Thoughts on Genre

I’ve been thinking about genre recently. The genres I prefer to read…and the genres I choose to write.

I know the defining characteristics of genre. I can tell the difference between fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. I can even tell when they overlap (I’ve been reading a very good series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch which melds science fiction with mystery. If you haven’t met Retrieval Artist Miles Flint, I highly recommend you do so quickly :D ), but where in the story does genre reside?

Let’s look at the bare bones of a story: A character – in a setting – with a problem.

What part of that equation represents genre? I’m going to posit that genre resides in the setting.

The character has to be relatable to the reader, someone the reader can identify with and care about. Even if the character is an alien, s/he has to have enough “humanity” to allow the reader inside his/her skin. So, genre doesn’t reside in character.

The problem also has to be relatable. Something the reader understands and can identify with. So no matter the genre, the problem must be of a common enough nature to allow the reader to care whether or not the character solves it. Nope, the problem (plot) doesn’t represent genre.

Setting is where genre resides. Science fiction settings are vastly different from fantasy settings. Mysteries can take place in a sci-fi or fantasy setting, but then they aren’t classified as mysteries (unless the setting is so minimally sci-fi as to make it almost invisible – JD Robb’s “In Death” series fits this bill).

Romance is character-centric with the essential element residing in relationship, but romance also transcends all the genres. You name a genre, and there’s a romance sub-genre covering it.

So, setting, and how the character understands and interacts with the setting, is where genre resides.

In order to write science fiction, an author doesn’t have to be a scientist. S/he just needs to imagine a rich enough world (setting) for the reader to know that the characters don’t live on our planet / in our time / or within our current understanding of the physical universe.

Back to the bones of story:  A character the reader can identify with (thereby gaining access to the story) – in a setting (which determines the genre) – with a problem (which defines the plot).

What do you think?

Fairy Tale Retellings

Fairy tales were the first stories I read on my own, and I loved them. My favorite is an obscure tale called “The Spiderhans” and it tells the story of a girl who defeat a giantess to get her cow back. Simultaneously, she rescues a cursed prince. I like it so much because in contrast to a lot of the more traditional fairy tales, the main character is female… and spunky.

So it seems no surprise that I started writing retellings of my favorite stories. I already covered “Snow White and Rose Red”, “The Beauty and the Beast”, “Rumpelstiltskin” (was published by German publisher some time ago) and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Currently, I’m working on “Brother and Sister” by the Brothers Grimm. When I thought about possible publication, I searched the Internet and guess what I found? Fairy tale retellings seem to be rather popular.

I also re-discovered an author who I love to read. She writes very interesting and often twisted versions of fairy tales and novels that resemble fairy tales. Her name is Danyelle Leafty. She’s already published several novels. I can only recommend her books to anyone who likes this kind of story. her most recent short story is “Curious Leaf” where a flower wants to fly. You can read a free excerpt here.

If you read the excerpt, let me know what you think (I loved the story. It’s very poetic), and while you’re at it, please tell me your favorite fairy tale. I might get around to twisting it once I’m done with my current WIPs. :D

 

We proudly present…

William L. Hahn’s

Games of Chance
Part One of Judgement’s Tale

cover art for Games of Chance

Will and I have been working toward this goal for a few weeks already (of course Will worked much longer – read his last post and you’ll know what I mean). Since I had the pleasure of reading the whole novel, parts 1 to 4, I can only say that this is one of the few Epic Fantasy books I really, really enjoyed. Every single word is there for a purpose. I couldn’t find a single boring place (only one with an infodump but that’s long been corrected).

Go to amazon and order your copy right away.

About the Book:
For twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered from their Heroes’ peace, but suffer now from their absence as a curse thickens over the central kingdom known as the Percentalion. An immortal omniscient conspirator schemes to escape the extra-worldly prison restraining his tide of undeath, using a demonic ally in a plot to bring back hell on earth. Solemn Judgement steps onto these Lands both a stranger and an orphan, driven to complete the lore his father died to give him.

In a world beset with increasing chaos, the bravest Children of Hope must take mortal risks. A young woodsman’s spear-cast, a desperate bid to save his comrades; the Healers Guildmistress’ cheery smile, hiding a grim secret and a heavy burden of guilt; the prince of Shilar’s speech in a foreign tongue, a gambit to avoid bloodshed or even war. As a new generation of heroes, scattered across the kingdoms, bets their lives and more, Solemn Judgement- soon to be known as The Man in Grey- must learn to play… Games of Chance: Part One of Judgement’s Tale

Of Magna Carta and Magnum Opus

In just two weeks, give or take, my greatest chronicling effort to date will start to unroll before the world as Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance hits the internet equivalent of the shelves.

And last week, following rare in-person meetings with my business colleagues in the UK, I took a completely uncharacteristic walkabout in the countryside north of London near the site of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

Think these two events are completely unrelated? How little you know me.

Business and Pleasure

In England this is called a hotel. Anywhere else, a castle.

In England this is called a hotel. Anywhere else, a castle.

Alleged Real World first. I was moping all the way to England for my business trip- no money, no way (I figured) to see any sights in a land of one hundred castles, and– this is the key– no idea where my business meetings were taking place. I  only knew Egham as the town that had my company’s offices, and also MI-6 (the British Secret Service) in it, somewhere. Turns out, Egham is the town next door to Runnymede. As in, the unknown field where King John had to put his Hancock on it eight centuries ago. My boss, unlucky fellow, was with me in the cab on the way in; I shout, “Look, there’s a memorial to the signing of the Magna Carta!”. He’s French, says “what ees thees magna carta?” No escape! I had him for ten minutes, poor devil, on and on about John Lackland and the barons, forced to sign a charter promising not to do naughty things anymore just to scrape up money. And over the years, that backroom deal between two dozen feudal lords somehow came to stand for the immutable rights of every British citizen, and on beyond that to all the rights of man.EuropeGoBargingB

My boss finally escaped the cab, but I was already determined- me, the guy who never exercises anymore, the dope who gets sore the day after playing golf ON THE WII- I was going to have my British sight-seeing vacation on foot. I went on a walkabout through scenic, charming Runnymede, got up close and personal with memorials to that famous signing and others. I walked for MILES. Me! Channeling Lewis and Tolkein, strolling through rural England and ruminating deep thoughts in search of historical markers. And the weather was perfect, I mean just cool enough, no humidity, bright sunshine, and a breeze that blew energy into you. I could have walked across the island. I stopped part-way along, folded my hands and thanked God for saving me from my own torpid idiocy.

So then, how is the signing of the Great Charter in any way similar to the release of another epic fantasy tale? Am I really going to try and convince you that my next book is some kind of milestone of world history?

My answer- it depends which world you mean.

Adventurous Times

In the Lands of Hope, I started watching a time where things were beginning to happen after a long period of peace and prosperity. The Age of Adventure was first signaled around 1992 (ADR, their SavillCt3calendar) with an incredible act of stealth unheard of since the days of the heroes millennia ago (see Three Minutes to Midnight). I spent a lot of time examining things that were going on in late 1995-6 when the curse lying over the Percentalion (the Land of One Hundred Castles in my world) was finally lifted. A band of despised adventurers was a big part of that wondrous deed, you meet them in this tale. So yes, history pivots on the events set down here, and all the other tales I’ve published come later, largely because of them.

But there was another character, just before that time, one everybody knew as The Man in Grey. I saw Solemn Judgement first, even before I saw the Lands of Hope. The image of this grim, erudite, reserved and skillful pariah was always clearly before me, more than thirty years ago. Everywhere that things went wrong, wherever adventurers argued about the best solution while “regular” folk moaned about the good old days, there he was; stalking briefly in and out again, a few words, a few blows, a miracle, and then gone. No hesitation, no explanations, and nobody sorry to see him leave, to resume his mysterious walkabout across an entire continent.UK_Windsor

But he never left my mind. Before I go any further, let me reassure you- my lovely wife is very knowledgeable about all manner of mental problems and keeps a close eye on me. If she ever says I need to put on the looonng sleeved cardigan, I will; just let me out for an hour a day to write some more, because that’s the only way Solemn Judgement leaves me alone.

My entire adult life I have worked in some way to placate him. Like him, every stitch of my clothing is a shade of ash, slate, charcoal or steel. Though much older than he, I feel a kinship now that my hair is coming to match the outfits. But these gestures do little to put him off, year in and year out- in my mind he is always standing there, not saying a word but only looking on me with that serious face that clearly says “what should be done”.

So I have done it. This is literally his tale, the story of how he came to the Lands and what drives him to be the way he is. Against all odds, against nearly everyone he meets, Judgement is determined to do what is needful. A mighty river of other peoples’ lives flows in one direction, but only he can swim, and chooses to fight the current. Nothing deters him; as he pressed on against undead and demonic foes, so too he bore down on my mind all those years. And as his story finally comes out, Judgement wins, over endless enemies and feckless friends alike. But if I know him, it will merely mean another task, more adventure that needs doing, and then needs telling.

Hoookayy then. What about the connection? You still don’t see it?

More than They Seem

Baht rrRicharhd!-, after oll, I am your brrrothah.

Baht rrRicharhd!-, after oll, I am your brrrothah.

John got in trouble because he was supposed to be a king and was doing such a LOUSY job. Notice there’s no number after his name? Eight centuries and no queen has dared try the most common of English names, there will probably never

Paid for by the US Bar Association. Rough Translation: Thanks for all the jobs

Paid for by the US Bar Association. Rough Translation: Thanks for all the jobs

be another John of England. A few of his barons finally made him sit down and put it in writing before they’d leave him alone- the Great Charter was a private deal, just to stave off immediate rebellion, and only later came to be seen as this mystical guarantee of the rights of every English peasant, and every citizen of the Alleged Real World. Not to mention the whole bad-guy-in-Robin-Hood-thingie, which was a bum rap but too fun to correct. Safe to say the Magna Carta became a much bigger thing with time. But John didn’t give a damn- he was just out for some peace.

And so it is for me. A few heroes, one especially, have been pressing me day and night for thirty years because I’m the guy, the sole chronicler of The Lands of Hope charged to tell their tales. And I’ve sucked at it. William Lack-hand, until recently: it’s no accident I chose July 4th for my first publishing date back in 2011. Writing for me is about shedding chains. With this magnum opus, the work of my lifetime I seriously believe, I’ve made a bargain with the leader of the rebels. His story starts. You can read it for yourself. Perhaps history in later years will make much of this beginning, more than I or Solemn ever intended. Hey, they only made seven copies of the Great Charter, I should be able to beat that! But Judgement takes no notice of what others think of him. Soon now, like John my name will be on it, my debt to him discharged, and perhaps he will leave me be awhile.

Cover Reveal- Games of Chance

If you’ve followed the tour, you’ve seen the cover already. I love the elemental simplicity- a pen and a sword, I wonder if they will come into play at some point. And if you haven’t seen the tour yet… LoHI_JT_GoC_Cover_front

 

The Games of Chance blog ride is in full gallop with original material (only one repeated post in the lot). If you haven’t seen it I have an itinerary here which I will update as the links go live. Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance will be on sale July 4th at Amazon.

Games of Chance Blog Tour Itinerary

LoHI_JT_GoC_Cover_frontIn case you rode in late, here’s an updated list of the sites visited by the blog tour for Judgement’s Tale Part One: Games of Chance in June 2014. This tour preceded the release of Games of Chance on July 4th. It’s a who’s-who of cool fantasy authors and bloggers who are helping shape the internet and the indie publishing world- I’m privileged to have been a guest on these sites.

As they go live I will update the schedule with specific links: check back here if you missed a day or want to revisit a topic from an earlier post.

Ar Aralte! (Hope Forever)

DATE     HOST           TOPIC

6-14-14             Tracy Falbe, Her Ladyship’s Quest

Chapter One Podcast- the first meeting with Solemn Judgement, in the chronicler’s voice

6-15-14             Karen Woodward

Being a Writer: What Does it Take and Where Will it Take You?- advice to writers? Maybe good for a chuckle!

6-16-14             Lori Fitzgerald, White Raven Writing

Introduction to Prince Gareth of Shilar- one of the main characters of the novel makes his debut appearance.

6-17-14            Katharina Gerlach

Introduction to Solemn Judgement- the title character, known to the Lands as the Man in Grey, on his first day an orphan and alien

6-18-14             Susan Stuckey, Kalieri Tales

Author Interview- the one and only for this tour, not for lack of trying!

6-19-14               Day Off, Resting the Tour-Horse

6-20-14             Daniel Marvello, The Vaetra Files

  Magic and Miracles in the Lands of Hope- a view of one background element of the world setting, for the enthusiast

6-21-14              Sher A. Hart, Written Art

An Interview with Solemn Judgement- or as close as anyone can get to such a thing

 6-22-14             Mathew Reuther

An Interview with (not About) Cedrith Fellareon- the tale’s principal guide to the mind of Solemn Judgement discusses his protege

 6-23-14                Matt Graybosch, A Day Job and a Dream

Technology and Despair- the bad guys don’t show mercy, and they’ve got better stuff!

 6-24-14                Robin Lythgoe, The Series that Snuck Up on Me- because all my stories are going to connect eventually

6-25-14                 Peter Cruikshank, Introduction to Treaman the Woodsman- one of the main protagonists revealed, and already fighting for his life

6-26-14                 Karin Gastreich, How to Write about Combat- you could say I struggled with this one…

6-27-14                 Mysti Parker, World Building on the Sly-a familiar topic for me, am I actually getting subtle in my elder years?

6-28-14                  L. Blankenship, Character Interview with Cedrith Fellareon- a major supporting character, talking about anyone other than himself of course

 

Fantasy Classics to Read: Part Two

My last post was about C.S. Lewis and his classic Chronicles of Narnia.  Today I’d like to talk about another excellent author that has stood the test of time: Madeleine L’ Engle.   The first book in her Time series, A Wrinkle in Time, won a Newbery Medal, the Sequoyah Book Award, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. It was also rejected by at least 26 publishers!   When it was finally published in 1962, it  has been in print ever since.  The next four books in the series are: The Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

In A Wrinkle in Time  science and mysticism are twined together as Meg Murry and her brother search for their father.  He is a government scientist and has gone missing while working on a project called tesseract.  A tesseract is revealed to be a way of time/space traveling in seconds by folding time and space, hence the title. Meg must learn to fight evil with love instead of hate to rescue her father and her young brother.

L’ Engle has written this series of books with memorable characters, vivid descriptions, and through it all, she celebrates family, friends, life, and love.  Supposedly these are children’s books.  However, I highly recommend them for all ages.  If you love to read fantasy, try this series.

SPUN YARNS: Love In A Flash

My publisher recently launched a new Imprint: Spun Yarns.

Spun Yarns features collections of short stories, from flash fiction to romance to science fiction.

I thought I’d celebrate my first Spun Yarns collection, LOVE IN A FLASH, by sharing one of its stories. Enjoy!Flash

LOVE IN A FLASH
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Romance | Sweet | Short Stories

A collection of romantic Flash fiction stories—complete tales told in less than a thousand words. Each of these seven jewels presents the exhilaration of budding romance. Experience the thrill of discovery with Love in a Flash!

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

 

The Eyes Have It

Amy Davidson forced herself to look away from Brett Rawlings’ beautiful, dark eyes. Lord, have mercy, she thought as she bent to adjust his riding helmet. It’s a good thing you’re only five. I could lose myself in eyes like those.

“Will you be observing his session today, Mrs. O’Rourke?” Amy worked as a therapist for a therapeutic riding center in New York’s Central Park. She loved her job and on a beautiful spring day like this, her heart fairly sang!

The grey-haired governess shook her head. “No, I’m just dropping him off on my way to the airport.” She smiled, a dreamy expression softening her no-nonsense gaze, “I’m off to visit my newest granddaughter. Born just two days ago in Baltimore.”

“How exciting! Will you be gone long?”

“I’m taking a month off. This is Lisa’s first child. She and Ben begged me to come and stay.” She glanced at her wristwatch. “I’ve got to run. I’m not sure whether Mr. Rawlings will pick Brett up, or the temporary nanny. But whichever, you’ll know you can release him by their code word: Hopsalot.”

“Hopsalot?”

Mrs. O’Rourke laughed. “A remnant of Mr. Rawlings’ childhood.” She stooped to kiss Brett’s cheek. “Be good, young man. I’ll see you in a month.” With a cheery wave, she disappeared into her white minivan and drove away.

“Well, Brett, it looks like it’s just you and me today.” Amy leaned down and unfastened the myriad straps that held Brett’s twisted body upright in his padded wheelchair.

The little boy smiled, his liquid brown eyes sparkling with anticipation. Amy loved those eyes, a gift, she felt sure, from his deceased mother. Brett’s medical records told a sad story; his delivery had been complicated, robbing him of his mother while leaving him with Cerebral Palsy.

Though she knew she shouldn’t have favorites, Brett held a special place in Amy’s heart. She blessed the day she’d decided to blend her physical therapy degree with her Montana-ranch-girl love of horses. However, her best decision (much to her parents’ chagrin) had been to leave the Big Sky country and move to New York City. If she hadn’t, she’d never have met this precious child. On the other hand, despite her love of the City’s vibrant pulse, she often despaired of finding a man who would share her country-bred values; family must always come first.

“Today’s the day, Brett,” she said, hoisting the little boy out of his chair and into her arms. “Today we get to leave the arena and follow a bridle path into the park.”

Brett didn’t answer, Amy had never heard him speak, but his eyes glowed with excitement as she lifted him onto Molly’s saddle and adjusted the supporting harness.

Molly turned her head as far as the cross-ties allowed and neighed a greeting to her small rider. The sorrel standardbred appeared too tall for the slight child, but Amy knew the mare’s placid disposition made her the perfect mount for Brett’s first foray into the open air.

Once Brett was securely seated, Amy moved to Molly’s head, released the cross-ties, and holding her bridle in one hand and lead in the other, led the mare from the stable. Glorious sunshine assaulted her eyes and she glanced up to be sure Brett’s helmet provided adequate protection as his eyes adjusted. His smile outshone the sun as he gazed happily around. The special saddle provided adequate support for his spinal column, but didn’t prevent his head from jerking from side to side as he took in his new surroundings.

Satisfied as to his safety and comfort, Amy led the horse slowly across the street and down the block and a half to Central Park. Her dark brown hair, tied up in a pony tail, swept her shoulders as she walked. She wore comfortable hiking boots, jeans, a white twill shirt and a red windbreaker emblazoned with the Center’s logo. When she reached the trailhead for the bridle path, she pulled Molly to a stop and stepped back to check on Brett.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

He grinned lopsidedly, and slowly blinked those gorgeous eyes once, and then stared at her with glittering anticipation. A clear “yes.”

“All right, then.  Here we go!” She clucked to Molly and they set off on the two mile beginner’s loop.

*~*~*

After Brett’s ride, Amy held him with his back against her chest; her left arm supported his weight while tucked in the curve behind his knees, while her right arm held him firmly across his chest. They approached Molly’s nose. The big sorrel snuffled his honey-blond hair, released now from his riding helmet, and softly lipped his clenched fist. His attempt to relax his grip telegraphed itself through Amy’s body; she held her breath, willing him to accomplish this feat.  Slowly his fingers opened revealing a slightly sweaty peppermint.

Molly accepted the tribute with gentle lips, and Brett breathed a contented sigh.

“Very nice, Brett,” Amy praised. “Molly loves peppermints. You’ve just made her day.”

Amy turned to find a tall, healthy, adult version of Brett watching them from behind mirrored sunglasses.

“Dah!”

Brett’s exclamation surprised Amy, but left no doubt as to the man’s identity. A huge grin wreathed his features as he stepped forward and relieved Amy of her burden.

“Hey there, big boy! Have you had a good time?”

The obvious love in his voice tugged at Amy’s heart. She’d worried occasionally about her favorite client, having only met his governess. No more. Father and son had a tangible bond.

When he finished arranging Brett in his wheelchair, Mr. Rawlings straightened and turned to Amy with an outstretched hand.

“David Rawlings,” he said, shaking her hand in a firm, but pleasant grip. “You must be Amy. Mrs. O’Rourke raves about you, and I can tell Brett likes you, too.”

Amy stammered something unintelligible, but David Rawlings kept right on talking.

“If I’d known you had such a sweet smile, I’d have dropped by sooner.” An infectious grin destroyed any condescension the words might have held. He swept his sunglasses off and added, “Oh, and the password is ‘Hopsalot,’” in a conspiratorial whisper.

Amy found herself gazing into the most gorgeous pair of eyes she’d ever seen. Brett’s father’s eyes were deep chocolate pools, heralds of an honest and forthright character.

“Lord, have mercy,” she murmured, as a flutter of possibility tingled down her spine.

~The End~

Sorry for the late post

I meant to post on Monday but then, so many things happened at once I forgot all about it. Most of all, I’m busy promoting my kickstarter campaign. I’m trying to get enough money to publish a German print version of the graphic novel reMIND in the same high quality of the original. Naturally, nearly 400 full color pages don’t come cheap. The problem I found with kickstarter — and it’s something I didn’t even realize before I started the campaign — is that you can only participate with a credit card. Well, a lot of the Germans I know don’t have one. With nearly two weeks to go, I’ve collected close to $3000, and tonight my hubby promised to pledge too. He kept me in the dark about the amount he’s going to put into this project but I expect him to go for one of the higher tiers because he’s so very supportive.

So, I’m begging you to help. If you know people who learn German, have German roots or in any other way would like to support this project, please spread the word. The book is suitable for all reading ages, and the good thing is that you can compare it to the English original which is freely available on the Internet or can be purchased as a printed copy.

I put a lot of time (nearly 2 years of translating and typesetting) and effort (I made a video of some pages of the graphic novel for the campaign) into this project. This is what the final book will look like.

reMIND-deutsch

If you like it, help spreading the word. Thank you all.

Author Interview with Lori Fitzgerald- The Dragon’s Message Blog Tour

I never try to hide my methods: the horror of my interrogation chamber is so graphic it should probably come with a warning. Yet the victims keep trooping in- thanks this time once again to the offices of my good procurer, the Magic Appreciation Tour, we have ensnared Lori Fitzgerald making the rounds for her latest work, entitled The Dragon’s Message. I have eagerly anticipated her arrival, not just because I have a new branding iron I’ve wanted to try out, but for several other reasons. My spies inform me that Lori is a devotee of Medieval Lit (sooooo close to Medieval History!), has excellent taste in books and television, and even frequents Ren-Faires (one of the only places in the Alleged Real World where I can blend in). No more delay, let’s get cracking… and I do mean that literally

:: whip-cracking sound :: confess, benighted reprobate, and it will go easier for you!

 Q: OK, first of all… a novelette, seriously? I was barely seated, just getting warmed up on this cool tale, and suddenly I’m nearing the end. Is this some new form of torture for your fans? Perhaps I should take notes! Or is there a devious method to this idea of yours. Tell us how you hit upon the notion of publishing something so bite-sized.

The cover art gets you halfway there by itself!

The cover art gets you halfway there by itself!

A: Finding a peaceful block of uninterrupted time during daylight hours in a household with two young children is quite the dropping of the gauntlet. In fact, can you untie me for a second so I can break up the light-saber battle going on in my living room? (Anachronistic, I know, but explain that to a 6 year old and an 8 year old.) Perhaps one day I’ll be able to concentrate on a lengthier work (I do have novel ideas), but right now I feel a great sense of accomplishment with my novelettes. I find snippets of time here and there throughout the day to write, in between errands or while dinner is in the cauldron. This type of “scheduling” I think lends itself better to a shorter form. Never fear, there will be more stories in the world of The Dragon’s Message. I have both a prequel and a sequel in mind. I would love to bundle all three stories together in a longer form, perhaps even a paperback.

Q: I can name one tale there had BETTER be a sequel to! At the risk of spilling all the magic beans, there be dragons here. I want you to rank these creatures in your world, along the following Eat-to-Greet scale: Tolkein’s Smaug = 1, LeGuin’s Sobriest = 4, McCaffrey’s F’lar = 8. Where do the scaly ones of your world rank in their relations to humans? (Ed. Note. The dragons of the Lands of Hope rate about a 2. On a good day.)

A: I would say that my dragons are most like LeGuin’s Kalessin. Although the details of their backstory is for another tale, I can tell you that dragons are scarce and mistrustful of humans generally because they have been hunted for the magic in their blood. Out of necessity for survival and to share their true nature, they have bestowed their knowledge to one human of each generation. One special human. In The Dragon’s Message, this is Lady Rhiannon, and she is the only human who knows their secrets and can decipher the language that is written in the Dragon Tome. Here be dragons (and an excerpt):

 When Rhiannon was small and had just learned to read, her mother brought her into the hall one day when her father was on campaign, and led her to the large table upon which a great map of their lands lay. She instructed Rhiannon to read the words of the landmarks: castle, road, mountain, forest, village. The young girl touched words inscribed over a place where trees met craggy peaks. “What does that say, my love?” her mother prompted.

“Here be dragons,” Rhiannon answered, glancing up at her mother.

Her mother nodded, smiling. She knelt down in front of Rhiannon so they were at the same height. The lady’s hazel eyes sparkled as she whispered, “I have a secret to share. But I can only share it with a little girl with red and gold hair,” she pulled playfully on Rhiannon’s braid,” who knows how to read.” Rhiannon giggled. “Are you a little girl such as this?” Rhiannon nodded eagerly, and her mother laughed. She stood up and gestured at a tapestry on the wall. “Come, child, the dragon guards our treasure.”

Hand in hand they walked to the tapestry of the sleeping dragon. “Your great-great grandmother wove this tapestry when she was an old woman. It took her a long time to complete, with her hands gnarled so, like the twisted oak by the drawbridge.” The dragon was curled up in front of a turret, with stone dolmens in a semi-circle behind it, interspersed with trees and a mountain peak in the background and bright blue sky above. The dragon’s scales were crimson and woven through with glittering gold thread, and its curved horns and talons were gold. As they paused in front of the large tapestry, Rhiannon looked closely at the eyes of the dragon; she thought perhaps she could see a slit of gold, as if the dragon were only pretending to be asleep.

Rhiannon’s mother stood on tiptoe and moved part of the tapestry to the side, revealing a slit in the stone wall. With her free hand she reached in and drew out a large leather-bound tome. She motioned her daughter to come sit with her on one of the benches that lined the walls. “Look and listen well, my daughter,” she said, and ran her fingers along the smooth cover, “this book is our special treasure, and it contains many secrets within its pages. I am going to teach you how to read them.” She opened the book as Rhiannon snuggled closer to her, her mother’s loose red-gold hair falling over the girl’s shoulder and brushing the crinkly parchment pages of the book which she turned until she came to the picture of a girl.

“The first secret is a story…”

 Q: I was very taken by the unfolding liaison between your two main characters. It’s an April-October relationship, quite touching- the girl who long ago gave a knight her scarf as a favor is now grown. We see a lot through Rhiannon’s eyes- what can you tell me about the knight Gwydion and his feelings? And importantly, how old would you say he is now? I wonder that he stayed unmarried in this society, especially as renowned as he’s become.

A: Gwydion is about my age…and no amount of torture gets a lady to reveal her age! In my head I have Gwydion around 15-20 years older than Rhiannon. When he takes the quest to bring Rhiannon to

My acolytes thought her too cute to torture. I must remain resolute until she confesses!

My acolytes thought her too cute to torture. I must remain resolute until she confesses!

safety he is simply fulfilling his liege-lord’s orders, although he has a fondness for Rhiannon from when she was a child, as readers will see from a flashback as well. However, on their journey Gwydion quickly realizes that she is not a child anymore and (luckily for him) is also quick to change gears and respect her as a lady. Once he sees her more as a peer he allows himself to fall for her. Sir Gwydion is the champion knight of Rhiannon’s father, basically his general, and so between fulfilling his duties to his lord and also running his father’s estate as the eldest son, he has had a lot on his trencher and thus never got married. And there’s also the dragon’s actual message to consider…you know, destiny and true love and all that written in flame can’t be ignored. It’s a scorching hazard.

Q: Yowch! Quite correct :: sucks fingers :: You’ve already given ample evidence of your guilt in this writing-fantasy matter. But now we come to the most grievous of crimes- you help to spread the word on the internet! Tell us more about your involvement with Once Upon a Fan.

A: I’m so proud to be a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon a Fan, the top-rated fansite for ABC’s show Once Upon a Time. One of the popular features of our site is the Origins articles, where we compare and contrast literary characters with their portrayal on the show. I’ve written Origins articles on Sir Lancelot, the Sword in the Stone, and Robin Hood, among others. I’ve tried to show how the symbolic landscape of the medieval mind comes into play in various aspects of Once Upon a Time as well. You can find the Origins library here. I really owe my publication to the show and the fandom. Once Upon a Time inspired me to create my own worlds again after 20 years (oops, is that an inadvertent clue?) in which I stopped writing to focus on my teaching career and having a family. The website and all the writers, artists, and crafters I met in the extremely creative Oncer fandom encouraged me that my lifelong dream of publishing could become a reality.

Once Upon A Fan Logo 1000px SquareQ: Aha, confederates, we shall have them arrested shortly. Where does all this leave you for your writing schedule? Have one, much? I see evidence of two children in my spies’ reports. Egad. Do you have a sacred space with a locked door? Set times to jot your thoughts? If I could take away any money-trouble with a wave of my wand- no wait, that’s my cat-o’nine-tails, hold on- there, supposing you COULD devote full-time to writing, would much change about your writing life?

A: I would love to have a sacred space, but alas, my laptop and I are wandering minstrels. Sometimes I write at the kitchen counter, sometimes in the attic, on rare occasions in the dungeon where the library and playroom are located. I would prefer to have a set time and schedule to write, maybe a few hours every morning, but that just doesn’t fit with my lifestyle right now. Sometimes the kids wake up sick and the actual storming of the castle has to wait a few days (after all, that’s what sieges are for).

Q: If I had to use the old infiltrate-through-the-garderobe trick, a mother of little kids is the one I’d send. I suppose that will have to suffice, for now. So many instruments, so little time… You may go. But be certain that you leave ample contact information here- your book and web links for reader-interest, should we need to drag you back for further interrogation. Thanks, Lori!

A: Thank you, Will…I think! But it’s never truly torturous to talk to a fellow medievalist.

The Dragon’s Message, a Dragon Tome Novelette, is available on Kindle and Nook for $1.99.

A dragon writes a cryptic message with its ember breath in the evening sky…

Lady Rhiannon watches from the turret wall with an ache in her blood. She’s the only person who can decipher the message as the sole keeper of the Dragon Tome. When an old enemy threatens the castle, her father charges his knight with escorting her to a safe haven—the same knight Rhiannon had a crush on as a girl. But she must now convince him to change his plans, for she has her own sacred charge to fulfill…

So begins a journey to hidden ruins where magic slumbers in the stones and love lies in the heart, waiting to awaken. As Rhiannon and the knight face seemingly insurmountable odds, only the dragon knows if they can fulfill their destiny…

 Here are the magic links:

Amazon: http://www.amzn.to/OCTcq9

Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/1epYuBC

 

My blog http://www.whiteravenwriting.blogspot.com

You can also find me on Twitter @MedievalLit and on Facebook at my author page White Raven Writing.

 

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YzZiMWJiNDVkMzNkOGZhZDZjMjQzNmEwZTJjZDFlOjE=/

 

Writing a Sequel: Witch Hunt

Ever since I released my teen contemporary fantasy Small Town Witch (Fae of Calaveras #1) one year ago, I’ve had people asking me, when is the sequel coming out? While it’s flattering to know that they enjoyed the story and they wanted more, it also put a lot of pressure on me to make sure that the second book was as good as the first!

A year between books in a series is standard for traditional publishing, but in the brave new world of independent publishing, a year feels like forever. By that time most readers have forgotten about the first book and moved on to something else. After all, most readers read more than one book per year.

So why did it take me so long? I have to confess that I took a few wrong turns on the way. At first, I wanted to take a break. Finishing my first novel was more work than I’d expected, and I didn’t feel like writing anything. But after I stopped writing, I lost momentum. My habit of writing something every day fell by the wayside. I threw myself into promoting that first book and didn’t have anything else to follow it up with.

Then, when I did sit down to write a few months later, I wanted to go in a new direction for the series. I brainstormed ideas for books featuring different main characters and putting Rosa, the main character from the first book, in the background. This was a huge mistake. The heart of the series is the conflict between Rosa and her mother, but I lost sight of that when I tried to write stories about her boyfriend or her best friend. After a few false starts, I gave up the project in frustration and walked away.

The solution turned out to be writing something completely different. I wrote A Flight of Marewings, an epic fantasy with an ensemble cast, in a completely different tone. That story challenged me to learn new skills in writing and cleansed my palate by taking me in new directions. It gave me back the joy of writing by taking the pressure off. I flew through the novel.

When I finished, I turned back to my original series and realized where I’d gone wrong. It took me a little time to refresh myself on the story and characters, but this time I kept my focus the same as the first book and wrote what happened next between Rosa and her mother. It took me six months from start to finish, but now I’m proud to release “Witch Hunt”, and I think it stands up to the promise of the first book.

And the good news is I kept my momentum going after I finished the second book, and started right in on writing book #3. It’ll take some time to polish, but I plan on releasing it in a few months. No more long wait between books!

Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt (Fae of Calaveras #2)
She wished her mom would disappear. Now her mom’s missing, and all she wants is to find her again.

Teen witch Rosamunde broke the spell her mother, Rosmerta, used to control her family and reported the illegal use of magic to the Faerie Court. So her mom became a fugitive from the law, taking Rosa’s younger sister Akasha with her. When none of the faeries can track down her mother, Rosa realizes that she’ll have to be the one to find her mom.

Rosa takes a dangerous risk: getting close to the mysterious exiled Unseelie who helped her mother go into hiding. To gain their trust, she’ll have to break the rules. Her faeriekin friends, Ashleigh and Glen, and kitsune boyfriend, Kai, worry that she’s getting in too deep. But for the chance to confront her mother and save her sister, Rosa will sacrifice anything… maybe even the things that she believes in the most.
Available on Amazon

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