Indie Author Month!

Across the Darkling Sea coverWow, what a start to the April celebration of indie authors! Only four days in but my reading list is already piling up! Thank you so much for joining us. I might be biased, but I think Indie authors are driving some of the coolest trends around when it comes to fiction. As a rule, they are a group of inspiring and talented authors interested in knowing every angle of the writing business. I knew from the beginning I wanted to go indie, and it is so much fun participating in this dynamic community.

If you want to start at the beginning (and I know you do) check out Zach’s post from April 1st. You can follow the chain from there! There are also a TON of other festivities this month, so don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for information on giveaways, read alongs and other cool book related geekery.

As for me, I like it weird. I’m a sucker for monsters, stories about bizarre folklore and superstitions, and the strange sorts of creatures born from the darker aspects of the human psyche. I write fantasy, but I often pull from folklore in my writing. I’ve discovered over the years that truth often is far stranger than anything you encounter in fiction. I’ve got an impressive book collection on the occult.

You can find some of my writings on these topics here on this blog. As a sampling, you can find stories about the Malleus Maleficarum (talk about some dark and scary stuff, all non-fiction), or horrifying stories about people’s belief in fairies and changeling’s that I dug up while researching changelings for my current series of books (more on this topic below). I’ve got all sorts of monsters over here, such as the the Naga dragons of Cambodia or the Native American Paisa. And of course, I’m a geek, so there’s plenty of geekery to be had here.

I also love pie. This might be the most important thing about me.

What else… I am a beekeeper. I’ve got two hives in my backyard, and when I go out to work on them I wear the full beekeeping outfit. I always feel like quite the fashion star while doing this. I’ve got a pretty large garden where I grow about every sort of fruit or vegetable that will grow here in Colorado, and I pickle it and preserve it all through summer. And I travel quite a bit. I’ve been to well over twenty countries. Also, I’ve eaten maggots. That’s a thing you now know. (Also, I feel compelled to inform you that I will not do it again. Except maybe in the event of a zombie apocalypse.)

Magicless book coverAnd of course, I’m also a fantasy writer. I spin magic into words, the way Rumpelstiltskin weaves straw into gold, and let them free in the world in the hopes of entertaining some of you fine folks. I have two books out now. The first, Magicless, is a stand alone YA fantasy novel. Across the Darkling Sea is the first in a new series I’m writing, the second book (A Dying Land) will be available in June of this year. I can’t share the cover with you yet, but I will be sharing it with my newsletter subscribers next week so sign up if you are interested. I’m also looking for advanced reviewers for A Dying Land. If you are interested in getting an advanced copy to review, please shoot me an email and let me know.

So now you know a little bit about me. What about you? I’d love to hear some interesting tidbits about all of you, leave a little something in the comments if you would. Tomorrow, hop on over to www.jpcawood.com for some Love From Mars, as well as some other stories.

Happy Reading,

K.

 

 

Six Amazing Fantasy Pinterest Boards

fantasy pinterest boardsI love Pinterest. Yes, I do use it to house an ever growing list of recipes. And, yes, I do use it to get ideas for party themes and decor (I’m a huge Halloween fan, and throw a massive party every year). But I ALSO use it to feed my geeky fantasy loving soul. Here are some great fantasy pinterest boards to help you get your geek on!

Lego:

Oh lord Cthulu is there some awesome stuff on this board. Look, I don’t play with Lego. I also don’t have kids. But this site is filled to bursting with the sort of creative geeks that make us all swoon. Star Wars? Check. Terminator? Check. Dwarves? Check. Chickens with uzis? Yep. This board as 2,300 pins to keep you entertained, and 1.4 million (MILLION) followers. It’s well worth a visit.

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The Death of Bridget Cleary

Bridget Cleary

I’m not going to lie, being a fantasy writer is one of the coolest possible gigs. Not only do I get to spin my fantasies out onto paper, but I get to spend hours researching some very obscure, and very bizarre, stuff.

In writing Across the Darkling Sea my research took a pretty dark turn – as it so often does when researching magic in folklore. I wanted to steep myself in the mythology of the changelings, but I unexpectedly stumbled on some very real world stories of them instead. One of them is the story of Bridget Cleary.  This is a rough story, be forewarned. Read more

Changelings in Folklore

fairy among flowers
Image from Pixabay.com

It all started with a bit of dialogue. Two lines of conversation between two shadowy, semi-formed figures, with no setting whatsoever behind them.

“What am I, Witch?”

“Child, why do you call me that after so many years? I don’t call you changeling, though indeed you are one.”

I didn’t know who these people were, what sort of a world they lived in, or what story they had to tell, but the idea one of them was a changeling caught hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Read more

Rosemary and Rue – A Review

rosemary and rueI came across Rosemary and Rue via my cousin, who gave me as copy when I went off to study abroad in merry old England. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

The story follows October “Toby” Daye, a changeling knight (half human, half Faerie) and private investigator (is there anything she can’t do) living in a self- imposed exile from the world of Faerie after a traumatic incident cost her fourteen years of her mortal life. She is drawn back into the land of the so-called “Fair Folk” when a close acquaintance of hers is murdered and she is cursed with an ultimatum: solve the mystery of the murder within three days, or die. With a setup like this, the stakes are immediately heightened and readers can’t help but be drawn into the drama of Toby’s situation.

One of McGuire’s greatest strengths as a writer is in her world building. She manages to create vivid pictures of two different worlds. One is the “normal world” of San Francisco, where the Fair Folk lurk in the shadows. Pixies haunt the produce section of the grocery store, trolls have jobs as taxi drivers, and people disappear into dark alleys at sunrise to hide the evidence of their immortality. The other world McGuire paints is the magical realm of Faerie: a world where elegant gowns replace jeans and tee shirts as the new casual wear, illusions are cast simply by reciting lines of Shakespeare (a bonus for you drama nerds) and life can be either beautiful and carefree or cruel and brutal, depending on the balance of your blood (Faerie or human) and where you fall in Fae society. But it’s not just the worlds that are vividly drawn: McGuire takes great care to give attention to each diverse race of Faerie (and for those who have trouble pronouncing the names of the many different races, Ms. McGuire has been kind enough to provide a pronunciation guide). Such races include the Daoine Sidhe, humanoid purebloods skilled in illusion; Cait Sidhe, feline Fae with the ability to transform from cat to human then back again; and the Selkie, who look human until they don the sealskin they wear around their waists like hoodies. Each race is exquisitely drawn and rarely is there confusion as to which character belongs to which race.

Of course, a story is only as good as its protagonist, and I can safely say that Toby Daye is one of my favorite heroes in all of literature. She’s sarcastic, world-weary, and cannot survive without coffee flowing through her system (somewhat like moi). But best of all, unlike certain other fantasy heroines (coughbellaswancough), while hunky men surround her, none of them define who she is nor does she spend the whole book obsessing over them. My only complaint about her would be that she does spend a good portion of this book in a bit of a funk, but that’s understandable since she’s experiencing PTSD from spending the last fourteen years of her life as a fish (yes, you heard that right). The supporting cast around her is equally rich, with standouts including Quentin, a snooty pureblood teenager whose life view is altered when he meets Toby; Tybalt, the snarky King of Cats who looks oh so sexy in leather pants (swoon); and my personal favorite, the Luidaeg, the sea witch and Firstborn of all Faerie who happens to live in a trashy area by the docks and who is plagued with the worst curse of all: acne scars.

If I had to sum up Rosemary and Rue, it would be Marvel’s Jessica Jones meets Once Upon A Time, but featuring fairies instead of superheroes and Disney’s greatest hits (which, let’s face it, is what OUAT is doing these days). It’s an absolute must-read for fans of the fantasy genre and for those who enjoy books led by strong female protagonists.

 

 

Lizzy Andretta is an actress and blogger originally from New Jersey. You can follow her writing at www.theactingaspie.com and her acting work at www.lizzyandrettaactor.com.

What is Latin for Dragon

What is Latin for DragonI do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.
~ Ursula Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

To some cultures, dragons might just be folklore or myths, presented to the modern world in the form of fairy tales, cartoons or animated series. But to other cultures dragons used to exist, and they might exist still, somewhere humans have no reach. Certainly in the minds of the creators of worlds such as Pern and Seraphina, as well as in the minds of lovers of fantasy, dragons have a place of great honor. Or of great terror.

Dragons are known with different names in different languages and cultures around the world. As an example, what is Latin for dragon? Most of us know the answer to that question is ‘Draco’. But what about the Imoogi from Korea, the Balaur from Romania, or the Ejderha from Turkey?

If the sky could dream, it would dream of dragons.
~ Ilona Andrews, Fate’s Edge

Some believe that the ancient peoples might have found fossils of large dinosaurs, thus giving birth to stories of dragons. Others believe these stories of dragons were merely creative embellishments of large reptiles and snakes commonly (or perhaps not so commonly seen) at the time. Their origins may be shaded in the depths of history, but one thing is certain. Stories of dragons run through most cultures, both modern and ancient.

The History:

Throughout history stories of radiant and powerful creatures, called dragons, have come from every continent except Antartica. Almost every culture has stories of dragons, some good and benevolent, others evil and vile.  The stories go back to around 6000 years ago and include some well known (to us in the USA) stories such as St. George and the Dragon (a story also painted by the artist Raphael, currently hanging in the Louvre museum in Paris), or Perseus and the Dragon of Poseidon.

What Do Dragons Look Like?

The appearance of dragons varies as widely as the cultures they come from. In the US we most often think of the ferocious looking, fire breathing, winged giants of Game of Thrones. But this is not consistent from culture to culture. In Turkey, the Ejderha breathe fire from their tails instead of their mouths, and have no legs. Others are multi headed, or leave fire in their wake as they fly rather than breathing it. Some command the skies, others command the seas. Their diversity is breathtaking.

The Bottom Line:

Was there ever a beast which used to walk or fly the face of the earth that can account for such stories and myths? Were the stories inspired by the remains of dinosaurs or simply by human imagination? We might never know what triggered ancient peoples to come up with these myths, but for lovers of the fantastical – we certainly are happy they did.

I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood. But the world that contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever the cost of peril.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Fallen

water dropletIt’s only a mile from the surface down to the cavern, but the weight of guilt and blame make it feel so much longer. The sand rubs roughly against my calloused feet. The grains whisper softly against one another as they shift and move beneath me. It’s the only sound down here other than the slow steady throb of my breathing. Even the steady trickle of water is stilled. He sleeps.

I move into the cavern quietly. The thick roots of the Heart Tree stretch from the top of the cavern, wrapping tightly around his wrist. His back is to me, deep shadows beneath his jutting shoulder blades, ripples of muscle down either side of his spine, and thighs that are still the size of my waist though he has hung here for millennia. God’s don’t waste away. Read more

Galeru, The Rainbow Serpent

galeru
http://vsbattles.wikia.com/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent_(Yurlungur)

Myths and folklore are fascinating things. They reveal much about the people that create them, what terrifies them, and what they hold most dear. I found this gem at the end of a rainbow, in a small puddle more dirt than water, but precious nevertheless.

The Galeru came from deep beneath the earth, raising mountains, ridges and gorges as it pushed it’s way to the surface of the earth. It is an immense creature, and inhabits all the deep stores of water on and beneath the surface, creating gullies and deep channels filled with water as it slithers across the landscape. When a rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said the Galeru is traveling from one waterhole to the next. A waterhole with a Galeru never dries up, even during the longest drought. Read more

Weekend Writing Warrior #7

Wow… it’s been a very long time since I’ve participated in Weekend Writing Warriors! Sometimes life just gets in the way, and this time around it was quitting a job that was terrible for my health and well-being, starting a new job, then buying a new home and all the fun stuff that goes along with moving.

My blogging has been feeble (understatement!), but my writing has been somewhat better. I’m roughly 40k words into a new novel, tentatively titled ‘Ling, about a young girl who wakes one day to discover she is not who she believes herself to be. Rather, she is a Changeling. A curse put on her parents by a desperate Warlock five long years ago.

Don’t forget to check out the other talented Weekend Writing Warriors posts today. You can find the full list at the following link.

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Farasi Bahari – An Entirely Different Sort of Sea Horse

farasi bahari image
Source: http://mythicsummer.blogspot.com/2012/01/farasi-bahari-and-haetae.html

This next tale on the Farasi Bahari I found deep in the Pacific hidden in a nook inhabited by an eel. The eel put up a bit of a fight, but I prevailed, and introduce you now to the farasi bahari.

Emerald green hides, and fins for mane and tail, the farasi bahari are magical horses that live deep in the Indian Ocean. They have no need for air, and thus have no lungs and are never short of breath. They flee at the the faintest scent of human and are impossible to capture, but any offspring beget on normal mares inherent their speed and endurance. Read more