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rebecca g farrell Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Rebecca Gomez Farrell. Rebecca Gomez Farrell writes all the speculative fiction genres she can conjure up. Her first fantasy novel, Wings Unseen, debuted in August 2017 from Meerkat Press. You can find her short stories in over 20 anthologies, magazines, and websites including Dark Luminous Wings, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Fright into Flight. Becca co-leads the 400-member strong East Bay Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup group and organizes a chapter of the national Women Who Submit writing organization, which encourages female writers to send their work out for publication. She also co-moderates Facebook resource groups for female-identifying writers and is a regular participant in the Bay Area literary reading scene. Becca’s food, drink, and travel blog, theGourmez.com, has garnered multiple accolades and influences every tasty bite of her fictional worldbuilding.

Rebecca Gomez Farrell’s latest book, Wings Unseen, is a novel fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—When Vesperi, a Meduan noblewoman, kills a Lanserim spy with a lick of her silver flame, she hopes the powerful display of magic will convince her father to name her as his heir. She doesn’t know the act will draw the eye of the tyrannical Guj, Medua’s leader, or that the spy was the brother of Serrafina Gavenstone, the fiancèe of Lansera’s Prince Janto.

perf6.000x9.000.indd As Prince Janto sets out for an annual competition on the mysterious island of Braven, Serra accepts an invitation to study with the religious Brotherhood, hoping for somewhere to grieve her brother’s murder in peace. What she finds instead is a horror that threatens both countries, devouring all living things and leaving husks of skin in its wake.

To defeat it, Janto and Serra must learn to work together with the only person who possesses the magic that can: Vesperi. An ultimate rejection plunges Vesperi forward toward their shared destiny, with the powerful Guj on her heels and the menacing beating of unseen wings all about.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Wings Unseen?

Way back in college, a decade and a half ago, I began thinking about writing Wings Unseen, though it had no title then, of course! I knew I wanted to tell an epic fantasy story, and I knew it would involve a prophecy about a silver stag, a prince and his betrothed having to confront how destiny might have different plans for their idyllic love, and a woman raised to be cruel in a country that prizes power and greed above all else. I had pictures of my characters and their motivations right away, and the plot was born out of that over many years, when I had free moments to write.

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

The book’s three main characters are the nearest and dearest to me, and I refuse to pick between them. I do quite love two of the side characters, though: Jerusho, a portly young man who inspires Janto to chase his own dream by hunting a mythical creature despite everyone’s doubts that it exists; and Lourda, a bubbly woman with wild hair who couldn’t be more different from Serra, but also couldn’t be a truer friend to her while Serra is dealing with her brother’s murder and the mysterious Brotherhood.

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

Wings Unseen is traditionally published by Meerkat Press, a wonderful small press out of Atlanta. I wanted the traditional experience in part because I wanted the validation of someone else believing in my work enough to be willing to invest in it through the full publication process. I also went that route because I didn’t want to be the sole person in charge of marketing the book – Meerkat Press has access to the big industry magazines that I would not have on my own. The disadvantages are that it takes time to publish a book traditionally; my book came out about a year after I signed my contract, and that’s a fast turnaround time for the industry. It was also four years after I finished the book, as I spent three years submitting it out to publishers and agents. If you want your book out now, not later, then self-publishing is the way to go, especially if you have the smarts and passion to undertake book marketing.

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

I’m a gardener, for sure, and a gardener that used to only work in fits and bursts, discovering the plot as I went and then editing to accommodate that changing plot. Typically, that means it took me a long time to write a book, but it’s done and polished by the third to fourth draft.

I’m working on the sequel to Wings Unseen right now, and it’s the first time I’ve written anything where I’m just focused on getting the words out before going back and revising. It’s a different technique for sure, and I’m not certain I like it, but it is nice and inspiring to see myself make progress in word count over a shorter time. I fear how much work there will be to do once that first draft if done, though!

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt was one of the first books I ever read with a map and a quest for fantastic creatures. The characters are rootable, the conflict fun, and there’s a great sprinkling of the everyday (the plot is about defining the perfect food) and the mythical (the plot is really about saving a fairy). I still enjoy re-reading it on occasion.

What writing project are you currently working on?

As mentioned, I’m working on the first draft of my Wings Unseen sequel. Once that’s done, I’ll be working on the third draft of Natural Disasters, the first book in an intended post-apocalyptic, paranormal romance trilogy about a future Earth on which natural disasters now operate like weather systems and romantic relationships have been outlawed to preserve people’s mental health. Hopefully, I’ll have that off to agents by spring. I’m also working on a handful of short stories, and I keep meaning to start writing personal essays.

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

Remember the details – What are the groceries and/or discarded items in your character’s trunk? They may be about to fight a space warlock in an abandoned carnival, but knowing they have a battery charger in case of a flat is what makes them relatable to those pesky humans, your readers.

Want to learn more about Rebecca Gomez Farrell and Wings Unseen? Check out her: Fiction Website, Twitter, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Wings Unseen.

Thanks to author Rebecca Gomez Farrell for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Eddie Louise Clark on February 2, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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0061-eWomenNetwork Thanks to author Gail Z. Martin for stopping by and sharing tips on how to make epic fantasy epic. And lots of links to free reads. Enjoy!

Making Epic Fantasy Epically Epic By Gail Z. Martin

By definition, ‘epic fantasy’ deals with sweeping storylines, plots that involve the rise and fall of kingdoms and dynasties, the fates of empires and massive battles. There are a lot of moving parts in a good epic fantasy, but if you do it right, it purrs along like a race car, taking you on a breathless journey.

That requires a lot of engineering under the hood—or between the covers, as the case may be. I’ve written two sprawling epic fantasy series (The Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle and The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga). They involve a large cast of characters, a big map, lots of battles, and complicated magic—which is a lot for an author to keep straight!

Shadow and Flame, the fourth (and final) book in the Ascendant Kingdoms series comes out in 2016, wrapping up that series. I found in this book that it’s as complex to wind down an epic series as it is to ramp it up. (I didn’t have quite that challenge with The Dread, the last book–for now–in the Chronicles series, because in my head, it’s not really the last book. There’s a seventeen year break in the action where the characters get to rest up and drink some beer, and then there’s more action coming their way in six more books I haven’t written yet. But since it’s not over for me, it’s not over. )

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA Which got me thinking about how epic fantasy works under the hood. No matter how big and sprawling your series will be, in your first book you’ve got to get people to care about your main characters or they won’t get to the truly epic part. It usually starts in one of two ways (or you can combine them if you’re tricky!) Either a person has a big problem, or a person has the chance to go on an adventure. Let’s look at both.

Sometimes it all begins with one person who has a big problem. If that problem could have been dealt with before it got out of hand, the world might have been able to stay as it was. But because the main character has to do something dangerous or brave or reckless because of the problem, the wheels begin turning and nothing will ever be the same again. Only of course, at this point, he/she doesn’t know everything’s about to change. Your protagonist only knows that he/she’s gone from having a big problem to having an even worse problem with no resolution in sight.

In hindsight, once everything blows up, you see that had the powers-that-be been a bit more fair, a tad less heavy-handed, a smidge less ruthless or greedy, they might have gotten to hang on to their status quo. But no, they had to piss off the wrong man (or woman) who then sets in motion the events that lead to the fall of the bad guy’s power base. That’s because whatever it was that cheesed off the hero, it wasn’t really an isolated problem. It was part of a larger, systemic rot that had been going on for a long time, getting more and more out of control, in a system unable or unwilling to reign in its abuses. And finally, they screw over the wrong person, who decides that he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. Cue epic movie score.

Martin_WarOfShadows-TP[1] In other cases, the protagonist gets sent on a journey. It’ll be fun, they said. You’ll see new things and meet new people, they said. Instead, something goes wrong. The simple journey ends up drawing the protagonist into bigger issues that have their own ramifications. Things go from bad to worse, usually involving magic or soldiers. Companions are found along the way with the skills to get out of one jam, but those same companions often create the next dangerous situation. And all the while, the protagonist is being drawn into a funnel of events whose scope and ramifications just get bigger and bigger until the young person who was sent to market to sell a goat ends up fighting off the armies of evil or winning the throne.

A lot has been said about epic fantasy embodying Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, and that is at the heart of many stories, with plenty of twists and embellishments. But I think that’s because Campbell really described a process that happens in real life—at least, in a life where someone is seeking something better, maybe even enlightenment. We all in our heart of hearts want to go on an adventure that awakens greatness within us, connects us with people who are loyal friends, triumph over adversity and return home victorious, wealthier and wiser.

Two of the other pieces that need to come together include imagining the villains and the problems that confront the hero. Usually, the hero doesn’t start out intending to fight the Ultimate Bad Nasty of Evility. It starts with a corrupt guard, a thief, a garden-variety bully. But as the hero gets more enmeshed in the situation, the stakes rise. Larger and more dangerous villains appear. That means the author has to plan the story to escalate, envisioning how and why the small problems become big ones, how the small bad guys become big villains, how the forces against the hero and the forces on the hero’s side coalesce.

There’s a lot more that goes into making an epic fantasy epically epic, but these are a few of the big pieces. The next time you read epic fantasy, ask yourself ‘what’s going on under the hood and how did the author do that?’ You’ll have double the fun!

Print My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www.AscendantKingdoms.com

And now, readers, the good stuff:

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world. Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Read an excerpt from Bounty Hunter a Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure.

Epically epic treats! Here’s an excerpt from The Summoner.

Lots of Tricks! New Blaine McFadden (Ascendant Kingdoms) short story set in Velant Prison No Reprieve.

Trick Or Treat with an excerpt from The Raven’s War.

Treats not Tricks! Excerpt from Creiton’s Sword.

About the Author:

Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

Thanks again to Gail Z. Martin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have an epic day! – Vonnie

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Skean copy The first reviews of The Enchanted Skean are in, and I couldn’t be happier. Now, I know that not all the reviews are going to be as positive, but I’m delighted that so far readers are pleased with my young adult fantasy novel.

First Amazon review: “5 Stars – What An Imagination. I loved this novel. It transported me into a three dimensional reality full of rich details and memorable characters. I only wish the second book were already published so that I could continue with the characters for the next phase of the journey. P.S. I really want a dragonet of my own!” – Dawn C.

The first review of The Enchanted Skean by Douglas R. Cobb appeared in New Yorker Times. It’s quite long, and I won’t include the whole thing here, but here are a two excerpts:

“Once you begin reading The Enchanted Skean by Vonnie Winslow Crist, you won’t want to put it down.”

The Enchanted Skean… is a remarkable fantasy novel that will have your enraptured from the opening page to the very last one. If you love reading epic fantasy novels filled with magic, myriads of cool characters and races, and plenty of warriors and action, I highly recommend you check out [this book]. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in the Chronicles of Lifthrasir, and you will, also, once you read The Enchanted Skean.”  To read full review: http://newyorkertimes.com/2013/04/theenchantedskean/ (Sorry, site has been taken down).

Curious about the book?  Here’s a link to The Enchanted Skean’s book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU and a 3-chapter excerpt: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt

Thanks Douglas R. Cobb and Dawn C. for your reviews. I hope other readers like the book as much as you.

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Hooray! The Enchanted Skean is now available from Amazon.  The 7-year journey from first words jotted on paper to completed novel has finally yielded a published book!  And I hope you like the cover using my painting and the art director skills of Jamie Johnson. Below is the cover blurb:

Skean copy “The Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir is a YA coming-of-age adventure novel filled with magic, miracles, and mystery. 14-year old Beck Conleth is living a quiet life in the seaside town of Queen’s Weather when his grandmother sends him on a journey to Ulfwood to retrieve his father’s bones and a family skean (dagger). After reaching Ulfwood, Beck discovers the skean is magical, and that it answers only to him. Soon the enchanted skean and its owner attract the attention of dark mages, goblins, and worse. Helped on his journey home by Wisewomen, warriors, shape-changers, and the other good folk of Lifthrasir, Beck faces death, danger, and the theft of his skean.

Accompanied by his best friend, Beck stows away on a ship, takes back his skean, befriends a dragon, and escapes with a troop of thieves. After reaching a dock in West Arnora, the company heads for the fortress of Ravens Haunt. As Beck and his companions face a hideous Skullsoul and an army of ogerhunches, he realizes there is a developing confrontation between good and evil, and he and his enchanted skean have a role to play.”

Thank you to Mockingbird Lane Press & Editor Regina Williams for not only believing in my novel, but helping me make it a better book with their invaluable input. And thanks to friends, family, and fans who’ve helped me on this journey.

Now, the success of The Enchanted Skean rests with you – the readers. So if you enjoy adventure tales filled with magic and epic fantasy, please visit Amazon,  “Like” The Enchanted Skean – Book I of the Chronicles of Lifthrasir, buy a copy, and post a review. If you’re on Goodreads, please post a review there, also. Thanks so much. – Vonnie

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