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Posts Tagged ‘high fantasy’

Today I’m visiting with David Lee Summers on his blog. The topic is fantastic settings. I hope you’ll join us there!


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Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts continues the Minstrels of Skaythe series. In a world of dark magic, the minstrels seek to restore a forbidden power — hope!

Book cover for Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts

Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts

“He’s dead. He just doesn’t know it yet.”

Mortally wounded, Cylass is abandoned on the battlefield by comrades who would just as soon have him out of the way. But as he waits for death, a strange savior appears. The dancer, Tisha, heals him with her forbidden magic, but also draws the wrath of his cruel former lord.

Soon guardsman and renegade mage are on the run. Will Cylass help Tisha, as she helped him? Or will he do the smart thing, and turn her over to the vicious Count Ar-Dayne?


Now that the book is live, I hope you’ll consider the modest $5 purchase. I am still seeking opportunities to blog about Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts, and or course, all reviews would be much appreciated!


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The Minstrels of Skaythe saga continues with Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts. Take a look at my radiant cover!

Book cover for Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts

Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts

“He’s dead. He just doesn’t know it yet.”

Mortally wounded, Cylass is abandoned on the battlefield by comrades who would just as soon have him out of the way. But as he waits for death, a strange savior appears. The dancer, Tisha, heals him with her forbidden magic, but also draws the wrath of his cruel former lord.

Soon guardsman and renegade mage are on the run. Will Cylass help Tisha, as she helped him? Or will he do the smart thing, and turn her over to the vicious Count Ar-Dayne?


Since the cover copy is an essential selling tool, I’m interested in your comments. What intrigues you, what might confuse you, all of that. Please tell me what you think.

My projected release date is November 15th. I hope to have a pre-order link up soon. Never fear, I’ll tell you when it goes live!


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For point-of-view, that is. I know you all wanted to know my secret for making the perfect mint julep. Sorry, that will have to be another blog.

When approaching a new project, I do some research and planning ahead of time. I draw maps and sketch out the cultures. However, beyond the initial 2 to 3 plot events, I go by the seat of my pants. The way I make that work is my secret strategy. Are you ready?

I will never have just one POV character. This is something I learned from my first novel, The Magister’s Mask. When you only have one POV, that person has to be present for everything that happens. Each conversation, battle, espionage, journey… That same character has to be there.

It would be exhausting for one person. It also would be limiting in some ways. For instance, that one POV cannot be killed, or there is no way to go on telling the story. Many authors cultivate multiple POV characters so that they can really threaten some of them, while still keeping a cast at hand.

Personally, I like to go more deeply into characters, but I always have at least two points of view. Often, the two are on opposite sides of some central question, but they both are basically good people who readers can sympathize with. Each POV knows some things that are happening, but not all. Because they are in tension, they don’t bring their knowledge together until quite late in the story.

I developed this technique with my second novel, Too Many Princes. Brastigan is the bad-boy prince, and his brother Lottress is more bookish. They both get sent on a quest, but then there’s a coup back at home. I ended up bringing in their sister, Therula, as the witness to all of that. So when the princes returned home, the reader knew there was an ugly surprise waiting. It really cranked up the suspense.

How it works is, as I’m writing, I take turns between the POVs. When I get to a good point of tension with one, I switch to the other. Sometimes I get stuck on which POV to use in a certain scene. Sometimes they overlap and you get the same line of dialogue from both POVs. Ironically, the reader knows more than either character, yet I can use this technique to keep them from guessing the outcome too easily. The information they think they have can change in the other POV.

That’s it. My secret strategy for POV. How do you use POV to build your stories?


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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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I have begun working on the second draft of Ice Witch. The most significant changes so far are to Meven’s foundling. I found that the rhythm of his name was weak, so I’ve changed it. Elldry is now Calisiph. In addition, his viewpoint was coming across as too cynical for a seven-year-old. I’m making him about ten, an age that allows him to question the adults around him in a more pointed way.

However, I will let him keep his toy monkey, Eelee. It was one of Meven’s puppets with an articulated joint that allows it to stick its tongue out. Calisiph was instantly charmed by this. Ten is a little old to be carting a toy around, but he hasn’t had a single thing to call his own for a couple of years, so Meven lets him take over ownership.

While this goes on, I’m also making a few decisions for my next novella. Have you ever had those weeks when everything you previously decided just seems dumb? I don’t like the title, I don’t like the cover art I’d chosen, and so forth.

Nothing is in print yet, so obviously this is the time for me to be making those changes!


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Yes! I have finished a non-skeletal and satisfying first draft of Fang Marsh. The novella came in at 33,500 words. The other Minstrels of Skaythe novellas are 32,000 words (The Tower in the Mist) and 38,000 words (The Cursed Grove), so Fang Marsh fits right in at its length.

That said, I’m pondering whether to take a stab at the second draft now. If I give myself 2 weeks, I should still have plenty of time to set up The Cursed Grove for Thanksgiving weekend. There’s a good use in letting stories rest between drafts, but I’m inclined to work on the issues I’m already aware of in Fang Marsh, and let it rest after that.

First of all, I’m changing the title, which I’ve known all along that I would. It’s going to be The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. The title character is based on one from an RPG who was The Ice Witch. Yes, like The Batman, everyone knew her as The Ice Witch. Although Meven is not exactly the same character, the name/title has a good ring and I’d like to keep that.

Meven herself will be a main focus of this revision. Her character is kind of all over the place. The original Ice Witch was actually not icy, but funny and snarky. Meven spends too much time being scared and emotionally shut in. I plan to organize her and create a nice arc from the anxious fugitive to the confident and sarcastic Ice Witch I knew and loved.

Her foundling, currently named Elldry, is going to be called something with a stronger rhythm. With find-and-replace, that will be an easy fix. His personal arc will also be firmed up, but doesn’t need as much work as Meven’s.

Finally, there is currently a distinct lack of fangs in Fang Marsh. The previous two Minstrels of Skaythe novels each featured some sort of giant creature. They just pop, you know? So I will be looking to add a confrontation with something big and fanged, which will deepen the relationship between Meven and her hopeful boyfriend, Shonn, as they both save Elldry from it.

All that in two weeks? No sweat! *sarcasm*


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