Blog Archives

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

New Release! Strength of Conviction Now Available

LoHI_JT_SoC_cover_webStrength of Conviction, the second volume in the Judgement’s Tale saga, is available now on Amazon. The tale of Solemn Judgement, Treaman, Anteris, Gareth and the other heroes you first met in Games of Chance now continues.

As an added bonus, starting September 29th through October 1st, Part One Games of Chance will be  completely free. If you haven’t started on the saga, here’s a great opportunity to get all caught up for less than three bucks. I hope you’ll take a moment to pass along this news to someone you know, but I don’t, who likes epic and heroic fantasy.

In the first volume you got acquainted with the good and bad guys; most crucially, a gentle Sage named Cedrith was thrown into Solemn Judgement’s path, probably saving him and the city of Conar from ruin. Now in the second book, you will see the Woodsman Treaman and his encounter with a deadly dragon; Anteris the scribe’s apprentice finds out more about the stiff-necked preacher named Alaetar; and Solemn Judgement seems unable to avoid deeper and deeper trouble even though he’s living in a library! Meet the four-year old Riddy who comes to fear and love The Ash Man. Puzzle through the secrets Conar’s nobles keep, where one knight prays in place at the cathedral while another rides away never to return.

Strength of Conviction

As the central kingdom of the Lands of Hope languishes without rule or reason under a worsening pall of chaos, most Children of Hope stand by and do nothing. The few who would dare are outcasts and strangers, either too high up, or too far inside, or still too young to help. Worse, all their scattered mysteries seem unconnected.

Treaman the Woodsman struggles to guide his companions through ensorcelled wildlands to safety. The poorest knight in the city prays by Conar’s statue for weeks without ceasing, as though his life LoH_kg_2_map A5depends on it. The young scribe Anteris copies histories for his master by day, dreams of adventure till sunset, and searches the stars by night for the riddle of his future. A noble Conarian heir seeks to join a lost legendary Order, putting his duty before his life. A gentle Elvish sage confronts the greatest of puzzles, the closed door barring the way to friendship with his greatest, and most dangerous pupil.

For Solemn Judgement, the Man in Grey, is learning that names are indeed important when he shows… Strength of Conviction.

Interview with L. Blankenship- Disciple V

As followers of the Independent Bookworm may know, we occasionally snare an unsuspecting indie author, luring them to the unspeakable horrors of our donjon for interrogation. It’s always made me a bit suspicious to see how willing some of them were. But I never expected a volunteer.

This time, we find a very no-nonsense victim in Louise Blankenship, already sitting in the chair and tapping her foot to get started. Worse yet, the subject was the theology of her world, from which the fifth book is now out! Talking about other people’s gods is always a bit off-putting, you know, takes away half my rap from the start. But I nerved myself up while heating the irons and decided to give it my best shot. So brace yourself for a cut above, you might say, as we explore the deities of the world of Disciple.

Q1: I gather your world is governed or influenced by two gods. Are they, in any way, um, a couple? Related, perhaps? Is this the eternal-war deal or did they both decide to go out to the same world at the Deity Speed-Date Night on Match.com?

A: Mother Love and Father Duty have one of those long-term marriages where they disagree a lot and seem to be at cross purposes but they respect each other far too much to actually fight. Things always seem to work out in the end. I don’t think that they met each other so much as the universe required both of them to exist.

In the world’s mythology, the Mother and Father are the human forms of the alpha ram and ewe that lead the “flock” of the world’s population. Their teachings are on how to be good flock members during one’s life.

This flock is overseen by the Shepherd, who is at various times Life and Death, Luck and Fate, the judger of all the sheep. He’s a mysterious higher power that isn’t exactly approachable, so people focus more on Mother Love and Father Duty.

Q2: Even the gods are married? Sheesh, you think if you lived in heaven you could avoid the “honey-do” lists… No polite way to put this one. How “real” are they? Do the people of your world see manifestations of their deities on a regular basis? Miracles, much? Or do your characters have to do more than see to believe? Are there many unbelievers in your world, or just a lot of salt-pillars standing around in odd places…

A: The saints are chosen by Mother Love and Father Duty to lead a particular portion (kingdom) of the Flock. Saints are very real and very powerful, no question about that, which tends to blur out the fact that the Mother and Father don’t seem to act overtly in the world. Not on their own, at least. The saints take care of that and can invoke the Mother and Father, or even the Shepherd, as needed.

There are other takes on the same mythology: in the kingdom of Caercoed, which is strongly matriarchal, it’s Mother Strength and Father Care. Same roles, just gender-switched.

And in Arcea, the Empress banned the Mother, Father, and Shepherd outright. The Empress has the armies and power to back up that sort of blasphemy, though.

Q3: You’ve made reference to miraculous magic by the “saints”. Can you describe a bit more about that? Are miracles well understood, reliable, easy? Or is something about them difficult, exhausting, iffy? About how many saints are there walking around at the time the story happens?

A: The saints do not talk much about how they do what they do — they’re all in direct competition with each other over scarce magical resources (the kir founts, where raw magic wells up out of the earth) and it’s dangerous for the enemy to know what you’re capable of. Keep your aces up your sleeve is the common wisdom.

Large-scale magic requires strength, focus, and practice, and in addition it’s dangerous because it draws attention. Few people are born with the innate talent for that level of kir-magery, and fewer survive the process of training and ascending to full sainthood.

Saint Qadeem thinks there might be a hundred saints in the world at any given time, but it’s difficult to say because firstly saints are immortal, and secondly they can hide among the general population easily — so long as they don’t do anything to attract attention.

Q4: The comedian Henny Youngman said it best: “I tried once to be an atheist, but I had to give it up. They have no holidays!” So what do folks in your world do to celebrate their faith? Is there a custom or day that really expresses what they believe?

A: The four big holidays of the year are the two Solstices and the two Equinoxes. At the Equinoxes there are smaller parties and everyone is encouraged to “balance” one’s accounts of debts owed. These can be debts of money or honor. If you need forgiveness for something, or you want to honor a loving relationship, this is the time to do it.

The Solstices are a chance to throw a big party and mark the turning of the season from one deity to the other. Winter and spring are Mother Love’s seasons: the flock should be supportive of each other to survive the weather and see to the spring planting. Summer and autumn are Father Duty’s seasons: time to serve the kingdom in wartime or public works projects, and then get the harvest in.

Traditionally, it’s bad luck to see moonrise on Winter Solstice without getting a kiss. That plays into the plot of Disciple, Part V… none of the main characters are getting kissed after what happened at the end of Part IV.

Thanks Louise, the world of Disciple sounds beautifully detailed and justified in matters of faith. We shall forbear to punish you further… just in case. Here’s the info you need to get started on the world of Disciple.

Disciple, Part V

Disciple-picKate faces winter with a broken heart: betrayed by one lover, the other lost to her.

Kiefan will not give up on the alliance his kingdom desperately needs — even though the Caer queen refuses to speak to him.

Anders, alone and despairing, faces the Empress’s seductive offers of power and privilege.

Each of them must carry the ongoing war in their own way, whether cold, alone, or backed into a corner. Each must patch together a broken heart as best they can. Duty will throw them together soon enough and they must be ready.

 

On sale now!

Amazon • B&N • Other retailers

 

Read Disciple, Part I for FREE

AmazonB&NOther retailers

 

Disciple, Part VI

ends the series early next year!

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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 Woodsmanone 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

 

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=/

 

“Swordplay” blog tour

Blog Tour Badge

The release for my blog tour is running rather smoothly. Here is the link to the schedule. Of course, there were a few tiny hickups, but nothing major. For the last few days, there’s still the chance to enter the the giveaway to win a copy of the book. Also, I wrote several mini-stories about the most important characters that will go out to anyone joining out list (plus an exclusive YA Fantasy eBook, so it’s well worth leaving your eMail address — we won’t spam you, promised).

YA Urban Fantasy Murder Mystery

YA Urban Fantasy Murder Mystery

About the Book

CSI with magic but without the gore

Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn’t part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.

For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up

eBook on Amazon:        German, English
and Smashwords:           German, English
other retailers will follow

Paperback in German or English on Createspace (Beware: postage), or in German or English on Amazon (no postage)

If this sounds like a book you might enjoy, joining out list and receive exclusive mini-stories about the characters. Thank you.

Author Interview: Kristen S. Walker

To my ongoing amazement, we continue to lure aspiring authors to the Independent Bookworm for interviews. Even with the incontrovertible evidence of our perfidious cruelty right before their eyes, they come- driven by passion, by desperation or perhaps just a terminally short attention span. And who are we to complain?

Next up in the chair of interrogation is Kristen S. Walker, whose new novel “A Flight of Marewings” is debuting this month. Perhaps she believes her previous acquaintance with the eminent Ms. Gerlach will save her. Perhaps she is grievously, tragically mistaken… now where did I put that YA-sized strappado…

In the sky, behind her... are those wings?

In the sky, behind her… are those wings?

Q: All other questions must wait! What is Wyld about your world’s Magic, besides the spelling. And most important please, how soon can I start to use it?

A: Wyld Magic is actually the forces of Nature on steroids to fight back against the advancement of human civilization. It twists normal plants and animals into deadly monsters, from marewings to stranglevine, virtually all of which are hostile to humans and are actively trying to destroy farms and settlements. Humans in Seirenia have to band together in the safety of cities, or get the aid of priests to bless their fields and keep back the encroachment of the Wyld. As for humans harnessing that power for their own purposes, well, I will tell you that some of the characters in this book try to do just that. You’ll have to read the novel to find out what happens, but I don’t think you’d want to mess around with it lightly. The effects of Wyld Magic on human society will be an ongoing theme for the series.

Q: You describe the world of Seirenia and Marewings as epic fantasy. Does that mean it’s not YA? Can kids read epics?

A: Epic, high, or heroic fantasy are all terms used to describe a flavor of fantasy that focuses on magical quests or adventures with dangerous monsters. Some of it is written for the YA crowd (see Tamora Pierce’s Tortall novels for a bestselling example), but A Flight of Marewings has almost entirely adult characters, so it’s not aimed at that age group. However, many kids and teens (including me when I was younger and my own teen girls now) read above their age group as well, so I wouldn’t say that my novel could not be enjoyed by teens. After all, the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy is considered non-YA epic fantasy, but many people read it for the first time in middle or high school, and it’s often their introduction to the fantasy genre.

marewings-tour-banner

Q: What would you say is the biggest difference with trying to interest a younger reader- in any kind of story?

A: Well, the contrary thing about younger readers is that they often don’t want to read something that you’re “trying” to tell them to read. In general, YA, MG (middle grade) and children’s books are just those stories with younger characters who are also probably trying to deal with issues that kids of that age can relate to, from school bullies to first love. Otherwise, these books shouldn’t be written any differently than novels for adults, especially when you’re writing for teens—they can handle complex concepts and advanced vocabulary at that age, and they really don’t like to be talked down to. That means you can still tackle difficult issues and dark themes in YA, to some extent in MG, and delicately in children’s books. (I remember being seven years old and reading about one of the characters in the Babysitters’ Club when her grandmother had a stroke, and how that affected her family. This was two years after my own grandmother had passed away, so I was no stranger to those kinds of issues.)

 In the end, every reader is different, and they’re going to be interested in different things. I would say that my approach has been to talk to a few teens and ask what they think of my ideas or what they want in a story. I’m lucky to live with two of them who are very vocal in their opinions, and teen readers are also easy to find online.

Q: I see that you, madam, not satisfied with owning an entire fantasy world, need to invade the ARW (Alleged Real World) as well. “Small Town Witch” sounds pretty close to magical realism, yes? Everything’s the same except we have, um, a few thousand spellcasting monstrous beings running around in Northern California. I wonder if anyone would even notice! Did you have more world-building to do with a small town in this world, or in describing an entirely new one?

A: What can I say? I love world-building and I never know when to stop! I think that I did more world-building for Seirenia for two reasons: I’ve been working on that world since I was thirteen (although it doesn’t resemble its original incarnation much at all by now), and I cheated with my small town because it’s actually mostly based on a place where I grew up—in Northern California. It prides itself on being weird, so there’s already plenty of strange things running around, but I do think people would notice if magic suddenly started to show up. (There would be photos up on the community blog, like the escaped parrot that roosts in neighborhood trees and sightings of the alleged “ghost” in a certain hotel.) I don’t know if magical realism applies, though, because the magic is front and center without too much of the realism. I call “Small Town Witch” alternately Urban or Contemporary or Modern Fantasy to emphasize that it’s in our time and our world. (As a joke, I once said that it was the opposite of Urban Fantasy because it’s not in a city, and wanted to coin the sub genre of Rural Fantasy, but I don’t know how many other books would join mine in that category!)

Q: Tell us more about the series (“The Fae of Calaveras County”) that you started with “Small Town Witch”, and particularly your decision to serialize the later volumes (available now on her Facebook page). Would you recommend that publication plan?

A: Well, I self-published “Small Town Witch” first on all of the traditional digital platforms like Amazon and Smashwords, but it’s been tough to get visibility with so many other books out there. I knew that my friend, Jimena Novaro, was releasing her novel “The Withering Sword” as a serial on both her website and on Wattpad—a website that lets writers share their stories for free. I learned from her and a few other writers that Wattpad is a good community to connect directly with readers, especially teens. So when I started to write the sequel to “Small Town Witch”, I decided to experiment with sharing the novel as I wrote it. Other than writing too fast for many readers to keep up with (I managed a rate of a chapter a day for the whole month of November), I think it was successful, and I’ve made some new friends and fans that way.

 I know many authors wouldn’t like this approach, because it means giving away your work for free. I don’t personally plan on leaving up my entire story there indefinitely—in the next few weeks, I’ll remove it from Wattpad and start revising the story to publish it as an ebook later. But for getting visibility, one of the major hurdles of a self-published author that doesn’t have the backing of a big publishing company or a huge marketing budget, I do recommend sharing at least some work with readers for free, on Wattpad, your own site, or any of the other similar communities. You get direct feedback. If you share the first part of a longer series, you can get people interested in later books. And not just self-published authors use this to find new readers—Margaret Atwood and Brandon Sanderson both have entire books on the site. Every author has to find their own plan that fits their work and their goals, so I don’t think it’s ideal for everyone, but it’s worth looking at as one option among so many available today.

Q: Are you a disciplined writer, with a regular schedule and habits? Notes, much? How about a Muse, did you pick up one of those along the way? And how are the two people inside your head getting along- Kristen the author and Kristen the marketer? Any fistfights, and if so who won?

A:I do try to keep up the habit of working on something every day. Sometimes I write a story, sometimes I work on outlines or world-building, other days it’s revision—but I keep my momentum going better when I do some kind of writing and my stories stay fresh in my mind. I’m trying to cut back on my massive amount of notes that I do for each project, because I can spend too much time planning and never get to the actual story. My Muse is a hyperactive child who gets easily distracted by shiny things, but when she’s focused she hovers over my shoulder to demand everything from explosions to unicorns.

 Kristen the writer has been a strong force since I was eight and started my first notebook (which was blue and had a unicorn on the front). It’s been much harder to learn how to be Kristen the marketer. I hate trying to talk about myself in job interviews or self-evaluations, and I’m very shy about asking for anything like “buy my book”. I try to approach it as I’m excited about my stories and I want to share them with other people, so I think about what I can say to explain why I think they are interesting. Marketing is still a very new skill for me, though, and Kristen the researcher has been hard at work to dig up virtually every article and book on the subject so I can learn more. But when it comes to any kind of decisions that I have to make, like what’s the best kind of cover art (something that follows bestselling trends versus something that I think represents my story), then Kristen the writer has been winning every time. As a result, I might not be making the best plans from a marketing perspective (I am giving away stories for free on Wattpad after all, and I don’t think the cover of “A Flight of Marewings” looks like any traditionally published fantasy book released in the last five years). That kind of stubbornness is probably not going to make me as much money.

Q: You seem quite open to sharing space on the web at your site and on your blog with other authors. Names, we must have the names for future interrogation purposes. What’s your theory about sharing interests with other authors- is it United We Stand, or I Am a Rock/Island? And BTW, is this strictly a Hear Women Roar deal, or is the Y chromosome set also welcome?

A: So far, I’ve hosted fantasy author Jimena Novaro, science fantasy author Nadine Ducca, superhero author Thomas Healy, and recently, fantasy romance author Juli D. Revezzo. It’s been a lot of fun to hear about their different stories and approaches to writing, and I hope to host many more in the future. (If you’re an author looking for a guest blog spot, please contact me!) Now, I think it’s much better for authors to work together instead of standing alone—we can all use the help and support, and readers benefit by finding more stories they love. After all, it’s not really a competition between us, where I have to fight Jimena or Nadine to sell more of my books. I know from personal experience that no single writer (even the crazy prolific ones that you hear about releasing a book every month) can keep up with the rate of an enthusiastic reader (I know people who read two or more books a week, and I myself read a four-book series in about two days when I was sick over Christmas break). Also, while I’ve only hosted one man on my site so far, this is simply because I know more women who write. When I offer to host someone, it’s because I like the kinds of stories that they write, not which chromosomes they have or any other physical differences.

Q: OK, before I work another 60s rock ballad into my questions, you may go for now- but don’t leave the, um, multiverse, we may wish to question you further. Let us know how we can get in touch with you and your work, and thanks again for your cooperation, Kristen. Sergeant, take off the cuffs.

A: Hey, I have no problems with 60s rock ballads! I love classic rock (along with a lot of other music). I have an eclectic music collection, and classic rock even features in my karaoke song rotation (when it fits into my soprano range). The best way to find me is through my website, kristenwalker.net, which links to my current books, has a blog for updates on future works, and also points to my Facebook, Twitter, and Wattpad accounts. You can even contact me directly through blog comments on a form. Thanks for the friendly interrogation, Will!

Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?

A Flight of Marewings at Amazon

A Flight of Marewings at Smashwords

Author Bio

Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a princess with a flying horse, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new epic fantasy novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke’s illegitimate daughter who must stop her father’s murderers–by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen’s world-building references, please visit kristenwalker.net. You can talk Sherlock, horses, and crochet with Kristen any time on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.

The Compendium: The Safe Way to Build a World?

Epic and heroic fantasy, as cool as they are, do not consist of much that’s new. If you innovate at all in what you write about, you’re either trashed or hailed as an innovator. And then maybe trashed after you turn the other way. People expect heroes with swords, monsters with fire, life with magic, and adventures that save something. I’m cool with all that because in the Land of Hope that’s what I see.

But as Debbie wrote about world-building, there’s a constant struggle to “do” that correctly in the tales themselves. If I can take credit for trying anything a bit differently it was in this: I thought “hey, why not pretend I’m famous already and someone’s written up the Compendium of the Lands“. So I’ve been posting pages here as they appear relevant to the various tales, and as I limp through my draft of the upcoming “Perilous Embraces” I’ve taken the chance to reinforce the book with some more pages.

In this latest batch coming out now you can find information on various subjects:

  • A short piece on the Elven race, especially the concept of their Moments which plays a big part in my WiP
  • An enormous section on the Astrology of the Lands including the heavenly bodies and their influence over events. You will see some of this in Perilous Embraces and a lot more in Judgement’s Tale my infamous unpublished  monsterpiece.
  • A section on the Tarot cards and their relation to divination (sort of the common man’s astrology)
  • A quick look at the Argens feudal structure (who’s boss of what), which plays into the Shards of Light series but will really become important in a sequel to The Plane of Dreams, called The Test of Fire
  • A Brief History of the Lands (which you might have thought I’d have recorded first given my education!)
  • And even a treatise on what the bad guys might be like (for after all, the Lands of Despair no man living has seen- or so the legends say)

I hope you enjoy the material. And I do see that people “hit” the pages fairly frequently which is interesting and prompts me to ask you some questions.

If you’ve looked at the Compendium before, did you like what you saw? Did it give you what you were asking for?

Are there subjects you wanted to see more about but didn’t? It’s been thirty years of study, but my observations have been pretty focused on the current day and subjects relevant to the heroes of the tales. If you need me to look at something else, I’m listening!

Do you think it would be useful for me to publish this thing? As I’m adding pages I keep trying to organize them better, but if I e-pubbed it I could inter-link the daylights out of it- so every reference to Argens leads to the description of him in the hero-lists, etc. On the other hand, I could link every such mention in my current books to the Compendium HERE- but I thought that would be too distracting. What’s your opinion?

As for the rest of you who have every right not to touch the silly thing, let me just remind you once again that I don’t write, I chronicle. These pages are just in case you want to try and argue the Lands of Hope are not real.

Interview with Elizabeth Baxter, Author of “The Last Priestess”

I’m very pleased to host another independent author this week, Elizabeth Baxter, who either failed to read the warning signs or loves nothing better than a good torturous interrogation process. Join us now in the donjon as we prepare to wring every ounce of information from this unsuspecting victim. We’ll lull her into a false sense of security by asking her friendly questions first…

The writer, I believe, is on the left.

The writer, I believe, is on the left.

Q1: Elizabeth Baxter… I cannot tell you how familiar that name sounds! Probably I’m thinking writer-elizabeth-barrett-browning. But Baxter- was your father named Ted, worked in a news station? Or maybe your middle name is “Raven”? I know what A “baxter” is in a movie-plot, but we don’t want to go there. Are you as sensible and well-grounded as the slang term indicates?

A: Hmm. Sensible and well-grounded are not words normally associated with me (this is the girl who spends her mornings watching Spiderman on the cartoon channel). I think writers need to be a little bit crazy to do what we do. After all, what completely sensible person wants to spend hours locked up in a room with only a laptop for company? I’ve always thought my name sounds old fashioned. Or regal. Add my middle name and it gets worse. Elizabeth Katherine Baxter (sorry, not Raven but that would be kind of cool).

Q2: I’m a firm believer in choice during interviews. Choice One- is the protagonist of your upcoming tale more like Xena (Warrior Princess), Katniss (Hunger Games), Galadriel (LoTR) or Mulan (um, Mulan)? Are we talking “hear me roar” or something more hesitant from her?TheLastPriestessCover

A: Maegwin, the main character in The Last Priestess, is, as you’d expect, a priestess so I suppose she ought to be wise like Galadriel. But she’s actually more of an opinionated, kick-butt kind of girl. And yet, she is forced to be this way by circumstances beyond her control. So I suppose she’d be a combination of Xena and Katniss.

Q3: Do you clearly recall the moment you became a writer? I’d love to know whether one fateful day you squared your shoulders, took a deep breath and started, or if you sort of looked back and realized it had already begun.

A: Yes! I remember it clearly. I was six years old and spent one Saturday sitting in my bedroom writing a story. I don’t know why I did it – it was just an enjoyable activity to me. The story was called The Golden Pheasant and was about two friends, Fox and Deer, who set out to discover what this golden pheasant is that kept appearing in their wood. I even made a cover out of cereal boxes and illustrated it myself. And that was it. I was a writer! I haven’t stopped since. In fact, I’ve still got a copy of The Golden Pheasant somewhere. Maybe it will be worth megabucks one day! (I can only dream).

Q4: That has to be the coolest thing I’ve heard since I was six myself. Choice Two- would you say you are solidly in the “epic/heroic fantasy” camp, or have your plots so far started with real-world folks and crossed over? What do we call that latter sort of writing anyway?

A: I don’t write cross-over fantasy. Sorry, don’t know the correct term. I like my characters to be a part of the world I create. Having said that, some of my favorite ever books have been cross-over fantasies. Take Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. A masterpiece of the genre in my opinion. I’m not sure how I’d categorize my work. It’s epic fantasy in the sense that it deals with big, world-changing ideas but I also get into the nitty-gritty of my characters’ lives and the minutia of their everyday struggles, the things that really matter to them.

 Q5: Are your fantasy kingdoms unconnected? Or do you see many fantasy realms connect to our alleged-real world? If you create a new fantasy setting, how much do you try to think ahead and map it out, or is it more a driving idea that grabs you and things flesh out as you go?

A: Um, the last option. When I create a fantasy world I have a basic idea of the kind of laws that drive it. This informs how the world unfolds in the story. For example, in The Last Priestess, the world my characters inhabit is one of seven worlds that are interconnected. I like the idea that each world has its own natural laws that govern the types of creatures that live there – this idea formed the basis of how I created the world of Amaury and the six other worlds (or Realms as they are called in the book) it’s connected to.

Q6: Now that’s using your head- why couldn’t I have thought of that? Tell us something about The Last Priestess. Is it heading straight downhill like The Last Samurai, or are we going to see the world reseeded with next-gen clerics by the end… like the kids in Mad Max, only with incense?

A: At the start of The Last Priestess, Maegwin’s world has been shattered. She has two options: start anew or let herself slide into a downward spiral of bitterness and betrayal. The story follows this struggle. She faces many choices. She can choose to accept help or reject it. She can choose to forgive or take revenge. She can choose to form friendships or shut people out. So how will the world in The Last Priestess turn out? Well, that’s up to Maegwin.

Q7: They say marketing your own work is a job; do you have any leads on a person who’d be willing to do it for us? I guess you would have no objection to being handed fame and fortune by an agent and publisher! But assuming you’ve done the majority of your own legwork so far; was that an early choice, a voluntary one? And what can you tell us online authors about rolling this rock uphill?

A: I was offered a ‘traditional’ publishing contract for my first novel, Everwinter. After much deliberation, I turned it down to go indie. Why? Well, I did say the words, ‘sensible’ and ‘well-grounded’ couldn’t be applied to me didn’t I? I thought I could have more fun doing things my way. And I was right. I’ve enjoyed every minute, even though it’s been incredibly hard work. As for marketing? I’ve heard it described as throwing bits of popcorn at a wall to see what sticks. Try everything. And don’t give up.

Q8: … ‘scuse me, I was getting busy licking my popcorn… So I look at the artwork on your covers and immediately think, “OK, off to GameStop to play this one.” Is this CGI influenced art? Do you have the same artist, or how did you set about achieving the nice cover art you have?

A: I like to have characters on my covers. After all, they are who the book is about. The jury is out on whether this works in fantasy. Some people don’t like characters on covers. To each their own. I’m fortunate in that my other half is pretty nifty at graphic design. So I show him the images I like and he puts it together. Ta-da! I’d like to claim credit but I really can’t.

Q9: You married the help? My lovely wife did the same thing! {And it was our anniversary on the 10th, too.} Thanks so much for giving us a peek into your craft, Elizabeth. I firmly predict, anyone who likes Peter Parker and Thomas Covenant is going to be writing stuff I like. Be sure to fill us in with the dope on where to find your previous works, and when to look out for The Last Priestess.

A: There’s loads of places you can catch up with me on the internet. Here’s a few:

The Last Priestess: http://www.amazon.com/Priestess-Songmaker-fantasy-novel-ebook/dp/B00B9Z98SA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1360423888&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+priestess

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Baxter/e/B007YTE5YW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1360423917&sr=1-1

Blog (smallblondehippy): http://www.elizabethbaxter.blogspot.co.uk/

Have a great day, everyone!

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