Monday, July 31, 2017

A Brief, Personal History of Heroic Fantasy: Part 2 #OurAuthorGang

A Brief, Personal History of Heroic Fantasy

Part 2
by
Joe Bonadonna


Sometime around 1977 Ballantine found a way to reach the Tolkien readers when Lester del Rey, then a consulting editor for the publisher, read the manuscript of The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks. Following the success of Brooks’ fantasy novel, del Rey founded his own fantasy imprint and moved forward with his line of written-to-order, mass-marketed series. These books would be original novels set in invented worlds in which magic works. Each would have a male central character that would triumph over evil by his wits, innate virtue, prowess as a warrior, and with the help of a tutor or tutelary spirits. Fantasy novels and series with deeper themes and much more complex characters, dealing with human drama on a personal level began to appear, novels that stood at the opposite end of the spectrum from Howard’s Conan stories. 
 

Among my personal favorites of this era are Stephen R. Donaldson’s Tolkien-inspired, but highly original with Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, and The Power That Preserves, and their subsequent sequels. These featured Covenant, a modern-day leper suddenly drawn to another world: he is anything but a hero — he is an anti-hero, and this series was far and away from what we’d call Today Young Adult Fantasy. But what I consider to be Donaldson’s masterpiece is his 2-volume Mordant’s Need — The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, that were the game-changers for me. Donaldson brilliantly combined the conventions of the romance and Gothic novels with those of Heroic Fantasy. He presented to us a scarred, timid, and insecure heroine whose growth into a mature, strong and defiant young woman is at the heart of this fantastic “duology.” Add to the mix a rather hapless character that also grows during the story to become a true hero, some devilishly-wicked villains, the politics of empire, and a brilliant use of mirrors as tools of magic, and we have something different now, something I consider ground-breaking for its time. Up until then, there were few women who were lead characters in fantasy: the works of CL Moore, Leigh Brackett, Marion Zimmer-Bradley, Andre Norton, Janet Morris, CJ Cherryh, and Tanith Lee are some of the names that immediately spring to mind. For me, Donaldson showed me the way, blazing the trail that led me away from the male-centric stories I would later read and write.


By the late seventies and early eighties, the success of the del Rey formula was so confirmed that many other publishers began to publish in imitation. Dragons and unicorns began to appear all over the mass-market racks, and packaging codes with proper subliminal and overt signals developed. A whole new mass-market genre had been established. And IMHO, this was all for the good of the Heroic Fantasy genre: it needed to grow, to evolve, or it would stagnate and turn stale. In this way, “barbarian” sword-and-sorcery fiction, which has its roots in the masculine adventure of the early twentieth-century pulps, combined with the Gothic and horror elements that had become so popular in fiction magazines of the late 1920s into the Depression, was succeeded commercially — and very profitably — by novels that gave us more than just big, barbarian loners with swords, hacking and slashing their way to win or steal a treasure, to slay a wizard and steal the helpless maiden. Heroic Fantasy was growing up, and for many, I suppose, this was not a good thing. People often want to keep their artists — film makers, musicians, authors — pigeon-holed and locked away in a box, writing, recording, filming the same thing over and over again.

One of the elements that often bothered us about sword and sorcery was its frequent lack of complex or developed characters, engaging dialogue that propelled the story and brought the characters to life, and the lack of real human drama and tragedy — the kind of plotting and drama we find in all good storytellers, from Shakespeare to Dickens, and other great novelists.
Dramatis gravitas, and often a sense of humor and irony — these are what so many Barbarian Solo tales lacked. They were simple, straightforward action/adventure tales. Most of these stories, in fact, were not meant to be anything more than that, of course, and that is in the grand tradition of some of the best pulp fiction. And yet… the possibilities were and are there.

Thankfully, a new sword-and-sorcery and heroic fantasy boom have been underway for quite some years now. With a growing female audience, dedicated publishers, and an influx of daring young writers — including many gifted women who are bringing something new to the genre — the sword-and-sorcery genre is at last growing and flourishing.

You can check out all my books and anthologies by clicking on to my Amazon Author Page. Thank you!





Sunday, July 30, 2017

Is There a Number Fairy? #OurAuthorGang

The Number Fairy lives in children's imagination, but dream learning is real.
Dreaming about kittens helped me to learn numbers when I was a young child.


According to Dr. Freud, dreams are our brain's attempt to figure out how to achieve our desires or to understand and face our fears.

After I came across this interesting article on The New York Times blog about a research done at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, I thought about my struggle with learning the numbers when I was a young child.

In this research, a maze was shown to 99 volunteers. They were asked to find their way through the complicated, three-dimensional puzzle as fast as possible. After an hour, half of the volunteers were allowed to sleep and the other half relaxed staying awake.

Kutay Tanir/Getty Images

The result showed and I quote, "After the resting period, the participants were asked to again tackle the maze. Those who hadn’t napped showed no improvement or did even worse after the break. Nappers who were rested but didn’t report any maze-related dreams did better but showed only marginal improvement.

However, four nappers who reported dreaming about the maze showed a startling improvement, cutting their completion time in half. The difference in scores before and after sleeping was 10 times higher for the maze dreamers than those who hadn’t dreamed about the task."

This article triggered the memory of my struggle with numbers when I was very young. My parents tried to make me understand the numbers by making me count on my fingers, count toys, pebbles, and used every visual aid they could think of but I still couldn't understand the numbers until I had a dream.

I still remember my short dream clearly. In my dream, I kept moving the kittens in and out of their bed and I kept counting: two kittens are out of the bed, five kittens are in the bed. Then one kitten in the bed, six kittens are out of the bed.

From then on, I had no trouble counting anything. This article and remembering my dream inspired this children's book about Terry struggling to learn numbers and the Mary, the Number Fairy, helping her to understand.

When a child is struggling to comprehend the meaning of numbers, they might dream about it after a frustrating day of trying to understand and learn the numbers. 


Recommended for children 2-6

Terry was struggling to learn numbers. “I wish we knew the numbers so we could help,” Pansy, Terry’s dog, said to her best friend, Oliver, the hedgehog. The Number Fairy heard Pansy’s plea, and at night, she flew through the window. With a swish of her wand, the fairy conjured up a dream bubble and showed the numbers to Terry, and to the animals.
From the proceeds, the author donates paperback books to non-profit book charities for children.

Pages from the book









Read more in the book
Available in print and eBook on many sites:

And signed paperback in the author's bookstore:




Saturday, July 29, 2017

Guest Author Stephanie Churchill #OurAuthorGang

Our Guest today is Stephanie Churchill 



About the Author
Stephanie Churchill grew up in the American Midwest, and after school moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a paralegal, moving to the Minneapolis metro area when she married.  She says, 'One day while on my lunch break from work, I visited a nearby bookstore and happened upon a book by author Sharon Kay Penman.  I’d never heard of her before, but the book looked interesting, so I bought it.  Immediately I become a rabid fan of her work. I discovered that Ms. Penman had fan club and that she happened to interact there frequently.  As a result of a casual comment she made about how writers generally don’t get detailed feedback from readers, I wrote her an embarrassingly long review of her latest book, Lionheart.  As a result of that review, she asked me what would become the most life-changing question: “Have you ever thought about writing?”  And The Scribe’s Daughter was born.

Find out more at Stephanie's website www.stephaniechurchillauthor.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @WriterChurchill.  Her books can be found on Amazon and other online retailers.

"What inspired you to start writing this particular book? What is the genre of this book?"

Becoming an author wasn’t anything I’d ever imagined doing throughout most of my life.  In fact, the very idea of it, when it came, found me like a deer caught in the headlights.  The more common tale for the authors I know is that they had dreamed of writing books ever since they were children.  That wasn’t the case for me.  If the idea had been suggested any earlier in my life, I would have found the notion utterly laughable.  It wasn’t until a New York Times best-selling author nudged me that I caught on.  The resulting experiment led to the inspiration for my first book.  Let me explain.

I have always enjoyed reading.  And while I enjoy many different genres, historical fiction is what I return to over and over again more often than not.  It was mid-2011 when I heard that my favorite author of the time, Sharon Kay Penman, was about to release a new book.  I had long been a member of her Facebook fan club, but it had been a while since I’d last visited.  News of her new book sent me to the group more frequently, and to my great surprise and delight, I discovered that Ms. Penman frequented the group, interacting often with her fans.  It was in one such interaction that Ms. Penman commented that authors rarely receive detailed feedback from readers about why they love the books they do.  Immediately I decided that I would do something about that.

In a way that only rabid fans, groupies, and a small number of book nerds can do, I began work on what turned into an embarrassingly long review of her book, Lionheart.  That a fan would do something so fanatical understandably caught her attention, and we struck up an email friendship, the result of which led her to ask me, “Have you ever thought about writing?”  Had she been anyone but a career author, and one with several titles to hit New York Times best-seller status, I would not have paid any attention.  But she was who she was, and the authority behind that assurance gave me the confidence I needed to take up the proverbial pen and write, with none other than my favorite author as mentor.

Four years after the nudge, I published my first book, The Scribe’s Daughter, but it was really an accident.  I had every intention of publishing a different manuscript, but when the voice of my prose just didn’t seem right, I set it aside.  Just for fun, I wondered what it would be like to write in first person, so remembering a certain market chase scene from the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, I replaced the character of Aladdin with my own street urchin, a girl named Kassia.  As Kassia took shape on the page, I found her to be quick-witted and sarcastic, and incredibly fun to write.  I fell in love with her character and couldn’t stop until I had a book, The Scribe’s Daughter.

At the beginning of the novel, we meet Kassia, a seventeen year-old orphan who is faced with a tough decision in her daily quest for survival.  She is a younger sister but finds herself in the position of providing for both herself and her older sister, Irisa.  The sisters cannot afford to pay rent, and when their landlord gives them an ultimatum -- pay up or become whores -- Kassia must make a difficult decision.  Events become complicated when very soon after, a stranger shows up at her doorstep to hire her for a job that is ridiculously outside her skill set.  Not seeing any other choice, she takes him on.  Before long, Kassia finds herself swept away on a sometimes treacherous journey where she must use her resourcefulness and every measure of witty bravado to survive.  Along the way, mysteries of her family history, a history she never knew existed, are realized and revealed.  By the end of the book, Kassia is transformed from naive and reckless girl, to confident, strong young woman.

The book reads like historical fiction, yet there is no doubt that it is fantasy, even if not traditional fantasy.  There is no magic, no dragons or other fantastical beasts.  Everything is based in reality.  Readers of historical fiction should feel right at home while reading it however, because I tried to inject my love of history and historical fiction into the feel of the prose.  I often tell people that my books echo historical fiction even if they don’t contain any history.  More than that though, if you love deep characters, evocative settings, and a good plot, it doesn’t matter what genre you read.  You’ll enjoy the book!



The Scribe’s Daughter
Kassia is a thief and a soon-to-be oath breaker. Armed with only a reckless wit and sheer bravado, seventeen-year-old Kassia barely scrapes out a life with her older sister in a back-alley of the market district of the Imperial city of Corium. When a stranger shows up at her market stall, offering her work for which she is utterly unqualified, Kassia cautiously takes him on. Very soon however, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery involving a usurped foreign throne and a vengeful nobleman. Most intriguing of all, she discovers clues to the disappearance of her father three years prior.

When Kassia is forced to flee her home, suffering extreme hardship, danger and personal trauma along the way, she feels powerless to control what happens around her. Rewarding revelations concerning the mysteries of her family’s past are tempered by the reality of a future she doesn’t want. In the end, Kassia discovers an unyielding inner strength, and that contrary to her prior beliefs, she is not defined by external things -- she discovers that she is worthy to be loved.


Buy Links
The Scribe’s Daughter  myBook.to/thescribesdaughter
The King’s Daughter  myBook.to/TheKingsDaughter


Friday, July 28, 2017

What's Romance Got to do with It? #OurAuthorGang

 
What's Romance Got to do With It?
by Grace Augustine
www.graceaugustine.weebly.com

    There is a Tina Turner song...What's Love Got to do With It?  I'm turning that around today...What's Romance Got to do With It?  I'm a hopeless romantic and as such, I usually see things through rose colored glasses.


      As children, we have dreams of being fairy princesses, firefighters, policemen, queen of our own domain.  There is always a happy ever after as we line up our dolls, stuffed animals, or army men and enact how our lives will be "when we grow up."
     Being a romance writer is a phenomenal experience. I write stories where friends decide they have deep feelings for each other. Stories of life issues and hardships that are gone through together, side by side, hand in hand.  Romance.
     For me, romance is the icing on the cake...the sprinkles on the ice cream. It's those little extras--the smile, a crook of an eyebrow, the twinkle in his eye. It's the thoughtful gestures of breakfast in bed, tossing a load of laundry in the washer, taking the dog for a walk. Or maybe, it is a rose petal path to lit candles that surround a bubble bath and a glass of wine.

 
     Whenever I can take a character I've created and place that person (they are always real in my head) into a situation where a soft, romantic scene can playout...I've done my job.
      Here is an excerpt from my Golden Quill Awards Reader's Choice Finalist,
Moonlight & Music.  http://a.co/bml4Nhv

 
     "The hot water ran over Blake’s tanned, toned body. He stood with his back arched so the majority hit his hips. He stretched down, touching his toes. An audible groan escaped him.
          If only I could stay here. If only Renee Manelli...
          The shampoo bottle hit the floor of the shower. Blake groaned as he bent to pick up the bottle before the liquid found its way down the drain. The groan more for his rampant thoughts than the pain from bending down.
          Renee Manelli could be the new object of his obsession without a problem. He thought of how silky her skin would feel lathered up…
          As quickly as those thoughts came to him, Blake pushed them to the farthest corners and buried them. He didn’t need to be focusing on a woman now." 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Principality of Monaco #OurAuthorGang



By Cristina Grau


Monaco

Just one-hour drive away I find myself in one of the most beautiful and smallest countries in the world.

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, and the Principality of Monaco is the second one, and here I am.

Contrary to popular belief, Monaco does not belong to France. It is enclosed by France and on the south/west borders the Mediterranean Sea. 

Monte Carlo is not the capital, it is one of the districts. Actually, Monaco doesn’t have a capital.

And what can I say about the playground of the rich and famous…

Over the years, I have been here many times, and every time I come, I like the place even more, if that is possible.


The Casino

There are a few must see in Monaco. Starting with the casino which is gorgeous, however, as a tourist, you are only allowed in one section of it. The other parts are for the big rollers.
Before you can enter, you need to go through security and leave your passport. Then you can admire the grandeur of the place. You are not allowed to take pictures, so I cannot show you its beauty, but trust me it is gorgeous.
I don’t have money to waste, so I did not gamble. However, a few years back, when I was here with my daughter, she lost some of her money at the roulette table. 

One of the harbor

Next, you must walk the promenade and look at all the luxurious yachts at the harbor. And while you’re walking look at all the cars parked on the streets. I don’t know what they are, but all the men were looking at them and taking pictures of them.

The Royal Palace

Then a nice stroll to see the Royal Palace. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but the inside is grand. And if you manage to be there at 11:55 AM, you can see the changing of the guards. It is supposed to be very nice, but as you know, I am not a morning person, so I have not seen it yet. 
There used to be a very nice Napoleon museum next to the palace, but it has been closed for a few years now. It seems that Prince Albert needed money, so he sold all its contents in 2014 for €1.9 million = U$D 2.3 million.

Monaco is an easy country to walk, and that it’s the best way to see its beauty. There are many hills, however, there are many elevators and escalators on the streets that you can take instead of walking up the hills.

Monaco becomes even more famous when American actress Grace Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco in 1956.  Their wedding was the first televised Royal wedding. There is a museum and many posters and reminders all over the place about their beloved Princess Grace.

And of course, the Monaco Grand Prix, which is one of the most famous races in the world.

FYI

Monaco it’s very expensive. So, I always stay in Nice and take a 1€ = U$D 1.16 bus to Monaco. It is only an hour ride, and the views along the coast are gorgeous. But now I don’t have to, as I am staying only one hour away.

Dress nicely. Here everything is high couture, and as my daughter says, she can’t even afford to window shop. So, dress the part.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

BRIEF, PERSONAL HISTORY OF HEROIC FANTASY: Part 1 #OurAuthorGang

A BRIEF, PERSONAL HISTORY OF HEROIC FANTASY

Part 1

by
Joe Bonadonna


Conan, King Kull, Cormac, Bran Mak Morn — characters often imitated, never duplicated. Thesecreations of Robert E. Howard started the sword-and-sorcery boom of the 1960s and early 1970s. Then there are the barbarian warriors inspired by Howard — “Clonans,” as one writer recently referred to these sword-slinging, muscle-bound characters.

A fair observation, but in some cases, not so true.

I prefer to think of these tales of wandering barbarian heroes as “Barbarian Solo” adventures because the majority of these characters are lone wolves, without sidekicks or even recurring companions. This is a big part of their appeal, in fact, and in their own way, they are reminiscent of many cinematic westerns. I’ve read many, if not most, of the early Conan pastiches, including the novels based on Howard’s other creations. Karl Edward Wagner’s, Poul Anderson’s, and Andy Offutt’s portrayals of the Cimmerian come within a sword’s stroke of Howard’s original vision. L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, in commodifying the character, arranged the long, informal saga of Conan in chronological order and, by extenuating these adventures with dozens more, made of Howard’s creation a long-form series similar to the episodic success of a television show on a prolonged run of diminishing returns. For some readers, however, the advantage of this development is that it provided a sort of character arc as Conan grows from a youth to an older man.

That said, however, it is better to read the Conan tales in the order in which Howard wrote them. By doing this, we gain at least two things: the sense of an adventurer’s life being recounted in the same haphazard way that it was lived, and — perhaps more importantly — we witness Howard’s own developing arc as a writer — his growth, his maturity, his mastery of the art of storytelling. We also get to watch as Howard becomes more sharply attuned to his markets, as Conan the commercial property evolves from the regal lion of “The Phoenix on the Sword” and the dangerous young buck of “The Tower of the Elephant” to his later portrayals as a lusty roustabout and badass, soldiering and womanizing, carousing and drinking, fighting and fighting some more — and, more often than not, attaining that month’s Weird Tales cover with a Margaret Brundage beauty in bondage. But the endless parade of pastiches shares much of the blame for the death of the Barbarian Solo craze of the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

In addition, in a period of historic social change, many of these tales betrayed an attitude that was falling out of favor. The limitations apparent in this go-round of sword-and-sorcery fiction were not challenged, and most of the pastiches predictably moved along a preordained path with a one-dimensional, exaggeratedly masculine character going through rote episodes no more compelling than the umpteenth rerun of a grade-C, TV show. Furthermore, the audience for these stories grew older and turned to other distractions. The demise of the one-dimensional, muscle-bound hero at that historical moment was deserved.
In 1970, I wrote a letter to Lin Carter, who was then the editor of Ballantine Books’ Adult Fantasy Series. I asked how to go about submitting a Conan novel he had written. Lin Carter was nice enough to reply quickly, telling me that only he and L. Sprague deCamp were licensed to write Conan stories. He suggested, however, that I change the name of Conan to one of my own choosing and change any other names borrowed from Howard, then submit the novel to a publisher as my own original creation.

In other words, I was advised to write a “Clonan” novel.

In my humble opinion, this was disgraceful attitude that Conan was interchangeable with
other barbarian heroes that I didn’t care for. (A Conan-clone by any other name is still Conan?) Oddly enough, it was shortly after this response from Lin Carter that Bjorn Nyberg’s Conan pastiche appeared on the scene. Then, as we know, other writers were brought in as “hired guns” to continue the Conan saga — and, as so often happens in the wake of hired guns, there was trouble: we saw the slow death of the Barbarian Solo brand of sword and sorcery.

The first wave of the sword-and-sorcery boom was actually rather short-lived. It lasted from roughly the mid-1960s to around the early 1980s. But it gave us a roster of wonderful writers such as Janet Morris and Chris Morris, Ted (T. C.) Rypel, David Drake, the late David Madison and Dave Mason, Charles Saunders, Tanith Lee, and Diana L. Paxson — who all followed shortly afterwards and who helped mold the genre into something grand, more thoughtful and introspective, returning us to the roots of literary, as well as historical fantasy. After that, as the popularity and success of epic fantasy spawned numerous series of multi-volume sagas, the old-school brand of sword and sorcery all but disappeared. Many publishers shied away from the “barbarian thing.”

 As most of us who were alive in the 1950s and 1960s know, it was JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings that became the game-changer. LOTR became an astounding cult classic, and its success encouraged Ian Ballantine to launch the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in the late 1960s, bringing back into print such authors as George MacDonald, William Morris, Evangeline Walton, ERR Eddison, and Mervyn Peake, among others. Of all the other sword and sorcery novels of barbarian warriors who followed on the heels of Conan’s success, only the Conan the Barbarian series from Lancer Books caught and hung on, however. Associated series, such as Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and Michael Moorcock’s Elric series, to name two, rode the crest, too. Barbarian fantasy still sold, and it was the conventional wisdom that it sold to teenage readers, not to the wider Tolkien audience. 

But Leiber and Moorcock were not writing about such muscle-bound characters, and it was Fritz Leiber, along with Raymond Chandler, who finally inspired me to write the type of fantasy I now write.




Stay tuned for next time, when I present Part 2.

Thanks for reading!

Please check out my Amazon Author Page at:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Drobble, Drabble and Drickel #OurAuthorGang

Drobble, Drabble and Drickel
by Rick Haynes


Photo provided by the author

Hi everyone. I’ve been thinking about something a little different, something to tax the brain in the art of word - pruning. I don’t know if my idea has been done before, but here goes.

I wrote a story of 200 words, then challenged myself to condense into Drabble format, and again to reduce it to Drickel size (note the rick in Drickel – I can hear the groans from here – LOL). So I have a Drobble of exactly 200 words, A Drabble of exactly 100 words and, you guessed it, A Drickel of exactly 25 words. Please note that Drobbles and Drickels are figments of my imagination after one or two glasses of Southern comfort, although I guess they could be real now.

It was a much harder exercise than I thought but well worth the effort. Have a go and see how you get on; go on I dare you.

The title is Conclusion Jump
CONCLUSION JUMP - 200 WORDS DROBBLE

The last rays of the sun were slowly dipping away leaving a rose coloured tint to the sky in their wake. The birds had vanished, the trees silent. Occupants had left their homes unlocked, the doors wide open in their haste to depart. Even the gentle breeze had died away as the village on the hill lay empty, bereft of all life.

The remaining villagers had departed two days ago as fear overcame resolve, for the plague had spread from village to village, and bodies lay strewn over the cobbled streets. Even the priest refused to bury them, much to the angst of his followers.

Several farms had taken in relatives and friends, but wandering families had found little food elsewhere. The piecing screams of children could be heard all around, yet nothing could be done to assuage their hunger or cure their malady.

“I can’t read any more of this utter drivel. What has this to do with modern day farming? Who wrote this?” The man in black directed his anger at the author silently waiting in the far corner.
“I did,” the author said softly.

“It’s rubbish,” the actor retorted.

“Not surprising really. You’re reading the wrong script.”

CONCLUSION JUMP - 100 WOODS DRABBLE 

The last rays of the sun were slowly dipping away leaving behind a rose coloured tint in the sky. The birds had vanished, the trees silent. Even the gentle breeze had disappeared as the village lay empty, bereft of all life.

The plague had spread far, and many bodies lay strewn on the cobbled streets.

 “What has this to do with modern day farming? Who wrote this utter drivel?” The reader directed his anger at the author in the far corner.

“I did,” the author said softly.

“It’s rubbish,” the actor retorted.

“Not surprising really. You’re reading the wrong script.”

CONCLUSION JUMP - 25 WORDS DRICKEL

The village was empty, bereft of life.

The plague had spread, bodies lay everywhere.

“What rubbish,” the actor said.

“Unsurprising. You’re reading the wrong script.”

2 pictures to follow. Thanks for everything and have a good party tonight.




http://www.rickhaynesauthor.com/
https://www.amazon.com/Rick-Haynes/e/B00CK8IXFO/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rick-Haynes/e/B00CK8IXFO/

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Exciting Day for #OurAuthorGang

It is such an exciting day for Our Author Gang!
Our books were chosen by the Judges & Readers as
Finalists in the Golden Quill Award Contest.



JUDGES' CHOICE FINALISTS


Historical Fiction


War is coming to Saxon Briton.
As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs.
Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost.
Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves. Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?


Historical Fantasy


Morana waited centuries for the chance to reunite with her beloved Joland and gain the power to rule the ancient clan that still exist hidden among us with its strict hierarchy, deadly rules and traditions. Ilona doesn’t know that she was chosen to stop Morana’s evil plan. She doesn't know about her heritage besides legends and rituals when begins to remember her mother’s instructions concealed as rhymes and is unaware that her pleasant life as a doctor is about to change and she will be thrown into a dangerous world filled with secrets. The discovery of her healing power and ability to freeze time is exciting and frightening. A sinister man appears, and Ilona connects his presence with the series of mysterious deaths around her. She has been in love with her unsuspecting best friend when she meets a stranger. She is drawn to him and confused by the sudden magnetic feeling.


Heroic Fantasy


This time around, Dorgo falls in love with a witch known as The Girl Who Loved Ghouls, battles creatures from another dimension, and meets one very special cat named Crystal. It’s also the first time he hears about the ancient death cult — the Order of the Serpent. Then, after a young woman is murdered and a mysterious book of arcane lore is stolen from her, Dorgo comes closer to learning more about the snake-worshiping Order. But first he must battle both humans and demons in order to find and destroy The Book of Echoes. Finally, when called upon to help a young girl trapped inside an evil spell, Dorgo must confront fiends born of dark sorcery as he tries to save her and destroy the undying warlock who is the leader of the Order of the Serpent. 


Military Romance


Richard Dempsey grew up in Acorn Hills. He was a star athlete and his prowess put many trophies in the cases that lined the halls of AHHS. Upon graduation, Richard and a classmate enlist in the Navy and are shipped to Vietnam.
War and its remnants are cruel, as he finds out. One of the lucky ones that survived, his turn in Vietnam changed him. He followed the suggestions of his commanders and tried counseling, but it didn’t work. His nightmares continued. Richard met with a couple friends for a few beers. The conversation turned to suggestions of flying across the world to modern day Saigon. He agreed, hoping to slay the dragons that continue haunting him.
Richard’s Relics, Book 5 of the Acorn Hills series, details the uglyness of PTSD, is filled with history of the Vietnam war, and a few surprises that emotionally engage you in this epic story.


Young Adult Fantasy


One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever
And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.
Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.
But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.

READERS' CHOICE FINALISTS



Romance


Blake McIntyre had held his position at Bankston Promotions for fifteen years. He is the top music artist promoter in the business. Potential clients by-passed the CEO’s daughter and sought out his expertise. He assumed that was why he was fired. With an interview scheduled in less than six hours, he needed sleep and to be on his A-game, but the wailing coming from the apartment across the hall prevented it. 
Renee Manelli, a frustrated musician, had worked twenty years as a paralegal. Her goal was to stockpile money, write songs, retire early, and hit the road performing. Her most creative time happened to be at 2 am. Her crystal-clear voice and messages in her songs make her the fastest rising independent artist in the country. 
A working relationship between Blake and Renee turned quickly into the personal journey of a lifetime under the stars and Moonlight & Music.


Military Romance


Richard Dempsey grew up in Acorn Hills. He was a star athlete and his prowess put many trophies in the cases that lined the halls of AHHS. Upon graduation, Richard and a classmate enlist in the Navy and are shipped to Vietnam.
War and its remnants are cruel, as he finds out. One of the lucky ones that survived, his turn in Vietnam changed him. He followed the suggestions of his commanders and tried counseling, but it didn’t work. His nightmares continued. Richard met with a couple friends for a few beers. The conversation turned to suggestions of flying across the world to modern day Saigon. He agreed, hoping to slay the dragons that continue haunting him.
Richard’s Relics, Book 5 of the Acorn Hills series, details the uglyness of PTSD, is filled with history of the Vietnam war, and a few surprises that emotionally engage you in this epic story.

Afraid of what?




By Cristina Grau



Puget-Théniers
A few days ago, somebody asked me if I am not afraid of being by myself in the middle of nowhere.
And this is something I get asked often.

Obviously, I am not afraid, otherwise, I would not be living the kind of life I live.

Many people have difficulties understanding my kind of life.

They don’t comprehend how can I stay in people’s houses (housesitting), or stay with people that I never met before (CouchSurfing, workaway, helpx), and not be afraid.

I am not afraid.

What I am afraid of, it is not to live my life to the fullest, not to live the way I want to live and not to do things because I am afraid.

And, afraid of what?

We create the anxiety about something before it happens, and most of the time what we think it’s worse than what it actually is.

One thing I learned during my travels is that most people are nice.

And the people that accept strangers into their homes are open minded people like me. Otherwise, they would not be letting people they never met into their homes. It works both ways.

And if an intruder breaks into the house I am house sitting now, the two westies would run toward the door barking and waving their tails, and go belly up for a scratch. And what intruder in the right mind would resist that and rob me?


Downtown

Downtown

The female westie is alwasy on top of me



Guest Author Bobby Nash #OurAuthorGang

 Our guest author today is Bobby Nash



Although he doesn’t run around getting into shootouts, car chases, or adventures himself, author Bobby Nash spends his days writing about heroes who do, like Abraham Snow and his friends.

Bobby is an award-winning author of novels, comic books, short stories, novellas, graphic novels, and the occasional screenplay for a number of publishers and production companies. Bobby was named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards. Rick Ruby, a character co-created by Bobby and author Sean Taylor also snagged a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Pulp Character of 2013. Bobby has also been nominated for the 2014 New Pulp Awards and Pulp Factory Awards for his work. Bobby's novel, Alexandra Holzer's Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt won a Paranormal Literary Award in the 2015 Paranormal Awards. The Bobby Nash penned episode of Starship Farragut "Conspiracy of Innocence" won the Silver Award in the 2015 DC Film Festival. Bobby is a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers.

For more information on Bobby Nash and his work, please visit him at www.bobbynash.com. Learn more about SNOW at http://ben-books.blogspot.com/p/snow.html

What inspired you to start writing? 

I fell in love with adventure stories as a child and wanted to experience my own adventures. I started crafting story ideas and eventually started writing them down. As I got older, I started to take it more seriously and kept on writing. Eventually, I found a publisher, then another, and so on. Now, writing is my career and I love it. I’m still not where I want to be, and there’s still some literary mountains to climb, but I’m loving the journey and still seeking adventure.

What genre do you write?

I have written many genres, but I tend to gravitate toward crime fiction. The beauty of writing crime fiction is that is easily mixes with other genres, which is a whole lot of fun for me.



Abraham Snow's career ended with a single shot, but now he’s back behind the wheel and looking for a saboteur.
The Chambers Racing team hires Snow Security Consulting to get to keep their people and equipment safe and to get to the bottom of whoever is trying to put them out of business and why.
Archer Snow volunteers Abraham Snow and Big John Salmon as part of the pit crew. Can they keep the team's young hothead out of trouble long enough to stop the saboteur before the next race?
Meanwhile, an old enemy sets her sights on Snow when a bounty is placed on his head.
SNOW DRIVE is the third book in the continuing adventures of Abraham Snow.

https://ben-books.blogspot.com/p/snow.html

EXCERPT:
Abraham Snow was excited.

He hadn’t been to the racetrack in years. The last time he had visited the Atlanta Motor Speedway, his dad had surprised him, Douglas, and Samantha with tickets. He had agreed to take the kids to the races to give their mom a much-needed day off.

Or so they had been told at the time. Snow would later learn that his mother had stopped taking her medication and was having issues dealing with things. When this happened, Snow’s grandfather, Archer would step in to help. Like everyone else, Laura Snow loved the old man and listened to his soothing words. It was the exact opposite reaction she had to her husband, Dominic.

Snow and his dad rarely saw eye to eye, even when Snow was a kid. He couldn’t put his finger on the reason their relationship was strained, but it had been as long as he could remember. No matter who was at fault, and Snow admitted that there was enough blame to go around, there was one thing that he and his dad had in common.

They both loved the races.

Since he had returned to Georgia after retiring from his previous profession, Abraham and Dominic Snow had given one another a wide berth. They were civil when they saw one another, but there was definitely a chill in the air. Not surprising as things had been chilly between them for a couple of decades.

When Archer Snow, who was not only Abraham’s grandfather and Dominic’s father, but also the owner of Snow Security Consulting, ergo, their boss, asked them both to accompany him to the Atlanta Motor Speedway to meet with one of their clients, they both agreed to be on their best behavior.




Saturday, July 22, 2017

Guest Author KJ Waters #OurAuthorGang


KJ Waters

KJ Waters is the author of the #1 best-seller Stealing Time and the short-story Blow. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, was just published on June 27, 2017 and the next day reached #6 on the UK Amazon site, and was #2 as a hot new release for one category, seating neatly after Michael Crichton’s Dragon Teeth.  
In addition to her writing, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit.
She has a Master’s in Business and over 15 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.

What inspired you to start writing?

My favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, has a book called the Outlandish Companion where she described her somewhat haphazard way of writing a story. It inspired me to give it a try, with the pressure of a structured story removed, and I found my way to the bookstore to find some writing guides. 

What genre do you write?
I write in a Romantic Suspense genre, but it’s more of a mixture of Historic Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Sci-Fi. It involves a lot of elements that I really enjoy writing. Because it’s time travel I get to include whatever points in time I’m intrigued by and it’s set during the hurricanes of 2004 in Florida. 

I invite you to check out my Stealing Time Series so you can experience the power of the storm: http://geni.us/guestblogseries. Here is one recent review: Shattering Time is a page turner, and for that reason is a quick read. I definitely recommend it, even to those who never thought they would enjoy time travel fiction. Oddly enough, I only recognized the complexity of the characters after I completed the book and let it all sink in.



The number one best-selling thriller Stealing Time continues its “breathtakingly original” journey.

Excerpt:
Ronnie Andrews returns from eighteenth-century London shell-shocked from her first terrifying time travel encounter. Her boyfriend, Jeffrey Brennan, casts doubt on her sanity leaving Ronnie wondering if she went back in time or is having a mental breakdown.

To add to the tension, Hurricane Frances, a storm the size of Texas, is barreling towards Florida and her fears of a repeat time travel experience mount. Ronnie’s best friend Steph, along with her friend Nick and Steph’s younger brother Ian, shield Ronnie from the dangers of Frances but cannot save her from traveling back in time. Unfortunately, their meddling brings Ronnie to the brink of destruction as they are caught in the throes of the hurricane’s wrath.

Once again, Ronnie is transported to dangerous places and plagued with desperate situations, while experiencing perilous cultures including one of America’s first mysteries -- the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. 

A stunning conclusion brings Ronnie face to face with a dangerous ally who may hold the key to her past while offering salvation for her future. 

Please check out my #1 Best Selling short story, Blow, on Amazon here: http://geni.us/guestblog. It has 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Here is one short review: Action packed short story about the intensity of Hurricane Ivan. I was so immersed in the tale, I had to look up to check that my roof was still there once I had finished. Waters is a great story teller!

Please sign up for my newsletter on my website (kjwaters.com) and see my weekly sales and contests. I’m always offering ways to win copies of my books, and other special sneak peeks. I’m also offering a Goodread’s Giveaway here of my latest release – (Starts July 10) https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11164130.K_J_Waters