Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Even A Fantasy World Needs Research - by Shawna Reppert

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Today's Here Be Magic blog post is from Shawna Reppert, whose upcoming book THE STOLEN LUCK releases May 6:

Many writers new to fantasy don’t fully understand the need for research in their writing. After all, it’s their own, made-up world, right? If they are writing about blobs of ether that live on rainbows and don’t follow the rules of the physical world, they may be right. But such a book would be unlikely to find a wide readership. Why? Because readers want to be able to relate to the characters and their struggles. They want the book to feel real, even if the protagonist is an elf and the villain a dragon. The world needs to make sense. Even in an imaginary world, the history needs to be logical. There’s a reason that broadswords came before sabers, and if you have a character trained to broadsword comes across a rare antique fencing blade from a previous age, you’d better have a really good explanation in your worldbuilding.

That’s where research comes in. Readers can accept the fantastic elements of story as real— at least for the span of the tale— so long as the realistic elements in the tale are just that. Realistic. Nothing jolts a reader out of a tale faster than a tooth-on-tinfoil anachronism or an animal acting against its nature or, worse, its physical capabilities. The newbie writer might ask if it really matters. After all, what are the odds that the reader is an expert at archery or horsemanship? But remember, readers of fantasy are attracted to the milieu as well as the story. Many of them take their interest into real-world activities such as riding, shooting (both bow and, for the pirate crowd, black powder) and historical reenactment. If nothing else, a large percentage of the population has had enough summer horse camp experience to know why you can’t gallop a horse for miles and then let it drink its fill from an icy mountain stream unless you want to be walking the rest of your journey (to use an example from a published author who really should have known better).

Moreover, even when the reader doesn’t know his or her stuff, the reader can tell when the writer does. There’s something about rich, correct detail that makes things feel real. When you read George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, you may not know about steamboats, but you can tell that the author does. (He does a less stellar job with the horses in some of his other works, but that’s a rant for another blog.) Likewise, Laurie R. King’s highly successful Holmes and Russell books brings the post-WWI world alive for the reader in a way that would not be possible without extensive research. (The latter is not fantasy, I know. Allow me my latest obsession.)

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you of the whys of research, let’s move on to the how’s. There are, of course, scholarly books written on just about every subject you can imagine, and they’re not a bad place to start. They can be dry reading, though, are often expensive, and of limited usefulness when you are just starting out and don’t even know what you don’t know. If you are writing in a time period in which you can obtain surviving original-source material (journals, newspapers, books written during that period) I highly recommend you treat yourself to a thorough immersion. For example, there are many Victorian-era memoirs and anthologies of news and articles of the day, as well as fiction written in that era, and these can give you not only the details you need but also the flavor of the thoughts, values, and speech patterns of the era. When I moved from a medieval fantasy to a steampunk project, I felt absolutely spoiled by the wealth of material, much of it in the public domain and therefore available ridiculously cheap on Kindle.

The internet is a great source of free information, much of it wrong. Cross-check your facts, know your sources, and let the researcher beware. I’ve found Wikipedia mostly useful for quick checks of small but important facts, like whether there are ravens in Australia (there are) or black swans in North America (Though they are native to Australia, they have naturalized in places in the UK, so there’s no reason that an urban fantasy in the Pacific NW can’t have black swans with a little back story about a wealthy ancestor’s menagerie.)

I strongly suggest that you also step outside the box and the book in your research. When I first started working on The Stolen Luck and realized my protagonist was a vintner, I signed up for Wineology 101, a weekend-long self-guided wine tour combined with classes on wine-related topics. Not only did I pick up facts on wine, winemaking and viniculture, I got the feel for what it was like to be out among the rows of vines. I heard the passion for the wine and the vineyards in the vintner’s voices, and this experience helped me bring James Dupree alive.

There are tons of people out there who know what you need to know on any subject, and the most magical words in the English language are “I’m a writer, and I’m researching a book.” A friend of a friend on Facebook took a question I had on tracking dogs to someone she knew who handled dogs for the FBI, and I got a very thorough answer. For my (yet unpublished) medieval fantasy, I asked a couple of archers I knew if they’d like the chance to fix all the annoying things an author gets wrong before the book appeared in print. I thought it was going to be a quick Q&A. They had me over to their house, fed me dinner, and spent four hours telling me all the things about archery I didn’t know enough to ask. They used photographs of deer to show me the ideal shots a hunter would go for, let me handle the different points that would be used for hunting versus shooting through mail in period, talked about the stench of gutting a deer and how even seasoned hunters sometimes lose their lunch. They even loaned me a longbow at the next archery practice so I could get a feel for how it was different from the cheap hobbyist recurve I usually shoot.

Be respectful of people’s time, of course, and always take ‘no’ for an answer, but you’ll be surprised by who will take time out of their day to answer your questions far more fully than you expected.

Be creative and resourceful. When I needed to set a few chapters of an urban fantasy in progress in Australia, a continent I’ve never set foot on, I was stumped until I remembered a previous internet flirtation with a gentleman from Tasmania. I dropped him a line, and though we had been out of contact for months, he was more than happy to oblige.

Other writers can often be a great resource, and you may be able to trade expertise, for example, your knowledge of exotic poisons for their knowledge of 19th century sailing ships.

I belong to a Yahoo group for writers called Joys of Research. It’s open membership, and members post questions in hopes that it will fall into someone’s area of expertise. So far I haven’t seen a single question go unanswered. Past topics have included early-period plant poisons, talismans in early Judeo-Christian lore, the etymology of the word ‘creditor’, the rates of decomposition of corpses under various conditions, and whether cops on duty but undercover at a bar will drink alcohol to keep their cover.

Research is necessary to build a fantasy world that feels real to your readers. Approach it with a sense of fun and adventure, and you may find you enjoy it. You might even discover new plot possibilities and make a few friends along the way.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Werewolves: What if they really exist?

Posted by: Angela Campbell
I feel a bit odd discussing this on Easter weekend, but I can't seem to help myself. A really strange thing happened the other day. Not holy-crackers-I-was-abducted-by-aliens! strange, but holy cow, I met a living, breathing person, out of the blue, who had read my book CRY WOLF. Turns out she was a friend of an acquaintance who’d given it a try on that person's recommendation, but still. More strange and amazing was that she enjoyed it so much she wanted to talk about it. Specifically, she wanted to talk about werewolves and…what if they really do exist?

This was a bit of a novelty for me. I’ve never talked to a person I don’t really know face-to-face about my book (friends and family don’t count), and truth is, I’ve been so engrossed in the books I’ve written since, that I forgot about how much I love that story and its subject material. Usually when people discuss werewolves in fiction, conversation veers toward Jacob Black or hunky, tortured romance heroes. Honestly, I love those tropes, too, but shouldn’t werewolves be scarier than that? says the girl who grew up being terrified by Stephen King's Silver Bullet.

So few are aware that the story that inspired mine is a real urban legend. I’m such a weirdo that I watch all kinds of paranormal-based shows and documentaries, and I forget that not everyone knows about the Beast of Bray Road, even though it’s been featured on Animal Planet, the History Channel, and Coast to Coast AM, and a really lame, bad B-movie called The Beast of Bray Road is on Netflix, although I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s terrible. TERRIBLE I tell you.

The Beast of Bray Road — the alleged creature, not the movie — is classified with the likes of Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster because, pshaw, werewolves couldn’t possibly exist in modern America! Hmmm. I’m not so sure. There have been hundreds of witnesses who have reported seeing a large hairy animal that stands upright on two feet resembling a wolf in and around Elkhorn, Wisconsin. A lot of the sightings have been quite horrifying if you care to read them. Seriously, I would have totally screamed and run the other way as soon as humanly possible — if I didn’t faint first. Even stranger is that more recent sightings have given the creature supernatural abilities — such as suddenly appearing and disappearing and even morphing shape.

Personally, I’m fairly convinced there is something out there and that The Beast of Bray Road isn’t a figment out of the witnesses’ imaginations. Is it a werewolf? Well, considering no one actually really knows what a werewolf is or has ever caught one to my knowledge, then sure. Why not? When you factor in other cases, other sightings from around the world, it makes you think.

I enjoyed talking to this reader and revisiting that topic, and I immediately went to Amazon when I got home to see what new werewolf books are available. If you have any recommendations, please post them below. I also Googled "werewolves" and was giddy to come across this trailer for Netflix original series “Hemlock Grove,” which looks awesome, doesn't it? I totally want to read the book on which it's based now. It debuts April 19 on Netflix in case you’re interested. And if you love werewolves in fiction as much as I do, you know, my book is still available....

What about you? Do you believe werewolves could exist?

Friday, March 29, 2013

New girl in the class!

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Greetings, Here Be Magic readers! I'm a new author on this blog, doing my first post in anticipation of the release of Valor of the Healer, my forthcoming Carina Press fantasy novel! Since I'm new, I'm going to keep this relaxed and groovy, talk about my work and myself a little, and hopefully get a chance to exchange comments with some of you! So let's do a bit of Q&A, shall we?

Who are you then?

I'm a girl of a few different names, actually. Angela Highland is the name under which I commercially publish, and it's the name you'll see on my work with Carina. Angela Korra'ti--which is also my actual real-life name--is the name under which I self-pub.

And to complicate matters, I commonly go by the nickname of Anna the Piper, the name I use in a lot of fandom contexts online. I'm Anna to all my friends. Please feel free to call me that, too! 

What do you write?

Valor of the Healer is high fantasy. This is a term that may mean 'sword and sorcery' to many, though I like to think of what I'm doing with Valor more as 'muskets and magic'. This is because the world in which Valor is set, technologically and culturally speaking, is more akin to the late 1700's or early 1800's in real life.

For the benefit of more romance-inclined readers, you could also call Valor 'fantasy with romantic elements'. Which is to say, my emphasis is on the fantasy, but there is a prominent love story as well.

My self-pubbed work is urban fantasy, though again, with romantic elements. If you like your urban fantasy lighter-hearted, with a healthy dose of music, magic, and computer geekery, you might want to check that out too. Three words: "Unseelie Elvis impersonator".

Who are your influences?

I've been told there are echoes of Esther Friesner and Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters in my work. (The latter of course has never been a fantasy novelist, but she was a formative influence on me, when I was growing up!) To this, I'll add that if you like Tanya Huff's work, or if you've perhaps read Doranna Durgin's fantasy novels or Julie Czerneda's SF, you might like my stuff too.

There's Tolkien, of course. I devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a girl, and I've happily kept coming back to them even aside from the mighty encouragement of the movies. (I'm re-reading The Hobbit right now!)

Gael Baudino, and in particular her novel Strands of Starlight, impressed me with the full raging force that could be unleashed by healing magic.

But most of all I've got to cite Elfquest, the comic book saga by Wendy and Richard Pini. Elfquest is a critical factor in how I came to write elves in both of my series, and how I went about setting up how magic works in both. 

How about major themes in your work? Are there any?

If there are any major themes to my work, they'd be equality and balance:
  • Of gender. By which I mean, any book of mine is likely to have more than one woman in a position of power, and any book of mine should also pass the Bechdel Test. There will be more than one woman in the cast. And they will talk to each other, and they will talk to each other about more things than just the men. This is not to say though that I won't have men in positions of power, though, because I will. Two of the three viewpoint characters in Valor are male, and several more are in positions of power, on both sides of the conflict that drives the plot. Ditto over in the Free Court of Seattle books. Faerie Blood is exclusively from the POV of my heroine Kendis, but its forthcoming sequel, Bone Walker, gives POV time to several of the men in the plot as well.
  • Of color. Y'all may notice that my heroine Faanshi in Valor is not white. The same can be said of my heroine Kendis in Faerie Blood. There are other characters of color in Valor of the Healer, and as the Free Court of Seattle universe develops, characters of color will be showing up there too.
  • Of body type. I haven't touched on this yet in either Valor or Faerie Blood, but I have a forthcoming novella in which the heroine will be fat. Not plump, not curvy, outright fat. Because I want there to be more stories where a fat girl can prove herself to be an effective fantasy heroine, too.
  • Of religion. I have characters of multiple religious affiliations in both Valor and Faerie Blood. Religious conflict is front and center in the plot of Valor--and one of the challenging goals I'm aiming to accomplish there is to avoid saying that one religion is Right and another is Wrong, even when the adherents of a given religion are doing something Very Clearly Wrong. How to call out the religion doing the Very Wrong Thing, while avoiding portraying the religion itself as inherently Wrong, is going to be a huge challenge faced by Valor's characters.
Long story short, I believe that the world can be a rich and varied place. And while I'm coming at it from the perspective of an American white woman, I'm trying to expand my personal horizons and write about people who aren't automatically Just Like Me.

What else can you share about yourself?

I'm a huge raving fangirl for the folk music of Newfoundland and of Quebec! Anybody who knows I'm a Great Big Sea fangirl will recognize exactly why the male lead in Faerie Blood is a bouzouki player from Newfoundland. ;)

I love languages, and am currently studying French and German--the French in no small part because of my current mad love for Quebecois traditional music. That re-read of The Hobbit I mentioned up above? I'm doing it in three languages at once, just to try to teach myself more French and German!

And I'm a hobbyist musician and newbie session player. I'm learning Quebec tunes on the flute and attend a monthly session in the Seattle area.

While I did once work for a major metropolitan newspaper, and am generally mild-mannered, rumors that I am a superhero are greatly exaggerated. Even if I did once pull the door off a refrigerator.

I am, however, married to a supervillain! And we live with our housemate, two cats, and a helluva lot of computers and musical instruments. We are a mighty house of nerddom.

As we say in Great Big Sea fandom, grab a chair and raise a jar--and come visit me at, if you'd like to see me fangirl in depth about the music I love, about books I'm reading, and about Doctor Who and Castle.

Thank you all for reading! And if there are things that you geek out about, tell me about them in the comments!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Posted by: Ruth A Casie

"Three Rules of Work: 
Out of clutter find simplicity; 
From discord find harmony; 
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." 
Albert Einstein 

I’ve always been suspect of a person who has nothing on their desk. I remember sitting with an operations manager whose desk had a phone and desk blotter, nothing else, nada.

Not my desk. I have a blotter but that’s where the similarity ends. Being an empty nester, I waited about a year before I commandeered my daughter’s room, cleared out the last remains of her childhood, and made the room my own. It was fun to decorate just to please me. My design was simple, books. I surrounded myself with them, floor to ceiling. I did put in some necessities, a corner desk for the computer, printer, and a phone. I decided on a large library table, sitting catty corner, would be my work area. It seemed fitting with all the research and resource books I usually had stacked or scattered about.

My desk is usually covered with a small stack (or two or three) of paper/files for my different projects, research books (the ones I’m reading for pleasure are in a pile next to the sofa), a lamp (I hate using the overhead), pictures of the family, my favorite picture from the mound at Warwick Castle (for inspiration), and a bud vase with some tired lavender one of the kids brought back from a class trip (I did mention I’m an empty nester, a sentimental one). Then there’s the odd stuff that seems to magically appear, a news article my husband has left for me to read, a stress ball in the shape of a heart and my gold star paper weight for my first sale. It’s really a comfortable room.

Things seem to gather on my desk. Eventually I take time to sift through it and put things in their proper place whether that’s filing, rearranging, or tossing it out all together. Sort of like my writing.

I used to have a ‘clean as you go’ theory. Clean as in edits that is. Whenever I picked up my writing I would read the story from the beginning, no matter how far along I was. I’d look for the weak words, put in the five senses, etc. I always found something to edit. One day I laughed out loud. I had over 125 pages written, if I started from the beginning each time I’d spend more time reading than writing. Geez, I’d never finish the story. 

Now I use my cluttered desk theory. Put it all down, then tackle the edits and rewrite.  I’m organized, to a point, but find myself working to get the story written and not really worrying about overused/weak words or verbs, using the five senses, tightening up sentences, making certain all the hooks are in place, reviewing and editing the Point-Of-View, combing through for show vs. tell, well the list goes on.

In essence, I’ve de-cluttered my desk as well as my writing. What does your desk look like? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Weight On My Shoulders, and Back, and Thighs...

Posted by: Marie Harte
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to moderate one's caffeine intake and snackage levels while working to finish an 80,000 word contemporary romance in order to start another one and then a third to finish by September? I'm wondering if this diet I'm on is a smart thing. 

Yes, that's my current dilemma. I am not happy with my general state of health--read weight--and I'm trying to take it off. I am not a yo-yo dieter. I have only once tried to lose weight, and it worked...for a lot of money. Then I plateaued, got frustrated, and ate my way back to my starting weight PLUS another ten pounds. That was six years ago.

At this point in my life, I'm tired of wishing I looked like the hot chick wearing the short skirt and heels while I schlepp around in baggy jeans, sweatshirts and Crocs. And so, to that end, on the advice of a woman who's doing the same program and seen phenomenal success, I'm drinking the to speak. I eat five prepackages meals, one good protein with veggies, and drink a boatload of water daily. All my vitamins and minerals taken care of. No starving myself, but also, no more deluges of creamer or agave in my coffee. Just fat free half n' half and stevia (blech. Yes, I can tell this is NOT sugar.)

But after only a few days, it's working. And I'm going to continue on this food plan for the month I'm set, then transition and finally get off it and eat right after losing a few pant sizes and that pesky fear I'll develop diabetes-which runs in my family. So far, so good. I've lost three pounds and I'm not tired. Drinking all the water helps.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I wanted to share. And I know there are a lot of people like me with good intentions to eat right and exercise the weight off. And nothing. I'm not gobbing down Doritos or chugging at Coke all day. And still, it's painful to lose even a pound. 

So I'm working my tush off to lose this weight before the RT Conference in May. I'm hoping I'll see some of you there, a slimmer, more healthy, me.  Stay tuned for further updates. 

:) Marie

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and Killer Thoughts available at Loose Id

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Setting Goals - and Sweetening the Pot

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Because our Here Be Magic blog schedule coordinator, Veronica Scott - known affectionately as BLOGZILLA - is a big fan of my cat, Jackson, I had to throw in a pic of him here.

Those of you who read my personal blog will know that I've been working diligently to meet an April 1 deadline. This is for my 90K novel, which is a modern-day retelling of Phantom of the Opera. I sold it on proposal to Kensington just before Christmas. When I talked to my new editor, Peter Senftleben, I said I thought I could have it done by end of March.

He was all pleased and said that was much faster than he expected.

I've been tracking how fast I can write for quite a while now and had figured this by my formula of approximately 1,000 words/day. I usually write quite a bit faster than this - I try for 1675/day - so this gives me room for occasional missed days and revisions. I tend to revise as I go, so when I'm done, I'm pretty much done.

My regular readers also know that I'm a spreadsheet queen. I love Excel and conditional formatting, so I use it to set all kinds of daily, weekly and monthly goals. I'm also setting up annual goals now, too. Eep.

For my day job, too, my company is in the thick of annual performance evaluations, so we're all about the SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-sensitive). We also have Stretch goals - ones that maybe aren't so easy to attain.

So, to relieve your suspense, just in case you were worried, as of today, March 26, I have 2700 words left, all wrap up. The hard part is done. I'll do some smoothing, send to the critique partners and agent for a quick read (they've already seen chunks) and I'll make my deadline.

But it's kind of close, you know?

Closer than I thought it would be. A number of things cropped up, including an emergency trip to see my failing father-in-law. That sort of thing.

What happened along the way though is: I missed quite a few goals. And I just hated that feeling. In fact, I got so far behind on some of my interim goals, that I started to feel bad about myself.

It reminds me of this article I read a while back - and that stuck with me, so I've quoted it often - about search and rescue dogs working disasters like earthquakes. The dogs are trained to find people in the rubble, but after a while, after they find corpse after corpse, the dogs get depressed and don't want to look anymore. So the handlers have living people hide themselves, so the dogs can "find" them and it renews their excitement for the job.

I realized that, while it was good to set high goals for myself - that "Stretch" thing - that I also need to make sure I have some easily attainable ones, too. Just to keep my doggie self happy.

We all need to guarantee ourselves some successes along the way, to sweeten the journey a little.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown
Our new releases this week

A Monster Haven Story, book two

Zoey Donovan--empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems--has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey's right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won't know when or where it will happen...

Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn't strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don't pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey's still got clients waiting for fabric samples.

With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.

Find out how it began in Monster in My Closet, available now!


Links of Interest

The new Star Trek trailer. I'm so ridiculously excited to see this:

Books aren’t dead yet: "Self-publishing fans and the tech-obsessed keep getting it wrong: Big authors want to be in print -- and bookstores."

Headed to RT this year? 2013 RT CONVENTION OUTFITS: ELISA'S PICKS Apparently I have shopping to do.

Popular science blog is run by a woman – to the surprise of some on Facebook
Administrator for Science is Awesome posts a link to promote her Twitter profile and is met immediately by sexist comments

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Jody Wallace w/a Ellie Marvel contracted a hot contemporary romance with Entangled Publishing for their Ever After novella line. "Kiss the Bride" should be released in July 2013.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Inspired by Books

Posted by: Jax Garren
Last time I blogged about TV shows that helped shape the writer I am today. With all the blog posts I've recently read on top UF/Paranormal books, I thought I'd continue my personal trend and add to the pile. Instead of treading what would likely be an all too familiar list of Anne Rice to Jim Butcher, I decided to make a list of classics with paranormal elements that deeply shaped my writing. (Links are samples of the book with a cool cover, not necessarily the version I recommend!)

Beowulf (have you read the Seamus Heaney translation?? *swoon* I DO rec this version.)
So it's not even in modern English, but wow. Beowulf sets the bar for alpha heroes. I used to teach senior AP English, and whenever I intro'd this one, we'd go to the stage (I was also the theater teacher, so I could get away with crap like this), turn off all the lights and gather 'round a fake fire with bread, hunks of meat and cheese and cups of (non-alcoholic) cider. I have the opening 11 lines in Anglo-Saxon memorized, and I'd perform them for the class. The alliterative style of old poetry makes the words sing, even if you don't know what they mean. Heaney's translation does a fantastic job of leaving this flow intact while making the story come through clearly. You gather in the firelight with rough food to hear these words, and even with this Christianization of a Viking story, the call to glory and Valhalla starts to make sense.

The wyrd sisters are an awesome example of witch as catalyst. Though often portrayed as evil, witches are usually agents of change--often change the characters need but don't want. Witches end up looking like the "bad guys" when really the chaos they started was the necessary destruction before progress. In Shakespeare's play, their goodness vs. evil is more ambiguous as they kick off a murder spree. But who knows what ultimate purpose these changes served after the play ended...

Though Marlowe created a kickass Faust in the Renaissance, my personal favorite is Goethe's surreal version full of magic, demons and the chaos of Walpurgisnacht. Temptation and love don't come more supernaturally screwed up than this tale of a deal with the devil!

The Woman in White--Wilkie Collins
Though I should be mentioning the treasure trove of Victorian horror--Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde--this is probably my favorite Victorian novel of mystery and intrigue. The way Collins walks the line to keep you guessing if these events are paranormal or just rigged to look that way makes for a twisted page turner and a top notch mystery!

At the Mountains of Madness-H.P. Lovecraft
Lovecraft's cannon is a wild and weird ride, but At the Mountains of Madness is my favorite blend of alien mythology, suspense and general creeptastic atmosphere that Lovecraft is known for. His blend of bizarre freaks me out with its surprisingly slow but steady pace toward horror.The book is effectively one long descriptive treatise, and yet kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole ride!

What classic books of speculative madness inspired you?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Myth-Contheptions in the Monster Haven World

Posted by: R.L. Naquin

I know. Pookas aren't exactly a mainstream mythical creature. That's why I wrote about them in What's a Pooka and Why Is It in My Pantry? recently. You can't write a book called Pooka in My Pantry without getting at least a few questioning looks.

But we all know what leprechauns are, right? Those are everywhere, especially right now, with St. Patrick's Day just behind us.

What about sea serpents? Check. Gremlins? Check. Dragons, fairies, gargoyles? Check, check, check.

So, why doesn't the folklore we all know about these creatures match up with what goes on in my books? Because I'm a writer. And in our own worlds, writers are gods. We're power-mad ass-clowns. And we don't know how to leave well enough alone.

Rather than send you into the Monster Haven world cold, here's a sampling of creatures you can expect to meet, and why they probably aren't what you expect. 


Myth--Tiny, ginger-headed men in green who play tricks on people and protect their pots gold. 
Reality-- Nearly five feet tall, dressed in expensive black suits, any hair color, far more concerned about taking your money than hiding theirs. 


Myth--Nasty, scary guys, the result of feeding an adorable Mogwai after midnight. Also known for destroying machinery, especially plane engines at 20,000 feet. 
Reality--Adorable little guys with constantly shifting camouflage skin. Terrible grammar, can't resist stealing shiny things. 

Sea Serpents 

Myth--Giant snakes or eels big enough and angry enough to wrap around a ship several times and crush the ship in its coils. 
Reality--Mammals who give live birth and are small enough to fit in a full-sized swimming pool. Can be very affectionate. 

And of course, Closet Monsters 

Myth--Scary monsters who lurk in the closets of children, only coming out at night in order to terrorize children, probably in preparation of eating the kids once the adrenalin properly tenderizes the meat. 
Reality--Closet monsters are people, too. They have families and hobbies, and eating a child is a horrifying idea. If you can't sleep, Maurice, at least, will probably make you hot cocoa and cut you a nice big slice of pie he made fresh the night before.

So, leave your childhood stories at the door. What you know might not be true at all. You might still get killed, sure. But people are people, no matter what species they belong to. There's good and bad in everyone.

Even a pooka might be convinced to help you from time to time.

Or not.

Rachel’s head is packed with an outrageous amount of useless Disney trivia. She is terrified of thunder, but not of lightning, and tends to recite the Disneyland dedication speech during storms to keep herself calm. She finds it appalling that nobody from Disney has called yet with her castle move-in date.

Originally from Northern California, she has a tendency to move every few years, resulting in a total of seven different states and a six-year stint in England. Currently, she’s planning her next grand adventure. Rachel has one heroic husband, two genius kids, several annoyed cats, and an imaginary dog named Waffles.

She doesn’t have time for a real dog.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Round Robin: Part Ten

Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
Previously in the Round Robin, check out this link to view earlier episodes!

The most immediate earlier episode is #9:

When last we saw our intrepid newlyweds, they had just entered a dimension in which a lightning storm seemed likely to tear them apart! Or to pieces. Of course, we also saw Meankitty's version of what happened AFTER that, but as promised, we are "deleting" Meankitty's contribution. This is what REALLY happened after Delphie and Dash escaped from the djinn prison tower...

By Jody Wallace (

According to the neon sign, the pavilion was “Vacancy”.

“Vacancy?” Dash clacked into her ear.

Rain splattered Delphie’s face so vigorously, the pavilion and its flickering neon sign looked like they was underwater. She blinked and rubbed her eyes. Earth Two was an inverse dimension, where magic and supes lived in the open and humans were the ones who had to hide. Many supes retired here in their old age. It was like the Florida of dimensions.

“Hotel?” she suggested.

“Who cares? It’s dry. We can regroup.” Dash’s big, glowing bulk led her quickly through the rain toward the pavilion. Now that they’d escaped the djinn prison tower and seemed about to escape the storm, her new husband had regained his determination.

Delphie just hoped he was determined to consummate their marriage before they concentrated on the marriage of another woman! After all, they were no longer imprisoned and due to be executed as part of the ceremony. That merited a sexy, sexy celebration, didn’t it? Escaping death and all?

As they approached the mysterious building, Delphie started imagining a hot meal, hot baths, and a hot night ahead. This was probably an open air addition to a luxurious hotel and resort. The location was well-suited for it. If it weren’t raining, it might even be scenic. Sheer bluffs, crashing sea, big waves... Earth Two wasn’t just known for its supernatural snowbirds. It was known for luxurious supernatural vacation spots.

First she and Dash would rent the best suite in the house. Then they’d dine on something lavish, barbecued and slathered in butter. At last—and she could picture this vividly—they would fall, passionately entwined, into a soft, white honeymoon bed and...

Delphie, envisioning her husband naked instead of watching her feet, stumbled and fell on the wet, uneven rocks, scraping her knees. “Blast!”

Dash hovered over her, extending his broad wing. It was so dark, she could barely see the concern on his blue, avian face. “Are you all right?”

“I slipped.” She was too embarrassed to tell him she was daydreaming about sex when he’d asked her so very many times to be “serious”.

After she rose, knees aching, they finished picking their way across the rough terrain and crossed into neatly manicured grass. Lightning split the sky and struck a nearby tree.

Yikes! One last run, and they reached the pavilion.

“Anybody here?” Delphie called. “Hello?”

Her only answer was Dash giving himself a vigorous shake. Griffon-scented water splattered Delphie in the face.

“Watch what you’re doing!” she said, smacking his leonine rump.

He glanced at her over his aqua blue shoulder, his round eagle eyes twinkling. “Not like you’re gonna get any wetter.”

Delphie contemplated a saucy reply, but at that moment, the storm picked it was angry they’d escaped it or something. Which totally wasn’t possible—elementals weren’t allowed on Earth Two after the magma beach incident. Every supe who was any supe knew about that.

The rain pounded on the tin roof of the open-air structure almost as loud as the thunder. Delphie had to yell just to hear herself think! Wind but no rain blew past them, making her shiver. A string of glittery bulbs—prime dimension lights but powered by magic—cast a pink glow around the interior. Empty benches and bare wooden tables sat in three orderly rows from one end of the long pavilion to the other. At the far end was a closed metal grate in front of what appeared to be a kitchen.

There wasn’t another soul taking refuge under the pavilion but the two of them. Ok, there were a few souls—some Magicus Arachnidis clustered under a table in the center, waiting out the storm.

“I guess the vacancy part was accurate,” Delphie bellowed to her husband. She rubbed her arms, trying to get warm.

Dash inspected the building, staying near the center aisle so the rain couldn’t whip into them. Nope, just the chilly, howling wind. Delphie’s wet feet splorched in wet boots, her clothing dripped on the floor with every step, and her wings were so soggy they wouldn’t contract. Her beautiful pink hair hung in lank strands, sticking to her cheeks.

When they reached the counter, Delphie could see there were no lights on in the kitchen.

Dang it. She was cold, wet and hungry and this was supposed to be her honeymoon! Okay, so the wedding had been completely spontaneous, and her husband was temporarily stuck in griffon shape, but still.


This was worse than wedding number eleven to the faun who’d taken her to... Well, she didn’t even want to think about where that billy goat of a husband had taken her. He’d been her quickest divorce, too.

Delphie banged on the grate a few times and tried to roll it up. No dice. “Anybody back there? You got customers!”

“There’s no one here,” Dash said. “In animal form, I’d smell them if there were.”

“Well, I’m starving. I haven’t had anything on my stomach since I got tipsy on djinn wine.” Delphie checked the door beside the grate—also locked. If she couldn’t have a proper honeymoon, could she at least have something to eat? “Open this up for me and let’s see if they’ve got food back there. I’m sure they’ve got good insurance.”

Obligingly, Dash reared onto his haunches. With a few well-placed swipes, her new husband vandalized a security grate just so she could hunt for snacks. What a guy. The mangled grate bent inward just enough for Delphie to hop onto the counter and slip through.

It was not quite as loud in here as the thicker walls of the kitchen area protected her from the storm’s fury. It was also warmer. “You coming?”

Dash stuck his head through the hole. “I’m too big.”

“Change back to your real shape,” she suggested. She’d gotten what she needed from griffon Dash. Now she’d prefer sexy person Dash and his hot bod and opposable thumbs—especially if he could cook.

Dash let out an irritated squawk. “I don’t have enough magic yet.”

“Then I’ll eat without you.” He was her husband now. He’d have to learn she got snappy when her blood sugar dropped. “There might even be bacon.”

The kitchen had few modern conveniences. There was sure as heck no microwave. Hopefully she’d find something ready-to-eat. Fireplace, cabinets, stoves, shelves of herbs and dried staples, tall stacks of dishes, smooth, silver prep counter, and oh—the gleaming white door of a deep freeze. Convenient. The supes of Earth Two didn’t create their own technology, they just filched it from the prime dimension and powered it with magic.

She heard a loud crash as the metal grate caved in. Griffon Dash slithered through. “I don’t smell bacon.”

“What do you smell?” Delphie grabbed the single, wizened apple from a basket and ate it in a few bites. The three dried figs in the basket followed. Next she opened a jar of brown stuff and sniffed. Horrible! She tried another that looked like dried peppers. The scent of it sizzled her nose hairs. She sneezed.

“Something tantalizing.” Dash lumbered past her toward the locked cabinets. His eagle head swung from side to side. His big blue body crashed a stack of mugs to the ground. “Oops.”

Delphie tried sniffing the air, but all she could smell now was hot peppers. And wet griffon. Well, at least it was putting her off her feed a bit. She tried more jars and boxes. Dried beans. No use for those. Rice, also dry. Something that looked like...ugh, dried maggots. Dried, dried, dried.

What kind of cookhouse was this? Were there no more convenience foods anywhere?

“I have no idea what you smell that’s tantalizing, because I’m striking out.” She nibbled at the apple core until there was nothing left but seed and stem before returning to the larder. Avoiding anything brown, she selected one last jar, full of a nice, herby green. Cautiously she opened it and sniffed.

It smelled like...grossness. Cat whiz.

“What’s that?” Dash said.

“I don’t think it’s edible.” She tossed the jar to the silver prep counter, and the herbs scattered across the surface.

Dash whipped around quicker than she thought a griffon could. Dishes hit the floor. Dang! If the owners of Vacancy didn’t have insurance, she was going to have to dig deep into her emergency fund to pay them back for all this damage.

“Mrrrrrrrrr.” He grumbled a response deep in his chest. “Mrrrrrrr.”

It sounded almost like a...purr?

Before she could figure it out, Dash lunged forward. Delphie gasped. He started rubbing his beak and feathered head across the silver prep counter, through the herbs spilled there.

And he was indeed purring.

His large body was too big to fit on the counter. Herbs scattered onto the floor. Dash knelt in them and started rolling, his beak clacking and his eyes mostly closed in some kind of feline slash griffon ecstasy.

“Well, I’m glad somebody is having fun on our honeymoon,” Delphie complained. Her eyes fell on a jar of syrupy liquid that looked bluish in the glow from Dash’s body. She picked it up and inspected it.

Ooooh, honey! Delphie opened it, almost as happy as Dash and his green herb. She swiped a fingerful. The blast of sweetness and calories was just the thing she needed to figure out their next move. With Dash in griffon form, their options were more limited--especially if she couldn't talk him out of trying to stop that darn wedding tomorrow.

Dash continued to purr and writhe. It would be entertaining if she didn't need his opposable thumbs to cook her some rice and beans.

Suddenly, sparks began to shimmer up and down his form. Delphie sucked the honey on her finger and stared.

His griffon body fizzled and contracted with a bright blue flash. Suddenly her husband—in his real body—lounged on the floor of the kitchen.

In his real, very naked body.

“Catnip,” he said, his voice a husky drawl. His heavy-lidded gaze started at Delphie’s wet boots and inspected every inch of her until he reached her face. "It's...magical."

Meanwhile, she let her own gaze trail down. Apparently catnip had an interesting effect on griffons. Or djinn. Or shapeshifting djinn griffons.

Useful information indeed.

Delphie took her finger out of her mouth. “Honey?”

“Yes, darling?” As if he were still half cat, Dash rose from the ground, dusting herbs off his oh-so-fine, muscular body. He stalked toward her with definite intent in his dark brown eyes.

“Want some?” Delphie offered him a taste on the closest available utensil—her hand.

“I do, wife. I do.” Slowly, his gaze never leaving hers, he licked the honey off her fingers one by one. When he sucked her forefinger into his mouth, she realized she wasn’t all that hungry anymore.

For food.

With her other hand, Delphie painted honey on her lips. Dash sank his fingers into her wet hair and tilted her face up toward his. He kissed her slowly, thoroughly, the taste of honey dancing between them.

Delphie moaned when his hands sought her hips, grappling with her wet clothing. He made short work of her skirt, her shirt, her underthings... And when he lifted her up, she found herself on that wide, silver counter, legs spread, honey jar right beside her.

So that’s why they called it a honeymoon.


Some hours later, Delphie led her husband, clad in a pair of chef’s trousers they’d unearthed in a cabinet, to the deep freeze. Her knees were a bit wobbly after what her husband had done to her—repeatedly—but she knew it was time to get serious. She was a happily married woman now, and if her husband’s sort-of employer, Queen Aurora, didn’t want to marry that putz Ainmire, didn’t Aurora deserve to be happy too?

Especially considering Aurora was the person who’d sent Dash on his mission to find a cure for the djinn wish compulsion, resulting in his meeting Delphie, resulting in their adventures, resulting in their marriage, resulting in their...honeymoon.

Delphie figured she owed Aurura approximately four times over. So far.

Dash quirked a brow when she placed her hand on the silver handle of the walk-in freezer.

“I know I’m hot, but you don’t need to cool me down that way,” he said. “I can take a hint. You think it’s time to return to the djinn dimension, don’t you?”

“If I can’t convince you to run away with me,” Delphie said, “I suppose it is.”

“You know I have to stop the wedding,” Dash said regretfully. “Queen Aurora and Stride are both counting on me. More hinges on this wedding than just their safety.”

“I’ll let you in on a little pixie secret. There’s almost always a portal in a walk-in freezer.” Then she and her sex god of a husband departed from the Earth Two dimension, refreshed and ready to stop the wedding of Aurora and Ainmire.


Stay tuned for the grand conclusion of the Round Robin That Needs A Title So Feel Free To Suggest One In The Comments!


Jody W. *

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Meet the Author - Eleri Stone

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Continuing our periodic interviews with the authors who make the magic happen, today it's my pleasure to host Eleri Stone. I'm thrilled that the next book in the Lost City Shifters series, "Rebellion" is coming out on April 1st. My kindle is primed and waiting to download LOL!

"Threads of Desire" was her most recent book...

Tell us a little about yourself:  I grew up in New Jersey and left after graduation to attend school at the University of Iowa. I never imagined it would be a one-way trip, but after marrying my college sweetheart, we settled in the Midwest to start a family (3 kids).  I love the ocean and still hope to someday live within driving distance of a beach. Also, my family is scattered up and down the east coast and even though we visit often, I miss them terribly. I’m the oldest of five, each of my parents had seven siblings and I have 31 first cousins. Fun fact for the in-laws: No one’s ever made it out of our family alive.
What prompted you to start writing? I’ve always loved to write. The biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to persevere through to the end. I love the high of working on a new story. It used to be that once I knew in my head how the story was going to end, I would run out of steam. It wasn’t until my youngest started preschool that I set myself the challenge of finishing and submitting one of my stories. That was MERCY.  (VS sez: I LOVED “Mercy”.)
What’s your writing process? I find first drafts incredibly fun and revisions incredibly tedious. I think it’s because I tend to write tight which means revisions are a matter of splicing extra information into the text rather than thinning it out. I hear people say they love revisions all the time and I just don’t get it. I regard them the same way as people who say they love to do housework.
Where do I write? Everywhere. Desk, couch, car, sports practice, waiting rooms, bed.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate? Coffee? Oh, probably TV. There are a lot of shows I’ve been following lately—Game of Thrones, Lost Girl, The Walking Dead, The Americans, The Following.
What has surprised you about being a published author? What has surprised me the most is how much non-writing work is involved—marketing, networking, website design and maintenance, replying to email, keeping up with publishing news. There are so many, many things that can take you away from writing.
Quickfire :
Favorite TV Show: TWD. Because Norman Reedus, that’s why.
Tea or coffee: Coffee
Morning person or evening person: I’m a night owl. My 7 year old calls me a coffee zombie because apparently I’m incapable of coherent speech until after I’ve had my first cup.
Favorite time of the year: Summer. The kids are home and this is when we travel.
 Finish this sentence  “I believe in the Magic of……” Love.  Really, I do.
 What are you working on next? I have a couple of releases coming up—REBELLION (3rd and last book in the Lost City Shifters series) and WITCH BOUND (sequel to Demon Crossings—about a clan of modern day Vikings living in the American Midwest). What I’m writing right now is the second book of my new cowboys versus zombies series. A Paranormal Western. The first book, REAPER’S TOUCH, is due to release early 2014.
What one question do you want to ask your Readers today? What would you like to see more of in the paranormal romance genre?  
Where can your Readers find you online?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How the Villain Stomped on My Outline

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I outline.  In the world of writers, I am a plotter, not a pantser, an architect, not a gardener.  For the most part I follow my outline, though the story usually stretches and grows as I go along and new, juicy ideas are added.  I’d never really run into the well-known phenomena of a character refusing to do as I wanted—until Soul of Kandrith.

After having written book one, Gate to Kandrith, I knew my two main characters quite well.  Lance may have grumbled a bit, but neither he nor Sara gave me any serious trouble.  All was going along swimmingly until my villain, Nir, the high priest of the God of War, strode onto the scene.  He snorted with contempt at my neat little outline.  “That wouldn’t stop me,” he said, and he stomped it flat.  His actions wrenched the storyline into a much darker place than I had originally intended to go.

When I sat down to do the second draft, I made a note to myself: “Make this less dark.”  And I tried, I did, but Nir dug in his heels and refused to cooperate.  I eventually conceded that he was right, that it would be out of character for him to act the way my outline dictated.  And the darkness and peril made the storyline more compelling.  Furthermore, I came to realize that lightening the darkness too much would take away from my themes of slavery and sacrifice.  So I let it be. 

So when you reach that section, just remember it wasn’t my fault.  It was Nir’s.  Blame him.  Hate him.  And cheer when he gets taken down at the end.

 The conclusion of the Kandrith duology

Lance is a healer and wielder of slave magic, a power that demands sacrifice. He gave up his health to gain the ability to heal others, but he's powerless to cure his beloved Sara, who sacrificed her soul to save Lance and all of Kandrith. Returning her soul would negate her gift, at the cost of his life and the freedom of his homeland.

Now Sara is but a shell of the noble, spirited woman she once was. All that Lance saw and loved in her is gone, but he refuses to give up on her. Charged by his sister, the ruler of Kandrith, with a mission to encourage a budding rebellion within the aggrandizing Republic of Temboria, he leaves with Sara in tow. But not before Wenda's soulsight detects a spark within her.

Amidst the escalating dangers in hostile territory, Lance will have to risk both his beloved and his homeland in a final gambit to save them both…

Buy on Kindle, Audible, Nook, and Kobo

Monday, March 18, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown
Our new releases this week

The conclusion of the Kandrith duology

Lance is a healer and wielder of slave magic, a power that demands sacrifice. He gave up his health to gain the ability to heal others, but he's powerless to cure his beloved Sara, who sacrificed her soul to save Lance and all of Kandrith. Returning her soul would negate her gift, at the cost of his life and the freedom of his homeland.

Now Sara is but a shell of the noble, spirited woman she once was. All that Lance saw and loved in her is gone, but he refuses to give up on her. Charged by his sister, the ruler of Kandrith, with a mission to encourage a budding rebellion within the aggrandizing Republic of Temboria, he leaves with Sara in tow. But not before Wenda's soulsight detects a spark within her.

Amidst the escalating dangers in hostile territory, Lance will have to risk both his beloved and his homeland in a final gambit to save them both...

138,000 words


Book five of The Gaslight Chronicles.

Belinda Danvers isn't a witch. But that won't stop them burning her at the stake...

Connor McKay can tell at a glance that Belinda's magickal powers are minimal at best. She can't be guilty of murdering village children. There's something suspicious about her arrest and lightning-quick sentence. Unfortunately, telling anyone how he knows would mean revealing his own powers. He's been sent by the Order of the Round Table to help and he can't just let her die.

Escaping from jail and running from vindictive villagers in her grandfather's steam-powered caravan is more excitement than Belinda's had in years. And despite the danger--or maybe because of it--she loves the time spent with her sexy rescuer. But there's more to his magick than he's letting on...

There's something going on that's bigger than the two of them. It's time for good to make a stand.

52,000 words


Links of Interest

The new Dr. Who trailer. Woohoo!

Weird but interesting: Eating too much corn turns you into a vampire  It's science.

The story I need somebody to write: The CIA's secret experiments to turn cats into spies

Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs (2012)

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Cindy Spencer Pape: I’m doing a mini-blog tour with a $25.00 gift card and the chance to name a character in the next Gaslight book. Click here to visit my website for details.

Nicole Luiken: There's an interview of me about the Kandrith series up at The Window Seat including a giveaway of either book in the series.

Jane Kindred will be among 40 local authors showing, reading, selling, and signing their books on Saturday, March 23, at the Noe Valley Authors Festival in San Francisco. Stop by from 2-5pm at St. Philip Parish Hall, 725 Diamond St. in San Francisco. Admission is free.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fight or Flight: 4 Characteristics of Well-Rounded Characters

Posted by: Regan Summers

There are hundreds of “how-to” books and instructional quotes on how to build convincing, characters. But even after you’ve read them, it’s sometimes difficult to apply the systems or lessons. Or you apply them, and still feel that something is missing.

I’ve talked to other writers who swear by “interviewing” their characters or writing snippets of backstory from the point of view (POV) of side characters and villains. I tend to write in first person, so I often write back story for important characters whose minds we don’t get inside. Anything to get to know them better.

As I’m writing this, I’m multitasking, talking with family and friends gathered to watch mixed martial arts fights. We’re discussing the fighters and the match-ups. I cannot think of any situation in which a person’s true personality is revealed more than during a fight. These fights are regulated. There’s a ref in the cage and doctors outside, and rules for how and in what situation certain moves can be thrown. There are cornermen and coaches. The fighters have trained for weeks or months for this specific match. Life is rarely kind enough to give a character advance warning of a conflict.

Now, I’m coming at this as an urban fantasy author. My stories have moments of violence, some horrific circumstances, chases, and catchings that can be either terrifying or ecstasy-inducing. But I think that the following characteristics can be components of characters in non-violent stories as well. Even pacifists have tendencies that will influence their reactions to pressure and strife. All stories contain conflict, and conflict takes people out of their comfort zones and tests their mettle. Are they strong? Are they flexible? Does denial come easier to them than accepting truth?

1. Aggressor or Counterpuncher 

When provoked, does your character jump straight in, without evaluating the full situation or ramifications of such action? Or does she wait for her antagonist to strike? Does she need time to think, and to see that the confrontation has actually escalated to this level? The counterpuncher isn’t oblivious or stupid. She’s tactical. When her opponent blows his top and strikes, she responds immediately. Yes, she will take that first punch, but her response will be thoughtful and potentially devastating. It will often be a surprise to the aggressor, who was either acting impulsively or mistook her for a passive opponent.

Aggressor: Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer and Dory Basarab

Counterpuncher: Jennifer Estep’s Gin Blanco - in conflicts outside of her “day job” (Elemental Assassin series)

2. Block or Deflect 

Both are defensive actions, meant to spare the fighter from the pain of a direct blow, but they achieved different ends. Fighters generally block by getting their arms up to take the brunt of a blow that would have been more painful if it landed elsewhere. A deflection is a redirection of the aggressive act that skims it of energy or strength. In characters, it's often achieved through humor or over-the-top reactions meant to throw aggressors of the scent of important feelings.

Blocker: Ilona Andrews’s Rose Drayton (Edge series)

Deflector: Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax

3. By the Book or Improvisation

Fighters generally enter the ring with a plan for both offense and defense. They know the tendencies of their opponent. Maybe they’ve fought them before, or observed them fight. Maybe they’ve watched tape of previous matches or talked to others who’ve fought them. They have a strategy for attacking the opponent’s weaknesses, and another for defending against her strengths. However, fights do not always go according to plan.

When, in the course of battle, the fighter finds that the strategy isn’t succeeding, she has two basic options. Either keep going, hoping to wear the opponent down or land enough blows to win by decision, or improvise. Try new tactics, change stance, or revert to tactics the fighter is more comfortable with rather than ones learned in the days leading up to the fight. Some fighters are not able to change in the heat of battle, even if they know they should or want to. 

By the Book: Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet

Improviser: Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson, Kristen Callihan’s Daisy Ellis (DarkestLondon series)

4. Fight to Submission or Fight to the Death*

This isn’t only important to characters who are in life or death situations. While that may not be a component of your story, I think it’s good to determine how far your character might be willing to go for her goals. Would she be content to achieve comfort or companionship, or does she want absolute security or burning passion? This requires some honesty. Often, what a character initially believes she wants isn’t the most important thing, but rather something she’s been led to believe will satisfy her.

A side note here. The fight-to-submission types may not do so because that’s as far as they want to go. It may instead be that outside pressure or forces have made them reluctant to push too far. This could be characters who have hurt someone accidentally in the past and don’t ever want to do it again, or those who don’t believe they deserve the thing or person for which they fight. In urban fantasy, a lot of characters start as submitters, until they either learn their worth or find someone worth sacrificing themselves for.

Submission: St John Rivers, from Jane Eyre (I know, it’s stretching, but I had a lot of trouble with this one. All I could think of were exes and bad parents)

Death: Pretty much everybody in urban fantasy

Who are some of your favorite characters who have these attributes? Where do your own characters fit?

*To the pain only happens in The Princess Bride.

Fighter Photo by Kieran C.
Regan Summers lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband and alien-monkey hybrid of a child. She is a huge fan of the low profile. She likes books, ottomans with concealed storage, small plate dining, libraries, Corporal Hicks, some aspects of pre-revolutionary France, most aspects of current Italy, and books.

Her Night Runner series, including Don’t Bite the Messenger and Running in the Dark, is available wherever e-books are sold.

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