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Archive for May, 2014

This is the second blog in a series of owl-focused posts to promote Owl Light, my new YA-friendly collection of stories featuring owls. Each post features a mix of owl art, facts, folklore, quotes, and links to owlish sites. If you’re a fan of owls, or know someone whooo is, follow my blog, buy my book, and be kind to these beautiful birds.

13 Owl Flying extra Owl art: One of my owl pen and ink sketches from Owl Light.

Owl fact: As predators, owls have a long, hooked beak that is useful in tearing apart their prey.

Owl folklore: Some people believe that owls carry messages back and forth between our world and the spirit world.

Owl link: For crafty types, here’s a link to the Audubon Screech Owl Box Plan  and a video of an Eastern Screech Owl.

Maybe6 owl light cover And, of course, a buy link for Owl Light.

Or buy the book from The Owl Pages and help out owls.

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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

A fan of fairy tales since I was three, I agree with Einstein! I read fairy tales along with lots of other books to my kids when they were small, and now read to my grandkids. Fantasy, whether fairy tales or other corners of the genre, encourages readers to lose themselves in another world where tough moral issues can be dealt with and not seem too “real.”

I wrote an essay, Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters, published in the Little Patuxent Review, on why we like make believe worlds. I’ve posted the entire essay on my website for you to enjoy.

How do you feel about fairy tales?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Skean copy Next Saturday, the regular Owl Light blog series will resume. Today, I wanted to talk a little about my Young Adult/Cross-Over fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, and Balticon.

This weekend, I’m a guest at Balticon, the annual science-fiction and fantasy con sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Over the years, it’s been fun and a learning experience to serve as a Balticon Poetry Workshop leader, panelist, and contest judge. Plus, I’ve participated in book signings, author readings, Broad Universe rapid fire readings, publication parties, and this year for the first time, the art show. Not to mention, I love sitting in the audience enjoying other speakers and panels.

This year, I was lucky enough to have The Enchanted Skean considered for the Compton Crook Award (given for an author’s first speculative novel). To my surprise and delight, The Enchanted Skean was selected as one of 8 Finalists. Though I didn’t win, I was honored to be in the company of the 7 other wonderful Finalist books. And a quick congratulations to Chuck Gannon, author of Fire With Fire, on the win.

Now, owl-lovers, I haven’t forgotten you! For The Enchanted Skean, I created a race of owl shape-changers called featherfay who play an important part in the plot. In fact, these owls annoy, warn, and eventually save the central character, Beck. Without owls, our hero would have been captured and killed!

My idea for featherfays came from Welsh folklore. In The Mabinogion, two mages (wizards) get together and create a woman made of flowers to be the wife of a hero under a curse. The woman, Blodeuwedd, is beautiful beyond compare, but like flowers, her heart changes with the seasons. Eventually, Blodeuwedd betrays her husband – who is nearly killed by her lover. For her part in the plot, Blodeuwedd is changed into an owl. In some parts of Wales, owls are still called “flower face.”

So I just took the idea of a woman changing into an owl, and made the transformation a part of my featherfays or owl-sprites. Here’s a video some Snowy Owls who just might be able to change into a sprite if the moonlight is right and there’s a bit of magic in the air.

Intrigued by a race of shape-changing owls? Here’s a buy link for The Enchanted Skean.

Remember to visit next week for a post on Screech Owls.

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Lots of thought-provoking tips here for authors – new, emerging, and old! Which is your favorite? (And try not to be influenced by who said it!)

23 Tips for Authors

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Vonnie Today, you’re expecting a guest post – and here’s a link to one written by me at Bitten By Books.

First, thanks to Rachel Smith for inviting me to participate in the Urban Fantasy series of guest posts. I write about “The Cityscape of Fantasy.”

I’ve been following the series, and it’s been fun reading what different authors have had to say about this little corner of the fantasy world. But it’s a great (and sometimes spooky) corner for books, movies, and television shows.

The original Beauty and the Beast television series which starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, has that dark, city vibe. Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley fits the Urban Fantasy feel. And let’s not forget the Grimm television series. (At the moment, one of my favorite tv shows).

I know you can think of many other Urban Fantasy stories, flicks, and tv shows. I love the genre so much that I included stories that would slip into the corners of Urban Fantasy in both my story collections, Owl Light and The Greener Forest. And though my novel, The Enchanted Skean, is an epic fantasy, there are chapters set in the cities and towns that are filled with the twisting streets, moonlit atmosphere, and threatening evil of an Urban Fantasy.

Please visit Bitten by Books and comment on “The Cityscape of Fantasy.”

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This is the first blog in a series of owl-focused posts to promote Owl Light, my new YA-friendly collection of stories featuring owls. Each post features a mix of owl art, facts, folklore, quotes, and links to owlish sites. If you’re a fan of owls, or know someone whooo is, follow my blog, buy my book, and be kind to these beautiful birds.

owl light cover 300 Owl art: The cover painting for Owl Light features a barn owl. I love the species’ heart-shaped face.

Owl fact: Owl ears are located behind their eyes and concealed by feathers.

Owl folklore: Owls are associated with sorcery and dark magic in numerous African cultures.

Owl links: Are you a fan of Barn Owls? If so, you should check out the Barn Owl Headquarters and a video of a Barn Owl that doesn’t like dogs.

And, of course, here’s a buy link for Owl Light.

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I love to add interjections to my dialogue, blog posts, emails, letters, and conversations. I’m not sure why – perhaps it’s just the fun of saying them. Or perhaps it’s imagining the person on the other end of the story, book, letter, or blog saying them outloud when they see them.

I think reading the comics when I was young (and I still read a few) introduced me to: Argh, Bwah-hah-hah, Gak, Pshaw, Uh-oh, and Zowie. Here’s a list of the top 100 interjections, can you think of others?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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 Edith Wharton American author, Edith Wharton, wrote The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. My favorite Wharton quote is: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

I like to think of the sun as the candle and the moon as the mirror – each spreads light, but how much more mysterious and magical is moonlight. Another way of looking at this quote is to think of the light as the written word – writers and readers alike can share the wonder of books with others.

 

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TerriBruce_OfficialAuthorPic Thanks to Terri Bruce, author of fantasy and science fiction stories with a literary bent, for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for one of the characters from her new novel, Thereafter.

But before reading Terri’s post, here’s a little bit about Thereafter: ‘Nothing in life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either. When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over. Boy, was she wrong. She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do…’

Thereafter Spotlight: Gao by Terri Bruce

‘Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Vonnie! I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my newest book, Thereafter. Today, I wanted to share a bit about the character Gao, a Chinese philosopher that the main character, Irene, meets in the afterlife:

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Irene smiled as Ian’s words pulled her out of her reverie. He was watching her carefully across the campfire. Irene shifted position; she and the horse were using each other as a mutual backrest, and she wiggled against it, trying to find a more comfortable position.

Irene shook her head. “Just thinking about the cairns; I was wondering why someone would build an altar in the afterlife. If they are shrines, wouldn’t each one just send stuff to the person who built it?”

“People pray to their gods. One assumes they are closer here,” a high, thin voice at her elbow said.

Irene started. She looked up and then did a double take. The speaker was a middle-aged Chinese man. His long, black robe, Fu-Manchu mustache, and waist-length beard were straight out of a Hollywood movie.

He gave her a reassuring smile and a low bow. “Your pardon. I did not mean to startle.” As he straightened up, he suddenly brightened, a smile blooming across his face.

“Ah!” he said, gesturing to the horse. “Gives new meaning to the saying, ‘trying to save the dead horse as if it is still alive.’ Ha!”

Irene looked at the horse, but since she had no idea what the man was talking about, she didn’t know how to respond. She looked at Ian for help.

“Howdy!” he said to the newcomer. “Pull up some ground.” He sat up, moving his legs to make room, and patted the space next to him. “I’m Ian and this is Irene.”

The man gracefully dropped to a kneeling position. He gave Ian a slight bow and then turned to Irene. He smiled as he bowed to her. “Ah! Irene. A very good name.”

Irene raised an eyebrow. “Is it?”

“Oh, yes. Irene of Thessalonica, Irene of Rome, Irene of Macedonia, Irene of Athens, Irene of Hungary…yes, a very good name. Very auspicious.”

“Wow, I had no idea.” She hesitated and then added, as if revealing an embarrassing secret. “I was named for an actress.”

“Ah, yes,” the man cried with delight. “Irene Dunne. Very nice lady.”

Irene eyed him up and down once more, certain the guy was not from the twentieth century. “You…know her?”

The man gave her a gentle smile. “I have been here a very long time.” Then he bowed again. “I am Gao. A seeker of truth.”

thereafter_stolzer_72 When I was writing Thereafter, I knew that I wanted Irene to meet a philosopher in the afterlife. Originally, the role of the philosopher was envisioned as an Austrian named Martin who lived during the mid-eighteen hundreds. However, I realized my story lacked diversity—why were all the ghosts Irene encountered European? She already had Ian, an American cowboy from the late 1800s, and Andras, a Spanish knight from the late eleven hundreds. Given that I include people from any time and any place in my story, I decided to look for someone much further back in time—preferably from before the birth of Christ—and preferably someone with an Eastern philosophy/view-point.

In doing some other research for the book, I came across a reference to a Chinese philosopher named Gao, who lived around 300 BCE. Not much is known about Gao—none of his work/writings have survived; all that we know about him is anecdotes related via the writings of others, which was actually pretty perfect for my needs. The anecdotes gave just enough of an idea of the historical man’s philosophy/personality, but beyond that he was a blank slate. He was perfect for my story and in he went.

Another interesting thing about this scene is that Gao says, “Gives new meaning to the saying, ‘trying to save the dead horse as if it is still alive.’” This is the original/origin of the saying “beating a dead horse.” The saying is originally Chinese and has been changed slightly through translation and usage to the modern version that we now use, but originally referred to a futile action (trying to revive something that is already dead) rather than rehashing an old subject. It was too perfect not to include; here I had a Chinese philosopher and a dead horse, together in one scene, so how could I not drop in the original version of the saying as one of the many sly, geeky jokes I tend to include in my stories.

And there you have it—a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the character of Gao and his appearance in Thereafter.’

To learn more about Terri Bruce and her books:
visit her website and facebook page
and follow her on goodreads and twitter.

And you can buy Thereafter on
Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Smashwords.

Thanks again to Terri for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occasional weekend, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a character-filled day! – Vonnie

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In my internet travels, I discovered this Tolkien-themed blog, A Tolkienist Perspective. This blog contains lots of information on JRR Tolkien, his books, the films, and his mythical worlds. And if you’ve always wondered about the Nazgul, here’s the link to an interesting essay on the subject.

Tolkien fans, do you agree with the essay?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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