#FabulousFridayGuestBlogger, Deborah Jay: how do you write ‘what you know’, when you write fantasy?

Thanks, Marcia, for the opportunity to be featured guest blogger here on The Write Stuff this week. I’m so thrilled this wonderful blog is up and running again after all your trials and tribulations. We missed you!

‘Write what you know’ is one of those rules all authors come across. But when you’re writing a fantasy novel, how can you do that?

With book #3 in my Five Kingdoms fantasy series releasing next week, I thought I’d share a peek into how I chose to incorporate a little of what I know into my imaginary world. You might notice a bit of a theme across my covers…

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One of the draws of writing fantasy is the ability (necessity) to create your own world from scratch, but it’s nevertheless important to have enough similarities with the real world for readers to have an easy frame of reference. If everything is unfamiliar, they have to work too hard at understanding what’s going on to enjoy following the plot, or find empathy with the protagonist and supporting characters.

If I’d wanted, I could have given my characters 6-legged, horned critters to ride, but as a professional horse rider (my day job, lucky me), I decided to give them regular horses. Well, slightly enhanced, almost regular horses!

This enabled me to inject some realism into the world of the Five Kingdoms, with small details of horsemanship and horse behaviour that bring the horses to life as characters in their own right. Here’s a snippet featuring one of my favourites:

* * * * * * *

At this time of day, only one horse stood inside. Fleetfoot, Rustam’s bright bay Shivan stallion, dozed on his feet in the middle of the walkway, disdaining an actual stable. None of the stable lads would dream of trying to coax him into a loose box—he’d shown them how such an attempt would end within half a day of his arrival in the barn. Fortunately, as the season was so warm, the lad in question had dried out quickly after his dunking in the water trough.

Fleetfoot acknowledged Rustam’s arrival with a shake of his neck, his long black mane swishing from side to side. Rustam patted his shoulder. “It’s good to see you resting, my friend. We’ve an important task ahead.”

He ran a hand along the stallion’s muscular crest beneath the heavy fall of mane, marvelling as always at the softness of the horse’s hair. Fleetfoot bent his neck around and blinked at Rustam, who sighed. “I’m guessing the hardest part will be persuading Risada to stay behind. Ouch!”

He leaned against the stallion’s shoulder, pushing hard until the horse lifted the hoof he’d planted on Rustam’s foot. “What was that for?”

Rustam hopped a few steps, before rubbing the top of his abused foot against the back of his other calf. He’d never held any illusions about the weight of the substantial animal even before being trodden on. “That’s going to be one almighty bruise, thank you very much. What did I say to offend you?”

Fleetfoot arched his neck, lowering his head until he matched eyelines with Rustam. His expression revealed both dismay and disapproval. Rustam shook his head. “For someone who can’t utter words, you have an amazing ability to express your opinions. You think Risada should come with us, don’t you?” Fleetfoot bobbed his head down, once, twice.

* * * * * * *

Each of my books features several named horses who have their parts to play in developing the characters of their riders, instead of being just a means of conveyance. I find human/horse (or indeed, any animal) relationships bring out greater personality depths, and in the case of horses are often a means of strengthening and deepening certain traits, such as patience, empathy and humility. Exactly what they do for those of us fortunate enough to work with them in real life.

DO you follow the ‘write what you know’ rule? Please tell me in the comments: it’s always fascinating to hear other writers’ thoughts on the ‘rules’.

If you haven’t read any of my Five Kingdoms novels yet, #1, THE PRINCE’S MAN goes on sale next Friday at $0.99 in all stores, the same day as #3, THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE releases with an introductory price of $2.99

Mar 19 sale

Each book has a stand alone story arc, but they have ongoing threads leading towards a final showdown in book #4.

If you HAVE read books 1 & 2, this is what #3 looks like, and is available now on Amazon pre-order,

launch promo

thumb nailDeborah Jay writes fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she has time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many horses, and her complete inability to cook.
She has a dream day job riding, training and judging competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.

Connect with Deborah elsewhere across the web

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If you fancy trying out a FREE Five Kingdoms story, sign up to my mailing list HERE – you can always unsubscribe if it’s not to your taste.

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Other books by Deborah Jay

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#FabulousFridayGuestBlogger: End of Day by Mae Clair

Hello, fabulous followers of Marcia’s blog! I’m delighted to be here today as the featured guest blogger. Many thanks to Marcia for generously offering up space for me chat about my latest book—and folklore.

I’ve long held a passion for archaic legends, so it’s only natural those threads creep into most novels I write. In my latest, End of Day, I touch on myths revolving around church grims and burial. If you’re unfamiliar, a church grim is a spirit that stands guard over a chapel graveyard. The grim usually takes the form of a large black dog and is tasked with protecting those buried in the cemetery. It repels predators from the Netherworld including night demons, wights, and phantoms.

an old cemetery with weathered gravestones and a gnarled twisted tree in the background

In days rife with superstition, the custom was to bury a dog alive under the cornerstone of a church. People believed the first soul in a graveyard was responsible for protecting the rest. Since they couldn’t sacrifice a human for the purpose, a dog was substituted—a horrid and barbaric practice.

In End of Day, I altered that belief, adjusting it so that the first person interred in the cemetery became the protector of all the souls that followed—as well as the descendants of those buried in the graveyard. But what happens when the burial plot of that protector is violated and his remains are stolen?

End of Day is a book that features two mysteries—one set in 1799 when the small village of Hode’s Hill comes under attack from a strange creature, and one set in the present day. Both mysteries twine together, merging at the conclusion. As one reviewer said:

“This is a paranormal suspense novel with a dual timeline alternating between the year 1799 and now. A centuries-old curse grips a small town. There are thugs, a sweet dog, monsters, a supernatural talisman, a no-nonsense policewoman, likable characters, despicable characters . . . this book has it all.”

I hope I’ve intrigued you enough to read the blurb and to consider adding End of Day to your TBR list. Although this is the second book in my Hode’s Hill series, it also can be read as a standalone. In closing, many thanks again to Marcia, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my post!

book cover for End of Day by Mae Clair shows an old abandoned church with a graveyard in the backgroundBlurb
The past is never truly buried…

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

Universal Purchase Link

bio box for author Mae Clair

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up  
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

Other books by Mae Clair:

“Tortured Soul” – Newest Release by Staci Troilo

Hi, Marcia. Thank you for opening your blog to me today.

I know you have an interest in the paranormal, in romance, and in thrillers. Today, I’m going to share an excerpt from my newest release, Tortured Soul, the fourth and final installment of the Medici Protectorate series. This book has all those elements (and then some). I hope you and your readers enjoy it.

(Note: These guys are battle-hardened and make free use of swear words, particularly when in the heat of action. To keep this post reader-friendly for all audiences, all instances of such words have been tamed or deleted.)


Tortured Soul Teaser

“Mike? Where are you?”

“I do not know that ‘where’ is the correct term for what you are asking.”

Coz glanced around. No one reacted like they could hear him.

“They cannot hear me.”

Where the heck was he talking from? “Mike?”

“You do not have to speak aloud, Roberto. I am communicating with you, mind-to-mind.” Continue reading

How Do You Feel About Controversy? (and my new release)

by Kassandra Lamb

Marcia’s busy today, so she gave me permission to play in her sandbox while she’s gone… 😀

I’ve taken some risks with my latest Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mystery, and I’d love to hear your take on it. Here’s the gist of it from a post I did earlier in the week.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CONTROVERSY?

Some people don’t mind controversy; a few even thrive on it. And with social media, these two groups seem to have found their voices more and more lately.

But I’m in the group that pretty much hates controversy. I sit on my hands at least once a day, resisting the temptation to get into it with someone on Facebook or Twitter. It just isn’t worth the stress.

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In my Kate Huntington mysteries, I have often touched on somewhat controversial social issues. I’ve been fortunate that they have been well received. I really enjoyed writing those books, but more recently I’ve been having fun with a lighter cozy mystery series about a service dog trainer.

I thought I had left the somewhat darker topics behind. My muse, however, had a different idea. She spun out a story in my head that involves two less-than-likeable characters who are members of groups that normally inspire high levels of sympathy in people.

In my new release, I have a crabby paraplegic veteran, who has an unhealthy obsession with his sister’s love life, and a brash, hard-to-like sexual assault survivor.

My main character, Marcia Banks, doesn’t particularly care for either of these people when she first meets them. And she feels guilty about that. How can you dislike a veteran in a wheelchair? she asks herself.

But the reality is that people in most groups come in all sizes, shapes, and personality types. And some of them aren’t going to be likeable. (READ MORE of original post)

Nonetheless, I’m feeling a bit of trepidation as this book releases. I know I will get blow-back from some folks. I hope it doesn’t get too nasty.

What do you think? Am I worrying for nothing?

Here’s the scoop on the new release:

Patches in the Rye cover

Patches in the Rye, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, Book 5

Nothing about her new client is what service dog trainer Marcia Banks expected—from the posh house that says family money to his paranoid preoccupation with his sister’s love life—but when he dangles a thousand-dollar retainer under her nose, she can’t resist playing private detective.

In between training sessions, Marcia digs into the sister’s boyfriend’s sketchy past. But the deeper she digs, the more questions arise. How is a disastrous fraternity party five years ago linked to blackmail, prostitutes, and murder today? And who’s driving the black SUV that keeps trying to turn Marcia and her dog Buddy into roadkill?

She can’t let it go, not when there are innocents at risk who are depending on her to find the truth. But the deepest, darkest truth is the one she wishes she never uncovered.

Just $0.99 for a limited time on:

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Time Travel – A Frequently Used Literary Device

Guest Post by Don Massenzio

As a reader, my fascination with time travel began as a child. When I first read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, I was enthralled by the idea of travelling either backward or forward in time.

Traveling backward could allow one to catch glimpses of historical events or important figures. You could go back and wander among dinosaurs. Similarly, traveling forward gives a view of the development of man, technology and the future of our planet.

As I sat down to write my book, Extra Innings, I was fascinated by the different views of time travel that have been used in fiction. This post will discuss those various theories and I’ll give you a view of my thought process in landing on one.

Here are some of the theories that have been presented in fiction:

Watercolor dreamcatcher with beads and feathers. Illustration fo

  1. Precognition – This is the idea of seeing the future during dreams or through the feeling of déjà vu. Abstract black and white design
  2. Time Loops – If you’ve watched the movie, Ground Hog Day, you’ve seen this time travel plot device in action. Usually the events time loop repeat until the character or characters perform a certain action to end the loop and move forward.De Lorean
  3. Time Paradox – If you watched Back to the Future, when Marty McFly went back in time and nearly prevented his parents from getting together for the high school dance, you’ve experienced this time travel device.Time Tourism
  4. Time Tourism – Just like it sounds, when time travelers travel through time to witness historical events as a spectator, this is time tourism.terminator
  5. Time War – This is the use of time travel to conduct war over time using time travel. It could involve going back in time to change events leading up to a pivotal battle or trying to bring about a reset of events that didn’t play out as planned.Erasing The Past
  6. Changing the pastThis is the notion of time travel that I used in my book, Extra Innings. The idea of changing the past is logically contradictory. Even though the consensus today is that the past cannot be changed, science fiction writers have used the idea of changing the past for good story effect. Stephen King used this method of time travel effectively in his book, 11/22/63, by having his main character, Jake Epping, attempt to go back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Though ultimately successful, when Epping returns to the present, he discovers that his actions have had unintended consequences.


If you enjoy time travel and the possibility of going back in time to right wrongs and do things differently if given a chance, follow the adventures of Joe McLean in my latest novel, Extra Innings.

SAMPLE

Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team.

Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past.

That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life?

Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about old adage, you can never go home again? Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.

 

Spiritualists, Houdini, and a New Release! #CuspOfNight

Marcia was kind enough to invite me to share my upcoming release, Cusp of Night with readers of The Write Stuff. Thanks, Marcia! 🙂

I’m jazzed to be here with this novel that twines two timelines in a tale of mystery and suspense. Cusp releases on June 12th, but you can pre-order your copy now from any major bookseller, through this link.

Part of the book addresses spiritualistic practices of the nineteenth century. The research was riveting!

Most seances of that time were held in dimly lit rooms, with the “sitters” often divided by gender. The medium opened with a prayer or a hymn. The use of musical instruments was also common, and played an important part of the evening. Spirits frequently chimed in with ghostly instruments, giving sound to horns, trumpets, and bells. Often these instruments would fly about the room, soaring above the heads of the sitters who clasped hands or pressed their palms to the tabletop, fingers touching. Glowing images often appeared—anything from full manifestations to disembodied faces or ghostly hands that would touch the sitters on the back or shoulders.

It may seem odd to us that people of the era could be fooled by pieces of cheesecloth said to be “ectoplasm” or ghostly hands controlled by air pumped through rubber tubes, but mediums of the 1800s were as much showmen and magicians as they were practicing spiritualists. The country was hungry to communicate with the dead, especially after the massive loss of life during the Civil War. After honing their skills on the dingy circuit, there was an abundance of amateur magicians and charlatans ready to step up and fill the voracious call for mediums. Practitioners of the day weren’t above advertising their skills in the classified ads and lining their pockets.

Harry Houdini demonstrates how a medium might produce ectoplasm using a streamer of fine cloth

By Harry Houdini (“Spirit Tricks”. Popular Science. December, 1925.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the most notable mediums of the time were cited for fraud repeatedly, yet people still flocked to them, fully aware they’d been tagged as cheats. None of that mattered in the fervor of reaching through the Veil to Summerland, a place where the dead resided, and might communicate with the living.

Although, taken at a later date than Cusp of Night is set, the photo on the left shows Harry Houdini demonstrating one way in which a medium produced fake ectoplasm.

In my book, Cusp of Night, Lucinda Glass—a medium of the late 1800s—reaches out to Maya Sinclair, a librarian whose life changed the moment she was injured in a car accident. For a period of two minutes and twenty-two seconds, Maya was clinically dead.

Here’s a closer look at the blurb:

Banner ad for cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by author, Mae Cllair

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

PRE-ORDER HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

bio box for author, Mae Clair

 

DSM Publications – News From Don Massenzio & a Free Book Offer

LogoAn Exciting New Venture

Services for Indie Authors

(NOTE: So happy to share this news from Don Massenzio, introducing his new editing and formatting business. Hope you’ll all keep him in mind for your editing needs, and will share this news with your friends. Thanks!)

DSM Publications offers Editing and Formatting services to Indie Authors with advice and networking with other authors.

As Indie Authors, we are all in this together. Every day we make gains on the traditional publishing market.

One of the ways that we can accomplish even more is by making sure that the work we produce is of the highest quality possible to help alleviate the stigma that has been cast upon us by the traditional publishing world.

It has been my mission to help other indie authors realize a high level of quality while alleviating the tedious tasks of editing and formatting by sharing the experience I have picked up along the way. I’ve done this, for the past three years, through informative posts on my blog, promotion of author books and over 200 author interviews. I will continue to do these things on my author web site, but now I’m taking it one step further.

I am so excited to launch this new venture. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed editing documents and making them look professional. I have been working with word processing programs since the old Xerox XPS WYSIWYG system of the 1980s through Multimate, Word Perfect and Microsoft Word.

The thrill of seeing a document come together and look like something professional never gets old for me. Whether it’s my own book or one that I help another author finalize, I take a great deal of pride in producing that finished product.

That is why I’m so excited to officially launch DSM Publications as a service provider for authors. I know the struggles and challenges that Independently Published authors face because I am one. With 10 published books, so far, I’ve made nearly every mistake as I’ve learned the steps necessary to create a final product that I’m proud of.

I’ve collected all of this experience, along with my decades of editing business publications, into a process that is repeatable and efficient.

I want to help my fellow authors reach a level of quality that will make them proud of their work and put it on equal footing with the product coming from the traditional publishing path.

I hope some of you will consider joining me as I launch this venture. I’ve been editing books for others as I prepare for fully committing to this business. I feel like I’m ready to jump in with both feet.

My goal with DSM Publications is to offer cafeteria-style services to indie authors at a reasonable price.

I truly enjoy this kind of work while I help you on your writing journey.

I hope you’ll help me make this new venture a success.

Stop over to the DSM Publications web site and check out my services and rates.

Special Offer

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If you sign up for my DSM Publications Newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of my book, The Ultimate Guide for Independently Published Authors. You can sign up for my newsletter by clicking HERE.

Guest Post – New Release from #TonyRiches

Today, I’m happy to have guest Tony Riches, sharing the news about his latest work of historical fiction, Mary, Tudor Princess. I’ll let Tony tell you about this one in his own words, and I know you’ll help him get the news out.

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I chose to write about Mary because I’d researched her birth and early life for my last book, Henry – Book Three of the Tudor Trilogy. In the trilogy I’d moved forward one generation with each book, so it appealed to me to write a ‘sequel’ which did the same. I’d become intrigued with Mary’s story of how she risked everything to defy her brother when he became King Henry VIII.  

I also wanted to explore Mary’s vulnerability as well as her strengths, and I was assisted in this by her brother, who broke off her engagement to young Prince Charles, future Emperor of Rome, to marry her off to the fifty-two-year-old King Louis XII of France. Although Mary was barely eighteen at the time, Henry saw his younger sister as a small price to pay for a treaty with France.

I enjoyed untangling the many myths about what happened next, from causing the death of King Louis with her ‘passionate exertions’ to her dying of ‘grief at her brother’s divorce from her friend Catherine of Aragon.’ I also had the benefit of knowing a great deal about the people and places of Mary’s world.

Mary – Tudor Princess is now available on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Amazon AU in eBook and paperback. An audiobook edition will be available later in the year.
~~~

BLURB

From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.  Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love? Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.   


Author Tony Riches

About the Author Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors.  For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Goodreads as well as  Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.