More Classic Fantasies to Read

There are some fantasy books that all readers and writers of fantasy should read: for the story, for the writing sample.  Looking back at my past posts on classic fantasy fiction I’ve noticed something.  All my suggestions are for middle grade/young adult fantasy books.  Since that’s the kind of fiction I enjoy writing, that must be why I enjoy reading it most, also.

One classic fantasy book to read is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,  which was written by Robert O’Brien back in 1971.  It was a Newbery award winner.  (After O’Brien’s death, his daughter wrote two more books about the rats of NIMH.)  This is the story of a brave, widowed field mouse who becomes involved with an escaped colony of laboratory enhanced rats.  Like people, not all the rats are good. The absorbing and often harrowing fantasy offers a choice between good and evil, technology and the rhythms of nature.  There was a movie made from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  Watch it if you wish, but remember that movies are never as good as the books from which they are made.

Another children’s fantasy classic is The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall, 1987, which was a Newbery honor winner.  The Minnipins (groups of small people living in a river valley) are having a contest to see which village shows the Minnipin character best.  Each village is determined to “put their best foot forward” and elders set forth new rules for the villagers to show themselves in the best light to the contest judges.  I remember that when I first read this book, I was struck by the emphasis on comformity by the majority in the village where our main characters live.  When five Minnipins refuse to conform to the new edicts, they are exiled from the village.  In their sojurn in the mountains, they discover that an ancient enemy is preparing to attack.  When the elders of the village refuse to listen to their warnings, the exiles courageously decide to save the village themselves.  I haven’t seen this book around for a while, but for fantasy lovers, it is well worth a read.  Carol Kendall also wrote a sequel, which is even less well known, but is also good book to read:  The Whisper of Glocken, A Novel of the Minnipins.  Both books are available on Amazon.

So there you have another two wonderful fantasy books for your reading pleasure.  If you would like to see my previous recommendations, they are here, here, and here.

 

 

Holiday Happiness- Reunion of Souls is Now on Sale

It’s really quite simple- today the third installment in the Judgement’s Tale epic is on sale and available at Amazon. If you’ve been following the saga of Solemn, Treaman, Cedrith, Natasha and the others this is where the plot thickens. If you haven’t yet started, then the opening chapter Games of Chance is now just 99 cents!

What a great way to use those gift cards you received yesterday- zero clutter, zero carbon emissions, and you never have to feed an e-book or change its box, it’s always there for you when you get a chance to read.

Again, a blessed holiday season to all!

Book Blast! Southwell and Finaughty’s “Doorway to Destiny” is Available Today

Regular readers of this site will recall TC Southwell and Vanessa Finaughty, the South African author-duo who write across the fantasy and sci-fi divide. Today we’re proud to alert our readers that their joint offering Doorway to Destiny is now available. I hope you will take the time to explore the fine work of these two authors, including their latest.

Doorway to DestinyAnthology Description:

This collection of eleven fantasy and science fiction novels and two anthologies will transport you to strange and exciting worlds to share in the tragedies and triumphs of complex yet endearing heroes and heroines. Discover the gripping works of authors TC Southwell and Vanessa Finaughty and be swept away by magical adventures, epic battles and futuristic voyages to unknown universes. Learn how a vengeful assassin reshapes the fate of three kingdoms and share in a quest to discover the origins of mankind, then follow the tale of a young queen’s fight to be free with the aid of a combat cyborg. Two short story anthologies spice up the fare with dragons, sorcerers and magic galore, and a child of another god strives to save his world from mankind’s ravages. When a mortal dark god treads a tragic path as he rises to destroy the Overworld, a brave young girl risks her life to try to change his savage ways. Each hero and heroine takes a definitive step through a doorway to destiny as he or she seeks to right wrongs and save worlds.

 

Doorway to Destiny links

Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Price: 99c for a limited time only

About TC Southwell

TCSouthwell2T. C. Southwell was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the Seychelles when she was a baby. She spent her formative years exploring the islands – mostly alone. Naturally, her imagination flourished and she developed a keen love of other worlds. The family travelled through Europe and Africa and, after the death of her father, settled in South Africa.

T. C. Southwell has written over thirty fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as five screenplays. Her hobbies include motorcycling, horse riding and art, and she is now a full-time writer.

Links

Author website
Author blog
Twitter
Facebook

 

About Vanessa Finaughty

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESVanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.

Links

Author website
Author blog
Twitter
Facebook

Debbie Mumford Release: TALES OF TOMORROW

I’m thrilled to announce that WDM Publishing has released a new SPUN YARNS collection: TALES OF TOMORROW!

TALES OF TOMORROWTofT Cover-2x3
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Science Fiction | Short Story Collection

From science fiction to the edge of fantasy, this collection of five short stories includes, two “right around the corner” tales (“Wakinyan’s Valley” and “Beneath and Beyond”), one far flung space odyssey (“Astromancer”), and two stories of future families (“Izzie” and “Spinning”).

Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

missign in acti… I mean NaNo

It seems like we lost at least one of our members to NaNoWriMo or some other disease like that. Thus, I’m jumping in — oh no, it’s my turn after all. Since I’m doing NaNo myself, I’m not entirely sure what to talk about. It seems most of the words I’m familiar with have drained into my current writing project. Writing 50,000 words in one moth is tedious if they have to make sense at the end. I’m sure many a secretary will be able to write much more than that, but keep in mind that most participants have a full time job on top of this.

So why then do we participate in this craziness? Why do some of us get so absorbed that they forget to feed their kids or shovel the dirt out of the house? It is because (pick your answer) we’re crazy, the community is incredibly supportive, we need to finish the current project and were missing the drive, everyone does it, it’s fun, of any other reason we can come up with to avoid laundry, cooking, cleaning and a 9-5 job. We also might be doing it for no apparent reason at all.

So, if this blog is a little bumpy during Novembers, you’ll know that at least some of us gave in to our yearly dose of craziness. Be gentle with us. After all, we’ll reward you with more releases as soon as the mess we made during NaNo is cleaned u.. I mean revised. Thanks for understanding.

Hug an Author — Write a Review!

The great thing about independent publishing is that there’s an opportunity for anyone to publish a book. But with so many new books getting published all the time, it’s hard for indie authors to get our books to stand out. The first step is to make sure that our books are as good as we can possibly make them, spending months or even years polishing every sentence. But once that wonderful book is out in the world, how do we get anyone to notice it?

The best way is old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Someone reads our book and they enjoy it, so they tell a friend, who gets interested and decides to read the book, too. With the Internet, this can happen even faster, because you can recommend a book and have a lot of people all around the world see that recommendation. Book distributors like Amazon and social sites like Goodreads have made this process even easier by offering simple tools for anyone to rate and review books. Now, it’s not just critics who have a platform for voicing their opinions about the latest novels. You can read reviews written by readers just like you to help find books that you could enjoy. But it’s been estimated that only 1-5% of all readers write any reviews.

When you write a review, you help the author by drawing attention to their book. You also help other readers find the book and figure out if it’s for them. If you say, for example, “I loved how the cat helped solved the mystery!”, then cat-lovers will know to pick the the book up–and people who don’t like cats may realize that it’s not for them. Reviews are subjective, but they still help describe the book and inform potential readers.

There are guides out there about how to write a good review, but you don’t need to be an expert on anything to write a good review. Just describe what you liked or didn’t like in the story that you read. Often the most helpful reviews are a mix of both positive and negative comments. Remember to add details. Don’t just say “I loved it!” or “I hated it!”, describe why you had that reaction.

Sometimes, you may not love the book you just read. It’s okay to say so. (It’s not okay to attack the author personally, but you’re allowed to be honest about the book itself.) Some people don’t feel comfortable posting negative reviews, and that’s okay, too. But as authors, it’s our job to accept some criticism, and if we listen to all our feedback (good or bad), that can help us to grow in our storytelling abilities. And don’t be scared off by horror stories of authors who lashed out at a negative review–it has happened, but it’s rare (and you should report any author who harasses you).

In the end, our books succeed because of the readers who love them. Writing a review is a nice way to thank the author for the hard work they did so you would enjoy the story. Reviews have been compared to giving a hug to an author, and that’s how I feel about them, too. I love to write for myself, but I publish my stories because I know people are entertained by them. And every review I get reminds me that somewhere out there, I made someone smile.

November Means NaNo

…and I don’t mean tiny technology!

November means NaNoWriMo for many writers. If you’re participating, congratulations and good luck! If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here. You might find you want to play along this year and join the fun for real next year!

I’m not a registered participant this year, but I’ve won the challenge several times in the past. My Deb Logan novel, Faery Unexpected, came out of a NaNo experience, as did my Sorcha’s Children novel Dragons’ Choice. It’s a great program and a fabulous way to kick-start a daily writing habit.

If you’re doing the challenge, you’re firmly into your second week, and you may find yourself flailing a bit. “I don’t want to write today” or “I don’t know know what happens next” are frequent complaints as you move toward the middle of the month. In fact, you may be reading this post in silent protest, a rationalization (“I’m finding tips about NaNo”) as a form of procrastination.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re here, but here are a few thoughts that may help you disconnect from the Internet and return to your work-in-progress.

First, don’t wait for inspiration. Just start typing and have faith that your muse will show up for work. Much as I love the rush of adrenaline and words that come from an inspired writing session, I’ve discovered that when I read back through my finished draft, I can’t tell which passages were inspired and which were harder than slogging uphill in thigh-deep snow. Get the words on the page. You can revise later, but you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

Not sure where your story should go from here? Try some of these tips:

  • Whatever is happening, escalate the challenges your characters are facing. Do that by:
    • Deepening the conflict — make it more personal to the character. If your detective is searching for a rapist, let him discover that the victim lives in the same dorm, on the same floor, as the detective’s daughter. Is his little girl on the rapist’s radar?
    • Broadening the conflict — give the conflict a wider scope. Maybe your detective is searching for a missing girl and discovers the MO repeated across the city, perhaps across the state. How many girls are missing? Are they still alive? Is this a serial killer or perhaps a white slaver ring? How wide do the ripples of this crime extend?
  • You’ve got conflict (Yay!), now be sure you’re varying it! Don’t have your character fight the same battle over and over again, just against different foes. He was in a death-defying battle against a goblin, then he fought an orc and narrowly escaped death, next he was attacked by troll — yawn. Been there. Done that. Here’s a list of types of conflict. See how many you can pack into that middle you ‘re trying not to let sag!
    • Man vs Nature — Mother Earth can present some pretty extreme challenges!
    • Man vs Man — yep, we all understand that one!
    • Man vs Society — Hunger Games, anyone?
    • Man vs Self — Is your hero a tortured soul?
    • Man vs God — Talk about a powerful adversary…
    • Romance — lots of potential conflict there–enough for its own genre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a little romantic conflict into your police procedural.
  • Avoid quick rescues — this is one I struggle with. I like my characters, but I know I need to toss them into conflict. So I do it. I throw them to the lions … and then immediately pull them out of harm’s way! *whew* Conflict generated, but danger avoided. Bad writer, Debbie! Don’t rescue that character, make the lions hungrier!

Whatever happens, you’ve embarked on a challenging, but rewarding, journey! Go for the win and keep those words flowing. At the very least, you’ll arrive in December with lots of ideas and a habit of writing every day. No matter what :D

More Fantasy Classics

Fantasy.  It’s what I gobbled up as a child and young adult.  I still love to read fantasy.  Much of the current fantasy trends dark to very dark and I prefer something with a more upbeat ending.  I like the good guys and gals to win and the bad ones to get their just deserves.  Hardships may abound, but not excessive blood and gore.  The classic Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper is just my cup of tea.   This features the age old struggle between Light and Dark with children as the main characters fighting the battles for the sake of the entire world. These classic stories are deeply rooted in the rich heritage of Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology. Susan Cooper depicts a world in which the forces of evil, however terrifying, are ultimately seen as hollow and valueless in comparison to the forces of good. This is a five book series, written in the 1980s, set in Wales and England, but each book can stand alone.  If one happens to pick up a book out of order, they still make an excellent story.  I recommend that you read them in order:

1.  Over Sea, Under Stone

2. The Dark is Rising

3. Greenwitch

4. The Gray King

5. Silver on the Tree

There are six children as the main characters in these books, but the last book is the only one with all six in it.

The Dark is Rising was a Newbery Medal Honor winner.  The Gray King was a Newbery Medal Winner.  They are easily found in print.  In fact, in addition to the usual book outlets, the Folio Society has a set bound in buckram and The Easton Press has a matched set for sale.  If you have never read them, do yourself a favor and buy a set.  I recommend them for fifth grade through adult.

How to Create Original Fantasy Creatures & Beings

Guest post by Vanessa Finaughty, author of the Wizard’s End Series available below!

ryokinThere are as many ways to create original fantasy creatures as there are creatures to be created. I still love my dragons and elves, and other familiar fantasy creatures, but it’s always good to add an original flair to your fantasy stories, something that has the potential to make readers sit back and think, wow, that’s cool!

There are no hard and fast rules to restrict your imagination, but here are some tips if you aren’t sure where to start:

Use existing creatures – fantasy or real life – and add fresh attributes. How much you alter the existing creature/being is entirely up to you. You could take the attributes of a lion or dragon, for example, and create a new physical appearance that looks nothing like the original creature/being. In my Legends of Origin sci-fi fantasy series, the magical ryokin’s physical appearance comes largely from the extinct sabre-tooth tiger – except the ryokin has golden fur with no stripes, and massive wings that enable it to fly. It’s also an intelligent, telepathic being despite its animal appearance. In the short story, Ereolon’s Day of Demons (part of the Sorcery & Subterfuge anthology), the main character is a winged elf – with ogre genes and the ability to bend others’ minds to his will.

Create something solely from your imagination. This can be difficult, but it’s definitely worth it if you do it right. You don’t need to add too many details either, if what you’re creating is a common animal that’s minor to your story. For example, I created a few animals for Wizard of Ends. There are gabbertok, which are dangerous night creatures with slanted yellow eyes that usually live in the woods. The females are protective over their young, but the males will eat their own offspring if the mother is not around. I also created ferocious hound monkeys, which have the bodies of hounds and torsos of monkeys, with sharp, curved teeth and deadly claws. They stand man height on all fours and travel in packs of ten. Each of these has a few more attributes, but nothing too detailed, because they are only there to add flavour to the story.

Visualise the creature or being you’re describing. It might sound okay as you write, but that doesn’t mean it won’t look ridiculous. Unless your story is humorous, you probably don’t want the visuals you give readers to make them laugh.

Eye abstract background

Consider how common fantasy creatures might evolve over a few million years and create the evolved version. You can use any creature/being from dragons and elves to ogres and unicorns, and everything in between.

Other Tips:

When creating your fantasy creature or being, consider some of the following:

* Is it weak or strong? If it’s weak, how does its species survive? If it’s strong, does it dominate the region and, if not, why?
* What temperament does it have?
* Does it have any special abilities?
* What colour are its eyes and skin?
* What texture is its skin?
* Does it have hair? If it has hair, what colour is it, and is it soft or coarse?
* Is its kind social or solitary?
* How does it reproduce? Eggs? Live birth? Other?
* Where does it usually make its home?
* What does it eat?
* What do its teeth look like?

Also, when naming your creature or being, try to keep the name simple and easy to say. There’s nothing worse than reading a fantasy story only to be constantly interrupted as you battle to ‘say’ the name in your mind each time you read it in the book.

I hope this post helps some fellow fantasy authors. Happy writing!

Thanks Vanessa, good advice to get started! Vanessa Finaughty’s new series, “The Wizard of Ends” is out this month and you can get them through the links provided here.

Wizard of Ends Book  I

WoE 1A powerful sorceress wants the Queen of Ends dead, hoping her demise will render the king unable to defend his crown. Only the wizard Lashlor Leaflin is in a position to protect Queen Narraki Dragonsbane, but he avoids using magic – at almost any cost. With creatures of darkness hunting the queen, however, he may be left with little choice but to call on the power he holds within.

Wizard of Ends Book II: Dark Creature

The Queen of Ends has been cursed into a rabid creature of darkness. Only Lashlor’s old flame, Rune Arcana, might be able to remove the curse. Lashlor believes he can find Rune in the WoE 2Mountains of Eclador. The only trouble is – Rune now despises him, and, in all of recorded history, no one has ever returned from these mountains. Fearing the Wizard of Ends will not be able to bring help, the king goes against Lashlor’s advice by enlisting the aid of other magic users.

 

Author biography

Vanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES         {This is Vanessa…}       

Vanessa Finaughty2{…and this is Vanessa on Fantasy}

{ANY QUESTIONS??}

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.

Links

Author blog
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook
Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes & Noble

Publication dates

Wizard of Ends, Book 1: 9 October 2014
Wizard of Ends, Book 2: Dark Creature: 23 October 2014

 

New Release: GHOSTS AND GHOULIES

I’m proud to announce that WDM Publishing has released my alter-ego’s first SPUN YARNS collection: GHOSTS AND GHOULIES! Just in time for Halloween, too :D

GHOSTS AND GHOULIESG&G Cover-2x3
by Deb Logan
Audience: Juvenile  | Short Story Collection

Spooky, supernatural stories for younger readers. This collection of five short stories includes a ghost story (“Lilah’s Ghost”), two urban fantasy tales (“Demon Daze” and “School Daze”), and two stories of dragons and faeries (“Deirdre’s Dragon” and “Lexie’s Choice”).

Ghosts and Ghoulies and Dragons, Oh My!

Electronic Edition Publication Date: October 2014
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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