Friday, September 30, 2016

Writing Advice: Making a Make-Believe World Believable

Fantasy literature transports you from the mundane world into the strange and the magical. How does it do this? By making that world believable, in its setting, its use of magic, and in its characters. To transport you, the fantasy world must be as complex and rich as reality. While I don’t like works that give long lectures on the history and geography, a sense of both must be present in the fantasy world—this sense preferably arising naturally from the needs of the plot and unfolding bit by bit. For example, in The Goddess’s Choice the way we learn about the longstanding animosity and history of warfare between Korth and Lundia is through the king’s pressure on the crown princess Samantha to marry. King Solar believes her marriage is necessary to maintain the fragile peace between the joined kingdoms. The history and culture of the joined kingdoms flow from and enhance the story’s central conflict.

Magic is an essential element of fantasy; yet to be believable, any system of magic must be both consistent and limited in scope. When the limitations on the wizard or sorcerer are clearly established, tension builds as he or she must work within those limits. The existence of magic doesn’t allow the writer to cheat. My hero’s Robbie’s magic lies in the ability to connect to the mind and body of another. It only works on living things. He can’t suddenly have the ability to warp metal even though that would be convenient. The use of his magic also depletes him physically, so he must be wise in its use. His strength is also his vulnerability.

For me, the most important element in creating a believable fantasy world lies in the characters. A believable world must be peopled with believable characters. In reality, few people are without flaws, but few are so bad that they have no redeeming qualities. Fantasy characters must be equally complex. Heroes must not be completely virtuous, and villains at least need sound motives for their villainy. Robbie is burdened with anger, and Samantha is headstrong and somewhat insensitive. On the other hand, Argblutal believes (with some justification) the throne is rightfully his and that he’d be a better king than a eighteen-year-old girl. When I read a novel, if I can believe a writer’s characters, I can forgive other inconsistencies with the work, but if I cannot believe the characters, nothing else the writer does can redeem the story. Depth of character is the key to believability in the make-believe world of fantasy.

I'd love to hear your comments on what makes a fantasy world work for you.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Archon: Science Fiction and Fantasy Con

My husband and I are going to be attending Archon in Saint Louis this weekend. If you've never attended a con, you are missing out. They are incredibly fun. You find yourself surrounding by like-minded geeks who are only there to play. Everyone is so friendly, and no one thinks you're weird, or at least no more weird than they are.

Cons have a tons of stuff to do: gaming--board games, rope playing games, video games, card games--at all hours of the day and night; panels on everything from writing to movies to science; cosplay; film festivals, filking; dances, etc. You can buy incredible fantasy and science fiction themed art for reasonable prices and a wide variety of other cool merchandise.

If you have children, most cons have a children's track with activities specifically designed for the younger ones. You can often meet famous and not-so-famous authors and artists, at bigger ones actors, as well.

I will be in the merchant's room for some of the time, trying to sell my novels. Wish me luck on that, and I'll have a full report in this spot next week.

You can find out more about Archon on their website.

If you've been to a con, leave a comment about your experience.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Feature: Lynne Stringer, author of the Verindon trilogy

It's Wednesday, so it time to feature another writer. Today's feature is Lynne Stringer, author of the science fiction trilogy, Verindon.

Lynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels.

Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a young adult science fiction romance series released in 2013. The series features the books The Heir, The Crown and The Reign. Lynne's latest novel, to be released in October 2016, is Once Confronted, a contemporary drama. Visit for more information.


What made you want to become a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing. I can remember writing a little book when I was eight and when I was a teenager I amused myself by novelizing movie scripts and episodes from my favorite TV shows.
Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
I tend to make up my books in my head first. I always know where I’m going to end up, although sometimes things on the journey there can take me by surprise when I sit down to write. I don’t usually write a story outline. I haven’t found this helpful for me.
Do you think people have misconceptions about speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and speculative fiction. I like things that take me to new worlds.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?
My most recent book is due out on 1st October but unlike my science fiction series, the Verindon trilogy, it’s a contemporary drama.
What gives you inspiration for your book?
Things in the every day inspire me. With the first book in the Verindon trilogy, The Heir, I was inspired by a pick-up line. You know, the one where the boy says to the girl, "You are the only reason I was put on this planet". I started to wonder about why a guy might say that to a girl if he meant it literally, rather than figuratively.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
My favorite character is Keridan and he’s my leading man. I also have a soft spot for another character in my trilogy, although he scares the hell out of me. His name is Hajitis. If you want to find out why he’s so scary you’ll have to read the books.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?  If so, what do you do during the day?
I am a professional editor by trade. People pay me to help improve their books prior to publication. It’s nice that my day job is not unlike the thing I love the most, which is writing.

The Heir (Verindon #1)

Sarah hates the prestigious high school she attends. Most of the other students ignore her. School is only made tolerable by the presence of Dan Bradfield, the boy she adores. Dan is the heir to his father’s multinational computer company, but he is dating Sarah’s best friend, Jillian.
When tragedy strikes, Dan is the one who is there for Sarah, but she can’t shake the feeling there is something strange about him. Is he protecting her from something? Is there something going on that she doesn’t know about?
And did she really see a monster in the bushes?
Sarah is desperate to uncover the truth, but it could take her to another galaxy, and change everything she believes about who she is. Will it bring Dan and Sarah closer together or tear them apart?
Buy on Amazon


It was well into the night by the time I went to bed, but my eyelids had begun drooping long before Dan could convince me to go.
“Come on, Sarah,” he said, dragging me towards the stairs. “We can pick this up in the morning.”
I was happy to go to bed by that time. I knew what would happen as soon as my head hit the pillow.
But as I was lying in my bed, waiting to fall asleep, I noticed a sound.
Drip … drip … drip …
I frowned. Had I left the faucet running in the bathroom? I jumped up and turned on the light. No. It was off. The sound wasn’t coming from there. Had I imagined it?
Drip … drip … drip …
I turned on the light in my room. Was there a faucet somewhere else? Or maybe it was some pipe in the wall?
Then I saw it and my jaw dropped.
On the bedside table, where I had tossed it, was my father’s computer device. And the table underneath it was melting!
I hurried over to check that my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. No, it wasn’t. Directly underneath the device the table was oozing brown goo and dripping it all over the floor.
I snatched up the device. Was it hot? Surely it couldn’t be hot enough to melt wood! Was that even possible?
But no, it wasn’t hot, not that hot, anyway, although its readouts were still flickering dramatically.
I frowned and looked at the floor. Much to my astonishment, the brown ooze had disappeared, even though there had been a puddle a moment ago. Had it dribbled away somewhere? I couldn’t see any sign of it.
I reached down and touched the bottom of the table. It felt dry and smooth. No mark at all.
I jumped out of my skin as I heard a knock on my door. Still trying to explain the brown ooze to myself, I went over and opened it.
Dan was there. “Hey. Just making sure that you’re okay.”
“I’m fine,” I said, trying to come back to reality.
His eyes flickered down to the box in my hand for a moment. “Okay. Goodnight, then.”
I shut the door and turned back to my room. Could grief bring on hallucinations? I had no idea. I had been under a lot of stress. Maybe that’s what it was.
I put the device back on the beside table and watched closely to see if anything started to melt under it. Nope. It looked fine now. And when I turned the light off I could hear nothing. Definitely imagination. I sighed and went to sleep.
In the morning the first thing I did was check the bedside table to make sure that there was no problem with it. As expected, it looked completely normal, but there was something different in the room from when I had gone to sleep.
My father’s little device had disappeared.
I searched all around, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I checked all the nooks and crannies I could find – behind the bed, in the bathroom – everywhere I thought it might fit. I even checked my bag again just to make sure I hadn’t put it back in there. There was no sign of it. It was gone.

Tell me what you think. I love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Favorite Character Tuesday: Harry Dresden

My favorite character of all time is probably Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher's fantasy series, The Dresden Files. Harry has everything needed for a great character. A great character needs to be someone you think could truly exist. Harry Dresden is definitely someone you can relate to and imagine knowing and liking. In the first book in the series, Harry is a rather unsuccessful wizard for hire. He spends most the time in his office reading paperback novels. But he grows and changes throughout the series. By the twelfth book in the series, Changes, to save his daughter, he becomes the Winter Knight working for Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. He tries to commit suicide to get out of this arrangement because he fear becoming corrupted. As the series continues, we see him fight against this corruption. The series is now fifteen books long, and he hasn't grown the least bit stale like some characters in due in long series. I wait impatiently for each new installment in the series and devour them once I have my hands on them. He practices cool magic, and he's very good at it, but it doesn't always get him out of a jam. Sometimes he needs to use other resources or be rescued by others. Sometimes he simply fails, as all of us do at times. He tries to do the right thing, but like all real people, he is flawed. He sometimes makes serious mistakes. It can tell him awhile to realize
what he's done wrong, and those realization can be devastating. He fights authority and hates bullies. He has a sarcastic sense of humor, and it can get him into trouble at times. He is a great friend to have. And most importantly, he owns a cat. How can you not love a cat lover? If you haven't read any of the Dresden Files, you are missing out on some great reads. The Amazon link to the first book in the series is below to get you started. If you've read these books, leave a comment on your opinion of Harry Dresden.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Ghost in Exile: A Korthlundian Kronicle

I have finally finished The Ghost in Exile. I'm calling it a Korthlundian Kronicle, rather than one in the series of the Kronicles of Korthlundia because it doesn't continue the story of Samantha and Robrek. Instead, it takes a character from the first volume in the series, The Goddess's Choice, and tells his story. Readers of my previous novels will be familiar with Darhour, the world's most infamous assassin and the true father of Samantha. His ability to move unseen through his victims' mansions earned him the nickname, The Ghost. It was said he could walk through walls. At the end of The Goddess's Choice, Darhour leaves Korthlundia and Samantha behind to save his daughter from the darkness of his soul. The Ghost in Exile begins several weeks after the end of The Goddess's Choice and tells of Darhour's adventures after he flees Korthlundia. The novel also flashes back to the story of how Darhour (previously known as Ahearn) became The Ghost. If you haven't read my previous novels, don't worry. You do not need knowledge of The Goddess's Choice to understand and enjoy The Ghost in Exile. The novel is now in the hands of my editor and will be ready to release late next month. (Cross your fingers). The kindle version is available for pre-order if you follow the link below. The paperback version will soon be available for pre-order as well. Kudos to Primo Cardinalli for the cover art.


The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.

His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New Blog Schedule

I have not been very active on my blog in a long time, but that is about to change. I have created a schedule for myself, and I intend to keep to it. The new schedule will be as follows:

Monday--My writing: a discussion of something to do with my writing projects

Tuesday--Favorite character day: I'll tell you who my favorite fictional characters are and why I love them.

Wednesday--Other fantasy authors day: This day will features interviews, excerpts, reviews,
discussions of other fantasy (or speculative fiction more generally) writers

Thursday--News: News of interest to fantasy fans

Friday--On Writing: Articles about writing and perhaps promoting your work

Saturday--The Goddess's Choice audio: I've began making an audio edition of The Goddess's Choice. On this day, I will post a new chapter of that project.

I would appreciate any comments on what you think of the new set up. Tell me what you like, love, and hate.