Friday, November 29, 2013

Post-NaNoWriMo -- Second Drafts

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

Since many of you may have just finished or be almost finished a brand-new first draft for NaNoWriMo , I thought this might be a good time to post about second drafts. I spent this November revising last year’s Nano novel so the process is fairly fresh in my mind. (Of course, every author has their own process; this is merely what works for me.)

I’m a firm believer that second drafts should be all about the big changes: beefing up plot lines, fleshing out character arcs, adding in action scenes to slow sections, etc. There’s no point in spending hours creating beautiful prose when the whole scene may end up scrapped. I call this rewriting and the beautiful prose bit polishing. Polishing is something I do in the 3rd draft. Some writers call one process rewriting and the other revision. Carina Press makes a similar distinction between ‘developmental edits’ and ‘line edits’. Terminology may differ, just know that for me second drafts are when I tackle macro large-scale problems.

Step one: Reread the first draft, stopping occasionally to make notes, but mostly just to read the entire story in one go to see how it holds up. This step is especially important for me because I let my first drafts ‘rest’ for months (or sometimes, shamefully, years) before rewriting them. Actually, some manuscripts get winnowed out entirely and rest forever. Not all ideas are created equal, and while I’m a good enough writer to make a tolerable novel out of any of first draft, I also need to invest my time and energy in only the best prospects.

Step two: Write out a chapter by chapter summary of the novel.  This gives me an index of sorts for the entire novel, so I can see at a glance what order scenes take place--which comes in very handy when I start moving scenes around. Sometimes I color code certain plot threads so I can track them throughout the story. First clue in chapter one, red herring in chapter two, second clue in chapter three, etc.

Step three: Decide what changes need to be made and brainstorm how to accomplish this. At a very simple level, second drafts are a matter of what I liked and disliked when I reread the novel: if I like a scene/character/plot thread, it stays; if I dislike it, it gets changed or ripped out entirely. The first draft of Gate to Kandrith was written in first person, started in what is now chapter three, was missing the entire Esam subplot and had a different ending.  It was also considerably shorter, had no sex scenes and the world-building sucked.  Yeah, there’s a reason why I don’t let anyone read my first drafts anymore.  

 
Step four: Make the desired changes. This is, of course, where the real work lies. Rewriting can be a long road, and it helps to have a map.

What's your revision process? Do you make a distinction between rewriting and polishing? What's the biggest change you've ever made from draft to draft? Please comment, I love talking craft!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Here Be Magic Authors Are Thankful For Many Things!

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Veronica sez: For today's post on the American Thanksgiving Day we thought we'd share some of the things we're thankful for! Best wishes to everyone who's celebrating this holiday (and everyone who isn't) and a very cozy and bountiful November-nearly-December to all our Readers out there - we're thankful for *YOU*!

So, each of us sez “I'm thankful for…”

Regan Summers: …good health, pleasing experiences and the peculiar persistence of opportunity.

Sonya B Clark:…my husband who is my best friend, our little girl who makes us both so happy, and the chance to keep writing and sharing all of these stories in my head.

T. C. Mill: … the chances I've had this year, my shiny new bachelor's degree, and the friends I've made in moving to a new city. (Also for the fact that Paul McGann does not age, as so persuasively proven around the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.)

Joshua Roots:… a wonderful family, great friends, and the opportunity to follow my dreams. Also, red wine. I'm really, really thankful for that....

Shona Husk:… the support of my hubby and kids and that I am in a position to quit my day job. Cheers! 

Angela Campbell:...my friends and family, for my beloved sidekick in fur, for the many wonderful blessings I have been given in life, including my fellow authors here on this blog, and for anyone who has read any of my books. I'm also very grateful for the day of Thanksgiving itself, the one day in America where no one diets and therefore I do not feel judged for eating seconds!

Shawna Reppert: ...all the truly incredible friends in my life, and for everyone who contributed financial, emotional and/or practical support to make my two book launches of 2013 possible. I am humbled by their generosity.

Cindy S. Pape:  a husband who's stuck by me, through good and bad for 28 years, kids that still speak to me, an adorable grandspawn, and a career that makes me smile.

Angela Highland:…being in decent health despite my recent medical challenges. For my spouse, for my family, and for lovely supportive friends. For music, and the ability to make it, and the completion it gives to my life. And for each and every person who’s read and enjoyed Faerie Blood or Valor of the Healer!

Seleste DeLaney:…all the positive people in my life: my children, my family, my friends, the people I work with... They all keep me going, especially when the going gets tough as it is wont to do. <3 

Janni Nell:…strong coffee, sweet wine and creme brulee. Oh yeah, and my family. Love you guys!

Jax Garren:….my amazing husband, Scott, my partner and my lover who has stayed so strong with me through a rough year. I couldn't have made it through fostering and losing the girls (with my sanity intact, anyway) without him!

P. G. Forte:…my fellow authors--one of the best parts of this crazy business! 

K. D. Collins:…every minute I get to spend surrounded by the ones I love.

And as I head off to the kitchen to wrestle with the gigantic turkey and assorted trimmings, here's a final thought:






Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Win-a-Book Wednesday with...

Posted by: Jax Garren

Shona Husk

Three time ARRA finalist Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold—sometimes literally.

With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and Sourcebooks.
You can find out more at www.shonahusk.com
www.twitter.com/ShonaHusk
www.facebook.com/shonahusk
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/lySiD

LORD OF THE HUNT – IN STORES JANUARY 2014

She Wasn’t Cut Out for His World...
The realm of the fairies might be unbelievably beautiful, but its people are notoriously treacherous. Raised among mortals, Taryn hoped to avoid her fairy heritage her whole life. But now she must cross over to Annwyn and appeal to the King to pardon her exiled parents, or they're sure to die. And to get to the King, she'll first have to face the Lord of the Hunt...
He Can't Imagine Life Without Her...
Verden, Lord of the Hunt, is sworn to serve to King. But the moment he sees Taryn, the attraction is instant and devastating. How can he not help the beautiful, brave young woman who refuses to bend to the will of the court? Yet the power in Annwyn is shifting, its magic failing. No matter how much he may love Taryn, the Hunter knows that abandoning his duty could bring down the mortal world forever...

Praise for the works of Shona Husk:
“Romantic and intriguing.” —Publishers Weekly
“Enthralling.” —Booklist
“A great fairy-tale feel...dark, fresh, and tantalizing.” —Anna's Book Blog

See that beautiful purple cover? Well that's not the cover the ARCs have. The ARCs have the same guy but with an orangey background. The ARCs are now kind of collectors items and this one comes with a wineglass charm (with matching orangey cover) because the last thing you want to do in Annwyn is lose your wineglass and accidentally drink some fairy wine.

Follow the rafflecopter guidelines to go in the draw!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trend Predictions for 2014

Posted by: Marie Harte


I thought I’d take a look at the cards, the stars, and my crystal ball and try to predict the hot new romance/fiction trends coming in 2014. The end of the year brings us a new Hunger Games movie, proving YA apocalyptic fiction is still hot. So are Hobbits, as illustrated by the next Peter Jackson movie coming out in December. And we have a Feb 2015 date to look forward to a big picture version of 50 Shades of Grey. The erotic fiction market might be flooded right now, but it’s going to boom again once that particular film releases.

Okay, so my guesses for next year…




  1. Erotic romance is going to level off. It’s been in a slow decline for a while, but I think it’s going to settle, then start a gradual climb at the end of next year (ahem, in time for 50 Shades in 2015).  
  2. Pirate romances will become big again. Historicals go in cycles, and we’ve seen Regencies leading the charge for years. But pirates and Vikings are due to resurge. My bet’s on Jolly Roger.
  3. YA (Young Adult) Horror is going to hit big. The darker the better. 
  4. Contemporary romance is back to stay, at least through next year. Paranormal…it’s not so good out there for us right now. And forget about fantasy romance. (Don’t worry. Our time is coming to strike back!) 
  5. NA (New Adult) has been huge recently. So of course New York saturated the market. I think it’s going to peak by the middle of next year. I could be wrong…but I don’t think I am. 
  6. In paranormal romance, Shifters are currently the new black. Vamps are for the most part out. Do I hear a few ghosts rattling chains, ready to reincarnate?
  7. Indie romances will continue to do well, but the lure of the indie option is fading. A lot of folks dumped the idea of trying for traditional publishing because it’s so dang hard to get in, and hey, indie is welcoming. Well, now indie is so stock full of books, it’s super hard to stand out there too. I believe more writers will try to go hybrid, writing for themselves, for small presses, and for traditional pubs. The all one or the other career is dying. 2014--Year of the Hybrid.

That’s my take on next year’s trends. I might be way off, or I might be right. Time will tell, but I'm placing my bets on my predictions.I'm even following them! My December release is paranormal, and it's a shifter story. Yes, I'm trending.

Got any predictions of your own?


Marie Harte
website | blog | facebook
follow me on twitter @MHarte_Author

USA Today Bestselling Author

Monday, November 25, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
New Releases

Book two of Last of the Shardyn

A dark god, a police chief and four knights walk into a portal...

Ex-commando and Montana police chief Skip Walkins's life just got a whole lot worse. The malevolent god Asmodeous the Pale has escaped to Earth's magical twin, Theia, where he plans to release his underworld minions and enslave mankind. Skip, in a fit of unwise bravery, follows.

He ends up allied again with Gavin Blackburn and the Shardyn Knights. Desperate to warn the Theians about Asmodeous, the Knights don't blink at crossing a sky-high mountain range and battling a legendary necromancer to do so.

The thing is, nobody wants to listen to the Knights' tales of dread. Immersed in a magic-fueled tournament for immortality, the Theians give Gavin and Skip a motley crew of mismatched warriors to lead against all the fury of the underworld.

And if Gavin and Skip can't stop Asmodeous, both Theia and Earth will be doomed.


126,000 words


***

Logging manager Matt Shaw is wary when Kayla Edwards, the owner of Mountain Specialty Spices, hires his firm to harvest timber on her Appalachian property. It's a place he knows better than the back of his calloused hand--it's his family's old homestead, lost years ago in a painful foreclosure. He's hauled himself up from dirt-floor poor since then, and resolves to stay professional...but Kayla's vivacious beauty makes it hard to focus on his job.

Home. That's how army-brat-turned-foodie Kayla feels about her new mountain hideaway. What's more, the hottest lumberjack ever to swing an axe has agreed to manage her timber crop and get the old maple syrup operations back on tap. Matt's ruggedly sexy ways and passion for the land have her falling hard.

The heat between them grows wild...until Kayla discovers that Matt hasn't been up front with her. She feels devastated and, worst of all, used. How can Matt prove it's her he wants and not her land?

60,000 words


Link List

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Congrats to Jane Kindred for being named to Library Journal's Best Books of 2013 list with The Armies of Heaven!

Win-a-Book Wednesday Winner

Congratulationss to Stephanie, the winner of The Elf and the Ice Princess from last week's Win-a-Book Wednesday! Jax Garren will be contacting you soon about your prize.

This Wednesday we'll have another mystery giveaway; stop by for more chances to win!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Do You Mean "There's a Book?"

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
Yesterday, I took my kids to see Catching Fire. Most people know I didn't love the first movie. I thought it glossed over the emotional depth of the book in favor of looking shiny. However, I want Hollywood to make more movies of great books, so I want to support these films, hence going to see the second film. 

First off, I really enjoyed this installment. Katniss got to show more emotion and I loved how they worked in a little of the PTSD that features so heavily in book 3. Long story short, if you liked the books, go see the movie. 

However, the highlight of the viewing for me wasn't anything that happened on screen. 

You see, the people behind us in the theater had clearly never read the books. (Neither has my daughter, but she quietly asked enough questions to understand what was going on. She's smart like that.) Anyway, the woman behind us...

There was a lot of the following going on through the film:
"Oh no you di'n't!"
"You go girl!"
"Yeah. You show 'em."
and the like. At first I thought she was just a vocal movie watcher (not the annoying kind so much as just really into the movie). And I foolishly assumed she had loved the books and was enjoying Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss in this installment as much as I was. 

At least until we reached the end.  (Minor spoilers ahead, but if you haven't read the books yet...)

For anyone who has read the books, you know that Catching Fire is essentially the Empire Strikes Back of the series. Shit has kind of hit the fan. There's hope but it's not all good news. 

The screen went black and the woman behind me, no lie, yelled, "That was some bullshit right there!"

Mind you, I'm sitting there with my kids alternating between making sure they don't go off on her and trying not to laugh. Granted, this isn't as bad as the idiots on the internet who called The Hobbit a rip-off of Lord of the Rings. (Yes, feel free to laugh at that if you didn't hear about it. I still do every time I think about it.) 

But seriously, the content of these books is not a secret. It's a dystopian trilogy. You can't expect a happily ever after at the end of the middle book. That's just silly. (SPOILER: If you're expecting happy at the end of book 3, you'll be disappointed too. Amirite?)

Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me when people go to see movies of very recently popular books and have no idea what they are getting into. I mean, if they make a movie out of a book from the 70s now, I wouldn't expect people to be overly aware, but with the advent of the internet, I'm a bit of a snob about this sort of thing. 

What about you? Do you normally read the book first (or at least find out something about it) before seeing the movie? 

(NOTE: I will admit to being duped by the previews for A Beautiful Mind back in 2001 and not looking into the book or the story. I didn't get pissy about the movie, but it definitely hadn't been what I expected. And I still stand by the fact that I was a new mother and barely sleeping, much less thinking about looking up anything online.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Slightly Whimsical Look at My Pilgrim Ancestors

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Note: I originally published this post in November 2011 as a guest on my friend Shawna Thomas's blog, but I thought perhaps the audience at Here Be Magic might enjoy the tale:

As one of the themes of Thanksgiving here in  the United States, we have the quintessential romance story, with a chaste, inspirational love triangle, all centering around the folks who arrived on these shores on the Mayflower in 1620. Poor orphaned Priscilla Mullins (my ancestress, thank you but we’ll get to that in a minute), sought after by gruff old Captain Miles Standish, a well-to-do recent widower. Miles is not a dab hand at coming up with woman-attracting prose so he enlists his friend John Alden, he of the silver tongue. Ah but guess who John loves? The young Mr. John Alden,  my other ancestor, dutifully went and began reciting the beautiful speech he’d written to Priscilla, ostensibly for his friend Miles. (My guess is John poured his own heart out in the speech and that’s what made it so compelling).

Mistress Mullins stopped him and said in her best Pilgrim demure fashion, “Prithee, John, speak for yourself.”  Really, what self respecting heroine of a modern day romance novel wouldn’t have done the same? And John didn’t have to be asked twice apparently. HEA ensued, complete with ten – maybe eleven – children.

Everyone knows the story, right?  

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’ve always taken a special interest in the whole Miles Standish – John Alden- Priscilla Mullins love story because (a) I like romance and love stories and (b) I’m descended from them.  (My mother and her entire side of the family were die hard genealogists before it was popular – don’t ask!)  The relationship was a special point of pride for me as a child. I even got to play Priscilla in the third grade Thanksgiving pageant, with a robin's egg blue bonnet that was amazing in its historical inaccuracy.  I remember nothing else of the costume so the dress was probably a lot more authentically Pilgrimlike and boring. But that hat! I can still see it in my mind's eye some unspecified number of years later.

Clarence Somebody played my John Alden but I had a crush on Henry S., who played Miles. Clearly I wanted to rewrite history in our little school pageant and end up holding hands with Henry S, as well as wearing that to-die-for-bonnet. Unfortunately my third grade teacher was a hard liner and we went with the original, historically accurate plot. Clarence and I presided over the feast (chocolate milk and cookies) as the happily "married" couple, while the rakish Henry was off teasing Debbie B, my playground rival. 

Priscilla didn’t have these problems! She appears to have been a woman of unusual gumption for the 1600’s and probably would have ended up with Henry, were she in my sneakers, if she'd wanted him.

OK, flash forward to me in adulthood. I now know there are approximately 1,000,000 descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Alden living today. (One of their daughters married one of Captain Standish’s sons – sequel  material there!) There are actually 10,000,000 living descendants of the entire Mayflower passenger list.  So you and you and you may be just as descended from them as I am.  I clearly wasn’t as cool and unique as I thought in third grade. In fact, I recently found out one of my co-workers and I are cousins, about thirteen times removed.


The idea of taking a day to stop and give thanks for what we have remains a happy thing, even 380+ years later, in my case, or whenever Thanksgiving or its equivalent holiday falls on the calendar in your part of the world! Best wishes to you and yours in November!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Which New Paranormal TV Show is Right for You? A Flow Chart

Posted by: A. J. Larrieu
Am I the only one astonished by the number of new television shows out this season with a paranormal or science fiction twist? I count at least five new series, plus plenty of returning shows and more on the horizon. Some are definitely better than others, but it's safe to say that whatever flavor of speculative television you prefer, the fall lineup has you covered.

If you're like me, and your schedule (not to mention your DVR) can't handle the influx, I give you this handy flow chart to help narrow down the new (and a few not-so-new) options:

.


Personally, I'm devouring past seasons of Doctor Who in a desperate attempt to catch up, anxiously awaiting Bitten, and catching occasional episodes of The Walking Dead and The Originals. What are you watching this season?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Win-A-Book Wednesday with...

Posted by: Jax Garren

Jax Garren


Jax Garren is the author of the Tales of the Underlight. Though descended from Valkyries and Vikings (Jax is part Swedish), she was raised a small town girl in the Texas Hill Country. She graduated from The University of Texas with a degree in English and a minor in Latin and stayed in Austin to teach high school. During her eight years in public education she was in a riot, broke up fights, had cops storm her class with guns drawn…and met the most amazing young people who taught her more about life and hope than she taught them about any school subject.

Jax believes in happily ever afters. She married her real life hero, a handsome engineer who is saving the world through clean energy technology. Her heroine is Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the perfect blend of tough and feminine. Jax blames Marion for her dream of traveling to Nepal to experience Himalayan palaces and monasteries and to drink yak butter tea.

Jax loves meeting new people, so if you see her out and about say hello! She’s always happy to raise a glass with her readers (or anyone else) in a toast to courage, adventure, and love.

A frozen heart… 
Two years ago, amid grief and defeat, the man who once made Carrie Martin believe in happily-ever-afters deserted her on New Year’s Day. Ever since, she’s seen no reason for holiday joy amid the materialism and chaos of the most stressful time of year. So when a tipsy guy in a mall elf costume falls into her lap at happy hour and starts spouting poetry, it’s just one more reason to be disgusted at the season’s excess.

A man who’s more than he appears… 
Brett Vertanen, part-time elf and a caterer in training, is smitten with Carrie’s strength and sass. Having faced down a painful past of his own, he’s determined to be the one to warm her frozen heart. But when Carrie’s job forces her to attend a gala hosted by her ex–and his new wife–it could take more magic than a costumed elf can conjure to make this ice princess once again believe in love.

Hi all! Jax here. I wrote this story during a rough phase in my life--when my husband and I decided it was time to quit trying to have a baby and adopt. Throughout the journey of creating a family, I've had my amazing husband by my side to cry with, laugh with and just to know there was someone steadfast when things got rough. Brett and Carrie are both my love song to my family and my wish everyone could have someone--a friend, a love, a family member--to help keep hope and joy alive in life's dark moments.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Give me those 'More Interesting Secondary Characters'!

Posted by: Natasha Hoar

 
“What? No! We all know he lives - he has to come back for the next movie! Go back to Syrena and Phillip! How did she save him? How’s he breathing under water? Did she eventually turn him into a merman? Damn it!”

I couldn’t help yelling at the TV as the credits for Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides rolled. Yes, I was happy Jack lived to plunder, and stagger about another day, but I really didn’t give a hoot about him right then. His survival was a given (million dollar franchise that has another film in the pipes, anyone?). All I wanted to know was what happened to the ‘different’ mermaid and her human love.

Did she actually heal him and imbue him with the ability to breathe under water with a single kiss? If so, why weren’t sailors regularly capturing mermaids to force them into giving them what would be incredibly beneficial powers? If not, how long did she have to drag Philip to a place where he could actually survive? Who would help her heal him? Would mermaids even allow a creature their species essentially viewed as a less-than-happy meal to be healed? What would Syrena have to do to convince her kind that Philip was worthy of being her companion? Would she have to leave her people to have a life with him? Where would they live? If he remained human, but with the ability to live under water, how would his physiology eventually be affected? What would his and Syrena’s children look like?

So many unanswered questions! Argh!

Such is the fate of the ‘More Interesting Secondary Characters’ - forever doomed to live on in the ‘what ifs’ of viewers, until the franchise creators drop a breadcrumb or two in subsequent movies or book tie-ins.

Or they live on in fan fiction. Lots and lots of fan fiction.

I can’t be alone in my M.I.S.C. lamentations - which secondary characters (in movies, books or TV series) do you wish had a LOT more screen time?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
New Releases


A frozen heart…

Two years ago, amid grief and defeat, the man who once made Carrie Martin believe in happily-ever-afters deserted her on New Year's Day. Ever since, she’s seen no reason for holiday joy amid the materialism and chaos of the most stressful time of year. So when a tipsy guy in a mall elf costume falls into her lap at happy hour and starts spouting poetry, it's just one more reason to be disgusted at the season’s excess.

A man who’s more than he appears…
Brett Vertanen, part-time elf and a caterer in training, is smitten with Carrie’s strength and sass. Having faced down a painful past of his own, he's determined to be the one to warm her frozen heart. But when Carrie's job forces her to attend a gala hosted by her ex--and his new wife--it could take more magic than a costumed elf can conjure to make this ice princess once again believe in love.


Link List

Beautiful article on the power of story: Sometimes The 'Tough Teen' Is Quietly Writing Stories

10 Key Terms That Will Help You Appreciate Fantasy Literature

A Female Author Talks About Sexism and Self-Promotion - Sarah Rees Brennan

Google Wins: Court Issues a Ringing Endorsement of Google Books

Win-a-Book Wednesday Winner

Congratulationss to Laura, the winner of Monster in my Closet from last week's Win-a-Book Wednesday! R.L. Naquin will be contacting you soon about your prize.

This Wednesday we'll have another mystery giveaway; stop by for more chances to win!

Group News

Angela Campbell is kicking off a blog tour for her newest release, Something Wicked. You can enter to win a $50 gift card and both books in her series. To find out where the entry forms are, visit this link.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ravens, Evermore: Ravens in Fact, Fiction and Folklore

Posted by: Shawna Reppert


Humanity’s view on ravenkind has always been ambiguous at best.  You can see how ravens got a bad rap. Their voices are, even to this raven fancier, unlovely. With their jet-black feathers and their long, heavy beaks, their appearance could be considered sinister.  (Personally, I think they look rather cool.)  They are often associated with death because they feed on carrion, including battlefield carrion.
In their defense, they didn’t cause the death, unlike raptors, which are basically killing machines with wings.  We can hardly expect other species to be any more sentimental about our dead than we are about theirs.  (Looking forward to that Thanksgiving turkey?) 

And ravens are smart.  Not just smart-for-birds, but very smart.  Smart enough to use sticks as tools and to steal fish from a fisherman’s unattended line.  Like crows, they recognize people and remember who was nice to them, and who wasn’t.  (Public service announcement: Always be nice to crows and ravens.)
British folklore almost always paints ravens as villains.  The very word raven in Old English is practically synonymous with bloodshed and strife.  The traditional ballad Three Ravens has a hawk, a hound, and a lover defending a knight’s body against the depredations of three ravens.  (Contrasted with the better-known and more cynical Scots ballad Twa Corbies, in which the hawk and the hound couldn’t care less and the lady fair is strongly implied to have brought about his death through treachery.)

Celtic traditions are a little less clear about ravens and crows.  Both are associated with the Morrigan, the battle-goddess.  A truly fearsome figure, yes, but evil?  Depends on which side of the battle you’re on.
Norse people had a more positive view of ravens.  Two ravens act as messengers and intelligence officers for Odin All-Father.  (Though given the raven’s clever, trickster nature, I’m rather surprised they weren’t assigned to Loki.  Perhaps he didn’t like competition.)  I wonder if the Norse fondness for ravens didn’t damn them further in British eyes.  The British Isles had little reason to love the Vikings. 

But if you go back to classical times, the Greeks had a much more positive view of ravens.  Crows or ravens were servants and messengers of the sun-god Apollo, he who brought light and warmth to the people.

Native American traditions tend to be much less absolutist than European ones, and Raven is an important and contradictory figure in many of them.  Raven is part of many of their creation stories, either as creator of the world or creator/discoverer of human beings.  Sometimes he is the one who steals fire, either from the sun itself or from another creature that hoards it, so that the people might have light and heat. 
Yet Raven is also a trickster on par with Coyote, and like Coyote, he sometimes outwits himself to his own detriment.  

In literature and film, the contradictions continue.  In Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the villainess has a pet raven.  In Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, the titular bird is a bad omen, a harbinger of doom and despair. Yet in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, ravens serve as messengers for the dwarven heroes.  And in George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones series, ravens serve as messenger birds.  Many  of Charles de Lint’s novels borrow heavily from Native American traditions.  His Raven created the world so long ago that he seems to have forgotten he had done so.  He moves through the story half-asleep— but with the threat of powerful things happening if and when he wakes.

In my urban fantasy Ravensblood, I deliberately play with the ambiguity of the raven as a symbol through the name of my protagonist.  The Ravenscroft family are notorious dark mages.  When Corwyn Ravenscroft, called Raven, tries to seek a path of redemption, he has many doubters, himself among them,   At one point, even his chief supporters question his motives and loyalties— and one of them gets a little advice at that point from Mother Crone:
“You were not the only one who believed in Raven when he was young.”
Ana started. She had not heard Mother Crone return.
“I granted him access to my coven’s sacred lands when he was in General Academy. I felt he needed some quiet place to be, away from others and how they judged him. He never abused the privilege. And I have never revoked it, though he has not returned since he went to William.”
Ana stared at her, found herself studied in return. Mother Crone was a seer, and one of the best. She could not know, not with a certainty, but if she had even an inkling. . .
Mother Crone patted Ana on the shoulder as though she were a child and not a woman a mere decade her junior.   “In some Craft traditions, the raven is associated with battle and death. But in others, the raven is the one who brings light to the people. Take this from my Craft—when you are in doubt, when your mind cannot make sense of the facts before you, let your innermost heart guide. It is wiser than you know.”

The raven will never be easy to pin down.   Which may be why it has captured the imagination of so many,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Darkness

Posted by: Steve Vera
There's a reason people are afraid of the dark. It's because when you're by yourself, surrounded by trees in the dead of the night and you can't see two feet in front of you, the scampering of a chipmunk sounds like the charge of an angry grizzly bear. 

Or a hungry troll, take your pick. 
Now that's some darkness.

Most of us in this day and age don't get a chance to be plunged into pure darkness; I mean, it's the twenty-first century after all, right? There's always some avenue or street nearby, the drone of a highway or some headlights coming your way, and even if you live waaaaay deep in the suburbs, there are still those pesky light posts to deal with. It takes effort to be immersed in complete darkness. 

Unless of course...you have a good friend whose father built a cabin in the middle of the woods in a itsy-bitsy town you've never heard of. When all you need to do to be surrounded by pitch black is to step outside onto the back porch once night comes and close the door behind you. Or sleep in a sarcophagus.   

It's funny, I thought I properly understood the complete magnitude that darkness can have on a person, but it wasn't until this past October while spending two weeks at said cabin (yeah, I was there all by myself for Halloween) that I fully experienced darkness in its full splendor. I actually dared myself to take a stroll at midnight through straight up, back-of-the-closet dark woodlands. Then I found out why it's so easy to become superstitious. Why it's so easy to believe in the supernatural, which of course ties in quite nicely to the theme of this blog site, Here Be Magic. And lemme tell you something. Out in the dark forests...there are monsters out there. Sitting up in trees just watching. And lurking. Talk about nerve racking, I figured I'd do that stroll a couple of times while I was out there but nope. Just that once. 

The good news is that it provided me with a new arsenal of inspiration to draw on and really helped me texture my writing further for Book III of my Last of the Shardyn trilogy. Speaking of which, I should probably mention that Book II--Through the Black Veil comes out Nov. 25th which is...whoa. Just ten days away. That's pretty awesome. Allow me to post a pic of the cover...
And yes, there's magic in those there pages. A police chief, a reforming sociopath, and a band of magic wielding knights cross from Earth to Earth's magical twin Theia, to battle the Lord of the Underworld. Dun dun dun dunnnnnn. 

Keep your nightlight on...

Thanks for the glance.

Steve out. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
Happy Birthday Images
Birthday celebrations are wonderful. They mark an achievement, look to the promises for the future, and are a reason to get together with family and friends.

So, here is a toast to celebrate and mark the achievement of Knight of Runes, my first published book. Like a proud parent, I can't believe two years ago today it debuted and that the story is still delighting readers. Every fan message makes my heart sing with pride.

The future looks bright for Lord Arik and his Rebeka. A follow up story, Knight of Rapture, is almost completed. I'm not certain if it will be the last we hear about the dynamic pair but I have had a lot of fun writing their stories. So much so, that the short story in the new anthology I participated in with my friends and critique partners, Timeless Keepsakes - A Collection of Christmas Stories, is a prequel to Knight of Runes

The anthology is the debut for Lita Harris, Emma Kaye, and Nicole S. Patrick. New parents are wonderful to watch. Their excitement is contagious! This time next year they will be celebrating their single title debuts. Lita's Love at Christmas and Emma's Time for Love both released this month.

Julie Rowe, a well established Carina Press author, shares today's birthday celebration with me. Her debut Carina Press book, Ice Bound, also released two years ago today. She is the fifth author in our anthology. With her expertise in teaching creative writing at a local college in Alberta, Canada, she taught us the art of short story writing and also has a story in our anthology.

The experience has been so awesome we are already planning a May release for Timeless Escapes - A Collection of Summer Stories.

Our families and friends have been supportive. More celebrations are planned for this weekend. In case you were so inclined, we've opted for no presence please (just buy our books *smiles*). 


Timeless Keepsakes - A Collection of Christmas Stories

The magic of Christmas is in the memories we hold dear and those precious treasures that remind us of the past. Join us as our Timeless Keepsakes take us on five remarkable journeys that heal old wounds, remind us of days gone by, play matchmaker, sweep us back in time and prove that love can conquer all.
~~~~~~~
Introduction ~ Sharon Sala

Mistletoe and Magick ~ Ruth A. Casie She would give her last breath for him. He would give up everything to guard her well and love her more.

Christmas Spirits ~ Lita Harris A widow's everlasting love is renewed by the memories of the holiday season.

Granting Her Wish ~ Emma Kaye She doesn't belong in his time and he doesn't belong back home. Could they belong to each other?

Letter from St. Nick ~ Nicole S. Patrick She’s trying to save her home and he’s never had one until now. Can an unexpected gift lead their hearts to the same place?

Secret Santa ~ Julie Rowe A nurse grieving the death of her twin brother receives an unusual gift at the staff Secret Santa party: the bullet that killed him along with a message of hope and love.

Timeless Keepsakes is available on Amazon and B&N
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