Monday, 4 December 2017

The Mannethorn's Key by Simon Lindley Blog Tour

I am pleased to host Simon Lindley's blog tour for Mannethorn's Key (to be released January 5th, 2018)!




The Realm, The Land, Middle Earth, Narnia – I presume you have spent some time visiting at least one of them. I know I have. And, if all goes well with the ‘travel brochures’, Drageverden will soon be another fantasy ‘tourist’ destination. However, I expect people will only visit if the place promises immersive adventure!

World-building in fantasy is as critical to a plot as character development. When done well, it can transport the reader so absolutely that they yearn for the place long after finishing the book.

I’ll share with you some of my challenges, and the process I go through in creating a land that I am confident is not only believable but tangible, tactile and immersive for my readers.

One of the difficulties I’ve struggled with at times is purple prose. As writers, we sometimes lean to the flowery – long, buttery descriptives – waxing poetic, sprinkled with a fine, magical dust, like morning dew settling on the vine and… oh, I beg your pardon!

I have learned to 1) be succinct, 2) alternate between long and short/slow and faster-paced sentences, and 3) avoid overuse of adverbs. Purple prose detracts a reader as much as a similar life scenario. We’ve all been in one of those awkward moments when someone has talked for well over twenty minutes about, say, fruit flies because, well, they’re a fruit-fly expert, and we nod, and nod, and nod and mm-hmm — until we nod off.

Another habit I picked up came from kindergarten: Show & Tell. I love to tell people things. He saw a dog. Maggie was angry. The bird was tired. The danger is that by doing so, a writer creates a barrier rather than an invitation. We must ‘walk’ as we write, immersed in the land and noting its effect upon our character/s. I must show, not tell.

Like all trips we take, we discover as we go. I make an effort to step from character interiority back into Drageverden regularly, to generate an interaction between the two. It is easy to blurt out all the details of a place, but that is not how we naturally absorb our surroundings, and it quickly becomes tedious. Our character must shake as she enters the darkness of the spider’s lair, snap her head back at the whisper over her shoulder, brace with teeth clenched as the dust cloud rises from the horde cresting the last knoll – and we must be there with them.

Tolkien carried his readers along – experiencing the ground under a hobbit’s foot, smelling the foul mead and men of the Prancing Pony, and anticipating the Brandywine narrowing near the ferry, still far too distant to escape the Nazgul. He rarely tells. What’s more important is that no matter who you talk to, Middle Earth is different for everyone. Why? Tolkien let the scenes play out as much by emotion as he did geography and although he painted a vivid picture of the land, he left our conviction of and immersion in Middle Earth to fill in the deeper details.

So I haven’t provided you much regarding DrageVerden. Oh, I could talk, believe me – ask anyone who knows me and you’ll soon discover I rarely shut up — but you must ‘walk’ alongside the giants crossing the Arvian Plains to understand the shock of it all, or spend a day with Ka the drakehawk to experience her love for the Swamps of Ierloquetze. Brochures never do a place justice. You have to book the holiday.

Okay, okay! I’ll give you a little foreshadowing prior to your trip: Drage is Danish for dragonVerden means land.

Happy Trails!

Simon Lindley is an author, musician and intrepid explorer in the real world and along the rolling landscapes of his imagination. His book, Mannethorn's Key, the first in the Key of Life Trilogy, will be released in print and ebook formats January 5, 2018 at fine retailers everywhere. It is also available for pre-order now.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Grinneth + November SFF giveaways

Some treats this month. Adventure and mayhem strike in this featured booktrack with soundtrack, Grinneth:

From the balloon station at Bazuur to the Ferna wilds, Risgan the Relic-retriever takes on jungle pygmies, giant isks, buccaneers, shamans...also a creature of mystery that haunts the Mantaray coast...


“Amazing! Loved reading it with the effects...”

https://www.booktrack.com/content/read/9fc23a3f7ac3460484e581826bf10087


Other giveaways this month include "Audra" (Space SF thriller), The Isk Rider of Bazuur (a Risgan adventure), Phane (YA SF), The Jisil-ou-az-lar (Dystopian SF), and many others by various authors. Scroll down and click any of the image links below...

I am also happy to announce that free ARC copies of The Timelost, my up-and-coming space-SF thriller, will be available for download soon. Sign up here.


Here are this month's group giveaways:


http://sffbookbonanza.com/freebooks/

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/304ZjLTU7qb7fDlgFzg8

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/AyZLDmoEX4xxiClgKS35

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/xrQ3p3yKMeseNTSU6oDY


https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/OC8tcEqWYtd8dwtUGM9C

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Forests of Mist by Haylie Machado Hanson Blog Tour

Today on Fantastic Realms I have the privilege of hosting one of the first stops on the blog tour for The Forests of Mists by Haylie Machado Hanson (released October 21th, 2017)!

Forests of mist



“Forests of Mist” Launch


Hello, readers! I’d like to apologize in advance if this blog is incoherent. I’m bone-tired from being up all hours of the night feeding Girl Spawn, who coincidentally came early on launch week. Two October babies for me, what a lucky gal I am!

The biggest news I have (writing-wise, I happen to think Girl Spawn joining the world is pretty big news) is that Calliope Jones and The Forests of Mist launched on Amazon on October 21st!* I’m so excited for you guys to be able to download it and read it. I hope you love it. I know I do, but I’m biased. So please, download it, read it, review it! Beta feedback with this book is better than the first, and I tend to agree.

And with that, I’m off, since Girl Spawn forgot I just fed her, like, 15 minutes ago. My literary baby is far less demanding. And doesn’t keep me up all night. Well, I can’t promise my literary baby won’t keep you up all might until you finish it. In fact, I wish you many sleepless nights as you Dive into Callie’s exciting new adventure!

You can find Forests of Mist here.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Halloween giveaways

This Halloween has lots of free books! I would like to introduce two fellow authors: Colby Rice, who is offering her post-apocalyptic novel, The Given, free:

http://www.newadultnoir.com/na-genre-pushes/dystopian-post-apocalyptic/

Also Lincoln Cole, whose book launch for The Everett Exorcism started this week (99c). Check them out!


https://www.lincolncole.net/tee


Other free giveaways this month include Freebooter (sea adventure) and Dragon Lords (sword and sorcery), plus many others by various authors. Click the image links below:

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/69vh1dX1lHmCJFlpkrM6




https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/MI271xEbD9IuJhpsIGXY



Featured this Halloween is Farling's Wall, a fantasy tale with multi-layered soundtrack. Click free preview to read and listen.


https://www.booktrack.com/content/read/47ad8ea45f494e26a702285e869467c3

"I love this book" ... "wow, could not stop reading"

And Halloween wouldn't be complete without a really scary one, Ahrion's Minions, if you like sword and sorcery, werewolves, zombies, and evil wizards. Read and listen at your own peril.

https://www.booktrack.com/content/read/47387c4d8d584fdca1d66904f7f3f8aa

Monday, 23 October 2017

The Cost of Survival by J. L. Stowers Blog Tour

Today on Fantastic Realms I have the privilege of hosting one of the first stops on the blog tour for The Cost of Survival, Book I of Genesis Rising by J. L. Stowers (released October 1, 2017)!


https://www.amazon.com/Cost-Survival-Book-Genesis-Rising-ebook/dp/B074D98W5D 

Behind The Cost of Survival


The Cost of Survival is a science fiction thriller exploring the dark side of human nature from a world on the brink of destruction. Author J. L. Stowers asks the question, “What if humankind could no longer reproduce?” The answer is shockingly disturbing, but perhaps not too far from the truth if our dark history repeats itself. 

The main character, Walt Marshall, is cynical and distrustful of the very government who hired him. Yet he can’t say no to a once in a lifetime mission to a remote area devoid of the masses and their overwhelming use of technology. He makes his new home outside a military camp in a war-torn valley in hopes to restore the area to its once fruitful nature. However, Walt quickly realizes things aren’t what they seem. 

Walt stumbles upon an unspeakable secret regarding the truth as to why this valley was selected for colonization. Readers are emerged in Walt’s journey and internal conflict. The closer he gets to finding answers, the more he’s reminded of the emotional anguish he tried to leave behind.  His path to the truth leads through espionage and treason all while forcing Walt out of his comfort zone. The long time loner is forced to trust and rely on the people around him in order to uncover the facts.

This story is filled with twists, turns, and symbolism to keep readers on their toes. However, the best thing the first book in the Genesis Rising series has to offer is a glimpse at the lore fueling the trilogy. In the short story prequel, Project Genesis, we witness the discovery of the Genesis documents and the formation of the secret organization behind the translation. In The Cost of Survival, Walt Marshall experiences the mysterious language once more. We learn some of the information uncovered in the Genesis documents and more will be revealed throughout the series.

This incredible journey will take readers beyond what they’ve expected and it all starts with learning the secrets within The Cost of Survival.


Saturday, 23 September 2017

Writing process : how to keep the ideas flowing?



Many writers write, but do not talk much about their process. Or how they come up with their ideas. I thought I’d share a little bit about my own. Truthfully, it’s a mystery to me, but an endless source of fascination. I wondered why authors turned to drink, like Poe, Chandler and Hemingway, many who were notorious for their use of drugs and intoxicants as a source of enhanced creativity, or a deterrent to depression. I don’t know, it was never my thing, drugs and alcohol. Then I started to understand the creative process better, and the pressure creative people put on themselves to produce new and exciting ideas. Ideas don't appear to come when a person is in a ‘normal’ state of consciousness. They come in an altered state, when one is much closer to where the magic manifests. I've seen that it can happen without intoxicants, but only with a lot of faith and discipline. They happen by grace, and in unexpected moments, and through cultivating a channel.

In the same way a seed grows from the ground up, a channel can be cultivated. A plant, for example, with proper water, light, and in a conducive environment will thrive. Without it, it will become unhealthy or die.

I cannot help but think that many of those writers who suffered from addictions did not have the fortune to tap into their inner creative wellspring without the crux of addictions, and many ultimately died.

My process for priming the writing process is to get out in nature. I thrive when I get out on the bike in the park, soaking up the fresh air and energy from the trees. Especially in the fall when there are no bugs and the air is fresh and the smells of falling leaves and humus are in the air. The barriers quickly dissolve. Things that I was previously stuck on, come in a flash, and new plot twists not readily available are suddenly there, where before I could be staring at a blank screen. It might sound cheesy, but it works. Likewise, meditation works. All the problems, tough issues of plotting and character, loosen up when I clear my head and put my focus on the goal. The goal: coming up with a winning story. 

To answer the question ‘Where do authors get their ideas from’, the closest I can come to an answer is, by grace. As creative people, we tap into a channel...and by magic, they are there. Sure, we are influenced by what we have learned and our overall experience, but the way by which the organic process takes place is something of a mystery. Getting that channel open is the key.

Meditation: some times I spend up to a month engaged in a process where there is no writing, just accumulating data, and visualizing the world and the premise.

By meditating, I mean closing the eyes, and visualizing the scene and characters. Many ways the protagonists can act, sink or swim. There’s an almost overwhelming number of possibilities. But not so many, if one takes into account character and theme. I try to study each character or possibility, and notice how it makes me feel. If I get a strong sense for a particular action, or piece of dialogue or setting then I put it high on the list. If I don’t get a great feeling, I put it on the backburner. The process continues. One thread of action or drama or plot finally emerges. That’s the one I run with. It gathers weight as I visualize it more and more and imagine how it relates to the overall story.

There is also the difficult task of merging all those ideas into a cohesive whole. World-building, character development, theme... I used to treat all these as separate entities, now they work together. The world is a means by which the character(s) overcome their struggles. The character is an extension of the world and helps to enhance it. It’s complex. The beauty is, all these details come together by the very simple technique of ‘feeling’. As I described, how does it feel if the MC abandons her/his duty to search out the magic item, or save the orphan? Is it right? Or no, is it going in the wrong direction?

There’s this feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. Either the character I just wrote about did something that works and furthers the plot, or they didn’t. At which point I get this sinking feeling and know that somewhere I went astray and I should rework that character or plot into something that works. This process continues. I’ve thought about this a lot and come to understand that this changeover state from sleep to waking, from dream to waking, is a time when we are closer to our subconscious. That pool of unconscious knowledge that is accessible to more intuitive understanding of the whole than our waking state brains are. In those moments of lucidity we are connected to something higher than our individual selves, something closer to our pool of archetypes, upon which we can draw and which all great stories are based.

I keep bits or pad of paper wherever I go, getting the ideas down as soon as they come. They are easy to lose if I don’t. Usually I have about 4 or 5 stories on the go at any one time. The worst is to have no ideas to fall back on when one has the urge to write.

Nor is there is anything worse than coming to a dead end with a story. Better to let go, know that somewhere down the road the story will all come together. Usually sooner rather than later, if I don’t push it too hard. The harder I push it, the harder it goes.

So, in recap, here are my techniques: I keep a file of rough ideas which grows week to week. I get out on the bike into the fresh air and the trees. I meditate. I visualize the scenes, the action, the drama, the character relations and reactions in my head as they unfold in real time. I also join critique groups to help me flesh out plots.

As for the editing process, that’s always a drawn out affair. Most writers can corroborate with this. I have less problems now than I used to, being more diligent about fleshing out a plot outline...with a beginning, middle, end, before committing to any writing. Painful reworkings in the past have taught me to avoid the temptation of ‘diving right in’ before having a working plan. Fun yes, but a nightmare when not taking into account the overall picture.

Lastly but not leastly, I've come to see ideas never happen through staring at a blank screen.

I’d like to mention also the power of mixing it up: not always writing the same scene or story or in the same genre. For example, the last project I did was a sword and sorcery fantasy, now it’s a SF horror. It forces me to switch gears. Different settings, different characters, different premises, it all keeps it fresh. It’s also more challenging.

These are all tools that help keep me nourished—that and working hard. It’s also a matter of affirmation. For example, If I think I can do it, then I can. If I think I can’t, if I think something’s too hard, or out of my reach or too ambitious then I probably won’t be able to pull it off. But If I say, yes I can do it, and even write one sentence of a plot outline to an ‘unreachable’ story, then I’m one step closer to manifesting it. Again trite, but it something that’s so basic as to work. This blog article, for example, was written in all one go in a few hours. But only after I thought about it for a while, collected my ideas, and then spit it out in one go, knowing it would manifest seamlessly and not only be something important I had to say, but of benefit to others.
  
What’s your creative process?

Chris’s recent writings include Avenger : a swords and skulls fantasy, and a new SF thriller n the works, the Timelost, a sequel to Audra.

Check out Septembers free book giveaways

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Early September SF and Fantasy Giveaways

Lots of exciting, free SFF titles this month...

 

Click any of the giveaways below to download your choice of free books...

Four new Chris Turner free books in the group giveaways, plus 100+ other authors' titles!

Fantasy and Sci Fi Giveaway

Young Adult and Teen Fantasy giveaway

SF and Fantasy Book Giveaway


I would also like to introduce my new sword and sorcery series on booktrack (with a fantasy soundtrack). Also available on kindle and other bookstores:

https://instafreebie.com/free/feYuG?source=author

Avenger

Happy reading!