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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Ethereal Tales Special Issue All writers start somewhere. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the magazines which published my writing. A few still exist (in one form or the other), some have fallen into the cracks of speculative publication history, others can still be located with some effort.

Illumen Spring 2015 But no matter the fame or lack thereof of the editors, I am grateful to them for publishing my writing. Their acceptance and subsequent publication of my poems or prose helped me to remember my words had worth, and sent me forward on my writing journey.

Illumen Spring 2010 Ethereal Tales Special Issue (includes my story, “Black Bear”) was published by Morpheus Tales as a farewell to a fine magazine which I had the honor of having had a story in (“The Garden Shop”). Illumen, now published by Alban Lake Publishing, was (along with Scifaikuest) originally published by the now-closed, Sam’s Dot Publishing (I had poems published here).

Scifaikuest Feb 2010 Elektrik Milk Bath Press published both a speculative poetry magazine, Paper Crow, (which included my poetry) and a series of speculative anthologies (which included my fiction). All of the publications were wonderful reads, and I’m hoping their editor, Angela Craig, is able to get healthy and start publishing again.

Paper Crow Fall Winter 2010 Editors of Indie press (it used to be call small press – and I much prefer the new label) publications are a special breed. With little chance of profit, and a great chance of putting lots of their own money into an Indie press to help to stay afloat, they persevere. It is through their efforts that many a writer (and illustrator, I might add) have their first stories, poems, essays, and artwork presented to readers.

Paper Crow Spring Summer 2013 A good example (in my case) were the publications edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (published by Richard H. Fawcett). Fantasy and Terror and Fantasy Macabre were early appearances on the other side of the USA of my speculative poetry.

Paper Crow Spring Summer 2011 But when I glance around those long ago Table of Contents, I see I’m not the only writer to have had their early work published by Jessica and Richard. Thank goodness for folks like them who encouraged this (and other) new speculative writers to keep on writing.

Fantasy & Terror 10 The last publisher I’ll mention in this post is the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Let’s face it, poetry isn’t at the top of most people’s reading list. Maybe it’s the bad poetry often force-fed to students when they’re young, but many readers grow up not only not caring about poetry – but actually disliking it.

Fantasy & Terror 9 I, or the other hand, have loved poetry since childhood. It is truly where I began my writing hobby which morphed into a writing career.

In my neck of the woods, nearly forty years ago when I went looking for other writers in the rural part of Maryland where I live, the Harford Poetry Society was it. They graciously helped me grow as a writer and tolerated my strange interest in speculative poetry – and eventually, sf/f/h fiction.

Starline Jan Feb 1987 So you can imagine my delight when I discovered Starline, the newsletter of the SFPA. I felt like shouting “Hooray!” upon discovering that science fiction and fantasy poetry was written and enjoyed by others.

Thanks again to the hard-working and under-paid editors of Indie presses. Though sunlight may have faded a few of the covers, I still treasure the magazines (and books) you produced simply for the love of speculative writing.

And to readers of speculative writing – do both yourself and new genre writers a favor – support Indie presses.

 

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As a writer of speculative fiction, I have to be aware of the spelling and pronunciation of the places and people which are part of the imaginary worlds I build.

A long jumble of letters with a weird pronunciation might seem to be a good way to announce that my story is set in a fantastical world. Bizarre accents and hyphenated names might appear to be an easy way to signal to my readers that the characters aren’t human. But I don’t want to work that hard to figure out (and remember) crazy pronunciations, and neither do my readers.

So what’s a writer of science fiction and fantasy to do? I recommend selecting names that are easy to remember and pronounce – but ones which “fit” your world.

crist-dagger For example, in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger, I used baby name books to select Nordic, Celtic, Old English, Scandinavian, etc. names for some of my characters. Other characters’ names are mixed-up combinations of the names of family members and friends. Each time I began moving the letters around to create a character’s or race’s name, I used the sound of the letter combinations to determine if the result felt like it belonged in Lifthrasir.

Lifthra-what? Lifthrasir (LEEF-thra-seer) is the name of the imaginary world of The Enchanted Dagger and the forthcoming Beyond the Sheercliffs. It is from Norse mythology, and according to Teresa Norman’s book, A World of Baby Names, it means: “She who holds fast to life, desiring life…[Lifthrasir] is considered to be the mother of humanity after all perished at Ragnarok.” Well, what better name for the world I’m creating in which the good folk must fight for their lives, their children’s lives, and control of their world?

An example of my letter-scramble technique, would be Grindee, a particular kind of goblin. A dear friend’s nickname is Dee. She has a marvelous sense of humor, and I thought she’d grin during parts of the book. So why not name a goblin for her and her sense of humor?

Another example: a minor character in The Enchanted Dagger is named Mobree Dug. Mo is the nickname of another friend, and the first 4 letters of her last name are “bree.” Dug is the phonetic spelling of a brother-in-law’s name.

As for the title character, Beck – I have a sister and sister-in-law both named Becky. Plus, the name of the instructor who taught my Writing the Novel graduate course was Mr. Becker. In addition, Beck (again according to Norman’s book) is a Scandinavian name which is the “Transferred use of the surname meaning ‘dweller near the brook.'” In The Enchanted DaggerBeck comes from a seaside town, and water plays an important part in his interaction with magic.

The names of other family members and friends became a warrior race – the Janepar, a race close to nature – the D’Anlo, the wisewomen – the Alywyn Sisterhood, the Wenbo River, the towns of Raystev and Larmik, the country – Dobran, even the gravediggers Nate and Stu, and I could go on and on. (Though I won’t, since by now, you’re quite bored).

But you’ll notice, Grindee, Beck, Lifthrasir and the rest aren’t too difficult to read or pronounce. Believe me when I say your readers will appreciate the effort when you make names easy to pronounce and remember even if you world is far, far away or long, long ago or even beyond our galaxy.

To take a look at The Enchanted Skean, visit https://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-Dagger-Chronicles-Lifthrasir/dp/1941559182/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489363491&sr=8-1

For a totally different take on Pronunciation, here’s the link to writer friend Andrew McDonough’s take on the subject: https://andrewmcdowellauthor.com/2017/03/12/pronunciation

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When Gail Z. Martin invited me to post a blog as a part of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign, I decided to make it personal.

I was one of those kids who was different enough to attract the attention of bullies. A girl interested in science, math, art, fantasy, science fiction, writing, etc. attracted unwanted and negative attention from some of my school mates. Junior high (middle school to you younger folks) was the worse – I was regularly spit on by several “popular” girls on the school bus.

Where are those girls now? I don’t know, and to be honest, I don’t care. The things which made me an outcast then, are the things which I value the most about myself now. But that self-assurance is hard-won.

I’ve dealt with depression and lingering self-doubt for much of my life, because of that long-ago bullying. Which gives me great compassion for those who are different or who feel like outsiders. And though I won’t name names, because it is not my story to tell – I can assure them that many of the writers and artists I’m friendly with have experienced either bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or a combination of those things.

So what’s my message? First, don’t let bullies ruin your life. They don’t deserve that much power. You are unique and valuable. The problem lies with the bullies – not you. Second, when you see bullying going on, stop it if you can, or get help from an adult to put an end to the bullying. Third, don’t be a bully. Always choose kindness.

One of the best things about the science fiction and fantasy community is their willingness to accept those marvelously unique artists, writers, and fans who might be viewed as “outsiders” in the mundane world. And one of the best things about being a writer of speculative fiction, is I get to create and celebrate characters who are different – whether they have physical, mental, or emotional challenges – imperfect characters are the most interesting to read about. Why? Because they’re the characters most like us.

About the campaign:

holdontothelight-fb-banner #HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627

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Almost every writer dreams of finding an agent to represent their writing. So many publishers’ websites say “agented work only” or some variance of that statement.

The un-agented path to publication is often small or Indie publishers. There’s nothing wrong with that path – in fact for many writers, it’s the best path to seeing their books in print. Indies are more hands-on, and you can develop a personal relationship with them. The larger publishers often don’t have the time to develop a personal relationship with their writers – so many authors prefer the Indie route.

But what if you want to go the agent-larger publisher route? Where in the world can you find agents looking for science fiction and fantasy (or whatever your genre is)?

A great (though somewhat dated) source is the article, “Agents looking for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers,” from Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity. The same useful BlogSpot site also has the articles: “Literary Agents Seeking New Writers” and “3 New Agents Seeking Clients – Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Nonfiction, Thrillers, YA, and More” and “7 Established Agents Looking for Writers – Literary Fiction, Memoir, MG, YA, Fantasy, Romance, and More” and lots more articles on agents looking for writers.

So if you’re in the market for an agent, keep on knocking on their metaphoric doors (more likely email inboxes), and best of luck in your search.

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I’ve been a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series of books since they were first published. I think I fell in love with the idea of a dragon who was both apart from a character and a part of the character. I even had compassion for the poor watch-beast who tried to protect Lessa in the first Pern book.

Perhaps it’s because I was born in the Year of the Dragon (I’ll leave you to figure out which Year of the Dragon that is), but those magical reptiles have always held a special place in my heart. I’ve included a dragon in a few short stories, most notably in “Weathermaker,” included in my book The Greener Forest (soon to be updated with an additional story and poem included and released from Pole to Pole Publishing).

Plus, a dragon plays an important role in my novel, The Enchanted Skean – though Fafnir is a wee dragon in this first book of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir. For fans of the The Enchanted Skean, look for a novelette length tie-in book from Pole to Pole Publishing by year’s end.

Now, back to Pern! I loved the fantasy vibe of the series, even though it was officially science fiction. These books tread that delightful ground between genres where I often like the stories I read (and write) to exist.

So hoorah! Though Anne McCaffrey is no longer with us, her marvelous dragon-filled world can still bring joy to fans new and old. As for me- I can’t wait to see what movie technology and good live-action can do for The Dragon Riders of Pern. Here’s the link to the article.

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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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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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