Monday, January 27, 2014

Time Travelling and Dennis Higgins

Welcome to today's guest, author Dennis Higgins. He talks about time travel. Check out his books and enter to win a free copy below.

I would like to thank Jamie Marchant for hosting me for the Indie and Proud yearlong event.

I am Dennis Higgins, author of time travel stories. I am the “Gone But Not Forgotten” guy. My own books are not heavily into science or sci-fi. Time travel is sort of taken for granted and the stories involve the intimate and detailed lives of my traveler which I call Time Pilgrims.

In this segment, I want to explore the many modes of travelling in time from a few different points of view and authors. The guy who started it all was HG Wells and the mode he used was the same as the title of his famous book, The Time Machine. The machine was a Victorian invention which propelled his protagonist into the future. The George Pal, 1960 movie version of this title has actor Rod Taylor amazed at the changes going on around him. He watches a woman’s dress shop and the changing styles as the years move up, making him comment to himself, “That’s a dress?”

In more modern times, Doc Brown creates a time machine out of a DeLorean in the Back to the Future series, which when reaches 88 miles per hour, via the flux capacitor, propels him and Marty to various times.

Jack Finney used a machine and the famous New York City, Dakota apartment building to travel back to the 1800s.

There can’t be a post like this without talking about a time-traveler first seen in 1963 on the BBC in the UK. Doctor Who uses a device that is stuck in the image of an old police box called the TARDIS. The letters stand for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. It is infinitely large on the inside and can move the doctor and his colleagues anywhere and to any point in time.

Superman flies around the earth backwards to its rotation, making it literally reversing it in time, while the Enterprise in Star Trek slingshots around the sun to transport them back or forth.

There has been anywhere from body switches with people in the past, to mirrors, to genies in bottles, to totally unexplained phenomenon to transport individuals in time. But there seems to be a common thread to most time travel stories…love. Love can often transcend time and space. It is the most powerful emotion that we humans possess.

The book, originally titled, Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson was renamed after the popularity of its’ screen adaptation to, Somewhere in Time. In it, Richard Collier uses a unique technique to travel back to meet the woman he becomes obsessed with. He goes to an old hotel and removes everything modern from the room. He uses the power of his brain to concentrate on the time that she was in the hotel and eventually makes it. I happen to love this concept. SPOILER ALERT: His fateful mistake was accidentally bringing a modern penny with him. Upon looking at the little cent, he is whisked back to his own time. Remember, if and when you time travel, you must bring the correct currency with you. Especially if love is involved.

Now I will give you the time travel mode used in my books. First, a person has to be born with the God-given ability. Not everybody is, but those who are must realize the secret that is contained in the simple element of water. The same water that is all around us and within us is the water that has existed in every time period since the Earth was formed. It is the conduit to every possible timeline. So it is the same water that character’s Kevin and Cheryl encounter down Route 66 in 1946, that is there when Katya and Cyrus find themselves in the great Chicago Fire of 1871, and when Cathy Callahan finds love in 1906 during the San Francisco earthquake. Water, along with concentration, is my character’s main mode of travel.

Gone but not forgotten. Comment with your favorite person, place or thing from the past for a chance to win a free Smashwords eBook of Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66). I will pick (3) three winners from my favorite answers.

Dennis Higgins is world traveler and distant relative of Davy Crockett. A native of Chicago, Illinois, he has always possessed a romance with things of the past that are gone but not forgotten.  He now lives in the suburbs with his lovely wife, two dogs and three birds.

Among his influences are:  Richard Matheson, Jack Finney, Dean Koontz, Joan Wester Anderson, Peter S. Beagle and Audrey Neffenegger . The Time Pilgrims series is exciting and is treasured and loved by young adults, new adults as well as full blown adults.


Friday, January 17, 2014

My Sweet Valentine by Jill Sanders

My friend Jill Sanders is releasing her new book, My Sweet Valentine, with a giveaway. Check out her new book, and enter to win some fantastic prizes.

WIN SOMETHING SWEET - Celebrate this release with a giveaway...

Just in time for Valentine's Day, come to Oregon and find the sweet tastes of a something new. My Sweet Valentine, by NY Times bestselling author, Jill Sanders

Grand Prize - Silver Baker's Charm Bracelet as mentioned in My Sweet Valentine
2nd Prize - Cheryl's classic treat box
3rd Prize - Jill Sanders novel of your choice

My Sweet Valentine

Sara Lander was back in town. She had big plans for her inheritance along with her freshly printed business degree
and years of experience in some of Seattle’s finest bakeries, she has a rich idea for Pride. Sara's Nook is going to be the next biggest thing to hit town. All she needs now is to steer clear of the hunky ex-Navy SEAL who is hell bent on taking all her focus away from starting her own business.

Allen Masters has been living in Pride for several years. Setting up a new branch of the Coastguard and training all the new recruits took years of skill and all his patience. But when he sees the black-haired beauty, who had come back into town, he realized she was the one he'd been searching for. Taking one taste of her sweets, he knew he'd be in for a sinful time, but losing his focus while flying into the eye of a storm was the last thing he could afford. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kristen S. Walker and the Woman Warrior

Welcome Kristen S. Walker, author of A Flight of the Marewings. Kristen talks of the woman warrior. If you like what she has to say, enter to win a copy of her book, or go and buy one.

The Controversy of Female Warriors in Fantasy

I grew up in the 90s when “girl power” was a popular catchphrase. I was surrounded by fantastic female warriors: Xena the Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer from television, Alanna the Lioness and Aerin the Dragonslayer from books. Even Disney, known for their passive princesses, released a movie about Mulan, a Chinese woman disguised as a soldier. I eagerly read historical accounts of women like Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Joan of Arc. I loved to follow the adventures of all these amazing women who could kick butt! (Also, shout-out to my niece-in-law, who joined the Air Force and became a modern female soldier!)

But recently, when I wanted to write about warrior women of my own, I made the mistake of asking for help. And while other writers and fantasy fans had helped me create everything from flying horses to mage-scholars, I received a huge amount of negative feedback when it came to women fighting. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the backlash, given how female combatants are still controversial today, but the vehemence of their responses shocked me. “Those are such a cliche, and they’re not realistic at all,” they complained. “These feminists want to push their agenda into stories, but in a medieval world, real fantasy doesn’t have these fake women warriors.” Here are some of their arguments and my rebuttals.

Women are Weaker Than Men
"So many people forget - or ignore - that the gulf between traditional male and female roles wasn't an accident.
Whether it’s swinging a sword or drawing a bow, pre-modern fighting needs some amount of strength. And the average woman is smaller and weaker than the average man. But does that mean that women can’t match men in a fight? Not really. Like most human traits, physical strength is distributed on a bell curve. The bell curve for women’s strength is below men’s, but there’s actually a lot of overlap. So there are actually some women, on the high end of the curve, that are stronger than even the “average” man. Not everyone fits perfectly into averages. And we can see that today, while pre-modern fighting techniques and martial arts are more of a hobby than actually used in warfare, there are women who can learn how to wield a sword, joust on a horse in full plate armor, shoot a bow, or become a black belt in karate.

Women Have to Make Babies to Sustain the Population
“If women were allowed to fight in wars, then the whole population would die off.”
It’s true that we do need at least some women to reproduce, and more women than men are needed to produce babies because women take more time and energy to be pregnant and give birth while one man can father children with many women at the same time. But wars are not usually ongoing—you’re not losing half of your population to battles every year (if you are, then there’s bigger problems with your society!) Armies are typically gathered from only a fraction of the population. Why can’t a few women be allowed to join? After all, some women are barren, some women in medieval societies didn’t have children for personal choice—for example, nuns take a vow of celibacy. Not every single woman is needed simply for reproduction 24/7. If you can spare some men, you can spare a couple of women to go with them.

Traditional Values Won’t Let Women Fight
“Ignoring gender differences, while aesthetically more pleasing, is pretty "fantastic" even for fantasy stories.
Because our society happened to develop in a certain way doesn’t mean that every society has to develop the same way. We can see that there are differences in societies and cultures in our own world. Why does a fantasy world, that exists in a completely different set of circumstances, have to have the same values as ours? In particular, we can think about why certain values might have become a tradition (perhaps because of religion, or a philosopher’s teachings) and then change those specific conditions in our fantasy world. Why not imagine a society that believes women’s maternal instincts make them value human life more than men, so they are better commanders in war because they will make choices with more compassion? Or a society that believes (like modern-day Israel) all young adults should give a certain number of years of service to the military before they can join a profession or start a family? There are many stories to be told out there, and they don’t have to be constrained by a pseudo-medieval Western European clone.

Pushing Modern Values Makes Fantasy Unrealistic
"Almost every woman has felt (to a greater or lesser degree) that experience of being subjugated in some way for having been born with the substandard plumbing. People also write their wish-fulfillment.... Anyone who has felt the aforementioned experience wishes she could do something heroic and spectacular to change it."
Some people think that politics shouldn’t be in fiction. But every choice that you make as a writer comes from what you believe in, and whether conscious or not, the stories you tell reflects your biases. Why do you have to be constrained by the values of a particular time or society? And our ideas of medieval European life aren’t always that realistic because we’re viewing them through a modern lens of books that were written by men. If you dig for the information, there were women warriors in virtually every period of history from ancient Vikings to modern gangs of women in India. Some of them dressed as men to hide from the constraints of their time, but others fought openly, and they were good enough at it that we’re still talking about them centuries later. Is it accurate to say that we can’t have even a few women warriors in a fantasy world that doesn’t even exist when there were real women who fought and killed and died in real wars? And is that really the kind of history that we want to celebrate?

So Here’s My Cliche Feminist Women Warriors
I didn’t let all of the naysayers discourage me and I wrote what I wanted. A Flight of Marewings, the main character Korinna joins a mercenary company called the Storm Petrels. In my fantasy world, the main governments, little city-states, don’t have their own armies, so they hire these mercenary companies to do their fighting for them. Mercenary work is actually viewed as one of the lowest professions in their society, so most of the people who become fighters are driven to it by a lack of other options. But they do allow women who want to join. They’re a minority, but they’re treated equally. And I’m not the first author to do this. Elizabeth Moon used her own experiences as a Marine to write about men and women in a mercenary company in her Deed of Paksenarrion series. I don’t mind following in those footsteps!

Links to More Discussion of Female Warriors in Fantasy

A Flight of the Marewings

Korinna's life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title--but the city's Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna's right to rule, she decides to join Galenos's mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke's untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death--and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?

Author Biography

Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke's illegitimate daughter who must stop her father's murderers--by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen's pirate pictures, please visit You can talk good books, cats, or medieval cooking with Kristen anytime on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.

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