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Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post: Morgan Keyes DARKBEAST Giveaway!
















If you are a regular reader here (and you are, right?) then you have probably heard me mention one of my favorite authors, Mindy Klasky. Mindy is not only a fabulous author, writing everything from humorous paranormal romance to traditional fantasy to contemporary romance, she is also an amazing editor (who helped me become a much better writer, back in my early days) and an over-all sweetheart.

She is also, as of this year, an author named Morgan Keyes. (Writing is the only business where they encourage you to have a split personality!) With her newest venture, a middle-grade book called DARKBEAST, written as Morgan Keyes, Mindy has given us yet another author (and book) to love.

This book is perfect for the younger reader, but make no mistake, this book is great for the adult reader too. I hope you'll help me to encourage Morgan in her newest endeavor, and spread the word about DARKBEAST. Just as we did with my contest last week, go spread the word online or click "like" on Amazon, and come back here and tell me you did it, and I will give away a book to one lucky reader. And Morgan is giving one away too--let's see what she has to say!
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Many thanks to Deborah, for allowing me to visit and tell you about my middle grade fantasy novel, Darkbeast.  Due to the generosity of my publisher, Simon & Schuster, I will give away a copy of Darkbeast to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments made to this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight.

In Darkbeast, twelve-year-old Keara runs away from home rather than sacrifice Caw, the raven darkbeast that she has been magically bound to all her life.  Pursued by Inquisitors who would punish her for heresy, Keara joins a performing troupe of Travelers and tries to find a safe haven for herself and her companion.

When Keara strikes out on the Great Road, she doesn't have a lot of survival skills.  She isn't a warrior, capable of holding her own in any physical encounter.  She isn't a shrewd merchant, able to negotiate her way in any fiscal transaction.  She isn't cloaked in the mystery of her religion, protected by sacred vows (quite the opposite, in fact!)

But Keara has a secret stash of knowledge, information so basic to her life that she scarcely thinks of it as an asset.  Keara knows herbs.  She knows which plants can heal and which can poison.  She has mastered harvesting methods and drying techniques.  She has memorized growing seasons, even for rare plants that thrive far from her home.

Keara's herblore is a gift from her strict, demanding mother.  Even though Keara would be hard-pressed to admit the truth, she has absorbed her encyclopedic knowledge through hard work and constant repetition.  Handling herbs has been necessary for most of Keara's life; it's the only way her widowed mother could support herself and her three daughters.

Throughout Darkbeast, Keara walks a narrow line about the power of herbs.  It is never precisely clear whether her plants work because she has some magical powers, or because she retains ancient, practical lore.  Keara might be reaching out to supernatural strength, or she might succeed merely because she has mastered old, forgotten ways.

While writing the novel, I reveled in this ambiguity.  I did not want to give my heroine the "flash" of magical powers – specific spells that she could recite, concrete potions that she could brew.  I wanted a greater air of mystery, a resonating note of the unknown.

To that end, I varied the herbs I mention by name.  Some, like feverfew, are very real.  Others, though, are entirely made up, with properties different from any plants in our real world.  Readers unfamiliar with herblore might not know what is real and what is created.

And that's the way I like it.  Uncertainty is one of the essential flavors of Darkbeast.  As a twelve-year-old fugitive, Keara does not have all the answers about her world.  (Sometimes, in fact, she barely knows the questions to ask.)  I enjoy putting my readers in the same circumstances, at least part of the time.

So?  What about you?   Do you find it intriguing when an author creates magic tangential to real witchcraft as it is practiced today?  Or do you find it frustrating because it runs counter to your own experience?


Morgan can be found online at:


Darkbeast is for sale in bricks-and-mortar and online bookstores, including:  Amazon | B & N | Indiebound

Morgan Keyes grew up in California, Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota, accompanied by parents, a brother, a dog, and a cat.  Also, there were books.  Lots and lots of books.  Morgan now lives near Washington, D.C.  In between trips to the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art, she reads, travels, reads, writes, reads, cooks, reads, wrestles with cats, and reads.  Because there are still books.  Lots and lots of books.


62 comments:

  1. It sounds like a wonderful book! I don't mind if the magic in books isn't like the magical practices I've read about in the "real" world. I do notice if the herbs and stones that are given powers are different from what I've read about elsewhere, but it's never a problem. Magic should be mysterious. And don't practitioners say that magic is different for everyone? Well then, magic is different for every story!

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    1. Skye,
      That's exactly the way I feel!

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    2. Ah, Skye - you're an author's dream reader!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  2. Hello there,
    I am tickled to hear of your book, it sounds fascinating. I love your emphasis on the herbs. Let's face it, they don't seem as exciting as other magickal elements, yet they are actually the unassuming heros. Thank you for incorporating them into the story!

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    1. I love herbs because they are easy and practical (and often handy and cheap!). And people from many different cultures have been using herbs for magic for as long as either on existed. So you can imagine how much I loved Morgan's use of herbs in this book :-)

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    2. I love the idea of finding magic in everyday life -- that's one of the reasons the herbs became so important!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  3. My daughter loves stories like this. Her birthday is next month, thanks for the great idea.

    I agree with Skye and Deb, different people practice in different ways and so it doesn't bother me when there are differences in the stories that I read.

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    1. I love giving books as gifts :-) Yay!

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    2. If you get DARKBEAST for your daughter, I hope that she loves it! (And how pleasant it is, visiting a blog like Deb's where there are so many voices of tolerance!)

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  4. This book is going on my must read list. The herb magick sounds fantastic can hardly wait to read this!
    Paulette

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    1. Paulette, I think you're going to love it. It is a fast and fun read, and the characters will stay with you long after you put the book down.

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    2. ::grin:: I hope that you enjoy it!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  5. I have nieces that would love this book! I have always been interested in herblore, and have way too many books on the subject. What a fascinating journey for your heroine to take!

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    1. I always get my nieces cool books too :-) One of the benefits of being an aunt!

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  6. Hi Morgan and Deborah - That's the best part of fiction. To be able to make things up if we want - Like our own herbs and have them do what we like. It gives the story a unique feel of it's own. Good luck. It sounds like a great story.

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    1. Debbie - Thanks for the good wishes. I've always loved stories that combine a little of the real world with a lot of the imagined :-)

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  7. I think that as long as the story is consistent within itself, I'll buy any permutation of magic. Creative reinterpretations of what we already know is what makes fiction fun, imho.
    Great post, and best of luck with Darkbeast.

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    1. Liv -

      Thanks for the kind wishes! And yes, yes, yes, I think that consistency is the key in credible worldbuilding! (Hence, my copious notes as I write :-) )

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  8. I am completely intrigued by the herblore!! This is definitely on my reading list!!

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    1. Diane - thanks for your kind words!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  9. Morgan, I love the premise of your story! The theme of uncertainty sounds wonderful and very true to real life regardless of the magickal environs you've created. Personally, I agree with Skye, that magic is mysterious, so I have no problem with books like this.

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    1. Julie - It's always a challenge, finding that balance between "mysterious" and "utterly incomprehensible, made-up garbage :-)

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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    2. Yes, and there are so many authors that don't quite seem to find it :-)

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  10. I agree with Liv - consistency is key.

    DARKBEAST is such a great read. I enjoyed every word of it!

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    1. Lisa - Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  11. What an awesome cover! Sounds like a great book.

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    1. Betty - I was truly grateful for the gorgeous cover -- while I had no say in the design, I love the way it captures both Keara's and Caw's attitudes!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  12. I'm going to tell you a secret - I steal my kid's books and read them. Maybe this time I'll get to read it first!

    I liked on Amazon, and I'm on my way to Facebook and all those other places readers can help!

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    1. Kate, if we're confessing here...I was reading adult books when I was a middle grade reader, and now as an adult, I read many YA and middle grade books. If I like an author, I'll read whatever they write. And a good book is a good book, no matter what age it is theoretically aimed at.

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    2. ::grin:: I suspect that having kids' books to steal is one of the greatest perks of having kids! Thanks so much for the online support!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  13. Paranormal novels are going very well these days and having one that is humorous for that age group is wonderful. A friend's son was 11 and barely reading until we turned him on to a book like this. He ended up graduating from HS in the top 1/3 of his class just because he learned how and enjoyed reading. I admire anyone who can write for children. Much success.

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    1. I was thinking, when I read this book, that it would be *perfect* for reluctant readers!

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    2. Kathleen - ::grin:: I loved writing Caw's dialog, which is the most humorous part of the book. I suspect that the boys who get hooked on the story will do so because of that wry raven!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  14. Tweeted.

    Have to say this sounds awesome. I love a heroine/hero with unexpected skills.

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    1. Carla - It was important to me that Keara develop inherent skills, rather than "win" because of her birth order, or something beyond her control like that!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  15. I love the cover and the story sounds interesting. I love stories about herbalists and I don't care if some are made up. This looks like a good story with a great message about using what you know!

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    1. Katrina - Many thanks for your kind words!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  16. I loved the fantasy world and set up society of the Glass wrights series, so I do look forward to seeing how this world gets created and all the details and parts that go to it. It should be a very fun read.

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    1. That *was* a great series, wasn't it?

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    2. Gypsy-owl - Thanks for the kind words about Rani! In some ways, Rani is like Keara's older sister :-)

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  17. Like Kate, I steal my kids' books and read them. I don't have a problem with different magic systems, if that's the right word, as long as the world of the book has its own internal logic. Herb lore is fascinating and this sounds like a terrific read.

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    1. KarenB - Thanks for the kind words! (I don't have kids, so I have to raid the kids' section of the library, or my bookstore :-) )

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  18. I love world-building! As long as it's consistent, as others said, I'm in. And I'll read books written for any age or in any genre - as long as there's a good story and character arc, I'm happy. And DARKBEAST sounds like it's full of both.

    I've just learned that my darkbeast is a rat, so if y'all will excuse me, I'm off to get the book and find out what that means. (I really like that quiz on your site, BTW!)

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    1. That IS a fun quiz! I forgot what my darkbeast was...I'll have to go take it again. (Although of course, Magic the Cat would tell you that she's the beast in charge of me, and that's the way it is going to stay.)

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    2. Michelle - Thanks for taking the quiz! (I'm a snake, myself :-) )

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  19. Oh I love this premise and want to read it so much! Anything with a strong heroine and especially one with love of/loyalty to animals...mystical or otherwise, speaks to me. Also, I'm a teacher so will recommend it to my more prescient readers.

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    1. I love books (especially for younger readers) with strong heroines! And animals are just a bonus.

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    2. Lora96 - Thanks for the kind words! (And I, too, love animals stories -- did when I was a kid, and continue to as an adult!)

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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    3. And Lora - by fiat of the Random Number Generator, you're the winner of a copy of DARKBEAST! Send your street address to me at morgan@morgankeyes.com, and I'll have Simon & Schuster send it to you!

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  20. Sounds very cool. Plus yay for a DC native! Sent out a tweet :) Curious if I'll run into her at the National Book Festival this weekend.

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    1. Bethany - Alas, I was out of town this weekend, so I didn't get to the National Book Festival. I've really enjoyed it in years past!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  21. My darkbeast is a raven! How cool is that?

    KATE GEORGE you are the winner of my copy of DARKBEAST. Morgan/Mindy has been out of town and away from internet contact, but I'm sure she'll pop in soon to respond to comments and let you know who won her copy.

    Thanks to you all for coming and sharing my love for this fabulous author :-)

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    1. Deb - Thanks so much for hosting me (and for chatting with folks, while I was hamstrung with terrible Internet access!) Lora is the winner of the second copy, as noted above.

      Many, many thanks!

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  22. My goddaughter is almost 20 ... but she would love this book. As would I, come to think of it!

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    1. Betty - The book is labeled "10 and Up" and I emphasize the "up" to a lot of people!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  23. The ambiguity you describe makes me even more interested in the story!

    skerrysc[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Kerry - Thanks for your interest!

      Morgan (posting late, because of horrible Internet access over the weekend!)

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  24. Lora96!
    You're the winner of Mindy's copy of the book! Yay!

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