Positive Influences of Writing, with Rachel Huffmire

Having a creative outlet in today’s busy modern life is a wonderful way to relieve stress, find greater fulfillment, and meet new people. Today we are talking to author Rachel Huffmire about how writing has influenced her life for the better.

Rachel and I met because of our mutually shared passion for the written word. We both are Immortal Works authors and we both have books coming out soon. In addition, we both are moms who work hard to find an ideal balance between filling our creative wells and spending time with our families.

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Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu on Unsplash

My big question for Rachel is:

How has writing influenced you to be a better person?

Her response:

Learning to write is a great form of self-discovery! One of the first books I read about the craft was called “If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland. Ueland taught me I didn’t need to go to extraordinary lengths to be a good writer—I don’t have to spend a summer abroad, I don’t have to try Thai food (though that was a happy discovery)… I merely had to be honest about the way I saw my immediate world. So, I started to look deeper into the things I found commonplace. I realized how cool my life actually was! I grew up as a homeschooler in Utah, surrounded by wheat fields, raising a pet duck named Penelope… To me that was normal. To others, apparently, it was super interesting!

Writing also taught me to appreciate living in a whole new way. When you decide to become a creator of any kind, you absolutely must be deliberate about the way you observe, interact, and sense the world around you. In “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, she talks about filling up a creative well to draw from by engaging your senses while seeking out a spectrum of emotions and details around you – not just the pleasant or comfortable ones. I learned to write three daily pages of subconscious jabber to get all the inhibitions, fears, and tasks out of my way so I can produce stories without being blocked by inner negativity. In an online interview, Liz Lemon Swindle recounted how her mentor told her she could become a professional artist in ten years. Liz said she would push herself and get there in a year, but her mentor replied with “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of life.”  I’ve been writing consistently for seven years now, and am so grateful for the struggles, joys, and experiences that have stretched me over that time. All of it. The good, the bad, and the new.

Writing also teaches me to live life deliberately. I’m a homeschool mom to two little boys and I make sure that writing always comes second to them. If I want to be as prolific as I hope I can be, I have to be very careful not to spend too much time engaged in things that don’t matter. And finally, writing has led me to some wonderful friendships that have shaped and changed my life for the better. Writers are some of the most friendly and encouraging bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Basically, writing taught me to embrace the life around me and savor every little piece of it, then figure out how to write it down in a way that others can enjoy it too.

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Rachel Huffmire works as a novelist and acquisitions editor for Immortal Works Press. You can find her in Southern California where she enjoys sand at its finest: the beach and the desert. She homeschools her two little boys, writes science fiction and fantasy novels, and reads bedtime stories to her husband every night. Her first novel, Shattered Snow, will be released on January 8, 2019.

Connect with Rachel! 
Facebook: Rachel Huffmire, Author
Twitter: @RachelHuffmire
Instagram: rachelhuffmire

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More about Rachel’s upcoming debut novel, Shattered Snow

The story

In 2069, time-travel is restricted to observation and research. But Keltson Grammar doesn’t mind breaking a few laws. Known only as “The Mirror”, Keltson runs an underground empire that rescues unfortunate souls throughout history. However, a single misstep could send an entire agency to reinstate his clients to their original dismal fates.

Lilia Vaschenko is a Russian mechanic surrounded by cinderblock towers, ladders she cannot climb, and a glass ceiling that holds her down like a casket. She’ll do anything to escape— even work for the world’s most wanted renegade.

Margaretha is a young countess, destined to be poisoned at twenty-one. But when she discovers a mysterious mirror in the woods that transforms the world into shadows and ice, her future shatters. Chased from her familiar home, will she ever find where she truly belongs?

Shattered Snow is a YA science-fiction retelling of Snow White. It is based on the real-life history of Margaretha von Waldeck, a sixteenth-century countess that may have inspired the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.

Sounds awesome, right? You can preorder Shattered Snow on Amazon and other online book retailers.

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Hi everyone! Jodi here.

Release Day for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is coming up next week! I can’t tell you how exciting it is for this day to finally come. For those of you (wonderful people!) who preordered, your copies will be shipped to you or delivered to your e-readers on Nov 13th.

Want your own copy? Head on over to Amazon or your favorite online book retailer today!

Want a signed copy? Head over to my online store!

Utah locals! Come celebrate with me at the Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party next Friday, November 16th, from 7-9pm at The Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070). There will be fun, food, and prizes!

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Talking Pulp Fiction with Jay Barnson

Before you get all excited about a potential discussion about Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Samuel L Jackson let me rein you in touch. Today, we’ll be talking about real pulp fiction. Popular stories such as Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, heck, even Star Wars, all started out as stories that appeared in pulp magazines which were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. They had a distinct smell and feel to them, which pulp fiction enthusiasts have come to love.

My friend, Jay Barnson, is a true pulp fiction aficionado. So much so that he has published several stories in modern pulp publications, such as Storyhack and Cirsova. His new book, Blood Creek Witch, takes the engaging action elements of a good pulp read and weaves them into a fantastic urban fantasy. Jay and I go back to, you might have guessed it, Xchyler Publishing. In 2015, that’s where all the cool local writers hung out.

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My big question for Jay is:

What draws you to pulp fiction? (and how has it influenced you…?)

When I was a kid, my primary sources of science fiction and fantasy (which they usually dumped on the same small shelf back then…) were libraries, and occasionally used book stores. This meant I wasn’t reading the newest stuff, and a lot of what I read was anthologies or novel reprints of “classic” science fiction and fantasy — much of which was originally published in pulp magazines. While my friends were discovering Lord of the Rings, I was discovering Conan of Cimmeria. I was into pulp SFF before I even knew what it was! These were the kinds of stories that inspired me. They were the kinds of stories also that inspired some of my favorite movies as a kid, too, like Star Wars (originally three films) and Indiana Jones (um, ditto).

Flash forward to today, and what I want to read (and write) today hasn’t changed much. Stories of the pulp age were well-told yarns focused on escapism and entertainment. The pulp masters made a living writing these things, by producing a constant stream of stories that readers wanted (and would pay for) – through the intermediate layer an editor. It wasn’t about producing an annual book in a series and having a publisher market the crap out of it, or gaining the marketing cachet of a major award or Oprah’s Book Club, or anything else from later eras that drove a “hit.” It was all about entertaining the audience, over and over again. Their stories had to be riveting from page one with nothing else to prop them up except maybe the reputation of their pen name and the name of the magazine.

Since I started getting published, I’ve gone back and read a lot of the original pulps and reprints (and I’ve even picked up a few original paper copies on eBay). Many popular misconceptions about pulp stories can be resolved simply by reading a bunch of them. Yeah, there are plenty of stinkers out there – I’ll be the first to admit that not everything was gold back then. Once you get past the cultural and language barriers of stories from nearly (or over) a hundred years ago, you may find these tales stack up well against a lot of modern stuff published today. They work. The storytelling still works. You can analyze it and find that these men and women figured out (often the hard way) the axioms of writing we take for granted today. They wove magic.

An emphasis on action. Character-driven stories. Show, don’t tell. Lurid spectacle. Escapism. Heart. Thrilling twists. Quiet heroism as well as bold fisticuffs. I want to tell those kinds of stories. Not pastiche stories that sound like they were written in the 1930s, but modern stories that embrace the pulp aesthetic. I’ve been happy to learn that there are a lot of readers out there just like me who crave exactly that kind of story, too, even if they don’t recognize it as “pulpy.” It’s just fun.

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Spring Into Books, 2016, Viridian Center

Jay Barnson writes speculative fiction across multiple genres. His stories and non-fiction articles have appeared in several anthologies and magazines, including The Escapist and the Hugo-nominated Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. He is the winner of the 2016 DragonComet writing award. Born in West Virginia, Jay grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, much of it from the pulp era. His latest novel, Blood Creek Witch, is a tale of magic, monsters, and mayhem set in the backwoods of modern-day West Virginia.

Blood Creek Witch

Want to connect with Jay?

Here’s his links:

Website/Blog: Rampant Games
Facebook page: Author Jay Barnson
Interested in Jay’s stories and books?
Thanks again for joining us today, Jay!
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Upcoming Events

Launch Party
Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party Nov 16, 7-9pm. You know you don’t want to miss this. Come join me at the Printed Garden Bookstore in Sandy where I’ll be selling and signing books. There will be treats, activities, prizes, a reading, and a Q&A session. I’d love to see you there!
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Local Authors & You – November 2-3rd: If you live in the Salt Lake valley, this one’s for you! All three of my past guests, John M. Olsen, Candace J. Thomas, and today’s guest Jay Barnson, will be there. Even better, I will be joining them and bringing exclusive pre-release copies of Stonebearer’s Betrayal! So much win! The event is free to the public and requires no registration. It’s a great chance to get signed and personalized Christmas gifts for the book lover on your list.

Why Adults Should Read Fantasy with John M Olsen

I had so much fun featuring Candace J Thomas here on the blog last week that I invited another dear author friend to come join us this week. Be sure to stop by her blog to see her wonderful interview with yours truly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writer friends are the best.
Today we have John M Olsen with us. He is a fellow Immortal Works author who also has roots back at Xchyler Publishing. In fact, he and I met during the same event where I met Candace back in 2015. John is also currently president elect of the League of Utah Writers and just this summer released The Crystal Queen, the sequel to his first book The Crystal King. 
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My big question for John is:

Why should adults read fantasy?

John’s answer:

A man by the name of G. K. Chesterson said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Adults also know dragons exist. We face them every day. Maybe your dragon is a mortgage or a boss with a personality disorder. Maybe your dragon is a disability or a dear friend who refuses to make good life choices. Many of us like to escape into fantasy worlds, but there is much more than escape going on as we march page by page through a fantasy world. These worlds of the imagination are fraught with peril and doom, and good storytelling puts us on the edge of our seat as we hope good overcomes evil, or that true love will conquer all.

I love themes that confirm my faith in the goodness of humanity and of the universe, especially when we see so much entropy and failure if not outright evil. The bad guys may take the upper hand as a story progresses, but in the end, they will lose. Fantasy, at least the sort I prefer, shines a beacon of success despite the odds and illuminates a path forward. If the hero of your story can achieve great things, then you as a reader can as well, no matter how dark the night.

This is why I write, too. I love to write about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, something all readers can relate to. I’m a regular guy. Most readers are regular folks, too. Few achieve great fame or fortune, and the world spins on its merry way oblivious to our existence. But history is filled with true stories of ordinary people who stepped up just like fantasy characters to do what nobody could expect. We have power we don’t recognize. Power we don’t understand, and power we don’t use. But we will recognize, understand, and use that power as we learn by example. As long as we immerse ourselves in stories of success and never give up on ourselves and those around us, we put ourselves on a path to change lives, and through that to change the world.

Fantasy gives us power over reality’s dragons.

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A huge thanks to John for joining us and for his insightful thoughts on why fantasy is so important for readers of all ages, not just kids.
If you liked this message, please share it using the handy links below!
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You can find John all over the place, here are some handy links:

Twitter: @john_m_olsen
Find his novels and short stories over on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen

 

About John M. Olsen

Motivated by his lifelong love of reading, John M. Olsen writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to entertain and inspire others. His father’s library started him on this journey as a teenager, and he now owns and expands that library to pass his passion on to the next generation of avid readers.

He loves to create things, whether writing novels or short stories or working in his secret lair equipped with dangerous power tools. In all cases, he applies engineering principles and processes to the task at hand, often in unpredictable ways. He usually prefers “Renaissance Man” to “Mad Scientist” as a goal and aesthetic.

He lives in Utah with his lovely wife and a variable number of mostly grown children and a constantly changing subset of extended family.

Check out his ramblings on his blog. Safety goggles are optional but recommended.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Discussing Worldview with Candace J Thomas

Today we are privileged to have my dear friend and fellow fantasy author, Candace J Thomas, here on the blog. Candace has been my cheerleader and spirit animal from the first day we spent time together behind Xchyler Publishing’s sales table at the 2015 Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium. At that point, she embodied everything I wanted to be. She had two amazing books and was working on the third, she radiated warmth and confidence, and she knew the industry.

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My big question for her is:

How has creating new worlds and characters changed your world view?

Candace’s answer:

This is a beautiful question.

There are two answers that I came up with.

My first answer – It’s all in the details. I am an observer of life. I’ve always been a people-watcher. People fascinate me, their mannerisms, drives, motivations. When building characters, I focus on these kind of things and strive to make them real, as real as if I knew them in high school.

Also, as an observer, the world becomes a more vivid and interesting place. I search for the interesting peculiarities to bring a more human experience – or basically, the Charm of things.

Currently, I am writing a story that takes place in Chicago. When I visited, there were little things I noticed, like how sidewalks wind around where trees are planted. It’s a charming fact that makes it interesting and human. Maybe the casual reader wouldn’t notice such a little detail, but I find it fulfilling and necessary to my stories. Adding charm is attractive to me.

When in Austin, I saw a side wall outside of bar completely littered with industrial staples where band flyers once hung. I admired the dreams that once were and wondered what happened to the thousands of dreams that came and went.

Nature is a big fascination to me. I like the veins in leaves and how they change color. I like watching fuzzy caterpillars slink across the tree branches, just wandering about their day. I like broken sidewalks and aged cobblestone. As an author, I have a responsibility to bring an experience to the reader. If I don’t add the little details, the bits of charm, I feel like I’m failing. You can find little details in everything I write.

As to the second answer – being an author, in general, has changed my world view. I’m a simple person, with a very simple idea of life, but I am driven by creativity. I view things differently and communicate in the language of art. I am also dyslexic, but that never changed my desire to be creative and write. It did bring challenges and insecurities to what I was trying to do.

I have always ached to be a writer and had the drive to do it and be successful. There are pros and cons to authoring. Becoming an author has pushed my private writing public. It takes me out of my comfort zone and brings this out-going character to the stage. As an author, there is no hiding your mistakes and insecurities in writing. It’s out there for readers, and every reader has an opinion.

I’ve had to learn that not everyone loves reading fantasy, and not everyone will like what I’ve done. I’ve really grown and matured over the last five years being published. I’ve become a confident author and mentor to others. I’m much wiser and more conscientious about how my name, as a brand, is perceived. It’s like I took the blue pill in the Matrix and I can never view the world as general as I did before. But on the flipside, I get to influence readers and creators every time they open my books. That is the very best feeling in the world.

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Want to connect with Candace? Of course you do, she’s awesome.

Links: 
Twitter: cjtwrites
Instagram: candacejthomas
News! Candace’s book, Everstar, will be released in Audio very, very soon. Watch these links:

Candace J Thomas is an award-winning of Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-fi. She is the author of the Vivatera Series and Hawkweed, published by Xchyler Publishing. Her debut novel Vivatera won the LUW Diamond Award for Novel of the Year. Her Paranormal Satire, Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale, was published July 2016.

Candace is a freelance editor of the award-winning Billy Blacksmith series by Ben Ireland. as well as founder of Shadesilk Press.

Candace is known for her extreme fanatical love for both Count Chocula and smart, witty writing that expands her imagination and makes her wish she had thought of the idea.

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Interested in doing a blog swap? Send me a line! Don’t worry, I don’t bite.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

 

Guest Interview – Jaleta Clegg

jaletacleggmedJaleta Clegg loves telling stories ranging from aliens and spaceships to magic and unicorns to elves and airships to monsters and mayhem. Her published works include space opera with the Fall of the Altairan Empire series, steampunk fairies in Dark Dancer, and silly horror short stories. When not writing, she enjoys watching good bad movies, crocheting stuff out of yarn, and messing in the kitchen inventing new dishes.

She lives in Washington state with a diminishing horde of children, too many pets, and a very patient husband.

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First, tell us a little about yourself and what originally inspired you to write your first book.

I’ve always loved storytelling, but hated writing things out by hand and all the mistakes I made with typewriters led to typing anxiety. It wasn’t until we bought our first computer, a used Commodore128 at a garage sale, that I felt free enough to really start writing. On the computer, mistakes were temporary. Rewriting was effortless. Words could just flow! Except, I had four little kids at the time. We had just moved to a new neighborhood. I needed to escape. So I escaped into my own head. I started writing. Within six months, I’d finished a fantasy trilogy rough draft, edited it, rewritten it, and was ready to move on to other things. I started a science fiction novel. Life happened. I was interrupted. But I kept pecking away at my novels, here and there, sometimes setting them aside for months, until I had eleven finished books in a series. That was when I decided to pursue publishing. So in a nutshell, my stories are my self-therapy and escape.

What is the project you are working on now and where did the idea come from?

I’m currently in the middle of a story tentatively titled Desert Lighthouse. I had this image in my head of a lighthouse in the middle of a desert. What kind of story could I tell about that? Who would build it there? And why? The questions bothered me enough that I started pulling together a story. It’s a strange one, with several different storylines that all weave together. Eventually.

colorful blue snowflake fractalI’m also working on the sequel to Dark Dancer. I loved the idea of steampunk elves and magic from the first book and wanted to go back to that world. I also realized I left a lot of the story untold and unfinished. Hopefully Winterqueen’s War will fill in a lot of the holes.

I’m also working on a series of stories set in the fictional kingdom of Merkady where the humans have died out leaving behind Humankin, animals that look almost human, and Altereds, animals that can talk and think like people but still look like the original animals. I have a few characters that want me to tell their stories – a rattlesnake fighting for equal rights for Altereds and a bunny Humankin superspy. And don’t let me forget my version of Sinbad in that world, a leopard with a walrus first mate. I can’t wait to get to his story.

I think I have a problem with too many projects going on at the same time.

What authors have inspired you, and why?

I blame Andre Norton. I discovered her books when I was young and impressionable. It amazed me that people wrote stories about aliens and space travel and magic and monsters that weren’t aimed at kids. Her books led me to others by Asimov, Zelazny, Heinlein, Jack Chalker, and others. I haunted the small science fiction section of our library until I’d read all the books they had. But I wanted more.

I found Julie Czerneda and Elizabeth Moon. These women wrote the kinds of books I wanted to write. They told stories that I loved reading. I found Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, and Piers Anthony and realized humor could be part of science fiction and fantasy. I found other new authors who inspired me to keep writing and pursuing publication, namely Francis Pauli and Paul Genesse. I met Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia, who never looked down on me, a newbie author, but instead gave me kind words and friendship. I could keep going with the list of authors I love, the ones who keep me reading and keep me dreaming, but the list would just keep going.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Can a whole book count? I really struggled with Chain of Secrets, the eighth book in my series. It’s a dark point in the overall story. Dace, the main character, is struggling with everything, nothing seems to be going right. The whole book was pretty dark, but when I go back and read it again, I love it. It’s about struggling to overcome, about doing what’s right even when it might cost you your life, about dealing with loss and betrayal. It’s about becoming a better person, about being true to your innermost self. It’s also about family and the ties we choose to bind ourselves with. The emotions were powerful and very hard to deal with when I was writing. I’m a very private person, so writing those raw emotions was a lot like walking outside naked. I have a tendency to shy away from the emotions, to put distance between my character and their feelings, so in editing I have to be brutal about closing that distance. Because I know the end result will be that much stronger.

When it’s time to create something new, what is your process?

I start with a scene or a character or sometimes just a line. Then I just write until I start to see a shape to the story. At that point, I usually need to set it aside for a while to let the story ferment and develop. Once I can feel the general shape of the outline, I can write it. With some short stories, the process takes only a day or less. With some novels, I’m still waiting for the story to gel together. I have found if I try to force it, I end up with a boring mess of a story.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I finally mastered fudge! At least the marshmallow creme/chocolate chip version. It’s been my unicorn for a long time. I’d try to make fudge and end up with chocolate frosting. Or I’d make frosting and somehow end up with a layer of fudge on my cake. I recently found a recipe that works for me. Now I can turn out consistently delicious creamy fudge.

I’m also very proud of the anthologies some of my stories have landed in. I have a comedy in the Baen anthology Mission: Tomorrow about a futuristic game show, The Ultimate Space Race, which is also the name of the story. It’s told by an older couple watching the finale together on the couch. Everything is branded, sponsored, trademarked, and commercialized. Kind of a snarky look at the future, but that’s where I see it headed.

I’m also the proud author of the obligatory fart joke cthulhu story, A Brown and Dismal Horror, in the Redneck Eldritch collection. Yes, my reign as Queen of the Fart Joke is far from over.

And I recently finished an afghan that I love. Crocheting those things take hours and hours, about four seasons of the X-files worth of hours.

0420181101What do you want to be when you grow up?

Yes, I really want to be Han Solo when I grow up. I want my own beat-up spaceship and my own Wookie best friend. I want to explore new worlds and have adventures. If I can’t have the Millenial Falcon, I’ll settle for Wolf’s ship, and his company, from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of my all-time favorite movies. Or maybe I’ll go off adventuring with Captain Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Or maybe I’ll just make up more stories of adventure and pretend they’re real. That’s really why I write.

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New Release from Jaleta Clegg!

Bundle Herebefairies

Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.

On sale for a limited time!

https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-fairies?nocache=1

Dark Dancer –

The Seligh crushed,
The captives found,
The barrier broken,
The balmorae freed.

A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.

A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist and his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.

A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds their fate in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they stand—beside the Dancer or opposed to her.

And trust that she won’t destroy their world.

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To connect with Jaleta, go visit her at her sites:

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Join the discussion by commenting below!

 

 

 

Meet Cosplayer Rachel Funk

I had so much fun with last friday’s cosplayer feature with Robert Smith that I’m going to do it again, this time with Robert’s partner-in-costume Rachel Funk.
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Growing up, Rachel watched all the classic sci-fi including Star Wars, Star Trek, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galactica. She loves reading anything, but has a special place in her heart for books with sci-fi elements, fantasy, and magic. Before she met Robert she only knew the basic comic book characters, thanks to him she knows them all much better.
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Winning the Special Judges Award for Craftsmanship, and crazy happy about it!

Rachel’s first comic con experience was attending the 2012 Las Vegas Comic Expo. She had no idea how many people dressed up for those type of events and went wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt. In fact, at the time she hadn’t even heard of cosplay. Looking back, she wishes she had known because she has some mad skills when it comes to creating awesome stuff.
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Since then Rachel has attended many events. Her most memorable cosplay experience is when she got to go up on stage in front of a huge crowd at the 2012 Denver Comic Con to receive the Special Judges Award for Craftsmanship for her Lady Mechanika costume.
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Partners-in-fun Rachel and Robert

Rachel recently finished creating a robe for Robert’s Teifling costume and is now working on a formal skirt for Lady Mechanika and bracers and a pop-up gun for Harly Quinn. With luck and a lot of work they should be ready for this September’s Salt Lake Comic Con. She also has sketches for a rockin’ steampunk Queen of Hearts and a steampunk Mad Hatter for Robert. She is also working on ideas for a wheelchair compatible steampunk Cheshire Cat. She hopes to have those ready by next year’s Salt Lake Comic Con.
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When asked, Rachel shared that her secret dream cosplay would be a kick-ass Halle Berry style Catwoman.
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Rachel’s biggest fangirl moment is when she got a photo-op with none other than Captain Mal, also known as Nathan Fillion. When he put his hand on her shoulder she totally freaked out.  She was like: OMG OMG he is touching me OMG OMG breathe!
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Quick, strike a pose! Check out how awesome this costume is!

For those who attend the cons, here is a special note to you from Rachel:

I wish more people would take the time to look at the costumes people put together. I am an attention whore. I love getting my picture taken and talking to people about my costume and who my character is. My problem is, my character is obscure, she is not from DC or Marvel. She does not have a big movie. Hardly anyone knows who she is…they just think I am a random steampunk girl. I don’t have a big or flashy prop. Bob has both of those things going for him (well-known character, with an interesting twist and a flashy, catch your eye prop) so everyone wants to get a pic of him or with him. No one wants pix with me :/
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I’d like to thank Rachel for coming and being a part of my blog today. I had a lot of fun learning more about her and I hope you did too!
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Attention fellow cosplayers, fantasy artists, and writers! If you want to be featured here like Rachel and Robert, and my guests in the past, drop me a line, I’d love to have you!

Meet Cosplayer Robert Smith

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Robert as Steampunk Green Lantern with his friend, Rachel, dressed as Lady Mechanika

Today, Robert Smith from Utah is joining us and sharing some of his cosplay pictures. Robert and I have known each other a little more than a year now and have enjoyed swapping stories about our various experiences, his in the comic con and cosplay world and mine with working with fiction writers who create the various fandoms.

Robert is a 45-year-old book collector who is proud to say that he most definitely does not live in his parent’s basement. He’s a toolmaker/moldmaker by trade, which comes in handy when it comes to creating his costumes. He’s also part of a super cool secret society.

A life long lover of dressing up for Halloween, Robert’s introduction into the world of cosplay happened in 2000 when he took first place in a costume contest. The winning outfit? An old lady.

Since then, the costumes have become more unique and Robert has attended countless events and conventions and has entered in many contests. His most memorable experience happened at the Denver Comic Con when he took the stage in front of 1600 people all cheering him on in his second place win in the novice category.

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Robert and Christine at Fantasy Con. Check out the detail on the gloves and lantern!

Currently, Robert is working on a Teifling costume from the Dungeon’s and Dragon’s universe. Teiflings are humans with a demon somewhere in their ancestry and have made bargains with devils to increase their powers, very nasty fellows indeed.

All cosplayers have their favorite character. If Robert had the chance to meet a character in real life he would choose Hugh Jackman as Wolverine – but then again, who wouldn’t!

In addition to having a ton of fun with cosplay, Robert is also an avid comic book collector and has been collecting for 30 years.

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Robert at Salt Lake Fan X showing off his custom-made green lantern.

A huge thanks for Robert for coming to join me here at the blog today, I hope that he had as much fun as I did!

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Are you a cosplayer? Would you like a mini feature here at my blog? Send me a line in the comments!

Thank you Terry Pratchett

The more time you spend working to become an author and to publish, the more you realize just what a big deal it is for your name to be known among the general population. Think about it, there are millions of authors out there who are published, and several million more who are working to become published.

Knowing an author’s name, even if you haven’t read them, means that they have attained a level of success that few can even dream of.  Stephen King, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, and Neil Gaiman, are now household names.

1654Terry Pratchett is one of those authors who have  broken the mold among the fantasy community. Over the course of his career he has published  an astounding 66 books. Forty of these books belong to the globally popular Discworld series.

What makes Pratchett’s writing unique is his firm grasp on satire and knowing just how far to push an illogical situation. Some of his most iconic images are in fact the most silly, such as the Luggage, which is described as this:

The Luggage is a large chest made of sapient pearwood (a magical, intelligent plant which is nearly extinct, impervious to magic, and only grows in a few places outside the Agatean Empire, generally on sites of very old magic). It can produce hundreds of little legs protruding from its underside and can move very fast if the need arises. It has been described as “half suitcase, half homicidal maniac” (Sourcery paperback p22).

tumblr_mn98y9YnC51r3yo7eo1_400Terry Pratchett died in his home last week after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His courage and wit have inspired millions, including me.

Thank you Terry!

Featured Artist: Cat Lemonade

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“The Dragonrider in the Highest Tower” by Cat Lemonade (found at DeviantArt.com)

This month’s featured artist is fellow friend, writer, and artist, Cat Lemonade.  Cat and I first met last year when she needed someone to critique her delightful fantasy manuscript.  The rest is history. Thank you Cat for coming to my blog to be interviewed!  I am very happy to have you here.

Please tell the readers a bit about yourself.

Well, I’m a kind of a sour puss—but only a bit, because if I were a total sour puss my name would be Cat Lemon. (Wah wah wah…)

On a more serious note, I’m an aspiring novelist, a hobbyist photo-manipulation artist, and a part-time indie web and graphics designer.

On a less serious note, my favorite colors are candy-hued mellow yellow and gray, I have a cat that likes to play fetch (seriously!), and I’m obsessed with Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon (the movies, not the books—the Toothless from the books is an intolerable little snot!).

You have some terrific art over at your new blog, can you tell us about some of your pieces?

Most of my work right now are mock-up covers for the series I’m writing. I have 90% of all five books written in my head, so when I needed to take a break from getting those stories out of my head and on to the page, I decided to photoshop some covers together for funsies.

I’ve also been working on some non-book related artwork which I plan on selling on my DeviantArt page, but unfortunately I’ve been having some computer problems and so my beauties are going to have to remain a Work-In-Progress until I can fix the glitch. I’ve actually been going through photoshop withdrawal—it’s driving me crazy!

You also have been working on a few other creative projects, please tell us about some of your writing.

The big project I’m working on now is The Dragonrider series. It’s a five book middle-reader series that’s a bit different from what you’re used to seeing. The Dragonrider, herself, isn’t so much the main character, but a consistent supporting character that helps the different main characters of the first four books in their individual quests. In the fifth book, however, all of the main characters have grown up and their paths end up crossing in one giant epic and you get to see how the influence of The Dragonrider’s presence during a pivotal moment in their youth has shaped their adulthood.

And of course there’s way cool awesome stuff like dragons, magic, mermaids, pirates, zombies, and cannibals all wrapped up in good vs. evil power struggles and topped with snark, wit, and a good heaping of comedy. It’s like a quintuple scoop ice cream sundae oozing with fudge and drowning in nuts and sprinkles…but for your mind!

You can read more about the series, along it’s short story sibling series, The Three Princesses, over here.

I also have an idea knocking around in my head for a magical detective novel—a sort of Charmed/Harry Potter meets CSI/Castle thing—but I’m saving that one for when I finish The Dragonrider and The Three Princesses.

As an artist, what inspires you?

Oooo…so many things! I think music tops the list, though. I’m a huge fan of symphonic metal. I get so swept up in the musical arrangements and the topics of the lyrics and the scope and power of it all that my brain converts what I hear into pictures of far-off places and fantastical circumstances and fascinating people. Sometimes those pictures get turned into a piece of visual art, like a piece I’m working on now, and other times the pictures will cascade together into a plot or a theme or an emotion that can drive a story.

Some of my biggest inspiration comes from bands like Epica, Xandria, Delain and ReVamp.

In ten years where do you hope your talent will take you? What are your goals?

Hopefully at the top of the New York Times Best-seller list—but don’t all aspiring novelists wish that? (laughs) Honestly, I’d really just like to get my stories out in the world and doing well enough they’re still being read by someone, somewhere after I’m ash and dust. I know that sounds a little macabre, but as someone who struggles with a disability that makes it difficult to even get out of bed some days, I’ve always felt like I wasn’t doing my part in making the world—or even just my community—a better place. Maybe one day my stories can inspire in others what I’m unable to do myself.

When it comes to creating art, whether it be visual or written, what advice to you give to those just starting out?

My advice is a little antithetical, come to think.

If you’re doing visual art, ignore the critics. Visual art should be an expression of your feelings and your thoughts and your unique vision and no one has the right to criticize you for that because no one can think, feel, or see what you can. And that’s what makes art beautiful.

On the flip side, when it comes to writing, criticism is your best friend. I really can’t stress that enough. I actually just wrote a blog post about it last week! I’ve noticed that a lot of people are afraid of editing—and thereby, finishing—their stories because they’re afraid of the criticism that comes along with it. But criticism is what makes writers write stronger stories. Embrace it, love it, and be better for it.

My favorite piece of advice about writing/editing—and one that has been most helpful in my own synthesis—is a quote attributed to Joss Whedon:

001Where can we go to see more of your work? 

You can find me at my blog, on DeviantArt, Pinterest, and Ello –although I’m still not really sure what I’m supposed to do with Ello yet!

In April and July you can find me at Camp NaNoWrimo. I actually like Camp better than regular NaNoWriMo, so if you’re writing fantasy/adventure/sci-fi middle-reader stories, give me a holler!

And then I am almost always on Twitter–if I’m at my computer, you can bet I’ve got Twitter open. I’m told I’m great fun to tweet-chat with. (Whether it’s true or not is debatable, but that’s what I’m told!)

If you couldn’t be a writer, artist, or web designer, what would you be?

Well…as a kid I wanted to be a Power Ranger stationed aboard the USS Enterprise, serving under Captain Picard as the assistant to Chief Security Officer Tasha Yar. But then Tasha died and people told me Power Rangers aren’t real. I’m still not quite over all of that, to be honest.

But in the event none of my aforementioned endeavors pan-out, I’ve put in a application at Hogwarts for the position of Muggle Studies Professor. I’m still waiting to hear back from them. You don’t think they’ll hold the fact that I’m a squib against me…do you?

mesmArtist Blurb:

Cat Lemonade is kind of a sour puss.

But despite that, she keeps writing silly stories for kids.

When she’s not writing, she’s playing fetch with her kitten or trying to figure out how to optimize the RAM on her computer so she can listen to music AND design graphics and websites simultaneously.

Other skills include being an expert listener of fine music, an appreciator of black cats, and an enthusiast of the color yellow.

Her favorite made-up words are flustrated, announciate, and centrifocal.

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Thank you again, Cat, for coming to chat with us today!  Support Cat in her endeavours by clicking on her links, and liking and following her!

Literary Interview with the Twins

Happy President’s Day everyone! I hope you all have fun plans to celebrate the day.

My friend and fellow writer Ginger Commander Mann had the brilliant idea to allow  the twins from her story “Jilted River” to interview the twins from my story “Breath”. Both our stories appear in the Xchyler Publishing fantasy anthology The Toll of Another Bell.

Head on over to her blog to check it out!

Twin Walks at the Edge of Time

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