Published April 30th 2012
Jiline of Ainsley is dismayed when her best friend is selected by the mages to become a unicorn keeper at the Keep, an isolated mountain fortress. Especially since Madelen is in love and engaged to the richest boy in the village. Jiline on the other hand has no prospects of marriage or a trade in their small village. So, she comes up with a plan to take Madelen’s place at the Keep and hopefully flunk out of unicorn keeper training before the mages can discover the deception. Unfortunately, the unicorns have their own plans for her.
Mage Herrick, son of the Keep Mage, returns home to the Keep as the trainee keepers arrive. A chance encounter with Jiline, who he believes is Madelen, on the trail sparks a magical connection between the two. Knowing he can’t feel a magical draw to someone who has no magic, he tries to prove Madelen (Jiline) has magic within her. His attention brings unforeseen complications for both of them.
Creating Unicorn Keep
Unicorn Keep is one of the few books I wrote in absolute silence. It had been a while since the last book I had written and I had just come off editing several books. I was looking for a jump start for a new book and I decided I wanted to write a middle grade fantasy novel with unicorns in it. I brainstormed for several days trying to come up with an idea I liked.
During this time one of my writing groups was gearing up to do a Fast Draft challenge (writing a book in two weeks - NaNoWriMo on steroids). I had originally dismissed participating, but the gem of the idea for Unicorn Keep came to me about two days before they were going to start. It was in the middle of summer and I was spending most of my daytime ferrying my two children to various activities and play dates.
The night before Fast Draft started I made the decision to get up at five in the morning and just write. So, I did, but it was early and I didn’t want one of the kiddos getting woken up by accident since my plan hinged on writing while they were asleep, I couldn’t turn the television or stereo on like I normally do when I write. I had also conveniently misplaced my headphones. So, it was just me, my computer, and total silence. A deal with myself to not check my email until I had hit the word count goal was enough to get me started the first day and surprise, surprise, I hit the word count goal by eight in the morning – right around the time the kiddos got up.
As a pantser, I had no idea where the story would take me each day. I was along for the ride on Jiline’s adventure. My biggest surprise was when Herrick walked onto the page and began to talk to me. My secondary characters rarely talk to me unless they have something crucial to reveal about a main character, but usually it’s just a little whisper here and there. But this wasn’t what Herrick was doing. He wanted me to tell what happened to him and how Jiline changed his life.
I briefly battled him as to make the changes he was whispering to me meant Unicorn Keep would become a young adult fantasy romance instead of a middle grade fantasy. Taking a leap of faith, I let him and Jiline lead me into the new direction and the story charged forward.
Once I finished the book, I worried about the changes I would have to make in the earlier chapters, but happily found there was really very little I needed to change except for upping Jiline’s age by a single year. So, perhaps I had been writing a young adult fantasy romance all along and just didn’t realize it until Herrick pointed it out.
Enter now to win:
by Angelia Almos
Published May 17th 2011 by Thoroughweb Press
At sixteen years old, Cassia would rather spend her days in the royal stables than in the royal court. But as the eldest child of King Robet and Queen Sarahann she obediently performs her duties as the Princess of Karah.
Her safe world changes forever when her father is murdered in the neighboring kingdom of Vespera. Cassia grapples with his loss as her mother prepares her for her new role as queen. Her first task - she must travel to Vespera to marry a prince she barely knows to fulfill the treaty her father signed just before his death.
Nothing is as simple as it seems with political intrigues and unusual powers shadowing Cassia on her search to find out who killed her father and why.
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