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Posts Tagged ‘Broad Universe’

DHTimpko_HeadShotReallyCropped Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, D. H. Timpko.  D. H. Timpko is a long-time reader of science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries. She and her husband, who she met at a science fiction convention, own over ten thousand books. They also own over a hundred paintings and prints.

After working for many years as a writer and editor for publishing companies, associations, and corporations, Timpko retired. Now she writes fiction and nonfiction full time. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI); the Writers-Editors Network; the Independent Book Publishers Association; Broad Universe, which is an association supporting female writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror; and Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network (SPAWN).

She and her husband live in northern Virginia, along with their intellectually challenged, but sweet, cats Kalliope and Cocoa.

D. H. Timpko’s latest book, The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment, is a novel science fiction (and sf con-goers) fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Twelve-year-old Electra Firma plans to win an Olympic Gold Medal in ice skating when she’s old enough to compete. Her coach is convinced she has the talent. That’s the problem. Electra’s talent comes from her part-alien heritage, which gives her superhuman abilities, and her parents forbid her from competing. Depressed, Electra rejects her inheritance and refuses to hone her alien skills. A new threat by an enemy alien race forces Electra, her identical twin sister Isis, and their best friends to infiltrate the aliens to find the Flute of Enchantment and protect humanity. If Electra doesn’t master shape shifting, she and her best friend face imminent death.

The_Firma_Twins_and__Cover_for_Kindle Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment?

The idea came from attending science fiction conventions for over 40 years. In The Firma Twins Adventures, two sets of warring aliens land on Earth ten thousand years ago: the Squrlon and the Vympyrym. Both are shape shifters. The Squrlon often appear as gray squirrels and the Vympyrym as human-size rats.

This book, the second in an unending series, revolves around Electra Firma who is a part-human descendant of the Squrlon. She and her identical twin sister Isis discover in the first book, The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death, they’re inherited special alien powers they must use to protect the Squrlon. In this book Electra must develop her powers and shape shifting abilities. The problem is Electra resents being part alien, ignores the rules for shape shifting, and takes unnecessary risks.

Having Electra attend a science fiction convention had distinct advantages. First, I could write about something with which I’m familiar. To create the perfect hostile environment for Electra, however, the convention, called RatCon, is put on by the Vympyrym, the enemy aliens. RatCon has some of the normal trappings of a science fiction con, but it differs significantly.

Second, RatCon forces Electra to master shape shifting. Early on—and not by her own choice—she shape shifts into a Vympyrym, a form she’s not always able to maintain. If she reverts to her natural form, she and her best friend face death.

Third, RatCon allowed me to provide a more detailed description of the Vympyrym and how they think and act. I was also able to reveal key information about them and the Squrlon as a part of the action and plot.

Fourth, writing about RatCon was a lot of fun.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

I like both of the Firma twins, Isis and Electra. Both books are told in first person: the first book by Isis, who is the more serious twin, and the second by Electra. I also like their best friends, Phoenix Rising and Kelly Horton, who are the kind of friends everyone needs. In this book Kelly plays a particularly important role.

However, when I was writing The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment, I introduced an unplanned character, Pricklethorn Ratbait, early in the book. Pricklethorn, who is the same age as Electra, is a Vympyrym. Not knowing who Electra really is, she escorts her around the convention. Pricklethorn is an invaluable addition to the book and I like her a lot.

Overall though, Electra is my favorite character in this book. It was a challenge to put her in a position where she realized she needed to accept her heritage and alien powers. More than that, she needed to understand on a gut level the consequences of not learning how to use her alien abilities. Innocent people could die, not just herself but her best friend and others. The book shows how Electra’s character develops and grows, but she remains true to herself.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

I worked professionally as a writer and editor for 42 years. So I understand how to design and publish a book from the point of view of using desktop publishing software and designing, formatting, and printing a book. I know how to work with artists. The disadvantage is that marketing and promotion are difficult. For that reason alone, I would far rather be traditionally published. However, the children’s book market is the most competitive one in the industry. Therefore, I created the Gettier Group, which has published five books—not all mine—to date.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

Writing nonfiction for too many years prevents me from being a pantser. Also, from a personality point of view, I’m an architect. Writing fiction, however, differs from writing nonfiction. Although I don’t create a detailed outline for fiction, I still must think through the plot thoroughly.

The outline for both the first and second books was one sentence per chapter. I didn’t want it to be so detailed that I couldn’t incorporate changes. For nonfiction my outlines are always detailed and rarely change.

For the first Firma Twins book I also used Scene Tracker, a device created by Martha Alderson, to track scene by scene action, character emotional development, plot, thematic significance, and so forth. It was significantly helpful. For the second book I kept Scene Tracker in mind as I wrote.

In the actual writing, I allow the pantser to have some say. The plot won’t change, but how it’s told might. For example, the addition of Pricklethorn Ratbait was not someone I had planned.

Many of the enemy aliens in The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment were created as I needed them. I like to rely on the feeling in the manuscript so far to give me inspiration for necessary characters. That is, my one-sentence outline of The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment said that Electra and her friend Kelly go to a reading. I knew I would need to create an enemy alien reading from his book. So I didn’t create Malofic Crooked Tail, author of the Rat King series of sf novels, until that chapter. By that time I had a full sense of the convention and the aliens (I write from the beginning of the book to the end for the most part). One of Malofic’s actions was inspired by an amusing story a boss told me about hearing Werner Von Braun speak at a meeting of the Public Relations Society of America. Although I’m not saying Von Braun was a Vympyrym, what he did at that meeting was easily adapted to fit the mood of the manuscript.

Bottom line: I’m mostly an architect but about 25 to 40 percent pantser.

What was your favorite book as a child?

My first favorite book, which my father read to me when I was two and three years old, was Henny Penny (also called Chicken Little). I loved it because the illogic of all the characters was so funny.

Later, my favorite book was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Fantasy became one of my favorite genres, although I was addicted to reading pretty much anything. Since I was the youngest kid in my family, The Twelve Dancing Princesses also appealed to me because the heroine was the youngest sister.

Many years later when I attended the 1989 Worldcon in Boston, I instantly recognized from several feet away Ruth Sanderson’s painting as The Twelve Dancing Princesses and bought a print. I regret I didn’t have enough money to buy the painting.

What writing project are you currently working on?

Several. I’m writing the third Firma Twins Adventure, The Firma Twins and the Paisley Egg, which is told by Isis Firma and takes place in Fripp Island, South Carolina.

I’m also updating my nonfiction book, Knee Replacement Advice, Checklists, and Journal: 5 Steps for Successful Recovery Even If You Have Complications, which I published under my nonfiction pseudonym, Alexis Dupree. My left knee replacement was September 2018; my right knee replacement was June 2014.

Next year my small press Gettier Group plans to publish Immigrant from the Stars, a middle grade science fiction book by Gail Kamer.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Show, not tell.

Want to learn more about D. H. Timpko and The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment? Check out her:  WebsiteGoodreads pageTwitter,  and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Firma Twins and the Flute of Enchantment.

Thanks to author D. H. Timpko for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Heidi Hanley Smith on February 28, 2019. 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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Balticon 2016, also known as Balticon50, has come and gone. Per usual, it was a delightfully busy time for me.

I had an opportunity to chat with author friends, meet fans of my writing and art, read from my books, sign books, participate on panels, and present a writing workshop. In addition, I attended eSpec Book’s fabulous publication party, Gail Z. Martin’s publication party (she’s a wonderful reader – I so enjoyed listening to her fiction), an anthology meeting, and the SFWA meeting.

As a George RR Martin fan, I was happy to have a book signed by the brilliant author of Game of Thrones. (Yes, I’m quite taken with his use of language in the book series and eagerly await the next book).

Plus, I had the chance to meet and learn more about some of my fellow members of Broad Universe (women who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror).

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. Many thanks to Baltimore Science Fiction Society for inviting me to participate. I hope you’ll want me back in 2017.

Now, I’m back to writing and revising. A new story, new book, and/or new painting is always on my to-do list.

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A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

Broad Universe, an organization which supports and encourages women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, is sponsoring the Full Moon Blog Tour from October 25th until November 7th. As a member of Broad Universe, I’m delighted to participate, and encourage you to visit the other posts. There are prizes to be had, stories to be read, and new writers to meet.

And now, to my post, Owl Moon:

The moon holds a special place in myth and legend. Wolves, coyotes, and dogs howl at the mirror in the sky. Werewolves and other shape-changers are influenced by the moon and its mystical light. Gazing up at the moon, humans see Swiss cheese, a man, an old woman (Grandmother Moon), a rabbit, a dragon, and other images in the darker gray areas caused by craters. Beings of Faerie dance in moonlight (and lure the unwary to dance with them until they are either spirited away to Faerie or drop from exhaustion). And legend holds if you stare into a moonshadow, you can see the past.

So it’s little wonder that the moon and its magical light play a part in my collection of speculative stories, Owl Light. In fact, “owl light” is that period of a day from dusk to dawn when owls and their nighttime companions live their secret lives.

Maybe6 owl light cover Owls populate every story in Owl Light. “The Clockwork Owl” is a time-travel, steampunk story with a automaton owl who is made to save a life in the past and the future. Owls hoot from the trees in some of the stories like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Gabeta,” and “The Burryman.” Owls huddle in the corners of burial caves in ” Pawprints of the Margay” and serve as the companion of the daughter of winter in “On a Midwinter’s Eve.” In “Feathers,” not only do owls serve as mounts for fairies, but they’re able to talk and they attack an executioner ready to kill a condemned woman.

One of the stories in Owl Light where owls, the moon, folklore, and magic are pivotal is “Gifts in the Dark.” For those who’d like take a peek, here’s the Wattpad link so you can read the full story.

When it came time to paint a cover for Owl Light (yes, I am an illustrator, too), I found myself returning again and again to the image of a barn owl before an orange full moon.

Many cultures name full moons: The Harvest Moon appears in fall at the time of the harvest. Cold Moon appears, of course, in the depths of winter – as does Hunger Moon. Strawberry Moon is the full moon which appears in June when strawberries are ripe for the picking. One of my favorites, Worm Moon, is in the spring when the earth thaws and the worms become active again.

owl light cover 300 Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I named the cover painting, “Owl Moon.” What better creature to name a full moon after?

So as Selene (the moon goddess) rises into the night sky in a few days, go outside and listen to the nocturnal sounds. Perhaps there will be neighborhood dogs barking or crickets chirping, unless heavy frosts have silenced their songs. Or perhaps (if you’re lucky) you’ll hear the haunting call of an owl. Then you, too, can witness an Owl Moon.

Thanks for stopping by, Whimsical Words, and a shout out to Greta van der Rol for organizing the Full Moon Blog Tour.

Now, here’s the fun part – I’ll be sending a PDF of one of my books to one of the people who comments on this blog post.

untitled But wait, there are other prizes to be had – including books and gift cards via the Rafflecopter, and other goodies offered at other Full Moon Tour sites.

And here’s the link to visit the Rafflecopter for this tour.

Keep reading, visit my Broad Universe friends (see chart below), listen for owls beneath this autumn’s full moon, and maybe even purchase your copy of Owl Light. – Vonnie

Welcome to Broad Universe’s Full Moon blog tour, offering you a selection of the very best speculative fiction. Whether your taste is paranormal, space opera, high fantasy, gothic horror or something else altogether, please visit the participant’s sites for a taste of moonlit magic – and a chance to win some great prizes.

1. Jennifer Allis Provost 16. Once in a Blue Muse
2. The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor 17. Words from Thin Air
3. With What I Most Enjoy 18. Balancing Act
4. Life Happens. A Lot.  19. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
5. Pippa Jay 20. Shauna Roberts’ blog
6. I Bleed Ink 21. Ripped from the Headlines
7. Clay and Susan Griffith 22. Ann Gimpel’s Blog
8. TW Fendley 23. Disquieting Visions 
9. Because quirky characters fall in love, too… 24. Bits of This & That
10. Carole Ann Moleti 25. Alma Alexander
11. From the Shadows 26. Darksome Thirst
12. The Far Edge of Normal 27. Kate’s blog
13. The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose 28. Alexandra Christian: The Southern Belle from Hell
14. Melisse Aires ~ Romance with Infinite Possibilities 29. Whimsical Words
15. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Epic (R)evolutions 30. Musings From the Underworld

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‘”There,” Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watching him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.

“He must have crawled away from the others,” Jon said.

“Or been driven away,” their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.’ — George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin’s writing. In this seemingly small exchange from the beginning of the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, the reader learns a lot about the children of Ned Stark. Since the direwolves are each given to one of Ned’s children, the quote seems to say that Jon is a Stark, too, and that he’s the only one who will see when his “brothers” and “sisters” are still blind. Hmm!

But that’s not why I picked a George R.R. Martin quote. I was pointed to an interesting article about the opening of a novel by fellow Broad Universe member, Greta van der Rol. In Myth #3 – ‘You have to know your “story problem” and “protagonist’s problem” before you start,’ the old terms “planners” and “pantsers” are used. I’ve never been a fan of those terms, and found the terms used by George R.R. Martin in that paragraph, “architects and gardeners,” more appealing and more accurate.

I count myself among the “gardeners,” because I, like Martin, plant a seed with just an idea of what the seed might become.

So for all you architects (outliners and planners), gardeners (those who write by the seat of their pants), and readers who enjoy understanding the inner workings of writing – check out Lit Reactor’s What Every Successful Novel Opening Must Do: Myth vs. Reality by Susan Defreitas. Let me know what you think!

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Sandra Ulbrich Almazan Thanks to author Sandra Ulbrich Almazan for stopping by and sharing Seasons Beginning’s journey from short story to novel. Enjoy!

From Short Story to Novel by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

“A long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), I wrote a short story called “Demon’s Diamond.” I never submitted it anywhere, as it was a story I’d written just for me to help me understand the fantasy world I was writing about in my novels. The story focused on an incident that triggered a magical vendetta against an entire nation. (This vendetta is the focus of later stories in this world.) I did put the short story on my old website, but I have no idea if anyone read it.

Many years later, I revisited that fantasy world and decided it was time to expand on that short story. I’d come up with new ideas about how magic worked, what the characters were like, and how the history in the short story related to the main story I wanted to tell. But starting with a story of about 5,000 words and expanding it to nearly 80,000 words is a daunting prospect. Where do you start?

There are two main ways one can turn a short story into a novel: you can add more material throughout the story to lengthen it, or you can use the ending of the short story as a plot point in the book and develop the events that occur after it. I wound up doing a combination of both.

Demon’s Diamond” became Part One of Seasons’ Beginnings and grew to nearly 18,000 words. Obviously the pacing of this section is more leisurely than that of the short story. Much of the material I added develops the characters and the world. We get to see more background of the main characters that explains why they make the choices they do. Some characters who play a more important role later on in the story are shown briefly, as are some of the locations. Some material was added to the climax, and I had to change some details to be consistent with my overall plans for the series, but the ending of Part One is similar to that of “Demon’s Diamond.”

Although adding new material to the end of a story sounds easier than reworking the entire story, that wasn’t the case for this book. Perhaps it would have been if Part Two started immediately after Part One. However, about a year elapsed between the two parts of this story, and that break was jarring for my beta readers. I originally wrote Seasons’ Beginnings with just chapter breaks, not part breaks, but I identified Parts One and Two to make the transition more obvious. The first scene of Part Two is set in the same location as the first scene of Part One. I set that up deliberately to show the changes that had happened to my character in the meantime. I also added a brief conversation at the start of Part Two where my main character talks about some of the key events that happened between Parts One and Two. This helps orient the reader before returning her to the main plot.

Seasons rgb, FINAL, med, low res Whether you write short stories, novels, or both, I hope my writing experiences have given you some ideas you can try with your own stories. If you’re a reader, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the writing process. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.”

For your reading pleasure, here’s the Seasons’ Beginnings Blurb:

“Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?”

About the Author: Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. Other published works by Sandra include Twinned Universes and several science fiction and fantasy short stories. She is a founding member of Broad Universe, which promotes science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

To learn more about Sandra and her books, visit at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Like to buy one of Sandra’s books? Here are a Buy Link for Amazon (Kindle) and Createspace (paper).

Thanks again to Sandra Ulbrich Almazan for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Owl Posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a magical day! – Vonnie

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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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