Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1) by Brandon Mull

*This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2001 edition of the Syracuse Islander Newspaper.

From Brandon Mull, the New York Times Best-selling author of the well-loved Fablehaven series, comes a new adventure with the same imaginative discovery that will delight old-time fans and entice new readers. A World Without Heroes is the first in a series of books that invites the reader to enter the world of Lyrian—where the people live in fear of Maldor, their malicious wizard emperor, and any would-be heroes have long been vanquished.

Food to eat while reading:  Lumba Berry Pie

Jason Walker loves baseball and his predictable job at the zoo. When he accidentally enters the world of Lyrian through the hippo tank, Jason inadvertently puts into motion a chain of events that put him on a collision course with the evil Maldor. As Jason searches for a way home, he meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. The two Beyonders soon learn that the surest way to return home is by accepting a quest for the word of power that can destroy the emperor.

Once again the local Utah author manages to create exciting places, exotic creatures and believable characters to fill his fictitious world. Climb into the book and visit a metallic castle perched high above its circling lake, a Tavern-go-round propelled by an underground river, and the Eternal Feast, where enemies of the emperor live out their days in careless luxury. Dine with Rachel and Jason as they discover Puckerlies that bear a resemblance to oysters, the enormous white Oklinder fruit and the Lumba berry pie that gives satisfaction but starves the addicted diner of nutrients. Help Jason battle with giant, man-eating frogs, machine-animal hybrids called manglers, and clever displacers who can sever their body parts at will.

Mull continues to prove his ability to please his audience with imaginative storylines while proving that young adults don’t need to be spoon-fed. The story is exciting and suspenseful but doesn’t sacrifice intelligence in its vocabulary or ideals. Adults who read the Beyonders series may need to keep a dictionary on hand.

A World Without Heroes explores the idea that a hero is someone who does the right thing regardless of the consequences (p. 420). Jason and Rachel meet with many would-be heroes who chose selfish sanctity or protect themselves by serving a master they do not believe in. Alternately, they encounter heroes in disguise who give up their identity, power and even the days of their lives to the cause of right. One such character expresses an idea that rings true to the reader, “It will be well worth the sacrifice. I’ve been waiting for this, Jason. I’m not sure I knew I was waiting, but I was.” (p.405).

I have to say that I was disappointed with the romance portion of the book.  Because the Beyonders series is being marketed as YA, I expected there to be more sexual tension between the two main characters.  Perhaps Mull stayed away from the romance on purpose, but the lack of it was glaring to me.

Readers can expect moderate fantasy-style violence, and no harsh language or explicit scenes.

Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series was awarded a spot on the New York Times top ten best-selling children's series list. Seeds of Rebellion, the second book in the Beyonders series is scheduled to be out in spring of 2012 and a third will follow in spring 2013.

Tasty Tuesday Lumba Berry Pie

Lumba Berry Pie

Finding a recipe to match Brandon Mull's books are always a delight. His characters encounter strange and exotic foods on their journeys. In A World Without Heroes (Beyonder #1), Jason encounters lumba berry pie--a delicacy that is so addicting that the diner will never want to eat anything again. The only problem is, lumba berries have no nutritional value and causes the addicted eater to starve to death.

If you don't have access to the land of Lyrian, you can substitute a berry of your choice in these fun mini pies. Note: this crust can be stuffed with any combination of fillings. Try pizza ingredients, empanadas, chicken pot pie, etc.


8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Mix the butter, cream cheese and cream to combine. Add the flour and salt. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refridgerate at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the fruit filling (see below).
Preheat oven to 375°. Roll out the dough very thin. Using an upturned bowl cut out discs about 5 inches in diameter. Put 1/4 cup of filling in the center of the disc. Using a finger, paint the edges with the egg white mixture, fold disc over the filling and press the edges down. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork.  Puncture the pie with a fork two times. Brush the tops of the pastry with the remaining egg white mixture. Sprinkle with a little sugar if desired. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Lumba berry filling:

3 cups berries, fresh or frozen (I used boysenberries)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Place the berries in a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

LDSStorymakers Conference 2011 #storymaker11

Phew!  I'm still reeling from all of the information I gathered into my brain at the conference this weekend.  Thanks to all of the wonderful people who put the conference together and volunteered their time.  I had huge breakthroughs in both my novel and my latest projects and I saw so many old friends and made great new ones!

So were you there?  What was your favorite part of the conference?

Below are some photos and just a sprinkling of the great classes I took and what I learned:

The only thing that is more fun than attending a writing conference is to do so with my husband Devon.  We have so much fun writing together!

Devon won third place in the Adult Fantasy/Sci Fi First Chapter Contest. Way to go sweetie!

My boot camp instructor this year was Karen Hoover. She was great and the entire group of people have great stories! A big shout out to Chas, Robin, Shelly, Jessica, Brenda and Karen!

From Laura Bingham's YA contemporary class:

YA's are important for teens because we authors can guide them and give them experiences to help them deal with issues they and their friends may be facing.   She gave some great lists that she researched on the internet.  For example:

Top 11 reasons librarians, parents may challenge a YA book:
1-profanity-traditionals and taking the Lord's name in vain
2-sexual activity
3-religion or witchcraft
4-viloence or horror
5-rebellion against parents and authority figures
6- racism and sexism
7-substance use and abuse
8-suicide and death
9-criminal activity
10-crude behavior
11-depressing or negative stories

Sarah Eden's Most Informative Class on Description EVER!

Sarah is funny and just plain entertaining.  She emcee'd the whole conference and she had some really hilarious videos!  I had an epiphany in her class.  When writing description, don't just randomly start describing the surroundings.  Pick something that your character would look at and connect with and describe that thing.  Ta da!  A light went on.  (And I won a cool t-shirt)
Thanks Sarah!

Josi Kilpack's class on launch parties
The best thing I took away from Josi's class is this:  even if you work and sweat to have a book signing or launch and don't sell one single book, you have been meeting people, getting your book in front of people who may tell others or recommend that they purchase your book.  It sounds like hard work, but I'm a believer.

Lunch with friends Cody Kirobi, Mark Greer, Dennis Dorrity(hi dad!) and Devon
Larry Brooks was our keynote speaker.  I took his class on story structure:
His master class was a whirlwind.  I frantically scribbled notes and will have to take some time to absorb it.  He says that our stories need to have a structure before we can begin.  I am what he calls a "pantser"--someone who discovery writes by the seat of their pants.  Because of that, I am on page 200 of my WIP and now that I know where my story is going (finally) I will have to back and start over.  Larry says that if we structure the story first, we won't have to do that 40,000 word exercise.  Duh!  So easy to see now.
Also, Larry was big on telling the difference between your theme and your concept.  The concept should reflect the conflict and propel the reader to the end.  Every scene should have that concept in mind.   Great stuff here.

James Dashner and Jeff Savage gave a class on hooks, as in the hook in your query letter. James and Jeff are such a funny pair and entertaining to listen to.  They suggest that shorter is better when it comes to your hook and make sure it sounds cool. :) The purpose of the hook is to convince the agent or editor to read a chapter.

Elana Johnson's class on Query letters
Elana is super nice and gave a great class on query letters.  She says that the main reason for a query is to entice the agent to read more. Most of what is in the query should be in the first 30 pages of your novel.  And the query should be between 250-300 words long. She broke the letter into four parts and gave advice for each.  I highly recommend her blog posts about query letters.

That's just a skim of what I learned.  Tell me about your classes!