Fantasy Links 4/21/17

April 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Life events as usual interfere. Here are some links to keep you going. Thank you.

An article for writers about poisons.

Here’s an article about worldbuilding and choosing a weapon for your characters.

Here’s an article for readers of Brandon Sanderson and his Cosmere books.

Mythic Scribes has a writing article about Foreshadowing.

The Mad Genius blog has several entries of interest this week.

Finally, Magical Words has several links posted this week of interest for readers and writers:


Why Fantasy Matters Link

March 4, 2017 at 2:38 am | Posted in Fantasy Web Site | Leave a comment
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Welcome to March. I didn’t quite get the article I planned for today quite finished, but I wanted to share this wonderful video about Why Fantasy Matters from Unbound Worlds.  Enjoy.

Fantasy Links 1/13/17

January 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Writing | Leave a comment
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I’m busy working on a story, so this week’s post are some links of interest for you.

An article on writing advice at:

World of publishing for today at:

An article of grimdark fantasy books to read at:

A writing article on crafting a character driven story at:

A helpful writing article from Mythic Scribes at:

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.

On Writing Fantasy: Some Links to Helpful Sites and Articles

August 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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I have been writing since 1987, working on several novels, short stories and nonfiction. Over the years, I’ve come across several helpful websites and articles about writing fantasy which I’ll share here.

“Five Things Epic Fantasy Writers Could Learn From Dorothy Dunnett”  by Marie Brennan is a recent article on . The article’s helpful ideas can help writers improve their stories of epic fantasy. The article can be found at:

Magical Words is a website where several authors post articles each week about various aspects of writing such as grammar, plotting, the publishing business, etc. Authors include David B. Coe, Melissa Massey, and several others. The website is at:

Mythic Scribes is a website devoted to writing fantasy fiction. Here writers will find articles about writing and forums to discuss issues. The site is at:

Write SF is a free writing course by author Jeffrey Carver Though aimed at young adults, new writers can get useful information on the basics of writing fantasy and science fiction. The website is:

Mythcreants is a site that has articles on writing as well as analysis of writing. There are also articles on role playing games for those who like games. The website is at:

Fantasy Faction is a British site full of articles about writing, book reviews and author interviews. Something is posted almost every day. The site is available at:

Holly Lisle is a professional, published author of fantasy and other books. She has classes on writing and books on her web site. The site is at:

Another helpful site is SF Signal which has daily news about fantasy and science fiction. The daily post on links is very helpful to find articles about books, movies, TV shows and writing. This site can be found at:

The sites and articles above are just a few of the hundreds that can be found on the Internet. They are useful to help you get started writing and to keep writing. In the end though, it’s more important to stop reading about writing and to just write.

My Writing Experiment

August 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Just a small post while I work on articles.

This summer I decided on trying to increase my writing productivity. I bought the voice recognition software Dragon Naturally Speaking to help me. I’m old school as a writer. I write my stuff down on paper first. I can’t compose stories to a blank computer screen no matter how hard I’ve tried. Revise yes, write no. Since I began writing in 1987, most of my writing is in notebooks, which I later typed into the word processor documents. With Dragon Dictate, I feel I can read the stuff from my notebooks faster than typing. So far, I’m in a learning curve with the program. I’ll let people know how it’s going and if it helped in future posts. Keep writing until then.

Baycon 2015

May 24, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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I attended sf convention Baycon 2015 this weekend. This is a local convention held in Santa Clara, CA. The theme was Women of Wonder, celebrating women in and out of the genres. The con organizers did an excellent job this year. I enjoyed the panel on How the Game of Thrones will end. The panelists did a great job of speculating. Also, I found the panel on publishing books very informative. I’m looking forward to next year’s con. Information at:

On Writing Fantasy: Worldbuilding

July 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Middle Earth. Valdemar. Mythago Wood. Midkemia. Amber. A reader hears these names and it conjures images in their mind of Fantasy worlds where epic battles took place, quests happened and heroes triumphed. In Fantasy writing, world building is an essential aspect of creating memorable stores that remain with readers for a long time. It takes time and patience. Some of the steps to strong world building are reading, thinking and research.

Reading is an important step for help to build memorable worlds. Read in the genre is which you want to write. This will give you ideas on what is being done, but this can lead to imitation. Try to avoid this. Don’t limit your reading. Keep it general. Read many different things like history, geography, cultural anthropology, etc. Mythology is helpful for adding a mythic element to your world. I find “Archaeology” And “Discovering Archaeology” magazine inspiring for ideas. Reading different things gives your brain a broad base of information to create a realistic world for your novel or story.

Another important step that leads to better world building is thinking. Take the time to think through the details of your world. World building isn’t just drawing a map. You must develop many things like a magical system, cultures, religions, and many other elements that make up a viable society. Reading different things helps here, but be careful. Try not to rely on role playing game manuals for your world building. They are insufficient to a writer’s unique imagination. Keep a notebook and write down the details you come up with of your various creations. You might not use all of the information, but it will help you keep track of inconsistencies and bring your world to life. I keep such a file on my˛ computer to refer to while working on my novels.

Lastly, research is an important step in building your Fantasy worlds and cultures. It helps create believable worlds by using details about it. Also, it keeps a writer from making silly mistakes. For example, some writers have had horses that can run over fifty miles without rest. A real horse would die from such treatment. You can’t write about a sword maker without some idea on how weapons are made. Research is time consuming but very helpful. A good place to start is in the children’s section of a library. Here you can find books that explain things simply. From there, move on to other books, magazines, and the Internet. Try to confirm a detail you want to use by two independent sources. One caution: =Don’t let the fascination of research take you from your writing. Combining the three steps of reading, thinking about your Fantasy world and research gives a writer a foundation for building a memorable story. With time and patience, you can create a detailed world that will propel your characters to their destinies.

These are just some of the basic techniques for world building. A writer can pick up more as their experience grows. So keep writing and imagine your world to its fullest. Maybe some day you’ll find your world will invoke memories when its name is mentioned.

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