Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

Should your story include a romance? I’m speaking here about romances being included with stories that are not explicitly part of the Romance genre. There seem to be a lot of strong feelings about this issue.

From time to time I see people get very angry about romance being a part of other genres. There especially seems to be a sort of science fiction fan that complains about this. Science fiction is supposed to be about pure ideas, they say. Never mind that science fiction has always had other elements, such as social commentary and political theory (especially Libertarian theory). They seem to feel that the romance somehow pollutes the genre.

These rants always puzzle me. We want to read about characters who are interesting and fully formed, right? Well, romantic feelings and needs are part of every biological entity. Why should authors prevent their characters from having those feelings? If the author decided this wasn’t want they wanted their story to be about, that’s one thing. It just seems like a line is being drawn (or attempted to draw) that doesn’t need to be there.

To put it another way, I wonder why some fans are so uncomfortable hearing about romantic emotions?

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m back from my family visit, which was equal parts stressful and boring. Between my elderly, demanding father and my mentally ill, demanding brother, I could definitely see why my sister jumped on the opportunity for a getaway with just her own family. I don’t begrudge her at all. My husband, however, wanted to have a “real” vacation and insisted that we take long drives to two different museums and two different beaches. After three straight days in the car, he finally was ready to stay put and get bored. Now we’re back home, and I want a “real” vacation!

But, duty calls. I’m in charge of the programming for SpoCon, a science fiction convention on Hallowe’en weekend. With the pandemic and all, we haven’t been certain if we can do an in-person convention, but as of now, it’s a go. So I’m wading into all the program ideas I’ve been offered and setting up a spreadsheet that will allow our speakers to choose what programs they want to be on. It’s a little stressful, but exciting, too.

On my vacation, I brought along the first rough draft of my short story, Hag. Being thrown out of my normal routines, I never really got to do more than glance at it. One idea I did have was to change the POV character from an older, experienced woman to someone younger and less confident. I’ve been working on a new draft, and it really isn’t jelling.

This is where I ask all of you wise friends which approach you think is better. 1) The older, experienced hag who is defending her daughter. She is powerful and confident, but maybe it’s all too easy for her. 2) The younger, less confident hag who is defending her mother. I feel like there could be more drama with the second option, but it also could be kind of a predictable trope where a young person has to step up.

I’d love to hear that you all think. Should I go with youth and strength, or old age and treachery?

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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On my vacation this year, I pulled a few old paperbacks off the shelves to take along. It was sort of eye-opening to read stories from 80 years ago and see how they did it in the beginning of modern SF. The two books I’ve finished so far are Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore (1930s) and The Book of Ptath by A. E. VanVogt (1947). What’s the deal with the initials, you might wonder. I know Catherine Moore may have needed to conceal being a woman if she wanted to be taken seriously. Maybe VanVogt just thought the initials looked more classy.

Characters. By current standards, the characters are really sparse. Good or Evil are practically branded on their foreheads. They have just one or two defining traits. Jirel has red hair and incredible pride. Ptath, a reincarnated god, has an overwhelming self-esteem and I couldn’t really tell you what he looked like. Also, everyone is gorgeous.

Landscapes. The authors made a lot more effort at creating fantastic landscapes and creatures. Maybe they were still closer to the age of discovery in the 1920s and the readers valued that.

Magic. There is generally a sense that mages are evil, or at least sketchy. They seek power by meddling with forces beyond their ken. Also, the magic often overlaps what you could think of as mental powers. There’s a lot of astral projection and dimensional travel rather than fireballs and such. In Ptath, they take over people’s bodies a lot.

Endings. As with the characters, the endings are very chopped off. They solve the story problem and two sentences later the story is over. Modern endings seem to have a lot more reflection on how things have changed during the story, or in the case of a series, they think about what problems are left in the series.

Problematic material. There’s a lot of fat shaming in the VanVogt. Interestingly, the evil woman was still gorgeous. It was the merchants and politicians who were grotesquely fat. I also thought it was questionable how they possessed people without asking. In the Moore, there was sexual assault all over the place. No matter how fierce and strong Jirel was, men kept grabbing her and kissing her. I wondered if this was something Moore herself experienced, or if the social mores of the 30s required an independent woman to have some sort of cautionary experience.

Those are a few of my observations. What have you been reading lately?

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Bear with me as I untangle a thought here.

I was watching an animated series that was supposed to be about samurai. I suppose I should have expected a bit of hacking and slashing. They’re samurai, after all. They have swords. As I got into it, there really was an extreme amount of beheading. Like, every single battle, multiple beheadings. Also limbs cut off, bodies sliced at the waist… All that gory goodness (?). And did I mention there were sorcerers and giant robots?

Yeah, it wasn’t exactly historical fiction.

As a viewer, I have a limited tolerance for beheadings, impalings, and so on. As an author myself, I see them as a sign of an inexperienced writer. Someone who isn’t confident in their characters and plot, so they try to keep up interest by throwing blood around. Also, show how cool and edgy they are, I guess.

But come to the end of the series, there was one death that stood out from the others. Just a simple beheading wasn’t gruesome enough for this character. She had to be magically twisted into splinters by some sorcerers who showed up, did her in, and then never appeared again.

It made me wonder about why the screenwriter chose to do that. Why was that character torn apart, when so many others were “only” beheaded? The other female fighters in the series were shown to be more feminine, caring for loved ones and loyal to family. When they died, it was mostly off screen or in silhouette. But not the lady were-bear.

Why was she treated differently? Was it because she was Russian, and some of us apparently haven’t let go of the Cold War mentality? Because she was a mercenary fighter, not a noble samurai? Because she was a woman who dared to be as deadly as her powers allowed?

It’s been a while, but this is a topic I come back to from time to time. What is the writer’s thinking when they decide when, why and how to kill a character? I would suggest that we ought to be a bit thoughtful when we decide these things. If we aren’t careful, we might leave our readers or viewers with questions that aren’t so easy to answer.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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What’s Happening? Summer break only started for me on June 22nd. Boy do I need it! My husband and I are going to travel over the next week. I need to check in with my 92-year-old dad and give my sister a break for her own family to travel. We’ve just made it through a terrible heat wave, so ironically it will be cooler in L. A. than here in the Inland Northwest.

What I’m Working On. June was taken over by my summer book event, Queen Titania’s Court. Since most of that was scheduled ahead of time, I still found time to complete and publish The Renegade of Opshar, fourth in my Minstrels of Skaythe series. Check out that cover on the sidebar! I can always use a few more reviews, if you catch my drift.

What’s Next? For my summer project, I’m working on a short story about a hag (the folklore kind) who lives in a swamp and everyone knows she is evil but really she is protecting the world from something awful. This hasn’t been an easy go, but I should have a good draft to take with me. Something else to read on my vacation. After I return, I’ll begin the serious work of designing programs for SpoCon, which is coming up in October.

Fun and Games. Currently I’m playing Conan Exiles, a fantasy survival game. The building aspect is fun, but there’s really no narrative arc. I’m also playing solo, which makes some of the battles harder. For the cuteness quotient, with building but no battles, there’s always Animal Crossing. My village has been the same for about a year, so I’m pondering a few revisions to the layout there.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As the music fades and the last guests depart, Queen Titania relaxes on her throne. This evening was a personal and diplomatic accomplishment. So many attended the Grand Ball! Some are casual visitors, others whose friendship will grow and deepen with time. Perhaps the connections forged this evening will even prevent a war or two.

Already a host of brownies and other sprites appear and begin the process of clearing away leftovers and removing the most precious relics for safekeeping. This festival hall, with its connection to so many realms, can only exist for a few glorious hours. Soon the tides of magic and nature will dissolve it back to its mundane state.

Until then, the glow of her triumph lights the hall better than any sun.

This is where I thank all of you for making Queen Titania’s Court such a wonderful success. We had more authors this year, and I appreciate every one of you. Especially those who didn’t know me and took a chance on a stranger’s promise of free publicity. I am especially grateful to everyone who reposted or retweeted the blog. You all made this so much fun.

I hope you all reap the rewards of your effort, whatever that means to you. Perhaps a few books sold, or new followers for your own blog, or just a chance to talk shop with new friends.

Thank you so much. I hope to see you again in 2022!

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Today we conclude with Berisan, the main character in my most recent e-book, The Renegade of Opshar.

Berisan stepped cautiously from the mouth of a rocky tunnel. He had been working in the overhang beneath Weeping Falls, gathering the plentiful moss, when he felt a sudden, cool breeze. Haunting music and enticing aromas swirled around him, rich with unmistakable currents of magic. Instead of the jumbled rocks where moss grew, he now saw a tunnel — one that had never been there before.

There were many traps in Skaythe. A mage had to be careful. Yet Berisan sensed no malice in the harmonies that called to him. After a moment, he set down his moss basket and ventured through the stony portal. Soon the tunnel opened up, and wonders spread before him. Was it a vast cavern, or a woodland glade? He couldn’t have said, for it was filled with shimmering color and light.

Blinking, he focused on men and women, some dressed in glittering finery and others in plain working clothes. Many were as small as his hand, buzzing on translucent wings. One or two were great and craggy as trees come to life. Moving among them were strange beasts such as Berisan could never have imagined. Furred, winged, horned… And some of the humans were also horned or furred, or strangely light-skinned! Yet most appeared nearly normal, until you sensed the power that each one of them emitted.

Lilting music caught his ear. Half a dozen players made the melodies, stepping in and out as the mood took them. A multitude danced in this great hall, yet there was no sense of crowding and no tension between them. At the far end, a radiant woman sat on a throne of living whitewood. All the magic he sensed circulated around her. She did not try to control its course, but balanced it into perfect serenity.

Of all the wonders, this was the most incredible. Everywhere, Berisan felt the pulse of magic. It was not hidden, as it must be in Skaythe, but joyously accepted. If this was a dream, it was wonderful indeed.

Character Questions

Who is your closest friend? My closest friends are a minstrel troupe. My brother Alemin and I juggle, Tisha dances and Meven gives puppet plays, while Keilos and Lorrah provide the music. Secretly, we are all mages. Once, we were the apprentices of Ar-Thea, a kind and loving mage who trained us to use our magic with compassion instead of rage and malice. She was killed by Dar-Gothull‛s vicious regime. Since then we travel, disguised as minstrels, to resist his brutal reign.

In your homeland, is magic feared or respected? It is both. On the surface, mages are greatly respected. Because of their magic, they are considered natural leaders. Mages have great wealth and political power. But Dar-Gothull‛s way teaches that only the strongest deserve to keep their riches, so there is constant fighting among the mages. The common people suffer as their battles overflow the land. So even as they show outward obedience, they also carry great hatred for their cruel masters.

Author Questions

Fantasy has many genres. How did you choose yours? To be honest, I‛m not sure I even know my genre. I say ‟high fantasy‟ because it deals with political and philosophical movements. At the same time, I‛m constantly questioning the assumptions that underlie fantasy, such as solving all problems through warfare. My work tends to be more personal, involving individuals and close families rather than having an epic scale. So people who think fantasy is all about knights and kings and grand battles may find my stories an odd fit. Still, there doesn‛t seem to be a better fit than ‟high fantasy.‟

Where is your favorite place for writing? I‛m one of those people who writes by habit, at the same time every day. I have an office where all my stuff is, and I spend about two hours in the evenings either directly composing new material or handling e-mails, my blog, and similar chores that support my career.

The Renegade of Opshar

All Berisan wants is a place to hide. The insignificant village of Opshar seems like a perfect haven. Disguised as a beggar, he can lie low and evade the brutal hunter-guards. But Berisan isn‛t the only one with secrets.

Widowed and pregnant, Yamaya struggles to hold the farm she and her husband built, but she can‛t escape her sordid past. In desperation, she hires the one person who hasn‛t taken a side in Opshar‛s murky politics — the beggar, Sand.

Common sense tells Berisan to walk away, but his code as a minstrel compels him to help Yamaya if he can. Soon he faces a decision that challenges every principle he holds. Will he give up the safety of his secrets, or allow another to suffer in his place?

Get it now from Amazon or Books2Read!

About Deby Fredericks

Deby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but thought of it as just a fun hobby until the late 1990s. She sold her first work, a children’s poem, in 2000. She has six novels in print through two small presses. Her short fiction has appeared in the pages of Andromeda Spaceways, Boys’ Life, and others. Currently she is self-publishing her high fantasy novella series, Minstrels of Skaythe. She also blogs twice a week here at Wyrmflight.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Today we’re joined by Jamie Sands, whose character Sebastian Black stars in the witchy fiction tale, Overdues and Occultism.

Character Questions

Who is your closest friend? My closest friend is my boyfriend, Basil. He’s a witch! It’s so freaking cool, like, I’d spent all these years trying to discover the truth and then there he was just like, putting salt on the doors and stuff. Wild. He’s a librarian and we both really love mysteries and food. Hopefully someday soon we can travel overseas together — maybe to Japan?

What kind of house do you live in? I live in Basil’s house, which is a cottage, really. It’s from over a hundred years ago and it has lots of history to it. It’s in Mt. Eden, which is a little village in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. It’s kind of part of the city but it’s sort of its own community as well, really nice area, lots of trees and flowers and good food. Plus a great book shop.

Author Questions

How do you know that your story is ready for submission/publication? I try very hard not to hold onto things too long, I am not a perfectionist and I’d rather something was out in the world with an error or two than sitting in my folders gathering dust. I generally go through at least two edits, and one of those might be a good deep dev edit, and then I say “that’s good enough”… and then I give it to my proofreader to fix. Then it goes out for publication.

Why do you write? I have so many stories in my head I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t write. I love the act of writing (sometimes, when it’s flowing), and I love people’s feedback on my writing. I love knowing that my ideas are out there in the world. I write hopeful stories for queer people a lot of the time, so I like to imagine I’m bring someone who needs it comfort.

Overdues and Occultism

A witch in the broom closet probably shouldn’t be so interested in a ghost hunter, right? That Basil is a librarian comes as no surprise to his Mt. Eden community. That he’s a witch? Yeah. That might raise more than a few eyebrows. When Sebastian, a paranormal investigator filming a web series, starts snooping around Basil’s library, he stirs up more than just Basil’s heart. Between Basil’s own self-doubt, a ghost who steals books, and Sebastian, an enthusiastic extrovert bent on uncovering secrets, Basil’s life is about to get a lot more complicated.

Overdues and Occultism is a novella-length story featuring ghosts, witches, and a sweet gay romance. It’s part of the Witchy Fiction project of New Zealand authors. You can read more about Sebastian and Basil in Jingle Spells: Witchy Christmas Stories. 

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About Jamie Sands

Jamie is a non-binary, pansexual kiwi who’s always been wondering ‘what if?’ They write stories about ghosts, monsters, magic, love and how the world could be. Jamie grew up in Wellington but now lives in Auckland with their wonderful spouse and a round cat.

My website and socials:

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Please welcome author Robert Dahlen and his character, Alice Peavley, from the Steampunk fantasy series, Peavley Manor.

As I stood in front of Queen Titania’s palace, fidgeting with my sleeveless, high-collared, ruffled scarlet gown, I was already regretting the tight yet stylish black heels I’d chosen to wear. I’ve never been a fan of fancy dress balls. It seems like a great deal of effort to make oneself as elegant as possible to spend an evening with people who, under normal circumstances, would lie to you when asked for the time of day. When I had mentioned this to Macalley as he drove me to the palace he had, again, reminded me that I was there to present my town of Darbyfield in a positive light. Therefore, mocking or avoiding the other attendees was frowned upon; no matter how menacing, snobbish, or rich they were, they would all be star-struck by me, Alice Peavley. They would hear the tales of my misadventures, laugh in the proper places, and look into conducting business deals down the road. Thus, I was obligated to mingle. I squared up my shoulders and walked towards the entrance, sliding the invitation from my purse, hoping that at some point I could find a quiet corner to sit in and remove these blasted shoes for a bit, or at least several glasses of wine to take my mind off my soon to be aching feet.

Character Questions

Who is your closest friend? I could never limit this to just one! There’s Priscilla, my old college chum. There’s Vyne, who makes those delicious preserves and has me over for a weekly chat. Clarinda, the town librarian, has become quite dear to me. And though Macalley is in my employ, he has been a true source of guidance and support for me.

Are there intelligent races other than yours, and do they get along? There are quite a few non-human peoples in the lands around the Crescent Sea. They mostly get along. Mostly. Dwarves and gnomes do have their old grudges, though they almost never erupt into tavern brawls. Elves, or at least those in the upper classes, look down on everyone who isn’t an elf. Pixies deride all non-pixies, goblins get mocked by everyone else, trolls get furious at anyone who does them wrong, and no one’s quite sure what to make of sprites.

Author Questions

Fantasy has many genres. How did you choose yours? It actually chose me, for the Peavley Manor series. The inspiration struck when I had the idea of combining Wodehouse-style comedy of manners with steampunk; when I came up with the main characters, Alice and Macalley, I realized that fantasy also needed to be
part of the mix.

Why do you write? I love crafting stories and sharing them with the world.

Peavley Manor

Alice Peavley was a sales clerk in a book shop, until her rich uncle left her his estate in his will. She moves to the manor, meets her new tenants and neighbors, and adjusts to life in the eccentric town of Darbyfield with the help of her valet, a sardonic gnome named Macalley. Alice gets mixed up in misadventures involving a concert gone askew, a chaotic baking competition, and a mischievous squatter, but there is a more sinister plot afoot to steal her land and her fortune. Can Alice get to the bottom of the conspiracy and save Peavley Manor? Find out in this comedy of manners, mayhem and magic!

Purchase from Amazon or Books2Read.

The Author

Robert Dahlen hails from Northern California. He is an author who specializes in tales with a dollop of fantasy, a splash of steampunk, a swirl of humor, and a sprinkle of heart, resulting in delightful concoctions. His most recent creation is the Peavley Manor series, featuring heiress Alice Peavley, her gnome valet Macalley, and their friends, foes, and misadventures. There are two books available — the novel Peavley Manor and Tales Of Peavley Manor, a collection of four novelettes — and more are (slowly) in the works. His other stories include Copper Cove, featuring crafter Tabitha Miles, and the airship pirate novella Skyblade’s Gambit. You can sample his writing at peavleymanor.com and follow him on Twitter at @monkeyqueenbks.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Today we’re joined by Sheryl R. Hayes, with her urban fantasy, Chaos Wolf. Seems like her character, Jordan Abbey, is in a truly “hairy” situation.

Jordan Abbey paused at the entrance to the great hall. She didn’t think she would have the chance to wear this green silk mermaid dress and matching heels again, given the tendency for vampires to dress their servants in a different finery each time they gathered. She closed her brown eyes, drawing in a deep breath and squaring her shoulders. “Just like when Montgomery introduced you to Elder Marcus.” And just like when she met the vampire ruling the city of Rancho Robles, she stepped into the hall with a confidence she didn’t feel.

Character Questions

Are there intelligent races other than yours, and do they get along? Well, there are humans, which I used to be one until that werewolf bit me. I didn’t even know they were real, let alone one was stalking me. Montgomery, the vampire who saw it happen, should have either left me to my fate or handed me over to the Black Oak Pack. Instead, he took me in and offered to help me. Very unusual since vampires and werewolves can’t stand each other.

Are you an insider or an outsider in your homeland? Definitely an outsider. Most of the vampires think I’m a threat and some sort of sleeper agent for the Black Oak Pack. The werewolves think I’m insane for rejecting a place in the pack and choosing to live with a vampire. Plus I have a steep learning curve for both cultures since humans don’t know that they are real.

Author Questions

Fantasy has many genres. How did you choose yours? I’ve enjoyed reading urban fantasy stories. But the one thing that frustrated me is that while vampires and werewolves did not like each other, no book I read ever delved into why. I decided that I wanted to tell that story, and it made sense to do it in a modern setting.

Why do you write? I’ve always told stories since I was a child. Mostly I told them to myself, until I discovered fanfiction. From there I branched out into original fiction. So I’m still telling stories to a different audience.

Chaos Wolf

Bitten by a werewolf. Taught by a vampire. At this rate, she’s going to start a war. Literature major Jordan Abbey ordered a double mocha latte, but it wasn’t supposed to come with a side order bite by a love-sick werewolf. When a vampire comes to her rescue, gut instinct tells her he has questionable motives. But he’s the only one she can trust to help get in touch with her inner animal. Within a week, her smart mouth lands her in trouble with the hostile Alpha of the local pack and the stiff-necked vampire Elder. She now has less than a moon cycle to master shape changing… or else. And the besotted werewolf who started this whole mess is stalking Jordan and killing her friends. He won’t take no for an answer. In the Northern California town of Rancho Robles, where the children of the Wolf and the Bat share an uneasy coexistence, one woman makes an epic mess of the status quo.

To purchase

About Sheryl R. Hayes

Sheryl R. Hayes can be found untangling plot threads or the yarn her cats have been playing with. In addition to writing, she is a cosplayer focusing on knit and crochet costumes and works full time at a Bay Area water company.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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