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Posts Tagged ‘high fantasy’

It isn’t as nice as making a sale, but this week I actually got in on a submission window for a publication I’ve been really interested in. Here’s hoping!

Today’s character is new to the Minstrels of Skaythe series. I wasn’t expecting her, but my philosophy is to try and incorporate every idea that comes in the first draft. If it ends up not being important, then I’ll trim it later. Anyhow, I realized early in The Tale of the Drakanox that Countess Ar-Torix, from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh, wasn’t going to be traipsing around Skaythe in person. She needed a minion.

This is where Nyette comes in.


“An explanation that explains nothing,” Ar-Torix mused. “Now why would Meven feel the need to defend herself, if she has done nothing wrong? This requires further exploration.”

“Shall I send for your horse, Countess?” Hurth asked.

Pearls gleamed in the countess’ hair as she considered. “Not yet. If this is some sort of trick, I’ll not rush into it. Ar-Selviss.”

The instructor quickly stopped the match and bowed. “My lady?”

Ar-Torix went on, “I believe it was Nyette who won the bout just now. In your opinion, is she ready for a different sort of challenge?”

“An excellent suggestion, my lady.” Ar-Selviss smiled obsequiously. “The arena does not always prepare our students for conditions in the field.”

The student in question was already on her feet. She was tall, and Shonn had the impression of an athletic build beneath the stiff brown robe. Black, curly hair fell to her shoulders, where it was cut off in a straight, hard line. Two dainty hairpins, shaped as butterflies, held it away from her face.

“Command me, Countess!” she cried.

“No need to get so excited.” Ar-Torix laughed, a silvery sound that drew every man’s eye to her. “I merely need you to venture into Fang Marsh along with my friend from the water-folk. Examine the ice wall with a mage’s eye, and report back to me. Simplicity.”

“I will make it so.” Nyette’s gaze was intense, in contrast to the childish note of the butterfly pins.

“Yes, yes.” Ar-Torix looked past her and signaled Ar-Selviss to begin the next match. It may have been Shonn’s imagination, but he thought the countess didn’t want too much attention on a younger woman. Not that she needed to worry, as alluring as she was.

Hurth tapped Shonn’s shoulder, breaking Ar-Torix’s spell. “Come on.”

Reluctantly, he tore his eyes away from the temptation of the countess and followed Hurth back into the stuffy building. Nyette stopped in the reception area, where a narrow staircase led upward.

“I’m going to pack a few things,” she announced in a brittle imitation of Ar-Torix’s confident tone. Hunter-guards at the counter looked around at those words. To Shonn, she said, “I assume you don’t want a troop of them escorting me.”

“No,” he immediately agreed. One passenger might fit on his raft, but not a bunch of them. “We’ll want to move quietly through the swamp.”

Wryly, Hurth asked, “Shall I explain that to them?”

“I’d appreciate it.” Nyette hurried up the steps.

“This is more than I had planned on,” Shonn complained, but Hurth was already walking away.


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It’s that time of year — cherry season! My tree is heavy with bright red fruit, and all down the block you can hear the robins and starlings coming to the feast.

This is a good time to bring up my fourth Minstrels of Skaythe novella, The Renegade of Opshar. One main feature of this novella is that Yamaya, the bandit-turned-farmer, has an orchard of cherry trees on her land. When she hires Berisan as a farm hand, he spends a lot of time helping her pick, dry and pack them for the market.

There are no bandits around my house, but here’s to the cherries, and to The Renegade of Opshar!


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?



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Last but not least… Yes, it’s my turn in the spotlight. My character is Alemin, from my high fantasy novella, Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. It’s the latest in my Minstrels of Skaythe series.

Alemin stared in wonder. He had been meditating, waiting through the endless hours of his imprisonment, and now he was… here?

The chamber was huge, crowded with people in the richest and most outlandish attire. Many were dancing, while others mingled in gay conversation. Only, they were not all human. Some had wings, or animal heads. Some were unusually large, others impossibly small. Above their heads, a vaulted ceiling was studded with stars. At the center, a full moon flooded the scene with silvery light.

And there was food! Alemin smelled sweet fruits, marinated meats, and delicate pastries. His starved body demanded that he instantly find that buffet! Yet he hesitated. How was it possible that this could be real? He felt like a beggar in his tattered prison robe.

Yet, if this was a dream, he greatly preferred it to the heavy labor, brutal heat, and shortened meals of the Larder. Alemin was a minstrel, too, accustomed to performing no matter the circumstances. He casually strolled forward to make his greetings — and find that delicious banquet he smelled!


Character Questions

Tell us about the greatest mystery in your world. It is said that, long ago, all people had magic. Everything was shared among them, with no divisions of rich and poor, magic and commons, or even men and women. This seems like an impossible daydream, but there is evidence that it may really be true!

Who are the most dangerous people in your society? Mages, with our great power, have become dominant over the common people. With unlimited power, mages have developed a reputation for unrestrained cruelty. However, there are mages like myself and the other minstrels, who try to undo their evil and teach the world a better way. Most mages would probably say that we are the most dangerous people of all!

Author Questions

Are there any authors who inspire your work? Yes, and we should always acknowledge our forebears. As a kid, I discovered the fantasy of Andre Norton. She was the first author I realized I could save my allowance to buy her books. I also wrote extensive fan fiction for Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. I love the lyricism of Patricia McKillip, and the philosophy of Ursula LeGuin.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I have always been fascinated by ruined cities and lost civilizations, which is a vibe I often bring to my stories. I’ve already visited places like Mesa Verde, CO, and I would love to broaden my horizons. If money and safety were not a concern, I would visit somewhere like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or Machu Picchu in Peru.


Prisoners of the Wailing Tower

Alemin only wanted to help an innocent. Instead, he was caught by the dreaded hunter-guards. Now he finds himself flung into the Larder, where the very walls are steeped in nightmares and his fellow inmates are vicious killers. Worse, Warden Ar-Lizelle seems intent on tracking down his friends, the Minstrels, who have devoted their lives to undermining Skaythe’s tyrannical regime.

On the outside, the renegade mage Lorrah receives a premonition of Alemin’s plight. She’s desperate to save a man she cares for, but the Larder is commanded by someone she has hated for years and can’t bear to face: her cruel sister, Ar-Lizelle. Luckily, Lorrah is not alone. She has help from the fierce women warriors of Badger Squad. Yet even their combined forces might not be enough to get Alemin free from Dar-Gothull’s Larder!

About Deby Fredericks

Deby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but viewed it as just a fun hobby until the late 1990s. Her first sale, in 2000, was a children’s poem under her byline Lucy D. Ford. Deby writes for adults, while “Lucy” is oriented to young readers.

Fredericks has long been involved in SF fandom, including running and writing for fan clubs, hosting anime viewings in her home, and helping run conventions. She also has volunteered as RA and ARA for the Inland Northwest Region of SCBWI, International.

Web site: http://www.debyfredericks.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@debyfredercks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebyFredericks



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 websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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This week I’ve been going on with The Tale of the Drakanox. Duessa’s POV sections and Ar-Lizelle’s POV sections are racing toward a collision. This is one of the things I like best about having more than one POV, and having those characters be on opposite sides. Both characters know trouble is coming, but as a reader, you can really see them going opposite directions in the same lane of traffic.

Ar-Lizelle is pretty intent on recapturing Duessa’s team. Duessa’s team is practicing new strategies as they prepare for trouble. Potentially a lot of characters are involved here. I need to choose who gets featured. I also need to choose whether everyone will make it out of the confrontation. I’m still getting my head around all that.

This is nothing new to me. I always dither a bit at this point in a story. I know I’ll find my way through it. Onward!



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 websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Hey, it’s my book anniversary! It was three years ago, on May 15, 2019, that I self-published The Tower in the mist, which turned out to be the first Minstrels of Skaythe novella.

At that time, I had only an inkling of a series taking shape. That there would be a group of mages exploring non-violent resistance to an overlord’s cruel regime. That each adventure would stand alone, yet build into something greater.

Now it’s been three years, and I’m working on the series finale. Happy anniversary to me!


The Tower in the Mist

Mages vs. Amazons vs. Giant Badgers vs. Tyranny!

Zathi’s job is 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 a cursed forest. Together, warrior and mage will face deadly beasts and grapple with decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten magic. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.



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Mother’s Day is here (or will be by the time some of you see this). It’s made me think about how, in my own work, family is so often a major factor.

This might not be surprising. We humans are social, and we grow up in families. When we’re writing, a character’s family and upbringing has a major impact, no mater what external stuff is going on in the plot. “Found family” is a major trope in all sorts of fiction, because it resonates with something we all know and need.

In my current series, Minstrels of Skaythe, there is one book that involves motherhood more than the others. That’s The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. Meven (the ice witch) is not looking for a family. She is only trying to save herself. Then she gets targeted by a street kid, both of them unaware that family is about to find them.

I hope you’ll take a look at The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. And, happy Mother’s Day!


The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh

Meven is a renegade, hunted by the cruel regime of master mage Dar-Gothull. Her desperate desire is to lose herself in the treacherous Fang Marsh. Only there can she live the life she wants, in freedom and safety. To reach the marsh, Meven must sneak through the town of Eshur, where her old enemy, the wicked Countess Ar-Torix, commands dozens of spies and guards. It should be no problem!

What Meven doesn’t know is that she’s already being tracked. Ozlin was thrown out because of his emerging magic. Now he’s starving on the streets of Eshur. Caught stealing, he’s about to be imprisoned in the brutal temple school.

Until Meven recognizes his power and intervenes. Suddenly she has a new, desperate desire — to save this mageling boy, and maybe save herself as well.



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 websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Yep, I’m still pushing along with The Tale of the Drakanox. I sort of reached the point where my thoughts had focused, and now I’m trying to re-focus toward the ending. Part of this is coming up with new obstacles to prevent everyone from cruising along too easily. I’m consolidating a bit, too.

Shonn and Piyaro had started out each with a separate plot thread, but now they’ve joined forces. They were heading to… somewhere… and they were going to get there too fast, so I had them sight some mysterious ships and have to deal with that.

Duessa has been the POV with the group of fugitives, while Ar-Lizelle has been chasing them. They might have gotten away from her, so I’m bringing in some allies for Ar-Lizelle. This new group is more her rivals than her friends, though. That will lead to some excitement. It should be fun to write.

The evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, is starting to take a personal hand in things as well. I need to make him as sinister and deadly as his reputation, which should be fun in a different way.

That’s the point of all this writing, though. Fun, right?



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 websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m still on vacation, but I’ve scheduled another teaser for you. This character is from Prisoners of the Wailing Tower.


Flames roared and leaped, as if they would join with the lowering sun. It was a farmer’s hut that burned, the thatched roofing a ready food for the blaze. Just short of the flames’ reach, Ar-Lizelle glared down at the body that lay at her feet. Her former prisoner was still shaved bald, scorch marks crossing the clothing he’d stolen to hide himself among the population. A perpetual grin of madness split the stubbled face.

It hadn’t been an easy fight. The fugitive’s madness gave him wild power. However, Ar-Lizelle had been warden of the Larder, Dar-Gothull’s prison for insane mages. She knew how to deal with the likes of him. Haafeth had died choking, her fire whip snaked about this throat. Not once did he stop laughing.

That was no surprise. Haafeth had been closer to madness as any of the escaped prisoners. Ar-Lizelle had no remorse for his death. The list of his crimes was long even before the peasant farmer he murdered, and the widow he had been terrorizing when Ar-Lizelle caught up with him. It was Haafeth who set their roof on fire, a futile attempt at distraction.

No, her only regret was that she had learned nothing about the whereabouts of the other prisoners who escaped on that horrible day.

Ar-Lizelle clenched her fists, controlling her fury. After years of patient work, monitoring reports and questioning new prisoners, she’d finally had the chance to capture her disloyal younger sister. Lorrah had left their father to die. Worse, she had become a renegade, working against the mages who rightfully ruled over Skaythe. But the hunt’s promised ending was merely a ruse. Lorrah had lured Ar-Lizelle out of the Larder, and while she was gone, a bunch of fake hunter-guards had broken all the prisoners out.

Disgraced by the failure of her security, Ar-Lizelle now lived on borrowed time. Countess Ar-Khoreen of Yergha, where the Larder was located, had made it clear that she must bring those fugitives back, or otherwise deal with them. If she failed, she would be cast into the Larder herself, as a prisoner.

Ar-Lizelle stood rigid, gazing at the flames without seeing them. A ghastly creature haunted the Larder, a revenant with slashing octopus arms paired to a human face. That creature called itself a Devourer. And what did it devour? Mages.

No. No, that fate must not be hers.

“Well, that’s one down,” a man joked behind her.

“Only nine to go,” his fellow agreed.

“Are you keeping score?” She whirled to glower at them, screeching in her high voice, “Do you think this is some sort of game?”

“No, Warden,” Endole hastily replied. He and Groff saluted.

By Ar-Khoreen’s order, only two of the prison guards had come with her on this hunt. The others remained with Captain Morthem, who held the Larder for her return. If she survived to return.

“Let’s go,” she snarled, and turned away.



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 websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m on vacation, but here’s another teaser for you. This character is one you might recognize from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. Enjoy!


The mage’s tower was deceptively quiet, showing no lights. You could think no one was there. That was the way they wanted it. He shrugged a little, irritated, and jerked around to watch the sun’s last rays creep up the brown rocks that crowned the hills beyond the Fang Marsh.

That tower had been empty for a long time, but it was Addith’s domain now. Shonn remembered how he had worked to help her settle in. Her and the boy she’d said was a foundling. The surly brat never had taken to Shonn. Despite the kid’s interference, he’d almost gotten to her. Shonn grinned a little, remembering the hunger of her kiss. It wouldn’t have been much longer before he laid her down in the sand…

Unfortunately, Addith was never who she said she was. The water clan she claimed probably didn’t even exist. Her real name was Meven, and she was a runaway mage. He’d seen her throwing ice chunks around, when that mudmaw took a strike at the boy. Then the kid lit himself on fire, too. He was a mageling that she tried to train, while they both hid from the regime in the depths of the marsh.

Mages were dangerous, crazy, never to be trusted. Shonn had tried to hide his reaction, but Meven had turned cold and he’d known it was over between them. There was never really a choice, anyway. He’d had to report to the countess’s guards. If Countess Ar-Torix thought the water folk were in league with a rogue mage, she might destroy Otter and everyone aboard her.

That’s what Shonn had told his parents, and the others who protested that he’d turned against one of the water folk. To himself, he could admit the truth. He’d suspected about Meven, and he’d been toying with her, part of the same boredom that still scratched between his shoulder blades. If he won her trust, he could gather more information, something to trade with the city guards. He could even have blackmailed her, forced her to lie with him, or made use of her in some other way. To what purpose, he still wasn’t certain. It had only seemed like a good thing to have a mage at his command.

He could have done it, if not for that brat of hers wandering carelessly on the bank. But the mudmaw’s attack had made it clear the boy would always come first. It grated on his ego to be second best.

Meven’s parting words were clear: “I don’t want to see you again.” Unfortunately for Meven, hers was not the final word. Countess Ar-Torix had made it clear that she still wanted Shonn to be an informant. He had to be sneaky, given his parents’ disapproval, but maybe he’d have another chance at the ice witch after all.

With a final scowl, Shonn turned away from his thwarted vision. The setting sun cast muted pink and gold rays to reflect from the placid waters around the landing. Fish jumped, raising rings of brighter water. As the water became warmer than the air, mists began to creep over the lotus pools and among the dark mangroves. Frogs and crickets and other night creatures raised their shimmering chorus.

A flickering light caught his eye. Shonn glanced over, expecting to see fireflies or a last ray of sunlight on the far hilltops. Instead, a glow appeared brighter among the rocks. It swelled brighter, and then a brief flash. Yellow light streaked down the slope, with sparks trailed behind it, like coals falling from a fire. Shonn blinked. It moved so fast! Was it coming closer?

He heard no sound of hooves or wheels. No flames rose from that spot. The golden streak, soft and vaguely shaped, curved to follow a pale ribbon across the land. Whatever it was, it followed the old silvery scar that crossed the plain beyond the marsh.

The silence was eerie. There should have been a whistling of wind, or some other noise. Shonn heard nothing. After a moment’s staring, he stamped his sandaled foot vigorously on the roof where he stood.

“Oberim, Kannat!” he called to his father and uncle.

Muffled steps came from below, and the houseboat shifted slightly as the two men emerged from the main cabin. Shonn pointed at the mysterious object gliding ever closer.

“Do you see it?”

“Huh,” answered Oberim.

The three men watched in silence. Whatever it was moved swiftly and steadily, stretched out to twice the length of Otter. In a way, it resembled a cloud of mist lit golden by morning sun. There was no sun to light it, and yet it still glowed.

Uncle Kannat murmured, “What moves it? There is no wind.”

“What moves it,” Shonn retorted. “What is it?”

The angle changed as the creature got closer. There were hints of solid form within the mass. Two branching antlers, a wolf’s head with tousled mane, followed by a long body like an eel’s. Yet any shape dissolved almost before he could identify it.

Then it was past, following the curve of the ancient track that went straight across the marsh. By now, other family streaming out of the cabin, crowding to the rail. Soft murmurs of confusion and dismay came up to the cabin roof, where Shonn stood.

“Have you ever seen something like that?” Oberim asked his brother.

“No, but we know where it’s going,” Shonn replied, hiding his glee with grim certainty. “That path leads to the mage tower.”



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 websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Work goes on with The Tale of the Drakanox. I’m in a tangled spot right now because a bunch of the characters from the previous novellas are all together in one place after 40,000 words or so. They all need to catch the others up on what went on in those said novellas.

Zathi and the Badgers are explaining how Keilos died and that they know where a massive store of vitalis is hidden away deep in the Hornwood (The Tower in the Mist). Tisha and Cylass are telling how she broke the curse over Seofan Holl (Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts). Alemin is about to go over his bond with the broken tower of the Larder, and how he knows the ancient tales of the Shining Ones are all true (Prisoners of the Wailing Tower).

It’s a lot! And it’s a challenge to keep this section interesting, when basically they’re all just sitting and talking. I need to throw something else in, maybe a suspicion that someone is listening in on them. Something to keep it lively, but without dragging it out even longer.

At the same time, I’m reading a book that’s reminding me why I made some of the choices I did when I planned out the whole Minstrels of Skaythe series. No names and titles here, I don’t believe in trashing other authors’ work. Let’s just say that sexual violence is all over the place, in a book that’s supposed to be a rebuke to misogyny. I guess they felt like that’s how to illustrate the problem.

Or they thought that’s what the audience would want to read, which… really? Mass rape is gross. That’s a big no-thank-you from me. Some of you might recall that I gender-swapped the whole cast of The Tower in the Mist, specifically to avoid sexual violence. Reading this book is a good reminder of why I did that.

There’s also a lot of fat-shaming directed at male characters. The villains, especially, are grossly fat, while the heroes are trim and handsome. This is such a stale approach, and it made those characters fall flat for me.

Finally, the plot should never hinge upon characters doing things that are foolish and/or will blow their secrets wide open, while proclaiming “I have no choice!”

All of which is to say, it’s kind of kicking me into gear to keep on with The Tale of the Drakanox!



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