Fantasy Links 1/6/2017

January 6, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Here are some links to articles and sites of interest.

An article about fantasy and science fiction books with titles inspired by poetry:  http://www.tor.com/2017/01/06/sff-book-titles-inspired-by-poetry/

A list of books coming out in January that are genre benders:  http://www.tor.com/2017/01/06/fiction-affliction-genre-benders-for-january-2017/

A list of epic fantasy books of where to start:  http://www.unboundworlds.com/2016/12/want-read-epic-fantasy-heres-start/

A writing article on first person narration by James Van Pelt:  http://www.jamesvanpelt.com/

The blog of fantasy author Helen Lowe with many interesting entries:  http://helenlowe.info/blog/

Year Endings and Beginnings

December 30, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For many people 2016 has been a stressful, busy and torturous year. Man changes have occurred leading fear and dread for the future there has been much sadness. I won’t speak to the politics or other events. That isn’t the focus of this blog.

The sadness stems from the loss of many artists of various areas such as music, books and movies. The year is ending with the death of Carrie Fisher the beloved Princess Leia from “Star Wars.” The fantasy genre has lost several authors this year with Richard Adams the author of Watership Down. Hopefully we’ll make it to 2017 without any further losses.

This year for the blog has been very scattered. Life events and work kept me away from keeping up with the blog on a regular basis. I hope to do a better job in the future. So here is the hope for the new year of 2017.

For new beginnings, you might want to try some new books in different sub genres of fantasy. Here are links to epic fantasy and urban fantasy books:

Epic Fantasy:  http://www.unboundworlds.com/2016/12/want-read-epic-fantasy-heres-start/

High Fantasy:  http://www.unboundworlds.com/2016/12/want-read-high-fantasy-heres-start/

Urban Fantasy:  http://www.unboundworlds.com/2016/11/want-read-urban-fantasy-heres-start/

Until next year, may the gifts of fantasy and wonder be yours. Happy New Year!

Interview with Deborah J. Ross

December 16, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Author Interview | Leave a comment
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This week’s post in an interview with fantasy and science fiction author Deborah J. Ross. Enjoy.

Debbie Ledesma: Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you got started in writing.

Deborah J. Ross:  I have written and edited fantasy and science fiction for over 30 years. My recent novels include Thunderlord (with the late Marion Zimmer Bradley), Lambda Literary Award Finalist science fiction novel Collaborators (as Deborah Wheeler), and an epic fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield. My short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, F & SF, Realms of Fantasy, Star Wars: Tales From Jabba’s Palace, Sisters of the Night, and Sword & Sorceress. I’ve edited a number of anthologies, including Lace and Blade, Across the Spectrum, Mad Science Cafe, and Stars of Darkover. Along the way, I served as Secretary to the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and am currently on the Board of Directors of Book View Cafe. When I’m not writing, I knit for charity, play classical piano, and study yoga and dog training.

How I got started in writing? Well before I learned to scrawl my name, I made up stories, and once I could form proper words and pictures to accompany them, I began putting together whole books. My father was a printer, and our home was amply supplied with paper and ink. In my teens and twenties, I began many novels, even finished a few of them, but never knew what to do with them next, nor did I know any writers beyond a few school friends who were just as clueless as I was. I knew I loved to write, and I occasionally dared to hope that someday, my writing would be more than a secret pleasure.

In my early thirties, just after my first child was born, I hit career burnout and decided to work part-time from home. A friend invited me to join a women’s writing group. Although none of us knew what we were doing, I came home from the first meeting so exhilarated that I drafted the story I’d been playing in my head for the last year. No one told me it was crazy to write a novel in 6 weeks with a new baby and a part-time career. The real break came in 1991, when I lived in Lyons, France. A couple of months after I returned to the States, I sold my first novel.

DL: What authors, Fantasy or otherwise, influence your writing?

DR: The list is very long! Some of my favorite contemporary authors include Barbara Hambly, Mary Rosenblum, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sherwood Smith, Carol Berg, Freda Warrington, Jennifer Roberson, Chaz Brenchley, Judith Tarr, Vonda N. McIntyre, Ursula K. Le Guin, Charles Stross, Saladin Ahmed, Diana Wynne Jones, and Tanith Lee. I love authors who give me a new way of thinking about story or language. Once it was possible to keep up with who was writing what, but the field is so large now, I’ve given up trying. I rely on the advice of friends whose taste I trust. It’s hilarious when a friend hates what I love and vice-versa, so I go for whatever they pan. When I go to a science fiction convention, I try to buy at least one book by an author I have just met but have not yet read.

DL: What genre is your favorite to write?

DR: I’m interested in a lot of different things and write for readers who are, too. My first two novels, Jaydium (an adventure through alternate time paths, complete with six-foot silver slug-like aliens) and Northlight (set on a lower-tech world, with romantic, ecological and spiritual themes) were science fiction. Besides seven Darkover novels, I’ve written epic fantasy featuring strong women heroes, science fiction dealing with gender and power, and some rather oddball young adult fiction that turns the usual paranormal tropes inside out.

My short fiction has provided me a place to be wildly inventive. I’ve written a Star Wars story (Tales From Jabba’s Palace) and whimsical fantasy, vampires (funny ones in Sisters of the Night, or a friendship between a vampire and an observant Jew in “Transfusion” in Realms of Fantasy), I’ve done kids’ stories (in several Bruce Coville anthologies), and almost-not-science-fiction pieces about grief and obsession and courage, grim near-future dystopic sf, and epic fantasy. Then there’s wacky stuff like “Harpies Discover Sex” for Olympus. A historical fantasy based on the life of Dona Gracia Nasi and another from the Indus Valley civilization. A story for Marion in Return to Avalon, based on the history of opera. My most recent short fiction has included “Among Friends” (F & SF) about Quakers, the Underground Railroad, and a slave-catching automaton, “A Borrowed Heart” (F & SF), which pits a prostitute against a succubus, and “The Hero of Abarxia” (When the Hero Comes Home 2) in which the hero, of course, is a horse.

DL: I’m always fascinated with Fantasy that has mythic themes. Do you use themes from mythology in your books?

DR: Not consciously, although I borrowed shameless for “Harpies Discover Sex” (Myth Fantastic, reprinted in Beyond Grimm: Tales Newly Twisted, Book View Café). I do frequently draw on archetypes for depth and resonance, although I may change them. The wise old (male) mentor becomes the middle aged (female) mentor, that sort of thing. Archetypes are valuable because they draw upon very deep psychological processes. Myths are culturally-specific, so although we might find stories from a different time or place entertaining, they don’t move us in the way they affect the people who gave rise to them. Archetypes seem to be universal and hence are more powerful.

DL: You also write novels set in Darkover the creation of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley. Is it difficult or easy writing stories in another author’s world?

DR: Writing Darkover stories is much like writing historical fiction. I do research, using not only Marion’s published work, but The Darkover Concordance and her articles in the old Darkover newsletters. I try to create story lines that are true to Marion’s vision of Darkover and the themes that were meaningful to her. Since I work closely with the MZB Literary Trust, I hammer out a detailed outline before I start. Once that’s approved, I turn the process over to my creative back-brain. Because I’m not trying to distort my own intuitive style, I can then write from my heart.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

DR: Writing is both craft and art. You already have the dream. Now you have to learn the craft. As exciting as the prospect of publication is, if you’re in this for the long haul, be patient. It takes time and work to achieve excellence. There are so many aspects of success you’re powerless over, but the quality of your work is one you do have control over. I wrote a series of essays about nurturing yourself as a writer as you wrestle with the skills, called Ink Dance: Essays on the Writing Life.

Read voraciously, and read the best writing you can lay your hands on.

Pay attention to what lights you up inside.

Study everything besides writing. History, astronomy, human biomechanics, African languages, oceanography, ancient runes, Balinese music, ballet, medicine, fashion design, dog training, walrus training, platypus training, whatever strikes your fancy. Once you have something to write about, something you care passionately about, then pay attention to the craft.

Meanwhile, write every day, even if it’s crap. A crappy manuscript can be revised and edited, but a nonexistent one will never become better.

DL: Thank you very much.

Deborah J. Ross

December 9, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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It is important to have diversity in fiction. Reading different voices from other perspectives makes us better as humans by helping us see through others’ eyes. One group of voices are woman. There are many women fantasy authors in the genre expressing their perspectives today. Deborah J Ross in on of these women. Since 1982, she has contributed many books to the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

Her contribution to fantasy is a trilogy that follows characters as they fight to save their people from different forces. The Seven-Petaled Shield begins the trilogy with Tsorreh and her son Zevaron fleeing from their fallen city to find refuge among her mother’s people. They flee the grasp of the Gelon empire with the heart stone of the legendary Shield. Removal of the stone allows the elemental chaotic force Fire and Ice to grow stronger, setting the tone the the next two books. Shannivar, the second book, tells the story of Shannivar, a woman warrior from the clans. She travels with the the clans to a meeting to form an alliance against the growing Gelon empire. Along the way, she meets Zevaron and joins him on a quest to the north to discover what is happening there. In the final book, The Heir of Khored, Shannivar tries to save corrupted Zevaron from Fire and Ice. The trilogy is a fascinating, entertaining read set in a different world than the usual Medieval types.

Using the pseudonym Deborah Wheeler, Ms. Ross wrote the science fiction novel Jaydium. This is a time travel and space story. Kithri is a scientist stuck on a mining planet. She meets Eril who is an ex-pilot learning how to deal with peacetime. They are thrown together back in time to when the planet had a thriving alien civilization that is on the brink of war. Kithri and Eril must decide what to do is right in order to get home. Ms. Ross provides an exciting tale of adventure.

Northlight is another fantasy. This book is a story about a ranger searching for her lost partner and a scholar wanting to experience the world while getting away from his mother. Together they go on a rescue mission to solve the problems of Laurea.

Darkover is the science fiction world created by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley. The planet is a lost colony world where psychic mind talents were developed over technology. After Bradley’s death, Ms. Ross has continued to write novels and stories set in Darkover, expanding Bradley’s popular world. There are many novels and anthologies available. The most recent novel is Thunderlord. Realms of Darkover is the latest anthology.

Deborah J. Ross is a versatile writer. She is comfortable writing in the fantasy and science fiction genres. She also provides interesting new characters and stories set in Darkover. Her books contain interesting characters and entertaining plots. She has many books available for readers at Book View Cafe (http://bookviewcafe.com). Her blog and web site can be found at:  http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/ Readers will enjoy her books.

Some New Links of Interest

December 2, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Announcement, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A short post for today as I try to get back into the blog on a regular basis. Recently I’ve discovered some new links that have interesting articles and content about fantasy and science fiction.

Unbound Worlds is a site from the publisher Del Rey. The site contains interviews, articles and other content related to the genres of fantasy and science fiction. The site can be found at:  http://www.unboundworlds.com/

The Portalist is a site from Open Road Integrated Media. The site contains many articles and other content about books, movie, TV shows and other media in the fantasy and science fiction genres. The site can be found at:  http://theportalist.com/

Good Intentions Gone Awry

November 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Announcement, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hello,

I want to apologize for not getting posts on the blog this past month like I said I would. Good intentions got shoved out of the way by various things. Like many people, for me, it was the presidential election. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster most of the month. It started with the shock at the winner, followed by denial and worry for our country, and ending with plenty of anger. I’ve come to acceptance at this moment and I’m taking a wait and see attitude. The anger is still there, but on slow burn. With that said, I plan to refocus my effort on the blog for December.

Thank you for your patience.

Review: The Merlin Chronicles by Daniel Diehl

October 21, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment
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Arthurian fantasy is a popular subgenre of the fantasy genre. Many fantasy authors take either the characters or story from the King Arthur legends and try to write a new version. Daniel Diehl is a recent author I discovered that provides a new take on the story with his “The Merlin Chronicles” trilogy. The books focus on the character of Merlin and is set in modern day United Kingdom. The books have interesting characters, plenty of action and adventure, and some humor. There are even dragons.

Revelations is the first book that begins with American archaeology student Jason excavating a site in Britain. In his digging, he discovers a crystal orb that does not belong. After the discovery, he is plagued by visions of Merlin who asks Jason to free him from the orb. Jason asks fellow student Beverly to help him. Later, they are caught up in a battle to save the world from Morgana LaFey and dragons. There are many adventures around the world to interesting places like Mongolia. Merlin proves to be a humorous, enigmatic character that drives the story to a satisfying conclusion in the first book.

Next, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice finds Jason, Beverly and Merlin still struggling against Morgana and the dragons to still save the world. Merlin sends Jason on a quest to Ethiopia to find the Ark of the Covenant in order to get magic stones that will lock the dragon gateway forever. Merlin stays in Britain with Beverly to keep Morgana busy until Jason can return with the stones. The characters undergo many perilous struggles. This keeps the middle book of the trilogy interesting and suspenseful.

Out of Time concludes the trilogy with a trip into the past to fifth century Britain for the characters. Merlin wants to save Arthur and his kingdom in the past. Jason and Beverly are reluctant to help because they fear changing the future. Merlin convinces them to help and the final book has many bloody battles against the dragons and Saxons in order to save Arthur and Merlin’s time from the dragons. The books brings the trilogy to an action packed, satisfying ending that doesn’t leave readers up in the air.

“The Merlin Chronicles” trilogy by Daniel Diehl is an excellent addition to the subgenre of Arthurian fantasy. Mr. Diehl provides a suspenseful, action story with interesting characters and plot. The books are a fast read and hard to put down.

Where to Start

September 30, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Looking for something different to read? Inspired by an episode of a fantasy tv series or movie? Deciding where to start can be a daunting task because the fantasy genre is large. There are many subgenres within the overall genre, so there are many possible starting points. Readers have several choices that might fit their tastes. Here are a few books where to begin a journey into a new genre.

Epic fantasy is one of the largest sub-genres and has garnered much interest because of the“Game of Thrones” tv series. Some readers start with the books but there are other books that are good too. For Tolkien, The Hobbit is an easier place to begin with his works. Lord of the Rings is excellent but rich in detail and takes time to savor. Other good starting books are:

  • The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  • The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn
  • The Riddlemaster of Hed by Patricia McKillip

Another popular subgenre is urban fantasy which has exploded in recent years. These are books where magic, mythical creatures and the supernatural exists and interacts with our modern day world. There are many excellent starting points. Many of these books have plenty of action and interesting characters both men and women. Suggested books are:

  • Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels series)
  • Stormfront by Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden series)
  • Moon Called by Patty Briggs (Mercy Thompson series)
  • Hounded by Kevin Hearne ( Iron Druid Chronicles series)

The story of King Arthur and his knights spawned another subgenre with Arthurian fantasy. Authors explore some aspect or character from the legends to tell new stories in this sub-genre. Some books to try are:

  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
  • The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Finally there is for me an unofficial subgenre of mythic and fairy tale fantasy. Authors use mythology, mythic themes or fairy tales in new ways to tell thought provoking emotional stories that resonate with readers in some deep fashion. Books in this genre began with two authors, Robert Holdstock and Charles de Lint but have other authors now. Books to read here are:

  • Mythagowood by Robert Holdstorck
  • The Wood Wife by Terri Windling
  • The Onion Girl  by Charles de Lint
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Finding books to read in a new genre can be hard. The books mentioned in this article are great places to start. May the gifts of fantasy and wonder be yours. Happy reading.

New Beginnings

September 30, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Posted in Announcement, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hello,

I’m back after a long hiatus of neglect. This is a new beginning of regular blog posts. (I hope.) Today starts with a new article about where to start. Enjoy.

Review: _The Broken Sword_ by Molly Cochran & Warren Murphy

July 2, 2016 at 12:47 am | Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment

It starts in exotic Morocco with an attempted assassination of a former American president. A young blind girl in the crowd is affected. Miracles occur. From here, The Broken Sword by Molly Cochran & Warren Murphy takes off on a thrilling adventure full of action. This second book of a trilogy is an Arthurian Fantasy set in our present day world. An engaging plot, likable characters and familiar themes makes the book very entertaining.

The engaging plot of the author hooks the reader quickly. The Holy Grail comes into the story at the beginning. Beatrice, the blind girl, has possession of it. She finds herself the target of a killer. In attempting to escape her pursuer, she joins up with Arthur, his bodyguard Hal and an old man named Taliesin. They discover that she has strange powers too. This group finds itself split up and fleeing an evil magician. From there, the book keeps moving at a rapid pace. The authors create a smoothly flowing story of action broken by interesting interludes of the characters’ life stories, producing slightly different perceptions of the Arthurian legend.

In addition, likable characters help keep the plot in perspective. Arthur is an adolescent boy who feels inadequate to handle problems of the modern day world. Hal, a former knight of the Round Table, strives to regain his honor by protecting Arthur. Beatrice is an interesting young girl with troubling powers. Even the villain Katsuleris has understandable motives for his actions. Taliesin is an interesting rendition of Merlin. The authors created characters that readers will want to follow to the conclusion of the book.

In the end, it is the familiar themes that give the readers a strong reason to stay with the book to the conclusion. One of the themes is the struggle between good and evil in our world. This is answered with Arthur’s confusion in deciding his destiny. The fight with the black magician decides it all. Hope is another theme played out with the young girl Beatrice, Taliesin and the Grail bringing hope for the world’s future. The themes keep the book satisfying for readers that don not like bleak ending. The authors weave these very well into the book.

The Broken Sword by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy is the second book of an Arthurian Fantasy trilogy. It is an entertaining book for readers due to the engaging plot, likable characters and familiar themes. Readers will enjoy this book because it does not suffer from a middle book slowness some trilogies possess. The third book is The Third Magic.

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