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Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

First, I want to thank David and Craig for responding to my initial call for feedback on what exactly my genre is.

When I reflect on the things my stories have in common, it comes down to two concepts: family and magic. Almost every one of my books has had some kind of family issue at its heart. After all, who knows you better than family? Who can hurt you with a word, or lift you up? In Too Many Princes, the brothers Brastigan and Lottres go on a quest, but the story is really about how their relationship is threatened by conflicting goals in adulthood. In Masters of Air & Fire, a sibling group of young dragons struggles to stay together after the death of their mother.

I get a lot into the magic with my world-building. If magic was real, how would that shape society? In The Gellboar and The Seven Exalted Orders, mages are separate from other people and there are restrictions on magic for the public good. In The Magister’s Mask and The Necromancer’s Bones, magic is common and well understood. They use it for things like preserving food, where we would use refrigeration technology.

In both of these, perhaps, I do follow more closely to High Fantasy than Low. Grapping with ideas and consequences around magic is High Fantasy. Family might not be as obvious at first, but you can’t deny the importance of family drama in series like A Game of Thrones.

So maybe that’s where I land — but I’d still like to hear from more of you. And if you’ve read my books, why not take a minute to leave a review? It will really make a difference!


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As I work through refocusing my outreach, one puzzle is how to describe my books when people ask about genre. I try to push myself beyond easy categories and stereotypes, but here’s where it bites me in the butt.

Starting with the broadest definition, I write fantasy. That’s a no-brainer. My books are full of magic and magical creatures. From there is where it gets foggy.

There’s High Fantasy, which involves the great and powerful with their big wars and political intrigues. But there’s also Low Fantasy, which involves the small and powerless, and is often humorous in nature. In Swords and Sorcery, individual warriors struggle against malign magic and corrupt empires, while they themselves are no angels.

Then there’s Urban Fantasy, where mythical creatures/monsters interact with people in the modern world. There’s often a strong element of romantic tension. Last but not least, there are Fairy Tales. People are always re-imagining beloved fairy tales.

So where do my books fit in? I’ve written somethings in almost all of these sub-genres. Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, for example, is contains several stories in the fairy-tale style. The Gellboar is a form of Urban Fantasy. The Weight of Their Souls is Swords and Sorcery. But most of my books are much harder to pin down.

Take The Seven Exalted Orders, for example. It’s High Fantasy because it ponders political and philosophical questions like who decides how mages use their power. It’s not High Fantasy because the protagonists aren’t among the ruling elite. This would make The Seven Exalted Orders a Low Fantasy, except that it lacks broad humor. Calling my books Medium Fantasy just sounds boring.

For those of you out there who have read my books, I’d love your perspective on this question. What should I call my genre in order to attract readers who are likely to enjoy my work? High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, something else… And I’d love to hear your reasoning.


Did you know I have an author newsletter? You can join! I’ll even give you a free e-book for signing up. Just click here.

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A snippet from “The Dragon Stone”

Here is my latest snippet, which happens to include one of my all-time favorite lines: “Keep screaming. These people just love the screaming.” (This line must be read with heavy sarcasm.)

The line is from my short story, “The Dragon Stone,” which is included in my collection, Aunt Ursula’s Atlas. (It’s my featured book, over there on the right.)

In this story, I was playing with the idea of a maiden tied to a rock. The villagers had accused her of witchcraft. But instead of attacking her, the dragon came to rescue her. I was also playing with the idea of an alliance between dragons and witches. (I really need to follow up on that some day.)


Did you know I have an author newsletter? You can join! I’ll even give you a free e-book for signing up. Just click here.

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One of my ongoing projects has been to update and improve my basement library. It’s wall-to-wall shelves, but it had been turned into a junk room and then a long-term guest room. Now that the guest is gone, I’m anxious to make sure it doesn’t turn back into a junk room. This requires bringing in some modest furnishings and lighting, so you can actually read down there.

As part of this, I’m in the midst of some long-overdue organizing and alphabetizing. If you’re interested, I’m posting status photos on Instagram. Anyway, it’s a lot of work, but it also brings back memories of books I collected in the past. They reflect my interests — one might even say obsessions — since the early 1980s. Wow, that’s a long time! Among the topics I’ve unearthed:

Knights and Medieval history generally. I was into the SCA for years, until I could no longer afford the membership. (Plus, the politics were killing me.) At least some of it is still useful as research material for my fantasy novels.

Fairies in story and art. I must have three different-sized editions of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies poetry books. There’s quite a bit of Rackham and Froud in there, too. I also found a few vintage fairy stories in used book shops. Edwardian fairy stories are their own strange and beautiful thing.

Comics, anime and graphic novels. Remember when the first graphic novels were released, and they were in that big 11×17 size? There were even science fiction magazines that tried to make it in graphic novel format. I know, because we have their back issues.

Photography was my husband’s passion. Although the career he hoped for never panned out, we have both how-to books and fine art photography books. I would suggest he prune these, but then he might point a finger at my fairy books.

Seriously, we’re both overdue for a serious weeding-out. But how can I know what to part with, unless I read them over again? I can see my Goodreads challenge is going to be big this year!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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What am I doing, since I’m not blogging? Besides completing the first draft of my latest novella, that is. Reading! Reading, to me, is a way of “refilling the well.”

A friend recently told me she felt that she was reading too much. She ought to be writing, but instead she was reading. I can sympathize. In 2018 I definitely felt like was taking too much time playing video games. True confession: I got into Dragon Age at the start of school in 2017 and it sucked me in completely. I stopped even trying to write in early December, and every inch of my writing mind was jammed until the middle of May 2018. There were times when I was afraid that my writing career was over!

By the way, it isn’t just me. Dragon Age is notorious for sweeping players off on grand adventures. A different friend of mine said that you think you’re going to Texas for Spring Break and six months later you’re in Honduras wondering what happened. So true!

But, guess what? My career didn’t come to an end. At the end of May, I started a novella. It wasn’t fan fiction, though you can see hints of the situations in the games I’d been playing. Presently, I’m about to finish a second, linked novella and have hopes for a third. Between them all, it should be about 100,000 words — and that’s a novel!

At some point, I’ll have to figure out publishing these three linked novellas. A good problem to have.

If you’re making resolutions and have been scolding yourself to write more, I would urge you to stop and think. Don’t resolve to write more because you feel guilty. You won’t create your best work. (Unless you have a contractual obligation — that’s different.) Instead, look at some of the stories that are absorbing you. See what elements you can bring into a new project.

Reading time or video game time or Netflix time or whatever… It doesn’t have to be time wasted.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Do you like dragons? How about beer? Then I have the perfect board game for you!

Dragon Brew is a board game where you plan your estate, cultivate the grain, quest for rare ingredients, and so forth. Meanwhile, unpredictable events try to break down what you’ve built. The endgame is a brewing contest, judged by the Dragon Keeper. What is the Dragon Keeper looking for in a great beer? Those conditions change, so successive games can have surprising outcomes.

Full disclosure — I have not played this game, so I cannot attest to any quirks in the rules. I have it ordered for a certain someone, though. I’m hoping it will be here in time for Christmas. Full review to come, anyhow.

Now, as an F.Y.I, my next post would be on Wednesday, the day after Christmas. I am skipping that to play with whatever new toys I receive. Or more likely, to inhale the new books. Cheers, and I’ll read you again in a week!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Here’s another fun picture book for your young dragon lover. Author/artist James Mayhew published through Chicken House in 2003.

It seems there  is a brave and handsome knight who hopes to catch the eye of a spirited princess. Surely the best way to impress her is to defeat a dragon in single combat. The only problem? There are no dragons left in the kingdom. He sets off to search.

This book has a slightly subversive tone, as you see the knight search right by some dragons hidden in the artwork. Then, when a dragon actually does show up to threaten the kingdom, the knight won’t face it without just the right armor and sword. 

Adult readers will probably guess the outcome from the title. Kids may or may not get the point about action being more important than appearance. I personally found the book clever, although the final page irritated me. The princess randomly marries someone other than the tardy knight; why? Her marriage is irrelevant to the point of the book and perpetuates a stereotype that girls can’t be happy when independent. But at least the dragon lives happily ever after!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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