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Posts Tagged ‘Magic’

green angel I had the great pleasure of hearing Alice Hoffman read her work and speak about her writing at a Maryland library last year. I went to the reading/talk with a friend who is crazy about Alice Hoffman’s work. (Even crazier about it than me!)

I think there’s nothing quite like hearing the words of a writer in her (or his) voice. To listen to the emphasis the creator places on a word or phrase, and notice the slight changes in facial expressions or tone of voice when the writer comes to a favorite part of the story is like peeking behind the curtain in Oz. It lets you see a bit of the person behind the words.

I have quite a few Alice Hoffman books on my shelves: Practical Magic, Green Heart, River King… plus, my autographed copy of The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I find wisdom in many of her books, and great truth in this Wednesday’s quote from her:

“It is the deepest desire of every writer, the one we never admit or even dare to speak of: to write a book we can leave as a legacy. And although it is sometimes easy to forget, wanting to be a writer is not about reviews or advances or how many copies are printed or sold. It is much simpler than that, and much more passionate. If you do it right, and if they publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.” – Alice Hoffman

Here’s to writing something worthy of good reviews, an advance, lots of copies printed and sold – and most importantly – a book worthy of leaving behind when my time has run out.

Like my posts? Why not stop by my Amazon page and buy one of my books? Thanks, and have a magical week. – Vonnie

 

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small owl light When I see a new review for my book has been published on a website, I always hold my breath for a moment as I click on the link. It shouldn’t matter what a reviewer thinks about my writing – but it does!

Many thanks to reviewer January Gray for her kind words. A sample quote: “A very pleasurable and magical book you will read over and over.” Thanks to January, also, for her 5 Star rating on Amazon. To read all of January’s comments about Owl Light, visit her webpage.

Owl Light has 5 reviews, all 5 Stars. Woot! I hope some of you might be interested in buying and reading this collection of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and ghost-tale stories. (And please post a review so I can read what YOU thought about Owl Light).

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0061-eWomenNetwork Thanks to Gail Z. Martin, author of Deadly Curiosities (and many other books), for stopping by and sharing some background information on Voodoo and Hoodoo as used in her urban fantasy novel and story series.

Voodoo and Hoodoo in the Holy City of Charleston, SC by Gail Z. Martin

“Welcome to Charleston, South Carolina, often called the ‘Holy City’ for its large number of beautiful churches. But the gracious lifestyle of Charleston’s wealthy planter-aristocrats was made possible by slavery, and in the years leading up to the Civil War, Charleston was the top port for slaves coming into the United States and for slaves being bought and sold.

My urban fantasy book and short story series, Deadly Curiosities, takes place in Charleston. Charleston is a beautiful city with a bloody past. It’s one of the top tourist attractions in the United States because by day, it’s filled with gorgeous ante bellum architecture, horse-drawn carriage rides, landmark restaurants and quirky shops. But by night, you’ll hear stories of ghosts, duels, pirates, wronged women and wrongful death as Charleston’s Id comes out to play.

In the Deadly Curiosities series, the focus is on Trifles and Folly, an antiques and curio shop that exists to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands. Cassidy Kincaide is the latest person in her family to inherit the shop and the job of protecting the world that goes with it. She’s a psychometric, someone who can read the history of objects by touch. Together with her assistant, Teag Logan, who has his own magic and her business partner, Sorren who is a nearly six hundred year-old vampire, Cassidy navigates the magical underside of the Holy City to handle things that go bump in the night with extreme prejudice.

Which leads me to Voodoo and Hoodoo. Voodoo, or Voudon as its practitioners prefer, comes from the Caribbean, with elements of African and island religions syncretized with Roman Catholicism. Most people associate Voudon with New Orleans. Hoodoo is root magic, incorporating African plant medicine and some shamanic aspects, and hails from the Carolina Lowcountry area.

I use both Voudon and Hoodoo in Deadly Curiosities. Cassidy’s allies include powerful Voudon mambos and houngan (male and female priests) as well as skilled root workers. The choice to include Voudon in Charleston isn’t as strange as it seems. Pre-Civil War, people took their servants with them when they moved from one place to another, certainly when a young woman traveled to marry a man from a distant city. Since there was quite a bit of commerce between Charleston and New Orleans, this kind of relocation isn’t difficult to imagine. Those servants would have brought their beliefs with them, and history shows that a surprising number of slave owners, especially women, were willing to secretly work Voudon and Hoodoo when dire personal situations needed special assistance.

DEADLY-CURIOSITIES1-140x214 Another reason why I chose to use Voudon was because Charleston was not just the top port for the importation and sale of new slaves. In the years after it became more difficult to import new slaves from Africa, Charleston became the main place where formerly-owned slaves from inside the United States changed hands. It was, for its time, the Ebay of human trafficking. So it’s not at all unlikely that some of those slaves came from the New Orleans area or had been exposed to Voudon from family members or other slaves.

I’ve learned a lot researching Voudon and Hoodoo for the books, and find the rich, complex belief systems truly fascinating. As part of my research, I’ve been to Voodoo museums in New Orleans and talked with people from South Carolina who know what it means to ‘put a root’ on someone! While these are just two of the many types of magic woven into the Deadly Curiosities novels and short stories, I think they bring a sense of depth and place to the narrative. Not only that, but the Voudon and Hoodoo practitioners you’ll meet in Deadly Curiosities are some of my favorite characters!

So if all you know about Voudon comes from The Princess and the Frog or The Serpent and the Rainbow (two movies that are not in any way designed for the same audience!), check out my Deadly Curiosities series. There’s a whole new world in the shadows, waiting for you to visit.

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 stories and books by author friends of mine. And, a special 50% off discount from Double-Dragon ebooks! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here.

Trick or Treat: Enjoy The Final Death, the complete Deadly Curiosities Adventures novella here.

And a bonus excerpt from Coffin Box, another Deadly Curiosities Adventures short story here.

And a second bonus excerpt from my friend Stuart Jaffe and his short story Killer of Monsters here.

And a THIRD bonus audio excerpt from Voodoo Children by my friend John Hartness here.”

You can find Deadly Curiosities on Amazon and elsewhere.

Thanks again to Gail Z Martin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, owl posts, and occasional recipes. Have a magical day – Vonnie

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mermaid My story collection, Owl Light, includes several reprinted tales along with brand new stories. In order for a reader to read the reprinted stories in their original versions, he or she would have to hunt for, locate, then purchase various anthologies and magazines.

One of the reprinted tales, “By the Sea,” was an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Honorable Award Winner,  released as an eShort (no longer available) as well as being included in Tales of the Talisman. It was also voted one of the Top Ten SF/F Short Stories in the P&E Reader’s Poll. Though it has been updated, the storyline and mermaid theme remain the same. I thought readers might like to read 2 brief reviews of “By the Sea.”

Author Robin Bayne: “I really enjoyed this lovely tale. The story was short but conveyed an interesting world and characters you could care about.”

Editor/author WH Stevens: “”Ms. Crist’s story, “By the Sea,” will take you to a land of seaside delights and carnival excitement. Bordering on a dreamy current of fantasy and reality, the story of Dusana, the 17 year old sideshow mermaid will keep your attention for a fast, easy read. The characters, so real you can see them, the sights of the neon lights and the sound of the calliope will transport you to Dusana’s world where she dreams of being a normal person. And the poetic, smooth language will engage you and seep into you like the ocean itself. The charm of the merfolk, candied apples and sideshow barkers will draw you to a touching and unexpected conclusion. Welcome to the fantasy world of Vonnie Crist. This is her moment and it is a fine one, indeed.”

Like mermaids, boardwalks, and sideshow? Buy Owl Light, then turn to “By the Sea.” (And if you’re a fan of shape-changing sea creatures, the next tale in the book features a selkie).

 

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Beth-Barany_360by270-cropped Author and workshop leader, Beth Barany passed the baton to me on this blog hop. At the same time, she passed the baton to James C. Wallace II And Dan O’Brien. We’re all to answer 4 questions about our writing process. And almost every writer likes to chat about their writing process, so this is an easy post to write.

My Writing Process:
1- What are you working on now? Actually, I have several projects in the works. I know that seems like it would be confusing, but I have a short attention span, so it helps me to move from project to project until I’m nearing the end of the first draft. That said, when I work on a second draft, I focus on one book at a time. I’m currently writing the follow-up book to The Enchanted Skean (a Compton Crook Award Finalist), a YA science fiction novel, a YA urban fantasy, and a non-fiction historical book. Plus, I’m working on illustrations for a picture book.
2- How does your work differ from others in this genre? I think coming from both an illustration and writing background, I “see” the world of my books as I write them. Also, having taught creative writing, especially poetry, for over a decade, I think I bring the poetic emphasis on the senses to my prose.
box of clovers 3- Why do you write what you do? I believe the world around us is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic, so it’s natural I’d include those things in my writing. I’ve been in love with myths, fables, fairy tales, and folklore since I was a child, so my writing and illustrations are filled with a sense of wonder. By the way, I found my first 4-leafed clover of 2014 today on a walk with my granddaughter – I’ve already slipped it inside the pages of a book. Once the clover is pressed flat and dried, I’ll add it to one of the jars of 4-leafed clovers I have on my shelves. Magic really is everywhere around us.
4- How does your writing process work? Something inspires me – a word, something I see or hear, an over-heard conversation, a “what if” thought about an ordinary moment. Then, I mull the idea over in my mind. Quite often, I dream parts of the story. By the time I actually begin writing, my fingers can’t keep up with my brain! Editing can be tiresome for me – but I know it’s necessary. I revise, polish, submit the manuscript to publishers, and repeat the process.

If I can wrangle a couple of writers into accepting the baton, I’ll post their bio and blog links here. Until then, keep on the look out for 4-leafed clovers! And here’s a question for you: Fellow readers (and writers), are you interested in a writer’s process?

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Busy today tidying up (though in truth I can only make a small dent in the tidying that needs doing). As I slide books back into their slots on my bookshelves, I noticed the great number of stories that have swords or blades in them.

My favorite swords are the lightsabers of the Jedi knights of Star War’s fame, King Arthur’s Excalibur, and the famed sword/s of The Lord of the Rings. There is always the debate whether Arthur had one or two swords. One pulled from the stone and a different blade given to him by the Lady of the Lake seems to indicate two different swords, but there are other takes on these mythical events.

As for The Lord of the Rings’ sword/s, I refer to Narsil, the blade broken into shards during battle. Isildur, son of the king, used the hilt-shard to slice the finger with the One Ring from the hand of Sauron. The Ring takes quite a journey, eventually ending up in the spindly hands of Golem, then in the pocket of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. From there, the Ring is placed in the care of Frodo, and finally is destroyed in the lava of Mount Doom. Now, back to the Shards of Narsil. These broken bits of sword, are re-formed into a new blade which is renamed, Anduril – The Flame of the West, and given to Aragorn to use. And yes, JRR Tolkien geek that I am, I didn’t need to research these names!

I found an interesting list of 15 Legendary Swords which not only includes my favorites, but a dozen more. By the way, I find the inclusion of William Wallace’s sword a novel idea. I wonder if it would have been on the list prior to Mel Gibson’s movie?

Skean copy In my fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, the blade mentioned in the title is a boot knife, though I do have Beck use a fighting blade, too. As I work on the sequel, I’m toying with the idea of introducing a magical sword — but I worry it’s a cliché’. What do you think?

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The Kelpie: Trusting Children’s Intellect by T.J. Wooldridge

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children. – Madeleine L’Engle

thekelpie_front_only “One of the (many!) cool things about working with Spencer Hill Press is that I know our rights sales person and we occasionally get to hear feedback from people who want to buy rights for the various books—be they foreign publishers or movie or TV execs.

For The Kelpie, I received rejections saying that it was too complex for them, particularly TV or movies. They didn’t say it was too scary, at least, but we’ll get to that.

Thing is, I had about a dozen beta readers in my “target demographic” – kids 11-13—and they all followed it fine. My crits from them were mostly on how my kids spoke and, especially, how they texted and wrote on Facebook. I also got word from several teachers, librarians, and booksellers that they needed advanced reading for kids in this age bracket. They were running out of stuff.

That warmed my heart.

One of my most admired authors, one who was a light shining through my childhood thanks to her books, is Madeleine L’Engle. I still see kids carrying her books around. Not but a few years ago, they were all re-released with new covers.

There has yet to be a movie or even mini-series that has done any of her work justice.

Maybe it’s not so bad to be “too complex.” That’s why we read, right? Books are written because they are the best medium for the stories they tell.

I wrote The Kelpie for readers. I wrote it for kids.

I’ve always believed most kids are smarter than adults give them credit for. Goodness, I know plenty of kids who are smarter than most adults sometimes. In fact, I would even offer that kids lose some of their spark the older they get, the less they believe. I also believe children are braver than adults. They have to be.

As a kid, everything is still new. And scary. You don’t know a lot and you’re thrust into situations they don’t know and they have to flounder and figure it out. That’s normal life. A kid as to adapt faster than adults. New schools, various family events, changing friends, changing enemies. What you say and do can change things in big scary ways.

Magick exists. Magick is the power of the unknown. The things not yet discovered. It can be amazing and helpful. It can also be terrifying. Deadly.

In books, for children, it’s another thing to adapt to.

Heather, Joe, Rowan, and all my Kelpie kids come up with some pretty unexpected and imaginative ways to cope when magick and the dangerous monsters that turn their world upside down. They have ideas that adults wouldn’t have. Plans that just might work because they haven’t “grown up” too much to discard an “impossible” idea—the idea that just might work.

They don’t disbelieve in the magick. It can hurt them…but it can work for them, too. Because they believe.

Most writers I know share that quality with kids: We haven’t “grown up” too much to discard our “impossible” ideas.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your magickal ideas are impossible, either. They might just be the ideas that work!

Happy Halloween!”

T. J. Wooldridge’s debut novel, The Kelpie, from Spencer Hill Press, will be available through all bookstores (request it if it’s not on the shelf!) and Amazon on December 3rd. You can pre-order your copy today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore!

The Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour runs every other day October 23-October 31. Join us all five days for Halloween fun! Be sure to say hello on any post to be entered in a giveaway at the end of the tour!

Thanks to Trisha Wooldridge for her guest post. Be sure and visit the other blog sites for fun Halloween-themed posts (including my guest posts). Coming up on Whimsical Words on All Hallow’s Eve: a bit of Halloween lure from yours truly.

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