Friday, March 27, 2015

Wizards and Other Magic Users

The theme of this year's MarsCon earlier this month was "Heroes & Wizards & Fae OHhh MYyy!!" One of the two panels on wizards was "The Affairs of Wizards" with the description "Wizards, and magic users of various names, are prevalent in fairy tales, folk tales, and fantasy. What purpose do they serve? How do we make them and their magic believable to a modern audience? How much of the process of magic needs to be explained and how much is best left to the reader or viewer’s imagination? How do you make your wizards stand out as something new and interesting, and not just another Gandalf or Dumbledore knockoff? Who does this well? What tropes have been overused and need to be buried under a really large rock?" I was a panelist on the second one, which was entitled "Need a Wizard? Who You Gonna Call?". The description was "Different wizards excell at different tasks. What wizards are better for the kind of work you/your story need?"

Wizards are indeed one of the common characters of fantasy and usage of the term has varied over time and between authors. I remember in the fantasy books in my father's collection there could be good or bad wizards, and they were only male. Women could do magic, but they were called witches or sorceresses, both of which terms usually have a negative connotation. The Oz books did have Glinda the Good Witch of the South, who was also called a sorceress, but she was one of the exceptions of that time period. J.K. Rowling had her Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Andre Norton had her Witch World series, and other books in which female magic users were also called Wise Women. When I started writing my fantasy books, though, I noticed very few male magic users were ever called "Wise Men". "Wizard" was the term of preference and that was the term I decided to use for my female magic users. Other authors decided the same. Diane Duane in her Young Wizards series had both male and female wizards, as did Diana Wynne Jones in many of her books, while Tamora Pierce in her Circle series had both female and male mages.

Wizards don't always have to be human, either. I have elf, gryphon, and even horse wizards. Mercedes Lackey has gryphon wizards while Diana Wynne Jones has gryphons, centaurs and even dwarves becoming wizards. Diane Duane's wizards include not only alien centipedes and trees but also a planet.

Returning to the "Need a Wizard?" panel, it wasn't until I read The Lord of the Rings series that I encountered the idea that wizards could specialize. Radagast focused on animals, Saruman was the craftsman and metal-worker and Gandalf ended up as the warrior. Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden was one other wizard mentioned at the panel as another warrior. In Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, Kit's magic works well with machinery, while another specializes in stellar engineering. Tamora Pierce's Circle series has mages who can control storms, plants, metal and even thread.

What types of wizards do you enjoy reading about or writing about? What tropes have been overused?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT

Do you ever hear a weird noise in your house or your car or elsewhere and wonder what it is? You search and search but can't find the cause. For the longest time I kept hearing this little popping noise. It wasn't loud and it was quick, so I never could find the source.
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One day, I opened a bottle of water, took a couple of sips, then put the lid back on and set the bottle on the cabinet. I was busy doing whatever and then I heard it, that little pop that had puzzled me for ages. It wasn't a ghost  or an alien from outer space or rain.t Yep, you guessed it. The water bottle had made the weird noise.

What does this have to do with anything, you're probably wondering? I'll tell you.

My newest book is a picture book mystery for readers 6-9. Yes, it's the story of three girls that hear a weird noise.

 
Weird noises in the night send the imaginations of three young girls soaring. Is it the rain, a dragon, an alien from outer space, or a ghost? As Olivia and her best friends seek the source of the sound, they discover that the truth is not as scary as their imaginations.
 
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Illustrator: Eugene Ruble
Available at:
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
I've also chosen a theme for the A to Z Challenge Hop in April. I'll be talking about animals, one of my favorite subjects. To see what others' themes may be check it out here.
 
 
Happy Reading

Monday, March 23, 2015

Beware the Little White Rabbit AND YA Scavenger Hunt are coming!!!

I think I totally forgot to post last month! So much going on, work, and real life, yanno. But Spring is coming, and that means I kick into high gear. TWO book releases in the next two months, and events to attend and plan, publicity to arrange....

After NOT having a book come out last year, I kind of feel like I've been in writer-hibernation. So I'm making up for it this year.

Beware the Little White Rabbit comes out from Leap Books on April 14. It's a YA anthology that celebrates the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  I've seen some of the interior artwork (though not for my story, yet, boo!) and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this thing and get print copies to take to events.

The other thing I'm involved in next month is the YA Scavenger Hunt. There are a ton of authors participating. Basically, you search the author's blogs, getting exclusive content and guest blog posts and looking for SOMETHING in the post. When you have the SOMETHING, you write it down. When you have ALL the SOMETHINGS, you enter to win a boatload of cool swag.

I am on Team Blue this year. I think there are something like eight teams, all different colors. Click the link for the YASH site and stay tuned-- it starts April 2!



I forget what I said I was giving away, but I think it was one copy of one of my books, OR a copy of A Curse of Ash and Iron  when it's released in May. I have to double check.

And try to keep up, because I'm off to the races!!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Top 5 Hottest Heroes Ever

1. Damon from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
Hands down, Damon is one of my favorite protagonists. Sure, he’s a blood thirsty vampire but he has one weak spot—Elena. I love how author L.J. Smith and the writers of the TV series have shown his vulnerabilities and weaknesses such as one scene where he stays at the side of Caroline’s dying mother to give her comfort at the end. Plus, those blue eyes and wicked smile are enough for anyone to open her heart.
Photo courtesy of http://divergent.wikia.com/wiki/Tobias_Eaton
Photo courtesy of http://divergent.wikia.com/wiki/Tobias_Eaton
2. Tobias, ‘Four’ Eaton from the DIVERGENT series
Four is a part of the Dauntless factor in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Though he comes across as a bad ass, he worms his way into Tish’s and reader’s hearts. A must read book has to be FOUR which is a collection of short stories that go over Tobias’s life and help readers get a glimpse into the whys behind his behavior.
Photo courtesy of http://variety.com
Photo courtesy of http://variety.com
3. Thomas from MAZE RUNNER
What can I say? I love author Dylan O’Brien’s role in TEEN WOLF and he is perfect as the lead actor in MAZE RUNNER. Thomas finds himself in a strange land with his memory erased. He must join the other boys in order to escape through a constantly changing maze.
Photo courtesy of http://www.cbswatchmagazine.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.cbswatchmagazine.com
4. Bash from TV series REIGN
I’m a huge sucker for historicals set in France. Bash is the illegitimate half-brother of Daphne Francis. When Scotland Queen Mary Stuart comes to France, though she is to wed Francis, she finds herself attracted to Bash. I mean, who wouldn’t with those amazing eyes?
And last but not least . . .
Photo courtesy of Fanpop.com
Photo courtesy of Fanpop.com
5. Jamie of OUTLANDER
I admit, I wasn’t sure about the casting of one of my all-time favorite protagonists but after watching the Starz TV series, I now know he’s perfect! Tons of chemistry between him and Claire, just like the amazing books.
Double sigh! He made me want to go to Scotland. Love the books and so far this series so much.
Now that I’ve shared some of my favorites, who are some of yours?
Originally posted at: http://lachesispublishing.com/?p=4960

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring is Coming

I saw a crocus in the front yard this morning, that's a sure sign, that despite the temperature and the forecast, Spring is actually on it's way.

Spring is such a hopeful time. Flowers, trees (and allergens) bloom, the days get longer and warmer. People emerge from the hibernation of the winter to soak up the sun again.

(I know these aren't crocuses, but they get the point across)

This Spring the general hopefulness is added to in our house because my daughter got accepted into her first choice college and I got some good writing-related news (that I can't share quite yet, but will as soon as I can.)

I hope you all have happy Spring things to look forward to as well!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Good Bye to Terry Pratchett

Life has been super busy.

This week started All-Con in Dallas - a four day multimedia convention.

On our way home from the first day of working in the dealers' room, my daughter was checking her facebook page when she saw the news - Terry Pratchett has passed...



Mr. Pratchett had a long and successful writing career and is considered one of the best writers of our time. And I almost didn't read him...

We all have weird quirks. Some are not even consistent. For me, it was avoiding Disc World. Everyone loved it! People couldn't stop talking about it. But I had no interest.

Luckily for me, several years ago, they gave away a bunch of new books at the World Fantasy Convention.  One of the ones in my grab bag was "Thud" by Terry Pratchett.



I figured I'd held off enough, I'd try one of his books - it was free and it looked interesting. Decided I'd finally take the plunge and find out what all the fuss was about.

Oh, OH, OH!!!!

Commander Vimes, the Night Watch - the concept of using the simple book "Where's My Cow?" - the children's story book he read to his son everyday and his yearning to see and not disappoint his son even as a darkness tried to use him to create chaos and drive the world to war....

It took but this one book filled with great storytelling, satire, and a bottomless wit to make me fall in love. Then the hunt began. I couldn't get enough of Commander Vimes and Lord Vetinary. And when I was done with them, I expanded to the rest of his Disc World books and beyond.



So thank you, Mr. Pratchett. Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous world with us. And sorry it took me so long to see the light.

Sir, you will be missed!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Nest Cam Watch Begins Again!

It's the end of February, which means it's once again the beginning of nest cam watch. This is when eagles and owls are beginning to lay their eggs. This can lead to a bit of drama, as the bald eagle couple in Decorah, Iowa, had to fend off a Great Horned owl couple that wanted to move into one of their nests. First one to lay an egg won, and the eagles now have control of the nest. They're now sitting on three eggs, and watchers are hoping the owl couple moved to the old nest (which still has a nest cam). Fort St. Vrain in Colorado has three eggs, as does the DNR eagle nest in Minnesota. A Great Horned Owl nest in Oklahoma City has three fuzzy hatchlings.

If you want to keep up with activities, there's a Facebook page for the Raptor Resource Project, which covers several nests (but the main news is usually the Decorah nest). There is also the Raptor Resource Project website with various links to nest cams. There's also a link to the discussion forums to keep up without having to watch the cams. Fort St. Vrain cam now has its own Facebook group. So does the MN DNR cam and MN Bound.

Peregrine falcons in the Midwest haven't returned to their nests yet, but Clara and Fernando in San Jose have three eggs already. They've had up to five in previous years, so they might not be done yet.

Until the eggs hatch, there's often not much to see, other than one or the other parent sitting on the eggs. But each nest is different. The Decorah couple usually has disagreements about stick placement in the "crib rails", and watchers have decided that Dad is a stick fanatic. He often brings in very large sticks. It's also interesting to catch the shift changes. In the video link Dad takes over from Mom, and you can see him carefully ball his talons so the egg isn't damaged. Since there are still snowstorms this time of year, it can sometimes be hard to watch. Fort St. Vrain has lost chicks to storms in past years and seeing the nest surrounded by snow can be worrying for many watchers.

The excitement for Minnesota watchers has begun with the first hatch at the DNR nest. That nest started in January. It usually takes 35 days until hatch, so for nests like Decorah which just finished laying eggs, fuzzballs won't appear until March. The next egg in that nest should hatch within a day or so, but meanwhile every feeding of this hatchling is watched and discussed.

I've been watching nest cams for a long time, and that experience plus knowing where to find answers to other questions came in handy when I wrote "Search And Rescue", a short story released last August by Amber Quill Press. In it, nest cam watchers report a chick fallen from an eagle nest, and the wildlife rescuer finds a bit more than she expected - a feathered being not seen outside of fantasy.

"Search And Rescue" can be found at Amber Quill Press in several formats as well as at Amazon for Kindle, B&N for Nook, and at Kobo.