Apologies, readers -- I had to deal with some emergency farm issues and this is making it to you late.  However, I hope you'll be as excited about this discovery as I was.  M.E. Sutton is here today to talk about Storm Clouds, her latest release.  Look at this cover!  It screams, "READ ME!"

Storm Clouds
Hero’s Sword Vol. 2
Publisher: Delabarre Publishing
Date of Publication: April 24, 2013
ISBN: 9781619410558
Genre: fantasy -middle grade

Amazon  Kobo   BN  iBooks

Eighth-grader Jaycee Hiller is beginning to fear she only imagined her trip to Mallory. But when a rainy afternoon leaves her with hours of playing Hero’s Sword, her favorite video game, she finds herself drawn back into the game – literally.

STORM CLOUDS is the exciting second volume of the HERO’S SWORD saga – chronicling Jaycee Hiller’s trials in eight grade, and her exciting adventures in Mallory, the setting of her favorite video game. Jaycee enters the video game realm via a special controller and is caught up in the action of this fantasy realm.

In STORM CLOUDS, a valuable jewel belonging to the neighboring estate of Devin, the Sapphire Star, is missing, stolen at the Fall Consortium. Lady Starla stands accused of the theft. Devin’s demands are clear: return the Star or they will take it back by force.

Now it’s up to Lyla Stormbringer to find the Star and the thief. before Mallory finds itself at war.

M.E. is here today to tell us how the fantasy world of the game parallel or differ from our real world. Here's what she had to say!  Be sure to read all the way through her post -- there's a giveaway at the end!

Whenever you get the opportunity to create a world, you inevitably end up with similarities and differences to the “real world,” no matter if your world is your neighborhood, Middle Earth, or the moon. The world of Hero’s Sword is no exception.

The estates that make up the Empire, essentially the world of Hero’s Sword, look very familiar to real life – if we were living about 600 years ago, that is. The Middle Ages, especially between the 12th and 15th centuries, are a good comparison for the basic world of Hero’s Sword. If you think of rolling countryside, grand manors, quaint towns, and three basic social classes – peasant, townsman, and noble – you’ve to the general idea. It was the time when men wore a lot of steel and women wore elaborate dresses. At least if you had money, that is. If you didn’t, well, your wardrobe was considerably less opulent.

When I think of Mallory, I often picture the French countryside of the times. The roads would be dirt or cobblestone, depending on where you were. Like France at the time, the economy is largely based on agriculture, with large farms dominating the landscape. There would be some trade in the towns – people dealing in cloth, shoes, or spices. And like the fiefdoms in the real world, the common folks would swear loyalty, and pay taxes, to the ruling landowner. In Hero’s Sword these are the estate owners who, although they don’t have titles, fill the same role as those barons and counts of medieval times.

Also like medieval France, the main method of transportation is the horse – either riding one or horse-drawn carts and carriages. Weaponry would be similar – bows and arrows, crossbows, and swords mostly (although I suppose the Imperial army has pikes too).

So if you go to an encyclopedia, or Wikipedia for that matter, and look up “12th century France,” you have a pretty good idea of what Mallory, and any other estate of the Empire, looks like. And yes, I deliberately stayed away from magic in the world of Hero’s Sword – at least anything resembling real magic. Some day people who deal in herbs and healing, and the superstitions that were common to the times, may make an appearance. This is another similarity to “real life,” where you can’t get out of trouble by reciting a spell or drinking a potion.

But what about the differences? Well, if you are comparing Hero’s Sword to modern life, of course things are very different. Both are inhabited by people (as opposed to elves and dwarves), but all of our modern conveniences, such as flushing toilets, running water, or cars, are missing. No firearms either – and I’m not sure if that makes the world of Hero’s Sword more or less “civilized”!

The other major difference is the characters, particularly Jaycee/Lyla. In “real life,” Jaycee Hiller is a girl in eighth grade, about 13 years old. She’s not quite a child, but she’s not an adult either. She has knowledge and skills appropriate to her age and society. She’s probably awesome at working electronics, but if you put a sword in her hand she’d be a bit lost. Not to mention the fact that she wouldn’t be strong enough to swing a very big sword.

Lyla Stormbringer, on the other hand, is definitely older. Not very old, but probably in her mid-20s. She possesses skills at archery and swordsmanship that Jaycee does not – although obviously Jaycee would know how to do those things in a video game. For the purposes of the book, however, Lyla needs to have those skills. Otherwise, she’s not going to be taken seriously – and that definitely wouldn’t work for the book. Because she is older, Lyla also doesn’t have to fight against a natural doubt that a child would be up to the task of saving the lady of the manor or averting war. Of course they trust Lyla, of course she’s capable.

That’s probably the biggest difference between the world of Hero’s Sword and “real” life. In the game, Jaycee is a strong, capable, confident young woman. In “real” life, she’s still kind of a wall-flower, not quite ready to believe she could be a real-world Lyla.

And that’s the question to be answered, not just in Storm Clouds, but in the entire series. What can Lyla teach Jaycee about surviving the real world? And will Jaycee learn those lessons or not?

It should be fun to find out, don’t you think?

Claire:  I do think it should be fun to find out, and I have added this on my list of books for my two boys and I to read together.  Looking forward to it!

Now for the giveaway!!

ME is providing an e-book copy in the winner's choice of format for today's stop.  Leave a comment below!

But that's not all.  There's also a tour-wide giveaway that you can enter through Rafflecopter.  Enjoy folks!!

About the Author:

A software technical writer by day, Mary Sutton has been making her living with words for over a decade. She writes the Hero’s Sword middle-grade fantasy series as M.E. Sutton, and The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series as Liz Milliron. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.

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