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carolemcd300pixels Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Carole McDonnell. Carole McDonnell is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. She writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and reviews. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including Griots, Steamfunk, So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, Jigsaw Nation, and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear at various online sites. Her story collections are Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction by Carole McDonnell and Turn Back O Time and other stories of the fae of Malku and her stand alone novels are: Wind Follower, My Life as an Onion, The Constant Tower, and Who Gave Sleep and Who Has Taken It Away?

Her novels also include books in the following series: The Brothers Worth Series: Black Girls Have Always Loved Cowboys, A Town for Timothy, A Year and A Day; The Nephilim Dystopia Series: The Daughters of Men, The Chimeran Queen; and Novels of the Malku Universe: The Charcoal Bride, SeaWalker, How Skall Dragonrider Won His Three Wives. Her Bible studies include: Seeds of Bible Study, Scapegoats and Sacred Cows of Bible Study, Blogging the Psalms, A Fool’s Journey Through Proverbs, Great Sufferers of the Bible, and The Christian Laws of Attraction. Her book of poetry is: The King’s Journal of Lost and Secret Things.

She lives in New York with her husband, two sons, and their pets.

Carole McDonnell’s latest book, The Charcoal Bride, is a fantasy story set in an unique world. A quick summary for my readers: The Malku universe, which is the setting for this novel, is a world where fae, merfolk, and humans live together in varying degrees of harmony. In some continents, the faes are honored. In other continents or worlds, the faes and their descendants are treated casually. But wherever they happen to be, they are feared because no one wants to get on the bad side of a fae. The merfolk live in streams, rivers, and oceans, and they have different species as do the humans and the faes. However, in some areas, they are treated badly.

charcoal b In The Charcoal Bride, the first book of this trilogy, a war is set in motion because a prince reneged on a vengeance oath he had made to the God of War. Because of this war, wars with the fae. The fae ally themselves with his son and conquer the prince, setting up his only son as king. This son, Skall, has no desire to be king. He is a stranger to Hanrisor and would rather be back home on his little island home. In addition, his being king doesn’t sit well with the aristocrats and peasants of Hanrisor. The fae determine that he must travel the kingdom in order to understand and love the nation he is to rule over.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Charcoal Bride?
Well, I’ve always liked quests stories and road movies so when I was thinking of what the second book of the Malku trilogy would be, I thought, “It would be great if the king and his friend had to tour this new country the king has begun to rule over.”

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Skall’s friend is Nohay. Nohay is the SeaWalker. Nohay was disabled as a child and lived alone under the care of a maid his sea-farer father hired for him. But when Nohay grew older, a fae–Prince Hark—took interest in him and mentored him. Nohay stayed with Prince Hark until Hark gave him as a friend to Skall. Nohay is about thirty years old and Skall is about seventeen. Neither of them are worldly but Skall is decidedly more “of the world” than Nohay is. They both have different things to learn and being among the common folk.

I’d say it’s Nohay. There is a sweetness about him. He is totally human but he has never lived with humans. He only knows how faes and merfolk behave, but is utterly lacking in any experiential knowledge of human culture and behavior. It’s the kind of character that makes a writer have to think about what such a person would be like.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
It is self-published. My previous books, Wind Follower and The Constant Tower, were–are—both traditionally published. They were critically well-received, but they didn’t sell well. I think the advantage of traditional publishing has to do with one’s publisher having the finances to push your books. When you’re self-published, you have to market yourself more. The advantage of being self-published is that a writer can be more fully herself.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I’m definitely not an architect but I’m not much of a gardener either. I write notes to myself about what the next chapter should contain. Not much, just certain things that are necessary. When I write, I just sit down and write and let whatever comes comes. If I hear something in the news or hear a song, then that might end up in the story as well. I tend to write without caring how it all comes out and I totally trust that it will all come out perfectly in the end. This makes my books somewhat unpredictable because I didn’t know what was coming. Only my fingers, fate, and coincidence did. I often look at my stories and think, “Wow, this is amazing. How did I do that? Did I write this book? If I had planned this, I could never have written it.”

What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved poetry and the Bible, especially all the tragic princes like Shechem, Jonathon, Absalom, and of course, Jesus Christ. So all I did was read a lot of poetry. I also loved Shakespeare, and was madly in love with Hamlet, Edmond, and all those tragic princes as well. So those really had an effect on me. I’m a black woman, but so many of my main characters are young males, and several of them have been white. So I think they affected my consciousness. I also loved anthropology. I’d watch tons of programs on PBS and read my mother’s anthropology and archaeology books. So that is where I got my fascination with clans, tribes, rituals, and culture. My books and short stories are always about different clans living together with their cultures rubbing off on each other.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m going through the editing on SeaWalker now, and am currently writing The Chimeran Queen, which is the second part of the Nephilim Dystopian trilogy. The first book in the trilogy was Daughters of Men. This story is about yet another world with various kinds of humans. In this case, there are chimera, Nephilim, clones, and standard-issue humans. There are also different religious ideas. The Chimeran Queen is Medusa. She doesn’t have snakes for hair, but because she is chimeran she has worms in and around and through her body. She is horrendous to behold, but she is the queen of the chimeran world, Otaura.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
That was Will Horner. He was critiquing a story he had accepted for one of his anthologies – Black is the color of my true love’s hair– and he said two things which I often find myself repeating to other writers. The first was: “This sentence is doing too much work.” And the second was, “This is redundant. You already said that.”

Want to learn more about Carole McDonnell and The Charcoal Bride? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Twitter 2, and Amazon page. Still want more? Check out her YouTube channel and Wattpad page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Charcoal Bride.

Thanks to author Carole McDonnell for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Lana Hechtman Ayers on January 3, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Thanks to author Steven Southard for stopping by and sharing the Biblical background for his story, “Ancient Spin.” Enjoy!

Alas, Babel by Steven Southard

Steve Southard photo ‘First of all, I’d like to thank Vonnie Winslow Crist for allowing me to post as a guest on her blog, and also for including my story, “Ancient Spin,” in Pole to Pole Publishing’s anthology Hides the Dark Tower which she co-edited with Kelly A. Harmon.

“Ancient Spin” takes place in the land of Shinar near the site of the Tower of Babel, that lofty and legendary edifice whose story comes to us from Genesis. In the Biblical version, God sees the tower and disapproves of mankind speaking a single tongue. God scatters people across the Earth and confuses human languages. In some accounts, God also destroys “‘the tower.

Perhaps it’s all true, perhaps not. But if the Babel story is just a tale, then what is the truth? Was there an actual tower? What was it like and what happened to it? The people of Mesopotamia certainly constructed tall structures, many taking the tiered form of ziggurats. (Ziggurat—what a fun word!)

Some accounts state that Babel was built of fired brick, cemented with clay. At some point the people of the region shifted from sunbaked bricks to the sturdier fired brick. Even so, such buildings had to be built with much shallower angles (sloped like a pyramid) than our modern, vertical skyscrapers constructed of steel I-beams.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] Living in a flat plain, the people of the time must have considered these towers truly imposing. But even buildings constructed from fired brick would not have endured forever, and might have collapsed suddenly. In “Ancient Spin,” that’s the backstory. The Tower of Babel has just fallen and my main character is dealing with the disaster’s aftermath.

The story is very short, and if I’m not careful, this blog post could surpass the length of the tale I’m describing. You’ll meet only two characters—Eullil, and his brother, Ludarat. The name Eullil is my own corruption of the Sumerian words for “may the temple last into distant days.” Likewise, Ludarat is my twisting of “eternal man.”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Hides the Dark Tower. It’s my hope you’ll buy it and enjoy “Ancient Spin.” If you do, and you end up craving more of my stories like:

“Ripper’s Ring,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#Ripper

“Time’s Deformèd Hand,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#TimesHand

or “The Cometeers,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#Cometeers

Visit me on Twitter, on Facebook, and my website where I sign each entry as— Poseidon’s Scribe’

About the suthor: Steven R. Southard’s short stories stack up in ten different anthologies including Dead Bait, Quest for Atlantis, and Avast, Ye Airships! He’s the tall and looming author of the What Man Hath Wrought series, with thirteen stories at last count. An engineer and former submariner, Steve takes readers to new heights with engaging characters in distant places and varied historical periods. He builds stories in the genres of steampunk, clockpunk, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Thanks again to Stephen Southard for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a well-constructed day! – Vonnie

 

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