Welcome Back to the Blog

by Bruce Blake

The time has finally come…the return of the Guild of Dreams.

After a lengthy hiatus (if you choose to read that as ‘Bruce got lazy for an extended period of time’, I would probably be hard pressed to argue the point), the motley blog crew have returned to entertain and enlighten. Returning to the Guild are myself, Autumn Birt, Chantal Boudreau, Scott Bury, Joshua Johnson, AM Justice, Steven MontanoGuild-wglow 300, and Benjamin X. Wretlind.

So here’s the set up: we’re paring things down a little, with regular posts scheduled for Mondays and Fridays. That’s not to say you won’t see the occasional post on other days…special guests, book announcements, cover reveals, and the like may pop up at any time, so be sure to sign up for email updates over there on the top right if you haven’t done so already.

And what can you expect from the posts you’ll find on the Guild? The easiest way to figure that is to have a look back through previous posts. If you’re too lazy or preoccupied to find the time to do that, then let me fill you in: you’ll find pointers on writing, editing, formatting, publishing, and the like; you’ll find out where ideas come from, how characters are developed, and how to promote your own work. If prior patterns hold, you will likely also get to see some cool pics Steven uses to draw inspiration, stories of Autumn’s travel adventures, Chantal’s artwork, and Scott’s perspective on what the hell is wrong with the publishing industry and how to fix. Throw in Amanda’s writing chops (and Game of Thrones analysis), Benjamin’s creativity, and Joshua’s love of the writing process and tools, and I know there will be something here for everyone.

So sit back, pull up a chair, and the let the Guild of Dreams take you to worlds you never knew existed.

What’s missing from fantasy?

By Scott Bury

Birth of Venus photo by Len Prince, courtesy kitchenandresidentialdesign.com/Creative Commons

“…the possibility of having to deal with mental illness or disability doesn’t arise enough in genre fiction storylines, fantasy included – at least not as much as a proper attempt at realism would demand.”

Chantal Boudreau’s post last week got me wondering: else is often left out of fantasy writing?

I heartily agree with her thesis: mental illness is a major problem in our world today, but it’s almost never reflected in fantasy writing, except in villains and anti-heroes. This is a powerful demonstration of the stigma that mental illness carries.

In fact, it’s rare to see mental illness treated honestly and sympathetically in any kind of fiction. Genre writing may be more susceptible to this problem, because any genre has to have some conventions.

One of my goals in writing fantasy is to break conventions. The hero of my first novel, The Bones of the Earth, is on the autism spectrum. I have never seen that in a fantasy book before.

One convention, down. But what else is absent from most of the work in our genre?

The purpose of fantasy

Fantasy fiction often abstracts or symbolizes the issues of the real world, today. Reflecting our everyday reality helps us understand issues, problems, relationships and phenomena by presenting them from a different perspective.

An excellent example, albeit from science fiction rather than fantasy (a fuzzy border) is Dune by Frank Herbert. In that interstellar opera, “Spice” is an analogy for oil in today’s global economy: they’re both scarce, expensive and the basis of transportation and development of civilization. The author displayed deep insight by depicting the addictive properties of Spice. Our civilization has been addicted to oil for over a century: even though it’s killing us, we make huge efforts to procure it, like a junkie after his next fix. Like an addict, we outright reject giving it up — we know going cold turkey would destroy us. And the efforts to develop alternatives are well-intentioned, but ineffective.

Opening possibilities

What are some major elements of today’s world that could be reflected in our books and stories?

Addictions – How can fantasy reflect the scourge of addiction in a fantasy world? Addiction can be like possession – the addict is not in control of his/her actions anymore. But for fantasy to really achieve its potential, we have to go deeper. We have to examine how addiction or possession affects other aspects of the addict’s/possessed’s life, how it affects others those in relationships with the addict/possessed, how the addict often protects the addiction, how it can be supported and furthered by other elements in the world around it, and much more.

Religious fundamentalism – I cannot be the only one who has noticed a hardening of faith-based attitudes and increasing intolerance for people who act differently than others — not just Wahabi Islam, but among some Christian groups in the West, and other religions, as well. Autumn Birt’s Rise of the Fifth Order series has a strong theme of religious oppression, but I don’t know of many books that get into how a society can be divided and transformed by competing, intolerant religions.

Environmental degradation – There may be more books about the gradual destruction of the natural environment — I just can’t think of any right now. Stephen Montano’s Blood Skies series has a strong environmental message, but it’s more about how war has destroyed the environment.

Poverty – so many fantasy books deal with royalty. It’s understandable, but we as a genre, as the authors of this genre, need to branch out and write more about ordinary people and poor people. Bruce Blake’s Khirro’s Journey takes some good steps in that direction. While a medieval-style king, nobility, warriors and wizards who want to rule the world are key features, the focus on the hero’s peasant background and the poor origins of the other characters is refreshing.

What about you? What new issues, ideas and problems from our real world would you like to see reflected in fantasy novels? Which ones are you going to tackle in your next book?

EBooks Make Great Gifts

The holidays are approaching, some of them are already even upon us, and many people are struggling to figure out what to get for Aunt Sally, Grandma, their brother and, more likely than not, their spouse and kids. Well, we have some great suggestions for you that definitely won’t break the bank and may even change somebody’s life. Every book listed below is on sale for a buck, but only from Dec. 13-15, so grab ’em while you can!

Featured:

Blood Skies, Steven Montano, sale, Christmas, dystopianBorn of Water, Autumn Birt, Epic fantasy, sale, eBooks, Kindle, Christmas

Dark Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Steven Montano – Blood Skies (Book 1) – US link: http://amzn.to/YKjqez UK link: http://amzn.to/VCrmfW

Epic Fantasy

Autumn M. Birt – Born of Water – US link http://amzn.to/VsyVzF UK Link: http://amzn.to/VopRvW Smashwords: http://bit.ly/Xz9ZNk

Bruce Blake – Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 1) – US link: http://amzn.to/Rp5CPJ UK link: http://amzn.to/VPxg9T Kobo: http://bit.ly/Y3iBf4 Smashwords: http://bit.ly/QvyYOq

Scott Bury – The Bones of the Earth – US link: http://amzn.to/YRAHlO UK link: http://amzn.to/RjK2Qj

Featrured:

The bones of the earth, Scott Bury, sale, kindle, ebooksblood of the king, christmas sale, epic fantasy, kindle, ebooks, cheap

Paranormal Fantasy

Gary Henry – American Goddesses – Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/168834

Short Stories – Literary Fiction

Beverly Akerman – The Meaning of Children – US link: http://amzn.to/SOs6KD UK link: http://amzn.to/U3mR99

Short Stories – Mystery/Adventure/Fantasy

Gary Henry – What Happened to Jory and Other Dark Departures – Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/107606

Children’s

Cinta Garcia de la Rosa – The Funny Adventures of Little Nani – US link: http://amzn.to/US3Itz UK link: http://amzn.to/STqyQW

Middle Grade

Vickie Johnstone – Kiwi in Cat City – magical cat series (6 books) – US link: http://amzn.to/QNcIzL UK Link: http://amzn.to/127JJsY

Young Adult Contemporary

Renee Pace – Off Leash – US link: http://amzn.com/B005S34JO2 UK link: http://amzn.to/125BYEM

Mystery

Adam Gaffen – Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Viscount’s Butler – US link: http://amzn.to/UvVPrh UK link: http://amzn.to/12fTbuj

Adam Gaffen – Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Date – US link: http://amzn.to/TNTtXi UK link: http://amzn.to/SYHOCR

Cozy Mystery

Brad Fleming – Inky Black – The Case of the Missing Moggy – US link: http://amzn.to/TKJpgT UK Link: http://amzn.to/SC2xwl

Brad Fleming – An Inky Black Story – A Hard Day at the Office – US link: http://amzn.to/WMXR6o UK Link: http://amzn.to/UhTdel

Science Fiction

Adam Gaffen – A Deadly Quest (The Cassidy Chronicles) – US link: http://amzn.to/RjLHp4 UK link: http://amzn.to/UvW1qB

Adam Gaffen – Run Like Hell (The Cassidy Chronicles) – US link: http://amzn.to/RjLQJ8 UK link: http://amzn.to/VIPgX4

Adam Gaffen – Refuge – US link: http://amzn.to/SQ4A17 UK link: http://amzn.to/Vxqd3c

Adam Gaffen – The Longest Night – US link: http://amzn.to/QRESti UK link: http://amzn.to/WVT3LT

Adam Gaffen – Who Watches the Watchers? – US link :http://amzn.to/TNUjDB UK link: http://amzn.to/VxqN12

Romance

Blaithin O’Reilly Murphy – The Meaning of Purple Tulips – US link: http://amzn.to/S4H6XN UK link: http://amzn.to/UzGu99

Regency Romance

Kymber Lee – Lord Tristan’s True Love – U.S link: http://amzn.to/VM9Zpg UK Link: http://amzn.to/TIrA2N

Romantic Comedy

Vickie Johnstone – 3 Heads & a  Tail – US link: http://amzn.to/Vop0LX UK link: http://amzn.to/SSQYAL

Urban Fantasy

Bruce Blake – On Unfaithful Wings (An Icarus Fell Novel #1) – US link: http://amzn.to/XnhRkN UK link: http://amzn.to/Qkf0BP

Bruce Blake – All Who Wander Are Lost (An Icarus Fell Novel #2) – US link: http://amzn.to/SxWtWE UK link: http://amzn.to/11Tx9OH

Featured:

Bruce Blake, On Unfaithful Wings, Icarus, Sale, Christmas sale, kindle, cheap, ebooksAll Who Wander Are Lost, Icarus, dark fantasy, Bruce Blake, urban fantasy, sale, kindle,

Erotic Dark Fantasy

M. Peters – Undisclosed Desire – US link: http://amzn.to/SOMThc UK link: http://amzn.to/X6TtPF

Erotic Paranormal

Renee Field – A Siren’s Wish – US link: http://amzn.com/B006PU6CD8 UK link: http://amzn.to/YX4WrC

Erotic Myth

Renee Field – Love Me Wild http://www.ellorascave.com/love-me-wild.html

Renee Field – Love Me Tenderhttp://www.ellorascave.com/love-me-tender.html

Renee Field – Love Me Stronghttp://www.ellorascave.com/love-me-strong.html

Thriller

Joe McCoubrey – Death by Licence – US link: http://amzn.to/TG2gqP UK link: http://amzn.to/UhRyp6

Brad Fleming – Role of Dishonour – US link: http://amzn.to/123Yey3 UK link: http://amzn.to/UhSfyX

Christian Inspiration

DeEtte Beckstead – The Christmas Visitors – US Link: http://amzn.to/VABvK5 UK Link: http://amzn.to/YTsKeO

Allison Bruning – Reflections: Poems and Essays – US Link: http://amzn.to/YHca2S UK Link: http://amzn.to/TNyaBZ

Poetry

Vickie Johnstone – Life’s Rhythms – 316 Haiku – US link: http://amzn.to/TLSw0F UK link: http://amzn.to/RHurtL

Featured:

Non-Fiction: Adventure Travel

Autumn M. Birt & Adam P. Paul – Danger Peligros – US Link: http://amzn.to/Xz9R0d UK Link: http://amzn.to/TZkK5i   Smashwords: http://bit.ly/SSSLpn

Non-Fiction: Memoir

Alycia Neighbours – Deciding to Dance – US link: http://amzn.to/12fRk8Y UK link: http://amzn.to/TLkEi9

Alycia Neighbours – Wake Up In the Mourning – US link: http://amzn.to/Z2l1uW UK link: http://amzn.to/SQ2xdB

Non-Fiction: Self Help

Jamesina Greene – Help! I Don’t Like Myself – US link :http://amzn.to/1218mIw UK link: http://amzn.to/1218rw7

Looking for more? Check out our friends over at Independent Authors International for their Holiday Xmas-ganza Dec. 15-18!

Fantastic Fantasy Freebies!!!

To celebrate Thanksgiving, the Guild of Dreams are offering you extra reasons to be thankful!

For two days only–Nov. 20 and 21–choose one or all of 4 great fantasy novels to help celebrate the season!

November 20 and 21 only: 

You can download four fantastic Guild of Dreams fantasy books for FREE!

THE BONES OF THE EARTH

By Scott Bury

The Dark Age, eastern Europe: theearth has decided to rid itself of humanity with earthquakes, volcanoes and new plagues. Civilizations, even the mighty Roman Empire, crumble under the pressure of barbarian waves that are fleeing worse terrors.

Rejected by his own people, pursued by a dragon, young Javor heads for Constantinople, the centre of civilization, looking for answers to the puzzle of his great-grandfather’s dagger and the murder of his family.

On the ancient, crumbling Roman highway across haunted, deserted Dacia, Javor rescues the beautiful Danisa from a human sacrifice. He cannot help falling in love with her. But Danisa has her own plans, and when she is kidnapped again, Javor has to wonder: what is the connection between his dagger, his lover and his enemies?

Download FREE from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Bones-Earth-Dark-ebook/dp/B006PI0NRG/

ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST:

An Icarus Fell Novel

By Bruce A. Blake

Icarus Fell’s life sucked. Then he died and things got really bad.

After muggers killed him, Icarus became a harvester, his job to help souls on their way to Heaven, and it turned out he possessed as little talent for this as he did for every other job he lost. People are dead. The deposed Angel of Death nearly took his teenage son. The Archangel Michael is angry with him and the police think he is a serial killer.

The only one left on his side is his guardian angel, but when he asks her to help him get to Hell to rescue the souls wrongly condemned because of him, she refuses to go against Michael’s wishes.

Then another guardian shows up. Piper is beautiful, mysterious, and willing to help. Having her around turns Icarus’ afterlife upside down. But knowing how to get to Hell is only half of the problem.

Getting back with your soul is the real challenge.

Get All Who Wander Are Lost for free from Amazon.

BLOOD SKIES (Book 1)

by Steven Montano

Free on Smashwords through November 25th!

In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.

Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.

Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.

There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…

Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the “Blood Skies” series from author Steven Montano

Get Blood Skies for free at Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/64748

Enter Coupon Code: EL47N in the Shopping Cart.

BORN OF WATER

By Autumn M. Birt

In the buried archives of the Temple of Dust may lie the secret to defeating the Curse, a creature which seeks to destroy 16 year old Ria for the forbidden gifts she possesses. But it is from among the ranks of those who control the Curse where Ria will find her best chance of success. Only the Priestess Niri can save Ria from the forces that hunt her, if Niri doesn’t betray the girl first. Along with Ria comes Ty and his sister, Lavinia, both bound to defend Ria from the Church of Four Orders and Niri, if they must. However, Ty has been living a life less than honest and keeping it from his sister. To survive a journey that takes them across the breadth of their world, the four must learn to trust each other before pursuit from the Church and Ty’s troubled past find them.

Download Born of Water for free from Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/220915

Enter Coupon Code SQ46H in the Shopping Cart.

Or from Amazon.

 

A Little Bit of Adventure for Your Day: Excerpt from Born of Water

In the buried archives of the Temple of Dust may lie the secret to defeating the Curse, a creature which seeks to destroy 16 year old Ria for the forbidden gifts she possesses. But it is from among the ranks of those who control the Curse where Ria will find her best chance of success. Only the Priestess Niri can save Ria from the forces that hunt her, if Niri doesn’t betray the girl first. Along with Ria comes Ty and his sister, Lavinia, both bound to defend Ria from the Church of Four Orders and Niri, if they must. However, Ty has been living a life less than honest and keeping it from his sister. To survive a journey that takes them across the breadth of their world, the four must learn to trust each other before pursuit from the Church and Ty’s troubled past find them.

So goes the description to my epic fantasy novel Born of Water. The Companion to Born of Water, full of background information and other tidbits, will be released within a week and I’m hard at work on the sequel, Rule of Fire. I’ve offered up Born of Water for free, but never given out sample chapters! Bruce has convinced me to mend my ways, so for the first time ever here is an excerpt from Chapter 7 – The Bazaar of Sardinia:

.

No one entered Sardinia unnoticed. The town was perched on an exposed slim finger of land which jutted out into the Sea of Sarketh. High hills dropped quickly to the ocean, leaving no deep, sheltering harbor or port for vessels. Instead, a natural breakwater was formed by a line of rocks sweeping out from the point. It offered ships meager shelter from the current and incoming storms.

A small town had formed by those skillful or desperate enough to seek refuge behind the submerged rocks of the breakwater. Despite the convenient location of the town between the Archipelago and the cities lining the Sea of Sarketh, the lack of a harbor had kept the settlement from becoming a thriving commercial town. Over time, the breakwater had been enlarged with boulders and the town had turned to catering to those whose needs were not met in the traditional markets. Sardinia was avoided by conventional merchants and honest professionals, or so Ria had heard.

As Lavinia steered them toward a ramshackle wharf, Ty stood watch leaning over the edge of the boat.

“Rocks awash fifteen feet to port.”

Lavinia nudged the rudder post to turn them a degree to the right.

“No, keep the course steady.” Ty’s harsh voice caused Lavinia to flush as she froze her hand.

“Then say ‘stay on course,’ not ‘rocks to port,’” Lavinia snapped at her brother.

Ty ran his hands through his already rumpled hair. Ria and Niri glanced at each other in silence. Ria’s breath caught in her throat as they glided past the half-submerged remains of a ship. The cracked boards of its hull were an ominous welcome to the dangerous town and harbor.

“You are doing fine. Just keep it slow and follow the channel,” Ty said a little more kindly.

Lavinia took a deep breath and glared at the back of her brother’s head. She refocused on the quickly approaching wharf. The mass of wooden planks and pilings sprawled along the shore without order. In places, small rope-and-board bridges spanned sections that had fallen into the waves.

“Where do I go?” Lavinia asked, admitting that she needed help.

“Stay to the starboard side. Head there, just off the channel. You see?” Ty said, pointing to a doubtful-looking mass of planks nailed haphazardly between old pilings.

“That’s where the merchant vessels tie up?” Lavinia’s voice broke with nervousness.

Ty glanced at her grimly. “No, but it’s the closest to the channel and will be the fastest to leave from.”

The edges of Ria’s vision faded, the colors blending to white. She inhaled sea-laden air while her stomach tumbled. Overcome with seasickness and nervousness, she focused on the rigid lines made by the bones of her hands, not looking up toward the town until the boat brushed the dock.

Three men were walking down the wharf toward them as Lavinia stalled the sailboat just off the dock. They confidently stepped across the missing planks with an easy swagger. His gaze not leaving the approaching men, Ty casually looped a rope around a nearly upright piling, not so much securing them as making certain the boat did not drift.

“Do exactly as I say while we are here,” he said quietly.

Wide-eyed, Lavinia watched her brother over the dropped sail as she lashed it to the boom. Niri was pale, but her serene face did not betray any fears. Ria felt that if she opened her mouth she would scream. Her heart thudded in her chest so hard she thought it would break her ribs, which felt as fragile as crystal. She was a creature made of spun gold and milk glass about to step foot in a world that would crush her as surely as the Church. Eyes twin shards of moss agate set in alabaster, Ria stared at Ty, feeling as frightened of what he was asking her to do as she was of the men walking down the dock.

“Aye, what business do you have?”

The lead man stood over their small ship, coolly appraising it from the height of the dock. One thumb was hooked into the waist of his faded red, rough-woven pants, while his weight rested on his right leg in a casual pose. His muted brown hair fell to his cheeks, which showed two days worth of scruff.

“We have goods for the bazaar,” Ty answered calmly, eyes not leaving the man’s face.

There was a slight glimmer to the man’s hazel eyes as he looked at Ty, then the air of nonchalance fell back across his face. His eyes drifted between Ria and Lavinia. “Is that so? Anything good?”

The muscles around Ty’s face tightened and he stood a little straighter. “Odds and ends mostly; we need to clean out the boat.”

“Not selling her, are you?” the second man asked from where he stood a pace behind the first. Sandy blond hair trailed over one eager brown eye. His tan tunic had a slash of dirt across the front, while his pants were neither gray nor brown. They were the color of mud.

Ty paused, his gaze shifting as he tried to judge what the man was referring to. The man’s eyes rested on the girls as much as on the ship.

“No, the boat isn’t for sale.”

“Too bad. She is a slick little vessel,” the man replied, his eyes laughing at some private joke.

The third man was hard to gauge. He stood well back from the other two. Built lithely with fine muscles that rippled under his deep black skin, his eyes took in everything. But his expression gave little in return. His clothes were dark, a sleeveless violet tunic with embroidery at the keyhole collar over black pants and boots. The fabric of his shirt was crisp as if still new. His eyes were the only ones that did not stare at the two girls. He met Niri’s gaze steadily.

Niri remained unreadable, not in the least bothered by the direct stare. She stood alone near where she usually sat on the boat, the bright and slightly revealing shirt looking out of place on her controlled form. Ria felt as pale as a summer rain cloud. She refused to look at any of the men, wishing they would disappear if she did not acknowledge their presence, as if she could will this place not to exist. Lavinia stood in front of her, looking up at the men through a lock of dark hair that had fallen across her downcast face. To Ria, the glare to Lavinia’s blue eyes looked startlingly like her brother’s.

“You’ll need to pay the normal dock fee, then,” said the first man, who looked to be the oldest, or at least the one in charge.

Ty did not hesitate. “I’ll pay you to watch the ship, too. We won’t be past sunset.”

The offer erased the dour look from the man’s face. “That would be all right. I’m Gaff. Causis and Hahri can help you take items up to the bazaar as well. You can pay me.” His grin was easy and gap-toothed, more troubling in the boyishness of it compared to the nefarious look the moment before.

Ty passed Gaff a handful of coins without even counting them. Ria watched the money they had spent the last two days earning disappear into Gaff’s shirt. Her breath came in little puffs as she floated high in her head, detached from her body, the boat, the town.

Gaff vanished down the haphazard wharf. Sandy-haired Causis stood leering at the two girls while Hahri waited silently behind him. Ty tossed the bags they had sorted the night before and brought on deck at dawn at Causis’s and Hahri’s feet. Causis scowled but picked up his share.

Ria followed Lavinia’s actions, bending to pick up a small sack of mostly fine cloth. It was light but Ria felt like a willow being bent over in a storm. Ty helped her from the boat to the wharf, his touch warm on her ice-like skin. It made her come back to herself and her skittering heartbeat like a wild bird caught in a snare.

Ria walked down the rickety wharf as close to Lavinia as possible. Hahri and Causis were nearly to end of the dock and Ty was moving quickly to stay with them. Ria’s stiff, stilt-like legs and the weight of the bundle twined in her arms nearly caused her to overbalance at every missing plank. Her eyes would lock on the water swirling around the rocks below and she would nearly misstep. Niri’s hand on her shoulder kept her moving, bringing back enough focus to keep her from walking off the edge.

The relief of finding the muddy road under her feet fell away the instant the wind shifted. The smell of strong spirits and stale urine hit her with a sudden onslaught. She gagged this time for a reason other than nerves. On solid ground now, Lavinia moved her bundle to her left hip so that she and Ria could walk next to each other, their shoulders nearly touching. Ty followed directly behind Hahri and Causis, while Niri was last, keeping the girls between herself and Ty.

Dilapidated buildings with broken boards and missing narrow windows lined the dirt road winding up the hill. Bottles were smashed into the muddy track. A rat dove under the corner of a building, something moldy in its mouth. In an upper window, Ria saw movement. She found herself meeting the dull eyes of a girl about her age. Her naked shoulder was bruised and scratched, lank hair falling down to cover her breast. Rough hands covered the welt and pulled her back and out of sight.

Trembling so hard that she thought her bones would fall apart, Ria pulled her eyes down to Ty’s back and trudged ahead in a nightmare.

The abused wooden buildings gave way to low stucco structures and then larger ones of worn stone. Still far from elegant, these building at least gave a sense of purpose and organization. Ria found herself glancing around again from under her lashes.

Ahead, Hahri opened a tall arched door set in a high wall. Causis and Ty slipped through without pausing. Ria raced through on Lavinia’s heels, who stopped so quickly Ria bumped into her. The bazaar of Sardinia swirled around them on the other side of the old stone wall. The winding narrow streets of chipped stone and stucco buildings echoed the shouts, music, laughter, and sales chatter of hundreds of vendors. Shop doors stood open, giving glances into the dark interiors of rug merchants and dimly lit cafés. Smoke from small cook fires along the street floated in the warming air. The smells of roasted coffee mixed with spices and cooked marinated meats mingled in the still morning. It was the largest and most vibrant market Ria had ever seen or heard of. She blinked in surprise.

“Where do you want to start?” It was the first time Hahri had spoken. His voice was a low base that rumbled deep in his chest. After walking through the doorway to the market, Hahri was now behind Niri while Causis was next to Ty. Ria glanced at Ty to see Causis staring at her. Ria felt her cheeks flame as she glanced away.

“I know someone. You will be able to leave us there. This way.”

Ty led, moving along the bazaar with the ease of someone comfortably familiar with their surroundings. The tension was gone from Lavinia’s form as she watched her brother’s back. The bundle she carried dangled only a foot above the ground. Niri and Hahri were behind Ria, so she could not see if they were similarly relaxed in the vibrant heart of Sardinia. Ria felt more confused than reassured.

But it was easy to be drawn in. An elongated red and orange demi-dragon twisted around the arms of a tattooed man, the rich colors of his skin blending with that of the chained beast. Birds in cages or with feet tied to sticks screamed and sang from one stall. In another, fire sylphs danced above their brass cages waiting to be sold. A man ran up to Ria holding out lengths of gleaming silver silk. His words were incomprehensible as he described the material in a language other than trade. Ria shook her head and looked away, seeing a young boy acrobat, wearing little more than paint, lithely tumbling forward from a handstand. It was marvelous and lurid, fantastical and deceptive.

In the midst of it all, Ria felt like every eye turned toward her. Silk and jewelry, delicate shoes and fine dresses were whisked in front of her. She pulled into herself, for the first time in her life wishing away the novelty of her delicate beauty. The sellers could not help but notice her. Eyes from the shadows of stores assessed her potential. She could feel the stares pushing against her.

Senses assaulted by a new wave of merchandise thrust at her, Ria floundered, gesturing them away with her hands. The bag she was holding dropped and was scooped up before she could bend over. Tears of frustration filled her eyes as she stepped after it, only to be stopped immediately by the surrounding wall of merchant men. Lavinia was not next to her, Ty nowhere to be seen.

Ria scrambled to step back, not knowing how she had become separated from them so quickly. But the men would not let her pass. A hand like a shackle closed over her wrist and pulled her sideways through the throng. Ty had come to collect her, she was sure. The relief that Ty had found her shattered as Ria found herself staring into Causis’s greedy brown eyes. His other hand cut off her scream as he dragged her forward toward the edge of the street.

His grip was brutal. His hand crushed her wrist, bruising her flesh while the arm of the hand across her mouth felt like a steel band across her chest. As he pulled her down an alley barely a doorway wide, Ria stumbled against him, feeling the length of his body against hers. She began to struggle, writhing and kicking.

The hand over her mouth let go. Ria sucked in air before it was knocked out of her again by the slap across her face.

“Stop it. You are worth more to me unblemished, but not by much,” Causis hissed into her ear.

I hope you enjoyed this tiny snippet of the novel! You can find Born of Water on amazon. Look for the Companion, which will be free, sometime in the first week of August. And if all goes well, Rule of Fire should be out late fall.

Autumn

Seriously, What Were You Thinking?

It began with a song.

The first time I really remember my imagination unlocking to a deeper level, carrying me away to a new world inside of me, was sitting as a little girl in the back seat of my parent’s car. We are were one of our very long drives. I couldn’t read, as I got car sick the second I tried looking at printed type. “Playing with the Queen of Hearts” was on the radio.

I try to put myself into that long ago mindset of a young child. What was it about that song that set my mind free? I can promise you I did not understand half the lyrics! What did I know about love in reference to a deck of cards? I did know it was about love. Take the image of a Queen, who you need to be wary off, and a joker, who would “do anything for you,” unhealthy love, and a very long car ride and my mind was running in realms far beyond Barbie and My Little Pony to say the least!

For awhile, I had to hear THAT song to get my mind going, but eventually I could journey beyond the mundane without it – a great trick to learn when my bus ride to school topped 45 minutes! Daydreaming was my best hobby as a child, as I mentioned in my first post here. It took many years for that to overflow into writing.

I prefer hikes measured in days, motorcycle rides measured in weeks,  vacations bordering on epic. I love writing novels as opposed to short stories. I hit my stride far beyond where a short story would wrap up. This impacts the ideas I develop. If a spark doesn’t grow, I tend to let it simmer down into an ember.

That is what had happened with the opening to Born of Water. A short story idea, which had fizzled – it involved a corporate woman, who just so happened was a dryad, stumbled across a young woman with similar potential at a conference – was still floating about half alive. You see why it fizzled, I’m sure! It needed something more, a motivation to carry it beyond the tiny frame I could see. It needed the painting located in the bathroom of the office where I work.

An early inspiration for Mirocyne

I’m serious about the painting part. It is a good four feet by two feet, massive painting of a Mediterranean village. It isn’t great. Well, it leaves a lot up to the imagination! Which is why it snagged my mind every time I hid out in the bathroom (it is the ONE room in my office where no one will track you down. I consider it a cubicle of stress relief.). Stress, a corporate woman who became a plant if she wanted to hide from coworkers, a painting about somewhere far away that begged a story – they came together and became Born of Water.

But that is just the beginning, it is only Mirocyne. There is the rest of the world: the Archipelago, the Kith, the Southern Shore, Rah’Hahsessah, The Temple of Dust, the Ashanti and so much more. Really, where do all the pieces come from that forms a novel?

I can say that the first imagined version of Born of Water was sadly unimaginative. Seriously! As I mentioned in my last post, my first run through when I am “patsying” the whole thing is a rough framework sketched of shallow characters visiting known territory. Like dropping in on a wild west town, you just know there will be a saloon, a jail, a stable, and some trouble. The story needed work. Even once I wrote it, it needed work.

This is me in college! It may be black and white, but you get the picture. Just imagine a sylvan forest instead of a counter top!

For Lus na Sithchaine, my first vision was of a northern woods town a la Maine. Can you imagine Darag as a lumber jack!? Then I thought ‘Forests’, which usually equals elves. I cringed. Don’t get me wrong, I love most stories about elves. You should have seen me in my teenage years: 5′ 7″, LONG golden hair, gold-green eyes, thin . . . . Yeah, I love elves. But man, when I thought about writing about them and the rules/myths already in use . . . . I didn’t want to follow the status quo. I didn’t want to be yelled at for not following the status quo. I tossed the whole thing, brainstormed, and came up with the Kith.

Once I realized they resembled the trees that they are bound to, the Kith came to me as a complete society. Even the Ashanti formed whole, once I thought out their unique history. (Curious to know what that is? Stay tuned, the Born of Water Novel Companion is in its final stages. It should be available for free by August!) Sometimes, it is as easy as that – sitting back and letting your mind really fly. Most of the time it is a lot of work. The whole thing with the Spheres of the Elements and . . . oh wait, we haven’t gotten to that part yet! Well you haven’t. I know what is coming in Rule of Fire!

Other novels inspire me as well, especially ones I don’t like. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was not my favorite read. But I did like how nothing went smoothly for his characters: every turn was wrong, every decision a mistake. Like Chantell, I didn’t want a story with a perfect hero, succeeding at every turn. If they are that good, how did they end up in a mess in the first place? Characters have flaws, problems don’t always have easy (or any) solutions. Sometimes life is painful and mistakes are made, even in fantasy. I think this turbulence gives Born of Water depth (no pun intended!).

Images still play a part too, helping to create mood to inspire more ideas. When I was writing about the Kith, I changed my desktop image to a misty forest. And music still inspires me, of course!. The song “This is Where” by The Wailin Jennys speaks to me of the Kith and Lavinia as well. “Measure me by branches, count the rings and take my ashes. Mark the ground where I fell and carry on.” I may be foreshadowing again, but I’m not going to tell you!

For the Southern Shore, I listen to Vieux Farka Toure’s “Fafa.” Maybe it is because the cover has him pictured standing on a sandy dune, but the music wraps around you like warm air twisting up from baked ground as the evening cools around you. That is Rah’Hahsessah.

And this should give you an idea of where and – how many – ideas come from for just one novel!

Autumn

Why I am a Writer

For most of my early life, I really wanted to be an artist. Yes, an artist – paint brushes, oils, canvas, pencils and all that. It may be a strange way to start a post on how I became a writer, but there you have it.

Hi, I’m Autumn. This is my first blog here at Guild of Dreams and my chance to introduce myself. The important facts about me you can find on my “home blog” of No Map Nomads, on my Author’s Page at Amazon, or here at the Guild of Dreams. But to save you the clicking, here you go: I live in Maine with my husband and two tremendously cute cairn terriers. We all live in a 24′ yurt (if you don’t know what that is think Mongolia and giant round tents), but we are building a “cottage”. I’ll let you know how that goes . . . .  In my day job, I’m a conservationist and work on saving the environment. That sounds really cool, but is a lot of paperwork usually! But my real passion, now that I’ve discovered it, is writing. And this post is about how I became a writer.

As is the case when there is something you love to do – and have all the free time childhood can offer – I spent a lot of time while growing up drawing. I became quite good at it. Everyone said so. They would ask “Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?” I said “yes,” of course. What else would an eight year old say?

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel

I never paid attention to the fact that everything I drew was to illustrate one of the many stories zooming around my youthful brain. Even though in high school I won a short story competition and wrote for the newspaper, that I took editing and writing courses in college, and that my honors project was writing five short stories and illustrating them, I never took my eyes from the fact that I was going to become an artist (I will not acknowledge the pink journal of really bad poetry I wrote in Elementary School which, upon learning the existece of from my mom, my husband hid away knowing if I got my hands on it, I would burn it!) I never had a second thought about my career path until I graduated, got a job at an art gallery, and sat staring blankly at a piece of white paper. I had no ideas to paint.

There are two things I’ve realized about my painterly abilities. One is that I’m a great copy artist. While I can draw just about anything put in front of me, original ideas are difficult for me to come by. I lack vision. And the second is that the stories and ideas in my head I have a difficult time putting on paper in image form. I would become immensely frustrated trying to capture in one scene a story scape trapped in my mind. I just never got good at that.

I virtually abandoned painting and my life went on with graduate school to switch my major to a more practical science degree. Then my boyfriend, now husband, found a few pages of a story I’d written tucked inside my plant pathology notes. Years before an aimless walk had led to an abandoned trail only differentiated from the forest by the deeper collection of leaves and pine needles. Eventually I found a set of stone steps. I still remember the shiver of “oh this would be so great in a story” that came with the discovery. The idea grew until I wrote snatches of it in college and university notebooks (At least I was writing something in my notebooks – even if it was not relevant to the class!) . It was my husband’s encouragement to write the whole thing down that led to my first novel Ancient Fragments. 

Ancient Fragments remains unpublished. Looking back, I can see that I made just about every novice mistake when I wrote it. But I can say I did write it, and I loved the experience. It is what made me realize that I’d been pursuing the wrong interest all along. Everyone, including myself, had focused on the very visible side of my childhood hobby of daydreaming.

Years after having written Ancient Fragments, I now consider myself a writer. There were many starts and stops. Ancient Fragments took nearly eight years to spit out. It took a few more to take writing seriously, to admit I wanted to be published, and to realize I had a lot more ideas in my head. I’ve taken a couple of Adult Education courses focused on novel writing and I’ve done the slogging through query letters to editors. (If you add up all those years just mentioned, you’ll realize I’m older than I look. Most people peg me for 28 and I’ll happily accept that decade-off assessment!)With only one book on Kindle, Born of Water, I’m still learning the ropes. But one thing remains the same, I love writing.

If figuring out a plot point hinted at early in the novel is fun to do as a reader, that has nothing on being the person who creates that little tidbit early in the novel to have it come around full force later. I love the moments in creating a story when everything comes together. The shiver of inspiration that came to me on the discovery of the abandoned stone steps lost in the forest is minuscule compared to the breathless joy of uniting plot threads while leading a story into unknown terrain. I love brainstorming new creative elements, and I absolutely adore the moment when I finish writing the last word in a novel. It means I get to flip back to the beginning and start editing as I read through and experience the story all over again. I’ve been told that if you like editing, you are either crazy or you are a writer.

And perhaps one of my favorite things about being a writer is that you can share a story you’ve created with someone who will experience it directly in his or her mind as they read it. Somehow the dreams I form into words will be translated back into images and be experienced by someone else. It will become theirs as much as it ever was mine. Something about that just amazes me.

I write because I have too many ideas in my head. Through writing, I can selfishly explore the depths and intricacies that I may breeze through if they stayed in ephemeral form. And then I can pass on that idea to be experienced first hand by someone else. That is why I am a writer. For me, it is as simple as that.

Autumn

My novel, Born of Water, currently has a free promo going to celebrate the Summer Solstice – and the opening day of the novel. The promo ends 6/21/2012 at midnight – check it out while you have time!