Yngvild's story arc on a napkin when we having a coffee in Norway.
My son sketched out Yngvild’s story arc on a napkin when we having a coffee in Norway. (photo: James Kemp)

I’m looking for s few people to beta read the second draft of my YA Fantasy novel, currently titled “Yngvild and the Forest of Dreams“. It started life as my 2016 NaNoWriMo project and has been added to and edited over the last three years.

Inspired by a trip to Bergen in Norway and a box set of Game of Thrones, it’s now in a near complete second draft. Yngvild weighs in at about 70,000 words before it goes into a final edit, then proofreading ahead of publication. I’d really like some people to read it and tell me what they think of it.

Before you send the email volunteering you’ll want to know more about the story. It’s probably only worth being a beta reader of this is the sort of story you would pick up and read anyway. There’s some of the blurb below, and I’ll publish the current draft of the first chapter, Straven, on Christmas Day. That way you can have a look without needing to put your head over the parapet!

About Yngvild and the Forest of Dreams

Map of the places Yngvild visits in the story, inspired by Scotland and Norway
Map of places Yngvild visits, inspired by Scotland and Norway (map: James Kemp)

The story is a medium level Fantasy, magic is real, but not at D&D levels of thousands of people casting spells daily. It’s more ritual, and folk ken than fireballs. Not far off Percy Jackson, although Yngvild is much less annoying (I hope) and it’s set in a less technical time.

The world is drawn on Norse history, but with the gods reimagined to suit my premise (and also to give me more freedom to make things up). It’s based on approximately late 17th century technology but excluding gunpowder firearms. So I’ve tried to imagine how things might be where the Vikings evolved to be traders, along the lines of the Hansa. They’ve got a massive trade empire, with influence everywhere, but not direct control.

In this world Heroes are descended from the Gods, and they do extraordinary things. Yngvild is a shepherd living in an isolated fishing community on the Western edge of civilization. The story is the events that uncover her heritage as a hero, and her early adventures reacting to them. Her best friend, Noren, is also a hero, both having been hidden away from the world by Old Bjorn until they were old enough.

New Title for Yngvild?

I’m not wedded to the title, in fact I’d like a new one. If anyone wants to suggest a better one that would be welcome. I’ll reward whoever gives me a title that gets used with a signed paperback and a name check in the acknowledgement of the final version when it’s published.

Cover

This is a working cover made by the wattpad cover app. It’s not the one that will be used. I’m hoping to commission someone to do a painting of Yngvild wearing her armour standing in a forest. Although if I change the title I might change that idea.

Back Cover Blurb

Yngvild and Noren have grown up as ordinary kids in a fishing village on the west coast of Skyss. They’ve learnt to look after themselves in the harsh winters and to look after others.

In their eighteenth year Noren is one of the taller members of his boats crew. No other member of his crew can row as long as he does. At the annual fishermeet he won the net throwing competition against all comers.

Yngvild is nicknamed ‘the Fierce’. At the age of 14 she helped see off some raiders by bouncing a practice arrow off the helmet of their leader, twice. She’s a reserve on the boat crew and looks after the sheep. Yngvild and Noren are more than just friends, her mission is to get Noren to acknowledge this, and then do something about it.

The community is lead by Old Bjorn, who is unspeakably ancient, with pure white hair. No-one knows exactly how old he is. Yngvild and Noren have both grown up in his household, Noren being a foundling.

Fate has other plans. Noren is not the foundling he believes that he is. Secrets kept for nearly two decades are about to be revealed, and the consequences may be international. Who knows what will happen when Yngvild and Noren find out their true heritage…

Questions for Yngvild’s Beta Readers

There are a few things I’d particularly like beta readers to tell me

  • Where did you lose interest, and why?
  • Did you find any of the characters relatable? If so which ones.
  • Are there scenes that didn’t make sense, or weren’t driving things forward?
  • What did you enjoy, and why?
  • What did you like least, and why?
  • Does the expectation set by title and blurb match what you read?
  • Did the inner dialogue work for Yngvild?
My visualisation of the story arc for Yngvild (image: James Kemp)

My objective with the beta reading is to get wider perspectives on this, and to judge what I need to change before I engage a professional editor on they story. Any feedback is useful, and I’d rather people tell me what they didn’t like, constructively, than just told me it was fab. I can get my family to tell me how fantastic it is.

I’m also trying to find out who the audience might be. So if you’ve read anything broadly similar that you’d recommend do please let me know. I’ve got a short list, but I can’t be sure it’s comprehensive.

Anyway, if you think you’d like to help, drop me a line. My email is james@ the blog domain.

Thank you.