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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy fiction’

Unsure what to expect inside the ball, Dedra pulls up the hood of the pink robe denoting her as an adherent of the Ahweian Order of Spirit. She takes a deep breath and slips inside, where she takes in the scene. She’s certain she’ll be asked to play something on the violin–she always is–but she wants to get her bearings before anyone sees her and makes a request. As she sizes up the revelers and their mood, she thinks of what piece of music would suit them best and pictures how the colorful tones would interact with the costumes and decor. After a few minutes of lurking around the edges, she feels comfortable enough to lower her hood, straighten her spine, and move forward to greet her hostess.


Character Questions

Are there any fantastic beasts where you live?

Yes, there’s one that shows up periodically in the dimension I visit (and where I hope to live out the rest of my life). It’s a bird called a chirikin. It looks kind of like a sparrow, but multi-colored like a tropical bird. In that dimension, which is called Ahwey, music is visible. It’s used for healing and all kinds of things. For everyone except chirikin, the visible aspect of music is like smoke, but the chirikin can perch on it as if it’s solid. They’ll even slide down it sometimes. It’s really amazing to see.
They’re not really from Ahwey–they just visit–but no one knows for sure where they come from. It’s super rare and special to see one. They seem to be attracted to people who can travel, so I get to see them a lot more than most people. My friends and I have even named three of them who tend to hang around me.

Tell us about the main religion or spirituality of your society

The spirituality in Ahwey is all about universal music. That’s the music that heals the body and soul, nourishes flowers and crops, and connects Ahweians to the fabric of the universe itself. All music in Ahwey is visible, but you can tell universal music from regular music by the depth of its colors and the strength of its vibration. Every evening, all the citizens play sunset music as a tribute to the universe. Each home has a room called a locus that’s open to the sky, so you can see the musical tones streaming out across the city, filling the sky. It’s spectacular.

On festival days, sacred songs and chants are performed at the Oolosian temple. The most talented musicians play, and for some traditional chants, everyone joins in and it creates the most magnificent whirling mass of color and sound you can imagine. The Order of Spirit stays in tune with universal music through almost constant song. Those at the higher levels, the Virtuosi, can interpret universal music. The highest of all, the Prima Virtuosa, holds a seat on the governing council so she can offer spiritual guidance to the leaders. Many of the Virtuosi and the Order’s lower adherents are trained in healing song and work closely with the Order of Healing to restore the patterns of those who are sick or injured. The Orders of Spirit and Healing are the highest regarded because of their ties to universal music.

Author Questions

How much do you plan ahead of time, vs. following the story where it leads?

I use a mix of planning and flying by the seat of my pants. I start with a really loose “plot outline” that’s so unstructured I hesitate to even call it an outline. Sometimes I’ll have bullet points that I want to hit at key points; sometimes it’s stream-of-consciousness notes that ramble all over the place.
I generally start knowing the beginning, the main plot points, and how I think it’ll end. The plot points usually don’t come about how I expect them to, and the climax tends to take on a life of its own, regardless of my plans.
I used to plan a lot less, but my superhero books (Hero Academy and Plague) are part of a shared world called the Just Cause Universe. Because the main author of that series needs to approve a pitch before a book is started, I had to start fleshing things out more at the beginning. I like having a better idea where things will go, but I do stay in tune with the evolving story and follow it where it wants to go. I think that’s important–no matter how well you think you know a world, a character, a plot before you start working, you get to know it better as you write. Sometimes, an idea you had just doesn’t fit anymore. Other times, the setting or characters themselves may present an opportunity you hadn’t expected. Staying open to that, I believe, helps a story grow more organically, which pulls everything together and makes it a more unified whole.

If you lived in the world of your book, who would you be?

I would be Ahlaya, the Prima Virtuosa of the Order of Spirit. She’s the one person considered equal to the secular ruler, the Grand Maestra, and she uses that power to quietly rebel against what she believes is a misapplication of law and power by the Grand Maestra and the council. She gives help and sanctuary to those who need it and works against injustice. She’s kind and frivolous and often silly, but there’s a method to her madness and a lot of wisdom behind everything she does.


Traveler Hunted

Dedra has a secret. She can escape this world—and her unhappy life—by slipping through the veil between worlds to visit Ahwey, where music is visible and underlays every aspect of life. As a violin prodigy and traveler, she’s accorded a high status; she’s in love (even if he doesn’t know it); she’s happiest there and dreams of staying in that world forever.

But then, she starts a chain reaction that damages the fabric of the universe and puts both worlds in danger. Will her talents and wits be enough to stop the strings of reality from unraveling?


The Author

Adrienne Dellwo has a BA in Journalism & Communications from the University of Oregon and worked as a TV news producer, newspaper reporter, magazine columnist, blogger, and freelance medical writer before pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a fiction author. Her primary genres are superhero, urban fantasy, and horror. She’s also an independent filmmaker, playwright, singer, and actress.

A life-long Northwesterner, Adrienne lives in Washington state with her husband/creative partner, two teenagers who double as film cast and crew, and a really spoiled cat. She’s a self-professed geek, drinks far too much tea, and frequently changes her hair color.

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Fancy suits and big crowds and lots of elites. Not my idea of a good time on any side of that triangle, but it wasn’t exactly the first time I’d found myself somewhere I wanted to be. All in all, I’d take a fancy dress party to infiltrating a nest full of harpies. Still had the scars from that one. I approached the entrance and did my best tough guy act to keep anyone from bothering me as long as possible, and I made a beeline straight for the bar. Anything this fancy? They were paying for the drinks and I was happy to lighten their pockets up for them.


Character Questions

Is there something you are willing to die for?

Well I’m an OPA agent. Office of Preternatural Affairs. Protecting country and populace against the threats that the rest of everyone doesn’t want to have to deal with. When was the last time you went toe-to-toe with a sorcerer ready to bleed you out? How about a dragon? Yeah, I didn’t take this job thinking I might never die in the course of a job.

Would you rather sneak into a dragon’s den or attend a demonic parliament?

Definitely demons. They get a bad rap. The whole claws and horns thing’s a little creepy. I’ll admit my own biases. But I work with a demon every day. Bark is way worse than their bite, in my opinion. Not that dragons are all bad. But I’ve got a Glock and they can eat me. I’m not that stupid.

If you encounter a dragon, what should you do?

Dragons again, huh? Well if they’re after you, run like hell and hope that works. If it doesn’t, hope like hell you’ve got someone with magic on the way. Maybe a lesser dragon you could take on hand to hand or with a normal gun, but I wouldn’t want to dance that dance if I didn’t have to. Lucky me, that’s what they give me a paycheck to do is dance that dance. If I don’t have a choice in the matter? Aim for the eyes.


Author Questions

How much do you plan ahead of time, vs. following the story where it leads?

I’m a big-time plotter. I like to have my entire roadmap laid out. But just like when you go on a road trip with me, I sometimes take a little detour, do something, and then swing back onto the track. While I enjoy writing off the cuff, from a sheer work and efficiency standpoint, I have to do a lot less work overall if I plan out before I write the first word.

Is there a fantasy trope that you would like to NEVER see again?

There are some general tropes I’d like to see gotten rid of, but specific to fantasy, if we could possibly never have an “I’m going to stop taking my anxiety/depression/etc meds” plotline in fantasy again, I would be so down for that. It’s super lazy and cliché to have “the drugs are blocking you from the magic.” And it’s also frankly quite harmful and stigmatizing. People use those medications to be able to live their actual lives and function. They don’t rob you of magic. They keep you from offing yourself. Give me a character who finally gets help, and because they’re finally able to breathe for a second, the magic reveals itself. Or just give me a magical world where sometimes people have to take SSRIs because they just need a little hand.

Do you have a personal motto or tag line?

For writing in particular, I have “Nobody else is going to do the work for you.” But in the larger life sense, I’ve always resonated quite strongly with a quote from, of all people, Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I, and most other people, have opinions on her at this point, but that quote, often mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela, was one of those rare things that simply stopped me dead the first time I saw it. I have big issues connected to success. We don’t need to go into my personal psychology, here, but I always found that this quote could speak to me in a deep, halting way that lets me change my thinking and my actions, at least for a while.


Toxic Influence (Office of Preternatural Affairs #1)

Dashiel Rourke was never supposed to join the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He was nothing but a low-rung counterterrorism agent. A cog in the greater FBI machine. But when the poison gas attacks plaguing New York City turn out to be a little more magical than anyone expected…well, desperate times. And once he gets a lungful of that poison, it becomes personal.

Now he’s suited up with a magical sidearm, a seven-foot troll for a partner, and a whole lot of questions with not that many answers to go around. One thing he does know? Whoever or whatever is behind this mess, he’s not going to stop until he can take them down. Even if that means hanging out with elves and hags for a little while.

But Dash and the rest of the OPA don’t know just how deep this goes…or how deadly the endgame is. If you like high-stakes FBI drama and higher-stakes magic, check out Toxic Influence today.


The Author

Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert, where he writes science fiction and fantasy from inside a single-wide trailer. He is the author of the Evenstad Media Presents series, as well as the Office of Preternatural Affairs series. His short work is available from a variety of publications, including Vox.com, Flame Tree Publishing’s Heroic Fantasy Anthology, and the bestselling Alternative Truths Anthology. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he can be found cooking, belly dancing, singing, and cuddling dogs, though rarely all at the same time. More information can be found at http://vossfoster.blogspot.com

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Lost studies the magnificent palace with crimson eyes as she approaches. The half-elven vampire’s short silver hair is neatly brushed, and she is swathed in an enormous ball gown. The ungainly skirt nearly conceals the fact that she is barefoot and telekinetically hovering at times. A reanimated bunny peers over her shoulder. Lost speaks to it in a painfully polite voice. “We must be on our best behavior, Bunny.”


Character Questions

Are there any fantastic beasts where you live?

Only if you’re not from here. We have vampires, dragons, fairies, elves, orcs, mermaids, griffins, goblins, undead, gods, humans, dwarves, halflings… Mom says I shouldn’t list everything we have in Windemere. To us, these are fairly common beasts, so we only get surprised by them if they’re trying to eat us. For a tourist, I can see how they would be fantastical. I’d be the same way if I visited another world. All in the nose of the beholder.

If you encounter a dragon, what should you do?

That really depends on what species. A Weapon Dragon is always mean, so best to run, fight, or shake your finger at it until it leaves in shame. I assure you that the third option is bound to work one day. The natural dragons are friendlier as long as you aren’t a threat and they’re not jerks. I met a Kelynmire Dragon who was really nice even though he smelled like sour gas, but one day I got in a fight with a Sirynian Dragon. She didn’t like how I chipped a little off her icy wings to cool my drink. What was the question again?

What is your magical weapon of choice?

I’m glad you asked because being able to protect yourself is very important. Danger lurks around every window. The shadows watch your every move and not only because my friend Mab has that power. As a Dawn Fang vampire, I’m very strong and I have powers that make weapons fairly unnecessary. Still, you never known, so I have my bunny. His name is Bunny for obvious reasons. He can eat anything and flies almost as fast as a griffin. My little pet has the sharpest of teeth and can blast through objects if he builds up enough speed. Bunny has saved my life many times and I pay him in tomatoes.

Author Questions

Who would be your ideal reader?

I know many authors try to narrow down an age range for ideal readers, but I’ve had trouble doing that. My books are definitely difficult reads for kids under 12 unless they are advanced and mature readers. So, I focus my aim more on what a person is looking for when they pick up a book. My goal is to give people a sense of escape from reality and help them relax. If you haven’t read a fantasy book before and want to give it a try then I think my books would be a nice fit. They have a lot of magic and action, but they are very character driven, which can appeal to those who have never tried the genre before. I guess my rambling boils down to writing for the casual, escapist reader.

How much do you plan ahead of time?

I create character biographies to get a general idea of what my main heroes and villains look like and how they act. It focuses on appearance, relations to other characters, weaponry, history, and where I want them to go in the story. Personality is one line that is fairly vague. I make outlines that are broken into chapter sections, which have the basic purpose and goal. Key items, spells, locations, and events are fleshed out to before I start writing. Sometimes, I treat all of this as my real first draft because I edit it all at least once like a real book. Then, I settle in for writing and see what sticks and what gets tossed away. Outlines tend to be adjusted as I go and I always have to rewrite the one for the next book since I set up the whole series early on. This is fine because I see my planning as a skeleton and the writing is me adding the organs to my creation.

Are your books self-published or traditionally published? Why?

I am entirely self-published through Amazon. The reason is because I spent 10 years trying to get published traditionally. It was disheartening to get ignored, form letter rejections, or told that I needed to get a fan following before I could get published. That last one was the confusing response that had me consider self-publishing. I was becoming a stay-at-home parent to help my special needs son, so I thought it was a great time to try for the dream on my own terms. These days, it’s much harder to get any attention for my books without spending a lot of money, but I still think it was the right choice. I prefer to have all this control even though I’m much more of an author than a businessman. As one friend put it, I’m great at creating stories, but I mentally turn off when I need to sell myself.


War of Nytefall: Lost

As the Vampire Civil War of Windemere rages on in the shadows, a mysterious girl appears to deliver mayhem to both sides.

Rumors of old-world vampires disappearing and mortals being attacked by an army of humanoid monsters have reached Clyde’s ears. Still learning how to rule the city of Nytefall as a strong, but fair leader instead of a vicious warlord, the former thief assumes he has rogue agents on his hands. Instead, his people stumble upon Lost, a teenage Dawn Fang looking for her father and aided by a decrepit bunny that might be an animated corpse. Bounding from one side of the Vampire Civil War to another, this carefree girl will turn out to be more trouble than she looks as all of the demons of her past emerge to get what they have been promised. Yet, her chaotic actions are nothing compared to the secret of her creation, which will change the very fabric of the Dawn Fangs’ world.

It is time for the womb-born to be revealed.


The Author

Author Charles Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After spending many years fiddling with his thoughts and notebooks, he decided that it was time to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house with only pizza and seltzer to sustain him, Charles brings you tales from the world of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and drawing you into a world of magic.

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Title: Queen Titania's Court
A magical book event.

There was a crystal pool, still as the dawn, and beside it a magnificent willow tree screened the water. Some breeze, or perhaps an unseen hand, swept aside the trailing branches and revealed a glimmering track between arched boughs.

No?

Mayhap it was a desolate moor. A rugged path led you to a hilltop crowned with ancient stones. Standing tall, they drank in the moonlight. But in the spaces between you glimpsed a glittering cavalcade of fairy knights and ladies.

Stubborn mortal.

Was it, then, a rusty door, barely visible in the shadows of a fetid alleyway? Did the piercing rays reflected from the apex of an obelisk serve as your beacon? Perhaps you crept through a cavern dire, lured by distant music?

No matter, no matter.

Surely some vision has drawn you here, and now you cannot stray. For you have been summoned out of your mortal life. What wonders shall you see, at Queen Titania’s Court!

All during the month of June, I’m casting a spotlight on another fantasy author. They’ll share a bit about their books and answer a few entertaining questions. I hope you’ll all help us out by sharing the news and inviting your friends to my blog.

Here is the schedule for the month.


  • 6/3/20: War of Nytefall, by Charles E. Yallowitz
  • 6/6/20: Shrouded Sky, by Sanan Kolva
  • 6/10/20: Toxic Influence, by Voss Foster
  • 6/13/20: Traveler Hunted, by Adrienne Dellwo
  • 6/17/20: Honey and Salt, by David Perlmutter
  • 6/20/20: “Orange Sun, Grey Sky, by Alden Loveshade, from the anthology Exchange Students, edited by Sheila Hartney
  • 6/24/20: Dragon’s Fall, Rise of the Scarlet Order, by David Lee Summers
  • 6/27/20: The grand ball and finale

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’ve received all the entries I’m going to get for Queen Titania’s Court, which total five. I hoped for wider participation, but this gives me enough to fill my usual Wednesdays and Saturdays schedule. I’m really excited to have these five, who are all my personal friends, take part in the series.

There are some matters of balance, though. I noticed that a few of the characters were entering the ball nervous or intimidated, so I made sure to space those out with the more confident personalities. As I threatened earlier, one of my own characters will also be making an appearance. There are a couple of other posts to set up, including one for the beginning with a table of contents, and one for the ending where I plan to have a fun crowd scene showing all the visitors enjoying the ball.

Now that I have my “table of contents,” if you will, I can start putting the actual posts together. I hope you’re all as excited as I am for a magical month of June!


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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Work continues on the revisions on The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. I’m getting to the part where things have to be torn apart and rebuilt. That may sound upsetting, but actually I’m having a good time with it.

In the initial draft, Meven settled things up pretty neatly. I felt that she was a bit too comfortable in Fang Marsh. Perhaps a little smug, even. So for this pass I’m having her boyfriend fully betray her. He’s using flirtation to plumb her for information, and once he gets it, he’ll turn her in.

Skaythe has been set up as a world where everyone is out for themself. It seems dishonest for my characters to only encounter people who are good and kind. Betrayal really is the boyfriend’s most logical action. Not that I want to write a book that’s a bummer, I hate those. But it would be worse to come up with some complicated explanation for why he would not do that most logical thing. It’s never a good idea to jerk your readers around.

I’m also adding in a predator-and-prey scene that should be rousing fun to write. Maybe even work in some imagery around Meven and her boyfriend to evoke his true motives. Probably I’ll get to that part on Wednesday or Thursday. Can’t wait!

Finally, thanks to all of you who stopped by Teri Polen’s blog and took in my interview for Bad Moon Rising. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I might even do a similar event in the spring, around the time Ice Witch is likely to be published. This would involve fantasy, of course, rather than horror. We’ll see if I come to my senses before then.


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Last time, I mentioned that I’m trying to devise a suitable title for my current novella in the Minstrels of Skaythe series. But after I got done with that blog post, I realized I might not have to work so hard.

“There’s probably an app for that,” I said to myself. And I was right!

This one, on Reedsy, offers you a title if you haven’t even started writing. It shows an option for if you have already written your book, but gives no way to enter any keywords that would make the title relevant to that book. This one, at Fantasy Name Generator, gives you a list of ten possible titles, but again offers no way to use your own subject matter.

This held true of every title generator I could find out there. Although I could generate random titles as a way to spark inspiration, I guess for my actual WIP I’m gonna have to do the hard work myself.


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Quests are widely recognized as part of the fantasy genre. In fact, they’re SO widely recognized that I find it difficult to base a story on them. It’s like flogging a dead horse.

For some genres, having your characters stay put can benefit the story. In a dark fantasy, your story gains suspense if the characters are trapped and cannot escape a horrific menace. Military SF isn’t my thing, but I could see a lot of tension if a group of soldiers were pinned down in a location where they could neither advance nor retreat.

Travel across lands and cultures involves a certain amount of work as far as world-building goes. Some of that creative energy might be better spent on deeper characterization or tighter plotting.

For me, personally, having my characters travel has become redundant. Of my 11 books and novellas, 8 of them involve a journey for at least part of the story. That includes my current WIP. I really feel that I’m repeating myself, and that doesn’t make for an exciting tale.

The irony is, my current series, The Minstrels of Skaythe, involves a group of mages who scattered for their own safety. Each one of them has to travel away from where they were. This means I’m going to have to be creative in how I show them dispersing. Which is fine — if nothing else, authors should be creative.

What do you think? Are quests still cool, or are they more meh?


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The Tower in the Mist is basically set up as an e-book. The pre-order link is active. But there’s still a mad rush before publication. Currently, I’m writing a handful of blog posts to publicize The Tower in the Mist, making bookmarks, and so forth.

At the same time, I’m preparing for an in-person presentation to Idaho Writers League, which will be tomorrow at 6:30 pm, at the Lutheran Church of the Master in Coeur d’Alene, ID. My topic is “Readings, Signings, and Book Parties.” I’ll cover how to set them up, the planning and preparation. If time allows, people will have a chance to read in front of the group and practice their technique.

Honestly, I didn’t plan to be doing this presentation in the middle of the pre-publication rush. I requested a date in March, but it didn’t work out. At least I’ll have my bookmarks and such to show off at Idaho Writers League. I know that most of you are not near North Idaho, so you can’t attend. But if you want the address in Coeur d’Alene, please drop me a comment!


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Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my cover choices! I’m pretty much settled on Option 1, with perhaps the subtitles moved around.

This brings me to the cover copy, and here’s what I have so far: “As a hunter-guard, it’s Zathi’s job to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into the accursed Hornwood. Together, warrior and mage will battle deadly beasts and face decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten power. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.”

This description packs a lot in, but it may go on too long. My question, bluntly put: would you want to read this book? If not, what would tip the balance? As ever, I look forward to your advice.

One of you sharp-eyed readers also noticed that I’m still trying out variations on the series title. The gist is that these people live in a world after the evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, has triumphed. The mages are trying to bring back hope, and this makes them renegades.

Their powers are based around light, hence I’ve been calling them Light-Bringers, but that title has already been used for a couple of recent series. They travel in disguise as a troupe of minstrels. The name of their land is Skaythe. They spend a lot of time in a dark forest called the Hornwood. So I’m boiling it down to Minstrels of Skaythe or Minstrels of the Light.

What do you think? I really like Minstrels of Light, but I have a hunch it’s already been used by a Christian band somewhere. I also like The Hornwood Series, but I understand there is a Hornwood character in Game of Thrones, and I don’t want to create confusion. More searching to follow…


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