Elaina 10/27/14- Moving Forward

Elaina Portugal reflects on the boundaries we set for ourselves. I think she’s onto something that they’re false borders.

One Year of Letters

reinventOctober 27th, 2014

Hey Self-

Today’s letter comes from the balcony of my hotel room as I overlook the Atlantic. Living in the mountains, we don’t really have sunrises. By the time the sun peeks over the mountains, it already put on its horizon color display for people on flat land. We get a few pink clouds and then, BAM! Full sun. Sitting on the beach, watching the colors change and the arc of light form in anticipation of the sun, set the tone for serious contemplation.

For the past four days, I’ve been lucky enough to look out over the ocean and observe its vastness and wonder about the secrets that lie beneath the surface. I also had the opportunity to go to The Kennedy Space Center and view Hubble 3D in the IMAX theater and marvel at images of space and the universe. The irony struck me that…

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Fantasy and Sci-Fi You Should Watch

I love this walk through the TV guide by Steven Montano. What’s your favorite scifi or fantasy show?

Guild Of Dreams

Ok. I’ve spent the past couple of posts harping on about cheesy fantasy movies you should avoid…but what about some stuff you should watch?

Rather than movies, I’m going to switch to television here, and broaden the discussion to include science-fiction (because, let’s face it, there’s a hell of a lot more sci-fi than there is epic fantasy out there in TV land).

Here’s a brief list of some good stuff on TV that, in my opinion, every fan of sci-fi or fantasy should be checking out (not all of it current).

Supernatural

Supernatural

I’m not always a fan of urban fantasy/horror, but Supernatural does it right. For 10 Seasons now the Brothers Winchester have been chasing ghosts, ghouls, vampires, demons, and all sorts of other stuff that goes bump in the night, and the results are often scary, at times funny, and always entertaining. Some may argue the show has started…

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The Business of Word Count

Today on the Guild of Dreams, I muse about word counts and making words count.

Guild Of Dreams

WordCountWordle
How many words do you need to tell a story well? Conventional wisdom (as stated by Chuck Sambuchino in Writer’s Digest) says a novel should be under 100,000, and one seasoned author in my circle claims that any book longer than 100K either has bloated prose or should be split into two novels.

The 100K edict serves two purposes. First, it discourages inexperienced writers from padding their narratives the way high school students pad term papers to make the assigned 10-page minimum. Second, it holds down production costs. Whether the publisher is one of the Big Five, a small independent press, or an indie author, spending more money to produce a longer book is a poor business decision, unless you can be reasonably sure people will buy it. For instance, Tolkien considered Lord of the Rings a single novel, yet it was published in three volumes because his publisher…

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The Work in Progress Blog Tour

Three booksA little more than a year ago, I began following Autumn Birt on Twitter and reading her blogs No Map Nomads and the Guild of Dreams. A wonderfully inventive fantasy and science fiction writer, Autumn has opened my eyes to the ins and outs of the indie publishing world, not to mention opened some doors for me (I owe my membership in the Guild of Dreams team to her). So when Autumn nominated me to participate in the Work in Progress Blog Tour, how could I turn down the honor?

Autumn has some really cool irons in the fire, which you can read about here. Taking the torch she’s passed me, I’m going to rekindle my forge and show you around the smithy. When we’re done touring my place, I’ll be passing the fire along to five authors whose work I know and admire. (Officially, the WIP Blog Tour says I should pass that torch to four authors—but heck, the more the merrier!)

Scattered around the workshop are projects in various stages, from raw iron to advanced tempering. Currently, I’m hammering out a collection of short stories set in Knownearth (the world of the Woern Chronicles), while the third WC volume, Scion of Sovereigns, cools on a workbench. I’m soon going to throw Scion back on the forge, heat it up, and hammer out the final rewrites. Up on the shelf waits Galileo’s Doctor, a half-finished historical novel, alongside the lump of coal and iron ingots that comprise Legacy of the Sacrifice, the final chapter in the Woern Chronicles.

Scion of Sovereigns begins nearly two decades after Wizard ends. Work on this novel began as an exploration of “where are they now,” and when I wrote the first draft, I had no plan whatsoever for where “they” would end up. Instead, I went exploring through the domestic troubles of Victoria of Ourtown, the concubine turned soldier turned wizard of Blade of Amber and A Wizard’s Lot. What happens when a bad-ass warrior settles down and becomes a mother? What happens when her husband sets out to pursue a noble cause, and leaves her behind? And what happens when she can’t kill her worst enemy, because he’s now her father-in-law? I had a lot of fun exploring those questions in the first draft, and now in the final version, I’ve wrapped it all up inside a larger question: what happens when the butcher’s bill for a war crime finally comes due and Vic has to pay the price?

Scion should wrap in early 2015. If you’d like updates on this and my other works in progress, please sign up for emailed updates by registering as a Citizen of Knownearth. Everyone who signs up during the month of October will be entered into a drawing to receive signed copies of all three of my books (The Woern Chronicles Books One and Two—Blade of Amber and A Wizard’s Lot—and the essay collection Four Doors Open) as well as a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

Now, I’ll light five torches in the forge and hand them off to those terrific authors I promised. Please visit their blogs, see what they’re up to, and drop a comment letting them know I sent you.

Four Doors Open coauthor Elaina Portugal sits on the Writer’s Couch and shares two or three times a month, but you can find her bright and early each Monday with a post on One Year of Letters (she’ll be talking about her work in progress on the Letters page). Elaina writes with heart and humor about finding the balance between duty and ambition and keeping past misfortunes from standing in the way of future successes.

Jennifer Roush, one of the most prolific writers I know, also contributes to the One Year of Letters Project as well as her author’s blog Jennifer N. Roush Writing. A courageous explorer of our darker emotions, Jennifer just released the latest volume in her urban fantasy series Blackman, and I have inside information that she’s working on the next volume of her science fiction saga Scales—but I’ll let Jennifer tell you what’s she’s really up to.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge, a poet and novelist, wrote The Unsuitable Princess, a fantasy-memoir I recently reviewed on Guild of Dreams. Jane’s poetry has appeared in several literary journals including Poetry Quarterly, in the chapbooks Half-Life and After Voices, and in the full-length With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women. You can find out what she’s up to on her website jane-rosenberg-laforge.com.

The humorist and novelist Sherry Antonetti writes the blog Chocolate for Your Brain three times a week, where she chronicles life as a wife and mother to a large (and I mean large!) family while also working as a writer. Sherry wrote The Book of Helen, a portrait of Helen of Troy near the end of her life (read my review), and I know she’s working on a sequel focusing on Penelope, Odysseus’ ever-faithful wife. I hope Sherry will tell us something about Penelope’s progress.

Finally, Judith Lindbergh wrote one of my favorite historical novels, A Thrall’s Tale, a bold and riveting tale of slavery, rape, and shame among the original Norse settlers of Greenland. Judith runs the Writer’s Circle, a workshop for children and adult writers in the New York/New Jersey area. You can read about her latest projects on her blog Digging for Words.

It’s October, and A Wizard’s Lot Is Free

(This post also appeared on my website.)

AM JusticeWhy do authors make their books available for free? Among the indies, it’s a common practice to bring our work to a wider readership. In my case, I want to get as many people to read my work as I can, and when I offer one of the Woern Chronicles for free, it brings more readers to the series.

My greatest pleasure is seeing a new review on Amazon or Goodreads, especially when the reviewer says how the book moved him or her. I’ve been honored to receive many lovely reviews from readers, but here is a favorite quote from a review of A Wizard’s Lot:

One passage had me absolutely bawling…and I mean, shaking and blubbering with grief even though I KNEW none of it was real or actually happening.

—Elizabeth, Amazon Reviewer, June 19, 2014

As an author, you know you’ve succeeded when you’ve made someone cry. But any review that makes thoughtful observations means a lot to me. So please download your free copy of A Wizard’s Lot from Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, Amazon, or B&N, and let me know what you think.

P.S. Check out the special offer on the Registry of Citizens page. During the month of October, everyone who provides his or her email address will be entered in a drawing to receive signed copies of both Blade of Amber and A Wizard’s Lot, along with a $10 gift certificate for Amazon.