Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Magic of Music--More Than You Think

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
I’m at Conflikt, the Seattle-area filk convention this weekend, and I’m writing this post from my hotel room as we speak. The place is full of filkers, with such luminaries on hand as Cecilia Eng (guest of honor), Alexander James Adams (toastmaster), the PDX Broadsides from Portland, S.J. Tucker, Vixy and Tony, and more! And I can’t think of a better place from which to officially release Bone Walker, Book 2 of the Free Court of Seattle—because we’ve also got the soundtrack that goes with this book and with Faerie Blood, and we’ll be doing a release concert in honor of both the books and the album.

(In fact, if you see this post before 2pm Pacific time on Sunday the 1st, you can actually see that release concert streaming! It'll be available up on fansupported.tv!)

A bit of background! Some of you may recall that Faerie Blood was originally published via Drollerie Press. But when Drollerie folded and rights to our books reverted back to Drollerie authors, I resurrected Faerie Blood via Kickstarter in 2012. I made enough from the Kickstarter to support not only re-releasing that book but also to do Bone Walker. The soundtrack became a stretch goal, offered in digital form to all backers who chipped in at $25 or more.

But 2012 got complicated, since that was also the year I got my contract with Carina Press. I had to let my alter ego Angela Highland do the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy before I could unleash Bone Walker on the world. Meanwhile, medical challenges delayed my wife Dara’s ability to get the soundtrack done. But it all started coming back together the last few months, particularly the soundtrack.

See those names up there in the first paragraph? Some of those people are on our soundtrack album. And some will also be performing at our release concert. We’re particularly excited to have Alexander James Adams involved.

All of this means a great deal to me, because music is critical to the Warder universe. Most of the main cast members of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker are in fact musicians. My heroine Kendis plays violin. Her boyfriend Christopher, Warder Second of Seattle, is a bouzouki player. And Elessir a’Natharion, bard of the Unseelie Court, can pretty much play anything he puts his hands on, not to mention his long and varied history of being able to wreak havoc on mortal listeners with his voice.

The Warder lineage in general is chock full of musicians too—because when your magic constrains you to physically stay in the same city for the rest of your natural life, you need to do everything you can to keep from going stir crazy. For the vast majority of Warders, this means music. Moreover, in my universe, the grand traditions of Celtic and Quebecois music, with their vast wealth of tunes, have the additional punch of magical power. If you see a Warder busking on the street, they’re not just out there to make music. They’re channeling power into the Wards of your city. Every jig and reel is a thread of audible magic.

Because I may be an author first and a musician second—but I’m also a musician. Music has held power for me throughout my life, the power to fan my emotions, to make me sing at the top of my lungs when I’m out walking, and to heal my heart when I’m struggling. It makes me want to grab an instrument of my own every time I see my most admired musicians perform, or to get up and dance and sing along. Sometimes all three at once. (There are reasons my nickname is Anna the Piper!)

It is therefore entirely just and proper that the Free Court of Seattle, the books of my heart, should be full of music that has all that power and more.

And now, some of that music is itself unleashed. The Bone Walker soundtrack is officially available for digital purchase, and you can order the CD too if you want it. Hear it for yourself right over here on Bandcamp, and my official page for the soundtrack with a roundup of other places you can buy it is here!

Meanwhile, Bone Walker the book releases to the world this Tuesday, February 3rd! You can preorder it from Amazon for the Kindle right over here, and many more places to get it are on its official page! You can even order it in print off the Crime and the Forces of Evil Bandcamp site, here!

I hope y’all will consider checking out the book and the soundtrack—and that you’ll see something of the power I hear in music. And if you, yes YOU, would like to win a print copy of Bone Walker for your very own, answer me this question in the comments: what song, in any genre, has magic for you? One week from today, on Sunday the 8th, I will choose a commenter at random and give a copy of the book to that winner.

Thanks for listening!

--
Angela Korra’ti is the author of the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series, and her alter ego Angela Highland writes the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy for Carina Press. Come see her geek out about Quebecois trad at angelahighland.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter!

Friday, January 30, 2015

From the Archives: The Power of Healing

Posted by: Shawna Reppert
Veronica sez: Our scheduled blogger for today is under the weather so I searched the Archives and found this great post from Shawna Reppert, on the topic of healing. Seemed appropriate!

(And I loved the vrious healing scenes Aragorn did in LOTR.)


Healing is a common theme in fantasy and its precursor myths and legends.  In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is hailed as king by an old woman in the House of Healing because the hands of the king are healing hands.  Earlier, Aragorn finally wins the trust of the wary hobbits on the way to Rivendell by healing Frodo after a wraith attack, although it takes greater power of Elrond to make him whole. Another old favorite of mine, The Silver Sun by Nancy Springer, also features a king-to-be as a healer.  In the Arthurian tales, the Fisher King’s entire land falls barren until his wound is healed.  In the Mabinogion, Bran the Blessed gives a cauldron of healing to his sister and the king of Ireland on their wedding day.  

Why this focus on healing?  The reasons are many.  First, and most obvious, is the inherent power of a healer and the drama surrounding circumstances in which we need one.  The healer, or doctor in modern times, is the most powerful person in our lives at the time when we are most vulnerable.  She literally holds the power of life and death in her hands.  We see the darker side of this power in the early tales of the Robin Hood legend, where a wounded Robin is either bled to death or poisoned (there are conflicting version) by a nun of a healing order in whom he has placed his trust. My folklore professor back in college said that tales that stand the test of centuries are those that reflect universal hopes and fears.  Anyone who has ever been wheeled into an operating room as the anesthetic takes hold knows that terrible helplessness.  Who among us hasn’t hoped for a wise and sympathetic doctor to make it better?  

Healers, by their very nature, hold special knowledge and special powers, which makes them perfect for the archetypical role of Wise Old Man/Wise Old Woman, there to provide aid and guidance.  (For more on this and other archetypes in writing, see Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey and The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.)  The healer king is practically its own archetype, a reminder that with power and privilege comes responsibility, a hope that those who rule act in our interests.  After all, what is more benevolent than a healer? 

Healing, and the need for it, can be a useful plot device.  The quest for healing or some healing talisman or potion can drive an entire story arc, or can force a character on a side trip where they will make an important discovery.  In my award-winning debut novel The Stolen Luck, trust between Loren and James only builds when Loren is injured and must rely on James for his healing.  

Healing can be a potent symbol supporting a book’s overall theme.  Fiction, with rare exception, is about change— the protagonist is not the same at the end of the book as he was in the beginning: wiser, braver, nobler, or in darker tales more jaded, more hopeless, more committed to evil.  Often, a character needs to be healed in a symbolic sense, and physical healing can echo or support that theme.  In my urban fantasy Ravensblood, Corwyn Ravenscroft, or Raven, is a dark mage who discovers he still has a conscience and is trying to find his way back to the light.  His soul is torn and in need of healing.  

Raven turns to Cassandra, his former apprentice and lover whom he misled and betrayed. Cass, now a Guardian,  magical law enforcement serving the elected council of the Three Communities.  She is doing everything she can to live down her past, and then her past turns up on her doorstep, begging for help.
Though Cass is still attracted to Raven, the anger and the sense of betrayal are stronger. Above all, she doesn’t trust him, and she fears that all her hard-won progress toward winning the respect and trust of her colleagues will be destroyed if she’s seen with him. Cass tells Raven that she isn’t about to be the same kind of fool twice, and sends him on his way.  

Raven, without other viable option and desperate to escape all that he is and was born to be, attempts to take his own life. But a mistimed suicide message brings Cass to his side while he still lives. She can’t deny his sincerity while she is kneeling in his blood, trying to stop the flow from his wrists.   Cass uses her own healing talent in attempt to save him, and when that isn’t enough, she enlists the aid of her aunt.  Ana is a healer and member of the Joint Council and had been one of Raven’s teachers in his youth.
Ana saves his life and offers him a chance at redemption by working for the Council as a spy against his master, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time.  Cass doubts whether they should trust him so far.


 Cass closed her eyes. “Okay, maybe at the moment he wants to leave William. But I know Raven. He loves nothing more than himself and his own power. How long will it be before that comes to the fore once again?”

Ana shook her head. “Remember what I taught you of healing? Knowledge and technique will get you so far, but ultimately you have to close your eyes and trust your instincts.”

The wind gusted, rippling the lake. Cass shivered. “We’re not talking about healing now, though.”

Ana smiled. “Aren’t we?”

Cass considered the question. Like many of her aunt’s teaching questions, it had many layers and more than one answer.

“Corwyn has been hurt, too,” Ana said. “He’s as confused and scared as you are.”

Cass snorted. “I don’t think he is capable of any of the above.”

Ana shook her head. “That’s your anger speaking. He has emotions, even if he refuses to admit them to himself or anyone else. You know that, or you would have never taken him as a lover.”

“I was young and stupid.”

Ana stood and put a hand on Cass’s shoulder. “You may have been young, yes. To my eyes, you still are. But you were never stupid. We lost Corwyn once to the dark. We have a chance to win him back. I, for one, am not willing to throw that away.”


So next time you encounter a healer or a healing scene in a book or movie, pay attention.  It comes from a long, rich tradition, and there may be more going on than you see on the surface.

P. S. from Veronica: Shawna has the sequel out now: Raven's Wing!



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beating Writer's Block... oh, look - a game!

Posted by: Sheryl Nantus
Every once in a while the words won't come and no matter how much tea or coffee or whiskey or chocolate you eat the magic just won't happen.

My best way out of the maze?

Playing games!

I've been blogging for quite some time about various board games that I've enjoyed and recommend to not only writers looking to take a creative break from their works but also for people looking for something a bit different to spend an afternoon with friends and family.

One of my recent finds - Splendor by Space Cowboy Games! Take on the role of a gem trader and cultivate as many mines to gain the favor of powerful nobles! This fun and fast game is a great way to get your mind off wrestling with plots... and might have you thinking up some new ones while you look over your emeralds and rubies!

Want something a bit darker? Check out Elder Sign from Fantasy Flight!  Fight the Great Old Ones and banish them... or die a horrible death in the process! If you're a Lovecraft fan or just want to fight some demons this is the game for you - and dice!

Want a fast and simple game? I give you Qwirkle by MindWare - yes, you've seen this game at your local Barnes & Noble. If you've got some wee ones in the house or just want something to clear your mind this is a great way to spend some time. Wooden blocks never felt so good...

Computer games more your type? I picked up the original Shadowrun Returns and the sequel, Shadowrun: Dragonfall over the holidays and can't stop replaying it. This game has a high replay value and a deep, DEEP history that'll suck you right in. This RPG has been around for a long, LONG time and if you're looking for something to shake up your gaming group the newest version is available along with scads of official fiction to keep your 'lil mind spinning.

Dealing with writer's block doesn't mean closeting yourself away with a blank piece of paper, forcing the words to come - sometimes a fun few hours playing games with friends can break that mental block and send you racing back to the keyboard with newfound enthusiasm!

And as Wil Wheaton says...

Play More Games!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Genres, branding and diversifying

Posted by: Shona Husk
So many times an author is told write one genre and get known for that before branching out. But many authors have actually written in multiple genres before getting published. Skipping between genres keep the writing fresh and no one wants to eat cake all the time even if it is their favourite. 

Readers have more than one favourite author and they also read in more than one romance genre. 

So what does that mean for the author? 

I write paranormal romance, it’s what I got my start in. I dabbled in fantasy romance and now sci-fi romance too. I keep coming back to paranormal as I love it (even if it is out of fashion at the moment…which makes it hard to sell). So I tried my hand at contemporary. And sold a series (it starts in April, so keep an eye out of Out of Rhythm).

Will my paranormal fans cross over? Will the people who find my contemporaries cross over to paranormal?

I have no idea. But either way I am expanding my reach by having different products out.

In this day and age it might be better to have a diverse selection. That way when the market flips all of your book eggs aren’t in the one genre. 

What are your thoughts?

As a reader do you follow author across genres? Or if you are an author are you consistent with one product or into diversification?
~~~
Lover in a Bottle (paranormal romance)

Rebecca Thomas is determined to have the perfect holiday on her own. She knows how to plan the perfect wedding, so planning her ideal holiday wasn’t hard. She goes to the Cook Islands to enjoy the sun, sand and surf and everything else Rarotonga has to offer. She never planned on having a holiday fling, but Ashur is hard to resist.

Ashur loves his job. Every woman who frees him from his bottle is unique, and they all want something different. For him it has become a game to seduce them and grant their most secret fantasies—but on his time frame. He makes the most of each moment he is out of the bottle. While he enjoys what does, he is afraid that his life has no meaning and that one day his bottle will be lost forever, and so will he. With Rebecca, he thinks he is ready to give up being a genie and try being mortal.

However, to convince Rebecca so set him free, she first has to believe in magic and genies.

Buy links:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes

SHONA HUSK is the author of the Shadowlands Series and the Court of Annwyn Series. You can find out more information about Shona and her edgy romances at www.shonahusk.com or follow her on Twitter @ShonaHusk, Facebook www.facebook.com/shonahusk or join her newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/119074/join


 


Monday, January 26, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

News

Here Be Magic Authors Need Your Words!

FOR:
March Melange Flash Fiction Week

READERS:
Provide us with five to six of your favorite words and be entered into a random drawing for one of two Amazon $20.00 Gift Cards (USA Only – sorry).

In March each participating HBM author will be assigned 5 Reader-provided words and will write a 300-600 word flash fiction scene inspired by, and utilizing the assigned words.

Check back March 24 through 28 to see what our creative members did with the words you suggested!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Releases


R.L. Naquin, author of the Monster Haven series, shares an assortment of stories from places just outside the world we know. These pages are filled with friendly monsters, dueling witches, floating ice fish, chupacabra taxidermy, and escalators leading to Heaven and Hell. 

This collection includes two brand-new Monster Haven tales. Find out how Riley got his job in “Reaper’s Tale,” and join Kam the djinn as she chases down a ghost with unfinished salon business in “Shampoo Girl.” Plus, as a bonus, this collection includes three previously released Monster Haven stories – just in case you missed them.

Also, take a peek into the new world of the Mount Olympus Employment Agency (series coming in 2015) with “Unmatched Cupid” and “Undercover Gorgon.” 

Transmonstrified offers quick reads for when the boss leaves the room to get coffee and longer ones for when that chatty lady on the plane won’t be quiet. Eighteen stories filled with magic and oddities await.

Because everybody needs a little magic.  Get it HERE!


***
The most dangerous thing they could do is fall in love…

Callie Noble fled to Ottawa to escape danger. But she is far from safe. Overwhelmed by a strange new power she can’t control, Callie is terrified and painfully incapacitated. Her only hope is to seek the help of the one man who broke her heart…

Derrick Llewellyn is one of the Sentinels charged with the protection of the city’s mysterious secret. Seeing Callie again is a shock enough, but the electricity between them is stronger than ever. Still, loving another marked individual is forbidden, and Callie needs his help—not romantic complications.


But there are forces at work in the city, and Callie finds herself inexorably drawn into a world filled with danger and untold magics. A world where loving Derrick isn’t just forbidden…it’s the surest way to drive them both mad.

Buy it now! 
***

Coming Soon

Two months should be long enough for a girl to learn to cope when she finds out she’s half-Sidhe, or so Kendis Thompson has convinced herself. She wants nothing more than as normal a life as possible, playing her violin and pursuing her growing relationship with Christopher, Warder Second of Seattle. But when the Unseelie bard Elessir falls through a portal out of Faerie, bringing with him a ghostly peril that puts her best friend Jude’s life and sanity in danger, Kendis must test the strength of her new magic. And when the bone walker Melorite threatens all of the Emerald City, Kendis must fight to save everyone she loves—even if it means succumbing to the dominion of the Unseelie Court.

Angela Korra'ti is proud to announce that Bone Walker, Book 2 of the Free Court of Seattle series, is now available for preorder at the special introductory price of $2.99! Kindle readers can preorder the book here on Amazon, and the book is also available for preorder on iTunes, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords! Nook readers will be able to buy the book on its release date of February 3rd. All official places to buy the book can be found on its official page!

And if you'd like to get caught up on Book 1 of the series, Faerie Blood remains on sale for 99 cents to celebrate Bone Walker's release! You can get Faerie Blood from Amazon here, and all the rest of the places you can buy it are available on its official page.

As a special bonus, Bone Walker also has an accompanying soundtrack by Crime and the Forces of Evil! The album features excerpts from both Faerie Blood and Bone Walker read by the author, as well as several traditional tunes sets, trad songs, and original compositions by Crime and the Forces of Evil, performed along with several featured guest artists. Find out more about the soundtrack on its Bandcamp page, where you can stream it or order a digital copy, or preorder the CD! If you prefer your digital music from Amazon, you can get it here!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Magicking in the Lines

Posted by: Jenn Burke
This is my first post on Here Be Magic. Thanks for having me! Earlier this year, Marie Harte wrote about 2015 being the Year of the Sheep. For me, it’s the year of the book. Tomorrow, my debut novel will be released by Entangled Publishing (a paranormal romance called HER SEXY SENTINEL—more on that in a little bit) and three books of my five-book male/male science-fiction romance series (co-written with Kelly Jensen) will be published by Carina Press before the end of 2015, starting with CHAOS STATION in March. I’m tired just thinking about it! (But also beyond thrilled.)

One of the things I like best about writing speculative fiction is the world-building. I can let my imagination run wild, coming up with fantastical creatures, landscapes, history, culture, magic. But in order to make sure readers can immerse themselves in the story, everything in a world needs a reason for existing and rules that govern it.

Rules are so important in speculative fiction. They keep the magic (or science) in a world consistent and, if they’re done well, present limits. Whether those limits are hard or soft is up to the writer, but they’re needed to prevent magic from becoming the easy answer to every conflict. If a character can get rid of a problem with a simple wave of a wand—without repercussion or limits—then you’ve got a problem. The story will lose all tension because there’s no longer any question if the characters will be able to get out of the predicaments they find themselves in.

When I created the magic system for HER SEXY SENTINEL, I made sure to keep this in mind. In that world (which is mostly like the real world except for, you know, demons and portals and magic), there are three tiers of magic-users. The first are psychics, who unconsciously tap into the energy they generate to enhance their senses. The second tier is magic-users, psychics who manage to access energy beyond what they generate themselves, either in a moment of crisis or through intensive study. On the third tier are the marked magic-users, the people who have the potential to be much more powerful than anyone else. From that tier come the Sentinels, two special magic-users who protect Ottawa. One of the Sentinels, the Magus, is the living nexus of all the magic in the city. Because portals. And demons.

At each level, there are limits. It takes a lot of adrenaline or effort for a psychic to break through to the next tier and become a magic-user, so it doesn’t happen often. A magic-user can’t wield too much magic at a time, or they risk burning themselves out. Even at the top of the magical foodchain, the Magus risks losing her mind if she releases too much magic from the nexus.

Because I had these rules in place, the conflict through the book isn’t easily addressed. Magic doesn’t become a deus ex machina but a tool with limits and repercussions for its use. Which leads to…

Well, you’ll just have to read it.

HER SEXY SENTINEL is available January 26!

***

The most dangerous thing they could do is fall in love…

Callie Noble fled to Ottawa to escape danger. But she is far from safe. Overwhelmed by a strange new power she can’t control, Callie is terrified and painfully incapacitated. Her only hope is to seek the help of the one man who broke her heart…

Derrick Llewellyn is one of the Sentinels charged with the protection of the city’s mysterious secret. Seeing Callie again is a shock enough, but the electricity between them is stronger than ever. Still, loving another marked individual is forbidden, and Callie needs his help—not romantic complications.

But there are forces at work in the city, and Callie finds herself inexorably drawn into a world filled with danger and untold magics. A world where loving Derrick isn’t just forbidden…it’s the surest way to drive them both mad.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coming Full Circle

Posted by: Loribelle Hunt
In August 2013 I blogged here about Turning Points. I thought at the time the changes in my life would be centered on writing. Little did I know. My mother died suddenly in October 2013 and my dad moved in with us a couple months later. The beginning of 2014 was not an improvement. My dad, who'd been in remission, spent several weeks in the hospital and my oldest daughter began what has been a series of illness and recover that so far is still unexplained/diagnosed. So it likely will come as no surprise my deadlines got a little flexible. (Thank God for understanding editors and publishers!) But finally that book I sold back in August 2013 is finished and edited and has a firm release date.

I started the first draft of The Southern Belle's Guide to Witchcraft in 2006 for my mother. She was a big fan of paranormal YA and Southern comedies and a fun gothic series (Dark Shadows anyone?). I'm not really sure what I intended the book to be other than something that would entertain my mother lol. There's a great deal of her influence in it. To say I'm nervous about its release is the understatement of my life.

And that's quite enough anxious introduction, isn't it? So here it is.  

The Southern Belle's Guide to Witchcraft

Southern Magic Book One

Coming February 27, 2015

There’s a new evil in town, and it’s gunning for Scarlet...

Scarlet Burke isn’t an ordinary witch. She comes from a long line of Burke witches, whose job it is to protect the good folks of Purgatory, Alabama from things that go bump in the night—and things that might slip through the portal in Fool’s Wood. Normally, it’s an easy gig that doesn’t take much time from her day job. Until her ex-husband turns up dead in a ritualistic killing no one recognizes. William, a mundane, had high-tailed it out of town years ago after getting Scarlet’s baby sister pregnant. So why had he come back? Better yet, who (besides Scarlet) had wanted him dead badly enough to lure him to the forest, stake him, skin him, and drain his blood? It wasn’t a vampire kill, but she was damned if she could determine what it was.

Werewolf Jake Mills, the bossy and possessive chief of police, can’t believe anyone in his town could commit such a brutal crime. And Scarlet can’t believe she’s still trying to avoid his advances. Jake has been chasing her for years, and if he wasn’t so charming—and so drop dead sexy—she might try harder to outrun him. Or at least summon a bit of self-control. But the man just refuses to stay in the “Just Friends” box she’s placed him in.

But when the killer targets Scarlet’s family, ghouls, demons, and dark fae all come under suspicion. And when her daughters become the targets of an ancient dark ritual, Scarlet and Jake are forced to make an impossible choice. Fight evil with evil, or watch Scarlet’s daughters die...
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