Tag Archives: fantasy

Five Photographs: Laurel Wanrow (“Without the next book, we are sunk!”)

My last Five Photographs guest is Laurel Wanrow. She’s here with a picture of her blind rescue turtle, as well as more about her debut steampunk fantasy THE UNRAVELING. Welcome, Laurel!

Hi Jill–What a fun way to have an interview! Thanks for extending it through June!

My pleasure, Laurel. I’ve really enjoyed this series and will be sad to wrap it up. But all good things must come to an end. :-D I’ll be sharing my five pictures soon!

Something that represents something unique about you

Laurel Wantow cabin porch

A cabin built by my dad—with help from his parents—while he was in college. I think it’s unusual these days to have an entirely handcrafted house made by a family member. I’ve visited my entire life and my husband and I have taken our kids just about every year. I also sneak off for writing retreats. :-)

[Jill: definitely rare and unusual. Looks like the perfect writing retreat!]

Something that represents where you live

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I walk on a nearby golf course and frequently see wildlife: fox, deer, geese and even turtles cross through our neighborhood.

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

Laurel Wanrow Clady

While working at a nature center I did a lot of turtle rehab and was given an Eastern Box Turtle who crossed the road at the wrong time and lost her eyesight. My daughter was little when she came to live with us and named her Clady. We’ve hand fed Clady for twenty years. She’s between 50 to 80 years old. (It’s hard to tell the age once they’re full-grown.)

[Jill: that is really neat. No one has shared a picture of a pet turtle yet. Clady was lucky to find a home with you.]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Laurel Wanrow door lock

Ohmygosh, our door lock! When we had a new door installed it was hard to work. My husband thought it would loosen up, and we had such a time getting the installer to caulk properly that I hesitated to call them back. Five years later I still hate the thing!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

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Since my kids were really even too little to hunt fossils we have made family trips Westmoreland State Park along the Potomac River. At low tide we scour the beach for fossilized shark teeth, whale vertebrae and other oddities.

[Jill: hunting for fossils is more popular than I realized. Izzy Norse is also a fan of fossil hunting]

Interview

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

In The Unraveling, a steampunk fantasy romance, a proper Victorian artist must learn to use her bloodline’s wild magic to help the shapeshifter she loves, or become what she fears most: another cog in a magnate’s plan to control agriculture.

What are you working on next?

The Unraveling is the first volume of three in a serialized novel called The Luminated Threads. I’ve finished edits on the second volume and am starting them on the third.

What are you currently reading?

Penelope’s Song of Blood & Stone

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

The Big Bang Theory has been a favorite for years. Recently my daughter introduced me to Once Upon A Time, but I’m only in season one.

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

I love Dobby the house-elf and his rather perverse way of ‘helping’ Harry Potter.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Balancing the demands of social media and marketing with keeping your head together to keep writing the next book.

How can we meet that challenge?

I’m not sure I have the answer, since I’m a debut author and just putting into practice the next techniques I’ve heard for years at RWA workshops. The message resonating with me as I approached my first release was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ oft repeated line “Protect the work.” She usually uses this line when advising writers to get over their review angst, but it applies to all of your writing time. Without the next book, we are sunk!

Laurel Wanrow

Laurel Wanrow

More About Laurel

Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. The Unraveling debuted June 23rd.

Thank you for the interview, Laurel, and for sharing your pictures with us today. Good luck and best wishes with THE UNRAVELING!


Five Photographs: J.Kathleen Cheney, Author of the Upcoming THE SHORES OF SPAIN

J. Kathleen Cheney is my next “Five Photographs” guest. I chose her book, THE GOLDEN CITY, as one of my picks for a December 2013 Mind Meld I participated in. The third book in her series, THE SHORES OF SPAIN, is out next month. She’s here with a peek at her writing process, a pic of her pets, and sea monster art. Welcome, Kathleen! :-)

Something that represents something unique about you

Cheney Writing System

This is a photo of my filing system where I keep magazine/catalog clippings, and you can see on the wall what I do with them. Although other people do this as well, what probably makes this special is that I’ve been saving clippings since college. I have some clippings in these files that are 30 years old or older.  If there was a fire in the house, I would grab these before trying to grab photographs.

Something that represents where you live

Cheney Storm Safe

Storm Safe, a dank rusty hole in the ground. This one’s set into our garage floor and the plastic is usually over it because we park a car atop it. Supposedly, this can hold 5 people, but we’ve had 2 in there, and it heats up terribly quickly. But if you live in Oklahoma, you might end up thanking your luck stars you’ve got one of these.

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

Cheney The Dogs

Alwyn and Penelope. My fluffy masters, to whom the lion’s share of all revenues go in the form of dog food, treats, boarding, and fixing chewed-up furniture, wood trim, and blinds.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Cheney Frustration

See that? Right lane MUST TURN RIGHT. There are four signs before the intersection. 4! Do not cut into the right turn lane and try to zip around and cut off the people going straight. (This is at the large intersection nearest my house.)

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Cheney Lisbon Discoveries Monument

My husband really supports my writing, and that’s not the case for all writers. Not only did we use our first vacation in 5 years to visit the setting of my novels, he went as far as to get that sea monster tattooed onto his leg. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is ;o)

[Jill: Love the tattoo and its significance.]

Interview

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

I’ve got a new novel coming out in July, and I’d describe it as…In a world where the events of the epic poem, Os Lusiades, were real….wait, I’ve probably lost you there. When Spain and Portugal find themselves trapped in a conspiracy of magic, it will take a few honest men…no, women…no, wait, sirens!…to straighten things out.  

I stink at the elevator pitch.

[Jill: Sounds great! Elevator pitches are hard.]

What are you working on next?

I have a new series debuting next February (the Palace of Dreams Novels), and I’m actually working on the second book in that series (tentatively titled The Sins of the Fathers), although I expect to get edits to work on for the first book (Dreaming Death) any day now.

[Jill: Congrats! :-) ]

What are you currently reading?

Tex Thompson’s Medicine for the Dead, the second in her series set in a fantasy Old West with fishmen and a long-suffering fellow named Appaloosa Elim.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

It’s summer hiatus, so my husband and I are watching TV series on the Roku instead of live TV. We’ve just finished up Season 2 of Orphan Black, and started Season 1 of Vikings. Also, we pretty much watch any Mystery series on PBS, which currently means Father Brown Mysteries and Doctor Blake Mysteries. And American Ninja Warrior, because it’s fun.

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

Bane.  Not the one from Batman, but the one from P.C. Hodgell’s books of the Kencyrath. Bane is SO bad that I really want him to be reformed. Unfortunately, he’s dead.  Well, mostly dead. His body is currently made of bugs. However, he does have the Book Bound in Pale Leather right now, so there’s no telling what he’ll learn from it.

(BTW, I haven’t read the most recent book yet, so don’t spoil it for me in comments!!!)

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Trying to decide which path to take with which works. I think it would benefit most to try for both traditional publication and indie publication, but it’s tough to choose which works belong in which group. And there’s so much advice flowing in from all camps, that it’s difficult for a writer to stick to their guns and choose the best path for them.

How can we meet that challenge?

I think that it would be beneficial for both sides on the traditional publishing/indie publishing argument to quit vilifying the other.  I’m very grateful to have the publisher that I do, and they can do things I can’t. But I also have self-published works, so I get to see both sides of this argument.

More about Kathleen

Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, “The Golden City” was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). The sequel, “The Seat of Magic” came out in 2014, and the final book in the series, “The Shores of Spain” will come out July 2015.

More about THE SHORES OF SPAIN

A brilliant new chapter in the Novels of the Golden City.

Even as the branches of peace are being offered, there are some who still believe those who are not human should be used as chattel. And they are willing to go to great lengths to retain their power.

Newlywed siren Oriana Paredes has been appointed Ambassador to her home islands now that communication between Northern Portugual and the magical races has been restored. But convincing her people that the new Portuguese Prince’s intentions are honorable after years of persecution is difficult. And her husband, Duilio, faces his own obstacles among the sirens where males are a rare and valuable commodity with few rights.

In addition to their diplomatic mission, the two hope to uncover the truth behind Oriana’s mother’s death. Evidence suggests that Spain—a country that has been known to enslave magical beings—may have infiltrated the siren authority. Unable to leave their post, Oriana and Duilio must call on Inspector Joaquim Tavares to root out the truth.

But even his seer’s gift cannot prepare him for what he will discover.

Thank you for the interview and for sharing your pictures with us today, Kathleen! Best wishes for THE SHORES OF SPAIN!


Five Photographs: Jami Gray, Urban Fantasy Author of the Kyn Kronicles

Today’s Five Photographs guest is urban fantasy author Jami Gray. Love fast cars, beautiful sunsets, and adorable labs? Then this post is a must! Since Jami watches Game of Thrones too, I also included my latest (and last) thoughts on GoT. *Spoiler alert* If you haven’t watched S5’s finale, skip the purple section below!]

Something that represents something unique about you

Jami Gray My Baby

I grew up loving classic cars, with my favorite being the 1968 Mustang. It only took forty plus years, but I finally got my own Mustang!

[Jill: love that it’s parked outside of Barnes & Noble. :-D ]

Something that represents where you live

Jami Gray Sunset

I’m blessed to live in the Southwest, Arizona to be exact. While I’ve spent time in the Northwest, I found I missed the open skies, especially the spectacular sunsets.

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

Jami Gray The Girls

These are the two newest editions to our family, Lola (in a sexy black number) and Angel (in stunning white), affectionately known as the Fur Minxes.

[Jill: I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s pet pics. That’s at least HALF the fun of the internet, right? :-D ]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Jami Gray Cooking

Growing up in a very large family, cooking was not a fun endeavor. In fact, I loathed it. Fast forward years and years and still don’t enjoy it. Thank goodness I have a hubby who does…

[Jill: I hear ya. Me too!]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Jami Gray The Boys

Every writer needs a great support team, and I was blessed with these three. Not only will they forgive me for walking around in a daze in the midst of a project, but they have no problems combining family vacations with my need for writing research. In this case, we hit San Diego when I was working on my PSY-IV Team series.

Interview

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

Beauty is a treacherous bitch, and her name is Natasha—but can a demon queen allow Darius, a mysterious interloper, to uncover truth from lies before betrayal claims her life?

What are you working on next?

 I just finished my second PSY-IV book, TOUCHED BY FATE, so now I’m putting together a collection of short stories set in the Kyn world for a Fall 2015 release. After that, I have two projects: the next Kyn book and planning a new series.

What are you currently reading?

Oh man, as I write these answers, I’m finishing up Christine Feehan’s CAT’S LAIR, but up next is Megan Mitcham’s Base Branch Series and finishing Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. Plus, I have CONCRETE EVIDENCE by Rachel Grant I want to dive into, along with Joseph Nassise’s THE HERETIC. All before the summer titles hit shelves…

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I live with geeks, ergo we watch Marvel’s AGENTS OF SHIELD religiously. I’m an avid fan of BITTEN (love Kelly Armstrong’s books), CSI CYBER, NCIS NEW ORLEANS, CRIMINAL MINDS, BONES, CASTLE, and my hubby insists I watch GAME OF THRONES. Not sure why, since everyone dies on that show, the outcome is pretty moot.

*SPOILERS!*

[Jill: GoT… my last thoughts on it… I thought the finale was somewhat disappointing. Not saying I won’t be watching the show when it returns. Just that I’m way less eager for its return than I have been in past seasons. Is it fatigue? Maybe. Instead of feeling outrage after the final shot, I almost felt relief that the season was over. As for the different story lines… I was disappointed in Sansa’s season ending, of course. I’d mentioned earlier that I was looking for her to get her revenge, which sounds very unforgiving and bloodthirsty. But let’s face it, it’s GoT. That’s the type of show it is. What I really wanted was for Sansa to take charge of her own destiny. And she did… but only in the tiniest way. She picked a lock and lit a candle. Not exactly the big bang I was hoping for. And, frankly, I’m super sick of Ramsay. I was hoping S5 would be it for him. The thought of having to watch him again next season, ugh.

I thought Stannis’ ending was just. That worked for me. He deserved his fate, which included everything that happened to him in the show up to the point of his death at Brienne’s hands. Arya? I really liked that we finally got to see how some of the magic of the Many-Faced God worked. I’m not sure how I feel about her killing Ser Meryn Trant and going blind because of it. I’m patiently waiting to see where the writers are going with that one. The Dorne/Jaime/Myrcella story? Dorne was kinda meh, start to finish. The sand snakes never fulfilled their promise of being bad asses. I was sad to see Myrcella die, of course, but she wasn’t a character I really knew. And even though I know Jaime a lot better than I did in S1, it’s hard for me to forget that he’s the one who pushed Bran out the window. Cersei? To be honest, I got up during that part for a snack break. I didn’t pause and it wasn’t bc I couldn’t watch. It’s bc it went on for way too long. Maybe it felt different in the book. And finally, Jon Snow… if that’s truly the end of him, it will be massively disappointing. Yes, partly bc he is a favorite character, but also bc his story seems unresolved. Lots of set ups this season for things that didn’t get paid off.

Jami, I think I read somewhere (couldn’t find a link to share though) that George RR Martin has said that Song of Ice and Fire is a tragedy. I gotta admit, I’m not a huge fan of tragedy. Tragic plot points, sure. But I’m too fond of happy endings and tidy resolutions to fully embrace tragedy as a favored art form. In any case, I think the best thing about GoT is that it’s brought fantasy into the mainstream. One can argue that other works did that before, but there’s no denying its tremendous effect on pop culture.]

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

Umm, again going back to the geek roots, I would hyperventilate to work with Wolverine. (Does that count for fantasy creature and weapon?) Villain would have to be Loki, because a man with a sense of humor is hard to walk away from.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

For me, marketing. While I mentally get the best way to market your books is to write the next one, there’s still pressure to keep your books out there. That’s not an easy feat considering today’s market.

How can we meet that challenge?

Perseverance. Do the best you can, try new options, find out what works, but don’t ever forget to get back behind the keyboard and write your next story. You owe that to your readers.

More About the Kyn Kronicles

Jami Gray Banner

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1

Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2

Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3

Even wild hearts can be broken…

Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.

If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

http://jamigray.com/kynkronicles/

http://jamigray.com/psyivteams/ 

Jami Gray

Jami Gray

More About Jami

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Thank you, Jami, for the interview and for sharing your pictures. Good luck and best wishes for the Kyn Kronicles!


Five Photographs: Terry Spear (teddy bears, wolves, Game of Thrones, and Outlander)

[Brief update before Terry’s post: I’ve got a few more Five Photographs posts for June, including mine. :-) Then I’ll be wrapping up this guest blog series. I’m also gonna be taking a summer hiatus from blogging. More on that later. In the meantime, enjoy my remaining June posts!]

Terry Spear shares her Five Photographs today. This post is (per the usual type of post you see here) a real assortment of stuff: rainbow teddy bears, Texas bluebonnets, Havanese puppies, and my thoughts on this season’s Game of Thrones and Outlander. *spoiler alert* If you’re not caught up, skip the purple text below]. Welcome, Terry!

Something that represents something unique about you

Terry Spear Rainbow bear and baby reclining

I’m an award-winning teddy bear artist, Rainbow momma bear and baby bear www.celticbears.com

Something that represents where you live

Terry Spear bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush

Wild Bluebonnets of Texas naturalized by the airport

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

Terry Spear Max Tanner National Puppy Day

Max (7 mos old) and Tanner (4 mos old) Havanese puppies

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Terry Spear scorpion

Snakes and scorpions in the house

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Terry Spear daffodil dancing

Flowers and photography, picture of the daffodils in full bloom at my home

Interview

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

HOTTEST OF THE HOT ON THE NAVY SEAL WOLF TEAM

Paul Cunningham has eluded many traps in his long career as a Navy SEAL, but there’s no way out of this one. On a rare visit home, he gets “volunteered” for a local charity bachelor auction, and the community is counting on him. Then he discovers that the sexy she-wolf with the winning ticket is Lori Greypaw-the one woman he could never resist. And she has plans for Paul that go way beyond a simple date. For the first time in his bachelor life, this alpha wolf SEAL is going to have to prove his worth…

What are you working on next?

I just finished writing She-Wolf, the first book where the heroine runs her own pack alone and next up is A Wolf in Billionaire’s Clothing. Then a real change in the world with Jaguar Jingle Bells.

What are you currently reading?

I haven’t had time to read in forever, except for the Rita entries. Too many deadlines, both books and teddy bears.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Outlander, Supernatural, Game of Thrones

[Jill: *SPOILERS*

I’ve stuck with GoT despite the awful rape scene between Sansa and Ramsay and the stomach turning Shireen sacrifice because, as difficult as scenes like those are to watch, I’m willing to give the storytellers a chance. I’m not saying I’m going to quit watching if the finale disappoints, but one of the things I’m really looking for in GoT’s last episode this season is “Dark Sansa’s” revenge. I haven’t read the books, but my understanding is that the show deviated from GRRM’s novels with Sansa’s story line up in Winterfell. At the end of last season and the beginning of this one, I was really excited to see a new, improved — STRONGER — Sansa emerging. To me, that wedding night scene risks reversing her character’s development. I didn’t like the scene (who would?!) but I’m willing to see if there was a reason for it. If it turns out to be hyperbolic gratuitous sex/violence, then I’ll be a lot less thrilled with the show next season. 

For those of you who watch Outlander, you know that the finale on that show was worse than the Sansa/Ramsay scene. I’m not ashamed to say that I fast forwarded through some of it. This is actually a compliment to Tobias Menzies’ acting. He certainly convincingly plays sick and depraved. In any case, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the two shows, which have each showed horrible rape scenes this season, and analyze from a storytelling perspective. In order to justify viewer trauma, there better be a good reason for the traumatic events. With GoT, I’m still waiting to see it…]

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Deciding whether to indie publish, or hold on and try to get traditionally published.

How can we meet that challenge?

Know what it is that you really want in life. By learning the pros and cons, we make the best informed decisions. For everyone, it will be different.

Now it’s YOUR TURN:

Are you a fan of teddy bears, puppies, daffodils, bluebonnets, and rainbows? 

Do you love books about werewolves and shifters?

Do you watch Game of Thrones or Outlander? What do you think of this season’s shows?

Thank you, Terry, for the interview and for sharing your pictures today.


#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.


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