Tag Archives: guest post

Guest Post: What’s Important in a Story: Setting or Character? by Kayl Karadjian

Kayl Karadjian is a lifelong fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy books, Manga, and Role-playing games. He is the author of multiple books in the Tales of Ashkar and Dragonsoul series.

Catch updates and follow me on social media here:

https://talesofashkar.com

https://twitter.com/talesofashkar

https://facebook.com/talesofashkar


What’s Important in a Story: Setting or Character?

By Kayl Karadjian

It is the struggle of the author to bring to life the stories running in our heads. There are so many cogs that we must bring together to form our novels, and each piece must fit perfectly or else we risk the whole machine falling apart.

Often times, many authors (and in turn, many readers) approach a story by its setting first. In regards to fiction, we like to categorize stories by what setting they occur in. We think of fantasy, and our minds picture swords and magic. We think of sci fi, and envision a world far into the future. We do this with every genre, and only after we have committed to the setting do we think of the characters. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Development of The Dead Among Us an Urban Fantasy Series by J. L. Doty

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In late 2016 Jim finished his 11th SF&F novel, The Witch of Val d’Ossa, and with the release in early 2017 of Never Dead Enough, the 3rd book in The Dead Among Us, he has ten published SF&F books. He’s been unusually successful as a self-published writer; Child of the Sword went word-of-mouth viral about three years ago, and among all his self-published books he has since sold close to 60,000 copies. With that success, he was able to quit his day-job as a running-dog-lackey for the bourgeois capitalist establishment, and work for himself as a fulltime writer. He says his new boss is a real jerk. The self-pub success also led to traditional contracts with Open Road Integrated Media, and Harper Collins Voyager.

Jim is also a scientist with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering; his specialty is laser physics. He has a big pet peeve regarding lasers as weapons in science fiction. He spent decades working in the laser and electro-optics industry, even did some research on laser weapons in the 80’s. And when writers use a laser as a weapon in a story, they invariably get it wrong, usually by violating some basic law of physics. Jim gives a presentation on laser weapons, and what writers do wrong—no names please.

Jim was born in Seattle, but he’s lived most of his life in California, though he did live on the east coast and in Europe for a while. He now resides in Arizona with his wife Karen and three little beings who claim to be cats: Tilda, Julia and Natasha. But Jim is certain they’re really extra-terrestrial aliens in disguise.

Science has always been a passion of Jim’s, but writing is an addiction. In April 2016, Of Treasons Born, the prequel to A Choice of Treasons, was published by Open Road Integrated Media, and in August The Thirteenth Man was published by Harper Collins Voyager. He just finished The Witch of Val d’Ossa, the first book in The Valley of Bones series. Right now he’s working on By Treason Forged, the 2nd book in The Treasons Cycle, The BlackSword Regiment, a new military science fiction series, and the 2nd book in The Valley of Bones.

Jim intends to keep on writing and publishing more stories, but no laser weapons.


Development of The Dead Among Us
an urban fantasy series

by J. L. Doty

I’ve been asked a few times how I came up with the storyline for The Dead Among Us, my urban fantasy series, and I had to stop and think a bit to recall the process. I’d been writing traditional fantasy and hard science fiction for years, and I was ready to try something different, something in a contemporary, urban style of speculative fiction. I began with the concept that wizards, witches, demons, and all the denizens of Faerie, are living among us, but hidden in plain sight, and we mundane mortals are completely ignorant of their presence. One goal I set for myself was to write something that would be a fun read, though not a comedy.

I looked carefully at Irish, English, Scottish and Celtic folklore, and delved into demonology as it is depicted in various religions and cultures. That provided the inspiration to develop my own spin on the supernatural, which evolved into the Three Realms: the Netherworld, the Mortal Plane, and Faerie. The Dragon Realm is a mythical fourth realm, but since no one has ever been there, or met a dragon, everyone believes it’s pure legend.

As many other urban fantasy writers have done, in Faerie I adopted the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of Scottish folklore, though King Ag and Queen Magreth are my own fictitious characters. The non-aligned fey, the assassin Sabreatha of the black fey, and the whole concept of Leprechauns as neutral arbiters in the constant strife between the Summer and Winter Courts, are inventions of my own twisted mind. I must admit I had fun with Leprechaun’s names like Jim’Jiminie, Boo’Diddle and Dan’Dandio, and they provided a nice counterpoint to the more serious moments.

With regard to the Netherworld I needed some sort of hierarchy for demon rank, so I created a cast structure. At the bottom are non-caste demons like imps, succubuses and incubuses. Next are Tertuis cast, weak-willed creatures that, if physically manifest on the Mortal Plane, will feed on mortal souls in an uncontrolled frenzy. That invariably draws the attention of mortal wizards, and the Tertius is hunted down and annihilated rather quickly. A Secundus cast is stronger, will feed carefully, remain hidden, and with caution, might reside on the Mortal Plane for centuries, eventually building up enough strength to appear human. The most dangerous of all are the Primus caste, basically the nine princes of hell. The last time a Primus physically manifested on the Mortal Plane, the Roman Empire fell, and civilization plunged into the dark ages.

Enter our hero and heroine, Paul Conklin and Katherine McGowan, both thirtyish. Some time ago Paul’s wife and little daughter, Suzanna and Cloe, were killed in back-to-back accidents about a month apart. Paul took it hard and crashed emotionally. But he’s doing much better now, because the two have come back to him as ghosts, and are living with him in his San Francisco apartment. Paul knows that ghosts don’t really exist, so he’s pretty certain he’s simply lost all contact with reality and is hallucinating.

Paul is a wizard, but doesn’t know it and is completely ignorant of wizardly ways. When he spontaneously produces a powerful conjuration, he finds himself in a lot of trouble with dominant senior wizards like Katherine’s father, Walter McGowan, and Vasily Karpov and his Russian thugs. The situation is further confounded by the fact that Paul exhibits unusual powers not available to normal, mortal wizards. His strange abilities lead the senior wizards to wonder if Paul is demon possessed, or perhaps a demon himself. Karpov wants to execute Paul first and ask questions later. But Katherine sees two leprechauns help Paul, which they wouldn’t do if he delved into demon magic. So while everyone else is trying to join the let’s-kill-Paul party, Katherine takes his side, teaching him about magic as they try to survive.

I had a lot of fun with this story.

◊  ◊  ◊

*** Never Dead Enough is published by Telemachus Press and is available to purchase TODAY!!!! ****

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Buy the Book:

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords


About the Book:

Creepy Serial Killer Guy (SKG) has relocated from Dallas to San Francisco so he can hunt down Paul and Katherine. The demon in his soul can’t rest until it possesses Paul. But in Dallas, Paul and Katherine badly weakened it. So SKG’s master needs to gain strength before attempting to take them. He prowls the streets of San Francisco and the Bay Area looking for more Alices.

While creepy SKG hunts Alices, Vasily Karpov conspires with Ag, King of the Unseelie Court. If they can bring over a monstrous legend from the past, even if it doesn’t kill Paul, they hope to blame him for the damage and destruction, and discredit him with the senior practitioners.

Paul is haunted by thoughts of a powerful rune sword. Anogh, the newly restored Summer Knight, keeps interfering in Paul’s life. Sabreatha, the black fey assassin who tried to kill Paul with the heart arrow, les flèche du coeur, takes an interest in Paul and Katherine. And of course, the Summer Queen and her High Chancellor, Magreth and Cadilus, keep messing in Paul and Katherine’s lives.


 

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Guest Post: The Netwalking Space Plot Matrix by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

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Joyce Reynolds-Ward is a writer, horsewoman, former middle school learning specialist, and skier splitting her time between Portland and Enterprise, Oregon. Besides earning a SemiFinalist placement in Writers of the Future, she’s had short stories and essays published in Random Realities, M-Brane SF, The Fifth Di…, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night, Zombiefied, River, Gobshite Quarterly, Gears and Levers 1, How Beer Saved the World, Trust and Treachery, and Fantasy Scroll Magazine. Her novels in The Netwalk Sequence– Life in the Shadows: Diana and Will, Netwalk: Expanded Edition, Netwalker Uprising, and Netwalk’s Children are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites. The final installment in the Netwalk Sequence, Netwalking Space, will be available in December 2016/January 2017. Seeking Shelter at the End of the World (a cozy apocalypse) is available from eTreasures Publishing. Pledges of Honor, the first book in Goddess’s Honor, a high fantasy with a non-European setting, is now available. The prequel to Pledges, Beyond Honor, is now available, and Book Two in Goddess’s Honor, Challenges to Honor, will be available in 2017.

Joyce is also publishing short stories and novellas from the Netwalk Sequence which are illustrated using photographs of some of the pictures she has taken over the years which help illuminate the inspiration for the stories. Dahlia, Winter Shadows, and Shadow Harvest are all available on Amazon.

Examples of Joyce’s professional education writing can be found at ChildsWork.com. When not teaching, she’s often thundering about on her intrepid reining mare Mocha, living la vida ski bum, and writing. Follow Joyce’s adventures through her blog, Peak Amygdala, at www.joycereynoldsward.com.


The Netwalking Space Plot Matrix

by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

I owe a lot of the enjoyment and pleasure I had in writing Netwalking Space to a strategy I discovered when writing a previous book. In March of 2015 I had two big things going on in my life. The first was to write the next book in my science fiction series. The second was to move myself, my husband, and my horse 350 miles from Portland to Enterprise, Oregon, to begin a life split between the two places. I was already behind in getting that book out, so I couldn’t just put writing aside until most of the move was finished. But writing while moving meant that I needed to figure out how to keep track of a fairly complex book so that whenever I could snatch a moment, it would be possible to pick up the flow of my writing with minimal fuss and bother. Continue reading

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Guest Post: One Possibly Useful Way of Categorizing SciFi/Fantasy: Northrop Frye’s Theory of Modes by Jack Teng

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Jack is a recovering academic, ashtangi, and grammar nut. He has one published novel Okanagan Messiah Cometh with Permuted Press, and one upcoming novel The Promise of a Battered Moon with Kristell Ink. Check out his website www.mybossisadroid.com and follow him on twitter @mybossisadroid.


One Possibly Useful Way of Categorizing SciFi/Fantasy: Northrop Frye’s Theory of Modes

by Jack Teng

First, let me offer my sincere apologies to any English majors and academics who have actually studied literary criticism — something I cannot lay claim to. In fact, if you’re familiar with Northrop Frye, I fear you’ll be horrified by my (very amateurish and likely highly inaccurate) interpretation of his Theory of Modes and how I use it to interpret cultural trends. But hey, thank heavens I no longer have any stakes in academia! Honestly, this is just my way of looking at thematic trends in science fiction and fantasy, which I thought could be at least entertaining due to its crackpot-ness or a nice conversation starter.

The Gist

I was introduced to Northrop Frye’s Theory of Modes and his Anatomy of Criticism about ten years ago when I was having a discussion with a former partner about the existence of cycles in history. I can’t remember what I was saying, but I suspect it was largely bullshit because at the time I was studying the soporific field of theoretical ecology, and I had taken exactly zero classes in history (or English). On the other hand, my partner (who was at the time pursuing a doctoral degree in medieval English literature) had started talking about the historical progression of Western literature through a series of literary “modes” that seemed to be repeating themselves. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Writing Through Hurricanes, Grumpy Spouses, And Maniacal Bosses: Finding Your Default Self by Edward Lazellari

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Born and raised in New York City, comic books were an important part of Edward’s youth and he spent many years working for Marvel Comics. He wrote his first professional story for Marvel Comics Presents starring Namorita (a.k.a. Kymaera) and illustrated the tale as well. After years as an illustrator, Edward returned to school to study English literature and creative writing at Rutgers.

His first published prose story, “The Date,” a dark comedy about a gigolo hired by conjoined twins, appeared in the October 1999 issue of Playboy magazine. This was an important boost to any budding writer’s confidence and contributed to his finishing his first novel, “Awakenings.” Edward has just completed the third book in the Guardians of Aandor series, “Blood of Ten Kings,” which is pending revisions.

His genre influences include: Stephen King, Roger Zelazny, Alan Moore, George R.R. Martin, Ann Rice, John Grisham, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Jean M. Auel, Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl, Diana Gabaldon, Jim Butcher, and Glen Cook.

Literary influences include: William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Jonathan Franzen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand, Margaret Atwood, Jane Austin, Frank McCourt, Mary Shelley, John Irving, Aldous Huxley, Homer, Dante, and Voltaire.

Edward enjoys playing with his new baby daughter as well as his many hobbies such as poker, bike riding, playing softball, and pissing people off on social media through the use of rational thought and common sense.


Writing Through Hurricanes, Grumpy Spouses, And Maniacal Bosses: Finding Your Default Self

by Edward Lazellari

The universe is trying to keep you from your writing. It will throw all manner of distraction and chaos at you, and bind you with obligations–girlfriends who cry neglect, boyfriends who threaten to step out on your monogamy, bosses who insist that your not getting the work done in 40 hours is your fault not the workload. You will try to reason with the universe, work out a mutual arrangement where you borrow three hours here and two hours there to ply your craft; but the universe is a fickle bitch that knows full well you need uninterrupted blocks of time with which to craft your tales–time to let your story ferment and then time for revisions. You need a thousand hours to write two hundred decent pages. Lie back to the universe, steal the time you need, sacrifice personal pleasure and socializing, and then maybe…maybe, you will have a story of note at the end of the run. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Sweet Secrets Big Idea by Stephanie L. Weippert

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Stephanie is bibliophile — full stop. Leave her alone for ten minutes and she will be reading or writing.

Stephanie is married and claims she and her husband are naturally insane in a fun an harmless way. Together they do filking and other musical hobbies. Their teen boys often drive them toward the not-fun insanity (Nature or Nurture? – you decide).

With former careers as a legal assistant and a licensed massage therapist, Stephanie now gets to make writing a full time endeavor thanks to her awesome husband.


Sweet Secrets Big Idea

by Stephanie L. Weippert

At a cloth covered table in a ballroom filled with authors eager to sign their books, I smile as a burly man with his kid in tow make a bee line for me. He drops a copy of my book in front of me on the table with a bang. “Hey,” he asks. “What’s the big idea?”

I look up from the copy of my book Sweet Secrets he’d dropped, my pen in my hand to sign it and my eyes twinkled with delight.

“Food is magic,” I say, then sign with flourish and hand it back to him with a grin. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Robot Dragons Can’t be Literary by Paige Orwin

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Paige Orwin was born in Utah, to her great surprise. At the age of nine she arranged to rectify the situation.  She now lives in Washington state, next to a public ferry terminal and a great deal of road construction, and has never regretted the decision.

She is the proud owner of a BA in English and Spanish from the University of Idaho, which thus far has not proven terrifically useful for job prospects but she knew the risks of a humanities degree going in. She also survived the 8.8 Chilean earthquake in 2010, which occurred two days after her arrival in the country (being stubborn, she stayed an entire year anyway).

She began writing The Interminables when her favorite video game, City of Heroes, was shut down in late 2012.

Her partner in crime wants a cat. This, thus far, has not happened.


Robot Dragons Can’t be Literary

by Paige Orwin

I was fortunate enough to go to college.

There is, in the US, a standardized test called the SAT, and a “pre-test” for it called the PSAT. In high school, I took the PSAT, and apparently I did pretty well. I did so well that I got a letter from the “National Merit Scholarship Corporation” saying that I was a “semifinalist” in a contest I wasn’t aware I had entered. Later, they decided that I was a “finalist” and a “National Merit Scholar.” The University of Idaho thought that was a big deal, and offered me a four-year, full-ride scholarship. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Dragons are Cool by Jen Williams

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Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their cat. She started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and has never stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the 2015 British Fantasy Awards.

You can find Jen online at her website:sennydreadful.co.uk, on Twitter @sennydreadful and onFacebook.


Dragons are Cool

by Jen Williams

As a fantasy writer, I have a certain fondness for monsters and beasties and mythological creatures. I’m rarely happier than when I’m giving my characters griffins to fly on, or giant spiders to fight, but there is something particularly pleasing about a dragon – in my humble opinion, most things can be improved with dragons. Here are a few reasons why I think they are indispensable: Continue reading

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Guest Post: My Favorite Tropes to Subvert by N.S. Dolkart

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N S Dolkart, otherwise known as Noah, was home-schooled until high school by his Israeli father and American mother, and is a graduate of the notorious Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He studied creative writing and Jewish studies there.

By day, he leads activities in a non-profit nursing home, where he also trains fellow staff in caring for dementia patients. He writes his tales of magic and Godhood late at night, and doesn’t sleep much.

Silent Hall is his first novel.

You can find Noah online at his website: nsdolkart.wordpress.com, and on Twitter @N_S_Dolkart.


My Favorite Tropes to Subvert

by N.S. Dolkart

When you’re writing a sword-and-sorcery or epic fantasy, you’ve always got to pick which tropes to lean on and which to subvert. If you don’t subvert any of them, the story might still be fun, but it’ll be pretty mediocre art. Conversely, if you subvert all the tropes, the story may become great satire, but it won’t be much of a story. Nobody likes box-checking. We want a compelling narrative, dammit!

So I thought I’d share the tropes that I most enjoy subverting, in the hopes that others will choose totally different ones and stay off my turf (kidding! Go ahead and play with my toys – I’m good at sharing). And so, without further ado, I present to you exhibit A:

 

The Fatherless Hero

Strider. Taran Wanderer. Jon Snow. Rey. A hero of unknown origins who rises to the challenge of the times and saves the world(s). This character is usually a Hidden Heir, as Diana Wynne Jones put it in her Tough Guide to Fantasyland. They have a past Shrouded in Mystery. I don’t need to tell you how popular this trope is. When I was a young teen, one of my friends sent me the first chapter of a novel she was writing, and I wrote back to ask, “Her father is the king, right?” Continue reading

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Guest Post: Roo in a Sewe: Medieval Food by David Waid

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DAVID WAID is the author of the historical fantasy novel, The Conjurers, which releases through Amazon on June 1, 2016. He has also published the fantasy short stories, Wicked and Loving Lies and The Festival of Rogues. David lives in Arizona with his wife of 22 years, three kids, and a craven, food-obsessed puggle whose name means “Battle Lord” in Gaelic.

Author website:
http://davidwaidauthor.com

Amazon home page
http://www.amazon.com/David-Waid/e/B00YIHHN88


Roo in a Sewe: Medieval Food

By David Waid

My historical fantasy novel, The Conjurers, is set in the 14th century and, for it, I did some research on medieval food. It seems—no surprise—that peasant fare was coarse stuff with little meat and even less variation.

Booooooring.

On the other hand, there are many surviving medieval cookbooks that show at least some people were living the gastronomical Mardi Gras. And they ate strange things. Of course, the entrails of almost every animal were on the menu. These were known as Nombuls. Continue reading

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