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KathrynSullivan pic Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Kathryn Sullivan. Kathryn writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her Doctor Who-related works include the essay, “The Fanzine Factor,” in the Hugo winning Chicks Dig Time Lords and essays in Children of Time: Companions of Doctor Who and Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Doctor Who Stories By 160 Writers. She also has reviews in the Star Trek-related Outside In Boldly Goes and Outside In Makes It So. She is owned by a large cockatoo, who graciously allows her to write about other animals, as well as birdlike aliens. Kathryn lives in Winona, Minnesota, where the river bluffs along the Mississippi River double as cliffs on alien planets or the deep mysterious forests in a magical world.

She also mentioned, she couldn’t find enough stories with girls as the main characters when she was growing up, so now she writes stories where girls are the explorers, the wizards, and the ones who solve problems and rescue people.

kathryn sullivan book Kathryn’s latest book, Agents, Adepts & Apprentices, is an imaginative read for those who love short stories. A quick summary for my readers:  From EPPIE Award winner Kathryn Sullivan come stories of magic and off-world adventure sure to appeal to readers of all ages. Here are tales of wizards training apprentices and interstellar operatives protecting “primitive” worlds. How does one university cope with a student from very far away, and where do some wizards get their supplies? And what’s the deal with the cat whiskers?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Agents, Adepts & Apprentices?
Several of the short stories in Agents, Adepts & Apprentices were inspired by things in the real world. “The Demons’ Storeroom” resulted after I was at a garage sale and wondered how a wizard might view the items there. “Transfer Student” was written while I was in college in the days before ADA and was my take on how an alien might try to maneuver around my campus. “Goodbye, Jennie!” was inspired by a newspaper article about a meteor shower.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
I think Salanoa, the wizard on the cover of the book. There’s a few short stories with her as a little girl (“Horsefeathers” and “Curses, Foiled Again”) when she’s learning to become a wizard, and a brief appearance by her as an adult in another story. She’s very determined, very smart and a good teacher. She appears again in my two YA fantasy books.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
Zumaya Publications is a small press that publishes both in trade paperback and in electronic formats. The advantages to publishing with a small press is that you have input to the cover art—and Zumaya found a wonderful artist who produced a gorgeous cover. Zumaya handled getting the book out in several electronic formats. Small presses are much more savvy about ebooks, which means the prices for those are much more reasonable than those books with the big traditional publishers. Royalty rates with small press are much better than with the big traditional publishers. The disadvantage is that small press books don’t have the distribution of the big traditional publishers.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
With the short stories in this collection, I was definitely a pantser. Some of those stories just started off with a character or a scene and went from there.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I found my dad’s science fiction collection at an early age, and the books that stuck with me were James Schmitz’s Agent of Vega, James White’s Sector General series, and a series that my dad borrowed from a friend and handed to me: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings was much richer than the Edgar Rice Burroughs series I had read in my dad’s collection. Sector General, being a series set around an intergalactic hospital, had aliens as different as large caterpillars and multi-tentacled creatures working together with humans. Agent of Vega had an intergalactic agency which had women as main characters (which was not usual back then). I still see the influence of those books in my short story collection.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a middle grade/YA book set on a colony planet where the main character wants to be an explorer like her grandmother, who discovered the planet.

Want to learn more about Kathryn Sullivan and Agents, Adepts & Apprentices? Check out her :  Website and Facebook page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Agents, Adepts & Apprentices from Amazon or Zumaya.

Thanks to author Kathryn Sullivan for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Jennifer R. Povey on December 11. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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DawnVogel-pic Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Dawn Vogel. Dawn’s academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. She is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA, and Codex Writers. Her steampunk series, Brass and Glass, is being published by Razorgirl Press. She lives in Seattle with her husband, author Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats.

Dawn’s latest book, Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map, is a fun read for those who love adventure. A quick summary for my readers:
dawn vogel book On the hunt for a legendary, cursed map that leads to treasure unimaginable, the crew of The Silent Monsoon, led by the pertinacious Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko, soon discover they aren’t the only ones hunting for riches. But there’s more than gold at stake in this pursuit. The Last Emperor’s Hoard is rumored to contain the Gem of the Seas, a device that gives its owner the power to control the oceans.
Wanted by the Air Fleet and dogged by spectres both real and imagined, Svetlana and her crew will have to call in every favor and pull every string—even if it means stirring up more ghosts—to complete the map before the High Council does. This race will require courage, determination, and sacrifice. Will Svetlana have what it takes to win, or will the map’s curse be too high a price?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map?
My latest book is a sequel to my first published full-length novel, Brass and Glass: The Cask of Cranglimmering. The original book started life as a short story, but grew into a novel. When my small press editors and I were working through the edits on the first book, they asked if there were more books. I hadn’t outlined or planned the other books, but I knew the story wasn’t done yet. So I said yes, I thought I could get a trilogy out of this idea. So in many ways, the second book directly stemmed from my editors loving the first book. The first book also helped to dictate what needed to happen next–the protagonists were in search of a map, and they needed to find all of the pieces. Midway through, they discovered that perhaps the map was more than they’d bargained for, being called the “long-cursed” map and all.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Of course I adore my protagonist, Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko, but I have a lot of fun writing Indigo, the ship’s mechanic. He’s a teenage boy who grew up in a culture that was far removed from the predominant culture in the books. So he’s often encountering things for the first time in his life that the other characters just accept as part of reality. He also has an abnormal speech pattern, which is both challenging and rewarding to get just right.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
My book is indie published through Razorgirl Press, which is a small press based out of the Seattle area. Because it’s a small press, the editors are people I interact with directly and regularly—we will get together at a coffee shop or other locations to work on edits or discuss plans for the book. Because the cover art and editing are done in house, I feel like I get a lot of input into those things, which I might not have as much if I were traditionally published. The downside, of course, is that the marketing also falls on our shoulders, so it’s not as easy to publicize the book as it would be if I was with a traditional press that has a team for marketing and publicity.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I started out as a pantser, but I quickly found that path was not a good fit for me. I started planning out all of my books, and I found I was much more productive that way. That isn’t to say that I never wander off down a garden path while writing, and some of those diversions have wound up being fantastic additions to my plans. But I need at least the bare bones of a structure to keep me on track and not wandering off into the woods beyond the garden.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The one I most remember reading (again and again and again) was The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts. One of my teachers in grade school had this book in her classroom library, and I checked it out and read it so many times that at the end of the school year, she gifted it to me. The main thing I remember about the plot as an adult was that the main character had telekinesis, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I’ve gotten a new copy of the book recently, but I haven’t managed to re-read it since re-acquiring it!

What writing project are you currently working on?
The third book in the Brass and Glass series is in my editors’ hands, so I’ll be working on edits for that in the near future. But in addition to the countless short stories that I’m currently working on, I’m editing the first draft of another novel, this one a post-apocalyptic novel about recovering from past traumas and finding a new place to belong.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Neil Gaiman once said: “You will learn more from a glorious failure than ever you will from something that you never finished.” I took that advice to heart and try to finish all of the stories that I start!

Want to learn more about Dawn Vogel and Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map? Check out her :  Website & Blog,   Facebook Page,
Twitter,   or Amazon Author page.   Or better yet, purchase a copy of Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map. 

Thanks to author Dawn Vogel for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Kathryn Sullivan on December 6th.   Happy reading! – Vonnie 

 

 

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“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” — Woodrow T. Wilson

Friends are on my mind today. Two of my good friends, Karen and Wendy, have birthdays this week. Just last week, I had the opportunity to spend several hours (including lunch) with Patti, a friend who I haven’t had a chance to visit with in-person for two years. I chatted with dear friend Kelly on the phone just the other day. And I’m looking forward to spending time with more friends this summer.

Besides family, I think friends and their friendship are the most important thing holding my world together–which is why friendship often plays such an important role in my stories and books.

BeyondSheercliffs_Balticon Like the unlikely group pulled together in JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, sometimes the friendships we forge because of a common goal turn out to be the most meaningful. At their core, Star Wars and Star Trek, are also about unlikely friendships. As is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. For “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” [Bill Watterson].

The concept of friendship growing from a common goal (and enemy) led me to cobble together several groups of seemingly dissimilar individuals in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). And the idea of friendship is also playing an important role in my current work-in-progress novel, Beyond the Sheercliffs (Book 1.5 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). 

The fight against evil; the quest for an item or person of great value; shared hunger, thirst, and danger; a common goal; and unexpected circumstances that link characters together are all wonderful devices in storytelling that can be the seeds of friendship. And best of all, readers understand friendship. It is something we all have in common.

A great majority of us desire strong friendships. We all have known the pain of a friendship that has ended. Many of us have watched a friend grown apart from us or change in a way that makes them a different person–and one which we no longer want to be friends with. Most of us remember the joyful feelings of realizing someone has moved from friendly acquaintance to friend. And we embrace the truth of Helen Keller’s sentiment: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

And so, as I shape and polish the various friendships in Beyond the Sheercliffs, I urge you to reach out to your friends. Take the time to phone, message, or better yet, visit with your friends. Or maybe, make the effort to develop a friendly acquaintance into a friend. Because “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” [Walter Winchell], and we could all use more of those sorts of people in our lives.

 

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“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas A. Edison

I’m not sure if I am astounding myself, but I am working hard on numerous projects:

*Judging a poetry competition–both a fun and challenging job. I love reading what creative minds come up with!

Rocket space ship . Mixed media*Editing 2 anthologies, “Re-Launch” and “Re-Quest” for Pole to Pole Publishing. And I will be reading for 2 more anthologies (“Re-Terrify” and “Re-Enchanted”) shortly.

*Finishing a novel, adding to 2 in-progress short story collections, and working on a nonfiction book.

*Writing several short stories and poems for anthologies or magazines.

*Thinning the book herd. (My bookshelves are sagging dangerously low).

*Putting together a bibliography of my writing and illustrations – then, entering the speculative work into http://isfdb.org  Plus, if the publication qualifies, adding it to my listing on Poets & Writers data base.

*Working on genealogy–and putting together several books based on that information. Yes, I know these publications won’t be “best-sellers,” but it’s a nice way to preserve the information and make it available to family members and other interested people. And I have no “time limit” on these books — as more information trickles in and I want to include as much as possible. (Librarians be warned, I will need help in doing the research to “ground” these historical accounts in history).

*Knitting 30-plus scarf & hat sets by Christmas for daughters (I do call my daughters-in-law, “daughters,” too, because they are dear to me), sisters, nieces, etc. I was given a huge amount of lovely yarn, and I’m aiming to use up much of it in the process. Plus, knitting at least a dozen men’s hats for sons, nephews, brothers-in-law, etc. for Christmas.

*Then, there is family: time spent with husband, kids, grandkids, friends, my mom and other family members. And art – I want to paint at least 2 new pieces of cover art this summer. And visits – I’ve fallen behind on my visits due to a 2017 and 2016 filled with trips to NC and SC to help older relatives who were dying. Wait, I’ve forgotten gardening! My gardens so need work. And the birds – feeders need to be repaired or replaced and birdhouses need to be hung.

I could (and should) go on. But I hope you get the idea.

I encourage you to look at your life. List what you are doing and what goals you can set for yourself. Can’t think of anything to do? Check out the volunteer opportunities in your area. I challenge you to astound yourself!

 

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HG Wells, author of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, England. His books help shape the science fiction genre, predicted many modern developments, and continue to “hook” readers on speculative writing.

But Herbert George Wells did more than write these two books, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and articles, essays, and book reviews for Saturday Review also came from his pen. In addition, he promoted the writing careers of James Joyce and Joseph Conrad.

So science fiction fans (like me), should lift a mug of good English tea to HG Wells on this, the day of his birth!

Want to learn more about HG Wells? Check out this link.

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Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. And I am among the millions of readers who are grateful.

Of course, sentimental reader that I am on occasion, I love his A Christmas Carol and the transformation of Scrooge most. That said, how can any reader not enjoy his many books including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Nickolas Nickleby, Bleak House, and Hard Times.

An extravagance I usually don’t allow myself, I have purchased Charles Dickens complete works – and it is with great pleasure I open the volume and settle into the detailed and sometimes grim world of Dickens.

So Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens – and thanks! For more information on Dickens, check out this link.

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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