I'm Cecilia. I write as C. J. Brightley, and I'm an indie author specializing in fantasy.
My first novel, The King's Sword, is a gripping first-person narrative of a warrior's honor and a friendship that shapes a nation. When retired, disillusioned soldier Kemen Sendoa finds the young prince fleeing a coup, he wrestles with questions of duty and honor as he reluctantly takes the role of mentor. An outsider, Kemen loves his country but has no place in it. Will he be able to keep the prince alive and carve his own place in the shadow of the crown?
The King’s Sword is nominally a fantasy in that it is set in an alternate world, with its own history and cultures. However, there is no magic or anything particularly fantastic about the world – it’s just different. It's a character-driven story that appeals to a wide range of readers, primarily fantasy but also action/adventure, lit-fic, and mainstream readers as well. It’s not written as young adult, but it’s fairly clean and appropriate for young adult readers. The King's Sword is the first book in the Erdemen Honor series, but it was written to stand alone. You can see a sample on Amazon here.
The second book in the series is A Cold Wind. It's in final edit now and will be published in January.
Since The King's Sword hasn't been out long at all, and A Cold Wind isn't published, neither has had a chance to start earning back the investment in cover art yet. I'm confident that they will, but I'm eager to get Book3 finished and ready for publication as well.
The third book is the one this Kickstarter project is focused on. The money will be used for:
cover art - I'm going to work with the same artist that did the first two covers. He's great to work with, and the covers fit the books so well. ~$250
marketing materials for the series (bookmarks, posters, maybe a book trailer!) ~$150 to start
professional editing! ~$1000 I was very fortunate while writing my first two books. While they were not professionally edited, per se, one of my beta readers was formerly an editor for a small publisher, so I did get an editor's feedback. Unfortunately, due to life and careers and such, we lost touch in the last few years; in the meantime, she's suffered some serious health issues and I don't want to burden her with a serious critique request. She's wonderful, but I don't want to put more on her plate right now. I know Book3 would benefit from an editor's eye as well, but it won't be free this time.
I'm prioritizing as follows: cover art for Book3, at least a start on editing costs, and then marketing materials. I can get Book3 off with a minimum of $500. However, as you can see from the costs above, that's still a huge amount out of pocket for me... so anything over that will be much appreciated and put to good use!
What's in it for you? You get the books! I'll send them directly to you in the ebook format you request. You can also get awesometastic bookmarks and BEAUTIFUL posters! The books make great gifts, too!
Who will like these books? The King's Sword really barely has any female characters at all. It's not for readers who are looking for strong female characters. I read plenty of books like that, but this story isn't one of them. However, I do think women and girls will like the story - it's just not a girl-power book. It's also not a super-fast actiony read-it-in-one-breath book like The Hunger Games or anything. There is action, but it's more a story of discovering the characters by spending time with them. A Cold Wind picks up just after The King's Sword, and here begins the love story. It is not a genre romance, but love is a main storyline, along with friendship, sacrifice, and forgiveness. Guys, don't be turned off... my male beta readers loved this book even more than the first! Book3 is... well, it's leaning toward adventure, love, and survival, but it's not done yet.
I'd say the books are for fans of Guy Gavriel Kay, maybe Carol Berg, the character Captain Alatriste (although my writing is very different than Perez-Reverte's!). They're for readers who like to root for good guys rather than wade through tons of moral ambiguity. There are real moral questions in the books, but there are also good guys and bad guys. I'm not comparing my writing to theirs, but as a reader, I love stories like Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as a lot of more modern books. I like heroes and villains to be heroic and villainous!
What's in it for me, the author? The excitement of knowing that you're hopefully reading and enjoying my books. The incentive of knowing that you're waiting on Book3 to be finished! Hopefully, I'll also get feedback from you on what you liked and didn't like about each book. If you are so inclined, I'd appreciate reviews on Amazon as well!
About the Rewards:
In addition to the novels above, there are also short stories! The short stories Color (~9900 words) and Heroes (~6100 words), and long short story / novella Street Fox (~16,400 words) are set in the same world as the novels above, but much later, during another novel that isn't complete yet. They stand alone, but they contain very minor spoilers, so it's best to read them after whatever novels you receive. Street Fox is a prequel/intro to Book4 and briefly summarizes the ending of The King's Sword. Heroes takes place during Book4. And Color takes place a generation later. None of these has cover art, unfortunately.
All the novels and short stories are available as Kindle/MOBI, epub, or pdf files. If you would like multiples of the ebooks (they make great gifts!), please contribute the appropriate amount ($6 per novel or set of short stories) and just let me know what you need.
If the funding is not achieved in the time limit you will not be charged for your donation, you will not receive your reward bonus and I won't be able to get editing and cover art for Book3. I'll still write it, but it may be a year or more before I can get it published. The King's Sword and A Cold Wind will be available on Amazon. The posters and bookmarks and such will not be produced.
If we reach 100% funding, we're on! Yay!
If we reach a total of $2000, EVERYONE who contributes more than $20 will receive a free short story! Delivered electronically.
Risks and challenges
That you won't like the books:
Hopefully, you will! I've attempted to describe them pretty accurately and fairly, but if you have any questions, please let me know and I'll give more detail.
That I won't finish the third book:
I will! I will do my very best. If I'm absolutely, positively, throw-in-the-towel frustrated with it and think it's a total loss, I'll send everyone who wants it the unfinished version and you can all comment on it and I'll see if your comments on it can help me finish. I'd also bet the editor can help me whip it into shape!
Book3 will probably be the last book in this story arc. The King's Sword stands alone but is also the first in the series. A Cold Wind is a complete story in itself but it builds on TKS and introduces a character near the end that is the second POV character for Book3. Book3 will be similar - it will build on the previous books but it will end in a satisfying conclusion and not on a cliffhanger. Depending on interest and my inspiration, there could be future books, but they aren't planned at this point.
There is a planned duology set in the same world but much later (6-7 generations) with all new characters. There are also short stories that are set in the same world and include some of the same characters, but they can stand alone.
YES! All physical books will be autographed unless otherwise requested. If you'd like it inscribed as a gift, please let me know how the inscription should read.
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