Friday, April 3, 2015

Quills: Is Violence By or Against Women in Fantasy Authentic?



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PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

The world has changed dramatically, even since I was a child, with regard to the place of women in our society and the options open to them. I’ve experienced the changes and benefitted from them. Still, I recognize that these changes occurred largely in the “western” world, that portion historically influenced by a Judeo-Christian ethic. Women in many other places have not been as fortunate as have I. In some cases, they live in what might be called “medieval” times. This is an important issue, as many fantasies are played out in medieval-type worlds. Accordingly, I expect that the manner in which women are treated in those stories might well differ from the world in which I live today. Even so, fantasy stories are set in make-believe worlds. Those worlds can be whatever the authors want them to be . . .

(Read Patricia's blog!)

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ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

Fantasy and sci-fi—No, fiction authors (at least those I know) write to entertain. We write about people. People, both men and women, are often violent, cruel, abusive, and criminally selfish. Our world has a long history of them, from Cain to Bashar-al Assad, from Jezebel to Griselda Blanco. Fictional worlds are rife with them as well…

(Read Robin's blog!)


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KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 

My colleagues have made an important distinction that readers used to know without being told. Has that changed? Maybe. In a world where people often have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality, we may need a "DISCLAIMER: No actual humans were harmed in the writing of this novel!" announcement on every book.

Admittedly, readers do, occasionally, get lost in a story so deeply that they believe it with their whole heart. I'll let you in on a little secret: writers like for that to happen. We are eager for it, hungry for it! Our main goal is to make you, the reader, feel.

I could write about Mikkayl Arrayn and Sherakai without a single unfortunate event ever happening to them, but as lovely as that might be for them, you wouldn't want to read it! Does this mean I advocate real world violence against anyone? By no means! Since the Fall from Grace every person is on a collision course with our destiny which is, quite frankly, death before judgement. The struggles to live a life worthy of the calling to redemption are the very heartbeat of the human race, whatever your faith bias. Thus, stories that show the struggle of blood, sweat and tears strike a chord that vibrates to the soul.

Violence against characters in fiction IS authentic, even necessary, as it reflects our world. This does not justify graphic, gory violence that does not reveal character flaws and strengths. It must have purpose or it is superfluous. I like to think that I write with moderation. I write for adults, as well, not children. Children should never, ever be subjected to violence and their reading should be guided by those who ought to know and love them best: their parents. That is another topic! The human imagination is a marvelous thing. A little description goes a long way, thus violence against anyone in fiction need only be hinted at by the talented writer's choice to give a character a haunted look here, a flinch from a touch there.

It is my firm belief that we cannot fully appreciate what we have achieved until we know what obstacles we have overcome.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Quills: Books We Love



This week, we're sharing our favorite stories with you and a little bit about their authors.
Enjoy!

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First up, Patricia talks about one of my favorite reads.

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

While I love to read fantasy, I have not selected a fantasy story to share. Rather, I am going back in time to a great and timeless classic.  Specifically, my choice is Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.

I’ve heard people over the years say they gave up on Les Miserables, as a difficult read.  I suppose there is something to that.  Yet I consider it the most incredibly beautiful tale ever written—the story, sure—but even more so, the manner in which it is told.  It is like poetry—no ... music.

(Read Patricia's blog!)

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Prithee, Robin! Regale us!

ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

My grandmother used to call me “Robin the Hood” when I was very little. I was understandably confused—and then I learned about the legendary Robin Hood. The nickname became something of a badge of honor, though I have no idea why should would compare me to a thief. I was innocent! Naturally, I read and watched several versions of the tale, but when I read Lady of the Forest, by Jennifer Roberson, I fell in love.

(Read Robin's blog!)


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KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 



In 1995 an author team wrote "Relic" a murder mystery/suspense novel about the "New York Museum of Natural History" in which paying customers to the museum wind up brutally murdered in the dark corridors and closed off rooms. Graduate student Margo Green believes the murderer might not be human. The director of the museum wants a gala exhibition to go on as scheduled, but Margo, the police Lieutenant in charge of the case and an FBI agent with a history of investigating similar murders in New Orleans want to get to the truth of the matter. From third world jungles to the mean streets of New York and the labrythine tunnels beneath, "Relic" keeps a reader riveted to it's last startling pages.

In 1997 a host of production companies got together to make the movie version of the novel. They called it "The Relic." I saw the movie and while I thought it reminded me a great deal of "Jaws", it also piqued my curiosity for a genre I'd never been interested in. What does any good book lover do? I read the book. I LOVED the book. It read better than an action movie! One character never seen in the movie, FBI Special Agent A. X. L.  Pendergast became my favorite. His buttery southern accent, near albino good looks and uncanny intelligence were a triple threat not to be ignored. I borrowed every Preston & Child book the library had and devoured them until, like all the other fans, I had to wait for new ones to be published.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are a tremendous writing team in the mystery/suspense genre. They work seamlessly together so that, even though they've both written many books solo, both with their own unique style, I can never tell one from the other in their collaborations. Different as night and day when it comes to public appearances, they nevertheless have in common a deep connection to their readers. They had a website and message boards that Linc had a strong presence on when it wasn't fashionable (or advisable!) for authors to do so. They reached out and as a result have an extremely loyal fan base.

If there is a formula to their work, it is that they grant tiny insights into their characters, hints and glimpses that make readers want to know more and make their protagonists realistic. They draw the reader in into caring and then up the ante by creating worry. They are not above taking their main characters to death's door ... or sometimes beyond. They have no qualms about killing off beloved supporting characters (some of whom have novels of their own!) and their villains are spectacularly smart bad guys. They inspired me to read through the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and allowed me to fall in love with yet another great literary detective, Sherlock Holmes.

The more I read of Holmes, the more I enjoy Pendergast. Even after my disappointment in their newest main character, Gideon Crew, I still trust Doug and Linc to bring me new, intense tales of my favorite FBI agent. I pray they will do so for many years to come.
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Visit the Preston & Child website for more on Agent Pendergast!

And tell me, what books do YOU love? I want to hear from you about your favorites. Thanks for reading! See you in April.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Questions from the Author, 2

Last week I asked a question. A two part question, in fact and I got some good answers. (You can read them here.) I've very much enjoyed your participation in that part of the question! Thank you again!

The first part went as follows:

If someone powerful told you they wanted an intimate (as in very personal, not sexual) relationship with you, and you knew conflicting things about said someone, but held the general opinion (from what you knew) that they were good, would you be interested in such a relationship?

Now for the second part of the question.

What if it were revealed to you, after say a week of pondering the question (;D) and without room for doubt, that this person who desired an intimate relationship with you, was God. (When I say "God" I do mean the God of the Judeo-Christian theology.) Would you desire that relationship? 

I have more questions, but I'll stop there for now. I am interested in personal, individual answers here, not generalizations. Feel free to answer both questions if this is the first time you've seen them. I'd love to hear from you. Thanks very much!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Quills: February -- The Mini-View



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This month, we feature our "mini-view". Interviews with three different authors, each of us asking them the same three questions. Please enjoy!

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

I would like to introduce you to one of my new and dear Australian author friends, L. J. Clarkson. L.J. is the author of The Silver Strand (Mastermind Academy, #1) and Heaven and House – Rise of the Alpha.  She writes for middle graders and trust me when I say that she has a unique ability to think and speak like one!  She offers some interesting and off-beat characters, and providers readers with some good laughs!

(Read more at Patricia's blog!)

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And now, Robin!

ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

A.E. Marling leaped into the indie writer scene about three years ago with his impressive debut, Brood of Bones. (Not that I’ve talked about that before, but who’s counting?) Behind the book’s gorgeous cover is a story about an enchantress with a sleeping problem and a city full of pregnant women. All of them, from virgin to grandmother. What’s a curious, respectable, responsible woman to do?

(Read more at Robin's blog!)


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KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 

I hear tell that sometime in the late 1980s, Deanna Smith, author of the children's book: The Dragon's Rocketship received an old Mac Plus computer from her step-Dad and Mom. Trees all over the world heaved a sigh of relief. Because Deanna writes. About everything. Anywhere. All the time.

Writing, drawing, and reading were her passions for years, stumbling cheerfully genre to genre, discovering the fascination of history and music along the way, and then she belly-flopped into 3D art. Let me tell you, her art work is amazing. I am anxiously awaiting more of that. Let's see what she has to say about writing.

Welcome Deanna! It's great to have you with us. The first of our three questions is: What makes you write?

Stories, stories, stories. They spawn from almost anything, spin around, and drive me nuts until I write them down.

Sounds like quite a challenge! Which brings me to our second question: What was the toughest challenge you faced when writing, and how did you overcome it?

It's always the same thing – ending a story. I hate ending a story. Once it's done, it's over, and there's always a little voice in the back of my mind saying 'you may not have another one to write'. But then I look at the four or five other stories I'm usually working on at the same time, get over it, and get back to work.

I can't imagine you not having another tale to tell, what with all the Bad-guys the world offers up. What's your take on antagonists? Should Bad-guys be pure evil or a misunderstood adversary?

It depends. Sometimes, a truly nasty bad-guy will play off as misunderstood sort. Others, the bad-guy isn't bad – but is wearing apathy, or duty to god and country, or perhaps a charming little 'clinging to the past' number.

My all time ultimate favorite bad-guy is the Wicked Witch of the West as played by Margaret Hamilton. Deliciously evil to the end. Better than that, she starts out in the right of it – that little chit Dorothy stole valuable property off of the corpse of her sister! Sure, she gets unreasonable, and okay, she was enslaving the Winkies and flying monkeys, but seriously. Someone stole the shoes from her dead sisters feet. That's hard to get over.

I have to agree. Thanks so much for joining us, Deanna.

Thanks to Robin and Tricia, too for their great mini-views! We'll see you all in March!

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Sandy and her Rockership
More about Deanna Smith:

Deanna lives in San Bernardino. A home health care worker and caretaker for her younger son and husband, with an older son who consults often with mom on matters of snark, she is an avid collector of old books ... A lover of fantasy and humor, mystery, science fiction and fact. Steam punk goth. Singer and song writer. Reasonably sane.

She also still owns and maintains that Mac Plus.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Questions from the Author

I have a question for you--all of you, any of you. It is actually a two part question, but this is part one and I desire answers to part one before I reveal part two. Got it? Great! Here it is:

If someone powerful told you they wanted an intimate (as in very personal, not sexual) relationship with you, and you knew conflicting things about said someone, but held the general opinion (from what you knew) that they were good, would you be interested in such a relationship?

That's it!

Answer away! And thank you ahead of time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Quills: Snark Hunt!



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A Scavenger Hunt is fine for parties and kids in college. What we have here is a Scavenger Hunt involving books, and therefore, I deem it a Snark Hunt! Since I am often easily charmed with smiles and soap, let us search for these ten things on our bookish Snark Hunt: 
  • the letter “J”
  • a fantasy classic
  • a dragon on the cover
  • oldest book on your shelf
  • a shield on the cover
  • an animal in it
  • a cover with only words
  • a cover with gold lettering
  • a book written by an author with a common last name
  • a red colored book 
Patricia is up first. 

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker
Patricia's Website

The old year is behind us (and I cannot say I am sorry about that) and 2015 begins. What better way to move forward than to join my fellow Quills in a treasure hunt.  Our search will take us through our book shelves.  So, here goes!

A book with the letter “J” - This one is fairly easy—Jekyll and Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Oh yes, I know, the full name is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but most refer to it by its shortened name. This is a great read, showing . . .

(Read Patricia's blog!)

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And now, Robin!

ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website

Rummaging through my bookshelves (both physical and digital) makes me feel like a dragon admiring its treasure. I have silver and gold, precious jewels, priceless collections of beautiful words at my very fingertips! The hardest part of this task? Getting sidetracked. I want to read this! no, this one! And that one, too! Oh, it’s been a long time since I’ve read <fill in the blank, there are lots of options>! I got so sidetracked, in fact, that it took me three attempts to collect the actual goodies.

(Read Robin's blog!)


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KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 

My turn to meet the ten requirements for our Snark Hunt. Naturally, I endeavored to find ONE book with all ten. When that didn't work, I settled on six that did the trick!  First up... 

Tarzan Lord of the Jungle by Edgar Rice Burroughs has a "J", only words on it's red cover and many animals in it. Mostly great apes. Four in one! I chose this first because my mother adored the Tarzan books and it was her excitement over them and this one especially that intrigued me, beginning my journey along this fabulous road.

While Tarzan looks like it might be the oldest book in my collection, it was published in 1928. Whereas, a book that meets the "red cover", "gold lettering" and the "animal in it" requirement may also be THE oldest book on my shelf. Tied at four! The only date inside this book is 1862, but that is the Penning of the Preface date. According to most internet sources, the date of publication of this Thompson and Thomas edition of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is 1895. Though, no one seems quite sure...


My copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain is a contender for the gold lettering and it is as close as I could come to a "shield" on the cover. I may be squeaking by with that one.

Uncertain if Twain's book counted as a fantasy classic with all the science going on in the Yankee's tale, I chose The Hobbit as my classic. Prompted again by Twain and Camelot, I chose The Once and Future King by T.H. White for my "book written by an author with a common name." We've cousins who are Whites and friends who are Whites. For "common" I'd say it fits.


As for "a dragon on the cover" (and I have many), this edition of Anne McCaffery's Moreta: Dragon Lady of Pern is my choice. Gorgeous art by Michael Whelan.

I hope this Snark Hunt through our shelves has left you beamish! For me, it has been utterly frabjous. See you in February!. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quills: Gifts



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ROBIN LYTHGOE
Author of As the Crow Flies and two short stories
Robin's Website


(Read Robin's blog!)


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KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story Sanguis Dei 
and the poetry collection Light and Dark 


The holidays have always been a time of illness for me. When I was a kid, I got sick every Christmas. Sometimes, as early as Thanksgiving. This year, I got sick after Thanksgiving for several days. I survived. Barely. But I did survive and I won Nanowrimo. Yay!!

This month's Quills topic is a Treasure Hunt. A topic related to our stories. Gifts make up a large part of the relationship between Mikkayl Arrayn and his bondmate Sherakai. In the spirit of gift-giving, I read a blog article by Kristen Lamb: Test Your Holiday Style—Tiffany Crystal or Pre-Paid Bail Money?

I didn't take the quiz, though I read it through. It's all in good fun and amusing, mostly. Some a bit sad, really.

Sherakai gave Mikkayl a gorgeous journal, because Mikkayl, like me, writes--though he writes mostly poetry. The tooling is remarkable and the dedication, heartfelt. Gifts like these, that have meaning to the person they are given and meaning to the giver, are amazing. But this post is not just about the stories and Kai's gifts to Mik or his to Kai. I felt something deeper here and needed to share it.

For my part, I can't afford Christmas anymore. If I can get one gift for each member of my immediate family that means something to them, I'm able to sigh with relief. That's FIVE gifts. That's pretty much it unless I can bake some cookies for the stockings.

Construction paper cards or Cyber art I make myself doesn't count, right?

I don't send cards when e cards or a message on Facebook will do. And even with those, I can't afford the postage. (I'm not kidding, the best ones are subscription only and that's pricey!) I stopped trying to convince my kids that Santa was real when my son became a Buddhist. I swear, I SAW him when I was a kid--Santa, not my son the Buddhist--In the sky, in his sleigh. Everyone says I was dreaming! I used to tell them how he made the fireplace bigger and about the time travel machine he had and the amazing tech at the north pole... and then The SANTA CLAUSe came out and I realized I should have written down everything I told them because THAT was MY story! ARGH

The one I'm really angry about (I'm not bitter!) is the Polar Express. I wrote a very similar story called "The Santa Train" in 1993 and then my husband thought it would be a good idea to do a "span disk" save. The one disk that was destroyed by magnetic field? The source disk. So screwed. All I have left is an inaccessible file on a reformatted AOL floppy with "The Santa Train" scrawled across the label.

The best thing about being financially challenged at Christmas? The gift of my family. Family has always been the focus around here. My parents, my in-laws--it's what we know. I listen and enjoy and think. It is very, very good. I meditate on what I believe about the adult Jesus and why he came as the "Baby Jesus" and grew up (like Bambi, a part of the story which everyone seems to forget), to become Prince--of Peace, King of Kings.

It helps me. Gifts and lights are nice, and the gifts between Mik and Kai are given out of an overwhelming response to the love and sacrifice shown between these two men. The gifts we give at Christmas are sometimes thrilling, sometimes surprising; but they, too, are a response to the Gift we are all given: the redemption of God's own sacrifice; the freedom to really understand what love is because a Child was born unto us, a Son to seek and to save those who are lost.

Be known to Him. Merry Christmas.