EDIT: 284% funded and 3 stretch goals unlocked - thank you to all for making The Labyrinth of Flame's Kickstarter such a huge success! You are the best. Can't wait to share this book with you.
Welcome to the Kickstarter for The Labyrinth of Flame, the concluding novel in my Shattered Sigil trilogy! If you're already a fan of the series, I'm so excited to bring you this book at last. If you're new to the books, there's no better time to jump into the adventure! Especially if you reside outside of North America. Ebooks for the first 2 novels are not currently available through ordinary channels outside the US & Canada, but for this Kickstarter I've worked out an arrangement that allows me to offer ebooks of all 3 novels to backers regardless of country of residence.
Why a Kickstarter?
I started writing the Shattered Sigil books because I was hungry for more of the fantasy I love to read – stories full of adventure and magic and intrigue. Not a sprawling epic with a huge cast, but rather a tightly focused tale featuring characters whose struggles remain intensely personal even as they’re caught up in larger events. Plus I knew right off I wanted one of my characters to be a climber, so I could combine two of my greatest joys in life: fantasy and mountaineering.
So I wrote the first book of the Shattered Sigil, The Whitefire Crossing, the tale of two young men – one a mountain guide who smuggles illegal charms on the side, the other an apprentice mage trained in the darkest of magics – who are forced into a reluctant partnership while fleeing across a treacherous mountain range. The novel sold to Night Shade Books and was published in 2011. To my delight, readers really enjoyed the book, as well as the sequel, The Tainted City.
But behind the scenes, things weren’t quite so rosy. Night Shade Books was struggling financially. Not long after Tainted City's release, they announced they were headed for bankruptcy. I was terrified the first two books of the Shattered Sigil would vanish into the limbo of bankruptcy court, but I took comfort that I had not yet sold the third and final book to Night Shade. The Labyrinth of Flame was mine alone, and I was determined to write it. I loved my characters and world too much to abandon the series as some publishing professionals advised me to do. Nor did I want to leave readers bereft of a conclusion. (I’ve felt that pain myself far too many times!)
Yet I also wanted The Labyrinth of Flame to be as professional in content and design as the first two books in the series. I thought it'd be great to give readers the option of a physical edition that matched the first two in quality and look, so the trilogy would be a nicely matched set. And I emphatically did NOT want any more roadblocks on the way to publication. No more worrying that publisher problems beyond my control would prevent the book from reaching readers' hands!
That’s why I’m kickstarting The Labyrinth of Flame. I've already written the book. I also hired award-winning artist David Palumbo (who did the cover art for the first two novels) and cover designer Martha Wade, and they've produced a beautiful cover:
I have excellent professional editors and production folks lined up – and a map artist, as I know many series readers have asked for a map, and I think it'll be particularly useful for this third novel. The funds raised through this Kickstarter will go toward hiring these talented people and paying for printing, shipping, taxes, and other fees.
With your help, I can bring you a book that’s the absolute best conclusion to Dev and Kiran's story that I can provide. Even if you're not able to contribute financially, I'll be hugely grateful for help in spreading the word about the series and this Kickstarter!
In the frontier city of Ninavel, haunt of lawless mages and Tainted children, a young mountain guide desperate for money agrees to sneak a wealthy youth across the spell-protected border of a neighboring country – and finds himself caught up in a deadly game of intrigue between rival mages that will decide the city's fate. So begins the Shattered Sigil series, a tale of blood magic, spies, a reluctant but enduring friendship, and a climber's take on wilderness adventure.
Praise for the series
"Best new author I've encountered in ages!" --Janny Wurts, author of the Wars of Light and Shadow series
"Book by book this story is building toward something remarkable. Schafer creates real people on the page that you can invest in then sets them loose in a fascinating and dangerous world. I can't wait to see what happens next, and you shouldn't wait either. Top rank fantasy." --Mark Lawrence, author of the Broken Empire trilogy
"Courtney Schafer has the gift of bringing this reader up to the brink, heart in my throat as I think--no! she's not really going to do that, is she?--and then ruthlessly dropping me over the cliff. That's why I love her books." --Kate Elliott, author of the Spiritwalker trilogy
"Enthralling from the very first page, Schafer's novel lavishes rich characters and refined narrative on to a story of intensely personal scope. Refreshing and brilliant." --New York Times bestselling author Jason M. Hough on The Whitefire Crossing
Stretch Goal 1 – $6000 – UNLOCKED! Short story from POV of character that YOU get to vote on! I'll run a poll for backers covering the secondary characters in the series (Cara, Ruslan, Lizaveta, Mikail, Marten, Lena, Pello, Melly, etc). Vote for your favorite, and I'll write a short story from the POV of the character who wins the poll. PLUS I'll design and print bookmarks using art from the series and include 3 with every trade paperback.
Stretch Goal 2 – $9000 – UNLOCKED! Interior art! I'll commission 3 pieces of interior art to be included in the book. Plus, one lucky backer will have their reward upgraded to the "Ultimate Fan" level! Visit my blog for details.
Stretch Goal 3 – $10,500 – UNLOCKED! I'll commission more interior art, plus write another short story, this one from the POV of the "runner up" character in the short story poll.
Stretch Goal 4 – $13,000 – Adding a goal on the very last day of the Kickstarter means it's time for something silly and fun! Should the Kickstarter miraculously make $13,000, I'll do an interpretive skating program (IN COSTUME) to a song I feel represents The Labyrinth of Flame. (I can only imagine my coach's face if I ask her to choreograph a program about blood mages and mountaineers!) Plus I'll upgrade one more backer's reward to the "Ultimate Fan" level.
Add the following amounts to your reward level to get these extras:
SIGNED BOOKPLATES (ADD $5) –do you already own copies of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City that you wish could be signed? For $5 I'll mail you 3 signed bookplates. (Bookplates are special stickers with art from the books & my signature, that can be placed in the front of books you already own.)
COVER ART PRINTS (ADD $5 EACH, OR $15 FOR TRILOGY SET) – Want to add a print of Dave Palumbo's gorgeous art to your reward tier? For $5 I'll send you an 11x17 print of the art for the book of your choice (Whitefire Crossing, Tainted City, or Labyrinth of Flame). The print will have no logo or words, just the art on premium stock. For $15 you can have a full set of all three books' art!
TRILOGY BUNDLE (EBOOKS): For backers residing in the US or Canada, I will provide gift codes from your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble for ebooks of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City. (This is necessary because Night Shade Books owns the rights to these novels in the US & Canada, so I cannot provide them directly.) I will send The Labyrinth of Flame directly to you as a DRM-free ebook of mobi, epub, & pdf.
For backers residing outside the US & Canada, I will send you by direct email DRM-free copies of all three novels. The ebooks of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City will be text-only, no cover, as they have been reconverted from my original manuscripts and have nothing to do with Night Shade. (Enormous thanks to fellow author Tim Marquitz, whose help made this ebook bundle possible!)
You will receive ebooks of The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City within a few weeks of the Kickstarter finishing. The ebook of The Labyrinth of Flame will be sent as soon as the book has completed the editing and conversion process.
WRITER'S SPECIALS: I'll start critiquing as soon as the Kickstarter ends, on a first come first served basis. When I receive your pages, I'll send you a response with an estimate of how long it'll take me to read them and give you feedback. But you don't have to send pages right away; there's no time limit on the offer. Send 'em when you feel ready, no matter how long that is after the Kickstarter ends.
CLIMBER'S SPECIAL: We'll agree upon a time and place, and you'll need to sign a liability waiver. If climbing in an indoor gym, you'll be responsible for your gym fee and harness/shoe rental. If you can make it to Boulder and would prefer to climb outdoors on top-rope, my husband and I will provide all equipment with the exception of shoes, which can be rented locally.
SKATER'S SPECIAL: We'll agree upon a rink and time of session, and you'll need to sign a liability waiver. You'll be responsible for your session fee & skate rental. No previous skating experience necessary! If you're a beginner, I'll teach you the basics. If you already know the basics, I can work on some fancier moves with you.
OUTRIDER'S APPRENTICE: Colorado's 54 14,000 ft peaks range from simple hikes (e.g. Mt. Bierstadt) to 4th-class climbs (e.g. Mt. Capitol). If you are a novice hiker, please read this discussion of 14er hiking. We will discuss your fitness and experience and settle on a peak, as well as a weekend "window" to attempt it. (Most 14ers can be summitted in a day, but for best chance of good weather it's a good idea to leave some "wiggle room" on the date of ascent.) You'll need to sign a liability waiver. There is no guarantee of making the summit, as that depends on weather and fitness. The Colorado Rockies are notorious for afternoon summer thunderstorms; the best chance of stable weather is in September, or in June if you have the fitness level to handle some snow trekking on the ascent. But even if we must turn around before the summit for safety reasons, you'll enjoy spectacular scenery and an experience you won't soon forget.
Risks and challenges
I have a completed draft of The Labyrinth of Flame in hand that has already gone through one round of revision, so the largest source of risk has been eliminated. I've left myself a solid 6 months to complete the editing and production process, but if unforeseen circumstances arise that will delay delivery of the book past that, I'll communicate with backers immediately and provide a revised delivery estimate.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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