Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How Do You Know When Your Literary World Is Complete?

Posted by: Joshua Roots

Endings are inevitable. Try as you might, nothing continues forever. It sounds trite, but it’s a reality that every author faces sooner or later.

I remember when the TV show Frasier ended. For eleven seasons, viewers had followed the madcap adventures of the titular character and his rich supporting cast. You can still catch reruns, but the show has been off the air now longer than it was on. That world, so carefully created and cultivated, finally came to an end, giving us closure.

Frasier was one of the lucky ones. Far too many shows end with the nail-biter cliffhanger that is never concluded. Our heroes forever live in a state of limbo and uncertainty. Did they escape? Did they die? Were the lovers reunited? No doubt the screen writers wanted to leave the audience begging for more, hoping that another season would be granted. When they didn’t get it, there was no closure and the characters live in world of unresolved question. For those writers, their exit strategy didn’t marry up to that of external forces.

Literary authors face a similar challenge of how to put a story to bed. We spend months and years creating a world, fleshing out characters, and building a plot in the hopes that readers will fall in love with the story as much as we have. But once a series begins, the question becomes when and where to end it. Do you continue writing as long as people are willing to buy your books? Do you close the door when it’s at the peak of readership? Or do you create an arc that begins and ends no matter what happens exterior to your story?

Most times the answer is, "it depends".

Scott Westerfeld’s Succession duology (The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds) is one of the greatest space operas of modern times. Would I love for there to be more than two? Absolutely. But the life of the story only required a pair of books. J.K. Rowling, however, needed seven (possibly more from the rumors). Anyone who has read David Weber’s Honor Harrington series or Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files knows you need to reserve a couple of book shelves for each.

Whether you’re a Westerfeld or a Butcher, at some point you have to call it quits. Pack up the characters and say goodbye. Some creators, however, may be afraid to wrap up their worlds because they fear that they won’t have another one to offer or that their readers won’t follow them to new realms. But that fear could wind up being detrimental. Stay in one place too long and you run the risk of growing stagnant. Characters might lose their shine or plots could become repetitive.

So how do you know when your literary world is complete?

It’s an interesting question, one that was posed to me by my Dragon Brother while I was working on the final book of the Shifter Chronicles. Sure, I could have kept the series going, but to what point in the future? I hadn’t planned an exit strategy when I wrote Undead Chaos many moons ago. Heck, I hadn’t done more than write the opening chapter to a sequel because I never thought it would wind up in print. So when Carina Press offered me the chance to round out the trilogy, I sat down to figure out my exit strategy. How was I going to say goodbye to everyone? How would I complete my literary world?

Ultimately, the question falls to authors themselves. They know their series and their characters better than anyone and hopefully they have a vision for an ending. Maybe it’s one determined by external forces, like books sales or a contract, or maybe it’s something internal. But no matter what, at some point, they have to write “The End” once and for all. 

After all, a great work of art can live forever. It just can’t continue forever.





Bio:




Joshua Roots is a car collector, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He's still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

Paranormal Chaos, the final book in the Shifter Chronicles, is available for pre-order wherever digital books are sold.











Monday, September 28, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Dark Secrets, a Paranormal Noir Anthology

Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.

HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy, a Twelve Kingdoms novella

A dark fairytale retelling of a princess robbed of rank, husband and even her name.

Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix. With broken vows, anguish and dark secrets between them, Cavan and Nix struggle to find the magic to restore what’s gone terribly wrong… if it ever can be.


Releasing September 29

Buy Links:
Amazon - Kobo - ARe

The Red Pencil

New short fiction by award-winning fantasy author Shawna Reppert!

 

 A young girl learns to be careful what she wishes for. . .and as an adult decides that some things are worth the cost. Contemporary fantasy by an award-winning author. 

Although this story is inspired in part by the author’s childhood in Pennsylvania and her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, it is contemporary fantasy/magical realism, not memoir. The magic in the book is entirely the author’s invention, although inspired by archetypes from several cultures. It is in no way meant to represent the Pennsylvania Dutch hex tradition.


Also includes as a special bonus the first three chapters of the award-winning novel Ravensblood. 


Only .99 on Amazon!

Member News

Veronica Scott's novel of ancient Egypt Magic of the Nile (Gods of Egypt)  received the Hearts Through History Romancing the Novel award.

The story: 
The standalone sequel to Priestess of the Nile…picks up about fifteen years later and tells the tale of Tyema, who was the younger sister in Priestess of the Nile…
After a childhood spent scorned and ignored by her family because of her crippled foot, Tyema was magically healed then installed as the High Priestess of his temple by Sobek the Crocodile God. But Tyema is still haunted by her memories, scarred by the abuse she endured. Despite Sobek’s protection, as an adult she’s become a near recluse inside the temple grounds…
 Until Captain Sahure arrives in her remote town, sent from Thebes on an urgent mission for Pharaoh, requiring High Priestess Tyema’s help. From that moment on, her quiet, safe life is upended in ways she never could have expected. Soon enough, Tyema finds herself thrown into the chaos of Pharoah’s court, neck deep in intrigue and danger. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Adult Speculative Fiction…it’s a thing!

Posted by: Caitlin Sinead

When New Adult started making waves in publishing a few years ago, the category was defined by contemporary romances. Okay, who am I kidding, the category is still predominantly contemporary romances. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of great speculative New Adult out there.

Jessica Gunn has been highlighting some of these great stories all month long with the hashtag #NASpecFicMonth. Want your college romance with a dash of the paranormal? Prefer your swoony young twenty something heroes to live in a new world? These books do exist. :)

Jessica’s hosting a giveaway, which includes my book, HEARTSICK, right now! There’s still a chance to enter: http://www.jessicagunn.com/new-adult-speculative-fiction-month-giveaway/

Happy reading!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Here's Where I Work...Sometimes

Posted by: R.L. Naquin

Not a recent picture. So tidy!
Due to the magic of theme weeks, this is my third week in a row on Here Be Magic. I’m currently working on two different projects at the same time—Unamused Muse and a Super-Secret Related Thing I’ll be revealing in another week or two. As a result, my brain is a little scrambled, rendering me unable to get much done on either project. So scrambled, in fact, I spent a good chunk of today writing my HBM blog post for another theme week, which, I realized too late, isn’t for several more weeks.

On the bright side, at least my next post is already written.

But I’m not a quitter! I’ve got something else for you today. I’ve seen a lot of writers show pictures of their workspaces. I work a lot of different places. Let me show you!

We’ll start with my home office. I take my ceramic tumbler that looks like a Disneyland paper cup, my work cat Molly, and my laptop up the stairs.

Yes. I have a work cat. I have work pajamas, too. Okay, really, all my pajamas are work pajamas, but only Molly can come into my office when I’m working. She’s less likely to knock things over or park under the wheels of my chair or cry really loud because she wants attention. She’s my buddy. See? That’s her watching the cannibal house out the window.
Much more recent. I need a maid.

Sometimes, though, I need to get out of the house. When that happens, I have options. The people at Starbucks don’t care if I park myself and stay for eight hours straight. I make sure I get up and buy something every few hours, and I drop a tip in the jar so they know I appreciate them. I’ve also been known to stake out a spot in a Panera for awhile, but I don’t stay there for nearly as long. I don’t think I’ve lasted more than three or four hours at a Panera. Honestly, it’s harder to find an outlet there sometimes, so that makes a difference.

I don’t have a picture of Starbucks or Panera for you. You probably already know what they look like.

I moved way over so you could see the view.
The best days are gorgeous, sunny days when all I want to do is go for a long drive and work out the kinks in my current story or plan a brand new story. On those days, I have a special place I go, a lake that’s about thirty minutes from my house. Maybe a little more. I can pull into a spot right up to the edge of the water. And I whip out my crazy steering wheel desk.

I first heard about this silly thing when George Takei was making fun of it on Facebook. He’d written a hilarious review about driving while using the desk. Very funny, George. I bookmarked it and asked for it for my birthday. And it’s awesome. I finished my last book while using that thing. I’m a California girl residing in Kansas. I need water to look at. It makes me happy and productive.

I’ve written in hotel lobbies, a Perkins restaurant, cabins in the middle of nowhere, and once, the back office of a movie theater.

But the place I work most often when I’m not in my office is a grocery store. That’s right. Being a full-time writer is incredibly glamorous, isn’t it? It’s actually a perfect spot. The wifi—while not great—is free. There are a bazillion outlets. If I get hungry, there’s a salad bar, fresh sushi, a deli, and a cafeteria-style area that serves fried chicken and Chinese food. I can grab groceries before I leave.
I don't know who those people are. 
And best of all, they have a Starbucks inside the store. My local writers group started meeting here because it has enough room for everybody, even during NaNoWriMo when our numbers temporarily swell.

And I’m here right now with my husband, who’s also a writer, but still has to go to his day job, so needs some writing time. See? There’s his elbow. And that’s the mini-Starbucks on the left through the doorway.

Once upon a time, I thought I could only write if I was at home, in absolute quiet, with nobody else in the house. That was a long time ago. I’m not so delicate anymore.

But I sure do like that steering wheel desk.



Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.





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Friday, September 25, 2015

Reluctant Heroes

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Romance is well populated by lords responsible for the welfare of their family members and tenants, by firemen, SEALs, doctors and highland warriors. And, sure, all of those character types are wonderful and brave and nobly heroic, but I very much prefer the reluctant hero.

Reluctant heroes are the Han Solos of the romantic world. They’re the devilish rogues who are happily pursuing their own, possibly shady, agendas when they’re confronted by a choice about whether to do the right thing for someone else, or to continue to do the right thing for them.

It’s usually not a linear path, which makes it more fun to see where they wobble along the road. Their pasts generally don’t let them go easy. They often have debts to pay for things that they’ve done. But all of that just makes their redemptive arc that much sweeter.

The hero in my newest book, By Hook or By Crook, starts out the Reapers series as a smuggler. Over the course of the series, he decides to turn over a new leaf. He sets himself up as a respectable businessman. He tries to make an honest woman out of his partner in crime. And he begins to fight against the greed and corruption in the Scraper cities.

He’s still something of a rogue who plays by his own rules and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, but he also has a good heart. He fights for what he believes in…even if he sometimes does it in an underhanded way.

Flynn is my tribute to all of the reluctant heroes from my youth—Han, Starbuck, pretty much everyone on the A-Team…


Who’s your favorite reluctant hero?

***

Flynn was born in the lap of luxury—a Founder’s son and heir to the Stark fortune. Of course, Molly hadn’t known that when she fell in love with the devilishly charming smuggler. If she’d known that Flynn was a Scraper back when she first met him, she probably would have hated him just on principle.

Molly was born in an outlaw camp, the daughter of a whore and a gambler. She was a street rat who didn’t belong in the glittering sky city where Flynn wanted to take her as a spy for the forts. She wasn’t ever going to turn into a lady, no matter how many fancy gowns Flynn dressed her in.

But maybe while they were there, she’d be able to talk Flynn into giving up on his plan of becoming a respectable businessman, and things could go back to the way they should be—her and Flynn raising hell, the scourge of the western skies. Blood didn’t have to be destiny, did it? And if Flynn could choose the future he wanted, then what was to stop her from doing the same?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Home Town Advantage OUT OF TIME

Posted by: Shona Husk
As much as I love researching places to set my books, there is something special about writing a story set where I live.

The Face the Music series is set in Fremantle, Western Australia. I moved to WA nearly twenty years when hubby was in the navy...we never left.

I spent years working in Fremantle, browsing the book store, eating at the caf├ęs, poking around in the new age shops and visiting the weekend markets.

Freo (as the locals call it) has also been the home of some great Aussie bands. There is even a stature of Bon Scott (from AC/DC) at Fishing Boat Harbour.

When I decided to write about an up and coming band I didn't look to the eastern states, because my band, Selling the Sun, were going to be sandgropers (anyone who comes from WA). They are going to be the next big thing to come out of Freo...or are they?

Out of Time
The fabulous New Adult series from Shona Husk continues: he wants to shut out the world; she wants to invite it in…

Mike Peterson has learned the hard way that the good really do die young. He and his mum only have each other, and now she’s losing her second battle with cancer. He wants to stay with her; she wants him to keep following his dreams. He doesn’t have long to decide and the rest of the band is waiting on him. Whatever choice he makes, he will lose.

Living at home has become impossible for Ava Brand. Her very religious, very traditional grandmother would like to see her married off to a nice Indian boy. But Ava wants to make her own choices. Meeting Mike gives her a chance to rebel.

What starts off as easy rapidly becomes complicated, as their problems expand and emotions bubble to the surface. Neither has time for complicated, as Ava’s family discovers her extra-curricular activities and Mike has to make incredibly hard choices. But love never waits for the perfect time, and Mike and Ava are going to have to decide if they’re playing for fun, or playing for keeps.

Buy Links: Amazon iBooks Kobo Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Myth Week: Ancient Egypt

Posted by: Veronica Scott
I’ve always been fascinated by the ancient Egyptian civilization and its rich culture and mythology. In my “Gods of Egypt” series, I bring the deities into the action in various ways, much as the Egyptians believed, or hoped, they would participate.

Personally I’m very fond of the Crocodile God Sobek, since he was the hero of my first-ever published novel, Priestess of the Nile. I even have a Sobek faience amulet bead from the time frame of my novels, 1500BCE. (It’s probably a well-crafted fake from the late 1800’s, although it came with documented provenance, but I will say the first time I held it in my hand, I felt something for a moment.) He also plays a supporting role in the sequel, Magic of the Nile, which recently won the 2015 Hearts Through History “Romancing the Novel” award in its category. This novel also includes the goddesses Hathor, Tawaret, Sekhmet and Ma’at at various points in the action.

One of the most interesting and useful aspects of Egyptian mythology for me as an author is that the accepted details changed and shifted over the centuries, and sometimes various regions would have completely differing beliefs about the same god or goddess. This allows me quite a bit of freedom in crafting my stories.

Ma’at is my favorite goddess, I think. She represented truth and the maintenance of order in the universe, and was present at the judging of a person’s heart after death. She’s associated with the golden scales used to weigh the heart against her curling red ostrich feather. For my most recent novel set in ancient Egypt, Ghost of the Nile, I asked myself how I could involve her in setting a story into motion, and the following excerpt reveals what I decided, as she talks with Periseneb, an Egyptian soldier who was murdered:

“... I’m the goddess of second chances for the human race.” She raised her elegant eyebrows. “Although such chances are few and far between.”
            Despite the warmth of the brightly lit room, a shiver worked its way down Periseneb’s spine. “You wish to right the wrong of my murder? Bring my murderer to account for the crime?”
            She shook her head, the golden beads in her wig chiming like little bells. “Your death is done, past, woven into the fabric of life in the upper world these two-hundred years and more.”
            He staggered, locking one hand on the edge of the table to steady himself. “So long?”
            “Time here and time there run differently, warrior. Only the Nile remains unchanging.” She moved to the black-and-gold chair, seating herself and leaning against the richly decorated back. “Yet, your death is connected in a way to events now.” Ma’at nodded her head as if some decision had been reached. “I need a champion.”
            “To do what? How can a human accomplish something the gods or their servants can’t?” Action sounded good, but he was wary after his time in the outer dark. She didn’t invite him to sit—he didn’t think he was brave enough to sit in the presence of a Great One—so he assumed parade rest stance. When in doubt, Periseneb’s code was to rely on what the military had taught him.
            “Matters are in flux in Egypt. A new pharaoh sits on the throne and he’s repelled the forces of the god Qemtusheb, the great enemy of my King, Osiris. For a time.” Ma’at raised one finger as if her listener might rejoice prematurely. “Evil constantly seeks to re-enter the Black Lands, seize its richness and feed, grow stronger.”
            Taking little interest in the affairs of a pharaoh he’d never met, Periseneb spread his hands in a helpless gesture. “I can’t fight the Hyksos god.”
            “Gods have agents. Pawns. Sometimes even the innocent commit acts advancing a Dark One’s agenda, merely because the mortal mind lacks understanding of a god’s agenda. Each of us on the other side of the scale must do our part to balance the evil.” As her shoulders slumped as if with great weariness, Ma’at sighed. Then she straightened her back and smiled. “To business. I need a champion to go to the Nome of the Shield…”
            “My home province,” he said, knowing his voice was unsteady. Memories flooded into his mind, past the blocks he’d erected to keep away thoughts of home and family. No coward when it came to physical pain, he feared the agony any dream of his birthplace brought to his heart.
            Apparently oblivious to his inner struggle, Ma’at nodded. “Events are in motion there. I wish to influence the outcome, but it isn’t the kind of situation I can affect directly.” She tapped the table with her stylus. “Nor can I be absent from my duties here for so long as this task may require.”
            He found it hard to imagine a goddess walking in his home province for any time at all. Shield Nome was dry, dusty, and far removed from Thebes and the known places of power. “What do you need done?”
            Head tilted, smile on her ruby red lips, she said, “You to complete your interrupted journey home.”
            Disappointed, since he’d been thinking of battles with demons or other epic deeds, he said, “That’s all? Show up two-hundred years late and say, here I am? Who would know me now? Who would care? I have no place there, Great One.” His voice cracked a little on the last sentence and he clamped his lips closed, taking a deep breath. Thinking about the simple dreams he’d cherished as a man hurt like a knife to the heart. All gone, turned to dust.

Of course nothing is that simple and she hasn’t told him everything, because the gods enjoy being mysterious….he’ll be seeking her help more than once in the novel, and also invoking a few other Egyptian gods, not only on his own behalf but for Neithamun, the woman with whom he falls in love.

I also have to say I LOVE my covers, done by Frauke Spanuth of Croco Designs!
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