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Posts Tagged ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’

juliana spink mills Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Juliana Spink Mills. Juliana Spink Mills was born in England, but grew up in Brazil. Now, she lives in Connecticut and writes science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of Heart Blade and Night Blade, the first two books in the young adult Blade Hunt Chronicles urban fantasy series. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online publications. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator, and as a teen library assistant. She watches way too many TV shows, and loves to get lost in a good book. Her dream is to move to Narnia when she grows up. Or possibly Middle Earth, if she’s allowed a very small dragon of her own.

Juliana Spink Mills’s latest book, Night Blade, is a YA novel urban fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the aftermath of the Heart Blade’s return, Del and Rose have different roads to follow. One leads forward, the other to the distant past. Rose is on a mission to infiltrate and double-cross the ultimate heist, and retrieve a game-changing prize. Meanwhile, as the Court of the Covenant prepares to meet, Del has a quest of her own. She must untangle her lost identity or risk her entire future. With the Blade Hunt prophecy in motion, darkness threatens to rise, and a new sword emerges from the shadows.

And a little “taste” of Night Blade:
  The vampire smiled at Raze. “How do you feel about a little undercover work?”
  “Undercover work? What kind?”
  “The dangerous kind. The sort of work that should suit Raze perfectly, since you’re so determined to leave Rose behind,” he said. “A challenge. You’re infiltrating a heist. I think you’ll make an excellent cat burglar.”

nightblade_front_mills Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Night Blade?

Night Blade is the second in my YA urban fantasy trilogy. The idea for the series came from a short story I was working on. That particular story was never published, but the world stuck in my head and kept growing, and eventually became the first book, Heart Blade.

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

I think my two favorites are Camille, an immortal half-demon, and Ben a teenage witch. Camille is fun to write, because her personality is similar to my own (demonic immortality aside). As for Ben, I just like him. He’s had a lot of bad things happen to him, but he doesn’t give up. And, more importantly, he always tries to do the right thing, even if it’s going to cost him.

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

Both my books were published by a small press. I think the advantages were that I was involved in every step of the process. I was given everything you can expect from a larger press—editor, copy editor, professional cover art—but additionally, because I worked so closely with the owner of the press, I was involved in a lot of the decision-making. It really was a lesson in what it takes to bring out a book! For a first timer who up to that point had only published short stories, it was a real learning experience.

The disadvantages of a small press are probably obvious, and center mostly around market reach.

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

I’m definitely a planner. That said, I’ve become a lot more organic in my process as I’ve gained confidence in myself as a writer. So now, instead of the rigid chapter outlines I used in the past, I tend to do a list of bullet points: key events that need to be incorporated. This gives me wriggle room to go ‘off road’ when I want, and I constantly update this list as the story progresses.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was definitely a Narnia girl. I was gifted the full Narnia set as a going away present when I moved from England to Brazil at the age of eight. Brazil was new, and exciting, but also confusing and strange, so I absolutely connected with Lucy Pevensie and the rest of C.S. Lewis’ portal-travelling youngsters. I credit those books with a life-long love of fantasy novels.

What writing project are you currently working on?

After a much-needed break to write a sci fi thriller, I’m now working on Star Blade, the last book in my YA trilogy. The planning stage took ages—there is so much to fit in!—but now I’m up and running and delighted to be back in this familiar world of mine. I missed my characters!

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

My favorite bit of advice ever, and one I always pass along, is: “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Nothing happens overnight in publishing. If you love writing, allow yourself the gift of time. And keep writing!

Want to learn more about Juliana Spink Mills and Night Blade? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook pageTwitterInstagram, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Night Blade.

Thanks to author Juliana Spink Mills for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Elaine Isaak on February 21, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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CLundoff Publicity photo Whimsical Words welcomes guest author-editor-publisher, Catherine Lundoff. Catherine Lundoff is a Minneapolis-based award-winning writer, editor, and publisher. Her recent stories have appeared in Tales of the Unanticipated, Curious Fictions, The Cainite Conspiracies: A Vampire the Masquerade V20 Anthology, The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Tales and The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Professor Moriarty. Her books include Silver Moon, Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories and as editor, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space). She is the publisher at Queen of Swords Press.

Catherine Lundoff’s latest book, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), is a new anthology fans of pirates and adventure are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Think pirates are all about the rum and the pieces of eight? Let these fifteen tales draw you into the adventures of a new kind of pirate. Sail with them as they seek treasure, redemption, love, revenge and more. Raise the Jolly Roger and sharpen your cutlass (or recharge your raygun) and climb aboard for some unforgettable voyages. Featuring stories by Ginn Hale, A.J. Fitzwater, Geonn Cannon, Joyce Chng, Elliott Dunstan, Ashley Deng, Su Haddrell, Ed Grabianowski, Mharie West, Matisse Mozer, Soumya Sundar Mukherjee, Megan Arkenberg, Peter Golubock, Michael Merriam, and Caroline Sciriha.

ebook QoSP Scourge 432 x 648 72 dpilundoff Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)?

I started my own small press last year and I wanted to publish an anthology. Originally, it was on a different theme and was going to have a different editor, but that fell through, so I decided to go ahead with another theme that I liked. I’ve always had a fondness for pirates, fictional as well as historical, starting with reading Treasure Island when I was a kid. Since pirates historically turn up all over the world, as well as in fantasy and science fiction, I thought it would be a great opportunity to solicit stories from writers from different countries as well as subgenres. I also opened it up to stories featuring protagonists of any gender or orientation to try and get to a reflection of the diversity of the topic.

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

Ooh, that would be a challenge! I really like all the stories in different ways. I think you really have to get to a point where you appreciate all the strengths of every story you accept when you’re editing an anthology. Between story selection and rounds of editing, you’re going to be reading and rereading those same stories a LOT. Multiple rereads in, I still love all the protagonists in a book with stories that range from the aftermath of the Trojan War to outer space, (most of) the 7 seas and the lands beyond!

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

It’s traditionally published in the sense that it’s being released by a publishing house; however, Queen of Swords Press is my small press so things get a bit complicated there. I have edited or co-edited two previous anthologies for a different small press though, so I have something to compare it to. The contrast between editing for someone else and doing it on my own is the scale of work involved. I’m doing all my own publicity for Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) as well as for other Queen of Swords Press titles and I’m taking all the financial risks. On the other hand, I get to make my own decisions without needing to answer to anyone else and pick stories based on what I like. I’m pretty pleased with the mix of stories that I selected and I know that it would look somewhat different if I had to answer to a different publisher.

What is your writing/editing process like?

I’ll talk about my editing here, instead of writing, because that’s been my latest focus. In terms of story selection, I tried to put a lot of thought into the kind of anthology that I wanted to publish. I wanted a mix of pirate stories set in different parts of the world as well as in fantastical settings and in outer space. I wanted a range of protagonists to somewhat reflect the historical diversity of pirate ships and crews. Add to that, I wanted authors from different parts of the world as well as protagonists of different genders and sexual orientations. So I did an open call where I specifically asked for international authors and for protagonists of any gender or orientation. I ended up getting submissions from authors in fourteen countries, which was pretty amazing.

From those submissions, I had to go through and pick the strongest of the stories that I got, then decide which ones I wanted in the anthology. I tried to pick based on my goals: having a diverse range of pirate stories and an anthology Table of Contents that wasn’t all white guys or all cis people or all from the U.S. Fortunately, I had a lot of really good stories to choose from so it was a more a matter of picking “best in class” rather than “I must take it because it’s the only thing like it that I have.” Editing themed anthologies can be challenging that way. I say this despite this being my third one, so you would think it would get easier with practice. At any rate, everything after the story selection part was reading and rereading and providing feedback to the authors and incorporating changes and getting copy edits back and so forth.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I had a LOT of favorite books as a child and they changed every couple of years. The first book I ever read on my own was Alice in Wonderland, then I went through a lot of Robert Louis Stevenson, fairy tales and other related work. Alexandre Dumas and Jane Austen got me through my early teens. On bad weeks, The Count of Monte Cristo is still a map of my mental landscape. When in doubt, I can always count on getting a mental image of tunneling out of the Chateau d’If with a spoon. Puts everything in perspective. I have a list of every book that I’ve read since I was ten years old so I can backtrack through the Narnia years, the Lloyd Alexander years, and so forth. I owe my fragile sanity entirely to reading, but I have to say that it was a collective effort. I can name ten to twenty favorite books, but not just one.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on Blood Moon, the sequel to my menopausal werewolf novel, Silver Moon. Blood Moon focuses on the same protagonists as in the previous novel and has more mystery and romance elements than the first book. Apart from that, I’m working on a couple of new short stories and some gaming-related projects. And the next books for Queen of Swords. I like to keep things lively.

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

It’s a toss-up between “Learn to love rewriting” and “Pick a day job you don’t hate, because you’ll spend more time there than anywhere else.” They are both useful, if somewhat depressing, in their own way. I think both pieces of advice are also very realistic and sometimes, we need to hear that. I know there’s a strain of thought, particularly in genre fiction, that “real writers don’t need day jobs,” but I think that gets less and less realistic for most of us as the field changes. And rewriting for me is like painting: you do a sketch, and then, start adding layers. Those layers add depth and beauty, if you do them well, in the same way that rewrites help you to create a better story and become a better writer.

Want to learn more about Catherine Lundoff and Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook pageQueen of Swords Press Website, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) from Books2Read or IndieBound.

Thanks to author-editor-publisher Catherine Lundoff for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Meriah Crawford on February 14, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Eddie Louise Final-square med-res Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Eddie Louise. Eddie Louise has had a lot of experience writing. As a child, she composed nonsense songs to keep herself company herding cattle across the lonely Wyoming plains. Discovering the theater led her to write melodramatic plays full of artful alliterations, which in turn led to composing the book for a musical on the beaches of Monterey. She ran away from home to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she explored her passion for writing novels. Having landed back in California she is writer of the hit Audio Drama Podcast, The Tale of Sage & Savant and the novel TransMIGRATIONS, The Tales of Sage & Savant Book One, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

2018-03-26-TransMIGRATIONS_Cover-DRAFT Eddie Louise’s latest book, TransMIGRATIONS is a novel steampunk fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Telesensation agent Justin Bremer studies time—specifically the effects of journeying through it. His assignment, funded by a mysterious organization, ‘Les Charges de L’Affaires,’ is to observe the timeline of a young Victorian scientist who lived approximately 2000 years in the past.

Equipped with an AI neural-interface, Bremer carefully documents the experiments of Dr. Petronella Sage and her archaeologist friend Erasmus Savant. The Doctor, while investigating the effects of electricity on human flesh, becomes obsessed by the curious and vivid shared hallucinations induced after she and Savant are accidentally electrocuted.

Each fantastical adventure (which they call a ‘transmigration’) takes the intrepid duo into the unimaginable lives of persons and places throughout history. Justin Bremer observes and dutifully records it all.

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

It is terribly clichéd to admit this but the idea came from a dream. I am a very visceral dreamer and often my dreams play out with cinematic clarity. I also have serial dreams where a story will continue over many nights. This is a talent that is very helpful in writing stories! Unfortunately, sometimes I get ‘stuck’ where the same dream or snippet of a dream plays over and over, night after night. Sage and Savant came from just such a dream. Every night for about two weeks I dreamed the same fragment: I was a female scientist in the Victorian age (corset, long skirts, lots of hair) and I had been given a VERY limited time in the Galvanistic laboratory to prove my thesis to the male supervisors of my program. I would set up a bank of very complicated electrical equipment and then electrocute myself. That was it—each and every night I electrocuted myself which would shock me awake and my first thought would be, ‘It worked!’ Eventually I decided I had to write about this scientist and figure out why anyone would do such a thing and think of it as a victory.

VarnerPhotography-6550 Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Doctor Petronella Sage. She is clever, complicated, and conceited. She has never met a problem she couldn’t solve through sheer obstinacy. She loves passionately, yet denies herself the expression of that love because it would end her career. She is a mad scientist whose motto is ‘Death is no barrier to science!’and I love her!

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

I am traditionally published with Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing out of Canada. Edge is the Canadian equivalent of Tor. The chief advantage of the traditional route is that you have a whole team helping your book into the world. The cover art Edge secured for me is amazing and all four books will be consistent and visually stunning. The typesetting on the inside of the book helped deal with some really gnarly problems I had created. (Namely conversations that take place via neural implant and ALSO out loud in the same dialog section—my publisher figured out how to indicate out-loud speech separate from thoughts, separate from in-head conversations without breaking the flow of the scene—they are geniuses!) The disadvantages—well of course you are not in control of timelines or price points. In truth, I plan on becoming a Hybrid author with some self published titles alongside my traditional titles.

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

I love the choice. I would say I’m an architectural gardener. I like to lay out a basic plot line (I call it my Tentpoles) but then free write everything else. For me some remarkable things happen when I do this. For example, I am currently writing Book Two, TransANIMATIONS and I had to deal with a plot hole I had created in the 3rd episode of Season Two of the podcast. EXCEPT it turned out it wasn’t a plot hole—it was foreshadowing for something that we find out about in Season Three. I had no idea of this when I wrote the original story, but my subconscious had it all worked out and let me know about it when the time was right.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I grew up on a 20,000 acre cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming. I had never seen a body of water larger than a reservoir and a creek. At age seven, I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and I knew I would grow up to be a pirate and sail the seven seas. That book opened an entire world as magical to me as Narnia was when I read that the next year. The ability for this arcane magic we name story and inscribe on the bones of trees to create truth out of thin air, to open portals, to transport us is alchemy of the soul and RL Stevenson was my first tutor in that art.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am just putting the finishing touches on TranANIMATIONS, Book Two of The Tales of Sage and Savant, and of course I have a monthly episode to keep abreast of. By next week I am hoping to dive into the final edits for Palace Du Mers, a Steampunk novel set on an elegant ship that I plan on self publishing in spring.

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

My writing teacher in Scotland said: “Drafting a novel is like a potter throwing a pot. Step one is to mix the clay. Your first draft is just this—the clay from which you will form your pot. The only thing you need in enough clay for the pot you envision. Don’t worry about the pot shape; that will come later when you put it on the wheel. For now, just mix the clay.” This advice freed me to write a messy first draft. Sometimes I write a scene two or three times sequentially trying different approaches. Then when I move the clay of my novel onto the wheel of editing I choose what serves and what doesn’t.

Want to learn more about Eddie Louise and TransMIGRATIONS? Check out her: Website, Sage and Savant WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy. Available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo and bookstores everywhere or for a Signed Copy go here.

Thanks to author Eddie Louise for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Claire Davon on February 5, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Reading was my favorite pastime as a child and teen. Even today, a good book and the time to enjoy it make me happy. Which is one of the reasons I write.

When I write, whether a story, poem, or entire book, I try to create something I want to read. It seems a waste of time to create something which you, as the writer, don’t want to read! On the flip side of the coin, when I read an amazing book, I always think, “I wish I’d written this book!”

So what were my favorites as a child/teen? Mysteries: Nancy Drew mysteries (which I swapped with several friends, so we all had a chance to read many of them) -plus, I must confess to reading quite a few Hardy Boys mysteries, too! Magical tales: from the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and others. Folktales. Stories tinged with history, like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books, plus books of “real” history. JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, CS Lewis’s  Chronicles of Narnia, L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books, Lewis Carroll’s  Alice in Wonderland, Andre Norton’s Witch World series… The list goes on and on.

And the best part of loving to read, was the adults in my life (parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, dear family friends) encouraged me to read. They allowed me to be me, and didn’t force me to join a sports team or other activity just because everyone else was doing it.

I’ve tried to encourage my sons and daughter to find activities they enjoyed, and celebrated the differences between my kids. I try to do the same with my grandkids. Each grandchild is sure to find a path which suits them – and I’m happy each of the paths will be unique. And I’m not the only one. Here’s a link to Home and Garden Channel’s Fixer Upper and Magnolia Market, Joanna Gaines’s post on celebrating her child who’s a reader.

So on this warm July day, no matter your age, enjoy a book! Better yet, share your love of reading with a child.

 

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On Easter, most readers are thinking of Beatrix Potter’s rabbits, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, Peter, and their cousin Benjamin Bunny. Instead, I thought of CS Lewis today. Why? For starters, a writer friend sent me a video featuring a pair of beavers repairing their home during a warm spell.

It is still winter, and ice remains. A warm wind has caused a bit of a thaw, so the beavers are out and about. They ignore the photographer, and go about their beaver business. Which would be interesting enough, but about 2 minutes into the video – one of the beavers stands on his hind feet and carries a load of sticks.

This wild beaver suddenly reminded me of Mr. Beaver and his wife from CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many of you will recall the first encounter with Mr. Beaver from the movie – how he startles Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy by speaking, and seeming quite comfortable standing on 2 legs.

In the book, after staying at Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s home for a bit, the three children and the Beavers rush into the night and try to keep ahead of the White Queen and her forces who are in pursuit. As they trudge through the winter woods, Lucy becomes tired.

CS Lewis writes: “And she stopped looking at the dazzling brightness of the frozen river with all its waterfalls of ice and at the white masses of the tree-tops and the great glaring moon and the countless stars and could only watch the little short legs of Mr. Beaver going pad-pad-pad-pad through the snow in front of her as if they were never going to stop. Then the moon disappeared and the snow began to fall once more…”

But CS Lewis fans know that spring and Aslan are on their way. Most CS Lewis fans also know Aslan will sacrifice himself for Edmund’s bad behavior, be killed by the witch and her followers, then, be reborn.

And so, Easter is indeed a perfect time to not only think of  Beatrix Potter and her Tale of Peter Rabbit, but also to think of CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

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I was invited to participate in Darkover this past Thanksgiving weekend in Timonium, Maryland. Wow! What a wonderful con. I was part of several panels including substituting at the last moment on the “Animal Sidekicks” panel for a couple of writers who had planes/rides to catch.

I love adding animal sidekicks in my stories. Per the advice of Dr. John Flynn, who taught “Writing Science Fiction” as part of my Masters in Professional Writing Degree Program & served as my advisor for 2 Independent Studies on writing science fiction & fantasy prose, I try my hardest to avoid cats, dogs, and horses. Now, it’s not because I don’t love cats, dogs, and horses — but rather because they’re the most common animals used.

 So what critters have I used as sidekicks or important characters in my stories? In “Assassins,” I use a singing opossum – it’s genetically altered, hence the singing and glow-in-the-dark eyes. In “Birdling,” a robin is an important character. I must admit to using a one-eyed dog and three-legged cat in “Appleheads,” but they’re really a goblin and bogle, so I’m not sure if that counts. In “Toad,” I use a toad. (That was hard to guess, I know!) In “Henkie’s Fiddle,” a calf-shaped buggane is a sidekick. In “Weathermaker,” a Chinese dragon has a starring role. In a novel I’m pecking away at, I use rats and pigeons as sidekicks. I’m also currently at work on several stories where owls are either a sidekick or necessary character. Then, there’s this tale where telepathic beetles bond with the protagonist…

The advice I gave on the Darkover panel (with a nod to Dr. Flynn) is still good — “Think outside the box.” Cats, dogs, and horses make fabulous sidekicks and characters, but so do spiders (EB White’s “Charlotte’s Web”), cockroaches (Suzanne Collins’ “The Underland Chronicles”), beavers (CS Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”), polar bears (Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass”), snakes (JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter”), and even trees (JRR Tolkien’s Treebeard in “Lord of the Rings”).

I think readers like to read about cats, dogs, and horses — but they probably would like a pinch of emu, lizard, and lion, too.

Till next I blog: Happy reading! Happy writing! And thanks so much to the folks at Darkover for inviting me.

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Bonshaw Tower & Estate

Several people have asked me of late  why I chose The Greener Forest as the title of my first book of fantasy short stories. The title actually comes from a trip I took to Scotland with my mom, 3 sisters, and a bus full of distant cousins in 2009. These cousins are all associated with the Scottish Clan Irwin Association — and yes, if you go back a few generations, one of my ancestors was the American Revolutionary War hero, General William Irvine.

Drum Castle

The trip included visits to numerous historical and cultural locations: Edinburgh, Isle of Iona, Culloden, Fort George, Aboyne Highland Games, Urquhart Castle along Loch Ness, Glencoe, Aberdeen City Hall, Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument…

One of the most unique things about this trip was a tour of Bonshaw Tower & Estate in the border area led by present laird, Christopher Irving, and a tea hosted by his lovely wife, Claire. The second very special part of the trip was a tour of Drum Castle & Gardens given by David Irvine, 26th Baron of Drum and Chief of the Name and Lady Carolyn.

Drum Castle Greener Trees

It was while visiting Drum Castle, that I wandered into the woods near the small stone Drum Chapel. This little bit of Irvine woods seemed greener and more steeped in myth & Faerie than almost anywhere else I’d ever been. I was quite certain that if no one else was about, a hobbit or elf or other shy Tolkien creature might pop his head around the side of a tree and motion for me to follow them into the even greener depths of the forest. Or I’d stroll between an arch of branches and find myself in Narnia chatting with a faun.

More Drum Castle trees

And that’s when I decided the book of fantasy stories I wanted to put together should be titled: The Greener Forest.

My stories are certainly not equal to those of JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis, but I nevertheless try to put a little of the same magic into them. Readers, if you like fantasy, I hope you’ll give The Greener Forest a look. Writers, if you have the good fortune to travel — keep your ears and eyes open. You never know when inspiration will be standing in front of you. 

 And writers, remember Cold Moon Press: http://coldmoonpress.com  is actively looking for new authors. What do they want? Buy my book and you’ll see!

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