Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud ~ Blog Tour ~ Guest Post

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Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud

Max has anger management issues. But she has a secret, too. She can make things happen. Like magic. She almost killed a loser skate punk and nearly used it on her stuck up older sister. The question is, can she do anything other than blow things up? Can she learn to control it? And is it really possible that an obscure teenage girl is the key to keeping all of humanity safe?

Philip just got his ring back. He got it taken away for messing with his teacher’s mind so he can cheat on a test. Now that he has his ring, he thinks he should be able to use his power to make his life better. A lot better. The problem is that people want him to be responsible. But if you could do magic, wouldn’t you use it to escape work in any way possible?

Aaron wants to be a soldier. He knows there are lots of people who would try to take over, and he’s determined to stop them. The problem is that there’s this new girl. And she might be not be on the right side of things. She’s really talented and pretty, but she might be able to destroy everything he believes in. Whatever the case, he knows he needs to learn to be world class with the magic sword while he figures out what to do.

Brynn never gets out. Her grandfather won’t permit it. Her only access to the outside world are high fashion magazines, so she has an unusual idea what she should wear. She’s dying to get out and travel. And adopt animals. Any kind of animal. Is she a lonely future granny with cats or are her ridiculous clothes actually the next fashion craze? What possible role could she play in the destiny of the world?

Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud is a fast-paced fantasy adventure for all ages (10 and up) and is the first of a planned trilogy. Fans of magic, swordplay, secret agents, and conspiracies set in a modern everyday world will not be able to put the book down. Jon Thomason is a debut author and paints a vivid world of magic right under our noses and delivers rapid-fire action that keeps the pages turning.



“Impressively inventive and enjoyable…vivid storytelling and exceptional characterization…Max’s personality is layered and complex…conveyed flawlessly…keeping readers intrigued and engaged…writing style is smooth, and a subtle sense of humor comes through…narrative tension builds at a good pace and easily flows toward a satisfying and exciting conclusion…parents are likely to both approve of the story and enjoy reading it themselves…talented writer…sure to find an appreciative audience that will eagerly anticipate the next book in the series.” — ForeWord Clarion Review

“Thomason shines in his heroine’s characterization…magical” –blueink Review

Author Jon Thomason

Jon Thomason lives with his family in San Diego, after many years living in the beautiful Seattle area. He has a successful career in high tech where he’s been fortunate enough to participate in many big-name industry releases.

Storytelling permeates everything he does. In the moments when Jon is not helping build the story of the tech world, he can almost always be found working on a project: writing, photography, videography, graphics design, or 3D art.

And he’s always careful to conceal his jinni magic abilities, though perhaps might slip one day and be discovered…


Blog Tour Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash plus a copy of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud
Print copy to US only, Ebook Internationally
Ends 3/31/13

Hello everyone, Paul here and today we are lucky enough to have author Jon Thomason, creator of Max Xylander and the Island of Zumuruud, join us. I was interested in learning more about developing characters for ages ten and up and asked Mr. Thomason if he would be kind enough to write a bit on the topic. He did and with no further ado, here is his post. I hope you find it as informative and enjoyable as I did.
Writing good fiction is the careful blend of plot, characterization, and setting. No interesting book can ignore all three of these. And since your page count is limited for a middle-grade novel (or should be!), the author has to decide carefully how to balance between these elements. Unfortunately, many authors choose to scrimp on characterization. I believe this to be a mistake. I believe “less is more” in describing setting. Middle grade (and adult!) readers have vivid imaginations and don’t require page after page of descriptive text. I strive to paint the setting through the plot. Something needs to be happening each and every page of the book. Tight plotting and extra care to be terse in description leaves the pages for what I believe drives true love in readers: deep characters.
When I write, I stop frequently to think, “what would I think?” in the situation the character is in, usually a dilemma. And then, “what would the character really think?” I believe that people, and hence characters, have dominant characteristics that let us recognize each other, but then have many levels of complexity to be unpeeled. An author has to spend some pages, particularly early, letting us get to know the characters by their glaring personality features. But as the book progresses, we get to peel back some of the layers and see more subtlety and complexity.
A common mistake of authors is that their characters don’t progress during the book. Or if they do, it’s all at once in some gigantic change of heart. Doing so is a sure way to make the reader lose their “suspension of disbelief” because it’s just not realistic. Characters need to ring true. And to do so, they need to progress in fits and starts throughout the book.
Characters can be influenced by people around them. They can lie and be lied to. They can say one thing and think another. They can love and hate, be wrong or right, but they always have an inner voice that should be clear to the reader. They shouldn’t be omniscient, but they also shouldn’t miss things that are completely obvious to the reader. All of this is a delicate balance because we want characters we know–like stereotypes–but then we want to have our stereotypes challenged. We want to grow along with the characters we come to love.
Everything I’ve written here applies to all fiction, not specifically to those for children. This was intentional! Our children these days are very sophisticated. They don’t want things dumbed down for them. I believe in writing things just above their level. The more advanced children will grasp things, and those who aren’t quite there yet can still enjoy the story, but might miss some of the more subtle or more advanced concepts. Then when they reread, they get a little more.
The main challenge of writing for children is that you can’t let up on the action or keeping the characters interesting even for a second, or we lose them. They are growing up in a world with unprecedented distractions. Keeping them glued to the pages means things have to keep moving at a brisk pace. We lose the reader with numbing dialog or mountains of descriptive text. Something should always be happening. And we should define our characters by how they act even more than by what they say or what they think. Otherwise, we lose the reader back to their YouTube videos and Xbox and iPhone games.
Every page has to be precious. Do we have the courage to cut out scenes that don’t contribute? I cut 100 pages out of my first novel. It was painful and difficult, but the novel is much better for it. We can’t be so wedded to things that we lose sight of our precocious, lovely, but very fickle reading audience.

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Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.

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