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MikeAuthorPhoto9 Thanks to author J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. (my first male guest author), for stopping by and sharing what it takes to make a male fantasy hero. And you’ll notice at the end of the post, he’s looking for guest bloggers for his site.

The Making of the Male Fantasy Hero by J. Michael Squatrito, Jr.

Before I get started, I want to take the opportunity to thank Vonnie for letting me guest blog on her site as well as to be the first male adding content here! With that thought in mind, and no pressure of course, I figured it would be a good segue into the mind of the male author and in particular, the male fantasy hero. My Overlords books are firmly planted in the fantasy genre and the lead character, Harrison Cross, is a young, righteous warrior. He is the prototypical fantasy protagonist – blonde hair, blue eyes, six feet tall, muscular and fit, an accomplished warrior, etc. and he gets the girl in the end (and a beautiful one at that!). So, why should you care?

Harrison might appear to be your regular run of the mill fantasy hero on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I personally hate seeing movies or reading books where things always fall neatly into place for the lead characters. Or anything that Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger star in! Though my books are fantasy fiction, I want to give them a dose of reality. Harrison might be talented, but he’s young and inexperienced. He makes mistakes. He gets his fellow adventurers into precarious situations due to his inability to realize when you need to fight or when you should walk away. He’s selfless and puts others ahead of himself. He’s fiercely loyal to his team members and to his love, Tara. And no one hurts his canine companion, Lance. Even though Lance is a dog, he never leaves him to suffer, even at the expense of his group.

Harrison is not the biggest of warriors, and many times he is beaten, hurt, over-matched, and imprisoned. Through all of his trials and tribulations, he never wavers from his goal to reunite humanity. These qualities, I feel, draw the reader to root for Harrison, to want him to succeed, to believe in him and his cause. And isn’t that what we all want in our heroes?

Overlords_book_1_final2 When creating Harrison, I had to make sure of many things, such as not making him a super hero, not letting him be too sensitive or too aggressive, not allowing him to win the heart of a beautiful maiden too easily – everything that would not happen in ‘real life.’ You see, male heroes have a lot to live up to. They need to think a certain way and they can’t be allowed to go overboard, but most importantly, they need to be admired by male and female readers alike. For the boys, the male hero must be strong and decisive, someone to rally around, and for the girls, someone they can trust and believe in and, if I’m lucky, someone they can fall in love with. I feel that I’ve accomplished all of that in creating Harrison, and I hope you read his story and agree with me.

You can learn more about me and my project at www.the-overlords.com and you can contact me directly at mike@the-overlords.com . As you can see, I’m looking for other authors to guest blog on my site (Vonnie’s going to post in May!) and if you’re interested, please contact me.

You can purchase my books and eBooks on my website or if you have Amazon and Barnes & Noble accounts, at the following: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=squatrito%20overlords or Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/squatrito-overlords?store=book&keyword=squatrito+overlords

And for authors-to-be or self-published authors looking to help spread the word about your books, I have a self-publishing consultancy called Self Publishing Insight that might be right for you. I have experts that provide services for editing, artwork, social media, self-promotion, eBooks, and much more. Let us help you!”

Thanks again to J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a fantastic day! – Vonnie

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The Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir, my Young Adult coming-of-age adventure novel filled with magic, miracles, and mystery, is finally in the hands of the printer. Hooray! Now, here’s Part I of the journey from a jumble of ideas to a published book:

The Enchanted Skean was begun in Feb. 2006, 1st draft completed in June 2006, novel signed with a reputable NY agent in Sept. 2006, 1st major revision 2007, 2nd major revision 2008, literary agency closed in 2009 without warning after doing little for me or my book. Sigh. Luckily, I’d continued to write short stories, two of which won Honorable Mentions in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contests.

So, in August 2009, I set aside The Enchanted Skean, and focused on writing short stories – 3 of which were published as ebooks by Echelon Press. Still focused on short fiction, I wrote, revised, and had multiple stories published in 2010, and I pulled a collection of fantasy tales together, titled the book The Greener Forest, and sent the manuscript to a new publisher. After revising the manuscript according the the editor’s suggestions and adding illustrations, the book was published in spring 2011 by Cold Moon Press.

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover With the publication of The Greener Forest, I decided to pull out and dust off my Young Adult novel. Unwilling to put all my eggs in one basket, I also wrote and found publishers for short stories. For a year, I sent query letters off to agents and publishers alike looking for a home for The Enchanted Skean. I came close twice to finding a publisher, but at the last minute, they decided to go with someone else’s book. Still, I never lost faith in my writing or the quality of my YA fantasy novel.

In spring 2011, Mockingbird Lane Press responded to my query with a requested to see sample chapters and a synopsis. I’d been through this before, so with only the smallest pinch of hope, I sent off the requested materials. A few days later, I got a letter from Mockingbird Lane Press asking for the complete manuscript. Again, this wasn’t something new – several other publishers had requested the full manuscript only to say, “Sorry.”

Two weeks later, the acceptance letter arrived: “We want to publish The Enchanted Skean.” Whoot! My journey had finally come to an end. Wait a minute – not so fast. My journey from a few scribbled pages to a printed book had only just begun.

First lesson learned from my Novel’s Tale: Faith in the quality of your manuscript is one of the most important things a writer can have.

Stop by this weekend for another Reader’s & Writer’s Recipe, Monday for a guest author, and next week for Part II of my Novel’s Tale.

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I, like many Americans, remember where I was when the Twin Towers fell. Usually not in front of a television that hour of the day, I happened to be working on illustrations for a children’s book by another writer. With art supplies spread on my kitchen table, I’d turned on the television for some background noise, and to keep myself aware of passing time. This was necessary, because like many creative people, I lose myself in my art, and don’t notice the hours slipping by.

I happened to look up as I washed out a paintbrush when the footage of the airplane slamming into the first tower was showing. I didn’t paint another stroke that day. Instead, I, like many Americans, watched in disbelief as another plane struck the second tower. Then, barely able to breathe, I watched the towers fall.

 The news of a plane crashing into the Pentagon felt like someone was standing on my chest. My godmother often worked at the Pentagon. I didn’t know if she was there on September 11, 2001. By the time I heard of the plane downed in a field by passengers willing to sacrifice themselves to save others, I’d cried. Not a few tears and a drippy nose kind of grief – but a sobbing, my heart is breaking kind of sadness. And I’ve cried about that day many times since.

Tragedy makes a strong people stronger and calls to action people of courage and conviction.

Today, I remember the victims of September 11, 2001. Today, I thank the police officers, firefighters, and other brave souls who rushed into harm’s way to help others. Today, I thank the military men and women who were called to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of that tragic day, and have courageously served their country.

As a small gesture of thanks to our service men and women, my ebooks published through Cold Moon Press are now a part of Operation Ebook Drop which makes free ebooks available to deployed U.S. Troops. Check them out, they’re a worthy cause: http://www.operationebookdrop.com

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 In just a week, I’ll be venturing into the e-book short story world. It seems a small leap from the poems I’ve had published online in Sea Stories, Loch Raven Review, Chesapeake Reader, etc. Even a smaller leap from the science fiction story published by Space Westerns.  But for a woman who’s grown up loving the feel of a book in her hands, the sound of pages flipping, and that new book smell — it’s something to adjust to.

Still, the world is changing, and e-books seem to make sense for many readers. And so, in a week’s time, on October 15 my contemporary fantasy story, Sideshow By the Sea, will appear as an eShort. [As of Oct. 2011, no longer available, but look for this Writers of the Future Honorable Mention-winning tale to reappear in my short story collection, Owl Light, from Cold Moon Press ).

Sideshow by the Sea — what in the world is it about? With a nod to a sideshow-expert and friend, James Taylor, and his magazine “Shocked & Amazed” – I gathered what I knew of sideshows, added it to a tiny article about a mermaid baby being born, and tossed in the boardwalk atmosphere of Ocean City. Before I knew it, I had a tale (yes, pun intended) that moved from fact to speculation.

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