30 November, 2011

December Approacheth

You can tell I'm a fantasy author because I add "eth" to things. This is called immersion.

Early December was my goal for launching. I've made the necessary accounts and done the final edits. All that remains is for my artist friends to finish coloring the covers and books will be going live.

I'll also be adding Peter Orullian to the epic fantasy post now that I've read The Unremembered. I don't intend to update this list forever, but I will continue to do so while I'm posting new categories. One of my friends said she won't bother to look until all the posts are up, so it will still serve some purpose.

15 November, 2011

Fantasy Overview: Gritty Fantasy

Part two of my fantasy overview.

Regardless of the label, this is a definite "brand" in the fantasy genre. Characters are shades of grey and their motives are less than heroic, the outlook is more cynical, things do not end happily ever after. The settings tend to have no non-human races and lower levels of magic. Whereas some fantasy is conservative, the gritty variety is more likely to include explicit language/sex/violence. You probably already know whether you're interested, but consider the following authors.

George RR Martin
One of fantasy's big names. His novel A Game of Thrones made an impact (with its political focus and character deaths) that changed the genre. The first three books combine a continent-wide story and a swift pace that were widely acclaimed. The next two books have been slow in coming and opinions vary, but the influence of this series should not be underestimated, especially since it spawned one of the first successful epic fantasy television series.

Glen Cook
An older writer who occupies a unique niche in the fantasy genre. Cook's novels are very military in nature, focused on soldiers in a grim fantasy world. The magic is actually both dramatic and creative, but it is held only by powerful sorcerers who are separated from the soldiers on the ground. His books generally read very well on their own.

Joe Abercrombie
A newer entry in the subgenre, beginning with The Blade Itself trilogy and following with standalone novels in the same world. Strong pacing and a variety of characters that isn't seen in many series. This is combined with perhaps the most cynical perspective on this list, which will repel or attract different kinds of people, but there's a strong thoughtful undercurrent to his work.

Scott Lynch
Not quite the same as some of the other authors on this list, Lynch's Lies of Locke Lemora series is fantasy heist story. It has sharp dialogue and clever plots. Overall his world is relatively low magic, and in addition to the main characters being thieves he includes the bloody consequences of their actions.

David Gemmell
Another arguable placement, since Gemmell generally writes epic fantasy with a dark edge. His stories almost always resolve in one book (both a strength and a weakness) and include a variety of tropes  that are taken in directions you wouldn't necessarily expect.

04 November, 2011

Fantasy Overview: Epic Fantasy

Part one of my fantasy overview.

Though some might argue the exact definition of epic fantasy, it is easy to know when you see it. These are the books that could be deadly if thrown, expansive novels with many characters, new nations, and probably an invented language. They also tend to have higher stakes like the fate of the world, and are more likely to include traditional heroism.

Robert Jordan
We have to start with Jordan because he created the modern epic fantasy. The Wheel of Time was originally a trilogy, but expanded to a series that will theoretically end soon with the 14th book. This is old school length: long journeys and lots of description. Opinions are divided about which set of books were the best, but most agree the pacing becomes slower as it progresses.

Steven Erikson

He recently finished his Malazan Book of the Fallen (though Casselmont writes related books in the same world). What Erikson specializes in is breadth: this series has more continents, more races, and a longer history than most others. Generally the books start slowly but build up toward climaxes that move the story forward significantly. Characterization and depth of culture receive much less focus. Erikson tends to be polarizing, but I think that's better than mediocrity any day.

Robin Hobb
Though her books are generally marketed as trilogies, if you combine the Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies you get one saga. Her books have a personal focus, but the stakes build higher in the background. She is also one of the forerunners of the "psychic magic" model.

Melanie Rawn
She has several series that could fall under this label, including the connected Dragon trilogies. Though still large in scope, her books tend to be focused on characters and families. Some are almost hybrid fantasy/romance novels. Her series cover broader periods of time, jumping years to include the stories of characters' children.

Terry Goodkind
The Sword of Truth is a lengthy and completed series (13 books). Higher magic and with more sexual content than some of the others on this list, but the thing most people will find notable is the level of political content. Goodkind is a libertarian and fan of Ann Rynd; this comes through in his writing increasingly as the series progresses.

Patrick Rothfuss
His Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy has had a major impact on the fantasy genre, even with only two books. The main character is a prodigy attending a university for magic and the series focused primarily on his life with the broader plot in the background. While I enjoy his books, I'm feel like I can't classify them until I read the final volume, since it has the potential to go many ways.

Peter Orullian
He's just begun his "Vault of Heaven" series, which is firmly in the vein of traditional epic fantasy. The plot similarities to The Eye of the World are immense, which could be a positive or negative depending on how you feel about Wheel of Time. 

Katherine Kurtz
She has been writing for some time and has well-established the Deryni universe, an alternate history of England with a non-human race capable of using magic. It has multiple series set in different time periods, so you have many books to read but no need to commit to a 10+ volume series.

Kristen Britain
She's several books into her Green Rider series, which has the feel of LotR in terms of pacing but with a much softer focus. If you like that slightly older feel in pacing but want more emphasis on characters and (later) romance, definitely consider the series.

Brandon Sanderson gets a note here as the person to finish the last three books of the Wheel of Time series. So far his writing puts him in the "General" category but he has begun his own multi-volume series, The Stormlight Archive.

Jim Butcher should also be noted as author of The Codex Alera, a completed series. I placed him under Urban Fantasy since he's better known for the Dresden Files.

02 November, 2011

Sorcery and Scholarships

Aki wishes going to magic school involved less paperwork. It seems fairies drink less dew than beer, there are fewer magic castles than cheap apartments, and some professors can make even magic boring. She'd be happy to graduate, and maybe find a non-jerk date, but her school has ulterior motives. As schemes twist around her and a war approaches, she wishes paperwork was her biggest problem...

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Author Notes
This is the first book in a project that's a little unusual for me. It's balancing to have one project where you follow your own vision for the sake of it. Though this series will trend to bigger issues, it should maintain a light-hearted tone that much of my writing lacks.

I've written the first draft of the sequel, so it is in the beta reading and editing stage. I'm aiming for an April 2012 release date.

01 November, 2011


The world's only hope is a fast food employee armed with a spatula. Well, the world could also hope that the personification of Grease, the Olde Englishe Gangstas, and an army of Puns eager for human flesh are all just hallucinations. That might work too.

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Authors Notes
Somewhat of an oddity among my stories, this one was originally published as a serial. I have a strange relationship with humor, but wanted to give a comedic story a try. Reactions have varied, but since most people found it entertaining enough for the word count I decided to upload it. Perhaps because of the style, this one needed the least editing of the old stories.

If you're wondering why Bartholomew changes to Matthew for one joke, there's a story behind that. The editing process of the story was unusual and after a number of issues I realized his name had been "corrected" to Mathew in some cases. Since there was no way to take back what had been published, I decided to acknowledge it instead. For this version I kept things more consistent but left the joke as a nod to the original.

The Bloody Veil

In three hours, Hecate will be forced to marry a man she'd rather kill. They both know she'll sacrifice herself to save her fellow witches. But as Hecate considers the bloody path that led her to the altar, she realizes that there is one last chance to escape. A love story with more killing than your average romance.

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Author Notes
This is the oldest short story I decided to put online, one I wrote mostly for my own sake. Other than improving the dialogue and making it much less wordy, I changed very little. The original title fit the first version of the story but wasn't very gripping; the current one came to me while trying to write the blurbs for the story. Did it work? Well, you're reading this page.

All the things referenced or implied in the story do have background in my notes. Not an entire world, but I couldn't write a story without building some structure around it. Depending on how things go, this political situation could easily fit into a broader world I'm planning.

Into the Oven

Faced with starvation, a father wonders if he can live with himself after abandoning his children. Hansel and Gretel are still so young and there are rumors of a witch stalking the woods. But witch and stepmother and father are not who they seem in this twisted version of the classic tale. 

Author Notes

This story was originally published in a niche magazine, but since I had digital rights I decided to upload it as well. Though I didn't change much, I cut out over 25% in the editing. The original version of the bar scene was twice as long and less effective.

As you can see in the url, this story was originally titled "Gretel and Hansel" - that worked well for the original magazine, but not so well for an ebook. If I'd come up with the current title originally I would have used that, though.

I enjoy variations on fairy tales and there are a lot of potential other stories. If there's enough interest, I might consider some of these. Among my notes there's a framework for an overall mythology of fairy tales and how they are all connected in a larger story, though I'll focus on independent stories for the time being.