRider Tour to celebrate the publication of Truthwitch and Riders! See if they’re coming to a city near you.

Wednesday, February 17
Schuler Books & Music
Also with EK Johnston
Lansing, MI
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 18
Bethesda Library
Books provided by Politics and Prose
Also with Kami Garcia
Bethesda, MD
7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 24
Books and Books
Coral Gables, FL
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 25
Malaprop’s Bookstore
Asheville, NC
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 27
Montgomery County Book Festival
The Woodlands, TX
All Day

Sunday, February 28
Morton Ranch High School
Also with Sophie Jordan
Houston, TX
6:00 PM

Tuesday, March 1
Half Price Books
Also with Kathleen Baldwin
Dallas, TX
7:00 PM

Saturday, March 5
Austin Book Fest
Austin, TX
All Day

Sneak Peek: Arkwright by Allen Steele

ArkwrightWritten by highly regarded expert on space travel and exploration Allen Steele, Arkwright features the precision of hard science fiction with a compelling cast of characters.

Nathan Arkwright is a seminal author of the twentieth century. Convinced that humanity cannot survive on Earth, Nathan’s Arkwright Foundation dedicates itself to creating a colony on an Earth-like planet several light years distant. Fueled by Nathan’s legacy, generations of Arkwrights are drawn together, and pulled apart, by the enormity of the task and weight of their name.

Enjoy this excerpt of Arkwright.

Chapter 1

When Kate Morressy’s grandfather died on October 5, 2006, his passing made the front page of next morning’s Boston Globe. The headline—NATHAN ARKWRIGHT, SCIENCE FICTION PIONEER, DIES—appeared in the bottom-right corner below the fold, and it was the first thing Kate saw when she picked up the paper from the front stoop of her Cambridge apartment house.

Still wearing her robe, Kate stared at the newspaper in her hand for a long time before she carried back into her apartment. Pausing to pour her first cup of coffee, she lay the paper down on the kitchen table and read the lead:

Nathan Arkwright, the science fiction author best known as creator of the Galaxy Patrol, died Thursday at his home in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Continue reading

The Grays eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99

The Grays by Whitley StrieberThe ebook for The Grays by Whitley Strieber is now on sale for $2.99!*

About The Grays: Whitley Strieber returns to the riddle of aliens with The Grays. Drawing from a lifetime of research and his own experiences, Strieber offers up a fictional account of the conspiracy behind the alien presence on Earth while also giving us a startling look inside the alien mind that will astound, frighten, and enthrall readers.

Meet the Three Thieves, a group of Grays assigned to duty in a small Kentucky town. They have been preparing a child for generations. Innocent Conner Callaghan will face the ultimate terror as he struggles to understand who he has been breed to become, and what he must do to save humanity. Meet Colonel Michael Morax, who strives to keep the secret of the Grays from the public. And then there’s Lauren Glass, government “empath” to the last surviving captive Gray, known only as B for Bob. Her unique talent to communicate with this captive Gray may be the only way humans can unravel their ultimate plan.

But when B for Bob suddenly escapes the highly secure underground Air Force facility that he’s been captive in for years, it triggers a mass undertaking in that small Kentucky town. A frantic race begins, as the government must outmaneuver the Grays to keep the secret of the presence intact.

Buy The Grays today: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

*Sale ends March 8, 2016.

New Releases 2/2/16

A Voice from the Field by Neal GriffinFlash by L.E. Modesitt Jr.Murdock's Law and City of Widows by Loren D. EstlemanOf Irish Blood by Mary Pat KellyPathfinder Tales: Pirate's Prophecy by Chris A. JacksonSeventh Son and Red Prophet by Orson Scott CardThe Eterna Files by Leanna Renee HieberVoyage of the Basilisk by Marie BrennanWhen the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner

AND

Magika Swordsman and Summoner Vol. 3 by Mitsuki Mihara; Art by MonRin

Monster Monsume Vol. 8 by OKAYADO

See upcoming releases.

Riders Swag Sweepstakes

Riders Sweepstakes Prize

Can’t wait for Veronica Rossi’s Riders? Want to receive all the swag from BookTuber Christine’s Riders unboxing video? Here’s your chance, Rossi fans!

One lucky winner will receive the same fiery set of prizes mailed to our BookTubers! This includes a Riders signed poster, cuffs of the Four Horsemen, a Riders pencil set, Riders bookmark, and, of course, a copy of Riders itself.

All you have to do is sign up for our Veronica Rossi mailing list, which will keep you up-to-date on Riders, Rossi’s upcoming books, and more—and you’ll be entered for a chance to win!

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OFFICIAL RULES

Riders Swag Sweepstakes


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING.
  1. To Enter: Submit your entry by fully completing the sign-up form found at http://torforgeblog.com/2016/02/01/riders-swag-sweepstakes/ (the "Site"). Sweepstakes begins online at 12:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on Monday, February 1, 2016 and ends at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, February 05, 2016. Your entry will sign you up to receive emailed news related to Veronica Rossi Author Alert as well as enter you into the sweepstakes.

Limit one entry per person or household. The entry must be fully completed; mechanically reproduced; incomplete and/or illegible entries will not be accepted. In case of dispute with respect to online entries, entries will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. "Authorized account holder" is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet Access Provider, on-line service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. Entries become property of Sponsor and will not be returned. Automated entries are prohibited, and any use of such automated devices will cause disqualification. Sponsor and its advertising and promotions agencies are not responsible for lost, late, illegible, misdirected or stolen entries or transmissions, or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic.

  1. Random Drawing: A random drawing will be held from all eligible, correctly completed entries received on a timely basis, on or about Monday, February 08, 2016, by Tor Teen, whose decisions concerning all matters related to this sweepstakes are final.
  2. Notice to Winners: Winner will be notified by e-mail. Winner may be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and publicity/liability release within fifteen (15) days of notification attempt or prize may be awarded to alternate winner. Return of any prize notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and alternate winner will be selected. If an entrant selected in the drawing is a resident of Canada, to be declared a winner he/she must correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, a time-limited mathematical skill-testing question to be administered by telephone or email. If a potential winner who is a resident of Canada cannot be contacted, and/or the skill-testing question cannot be administered, within seven (7) days he/she will be disqualified and the prize may be awarded to an alternate entrant. If a winner is a minor in his/her jurisdiction of residence, prize will be awarded to minor's parent or legal guardian, who must follow all prize claim procedures specified herein and sign and return all required documents.
  3. Prize: One (1) Grand Prize winner(s) will receive One (1) copy of Riders, One (1) bookmark, Four (4) pencils of the apocalypse, Four (4) bracelets of the apocalypse, One (1) signed poster. Approximate Retail Value ("ARV") of the Prize: $41.00.
    Approximate retail value of all prizes: $41.00
  1. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. If any prize is won by a minor, it will be awarded in the name of minor's parent or legal guardian. Each entrant selected as a potential winner must comply with all terms and conditions set forth in these Official Rules, and winning is contingent upon fulfilling all such requirements. Sponsor makes no warranties with regard to the prize. Prize is not transferable. No substitutions of prize allowed by winner, but Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. Prize is not redeemable by winner for cash value. All taxes, fees and surcharges on prize are the sole responsibility of winner.
  2. Eligibility: Only open to residents of 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding the province of Quebec), age 18 and older at the time of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and where otherwise prohibited by law. Employees, and members of their families, of Sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries, and affiliates are not eligible to enter. This promotion is intended for viewing in the United States or Canada only and shall only be construed and evaluated according to United States law. You are not authorized to participate in the sweepstakes if you are not located within the United States or Canada.
  3. General: Sponsor and its representatives are not responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the sender, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this sweepstakes which may limit the ability to play or participate, or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the entries in this sweepstakes. If for any reason, (including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other cause beyond the control of Sponsor, which corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this sweepstakes), the Sweepstakes is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Sponsor shall have the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the sweepstakes. Limit one prize per person or household. By accepting prize, the winner grants to Sponsor the right to use his/her name, likeness, hometown, biographical information, in advertising and promotion, including on the Site, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law. By participating in the sweepstakes, entrant and winner release Sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, subsidiaries, suppliers, and agents, from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, cost or expense, including without limitation property damages, personal injury and/or death, arising out of participation in this sweepstakes or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize. Sponsor may prohibit an entrant from participating in the sweepstakes or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Sponsor representatives. All legal responsibilities of a minor under these Official Rules will be assumed by the minor's parent/legal guardian.

CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

  1. Use of Data: Sponsor will be collecting personal data about entrants who enter online, in accordance with its privacy policy. Please review the Sponsor's privacy policy at http://us.macmillan.com/splash/policy.html. By participating in the sweepstakes, entrants hereby agree to Sponsor's collection and usage of their personal information and acknowledge that they have read and accepted Sponsor's privacy policy.
  2. Winner List: For winner information, available after Friday, February 05, 2016, send by Monday, February 08, 2016 a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Winner Information, Riders Swag Sweepstakes, c/o Tor Teen, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
  3. Sponsor: Tor Teen, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010.


On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in February

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. SchwabTruthwitch by Susan DennardRiders by Veronica Rossi

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in February! Here is the info on all of our upcoming author events. See who is coming to a city near you!

Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky

Thursday, February 4
Skylight Books
Los Angeles, CA
7:30 PM

Tuesday, February 23
Green Apple Books
San Francisco, CA
7:30 PM

A.M. Dellamonica, A Daughter of No Nation

Tuesday, February 16
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 20
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
3:00 PM

Susan Dennard, Truthwitch

Saturday, February 13
Barnes & Noble
Bensalem, PA
In conversation with Sarah J. Maas
7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 17
Schuler Books & Music
Lansing, MI
Also with Veronica Rossi
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 18
Bethesda Library
Bethesda, MD
Also with Veronica Rossi
7:00 PM

Friday, February 19
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 24
Books & Books
Coral Gables, FL
Also with Veronica Rossi
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 25
Malaprops
Asheville, NC
Also with Veronica Rossi
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 27
Montgomery County Book Festival
The Woodlands, TX
Also with Veronica Rossi
All Day

Sunday, February 28
Morton Ranch High School Commons
Katy, TX
Also with Veronica Rossi and Sophie Jordan
6:00 PM

Sunday, February 28
Morton Ranch High School Commons
Katy, TX
Also with Veronica Rossi and Sophie Jordan
6:00 PM

Tuesday, March 1
Half Price Books
Dallas, TX
Also with Veronica Rossi and Kathleen Baldwin
7:00 PM

Neal Griffin, A Voice from the Field

Monday, February 1
Warwick’s Books
Bensalem, PA
7:30 PM

Tuesday, February 2
Book Carnival
Orange, CA
7:00 PM

Friday, February 5
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:30 PM

Tuesday, February 16
Murder by the Book
Houston, TX
6:30 PM

Wednesday, February 17
Poisoned Pen
Scottsdale, AZ
Also with Mark Greaney
7:00 PM

Randy Henderson, Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free

Tuesday, February 16
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 17
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 18
Grass Roots Book & Music
Corvallis, OR
6:30 PM

Friday, February 19
Copperfield’s Books
Petaluma, CA
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 20
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
7:00 PM

Sunday, February 21
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
2:00 PM

Wednesday, February 24
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park, WA
7:00 PM

Friday, February 26
Barnes & Noble
Silverdale, WA
6:30 PM

Saturday, February 27
Village Books
Bellingham, WA
7:00 PM

Glen Hirshberg, Good Girls

Friday, February 26
The Last Bookstore
Los Angeles, CA
7:00 PM

Katie Lynch, Confucius Jane

Monday, February 1
Madame X
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Veronica Rossi, Riders

Wednesday, February 17
Schuler Books & Music
Lansing, MI
Also with Susan Dennard
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 18
Bethesda Library
Bethesda, MD
Also with Susan Dennard
7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 24
Books & Books
Coral Gables, FL
Also with Susan Dennard
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 25
Malaprops
Asheville, NC
Also with Susan Dennard
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 27
Montgomery County Book Festival
The Woodlands, TX
Also with Susan Dennard
All Day

Sunday, February 28
Morton Ranch High School Commons
Katy, TX
Also with Susan Dennard and Sophie Jordan
6:00 PM

Tuesday, March 1
Half Price Books
Dallas, TX
Also with Susan Dennard and Kathleen Baldwin
7:00 PM

Saturday, March 5
Austin Book Fest
Austin, TX
All Day

Lawrence M. Schoen, Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Wednesday, February 3
Park Road Books
Charlotte, NC
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 4
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC
7:00 PM

Friday, February 5
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC
7:00 PM

V.E. Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows

Tuesday, February 23
Parnassus Books
Nashville, TN
6:30 PM

Wednesday, February 24
Blue Willow Bookshop
Houston, TX
7:00 PM

Thursday, February 25
One More Page Books
Arlighton, VA
7:00 PM

Friday, February 26
Rediscovered Books
Boise, ID
7:00 PM

Saturday, February 27
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
3:00 PM

Sunday, February 28
Barnes & Noble
Huntington Beach, CA
2:00 PM

Monday, February 29
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:00 PM

Building a Solid Writing Practice One Goal at a Time

Riders by Veronica Rossi
Written by Veronica Rossi

I’m a big believer in setting goals. Personal. Professional. Spiritual. You name it. I firmly believe you stand a much better chance of getting somewhere if you know where you’re trying to go.

Goals have been a huge part of my writing life. I wrote my first published novel, Under the Never Sky, by sitting down exactly seven years ago and planning twelve-months’ worth of targets. Without an editor to establish deadlines, I took on that role myself. I bought a calendar and projected drafting and revision goals that were specific and realistic. I had a good idea by then of my average productivity so I created milestones I felt pretty confident I could meet. And I did. It wasn’t always perfect. Some months I fell behind. Others I surged ahead. But having those targets—and hitting them—was tremendously encouraging. Big things are accomplished in small steps.

My second YA series begins with Riders. It’s a modern-day fantasy about four teens who unwittingly become incarnations of the four horsemen. These poor guys—War, Death, Famine, and Conquest—do not want to be what they’ve become but the only way to change their situation is to complete a mission. With the help of a visionary girl, they must protect a sacred object from some truly bad baddies.

Riders, which releases on February 16th, was written in a similar process as Under the Never Sky. Take out the scope. Focus on the summit. Project distance and elevation. Plan the route. Prep the materials. And go.

If you stick to a plan, you can write a solid draft of a book in a year. Really.

Having written several novels now, my focus as a writer has shifted. I know I can create books so my 2016 writing goals are about digging deeper. And though they’re writing-oriented I think a few might be helpful to anyone pursuing a creative endeavor. Without further ado, here they are:

  1. Answer the “Why” — My husband recently read Start With the Why by Simon Sinek, based on his TED Talk of the same title. Though I’ve only seen the latter, we’ve been having many discussions about the central tenet of Sinek’s argument. Though it’s primarily geared toward business-minded folks, Sinek poses a question that he believes everyone should consider: What’s your Why? Why do you do what you do? In my case: why do I write?I honestly thought it would be an easier question to answer. After all, I’ve been writing seriously for a dozen years now and I love writing. However to truly answer that question requires some honest soul-searching. Do I write to understand myself? To understand the world? To inspire others? What, specifically, is the desire that pulls me forward, book after book?Most writers are familiar with the story premise or logline. Usually a formula that goes something like: Character does X despite facing Y obstacles in order to achieve Z goal. But what’s my logline? Why does Veronica write in the face of deadlines, writer’s block, etc. to achieve novels? I want to understand the true nature of the force that propels me to tell stories. Sinek explains that we attract people who have similar Whys. That is, whatever it is that motivates me is the very thing that aligns my readers with me. So. By having a firm grasp on my Why, I think I’ll be able to write even better stories and more fully enjoy my work. As I said above, when you know where you want to go, you have a much greater chance of actually getting there.
  2. Step Away From the Computer — I took a month away from the Internet last summer and it was glorious. Seriously. It had an undeniable impact on my mood and my creativity. I was more relaxed. My focus improved. Even my imagination. I plan to do another month-long break this year.In addition to that, I’m going to spend more time working in notebooks. Not just journaling, which I already do, but writing. I started this recently and was shocked to find that my hand grew tired after only a page or two! Scary. But I’ve also found that I take greater care in crafting sentences when I put pen to paper. It causes me to slow down, to think. That’s a great benefit. I make my trade by creating good ideas and sentences—so anything I can do to improve on them is absolutely a priority.
  3. Learn! — A dear writing friend of mine and I have been scheming for the past few months about the classes we plan to take this year. Poetry. Screenwriting. Short stories, maybe? Gasp! Perhaps. If we’re bold enough. We both always want to improve as writers so we’ll be taking online classes that push us out of our comfort zones, right into the growth zone!
  4. Expand Horizons — Before I became a novelist, I was an oil painter. I spent a few years painting commissioned works as my profession. While I’m not sure I’ll go back to painting, I do want to bring another outlet into my life—and it doesn’t necessarily need to be creative. I started running last year and that had a strong positive impact on me. Like painting, running provided me with “non-thinking” time with no no room for email, Twitter, daily chores, or anything else.This goal ties in with the social media break I mentioned above. Too much external input can actually bring me to a point where I don’t even hear my own thoughts anymore. Through these “non-thinking” activities, my subconscious mind gets to stand up, stretch, and step into the spotlight for a while. With every passing year I see the importance of this increase. Making a practice of mental “quiet time” is critical for my creative health.
  5. Be Patient — I’ve been writing on deadline for the past five years. Hustling. For five years. Even before that, when I was trying to get published, I felt this tremendous impatience to hurry things along. I wanted the agent so I could get the book deal so I could publish a book so I could be published so I could…?Write! Write more, of course! It’s what I love to do. It’s a circular deal. I didn’t realize that for a long time, but writing is the work and the reward—so why rush? A good friend of mine has a great way of describing it. He says: Writing to get published is a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie. So, my goal is to take my time. Make a great pie. The best one possible. The writing is the reward.

So, in addition to revising the sequel to Riders, those are some of the things I’ll be working on this coming year. I think they all fall under the umbrella of being more thoughtful and connected to one of the great passions in my life. What are some of your goals, writing or otherwise? What’s your Why?

Preorder Riders today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow Veronica Rossi on Twitter at @rossibooks, on Facebook, and on her website.

No Mother Tongue: Language in the world of Magic

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Written by V. E. Schwab

I am not a linguist—I barely speak French, and that’s after studying it for four years—but I knew from the outset that the Shades of Magic series would feature not only multiple Londons, but multiple languages.

As a writer who has to construct a world before she can fathom the people who live within it, it was only natural that, to understand the insiders of my myriad realities, I’d have to understand how they spoke. Were they the kind of people who had a dozen words for love? Or no word for God? How did they say hello? Farewell?

Words are, of course, the building blocks of stories. But they’re also a key facet of setting, of character, and, when it comes to fantasy, of world. Stories are populated with insiders and outsiders, and the existence of a language to which readers aren’t instantly privy emphasizes that they do not belong. It slows our introduction to the world, but does not prevent it. Instead, readers are forced to learn as they go, just as travelers would, when passing through a foreign land.

Languages don’t only serve as gatekeepers to readers; they play the same function within the narrative. They can make characters feel excluded. Lila Bard finds herself in a London where her own language is a mark of royalty and where she cannot grasp the common tongue. Kell is constantly frustrated by the fact people refer to him as aven—blessed—or vares—prince. And then, of course, there’s the language that only Kell speaks: a tongue that marks his gift as Antari, and isolates him further.

There are differences between the fictional languages within the book, each invariably invoking some real-world echo in our minds. The people of Red London speak a tongue that is sibilant and smooth, whereas in the harsh climate of White London, they speak a guttural one, and Grey London, our stand-in for the real world, becomes both familiar in its Englishness, and foreign as, over the course of the series, we spend more time with other tongues.

One of the most exciting things for me, as a writer, has been the eagerness with which readers have sought to learn certain phrases, to memorize the meaning of Kell’s spell words or the common greeting between princes, or even some of Calla’s more obscure expressions. While the majority of oft-quoted phrases are in Lila’s common English, it’s an extraordinary thing to see a fan sign off a letter with As Travars. Used poorly, fictional languages can feel like a wall, preventing all but the well-versed from feeling included in a world. But used well, they can invite the readers to become part of a world they love, transforming from a barricade into an open door.

Preorder A Gathering of Shadows today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow V. E. Schwab on Twitter at @veschwab, on Facebook, and on her website.