Posts Tagged With: fantasy

Win AtS for your Kindle

Want a free Kindle copy of Among the Shadows? Of course you do! But you have to answer these three questions from classic sci-fi:

  1. What is the name of the Princess of Mars?
  2. Where is Thongor from?
  3. What planet did Carson Napier travel to?

Use the Contact form to send the answers, and I’ll send the first person who answers all three correctly a copy of my book for your Kindle (Hint: All the answers can be found on this website).

Good luck!

Update: We have a winner! TeacherofYA answered all three correctly:

1. Dejah Thoris is the Princess of Mars, from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom tales.
2. Thongor is from Valkarth (or I would have accepted Lemuria) from Lin Carter’s Thongor of Lemuria fantasy series.
3. While John Carter was on Mars, Carson Napier was on Venus in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Carson of Venus adventures.

Congrats to our winner, and watch for more contests coming soon!

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8 Heroes of Krynn

Always on the lookout for a new fantasy series, I ran across Dragonlance a few weeks ago. It turns out the series isn’t new, but began way back in 1984 with Dragons of Autumn Twilight. This would spawn nearly 200 books in a shared universe. In the book world, a “shared universe” is a series of books written by multiple authors.

Dragonlance is set in the mythical land of Krynn. Like many “classic” fantasy tales, it is populated with races of humans and other creatures, battles between good and evil, and those who must rise up and decide the fate of the world. I know there are some who look down upon such stories as a “trope” — and I’m sure whatever they are reading is high-level, amazing literature — but the rise of heroes to battle evil is a timeless theme that crosses genres and speaks to our own existence.

What often makes or breaks a story is its characters. Dragons of Autumn Twilight introduces readers to Kyrnn’s most memorable band of friends, whom have already been trough much together before we drop in their world, only to be faced with far greater threats. Book 1 finds the heroes in one dangerous encounter after another — probably reflective of the authors being involved in creating Dungeons & Dragons games. As the series progresses, the epic scope expands across Krynn. Continue reading

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The End of Shannara

For four decades now, Terry Brooks has penned his epic Shannara fantasy series. Now, he has decided to bring it to a close.

More or less.

Recently announced, he will write the chronicological end of his creation in a series of books. Then he may — or may not — go back and write some books to fill in gaps in the series.

With nearly 30 books in the series thus far, Shannara has become a staple world in the fantasy genre. It emerged at a time when high fantasy fans didn’t have much to choose from. When I had read everything Tolkien had written (which, unfortunately, wasn’t a lot), a friend recommenced Terry Brooks. While some argued his first book, The Sword of Shannara was too much like LotR, the series quickly established itself as an original world. So for Tolkien fans, Brooks provided a land of humans, elves and other creatures that filled the post-Tolkien void.

As a series goes, some of the books are self-contained standalones, though most are trilogies. This makes it easy for new fans to drop into Shannara without necessarily going back to the first book. The books, or groups of books, usually are separated by decades, if not centuries of time. One issue fans of the epic Wheel of Time series have, is that if you started it as a kid, you didn’t finish it until you had kids. Plus, you can’t start at, say, volume 12. On the other hand, I’m sure many Shannara fans have hoped for Brooks to go back and revisit their favorite characters.

I recommend starting with the first book, but regardless where you begin, Shannara is a land that will endure for ages to come.

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War Among The Shadows Begins Again

No class or book on writing ever skips the quintessential topic of beginnings. Few other things do writers lose as much sleep over. There are endless lists on how to start a story and how not to start a story. Yet, as with everything, this process becomes easier the more it is put into practice.

In Among the Shadows, the Prologue was rewritten three times — with the first two being recycled back into the book elsewhere. With Book 2, Awakening, the Prologue has come together much quicker and appears more set in stone. Of course, this doesn’t mean it won’t change as the book progresses. In any case, I will share it here, to give a taste of what is to come. This isn’t a final draft and more refinement of detail, pace and tone is in order.

This is also a good exercise in finding the right balance in detail. This Prologue is, to a large extent, pulled from history (some of the queen’s words verbatim). Enough detail to paint a picture in the reader’s mind of the scene and time, but not so much that it sounds like a history lesson. Sure, an Egyptologist might want more or quibble with changes, but most readers want a living scene in their mind.

So here is a little preview of the continuing War Among the Shadows:

Continue reading

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Character Profile: Ethan

Ethan Since I was born, I could feel it. There, just out of reach, the pull reached through the veil. Our souls straddle the planes of existence and to be bound by this one was maddening. Most have learned to bury these cries emerging from our very essence.

Then, one day, I broke free.

While the world slept blissfully unaware, I walked among the shadows. Merging into the darkness, but not taken by it, I brought the Light that forced Malice to flee. In distant, forgotten lands, I brought justice to the wielders of hate.

Then I left, we both did, and we knew there was more. Our Story had not ended.

A different Darkness has now crept out of the abyss. Watchers of old had once driven it back. Now we must fight again or allow the world to crumble into ruin.

I am Ethan, the terrors from myth and legend wish to destroy me, but they fear destruction by the power that surges inside me.

They will wage their war and it will be their last.

Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!

[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]

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Only $2.99?

ATS

Among the Shadows for Kindle now on sale for $2.99!
Among the Shadows is heading out on the show circuit, so I thought I’d throw a little special out there…plus a teaser for Volume 2 is coming soon.

ATS

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Fly to the Green Star

Man is dissatisfied with his life. The never-ending, ever-repeating, events of daily life threaten to kill him with boredom

Then he finds himself on another world, in one peril after another. And nearly always, he encounters a woman that was meant for him and he must fight for her by conquering unimaginable dangers.

This is the classic foundation of the stories perfected by Edgar Rice Burroughs in lost worlds, hidden jungles and on faraway planets. He managed to keep each creation fresh and exciting, as did Otis Adelbert Kline who followed in his footsteps. Another is the underrated Lin Carter, who’s creation of Thongor we have already reviewed. Now, travel to a distant world in the Green Star series.

Here a crippled man finds a way to send his soul to a faraway world. There he enters the dead Chong the Mighty, and later Karn the Hunter, taking his place in this tropical world where the races live in towering forests. Soon he encounters Niamh the Fair, a princess, who he quickly falls in love with. However, and this is no surprise, before he can forever be her mate, five books full of death-at-every-turn adventure must be overcome.

Why have such stories, so often derisively called “pulp,” endured for decades? They all have the underlying theme of being fed-up with conformity, the status quo and what society has decided life should be like. Sure, they are often told from the perspectives of men, but the women they meet are not fragile flowers.

The desire to be better, to find one’s purpose, is a call that never goes quiet. These are tales of earthlings finding and doing what their own world won’t allow. As I have written before:

Read to be entertained. Read to get lost. Read to be inspired.

thon

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Character Profile: Conrad

Eigen 2

Since I could walk, I have moved among the tress of the timeless forests of the Riverlands. Unseen and unnoticed, the arrows of my bow cut through the morning mists, their targets never missed.

In my travels I see what once was. Places and people that have passed from memory. Timeslips. Thin places in the veil. These I can see, but that is not all.

I can see past time. To you it may seem as it has slowed, to me, I am unbound by its confines.

The abominations in the shadows do not know me, but they will soon learn to fear me. I am Conrad Wojtek, a hunter of what lies in the Darkness.

Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!

[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]

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Don’t Like it? Write it Again…

At this point, I have changed the synopsis for my novel Among the Shadows numerous times. Not to mention that there are different versions on various sites. Nor was I happy with the current one. I didn’t want to give away too much detail, but maybe it didn’t hint at the elements of the story enough: The contemporary time setting, a little more on two of the central characters and time travel (cool, right?). The premise of myth and legend not being so mythical is still there, as it is a core theme. So, at any rate, here is the latest iteration (and probably not the last):

Ethan and Milena Dietrich are two of the rare ones among us, gifted in using their supernatural self — their soul — to reach through the veil. After years of rooting out evil around the world, they attempt to live a normal life, all the while realizing they are meant for more. Their part in the Story is unfinished.

Now, what was locked in shadow stirs, and where darkness has laid dormant, evil awakes.

Once, when the world was new, the Fallen battled the Light for control over humankind. Civilization was left in flames, the Scourges turned back by the Watchers in the last hour. The Darkness, though, was not defeated. Malice not seen since ancient times, far worse than anything on the evening news, is preparing for a new Scourge across the Earth.

They seek lost relics that surge with power. Nightmarish creatures thought only to be myth and legend will leave the shadows once more. The Dark One’s Followers will travel through time and history, obtaining all they need to propel mankind into collapse and ruin.

There is one problem with their plan. Watchers like Ethan and Milena are not afraid to bring the Light to dark places. Nor are they alone.

A war of the worst sort that could end the age of man is about to begin.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Fairy Tales Illuminate What we Forget

If you read older versions of common fairy tales, they were often darker and more adult. They were made more kid friendly at some point, because children cannot always determine fact from fantasy, as Tolkien would argue. However, they do want something rooted in reality that didn’t have to be all cutesie. Tolkien’s first book, The Hobbit would attempt this. He was concerned about some of its more darker moments, but witness its success, and depth that exceeds what often passes for “children” books. And so Tolkien, and later C.S. Lewis with The Chronicles of Narnia, would bring fairy tales out of the nursery and gave something that would drive a child’s imagination and be sophisticated enough for an adult. Then, Lord of the Rings would take this further, bringing fantasy to maturity.

Bradley J. Birzer writes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth, that fantasy — or fairy stories as Tolkien would often call them — is worth “the effort of entering” in spite of “its many perils and the great possibilities of misunderstanding” because:

…fairy stories illuminate the vast inheritance our ancestors have bequeathed to us…[they] give us a new sense of wonder about things we have taken for granted or which have become commonplace…[and] provide humans with a means to escape the darkness, conformity, and mechanization of modernity…this is not the same thing as escaping from reality. We still deal with life and death, comfort and discomfort. We merely escape progressivism and the progressive dream, which reduces all of complex reality to a mere shadow of creation’s true wonders

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Middle-Earth was much more than elves, orcs and trolls. Of course, what do you expect from an author who was an Oxford scholar who created an entire history, new languages and new races for his mythos? And those things were not even what made it great.

The very human stories were.

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