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Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm Interviewing My Readers! | Renee Writes

Originally posted on Renee Writes:


reader-interviews

I really love getting feedback from my readers, so I've decided to set up an interview just for you. If you decide to fill out the form, I will publish your interview on my blog (only if you want... it's okay if you just want me to see it too) with a link back to any site you'd like.
It's a simple interview, and you can answer as many or as little questions as you'd like about my writing. Of course, if you haven't read my work yet, you can download my serial bundle, Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 - 6) free.
And Another Bonus!
Everyone who fills out the form (honestly and without flaming comments) will be automatically entered in a quarterly giveaway for a $10 gift card from Amazon as my thanks for taking the time to give me your feedback!
So hurry and do the reader interview today!



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Great Halloween Read: Grimsdalr by Joshua Robertson




In the spirit of the epic poem, Beowulf, a renowned hero travels across the whale-road to defeat a monster that plagues the land of Croune.

Available on Kindle


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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Heron Prince (Book Two of The Demon Door) by Kim Alexander | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:


Kim Alexander grew up in the wilds of Long Island, NY and slowly drifted south until she reached Key West. After spending ten rum-soaked years DJing in the Keys, she moved to Washington DC, where she lives with two cats, an angry fish, and her extremely patient husband. She began writing when she ran out of authors to interview (and they pulled the plug on her channel, Sirius XM Book Radio.)

Kim was in her twenties when she finally read a book not prominently featuring spaceships and/or wizards. Turns out Jane Austen was pretty funny!
THE HERON PRINCE continues the story of Rhuun and Lelet in the worlds of Mistra and Eriis and is the second in the fantasy series called THE DEMON DOOR. Her husband tells her she needs to write at least ten more books if she intends to retire in Thailand, so thank you for your patronage.

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The Demon Door can be opened...but the price is deadly.

Rhuun, the half-human heir to the demon throne of Eriis, has found acceptance among the humans on Mistra. He even found love with the tempting and infuriating human, Lelet va’Everly.

With Lelet at his side, his ability to create fire has finally awakened, proving that he is not the cursed cripple all of Eriis believed him to be. There are secrets in his blood, unique and powerful...and worth killing for. 

When Rhuun is betrayed and tricked into returning to Eriis, Lelet has no choice but to turn to exiles, children, and madmen to save him. She must do the impossible: transform herself into a demon and travel to a forgotten city to make an agonizing bargain for his life. 

Surrounded by dark Mages, a war-hungry Queen, mercurial Goddesses, and enemies on every side, the demon prince and the human woman will find the Court of Eriis a subtle and dangerous place, and one false move could doom them both.

Best-selling author Kim Alexander works her magic once again, creating a novel with worlds that are as rich and complex as her characters. The Heron Prince is the second book of The Demon Door series.

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for a guest post from the author:


What was it like to write the sequel to The Sand Prince?


In some ways it was easier. My series follows the adventures of a cast of almost 40 characters across two very different worlds, and a lot of that groundwork got covered in the first book. We know Eriis is a desert wasteland recovering from a devastating war. We know the demons who live there have powers humans consider magical. And we know the humans of Mistra have almost completely forgotten the enemy they almost wiped out 100 years ago.

It was harder for some of the same reasons. When you have a large cast you have to know what everyone is doing, what they know, who told them, why they are where they are, how they got there and where they wind up! It’s like herding cats, if cats were bad tempered (sexy) demon princes and infuriating (also sexy) human women. 

The fun and challenging part for me was exploring the characters who played a more minor role in book one. In particular, Rhuun (the bad tempered demon prince) has an ex-girlfriend back home on Eriis, and she got the short end of the stick (so to speak) when he went through The Door to Mistra. In book two, she faces her phobias and does some exploring of her own. And we spend some time with Rhuun’s arch mortal enemy, Niico, and find out why he behaves the way he does. Meanwhile, back among the humans, we’ll be seeing more of Lelet’s older sister May, and her youngest sister Scilla (evil genius in training--she’s only 12!)

I also loved giving Lelet herself a chance to save day (more than once) and find her strength. And Rhuun begins to see there’s more to him than he ever thought. 

Of course I put everyone through the wringer--this is only book two!


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The Magical Origins of Halloween!

Have you ever wondered where the Halloween traditions stemmed from?

Well, lets start with the term Halloween itself. In ancient days, people celebrated Samhain. It was an autumn feast to honor the dead. There were many traditions depending on the region, but for many it was a time to remember the people you'd lost that year, and also to remember all your accomplishments and set goals for the coming year. In that way, it was actually more like our modern day "New Years" celebration, except that they didn't have fireworks. The feast would start on (or around) the 31st of October at sunset and go all night and day until the following sunset.

When the Christians adopted the feast, it became All Saints' Day, which was celebrated on the 1st of November. The night before was called All Hallows' Eve. It later became known as Hallowe'en, which is short for Hallowed Evening. Now we call it Halloween.

When Halloween came to America, it started as feasts in local communities. People would gather and share in the bounty of the autumn harvest. They would tell stories of the dead, ghost stories, dance and sing. Later when immigrants began pouring into the country, they brought some of their Halloween traditions with them. People began dressing up and they'd go door knocking for food and money. This practiced later evolved into trick-or-treating.

While Samhain is still practiced today by many pagans, Halloween has become a huge secular holiday that involves a lot of candy collecting and eating. It was always my favorite holiday of the year. The candy was great, but there was always something really magical about Halloween for me. Even now I get more excited over Halloween than I do any other holiday, and I enjoy being able to celebrate it with my daughter. Best of all, since we're in the southern hemisphere, we get to celebrate twice a year. Halloween in October and Samhain in April!

I hope you all can find the magic in Halloween too!

Happy Halloween!


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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Writer's Edge: Book Cover Design


Streamed live on 20 Oct 2016
Join The Writer's Edge in talking about book cover design. How much money should you spend? Where can you find resources? What are industry standards for covers in different genres? And more...

If you are an author and would like to join a LIVE show, please contact Crimson Edge at info@crimsonedge.com to reserve a spot.

Joshua Robertson, CEO of Crimson Edge Press
www.crimsonedgepress.com

Beth Hammond
http://bethhammondbooks.com/

Heidi Angell
http://www.heidiangell.com/

Andy Peloquin
http://andypeloquin.com/

Christie Stratos
https://christiestratos.com/



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Self-Editing Tip: Who vs. That

Who vs That

This tip may seem overly simple, but I see this mistake all the time when editing. We're used to using who and that interchangeably when we speak, but the rules of writing are less forgiving.

Always use who (or whom) when a sentence refers back to a person. Use that when talking about an object. For example, "Mrs. Smith is the librarian who helped me find my research books." Or, "His blog is the one that I read every morning before work."

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

CB's Monster Weekend | Joshua Robertson

Originally posted by Joshua Robertson:

SUPPORT INDIE AUTHORS

They are only a few supporters away from meeting their goal. It’s free and only takes a few clicks!

The #SIAFBB is an Indie Author promotion. All authors are offering Indie Books in this event, so you will find something you didn’t expect to love (but will) we guarantee it!

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/48341-siafbb-cb-s-monster-weekend/embed


monster_weekend_-_dragon_costume



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Fantasy Art Wednesday | Allison D. Reid

Originally posted by Allison D. Reid:


Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Wednesday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing!

Get your typing fingers warmed up, because today’s image gives so many story possibilities. Where is this place? It almost has a catacomb feel, like it has been buried underground. Silent. Dark. We seem to be in a large chamber, but I can imagine that there are a maze of black tunnels twisting off of it. Light breaks through from above this bent tree, the earth beneath it overgrown with tall grass and weeds, twists of vine, and even a spider web. Its roots are breaking through its stone confinement, tearing up the floor.
Wherever this place is, no one has been here for a long time. Perhaps that skull belonged to the last visitor who braved its tunnels. What is in the mysterious chalice next to it? Could be poison. Could be something else. I’m not all that eager to sip from it, are you? Not without knowing more. The title itself intrigues me, “The Last Light.” Have we entered a completely darkened world, and this is the last light anywhere? Captured, preserved, and maybe even protected in this chamber from those who would snuff it out?
It’s one possibility–surely there are more. Have fun exploring them, and feel free to share your ideas in the comments. I’m always happy to feature any stories that are inspired by my Fantasy Art Wednesday posts, so don’t be shy!
the-last-light-by-deanne-cherie
“The Last Light” by Deanne Cherie



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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is now only days away. The camps in April and July are a fun, no pressure way to get writing, but November is the big month--50,000 words or bust. That means writing about 1700 words per day. For some that's not an intimidating number--for others it seems absolutely crazy.

Even though I've got two novels and a novella under my belt, I'm not sure that I'm ready to tackle that much in a month. Even so, for the first time I'm feeling motivated to try. In the end I may not make it to the 50K goal, but is that really the end of the world? The real point is that I set aside time to write and do it. So who's with me this November? Let's jump right in, encourage each other, and see what happens!`

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Guest Post: 5 Benefits of Self-Publishing by Kevin McNamara | Renee Writes

Originally posted on Renee Writes:


Hi everyone! Today I have a guest poster, Kevin McNamara, here to talk about the benefits of self-publishing. So any writers out there who are trying to make that all-important decision between traditional and self publishing, maybe this article will help you!

benefits-of-self-publishing
Yes, traditional publishing houses are past their glory days. With today's development of the Internet, a book author feels a much less need in a publishing house to get the reader's' attention. Like most things in the world, this tendency does have its drawbacks, but the pros by far outweigh the cons.
In this article, you'll find top 5 reasons that make self-publishing a more attractive option to young and aspiring authors than traditional book publishing.
1. INSTANCY
In the traditional book-publishing scheme, a writer needs to wait to be discovered by an agent who will then find them a publisher. This process can be very long, tiresome, and nerve-wracking, or this day might never even come, doesn’t depend on whether you’re a good writer, or not.
If you decide to choose self-publishing, on the other hand, you can skip this stage and have your book published whenever you feel ready.
2. FULL CONTROL
Even famous and established authors often complain about the control imposed on them by their publishing houses. Now, this is arguably a drawback, since the person appointed by the publishing house does provide a fresher look at your work, assumingly being an expert at what he is doing. And yet, it does often take a lot of the fun and magic away from the writing process, making it more dull and routine.
When you are publishing your book yourself, you are in charge of everything: content, cover and interior design, marketing strategy, pricing, etc. But remember, you don’t have your publisher always watching your back and pointing to your every mistake, so be careful and think twice before you do anything.
3. INDIVIDUALITY
You can see how big handmade clothes and accessories, as well as organic, locally grown food, are today. As opposed to the stuff manufactured industrially, these things possess the unique warmness and coziness that make consumers feel as if these particular products were made especially for them – so make them feel special.
4. UNLIMITED TIME
Do you know what is common for Lewis Carroll's ''Alice in Wonderland'', Leo Tolstoy's ''Anna Karenina'', Friedrich Nietzsche's ''The Antichrist'', and Mark Twain's ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn''? They all either went unnoticed initially, or were shattered by the critics, and therefore were commercial flops. Same goes for pretty much everything written by Franz Kafka or H. P. Lovecraft, or even J. R. R. Tolkien. History knows many examples when a book went unnoticed when it was first written but later on gained a massive following. Some books are like good wine – they need time to catch on.
A traditional bookstore usually lets any new book a life on a shelf from 30 to 60 days, whereas with self-publishing, you can avoid such limitations, and keep your book “on the shelf” pretty much forever.
5. FLEXIBILITY
You will receive feedback from your readers regarding the fate of a certain character. If you choose to please your audience and introduce the changes that they desire, you can do that instantly, without having to wait until your publisher re-issues your book (which they may even refuse to do).
Same goes with the pricing: demand increases, and you feel like your book should cost more than it currently does, it will take you a few clicks to set the price you want. Or drop it a bit, if you feel like it will help you to sell more copies.
That being said, it is up to you to decide whether you should find yourself a publishing house or have your book self-published. As a matter of fact, nothing can stop you from combining these two approaches. Just remember about all the perks of self-publishing.

kevin-mcnamara-headshotMy name is Kevin and I'm a content writer and blogger. I like sharing my thoughts with people through words.
Connect with Kevin on his blog, The Wtiting Kid,  Facebook and Twitter!



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Tired of the same old fantasy creatures?Medieval legend is full of bizarre beasts that can make for great inspiration for your fantasy story.
The cerastes is even more flexible than an ordinary serpent, and has horns protruding from the top of its head. There might be two, like those of a ram, or four small horns.

A cerastes will hide itself under the sand, with only the ends of its horns sticking up as a lure. When other animals come close thinking they've found food, the serpent quickly kills and eats them.

Now imagine the possible fantasy adaptations for such a creature. Animals are lured by food...what might lure larger prey, including human beings? Perhaps water in a desert environment...or glittering treasure. Maybe such a serpent would see us as an easy meal. Or with some intelligence it might have a more sinister motive. What do you think?

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Medieval Monday: Money | Allison D. Reid

Originally posted by Allison D. Reid:


medieval-faireIt’s hard to imagine a world where paper money and coinage isn’t the most common way to pay for things. But that was the reality for most people in the Middle Ages.  The majority of your daily needs would have been met using either your own skills and labor, or acquired through the barter system. It wasn’t even gold and coinage that made the nobility wealthy, but the amount of land they held. Land that produced important resources, including crops, timber, quarries, mines, livestock, or game for hunting. It might also include vital waterways, towns, or cities.
In the feudal system that governed medieval life, the poorest classes were basically bought and sold with the land they lived and worked on—their labor was part of what made the land profitable. Everything on, or within, a noble’s lands could be taxed. For the most part, taxes weren’t paid in currency either, but in goods and services. Kings and queens bestowed land upon their lords, and the lords in turn owed back a portion of the wealth they collected, along with the promise to provide trained knights and soldiers as needed.
money-did-use-medieval-times_ff7f9557f57bcf4bAll that taken into account, currency wasn’t a complete unknown either. Sometimes the barter system was simply too impractical or difficult, and didn’t always work well for merchants who were trying to buy goods from distant places. Kings paid their armies with coinage and used it to buy imported goods. When a king traveled to other kingdoms, he would take money that would be of value in the place where he was going so that he could buy goods and services while he was there. There was an additional need for coinage, and that was the Church, which also collected taxes. The practice of indulgences (something later challenged by the Reformation movement) meant that people could purchase forgiveness of their sins with money. Typically coinage was only useful in the city, or at large trade fairs—it would not have been commonly carried around otherwise.
The Florin--one of the few standard currencies in Europe by 1300.
The Florin–one of the few standard currencies in Europe by 1300.
So what did medieval money look like? In Europe there wasn’t a single standard. Coins came in different qualities, weights, and shapes. For the most part they were lightweight, and the edges weren’t rounded. Gold, silver, and copper were the standard metals used for coin
Early French medieval coins
Early French medieval coins
production, with gold having the highest value. At first the small silver penny (pfennig or denarius) was the most common. In the 13th century, the groat was introduced. This was a larger silver penny (worth 4 of the smaller ones). Eventually silver was phased out in favor of copper, which was cheaper to use. Medieval coins had a variety of designs stamped on them depending on where they came from. Under feudalism, each region produced its own to honor whichever authority it happened to be under. With time, these designs became more standardized to make trade easier from region to region.
This very short video honors William the Conquerer by making a reproduction of his coin. It demonstrates how coins were made then, and continued to be made, through the Middle Ages.
(Did you miss last week’s post on merchant ships? It’s not too late–just click to read.)




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Heroes and Villains

In my last Inspiration Sunday post I mentioned that in the process of working out some things for the third book in my series, I’ve been thinking about the very different motives and actions of my heroes and villains. Where my story goes from here largely depends on their inner battles, and how those translate into actions that have world-wide consequences. What is each side trying to ultimately achieve, and in what ways are they trying to get there? Are they staying one step ahead of their enemies, or are they simply reacting as each new thing gets thrown at them, never really gaining any ground?
But even beyond that, what makes heroes and villains who they are is not just their inner conflict, but their inner character. The best heroes aren’t perfect people—they are just as flawed as the rest of us; sometimes more so. And yet what makes them different? Sure they might have special abilities—those can be squandered. They might be more desperate than most. Desperation can also turn to bitterness that produces nothing good. And we’ve seen time and time again how the same set of circumstances can turn one person to darkness and another to the light.

I found the answer in a quote from C.S. Lewis. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.” 
Our heroes have to accept their flaws, allow themselves be deeply wounded by them, yet still have the strength rise to action…even when that action is self-sacrificial. They have to care about something larger than themselves, and to care, a heart capable of love is required. So where does that leave our darkest villains? By contrast, they are cold and selfish. Their flaws do not make them vulnerable to heartache—they won’t allow it. And while they might also care about something larger than themselves, it is only to the extent that they will greatly benefit in the process…and they have no problem sacrificing someone else to get their prize. They worship none but themselves. Over time, our villains’ hearts grow increasingly incapable of love until, to use Lewis’ words, they become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. Those are the true villains that our heroes must rise against—the ones worth risking everything to defeat, because if they win, there will be nothing left worthy of living for.
For those of you who are writers, forget for a bit the mechanics of the plot you’re building, and look deep into the eyes of your heroes and villains. What lies hidden deep down in their hearts and souls? What, and who, do they really, honestly care about? How do their vulnerabilities impact their character, and what are they willing to do to achieve their goals? For all you who are readers, which heroes and villains stand out as the most memorable to you? What made them real?



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