Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Favorites, Fantasy Art & A Funny...

Woohoo! Friday! I'm almost done with my first round of edits. I should be sending my changes back to the editor no later than Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed that I accomplish this goal.

Favorite Books/Authors:

One book I remember reading as a kid was 'Watership Downs' by Richard Adams. My mom and I both enjoyed that book immensely. While living in Tucson, we'd go for a walk around a track in the summer at night and we'd see rabbits happily munching grass with one always alert at the edge of the green. Like a little furry sentinel. It would always bring up an image of the rabbits in the book. That was the first book she and I could agree on. Others came later on, but that was the best. I still see rabbits with the same behavioral patterns that remind me of that book. It's quite nice.

Favorite Movies:

Iron Man! I have enjoyed both Iron Man one and two. Robert Downey, Jr. has always been one of my favorite actors. Okay, so he ranks right up there with Johnny Depp and Billy Zane. During Downey's bad years, I silently cheered for him to get help and get away from all the crap he got into. He's an awesome actor, in my opinion and I think they couldn't have picked anyone better to portray Iron Man!

Favorite Music:

Blink 182! Yes, I love some of these goofy bands. I only say goofy because it seems like I got interested in the bands when my kids were teeny boppers and exploring what was cool to listen to and what wasn't. Most of the music I learned about first and then passed it on. Hope they got 'cool' points for their taste in music, even if they didn't give me credit for introducing them to it to their friends.

Fantasy Art:

And the funny!!

I absolutely need one! All right everyone, have a great weekend! What are your plans for the holiday weekend?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who, Me? Addicted To The Internet?...

Funny, I can remember when the internet first came into the picture. I worked for America Online at one point in my illustrious career.

It wasn't bad enough I was online at work, I would go home and get online right away. That was back when I played Cosrin, the online role playing game that was text based. Most of the calls I got for customer support were asking how to block the internet from their kids or how to allocate X amount of time for the kids. They also wanted to know how to block unsafe sites, monitor chat rooms, etc.

Now kids are online more than adults it seems and it is all geared towards them. For the most part. I'm pretty sure some two year olds have their own websites, if not soon-to-be born kiddos.

It has changed the lives of many. It is the communication choice of the times. I even admit to keeping in touch better with my family and friends and their goings on through Facebook. So it has changed my life in lots of different ways.

Now I pose the big question. Could you survive without the internet?

Sometimes I think I could. I'd like to get back to the lifestyle before internet. But a lot of that has to do with my geographical location. If I had more available to me, I'd be out and about more often. I'd unplug more often. But then I would miss it and the 'connection' I have.

So how has the internet changed your life? Could you survive without it?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing Wednesday: Building Worlds...

World building. Sometimes it sounds like fun, but when you figure in everything you need just to begin, it becomes a bit overwhelming.

Think about it, you are about to create a whole world. At first it gives you a giddy, God-like feeling. But then you realize, you have to get the details just right or people will rip it apart.

Begin with the basics. Doesn't matter if you are writing fantasy, romance, horror, etc. You have to make sure the world around you is realistic. If your setting is in this world, you've got lots to draw on from memory and make sure you write about areas you are familiar with. If you haven't been where your story is set, you are going to fail. Why? Because people will read what you've written, see you've gotten something wrong with the area they actually live in and it very well may turn them off from reading your book. You don't want to name a historical landmark and then plop it in the wrong location of your book.

When I read the first Joanna Brady mystery book J. A. Jance had written, I was smitten! Yes, I realize I rhymed. But what ignited that spark? Sadly, the character's husband had been shot and killed. She was at the hospital in Tucson, Arizona. University Medical Center! I gave birth to my two children there! Her character then went outside, walked across the street and down to a local hotel I used to pass by on a regular basis. I could see Jance's character, Joanna, walking along that sidewalk! I could practically hear the traffic on Campbell as she walked away from the hospital.

THAT is what initially made me fall in love with her books and that particular character. The rest of the books were written in Cochise County area and I knew it from visiting there on several locations.

Get where I'm going with this? Good!

So get your geography of any area straight before you begin writing.

Now if you are building a world from scratch, you've got lots more to think about. Why is it cold in the north and warm in the south? Flip that around if you like. Or, make it colder to the east and warmer in the west. Be creative, don't stick to the norm, if you write fantasy. This is your chance to think outside the box. But make it believable! Explain why your world is different. Maybe the tilt of your planet in comparison to that world's sun is wonky. Yes, technical term there, wonky.

When I first drew a map of my world, I started with a city. That soon turned into a small blob of a kingdom which grew into a continent. I added several more blobs that transformed into other kingdoms. Next, I had to work on each area and decide what the society would be like. What customs did I want to incorporate? What types of food, speech or clothing? Were they simplistic in nature or were they extravagant? Farmers? Merchants?

While there is a lot to think of and work out when building a world, if you are organized you can accomplish a lot. If you have to name characters, rivers, lakes, kingdoms, cities and the like I strongly suggest you have some lists you can pull from first. Figure out what would be good names for these things and categorize them. I have a whole three ring binder with pages of names ranging from Gaelic based to Asian based, to mythological and common. I first label the page with 'Lakes' or 'Cities' then I list the names. Don't cross off the name after you've used it! Label it with what you used that name for.

When I am naming characters, I do cross off the name on the list simply because I know I've used it. But names for things like inns or taverns, I list the location of each one. City names are labeled with the kingdom, etc.

I have several good name generator links in my links page of this blog. I have dozens of print-outs of names and labels. Figure out your surroundings before you plop your characters down into unknown territory. Figure out vegetation, water sources and forests. Where will you place a swamp? If you don't know, research the sort of climate/area that would create a swamp to begin with. But make a map, make lists and keep notes! You will have to use them more than once while writing, I guarantee!

What's your organizing like when writing or building a world?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

If You Could Be...

If you could be any of your favorite television characters from a show, who would you be?

I'm such a huge fan of Charmed. I have every single season on DVD. I'm such a geek. Of all the characters on that show, I would love to be Piper Halliwell for a day. It isn't just about her cool witchy ability to freeze things or blow them up. Although, that would be a super bonus! It's just her total personality.

She was the middle sister for so long, trying to keep the peace between her oldest and youngest sisters, Phoebe and Prue. Of all the sisters, she was the only one who did not like being dragged into being a witch, but ended up being the most proud of her heritage. She still fought against it, don't get me wrong. She just wanted to be normal, have a normal life.

She went from being the middle sister to the oldest and struggled to carry the family through the rough times. But she was strong willed, funny as hell and cute to boot. I admired her character. I think she was one of the best written ones on that show. I liked them all, but Piper was my favorite, I connected with her the most.

So if you could be any of your favorite T.V. characters for a day, who would you be?

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Ten Favorite Words...

We all have a dialogue of our own. Words we use over and over again, which probably drive friends and family crazy. Either that, or they know expect those certain words from you, like a private family joke.

I remember doing vocabulary tests in high school and having to write down the meaning of those words as well. I helped my daughter with vocabulary and now my son. I taught my daughter how to remember difficult words with a good description.

Neither she nor her teacher will ever forget how I taught her to remember 'assume'...

But aside from those words that were forced upon us to broaden our personal vocabulary, we all have our own words and slang we like to use over and over. Some are just fun to say.

This is my list of my ten most favorite words to use:

1) Dude. I swear, I say 'Dude' all the time. A habit I picked up from my brother while growing up in Tucson. I'm a child of the 80's what can I say?

2) Absolutely. I don't exactly know why I like this word. I use it a lot in customer service. I want people to know they can count on me doing my job, even if they can't count on the company. Does this make sense? I also like to use it in serious discussion.

3) Nice. I don't use this as 'That's a nice hat' or 'That was a nice gesture'. I use it in place of 'cool' more often than not. I am over 40 after all, 'cool' sounds lame. Ha. Lame.

4) Discombobulated. What a fun word to say! I like using this word rather than saying dizzy or disoriented.

5) Certainly. This is another word of reassurance I use more often than not.

6) So. I use this word far too much in writing my blog posts, but I also say it a lot. Especially when I want something. 'Soooo... do you think we can go to a movie?' or something to that effect. Never fails. Every time I begin with this word, family and friends alike know I'm going to ask for something.

7) Right. I use this word a lot. Mostly when talking to friends or family, I'll say, 'Right, right.' Habit I picked up from my best friend Tonya in high school. Hasn't gone away and it has developed a life of its own. More of my friends say it now, too.

I think that's it. I know I am supposed to go to ten words, but the last three I use the most are expletives. Lol! This is a family show though...

What words do you use a lot? Which ones annoy your family? Friends?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Favorites, Fantasy Art & A Funny...

Woohoo! It's Friday! This is the best Friday ever. Why? Because I have my edits! Sorry, super excited about it all, really.

I had to take a break and make sure I got this post ready in time. I'll have to schedule a few more, because I love this Friday post. Apparently, lots of you do as well.

I am a bit short on time, so I am not going to be posting the pics of the book or movies or music group I choose. I'll make sure to keep doing that at a later date.

So here we go!

Favorite books/authors:

Disc World. Those books were so funny! I got to thinking about these books and really have to revisit them because I read them so long ago. What prompted me to think about them was seeing a movie on Netflix based off of the books. I remember a friend of mine having a video game related to the books as well. Fantasy, humor, what's not to love?

Favorite movies:

I'm a huge Johnny Depp fan. I loved him from 21 Jumpstreet all the way to Pirates and even Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He's one of my most favorite actors. Right up there with Billy Zane and Jerry O'Connell. Billy Zane just cracked me up in 'Demon Knight'. The sponge scene had me rolling. But Johnny... oh, Johnny. He was so sweet in 'Benny and Joon'. I love that movie. It was a movie I could sit and watch with my daughter. She quickly became a fan because he was so cute in that movie!

Favorite Music:

Hmm... I think this is going to be a week for Queen. Love, love, love Queen! I suppose it helps they did the soundtrack for 'Highlander'. I think I need to find more Queen for my iPod.

Fantasy Art:

With all the copyright issues out there, I'm going to use my own damn artwork! Why not? It qualifies as fantasy. This is what a Kefferling looks like in my books. Half elf, half cat. Furry and sleek, watch out for the claws!

And now the funny:

Oooh! Someone's gonna get choked... lol! Have a good weekend everyone. See you Monday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Edits Are Here!...

Hey everyone! Just want to let you all know I received my edits and so if I am missing for any length of time, you know where I am.

I have a few scheduled posts for the upcoming weeks on my World Building series. I also have a couple of guest posts to fill in some openings. Of course, I also have my Friday Favorites to work on. If you see a post from me during all of this, it will either be an update or a rant.

Ha! No, not really. I like all the suggestions given to me. It is helping me a lot and I certainly appreciate the hard work of editors.

I hope you all had a good week. Hope the rest of your week is good and enjoy the weekend! Have fun kids, don't start any fires you can't put out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: Building Languages...

This is an important post regarding fantasy world building. When you think of fantasy worlds, you always think of the creatures, the magic and all that. However, one thing that gets overlooked is the languages.

Sure, you automatically assume there are going to be unique languages associated with different races. Tolkien built on languages for Elves in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Elven language is copyrighted, despite the fact that Tolkien wanted to share aspects of Middle Earth so others could write from it.

I tried, they said 'No.' Quite firmly I might add...

So what's a girl (or guy) who writes fantasy to do about languages? Make it up as you go along.

Unless you have the time, skills and education Mr. Tolkien had, you have to use what is available to you. Most of it will be your imagination. There are ways to go about it and create something. I have a link here to my translator page. I use Latin for a lot of things. No surprise, look at the titles of my books. But I sort of cheat and mix Latin with Drow or Tolkien's Elvish. I'm not using his work, just using it as a guideline of sorts.

What I do is take a word. Let's use the word 'Sword'. We want another 'name' for Sword in our story, so we think about it a bit and hit the internet. Now in Latin, you can use the word Gladius. In Drow it is Killian. But I can't use Drow and I don't want it to be in Latin, that's sort of boring. I want to be unique. So I would combine the two somehow. Kildius, Kilius, Gladian... you get the idea. But a couple of those look kind of lame. So I just shuffle things about a bit and go for something along the lines of Kildan, Adius or completely away from either of my language choices and try Samas. Does this make sense? I may not get an exact derivative from my two language choices, but it sparked my imagination enough to come up with something else entirely.

There are name generators out there as well to help with the language and naming processes. I know there are sites out there that tell you when naming things in fantasy, don't use an apostrophe. Well. Screw that. Use what you want! I have lots of names, including the name of my world that have an apostrophe. Eir du'Brusai.

People always ask me how I come up with names. I honestly cannot give you a formulaic answer. I don't know. Names and the like just pop up in my head and I use what fits. Languages are the same for me unless I get stuck and then use my tricks up above with the two different languages. I try to be unique but not so unique in everything that people get frustrated reading my work. I try to give the unique name and try to find a way to describe exactly what it is to the reader. Most everyone will get the idea right away that my D'raetus Pastiniir are lethal, elite assassins.

But there is that pesky apostrophe!

Too bad. Fantasy Police don't like it, they can arrest me.

I am always happy to help other writers find unique names for people or items. So if you get stuck, by all means, drop me a line! I'd be happy to help. Most of my name generator links are on my links page of the blog. Check them out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: The Way of the Black Beast by Stuart Jaffe...

Title: The Way of the Black Beast

Author: Stuart Jaffe

Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 310 (Print), File size: 512 kb

Page Number Source ISBN: 1466321849 ASIN: B005NRXT6W

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Summary from

In a parallel world destroyed by the abuse of magic, one woman fights all odds to survive and find the answers behind her mysterious past.

Despite the challenges - crazed magicians, guitar-playing assassins, mutated beasts - she pushes on with a single-mindedness that may destroy all she holds dear.

My thoughts:

'The Way of the Black Beast' is a post-apocalyptic fantasy. Malja is a warrior. She's a fighter, she's a loner and she's on a mission to find the two men who hurt her the most. Growing up, Malja was raised by two brothers, magicians both and not exactly loving men. They trained her from the beginning to be something she wasn't and when she doesn't turn out how they planned after ten short years, they desert her and leave her to die. Enter another man, a different kind of man. One who is more nurturing than the two previous. He takes Malja in, trains her even further but when she suddenly becomes a threat to the two brothers, they send assassins to kill her.
Only they kill the man she's come to love and respect as a father.
Malja sets out to find the two brothers, to confront them and put an end to them once and for all. She's tired of running, she's tired of fighting, but it is in her blood and she's good at. Damn good. Along the way she picks up a young boy who she takes under his wing. He's a magician, but in this world, when you use magic it makes you crazy. Literally.
Killing the brothers is her only real chance at survival and living as normal a life as she can carve out for herself in this alien world. Secrets are revealed to her in the end and sometimes, vengeance leaves more of a mark than anything else.
This book was well written. There were a lot of moments of memories, flashbacks and a large chunk of past information that I felt could have been done differently. You take out a good amount of those moments and you've got an awesome story you can't put down. I liked this book a lot, but was not too thrilled about the information moments, the reflections on Malja's past. I know the importance of it all to the heart of the story, to learn about the character, but overall, it could have been done differently. There are two more books in this series that I intend to read. I like Malja's character and the entire world this story is set in. Well developed characters, good story, just needs ... something.

I give this three and a half skull and crossbones.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Giveaway Poll...

Hey everyone! I've been trying to use Blogger's poll gadget for weeks now with no success. Quite frankly it is ticking me off.

So I am going to do this the old fashioned way! I will hold this poll open for a couple of weeks.

Now bear in mind I'm a broke goddess. Money is sort of an issue. Depending on your answers, I may put up a little Paypal thing and ask for donations for giveaway prizes, but that seems quite tacky. At least in my opinion because I really do not like to ask for money even if it is for a good cause. (Don't take this as an insult, please, I just hate money in general and would rather give it than receive it.)

Anyway, when my book releases, Cheri and I will be doing a giveaway. We've got items for that already and have stuff planned. I want to know what you would like to see in the future, because I would like to hold a Twitter party during my release of my book and give stuff away at random during said party.

So what would you like to see? What is your opinion on asking for donations to hold a giveaway?

Most of the options are as follows:

Books ~ These can be copies of the new books being released, of course or just books in general. What books would you like to see being given away?

Swag ~ Items that are related to the book such as bookmarks, small gifts and items that are not really related to the book at all.

Kindle/Nook ~ This is something I want to do someday, but until I have the money, I can't do it. But would you like to see it being done again?

Gift cards ~ These are always a favorite. You get to spend them on whatever you like, which is cool.

Any other suggestions? I'd like to hear what you have to say, so please, please leave me a comment! My mind reading abilities have been blocked lately. Stupid tinfoil hats...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Favorites, Fantasy Art & A Funny...

It's Friday, it's Friday! Well, doesn't mean much for me since I work 7 days a week with the paper route. Okay, 5 since Larry gives me two days off.

Still, Friday!

All right, I'll get on with it, oh, impatient ones...

Favorite Books/Authors:

Well, I only read one of her books in her series. The one in the middle, no doubt, but I absolutely fell in love with her book and characters. Seriously, book love at first sight, who'da thunk it? (Ha! Nails on a chalkboard to editors, that last sentence.)

Of course I am talking about Julie Kagawa and her Iron Fey series. The book I read was 'Iron Queen'. Totally. Epic. Book. 'Nuff said. I am fascinated with the Fey as it is. I love all the folklore, the stories behind the Veil. There are several books I have absolutely cherished and devoured several times over. One of them being 'War For The Oaks' by Emma Bull and the other being 'Faerie Tale' by Raymond E. Feist.

Favorite Movie:

Any of the Indiana Jones movies will do. I first saw Indy in the movie theater with my brother when 'Temple of Doom' came out. My brother thought I'd have nightmares and didn't want me to tag along because our cousin Paul had come to town and was taking him to the movies, but I begged and Paul agreed to let me go. I fell in love with Indiana Jones and wanted to be an archeologist. *Sighs* Good memories tied to that movie. It also impressed my brother who then made it his life's mission to make me into as big a horror movie buff as he is. Horror extended into all genres throughout the years and when I am looking for good music or movies, he's the one I go to.

Favorite Music:

All right. Here is a shocker for you. Ready? 80's flashback warning ensuing in 3... 2... 1...

Prince. Yep. Purple Rain. There are still quite a few songs of his I like, but Purple Rain is by far my favorite album of his. Again, a brotherly influence.

Fantasy Art:

This is called 'Edge of the World' and it is a wallpaper. Freakin' cool!

And the funny!

Yes, sweet kitty, yes it is...

You all have a great weekend! We'll see you on Monday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Hiding...

I love my book cover! Woot!
Okay, so I'm not literally in hiding. I'm just being very reclusive these days. I spent a week sick with some bug that gave me a horrible headache and nausea to no end. Didn't feel like doing a blessed thing. I did the paper route a couple days and spent the rest of the time on the couch or on the computer just goofing off more than anything.

Good thing I had several posts scheduled in advance! Phew.

I have a world building series going on every Wednesday. I know, 'Thanks Captain Obvious!'

Well, you are welcome, random citizen.

I got word from the editor working on my book. I should have something this week, possibly next depending on how much hair she yanks from her scalp going over every sentence.

But it looks like I will have a book released soon!! I've been sitting on pins and needles for the longest time and you know, they really hurt.

I do have a couple other posts coming up for the world building, but also a couple more guest posts. One of my best friends from high school, Lynn, is beginning work on writing her first book. Based in my world. Sort of like the Dragon Lance or Forgotten Realms books. Oh yeah, baby!


Here is the link to her blog. Show some love and follow her please, it'll make her all nervous to have an audience. *Grins wickedly* Don't make me be the only follower!!!

Just kidding. She knows I kid. I'm a kidder...

I'm looking for guest posters, drop me a line, read the policies and such. I'd love to have you on my blog. September is going to get busy as is October, so get to me soon!

I suppose I should go write something while I wait for these edits, huh? All right, fine. Have a great weekend everyone! And look for tomorrows Friday Favorites post!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: Building Kingdoms...

So if you have been keeping up with me these days, you'll know I've been working on a series of posts. This is how I built my fantasy world, something I've worked on for well over ten years.

The first post I did was regarding magic. Rules or no rules? Limitations to magic? You can check it out over here and continue the discussion if you like over there as well.

This post is going to focus on kingdoms.

In sword and sorcery fantasy, there is always a King and Queen and the first born son is usually the most likely successor. There is also usually one or two kingdoms. Sometimes you've got the two warring with each other or they live in harmony and decide to work together to vanquish a common enemy.

But let's think outside of the box.

In my world, I have patriarchal societies as well as matriarchal. If you don't know your hierarchies, this can be confusing. Patriarchal is ruled by men, matriarchal is ruled by women. I have kingdoms where it doesn't matter if the successor is male or female. Some kingdoms dictate that only the eldest daughter can  inherit the throne. In my Elven kingdom, there is a king and queen, but the majority of the rule is given to a council of nine women.

I've read some books where the next ruler of the kingdom is voted in by the citizens of the kingdom. Even a peasant could rule. But what if there was a lottery? Would you put your name in to be the next king or queen of a kingdom if your predecessors were murdered? In Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, that kingdom had been ruled by a steward and his sons took over when he got too old or died.

So think about your ruling families and structures when you are plotting out your world. Don't stick to what I feel is an old cliche. Try something different. Maybe the kingdom is ruled by a governing body of 13, an odd number to help break tie votes. Or perhaps the youngest child inherits, despite the gender. Maybe only women rule, but they secretly confide in one man?

We all know what works in fantasy writing, but sometimes those get boring. Dare to be bold, be different! Think outside the box, but don't get too weird or people won't be comfortable with it. It should be different, but also plausible!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Post: Meet Zeke & Andrew...

 Hey everyone! So, since I am on this world building kick of mine, I thought I would introduce you to a couple friends of mine, Zeke and Andrew. I worked with Zeke at the Boy's and Girl's club. He moved back home once he finished school, but not before we figured out we had something in common. We both write fantasy! He writes with his friend Andrew. I did an interview here, on their magic system and the like. Be fair warned, it is a bit of a long post! So I won't continue to lengthen it any longer:

Me: What made you two decide to write fantasy together?

Zeke & Andrew: It actually started when we went to see the movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians : The Lightning Thief, it was basically the most terrible adaptation we had ever seen (though we both enjoyed the books very much). On the way home we agreed we could write a much better script even with no experience. After a few minutes we decided instead we would write a book together and started creating the world and the characters that night. Since then we've spent many hours and late nights working on it! We are sure of one thing though, we will most definitely not be selling the movie rights without having some veto power withheld.

Me: What are some of the laws in your world, if you have gotten that far?
Z & A: The world we have created had a cataclysm in the past and as such the peoples of our world are mostly fractured with only a few large cities leaving just localized clans and villages scattered across the world. As we join the story in the book we are working on, things have just started to progress towards a centralized government and trade is starting to pick up.

Me: Explain your magic system, please!
Z & A: Our magic system was created mostly from scratch out of the two of us talking about what we wanted magic to be like in our world. Magic in our world is a driving force, most of the industry on our world is powered by magic. Most of the population in our world is able to do some form of magic. The experience of using magic would be comparable to jumping into a river with the user feeling a current around them in the air as they are casting. For a more powerful caster it is like a river while a lower level caster would feel like they are in a stream.
The magic in our world is separated into two main categories, Arcane and Elemental, each category is used by a different Species one being humans and the other we named Deynaturan
The humans use Arcane magic in our books which in turn is separated into 4 subcategories which are warmth consisting of Sun and Stars and Cold consisting of Lunar and Shadow.
The Deynaturans use Elemental magic which also consists of warmth, being Fire and Earth, and Cold, being Air and Water.
Within each of these subsets are a whole range of skills that a spell caster can call upon.
In order to limit the use of magic we worked out a system where each time you cast a spell it has to be within your abilities or you run the risk of a rather unpleasant backlash. When casting a warmth spell, either sun for arcane or fire for elemental, if you go past what you can handle you will unfortunately burst into flame from the inside. This also applies to cold with the consequence being freezing instead. With this in place it leaves us able to have some interesting spell combinations. An example would be if you cast a fireball you normally couldn't handle you can counteract the warmth by adding an ice spell into the mix. This technique only works to a point of course, with failure ending in a rather unpleasant death.
We could go on about the magic system of course but that would take ages and well...we also want you to be curious enough to buy our books when they come out and find out for yourself! 

Me: Since you're still in world building stage, what things have you found easy? Difficult? Have any advice?
Z & A: The easiest thing we had to create was the geography of our world and a map to go with that.
We were horrible at coming up with names! We could spend 3 hours trying to think of a name just to do it again 5 minutes later because we needed a new name. We finally just thought up a list of names and pulled from that as needed which helped us move a lot more quickly.
As for advice I would suggest you do a map first, once we had a map we could decide where people came from and that would affect the character greatly ie: clothes, speech, or occupation. As an example logging would take place near a forest, or fishing would need some type of a body of water. Along with that to the south would be a warmer climate than to the north. A map was helpful as well to plan the course of events including where we wanted the characters to travel to and what places they would go through on the way. With that knowledge we were able to outline the book with relative ease.

Me: Do you think it is easier to work as a team? Do you think you could have tackled something like this alone?

Z & A: Sometimes working together can be a bit frustrating but more often than not it is helpful. We catch each other making simple mistakes quite often which helps to keep things together. Along with that we have a very different background when it comes to Fantasy and Science Fiction; Zeke grew up reading fantasy written for a more adult audience or high fantasy such as The Lord of the Rings or Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams. Andrew on the other hand grew up reading books based in Mythologies (Greek, Egyptian, and Norse) as well as reading more young adult fantasy.
We probably could both have written something independently but working together has given our writing more depth with the give and take we have together due to our friendship.

Thanks so much for your time, you two! I appreciate this in-depth look to world building from another point of view. I find we have lots in common when it comes to structuring out the basics. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Favorites, Fantasy Art & A Funny...

Hey all! It's Friday! This is one of those weeks that I wish I could go hang out at the bar for Happy Hour, but Homer, Alaska doesn't have just an hour of happiness...

Oh well. On to my favorites!

Favorite Books/Authors:

I absolutely love and adore the 'Cat Who...' books by Lillian Jackson Braun. 'The Cat Who Tailed a Thief', 'The Cat Who Smelled a Rat', "The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern'. Yeah, those books. Quilleran is one of my most favorite characters. He's calm, he's cool and he's a journalist living in a small town on his trust fund. He's friendly to everyone and he has two kitties who help him solve murders. Koko and Yumyum are the best feline dynamic duo. And it helps that Koko is a bibliocat. I have one of those. She knows what my Kindle is, she rubs on it when I pick it up to read but ignores it any other time. She loves to nose around my bookshelf as well. I think, if I were to ever have a murder mystery on my hands, Gir would be my furry little sidekick.

Favorite Movies:

I was sitting here thinking about movies the other day. I have a whole long list of movies I like. The one I have on the list for this week is one I recently watched again with my kids. 'Grown Ups'. Yep, another Adam Sandler movie. One that made us all laugh our butts off while watching it. Dunno what it is, it just tickles our funny bones.

Favorite Music:

The Bangles is what I am going to list this time around. Not that I am a huge fan of this all girl rock band from the 80's but they had some good tunes. Seemed like the three girl bands of the 80's that were dukin' it out were The Bangles, The Go Go's and Bananarama. I wasn't  much of a fan of the Go Go's and the Banana girls seemed to only have a couple of hits. Then again, I really didn't keep up with that kind of music. I was a heavy metal girl who had to hide my love of other music in order to keep from getting my ass kicked. Tell that crowd I listened to Classical music in high school? H E L L no.

Fantasy Art:

This is a very sweet picture. I love fairies!

And now for the Funny!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guest Post: Stuart Jaffe...

Thanks, Mel, for inviting me onto your blog. It's a pleasure.

Now, one of the old warhorses of advice given to new writers is Write What You Know. Even if you're not a writer, you've probably heard this one. For me, a lover of science fiction from an early age, I had one question: How? How do I write about aliens and time travel and dragons and magic when I don't know -- when I can't truly know -- about those things?

Nobody had a good answer for me.

Thankfully, I figured it out for myself, and today, I offer my solution to you. It's this: you already do know about these things.

Take my series The Malja Chronicles which begins with The Way of the Black Beast. In this post-apocalyptic, parallel world magic is derived from manipulating energy around the user much like an electric eel manipulates the tiny bits of voltage surrounding it in the water. Magicians are born with this ability, and as they learn to utilize it for a specific spell, a tattoo grows on their body. They use these tattoos to focus their minds in order to conjure. However, another group of people, The Bluesmen, have learned to use the sympathetic vibrations caused by their blues music to manipulate the energy in the air nearby and achieve a similar goal -- although they require more manpower and have less powerful results. The final aspect of this magic system is that using it takes a toll on the magicians mind. The more magic (especially the more powerful magic) one uses, the higher the risk of going insane.
So, what did I actually know in order to create this magic system? Well, I had learned (really re-learned) about electric eels at the Baltimore Aquarium several years back and thought that would be a cool bit of knowledge to hold onto for some day. Regarding tattoos -- I have a few, so I know about them firsthand. When it came to the Bluesmen, I had learned about sympathetic vibrations long ago in a high school music theory class, and as you might imagine, I love blues music. In fact, I've been playing blues guitar for about twenty-five years. I really love the stuff.

In other words, I took all these little bits of things I had knowledge of or a love for and smashed them together. It's part of the fun when creating things like magic. After all, no matter what the writing teachers say, the truth is that there are no real rules to any of this. In fact, it took me a long time to learn this, but as far as I can tell, the only true rule in writing is quite simple: If it works, it works.

Too often, writers get scared by the complexity of a magic system. Relax. It doesn't have to be that complicated. It can, if you like, be rather simplistic. Look at the magic in Greek mythology or Arthurian legends. There's barely any consistency to be had. Magic does what the author needs it for and that's all. Things like logic and reason show no part in the execution of magic in these tales. The key: they made it work.

We've all read stories where the magic doesn't work, where the use of it seems like cheating or makes us start to question things. But good writing can make magic work in the most unlikely situations. J. K. Rowling made a pretty good career out of making it all up as she went along. It's evident in the Harry Potter books that her magic system was fleshed out with greater abilities and depth as the series progressed. But we eat it up anyway.

Conversely, Brandon Sanderson appears to have had the complex and intriguing magic system found in the Mistborn novels completely worked out from book one. It's a fascinating system and he delves into all sorts of unique ways to use magic within the constraints he gave. And it works, too.

Those are the big secrets. Utilize what you know and what you're passionate about to make your magic come alive. Then, use your skills as a writer to make the reader believe it. If you want to create a magic system that requires the caster to dance ballet and sing show tunes which then bestows unlimited power, I say to go for it. If you can make it work, the readers will love it. The proof is right there in my own book. The only complaint I've ever received regarding the magic in Malja's story is that readers want even more of it.

That's when you know it's really working.

Stuart Jaffe is the author of Southern Bound, The Malja Chronicles, After The Crash, as well as the short story collection, 10 Bits of My Brain. Numerous other short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. He is the co-host of The Eclectic Review -- a podcast about science, art, and well, everything. For those who keep count, the latest animal listing is as follows: five cats, one albino corn snake, one Brazilian black tarantula, three aquatic turtles, assorted fish, two lop-eared rabbits, five chickens, and a horse. Thankfully, the chickens and the horse do not live inside the house.

The Way of the Black Beast can be found here:
Stuart's website:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Writing Wednesdays: Building Magic...

So here is the first in my world building posts. I'm going to start with magic. Not for any reason in particular, it's just a place to start.

Magic in my world is not unique by any means of the imagination. But it is different, simply because how I view magic. My opinions on magic in fantasy differ, I'm sure, from other fantasy writers out there.

There is a lot of debate in the fantasy world that I'm sure most of you are unaware of, if fantasy is not your genre. The debate? Should magic have rules? Lots of fantasy buffs think it should. Where is the fun in fantasy if you've got a magic user that can just conjure up whatever he or she wants with the snap of their fingers?

And what of the magical 'cost'? By cost, I mean what does it cost the magic user to conjure? Does it take away from his energy? His life in either seconds, hours or years? Maybe it takes from his soul.

I'm currently reading a book where magic affects the users mind. Every time they use magic, they go a little more insane. ("The Way of the Black Beast" by Stuart Jaffe) (Note: Guest post on Thursday August 9th by Stuart, drop by!)

But what about those pesky rules? I'm of the mind that magic should not have rules, per se, but limitations are an absolute must! Again with the whole snapping of fingers and poof! you have stuff. Magic should cost the user something, right?

In Melanie Rawn's series of books, The Dragon Prince trilogy and The Dragon Star trilogy, she has magic users called Sunrunners. The basis of these Sunrunners is this: They can use sunlight to communicate with other Sunrunners over long distances. Can they conjure up items or anything? Nope. They just speak to each other. So what are the consequences of something like this? They can't use starlight. It is forbidden, but if the Sunrunner is powerful enough, they can accomplish it. They also don't travel well on water. You put a Sunrunner on a raft over a river and they're incapacitated for hours. Imagine what sailing would do to them? The other drawback to being a Sunrunner? There is a drug that they can use to increase their power to reach longer distances. It is super addictive and they're easily controlled when addicted. Sometimes, though, a Sunrunner will get lost in the light and can't find their way back to their body. If this happens, they basically end up an empty shell and die.

In David Eddings' series of The Belgariad and The Mallorean, Belgarath the sorcerer and his daughter, Polgara the sorceress, are a couple of pretty powerful magic users. They use the 'Will and the Word' method. You picture what you want in your mind then you will it into being with a spoken word. One of the drawbacks is that when you use magic, it makes a sound other magic users can hear. Sends out a beacon, and if you are hiding, that's not good! There are very few magic users in Eddings' world. A handful, in fact and they are not easily swayed. They try to stay out of things unless Prophecy dictates otherwise. So they can use magic all they want and their lifespan is limitless. They can be killed, but you better be able to get close, first.

My magic users have limits as well. I call them Mahjii. They're born into magic. They know by the age of fourteen if they have magical energies within. They have one year to seek out training and if they ignore it, they pay the price. My Mahjii must seek out training or their magical energies will consume them. They literally burn with fever and end up in ashes. Sometimes, they're only powerful enough to maintain that energy within. It prolongs their death and they're pretty sick their entire life, but they're alive. That's their only restriction, really. And rules? Well, they're meant to be broken, aren't they? They try to stay out of political issues. They have chosen to withdraw from the world after their city is destroyed, so people in my world think they're dead and gone. Myths and legends. But they still exist!

Mahjii in my world use the energy that surrounds them. They draw off the energy of the earth at their feet, the air, water, anything. They don't exactly conjure up just anything. They have specific things they create and lots of tools to enhance their abilities. My Elves that use magic are the same way, but their magical energies won't kill them if they can't control it. My water Elves live near running water to power their magic. Lakes don't do it, rivers are workable but oceans are optimal. They can use the energies to shape-shift and conjure to a point. The way my magic users see it is if they need it and can't find it anywhere or make it, they create it using their power.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Tune in next time when I discuss kingdoms. Tomorrow I will have a guest post by Stuart Jaffe, author of 'The Way of the Black Beast' regarding magic in his world. So drop on by and say hello to Stuart!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

12 Reasons To Sleep In...

1. There is nothing good on television...

2. There is housework to be done...

3. If you wake up later, there won't be so much traffic...

4. The line at Starbuck's will be shorter...

5. The baby slept in...

6. It's raining outside...

7. It's Monday...

8. The cats are curled around your legs and you can't move anyway...

9. It's your spouse/significant other's day off...

10. Your alarm didn't go off...

11. The dog snored all night, keeping you awake...

12. You were up all night working on your next great book...

What are your reasons for sleeping in? I wasn't very creative, but you can be!

Monday, August 6, 2012

How I Write Fantasy...

I'm going to be writing up some posts in the next several weeks in regards to my views of writing fantasy and more importantly how I write fantasy. Things I have worked on, things that took me a long freakin' time to create. Now, this may or may not help you if you are a fantasy writer, time will only tell. Most fantasy writers take so long in writing their work because of all the world building they have to do. Others just wing it.

So what, first of all, does world building include? Well, that depends on how far you want to get into it. Here is what my world building included:

* Magic






*Gods and Goddesses

These are just the main things. In each of those categories, there are numerous sub-categories. I had to make lots of decisions regarding the list above.

In making decisions on my world, in general, I had to start out with some pretty mundane stuff regarding the sun, moon, stars and so on.

Might sound silly to you, but in writing fantasy, you're here to think outside of the box. I literally came up with several choices on those basic things and rolled the dice. Not kidding! I used to play Dungeons and Dragons, so I pulled out all my dice. Six sided, four sided, twenty sided and I rolled, baby!

My world has two suns. If you think this might be a hot climate, it isn't really. The second sun is really, really tiny when you look at it up in the sky of my world.

I have one moon in my night sky and of course, my stars make up their own constellations which had to be written down in folklore and the like. I even have a story about the moon. I'm still working on the constellations and the stories associated with them.

So, over the next several weeks, I'll be posting things about my world and choosing from those categories above. Bear with me, as I worked on this world for well over ten years and it still isn't done or is it perfect. I'm constantly adding to it and changing things, but most of what I have is set in stone and is here to stay. So I hope you enjoy what I have to share!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Watching The Olympics?...

I used to love watching the Olympics. I've killed my television, so I can't watch them there. I can watch it online, though, apparently.

How many books are out there, do you think, that have to do with the Olympics? I'm not talking history, I'm simply talking about fiction books where there is an Olympic hopeful or athlete that has gone to the Olympics?

Well, I can suggest one. And it's by a very fun person here on the blogosphere! L. Diane Wolfe!

She has a blog page here.

And here is a bit about her book, 'Circle of Friends Book One: Lori' ~

Driven by Olympic dreams! 

To the outside world, Lori Anders has it all. The only child of affluent parents, she is a gifted swimmer with Olympic dreams. Armed with a winning attitude and genuine spirit, Lori appears destined for success. Yet despite her certainty in the pool, something inhibits Lori from achieving her full potential. Her focus on swimming has left little time for relationships. Lacking in confidence, Lori's light has few opportunities to shine. When an altercation with the school bullies brings her to the attention of the star quarterback, Lori finds herself in a unique position. Jason's affections renew her hope and force the shy swimmer out of her comfort zone. But, will it be enough to achieve her lifelong dream? Described as "encouragement personified", Wolfe's five-book Southern-based series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles.

So what do you think? Something you may be interested in or know someone who would like to read this book? Follow the links to give it a try! Available in paperback and Kindle edition. Also available for the Nook.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Favorites, Fantasy Art & A Funny...

It is Friday again! Woot!


It is August! Can you believe it? Wow. Summer is moving right along and so shall I!

Favorite Books/Authors:

When I was a kid, I read the entire series of 'Little House on the Prairie' books by Laura Ingalls Wilder over and over and over. I loved those books. I learned a lot. I think I posted here recently something about these books. Probably that they were the only books I read a million times. Okay, maybe a hundred. But no less than that, I'm sure! I think these books are the ones that got me so hooked on history. Even if you couldn't tell by my high school grades. Heh.

Favorite Movies:

Just Go With It has become a favorite of mine. I love Adam Sandler and I found Jennifer Aniston to be quite funny. I used to love watching Friends. I have all the DVDs from all seasons except one. I loved her in 'Horrible Bosses', she was bad ass, lol! But this movie was very cute. And now I own it as well.

Favorite Music:

Well, today I will go with Weezer. I love this group. I haven't put a lot of their stuff on my iPod, but I certainly intend to get more. Just something about 'em. They have a good  beat and I can dance to it...

Fantasy Art:
Link to this page .

What with all the copyright infringement stuff going on, I have to be careful what I add here. So on the off chance I don't hear back from the artist by the time this post is up, there will be no artwork until I get permission.

Aaaand the funny!

Have a great weekend! What are your plans?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guest Post: Kiera Kroft...

Thank you so much Mel for letting me talk about the most exciting thing in my books.

A quick little bio about me :)

Keira Kroft carries a vet assistance degree. Her love for animals is as great as her love of people. She gives a percentage of her personal book sale profits to the animal welfare league. Residing in a quiet suburb in the outskirts Chicago with her husband and daughter she spends any spare time she has working with her cats Scamper and Sawyer, to achieve total world domination, one shared Twinkie at a time. Her passions include Reading, Writing, Football, Comic Books and nature.

Keira’s Books  

Coming Very, Very Soon.

Have it all, do it all, and be it all! Do it now. Pick up this book and change your life forever. From someone who has been from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Coming Soon

Synopsis for Death’s Reject.
Driven with fear for her husband’s life, Constance seeks the aid of federal protection for Mafia Don, Carlo Conti. When she realizes that the FBI has used her, setting a trap to turn her against her husband, it’s already too late.
Carlo Conti is faced with no other choices than to murder the love of his life or disappear. He packs up his family and flees to the beautiful country of New Zealand. After realizing that the “family” that he left behind in Chicago is being wiped out in brutal mob war, he has another tough choice to make…
If he stays, he may lose it all. But if he goes back, he will lose the only love he has ever known…his wife.

Coming ~ Late summer

Inamorata is the first Novel in the “One Bloody Night Series”.

They are supposed to be low key and get their nightly fix from a bag. But what if they could spend a cozy evening eating an old fashioned meal and then when they were done they would simply set the place on fire and walk away—no one would be the wiser?

That’s the plan when a group of rogue Vampires has poisoned the entire security staff at a Christmas Eve party at a mall in Chicago and proceed to take over for the evening and feast upon their own kind of tradition, four house keepers, a maintenance man, a girl who lives in the mall, a lonely late night worker and a couple who have escaped to the department store where she works so their spouses wouldn’t be privy to their affair and some other delightfully unexpected guests.

Everything goes exactly as they expected until the group leader Lucius Sturdevant, and second oldest Vampire to date, realizes that the woman that lives in the Comic book store that is trying to figure out how to kill him is the reincarnation of Laura, the love of his life, that died in his arms of old age, because he didn’t have the heart to turn her.

On Sale Now

Did somebody call a fireman? What about a rugged, yet gentle and very good looking fireman…anybody call one of those? His name is Jake Gilroy and he is about to change Corey Nolan’s life.

Determined to be out from under her mother’s ruling and away from a no-good soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, Corey Nolan exercises her independence. With a place to call her own and a job that doesn’t pay well but makes her happy, her life is full and her young daughter is content. There is no room for distractions, until she meets a local firefighter—who stirs an immediate forbidden attraction. In need of control, she tries to ignore Jake Gilroy, but circumstances bring her closer to him when someone is hell-bent on destroying her.
Dutiful playboy Jake is known as the smoking hot fireman. The first time he sets eyes on Corey, he knows he wants her. But when threats and strange occurrences start to happen, he finds the need to protect her and give more than he’s ever given any other woman.
Being together becomes more than they bargained for when their desire for each other becomes a matter of life and death….

She is a toddler, right? Like four or five years old? Her jaw dropped. A chill overwhelmed Corey, and she knew it didn’t have to do with the night air from the open bar door. “How do you know that? Have you been watching me?”

On Sale Now

Auntie Em has made a deal with the devil. She gave up her niece, Dorothy’s soul in exchange for a plentiful harvest. Em was smart and worked a clause into the contract. Satan could only have Dorothy’s soul in death, but she must also agree to meet the dark lord himself and shake his hand. Everything is going splendid until…

Dorothy unaware of her untimely demise or any satanic contract embarks on a journey through the Land of Oz, seeking the great Wizard in hopes that he will return her safely home. As she unwittingly marches through hell, she begins to notice that nothing and no one is what it seems and there is no turning back…

There is indeed a bad moon rising over Oz.

As Dorothy walked away, unbeknownst to her, the flowers turned to ash, and the munchkins had turned into little demons with ugly, red faces. The road behind her was now paved with broken bones and crushed human skulls. The sun had turned to black.

Buy it Now!

Also Available

This thrilling assortment of carefully hand selected horror can only found together in this fine collection. Each story can be purchased separately at other outlets. This features Bad Moon Rising Over Oz and three other spine tingling stories.

Keira Kroft

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group...

Is it that time again, already? Really?? Wow. August, huh?

Well, time flies no matter if you are having fun or bored out of your mind.

Here we go then!

It is the first Wednesday of the month and it is that time! Yes, you know it, Alex J. Cavanaugh's IWSG or Insecure Writer's Support Group.

My how this group has grown. Lots of insecure writers out there, I suppose.

I don't know if I will be helpful or whiny this time around. But I am going to discuss my new found love of Outlining.

Yes, this once upon a time Pantser has dipped her toe into the pools of the Outlining world. And it wasn't half bad.

Revisions on my second book are moving along quite nicely. But I found I have soooo much information to keep track of that I was getting confused near the beginning of the book.

Things like: 'Did I already mention this?' to 'Ohfortheloveofallthatisholy I can't believe I FORGOT to put that in!!!!'

Yeah. You get the idea. Absolutely. I'd be driving along on my paper route and either inspiration would hit or I'd be driving past a customer's house because I was thinking about if I mentioned certain key elements or not. That made the route last longer, having to turn around and all that.


So I did a quick outline and have all sorts of things scribbled over it as far as notes go. What I want to see in each chapter. Well, that didn't get put in the right chapter, we'll move it here... Things like that.

I can't believe how much easier it is to write from this! I mean, until I got sick last week, I was chuggin' right along. I'm a third of the way through the revisions. You can keep an eye on them with my little word count gadget up there for 'Veritas'.

So which do you prefer? Pantsing or Outlining? Have you ever tried either one if you are dedicated to the other? Share your experiences! Have a great rest of the week, my support buddies!