Tag Archives: fantasy

#Writing #Workshops for June (and a cat pic this time)

Below are the online workshops being offered in June by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

NUTMEG

NUTMEG

Advanced WordPress

06/01/2015 – 06/28/2015

Now that you have your website or blog set up, it’s time to get creative. This course will focus on advanced customizing of WordPress sites such as installing WordPress on your home computer, creating a webhost server that is not connected to the internet so that you can test ideas in a risk-free environment, troubleshooting your site when it crashes, creating custom menus, importing and exporting content from different sources, creating user-friendly permalinks, search engine optimization, and using the WordPress community forum. The class lasts four weeks.

Lessons include:

  1. Setting up WP on your home computer: working with local host for both Mac and PC.
  2. Working with menus: creating custom menus, putting menus in your sidebar.
  3. Playing around in the WP Content Folder and troubleshooting: what to do if you crash your site.
  4. Fun things you can do with your site: embedding videos and adding images from the web.
  5. Optimizing your site for search engines.
  6. Uploading your practice site to the web.
  7. Going live.

About the Presenter

Pepper O’Neal has a doctorate in education and has taught a number of adult education classes on many different subjects. She currently works as a freelance researcher and author. When she was told by both of her publishers that she needed to have a website, she realized she needed to finally join the age of technology. She also realized she had two options. She could pay someone to design the site for her, or she could to do it herself. As she hates depending on others for things involving her career, she decided to learn how to use the free web-design software WordPress and Joomla. She took classes, hired experts for tutors, and picked the brains of her web-designer friends. After designing her own websites, she decided she liked doing it, and now she designs websites for others.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

The Never Ending Plot / Subplot Resource

06/01/2015 – 06/26/2015

Polti’s principle of 36 situations shows “There are no new stories.” This 8-session workshop from Sally Walker takes the writer through his situations and explains how to apply, twist and spark every story and its characters into unpredictable freshness, even with genre expectations.

About the Presenter

She eventually graduated from Papillion (NE) High School then nursing school at the University of Albuquerque and, eventually received a BFA in Creative Writing back at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  That degree was accomplished while working full-time as a Critical Care/ER nurse and raising a very active family of three daughters with her engineer husband.  Adeptly juggling family, nursing, civic and Episcopal church responsibilities, Sally founded in 1985 and has conducted the weekly meetings of the eclectic Nebraska Writers Workshop to feed her own hunger for in-depth knowledge and skills. The Workshop has grown from a few tentative to over 50 confidently publishing and produced writers. Her own goal-oriented writing ethic has resulted in a vitae packed with novels, short stories, poetry, magazine articles, stage plays, screenplays and a variety of writing seminars.  In 2000 she was hired as part-time Editorial Director at The Fiction Works and Script Superviser for the affiliated Misty Mountain Productions. After retiring from her nursing career of over 30 years, she was elected President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild, serving 2007-2011.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register for this workshop.


Jeffe Kennedy: A Personal History of an Emerging Genre (#fantasy #romance)

Today’s guest blogger is Jeffe Kennedy, who, among other recent successes, finaled in this year’s PRISM (FF&P’s published author contest) in the Fantasy category. She’s here to discuss how popular fantasy romance is these days..

I’ve just returned from the RT Booklovers Convention and – wow! – was it ever a great year for Fantasy Romance.

A number of us hosted the Mad Hatter Fantasy Romance Tea Party. We planned for 100 people, something like 150 came in for standing room only, and RT volunteers turned 30+ away. Next year RT suggests we plan for 200! What a rousing – and unexpected – success. I saw other signs of increased interest in the genre, with people snapping up my books, some after standing for hours in line! I’ve never experienced anything like it.

In fact, I had a long, winding (two-hour) conversation with Fantasy Romance author Grace Draven. It was fascinating to compare notes with her, because she was similarly blown away by the genre love. She said that, like me, she’s never been on the upsurge of anything in her life. We are both bemused and incredibly grateful.

What’s most interesting is our shared history, though we only just met at this conference.

Her book, Master of Crows – which was my Grace Draven gateway drug and I love, love, love – came out from Amber Quill in 2009. She told me it didn’t do well, largely because the cover wasn’t good. When she regained her rights to the book, she reissued it in 2011 with an amazing new cover and it took off from there. Meanwhile, my first book in the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, Rogue’s Pawn, finally sold after much muttering about how cross-genre it was, and came out from Carina Press in 2012. I think it’s salient that Grace and I both sold these “unmarketable” books to digital presses. We both reflected on our gratitude for those digital presses and the technology that allows these cross-genre books to find audiences, which allows new genres to emerge.

Amber Quill called Grace’s book Fantasy, but Carina classified mine, three years later, as Fantasy Romance – a genre I had never heard defined that way, before that moment. But in between the first publication of Master of Crows and mine for Rogue’s Pawn, something else happened. C.L. Wilson’s Lord of the Fading Lands was published in July 2010 by Harper Collins and debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. She, as Grace puts it, kicked the door down for Fantasy Romance.

This year, RT Magazine awarded the first of my Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, the Seal of Excellence for stretching genre boundaries. The second book, The Tears of the Rose, was nominated for best Fantasy Romance of the year, along with books by C.L. Wilson and Amy Raby, and Grace’s book, Entreat Me, won the category. 2014 was the first time the magazine gave awards in the subgenre.

So, what’s ahead? I’m a big believer that a high tide floats all boats. More love for Fantasy Romance means more opportunities for writers! Bring it on, people!

the talon of the hawk

More About The Talon of the Hawk

A HEAVY CROWN

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Available at Amazon   BN

Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy

More About Jeffe

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Thanks for guest blogging today, Jeffe, and congratulations! It sounds like RT Booklovers Convention was a lot of fun. :-D


#MindMeld: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed… #SFF #Books #Reading #Recommendation

SF Signal’s Andrea Johnson asked if I’d do another Mind Meld and, of course, I said yes because I love the Mind Melds. Yesterday’s question was:

Something old, something new, something borrowed. . .

Recommend three books to our readers out of your list of favorites: An older title, a newer title, and a title you discovered because you borrowed it from a friend or a library.

After reading the other responses, I realize I should have read the question better. I read the “and” as an “or” so I submitted two books I bought and one that was given to me, which doesn’t exactly count as “borrowed.” And my “old” book was from way back in 2012. Lol.

But, to be honest, I’ve talked a lot online here and elsewhere about my old, old favorites and I hadn’t ever talked about the 2012 book I loved. I also think that, though panelists should try to be responsive to the questions they are asked, one of the best things about the SF Signal posts is that they are mostly about having fun while promoting SF and related genres. I can’t say I read every post (they post a lot) but I try to keep up. I’ve loved the tone, depth, and breadth of the posts I’ve read.

So click here to read my recommendations (the other two are recent releases) and click here to check out some of the other SF Signal posts and subscribe or follow them.


Five Photographs: Rebekkah Niles (and the “Us” versus “Them” mentality in #writing)

Today’s guest is Rebekkah Niles, who’s here with her five photos. (For those of you who missed earlier intros or who stumble across this later, I’m doing a “Five Photographs” guest blog series this spring. I asked a bunch of writers to submit five photos and answer a brief list of questions.)

In Rebekkah’s interview she touches on an interesting phenomenon in publishing today — the “us versus them” mentality. There are more than a few examples of this attitude out there, among them, self-pub versus traditional. I pose the question: Is trying to be a hybrid author really the biggest challenge facing writers today? 

Rebekkah also shares a little bit about her book Into the Tides and she’s offering a giveaway: one signed print copy and two ebooks. Details below. Welcome, Rebekkah!

Something that represents something unique about you

 

Rebekkah Niles Unique

I’m a geek, with a deep love of fantasy, and have a special appreciation for dragons. Plus, my friends and I like to joke that we each have an ‘inner dragon’–that little piece of us that’s easily distracted by shiny things, loves sitting the sun, and thinks giant shelves of double-stacked of books are an extension of a dragon’s natural hoarding instincts. Really, that’s why I have a collection of loose bulk gemstones (surprisingly inexpensive, actually)… I’m part-dragon; it’s in my instincts.

[Jill: ha! love it.]

Something that represents where you live

Rebekkah Niles Dogwood

North Carolina’s state flower is the dogwood, and these flowers trim the streets and forests everywhere you go in spring, right about until the wisteria and azaleas take over in late April and early May. In fact, North Carolina is a beautiful flower-filled state, with something in bloom from late February through early December (at the least!). On the downside, it’s also bug-heaven, so if you plan a visit, bring bugspray.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Rebekkah Niles Bard and Sonnet

Bard and Sonnet mostly ignore each other, and only snuggle if it’s on a lap–but for pets, they will cuddle.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Rebekkah Niles Bride

While my fiance is the delight of my life, and there are some fun things about the process, I have to say wedding planning is the most frustrating thing in my life right now. Tell me again why everything costs so darn much? Fortunately, my fiance makes it all worth it. Though now I understand why everyone always seems to joke about eloping…

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Rebekkah Niles Tea

I think this picture might be cheating, because it has four things that make me happy: tea, sunshine, plants, and spending time with my true love. Nothing like sitting outside on a beautiful day with our little patio garden, sipping a lovely coconut oolong and relaxing together!

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

In Into the Tides, a disaster causes magic to drown the American South, including Kelly’s parents. Kelly discovers her music magic might be able to save those lost… but she’s tone-deaf, and if she tries and fails, it will cost her everyone else she loves.

What are you working on next?

In the sequel to Into the Tides, former rockstar Trax tries to control an unstable magic to regain his music… but the magic is growing, and if he can’t master it, it will destroy him, the woman he can’t stop thinking about, and possibly everyone around them.

What are you currently reading?

Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. Angels in New York–Immortal creatures of immense power, they rule the world with little care for the mere mortals who inhabit it; but when one goes bad, an angel will have to turn to a mortal woman to save them all. I can’t put these down.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Castle! Oh my goodness, Fillion’s great in everything he’s in. It’s no Firefly, but it’s more than enough to leave me in stitches.

[Jill: I haven’t seen Castle but I loved Fillion in Firefly/Serenity. Doubt there’s anyone following this blog that hasn’t seen that show/movie, but if not… go stream!! So bizarre that it was cancelled. Movie was good way to wrap it up but more seasons would have been great. Such well drawn characters and a fun universe.]

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

The fire-lizards in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. Yeah, having a dragon would be awesome… but these tiny arm-sized dragonets are too cute, and quite a powerhouse of their own when they put their minds to it!

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I’d say the biggest challenge facing writers today is the temptation of the “versus” mindset: a lot of people say things like “self-publishing versus traditional publishing,” or “Amazon versus Barnes and Noble sales,” or “e-book versus print,” but the truth is, it’s not a competition. Publishing isn’t a one-size fits all venue, nor is it limited to just one approach. When we have more options open to us than ever, everyone wins; but when writers try to undermine each other or claim there is only one right way to do things, it makes all writers look bad and could well end up limiting our options in the future.

[Jill: This was a really interesting thing to pick as a writer challenge to talk about. I agree. There is definitely an “us versus them” mentality about some things. I can think of a few others… Lots of drama outside of our stories as well as in them. I’ve often thought about what produces that “to your corners” attitude. Maybe it’s just a reflection of our current culture. In the U.S. at least, it seems as if everything is becoming more and more polarizing. Is it because we live in uncertain times? I doubt it. Each generation and every industry has faced uncertain times.

Is it because we feel compelled to live life faster and more efficiently than ever before? Perhaps… Maybe it’s easier for people to just decide they’re in “this group” versus “that group” so that every time an issue needs to be addressed or a question needs to be answered they can look to the group for direction instead of taking the time to research the issue/question and analyze it for themseves. Do I think that’s right? No.] 

How can we meet that challenge?

The best way to rise up to the challenge is to educate each other while supporting one another. There’s more options to writers now than ever before, but if we undermine one another, no one wins. On the other hand, joining national writers’ groups, educating each other on best practices, and knowing the difference between “bad for me” (such as publishing method or genre choice) and “bad for all writers” (such as vanity publishing or rights-grabbing clauses in contracts) can make publishing better for everyone. The best thing writers can do is share information on what works for ourselves, while being welcoming to writers who offer new or different ideas. When writers help writers, everyone wins.

[Jill: Agreed! “Bad for everyone” is as different from “bad for me” as “bad for me” is from “bad for this book.” Regarding self-pub versus traditional: ideally, each writer will decide which method of distribution is best for each individual project.

For what it’s worth, I’m seeing less us versus them attitudes with respect to the self-pub versus traditional debate. I think many writers are starting to realize it would be great to do both. Maybe trying to be a hybrid author is the biggest challenge facing writers today? :-D]

Rebekkah Niles

Rebekkah Niles

More about Rebekkah

Rebekkah Niles writes contemporary fantasy with romance and a touch of geekery. She lives in North Carolina with her cats and her fiance. Her lair has more wall space devoted to bookshelves than clothes or desk, and several art prints from her favorite fantasy artist, Nene Thomas, fill up what’s left.

When not writing her own fiction, she daylights as an editorial assistant. Outside work, she can be found writing (of course), reading, drinking tea, playing video games, and trying not to kill her plants.

You can also find her on her blog or on her website.

More about the Giveaway

Rebekkah is offering one signed print copy (U.S. only) and two digital versions of Into the Tides. To enter the giveaway, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you, Rebekkah, for the great interview, giveaway, and fun photo collection! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. For those of you celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday, I hope you have a happy one!


#Writing #Workshops for May (oh, and a chipmunk pic, bc why not?)

Below are the online workshops being offered in May by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

What does a chipmunk have to do with writing or workshops? Absolutely nothing. We caught this little guy (girl?) in our house earlier this week. No idea how it got in, which is somewhat disturbing. Not that I would have wanted them to go after it, but my cats showed zero interest. We let it go in the backyard.

What does a chipmunk have to do with writing or workshops?
Absolutely nothing.
We caught this little guy (girl?) in our house earlier this week. No idea how it got in, which is somewhat disturbing. Not that I would have wanted them to go after it, but my cats showed zero interest. We let it go in the backyard.

Beginning WordPress

05/04/2015 – 05/31/2015

This class will focus on understanding the basic functions of WordPress such as making posts and pages, adding images, copying and pasting from one post or page to another, creating links, connecting your social media links for Facebook, Twitter, etc., using plugins, widgets, and themes, creating parent and child pages, using menus, and customizing the look and feel of your site. In short, everything you need to create a website or blog and make it uniquely yours. The class lasts four weeks.

Lessons include:

  1. Navigating the Back End of WordPress
  2. Understanding Themes: Changing the Look of Your Site Through Themes
  3. Customizing the Themes: Changing the Header and Background
  4. Understanding the Difference Between Posts & Pages: What They Are; How to Use Them
  5. Adding Images & Links
  6. Things you can do to Jazz up your site. Using Asides and Widgets
  7. Working with Plugins: Understanding Plugins, Some Plugins You Must Have, Setting Up FB & Twitter Links on Your Site
  8. Some Things You Need to Know About the Web and Websites

About the Presenter, Pepper O’Neal

Pepper O’Neal has a doctorate in education and has taught a number of adult education classes on many different subjects. She currently works as a freelance researcher and author. When she was told by both of her publishers that she needed to have a website, she realized she needed to finally join the age of technology. She also realized she had two options. She could pay someone to design the site for her, or she could to do it herself. As she hates depending on others for things involving her career, she decided to learn how to use the free web-design software WordPress and Joomla. She took classes, hired experts for tutors, and picked the brains of her web-designer friends. After designing her own websites, she decided she liked doing it, and now she designs websites for others.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Beware the Info Dump, My Child

05/04/2015 – 05/17/2015

Say you’re starting work on your latest story. You’ve just done a ton of research to get all the details right, down to the outer ridge of your heroine’s left boot. You are proud of what you’ve done, and who could blame you? Inspired, you want to bring the reader into the story and you want him or her to be as fascinated and intrigued by it as you are. But you make a small tactical error. Just a small one. You dump all this stuff at the beginning of your story so they can get started on the wonderfulness that is your story… And you are left scratching your head when the readers don’t come, or they read the first couple of pages…and wander away, choosing not to continue.

What happened? Why weren’t they fascinated? What’s wrong with them?!

How much research is just right? What’s the tidbit to work in? What isn’t?

This class will teach you some tricks and tips to keep in mind when it comes to making the best use of your research, along with examples.

About the Presenters, Elizabeth Flynn and Heather Hiestand

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years.

Heather Hiestand wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period and she continues to return, fascinated by the rapid changes of the nineteenth century. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she is a bestseller at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. With her husband and son, she makes her home in a small town and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room. She also writes as Anh Leod.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop


#Writing #Workshops for April

Below are the online workshops being offered in April by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

The Query Conundrum

04/06/2015 – 04/19/2015

Query writing doesn’t have to be a mystery!

In this highly interactive course, you’ll learn the basics of query writing.  Plus, view successful queries, write your own rejection letters, read all about my chat with a popular agent on what her ideal query would look like, practice your query writing skills, and then receive a free query letter critique from me at the end of the course.

Lessons Include:

Query Me This…

Understanding the Basics

Everybody Loves a Good Query

Right to the Point

You Talkin’ to Me?

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Adding the Unexpected:

Subverting Reader Expectations

04/13/2015 – 04/26/2015

The unexpected can illustrate character, move plot, and provide new goals, all while keeping your reader up at night turning pages. But, you don’t need to have aliens land in the middle of your quiet dinner party with the mayor to keep your readers guessing. By dissecting popular movies and a few books, we’ll discover simple things you can do to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Some of the movies and books discussed will include:

  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Captain America: The Winter Solider
  • Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen or read each of the scenes, they’ll be thoroughly described in each lesson and I will post a heads up before each one in case you’d like to watch/read for yourself.

Join me to learn new ways to secure your book’s place on the “keeper shelf”.

About the Presenter, Elle Keen

A longtime member of RWA, Elle enjoys writing paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic stories and since she’s normally got a fairy or two hanging around, unexpected things tend to happen.

“Elle Keen knows her way around the unexpected. You’ll get what you need to take your books to the next level from this class.” – Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series from DAW Books

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Click here to register for this workshop.


POLL — Fantasy Fans: What’s your “Gateway” Book?

Months ago, I was at an event with my husband. We were sitting at a table with some people we knew through others. In other words, it was a friendly environment but we didn’t really know anyone. At some point my husband mentioned that I was a writer and that I wrote “adult fantasy,” which, of course, is true, but…

that label evokes different associations depending on who hears it. Sure enough I was then immediately asked, “Oh, so your books are like Fifty Shades of Grey”?

Um, no. Not really. Yes, there’s romance in them. And, no, I don’t always close the bedroom door. But the world within which my stories are written is very different from Christian and Anastasia’s. Without thinking, I blurted out:

“No, more like Lord of the Rings.”

But then I thought about it, and realized that comparison wasn’t any more appropriate than the Fifty Shades one. My writing is as similar to Tolkien’s as it is to E.L. James’. (In other words, it isn’t. And that’s a good thing. Every writer should try to develop their own style.)

The people we were talking to were genuinely curious about what I wrote. They weren’t avid readers and they were simply trying to relate to the type of stories I write. And when people do that, they tend to make references to people, places, and things that EVERYONE has heard of. Otherwise, there’s no bridge, no connection. There’s no jumping off point, no basis for discussion. It’s just people talking at each other, instead of to each other.

But the experience made me think. And even after all this time, I haven’t really answered the question it raised, which is basically:

What’s my gateway book?

So I’m curious if anyone else struggles with this.

Writers – when you are talking to someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you compare your work to?

Readers – when you meet someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you use as a well-known example of the genre?

Before we get to the fun part, an acknowledgement:

Yes, I know fantasy is replete with subgenres and endless iterations. I’m aware that your answer to this question is highly dependent on your own reading preferences. But that’s why you must choose something that has a 90% chance of being known by someone who is NOT ALREADY A FANTASY FAN AND POSSIBLY NOT EVEN A READER AT ALL. (In other words, this is not a post about all of the stories people should have heard of because they are great examples of the genre, but rather it’s a post about the books we use to start a discussion in the first place.)

So, here are some choices. But I’m also very interested in hearing from you. I can’t possibly have listed all the options…


Laura Bickle: You Don’t Get to Pick Your Spirit Guide

Today’s guest is Laura Bickle, whose newest novel, DARK ALCHEMY, is coming out March 24th. She’s here with a sneak peek at her new MC’s spirit guide. She’s also giving away one copy of her novel as part of her blog tour. Details below. Welcome, Laura!

Laura Bickle Coyote Teaser

“You may not believe in spirit guides,

but all that’s important is that the animal does.”

A spirit guide is a funny thing. The general idea is that a serene and wise entity guides a willing person to enlightenment and self-understanding. There are lotus blossoms and meditation and a lot of focusing on the state of one’s chakras. Can you hear the dulcet tones of angels murmuring?

Yeah. That’s not how it works out for the heroine of DARK ALCHEMY. Petra Dee arrives in the sleepy town of Temperance to search for her father, missing ten years. She’s also running away from her own past, away from the last screams of the ocean.

Temperance isn’t the sleepy gold rush town it seems to be. At the edge of Yellowstone Park, it’s the epicenter of a turf war among the local undead, a meth lord, a cattle baron, and the forgotten alchemical monsters left behind by the town’s founder. Temperance was a town built on alchemy, when gold was conjured from stones, and the heirs of that legacy are still searching for the secret of eternal life.

Petra’s a scientist. She doesn’t believe in anything she can’t touch and measure. But when she’s confronted with bulletproof ranch hands, the Alchemical Tree of Life, and a string of dead bodies twisted and calcinated like driftwood, she’s got to start believing in something beyond the lenses of her microscope.

That something is a coyote who turns up at the doorstep of her trailer, searching for lunch meat. Coyote has long been a trickster in myth, and he’s determined to show Petra that there’s more here than meets the eye. Terrifying things long buried are waking, and he digs up one of these artifacts for her: the Venificus Locus. It’s a golden compass that locates magic and runs on blood.

Well-fed on lunch meat and dozing at the foot of Petra’s bed, the coyote knows that he’s the only one who can protect Petra from the denizens of the dark. He knows where danger lies, and he can help Petra navigate the weird west.

But will she listen to him? She’s given him a bath, a flea collar, and a name.  He’s masquerading as a Good Dog. When push comes to shove, will Petra follow the coyote’s instincts, or will she follow her scientific curiosity to become the next victim in a string of murders?

Dark Alchemy, Laura Bickle, fantasy

More About Dark Alchemy

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle’s novel Dark Alchemy.

Some secrets are better left buried…

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.

But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up – desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain – her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.

Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Available at:

Amazon    BN   Google Books    HarperCollins

Laura Bickle, Dark Alchemy, fantasy

Laura Bickle

More About Laura

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.

The Giveaway

Laura is giving away one e-copy of DARK ALCHEMY. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 and over. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Dark Alchemy Banner

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Thank you, Laura, for guest blogging today!

 


Deleted Scenes: one from Dark Light of Day + one from future Noon Onyx B4

Writers: do you share your deleted scenes?

Readers: do you like reading them?

I don’t share many deleted scenes mostly because they’ve been deleted for a reason. They’re either not very good, they’re redundant, it’s a story thread I didn’t pursue, or something similar. So sharing them doesn’t make much sense. If I wanted to sell a beautiful dress, I wouldn’t stand on the street corner handing out remnants, right? And sharing a deleted scene from a WIP is doubly precarious because it may give something away that I shouldn’t or show something that I’ll change my mind about later.

But deleted scenes can sometimes be fun and/or interesting. Who doesn’t watch the blooper reel? I love story extras, whether they’re coming from authors or filmmakers. Below are two of mine. (I’ll also eventually share a bunch of deleted scenes from White Heart of Justice featuring Ari and what he was up to when Noon was down in southern Halja with Rafe, but I’m not sure yet exactly how I’ll share those… I might share them here or I might make them available some other way).

This first deleted scene is from Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1). It’s a second training scene. I cut it because that book was already long and I didn’t think we needed to see another Wednesday in the Manipulation dungeon. The scene below wasn’t as strong as the scene in the book where Brunus attacks Noon with the nadziak.

Deleted Scene from

DARK LIGHT OF DAY

The day after the call from Night was a Wednesday, which meant the next morning I was back in the Manipulation dungeon. My mood was one of weary resignation… that is until Rochester told us we were through (for a while anyway) with learning how to try to shape our magic like weapons. We would now be moving on to our most important magical skill — throwing fire. And we would be practicing it alone, one on one, with Rochester. He picked me as his first victim and then kicked everyone else out.

The dungeon felt like a melting ice-cube today: cold, hard, clear, and dripping wet.

“Have you ever been to the Osmium Mountains, Ms. Onyx?”

I shook my head. No one had that I knew of. They were the edge of the world as far as most people were concerned — high mountains located miles and miles northwest of New Babylon, far past the scattered Hyrke outposts and demon devotion sites situated in Halja’s northern hinterlands.

I stood in the center of the room, near one of the floor grates, listening to the trickle of water. My breath puffed in the cold and I stamped my feet, although it was more out of expectation than impatience. Over the course of the semester, I’d mastered the attitude of this room, if not its lessons.

“They’re glacier mountains, prone to avalanches,” Rochester explained. “Do you know which type of demon is the most common there?”

No, but I could guess. “Ice breathers.”

Rochester’s mouth quirked in a smug little self-satisfied smile.

I wanted to kick him in the shin.

“Oh, there are plenty of those. But there’s even more of another type of demon. Pyrothropes.”

“Pyrothropes? Why would demons whose true form is fire want to live in a land full of snow and ice?”

“It’s not that they want to. That’s where they’re spawned.”

“They could leave. Come down from the mountains. No one’s forcing them to live up there.”

Rochester stared at me. “There’s a lot you can learn from the pyrothropes, Nouiomo. But we’re only going to focus on one of those things today — the difference between heat and an explosion. The pyrothropes are capable of creating huge explosions with their magic.” He raised an eyebrow at me and his implication was clear. Like me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. “But if they went around throwing explosive fireballs everywhere up there, what do you think would happen?”

“Avalanche,” I supplied dutifully.

“Right,” Rochester brightened, smiling at me. I was instantly suspicious. “And yet, despite all their precautions, the pyrothropes are still buried from time to time under natural avalanches. How do you think they use their magic to escape?”

“Explosion?” I said, imagining a plume of snow erupting like a volcano.

But Rochester shook his head. “Definitely not, as you will see. Throwing an explosive burst of fire while lying trapped beneath tons of snow and ice is quite… uncomfortable. Even throwing fire or — for the pyrothrope, reverting to true form — is risky. Do you know why?”

I remained silent, suddenly worried about the direction this lesson was heading.

“The pyrothropes didn’t learn to control their magic because they were afraid of hurting somebody. They did it because, if they didn’t, they would suffocate to death.”

And then — whoosh! — a wave of magic washed over me. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t see. Couldn’t hear.

I could feel though. And what I felt was terrifying. Because I was trapped in a block of something so cold, solid, and crushing, I couldn’t even lift my eyelids to see what it was. I couldn’t expand my lungs enough to take a breath to smell it. I tried to wiggle my fingers. The tips moved the tiniest little bit. All I could feel was cold.

Rochester’s muffled voice called to me, “Use your magic to melt the ice. But be careful, Nouiomo. No uncontrolled explosions this time. If you panic and throw an explosive fireball, you’re likely to be trapped in there with it. Much better to concentrate. Shape your magic into a nice warm ball and then slowly expand it.”

I started panicking almost immediately. How could Rochester use words like nice and warm when he was referring to my being smothered to death? My eyes started to water with tears of frustration. They instantly froze, further cementing my eyes shut. My lungs burned with the need for breath. Before I could stop what was happening, my magic ‘popped’ inside of Rochester’s life-sized ice-cube and the most exquisite blistering pain bubbled up underneath my skin. I screamed, but of course no sound came out of my mouth. My lips didn’t even move. I tried to run, but only my toes twitched.

I tried to heat up my magic again, just to get out, but this time it sputtered. Its spasms echoed mine as I started to black out. Just before I did, Rochester melted the ice-cube. I fell to the floor, burned, shivering, and gasping for breath.

Rochester put me in the cube eighteen more times that Wednesday morning. When I left I didn’t even look at him. I couldn’t.

~

The scene below is from the as yet untitled Noon Onyx #4. It’s from the first chapter, so I don’t think it gives much away, but it’s a fun sneak peek because it shows three of the main characters and hints at a few things. Just remember, like the scene above, it’s an irregularly shaped, rough-edged remnant. It’s been discarded for a reason. (It’s cute, but didn’t have enough oomph for me for chapter one).

Deleted Scene from

Untitled Noon Onyx #4

Like a glowing aura of glamoured light, Fara Vanderlin stood all white and bright at the end of the dirty alley in between Corpus Justica, our law library, and Rickard Building, where all my classes were held, waiting for me.

“What’s with the paper bag?” she called.

“Don’t ask,” I answered.

She raised her eyebrows, but said nothing else as I set the bag down on the pavement.

“Do you think you can cloak this so that it’s safe here until we get back?”

Her slightly puzzled expression turned to one of complete bewilderment. “You want me to cast a cloaking spell over a bag of trash?”

“Yep.”

She shrugged. “Okay.”

She murmured a series of unfamiliar words and the bag disappeared into the grunge of the alley. And that was one of the things I loved about Fara. Unlike my previous Guardian, she didn’t ask all sorts of unwarranted questions. If she knew a spell that could help me, she cast it.

“Where’s Virtus?” I asked.

Fara glanced at Nova. “I thought since he and Nova were still… getting aquainted… it might be better if he stayed behind while we ran our little errand.”

I grunted my assent. Virtus was Fara’s tiger. Her having him as a four-footed companion was just as unusual as my having Nova. We’d been hoping their mutual non-verbal, no opposable thumbs status would make them BFFs but no such luck. It had been hate at first sight.

“And the Joshua School’s still okay with you keeping him there?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t they be?”

“Ah… no reason.”

So… how about you? Thoughts on deleted scenes?

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


#Writing #Workshops for March

Below are the online workshops being offered in March by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Balancing the Paranormal and the Romance

03/02/2015 – 03/29/2015

It’s difficult enough to write a good romance, or to write a good paranormal or fantasy novel—when you put the two together you now have an even bigger challenge. How do you structure your story so the paranormal plot doesn’t overwhelm the romance? How do you create characters that have a great romance—with paranormal elements that increase the conflict and are key to the story? This workshop looks at a process to create a really strong paranormal romance that has a romance as the main story arc, but which also uses paranormal/fantasy elements that are vital to the plot.

Lectures include:

  • What’s the difference between Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Paranormal Romance?
  • Blending other subgenres (such as suspense) into the mix—what can this give you and what are the dangers?
  • What’s a story arc and what are character arcs?
  • Crafting your characters for romantic conflict that includes vital paranormal elements?
  • How to balance action and romance—what are the turning points for each?
  • How to test if your story is really more of a paranormal/fantasy or a romance?
  • Do you have strong enough antagonists—and are they well developed to create maximum romantic conflicts and increase the paranormal/fantasy elements?
  • Making sure the dark moment hits both the romance and the paranormal/fantasy story line.

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

In addition to her Regency and Historical romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burnand Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and has also written computer games and does editing work on the side. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

The Nuances of Dialogue

03/02/2015 – 03/27/2015

Whether in prose or dramatic mediums, characters need to speak in a succinct, entertaining manner that moves the story forward. Inner character motivation and personality can be revealed through what is spoken and how. This workshop will cover diction & syntax, concepts of multi-layered meaning, the difference between speech patterns of male-female speakers, influence of age-education-culture, how to control lecturing and argument orchestration.

About the Presenter, Sally J. Walker

Sally J. Walker has taught over 35 different workshops both on-site and on-line.  An avid learner, she is always ready to change and grow her own process then pass on what she has learned in a practical manner intended to challenge participants rather than dictate end-all-be-all concepts.  She has taught for Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City’s Johnson County Community College, Lincoln (NE)’s Southeast Community College, several chapters of RWA including KOD and Scriptscene, a Romantic Times national conference, and the Moondance International Film Festival, as well as conducted a mini-workshop of writing and meditation for Omaha-area churches.  Sally has also been an Artist-in-Residence and motivational speaker at several Omaha area schools and conducts free weekly mentoring sessions for teens at the Ralston Baright Library.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop


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