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Posts Tagged ‘epic fantasy’

Yes, it’s that time of year! Every October, author Teri Polen hosts Bad Moon Rising, an annual festival of horror writing, on her blog, Books and Such.

Today it’s my turn. The featured book is The Tower in the Mist, first in my Minstrels of Skaythe series. I hope you’ll use this link and jump on over to Teri’s blog.


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I made it. The layout for Minstrels of Skaythe is completely tweaked. Kindle likes the margins, the cover is the right size, and I’ve clicked the dreaded “publish” button.

Now begins the second-guessing of myself. I wasn’t planning to publish until next month, November 15. I’m anxious about clicking “publish” so far in advance, and I hope there will be a point in the process when I can define the release date for myself.

Nevertheless, it’s time for me to get busy with some promotion. I need to make an ad for my Facebook page, update my web sites, all that stuff. As always, if anyone is open to hosting a blog, please get in touch.

On a somewhat sadder note, our elderly cat is showing a marked decline. She has trouble jumping up and down to places, hardly eats, and now she has started hiding. When a sick cat starts to hide, that’s a very bad sign. We’re undecided whether it would be more cruel and arbitrary to let her suffer, or take her for one last trip to the vet.

There’s really nothing to be done. Sneakers is just old. But this is the part of pet ownership nobody wants to think about. It’s a waiting game, now.


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m at a good place with those layouts on the Minstrels of Skaythe collection. I found some clip art that will accent the title pages and story endings, and those are laid out. The next step will be to load it into Amazon and start going through the proofing process.

My first attempt was the wrong format size, 8-1/2 x 11 when it needed to be 6 x 9. I had to rejigger a whole bunch of stuff, and I hope this time I’ve got it right. I also built my cover on a template that was the wrong size. I already know what words need to go where, once I have the right sized template. Those fixes should be easy enough.

Anyway, this is why you should always start your publishing process well in advance!

In addition to that work, my ballot has arrived. I plan to set aside an hour and go through the voter pamphlet and look at some candidate web sites on issues I haven’t already decided. Washington State has been voting completely by mail for over 5 years, and the process is truly private and secure.

There is so much going on in the United States of 2020, and I won’t presume to know what opinions each of you hold. But I will unequivocally urge all of you to take the time and whatever steps you need to vote. (If you don’t live in the States, then I urge you to participate in whatever government you do have.)

Our nation needs you to vote!


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Three possible styles for Minstrels of Skaythe.

Color schemes, that is! As I work on collecting the Minstrels of Skaythe novellas into a trade paperback, I’m pondering some options for the cover. The image here shows three possibilities for the title colors against the background art.

#1 is basically the same metallic-reflection I used on the three e-books. That has the advantage of visual consistency and identifies this as part of the same series.

#2 is a variant color with the same metallic-reflection concept.

#3 is a brighter, solid fill. This isn’t an e-book, after all, and readers looking at it may not be using the title style to identify the series.

I’d love to know what you think of these possibilities! And I know you’re all not shy, so I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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First, I appreciate all of you who responded to my question about what makes a good ending. Blogging can be a bit like talking to oneself, so thanks!

I am still, in fact, working on the ending for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. Not the “grand finale” with its running battles, but the aftermath. Those last reflections that show how the characters have changed during the course of the story. To me, these quieter moments of thought are almost as important as the outcome of the plot. And, since this is fourth in a series, there’s also a bit of looking ahead to the trials that remain.

It isn’t perfect yet. However, it is good enough to print out and give to my first readers. We writers get scolded a lot that we mustn’t let anyone see our work until it’s ginger-peachy-perfect. I think that’s a mistake. Writers can’t guard our stories like they’re the Hope Diamond. We have to let them out into the world. Anyway, I can continue tweaking those last five pages without affecting the first readers.

So — Yahoo, the second draft is finished!


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Working on the end for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower has made me think about endings in general.

Every story has to have an ending. Happy endings. Sad endings. Obscure endings. Endings with a twist. Villains-die-at-the-endings. They might give the reader a sense of contentment, or conversely make them question what they thought they knew. This story is complete. Now the reader can embark on another.

Different genres have different expectations. So for instance, a confused outcome might work for a science fiction novel with an abstract premise. A horror novel could well end with many characters dying. However, these endings would never be accepted in a general Romance novel.

Even more, for a series, the finale of the final volume answers all the questions throughout the saga, and ties everything up neatly. (Or maybe not so neatly.) If the author has any underlying themes, now is the time to bring them home.

Since I know that many of you are writers, I’m curious to hear what you think is most important in order to achieve a successful ending. Even if you’re in the middle of your first book and haven’t finished it yet, that’s okay. Let me know what you think!


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As in, temperatures over 100 degrees for three days in a row. Anything I needed to do outside, I’ve done it as early as possible. That allows me to hunker down inside with the family, and play video games…

Uh, write! I meant write.

Seriously, I have been pushing ahead on revisions of Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. I’m just about at the 3/4 mark. Quite often I find myself thinking, “Man, I really went easy on these characters.” Then I remember how I just slammed words down to finish the first draft. I always knew the second draft would require more concentration on the ending.

Anyhow, it looks like I can finish this draft before I report back to school on September 2nd. Woot! However, I still need at least one more draft. Since school is also going to require extra concentration, my hope to publish in November is coming more and more into doubt.

Don’t worry, I have a backup project! And I’ll tell you about that if it becomes necessary.

The other fun thing is that I’ve had a “heat wave” on the next Minstrels of Skaythe novella. (Which will be #5, if you’re keeping track.) Many details remain to be discovered, but at least I know what the core of the story will be. It might not exactly be the concluding volume I had assumed. Either there will be a sixth novella, or… I don’t know.

This is 2020! Why am I even trying to plan ahead?


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Something strikes me as I continue working on revisions of my latest novella. The next one will be the the last of the Minstrels of Skaythe series.

Up to this time, the individual novellas have stood more or less on their own. My minstrels have had their separate adventures, trying to fly under the radar of Dar-Gothull’s oppressive regime. That will be much more difficult after the end of Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. So in addition to fixing this draft, I’m starting to gather my thoughts about the next one.

There are already quite a few characters in the four novellas. I need to consider which ones will appear in the finale. Likewise, the evil mages who have grudges against the various minstrels. What will their roles be? Also, there is one specific image, predicted near the end of The Tower in the Mist, that I need to make real.

Most of all, I need to decide the outcome for the total series. Can a rag-tag band really take down an evil empire? If they do, what will replace it? I believe it’s important to be honest with readers. A flimsy, pat ending might be comfortable, but it would also feel hollow. And I’ll tell you now, I’m not setting out to write a flimsy, hollow story with Minstrels of Skaythe.

Those of you who have read these novellas know that I’m not afraid of gray endings. That’s intentional, really. I want to leave space for the readers to think their own thoughts about what will happen in the new status quo.

So that’s what I’m pondering at the moment.


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Here’s another excerpt from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. This one features Ozlin, the second viewpoint character. Enjoy!


   “Thief — stop him!”
   Ozlin ducked and darted, weaving between the bystanders. He veered to avoid a snatching hand. The merchant was slow, but his strides were long. A hard fist dug into the tangles of Ozlin’s unkempt hair. He yelped at the pain, kicked and cursed.
   “Let go, you shithole!’
   “Nobody steals from me,” the merchant gloated with grim satisfaction. He started to yank Ozlin back toward the plaza, where the guards were.
   “Pervert! Help!” Ozlin’s voice cracked as he screamed. A few onlookers glanced around, but nobody seemed to came to help him. They were too busy waving and cheering.
   “Shut up, you brat,” growled the merchant.
   Pain tore at Ozlin’s scalp. In an instant, rage replaced his fear. He grabbed the hand that dug into his hair and let the fire roll free. A sizzle, the stink of charring meat. Now it was the merchant who yelled.
   Loose again, Ozlin scrambled away. Sandals slipped on the pavement, and then he was steady. All his thought was to run, run, run!
   “Get back here,” roared the merchant.
   Dead end! It wasn’t Ozlin’s first chase, but somehow he’d come the wrong way. A row of barrels was stacked across the alley. He skidded, looking for a way through, then whirled and tried to race back, but skidded to a halt again. The furious merchant advanced, rubbing at an angry red mark on his wrist.
   “You’ll pay for that, gutter trash,” he rumbled, menacing.
   Ozlin was doomed. They were alone in the alley. Except, one person emerged from the crowd. The woman with the reed hat moved up beside the merchant. For the first time, Ozlin got a good look at her face, the narrow nose and pinched mouth. Cold eyes fixed on him.
   “Can I help?” Her voice was soft and neutral, but with an acid undertone. She knew what he was, just as he recognized her.
   “Mage.” Ozlin couldn’t make the fire go back into his hands, so he made his hands into flaming fists. “Stay away from me!”


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Today I’m sharing a brief excerpt from my high fantasy novella, The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. There are two viewpoint characters in the tale. This one is Meven’s. Enjoy!


     The narrow street crossed others at an angle that made it hard for Meven to see where she was going. She kept moving, listening to the people nearby. Surely there had to be a larger street. One that would lead to a gate, and freedom.
   Groaning their complaints, the people around her stopped to let a wagon full of wood rumble by. Meven tensed as a vague spark of magic pricked at her senses. Stinging heat lusted to set something afire. She refused to look around.
     “Nothing to do with you, Meven. Keep your eyes on your own business.”
     The oxen pulling the wagon dropped dung under the wheels. Meven wished she could have stayed on the ship instead of dealing with so many stinking people and animals. Two weeks at sea had been a blessing and a relief. Born on the water but for years exiled to land, she had forgotten so much! The rhythmic dance of the ship on the tide. The musky tang of salt water, the creak of the rigging and slap of waves against the side.
     People started to move around her. Meven made to step with them, but another driver cracked his whip and rushed his wagon into the gap. People around her grumbled with frustration.
     “Typical,” Meven said to no one in particular.
     Long ago, almost thirty years now, she had been a water-child who toddled the deck of her family’s houseboat, Fawn. She had learned to walk and swim at roughly the same time. From one port to another the family roamed mighty Lake Bilseng, up and down and across and around. Sometimes they earned coin by delivering cargo between Nibbuk and Ortach. Mostly they foraged in the mangrove thickets to net enough food for all the mouths aboard. Those had been golden days. Before her magic emerged and capsized her life.
     As a child, Meven hadn’t questioned her parents’ way of life. Now she understood how much they risked, yet also gained, by living on the water. Her recent journey by boat had been mere impulse, the fastest way out of a trap. She hadn’t expected it to become a sojourn through fond memories. Now that she had revisited the sensations of life on the water, Meven didn’t want to give it up. With any luck, she wouldn’t have to.
     Well, not only luck. Planning, scheming, and perhaps a bit of trickery would be involved. Also, relearning a few old skills to keep herself hidden and fed in a mangrove swamp. But first, she had to get out of this wretched town!


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 site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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