Thursday, June 27, 2013
A Blog ... How I come up with these ideas...Really!
As usual, I’m running off in all directions at once. Life is not supposed to be like this, so I’ll settle down and talk about two of my recent projects.
The Queen’s Pawn novel was published in April 2013, first as an ebook, and then in print format. It is what I think of as a medieval-style fantasy, complete with adventure and romance. I’m what writers call a “pantser” in that I don’t spend a lot of time pre-planning a novel, in most cases. I do a lot of writing by the “seat-of-my-pants.” Queen’s Pawn started with one scene that I dreamed up from somewhere (Maybe I had just watched Troy?). I pictured a young man, a mature student, who finds himself in a burning city with the enemy breeching the gates. I started to write and here is an outline of what came out:
Harow, the student, is mistaken for a bold and infamous duke who dies at his feet. Harow, dragged to the palace by a mysterious wizard who pretends to be Harow’s servant, is charged with the duty of leading the queen and her daughter to safety. Queen Reginee is a beautiful woman who comes across, at first, as lost in all the chaos, then later, as quite mysterious. Her daughter, Desiree-Rose, is another matter, spoiled, loud, constantly complaining. Harow must round up the royal party, escape from the city, and lead them safely to the castle of the queen’s brother. To compound Harow’s life, the queen’s large maid. Mathilde, is anxious to find out if the duke’s reputation with the ladies is as rumored.
I had a lot of fun writing this, watching the characters change before my eyes, and leading them into all sorts of trouble. Of course, hardly anyone, with the possible exception of our hero, is who they seem to be. Some days I write to find out how it will all end. This was one of those cases.
Another, quite different project I have on the go is my fantasy detective series: The Housetrap Chronicles. The first novella, Housetrap, came out in December 2012, followed quickly by three more in the same series. I decided to do a hard-boiled detective tale set in a fantasy land. For my inspiration, I decided I would take the title of a famous mystery or thriller, mangle it, and use that title as the feeble inspiration on which to hang a plot. To give you some idea of what I am talking about, the next three in the series are: Dial M for Mudder, House on Hollow Hill, and Hounds of Basalt Ville. All are either published or will be published this year. I’m currently working on two more of the things. They are fun to write and I can throw just about anything into the pot and stir.
I am currently working on two sequels for my first novel: The Dark Lady, and have another manuscript sitting on the publisher’s desk, (Alex in Wanderland). I’m about to start adding about 30,000 words to another novel I thought I had completed, (We’re Not in Kansas) but then I changed my mind. That’s what happens when you have a alien who looks something like Harrison Ford.
I don=t like Elves, never have. I sat tilting back in my chair counting the stains on the ceiling when she walked through the open door of my inner office unannounced . Unannounced because I’d just given Bertha the afternoon off to visit her sick brother. Bertha=s half Banshee, thin as a lamppost with long straight dark hair and big brown eyes. She=s always got a relative down with the Black Death or some obscure curse; I think she has twelve brothers, but I digress.
The Elf arrived in my office wrapped in a full-length gold lame coat with a large hood covering her head and hiding most of her features, but I could tell she was pure Elf. Those yellow eyes are a dead giveaway even if you can=t spot the pointed ears. I=m a student of nature, have to be; the breed often determines character, or motive, or veracity. In my business you have to stay two jumps ahead or you=re squashed like a scarab. I=m a Mongrel myself. You can never tell about Mongrels, and there are more of us around now ever since the Goldilocks affair. Now there was a real witch, not the kind with just a warty nose, but she married that Wolf back in the days before they gave femmes the vote. Then they went overboard and made it all legal in the Intermarriage Act of 1812, and everything has tumbled Jack over Jill downhill ever since.
The Elf glanced about the room nervously, then in a single fluid motion crossed her long legs and slid into the battered chair opposite me like maple syrup poured from a mason jar. I sighed deep inside, rocked forward to rest my elbows on the scratched oak desk, painted a smile across my ugly mug and waited. I had all day; it had been two weeks since my last case. She fidgeted for a minute and I matched her, stare for stare, until my eyeballs screamed for mercy. The Elf had the kind of face you see perched high on a mantelpiece, thin bone china, pale, delicate, and carved by a master.
Excerpt from The Queen’s Pawn- Chapter One
“Did you kill him?” The low, harsh voice grated on Harow’s spine.
“Ah ... no, I found him like that. I must flee, the enemy is near and ...”
“Silence! Do not lie to me boy! I saw him deliver a message to you. What was it? Tell me quickly or I will reach down your throat and pull out your feeble heart, then feed it back to you.”
Harow gulped. An imposing gentleman garbed in black velvet stood before him. Grey fur trimmed the full-length robe, while an ebony skull cap covered the top of the speaker’s head. Beneath the cap, wisps of long white hair tried their best to escape. Dark eyes flashed out at Harow from beneath bushy brows and skin like dried parchment clung to the contours of the skull behind the face. Although he had never before seen such a creature this close up, Harow knew from the elaborate symbols ringing the robe that he faced a mage or wizard, of at least the third, and most imposing, rank.
Long bony fingers materialized from deep within black sleeves. One pale hand held a dagger with a thin curved blade almost the length of a man’s forearm.
“Rats stolen your voice-box? No difficult problem, my young friend. I’m certain I can dig something useful out of you, given time.” He smiled, revealing yellowed, broken teeth. The words dropped to the melody of a soft purr blended with honey and seasoned with fine spices. “Come here, my friend, and tell me all you know of this affair.”
Harrow felt his mind turning to soft gruel, felt those eyes burning two holes inside his aching head. Suddenly a hot desire to babble all, like a man who has just witnessed his own death and woken from a bad dream, or a young rooster who has just avoided his first hungry eagle, gripped him.
“He had a message for the Queen ... The King is dead. He wanted me to take his medallion and ring, go to the Palace, deliver a message to the Queen ... He made me swear to do it ... I do not know him. He fell there, right in front of me and died here on the street.”
The tall wizard bent down, examined the body carefully, glancing up once or twice at the schoolboy standing like a comic statue in the lane, mouth open, eyes wide. The sounds of fighting drew nearer, raging up the street on the other side of the row of buildings.
A reader of genre fiction since a very early age, I got down to serious attempts at writing over thirty years ago, although employment kept getting in the way.
During those years I wrote a considerable amount of non-fiction, enough to be listed as a professional writer by the Canadian Authors Association.
Hobbies include trying to keep on the good side of my wife, keep track of my children and grandchildren, and wrestling the blasted cat off of the keyboard. In my diminishing spare time I sail on Lake Winnipeg and try not to get lost.
My fiction writing history includes:
Winning first prize in 2006 for a National Canadian Authors short story contest (a romantic ghost story: “Midnight”) and being published in their anthology that year, and a modern vampire tale “Chrysalis” published in an anthology “Evolve” that seems to be doing quite well after its launch at the 2010 World Horror Convention in Brighton, England.
A current member of three writing organizations, for several years I was in charge of the judging for a national Canadian history book contest, and chaired a writer’s workshop in Winnipeg that in 2005 self-published an anthology, “Pieces of Eight” including three of my own selections: a sci fi piece, an attempt at an epic poem, and a true tale of how I almost drowned my brother and his wife in a storm the first year I owned a sailboat.
I currently review science fiction and fantasy genre novels and anthologies for an on-line magazine aimed primarily at school libraries. I’m losing track but I have done somewhere over 60 reviews so far.
In 2010 I co-authored a non fiction history: “The Rotary Club of Winnipeg-100 Years of Service”.
Through BURST Books I have a medieval fantasy tale of murder and intrigue entitled “The Dark Lady” which came out in February 2012 and a fantasy detective story, Housetrap, December 2012 designed as the first of a series of novellas, another novella, Knight’s Bridge, and a second full-length novel, “The Queen’s Pawn.”
And of course, I also have a large stack of completed manuscripts in various stages ranging from a “What If” — the North Americans discovered Europe first, set in 1215AD – to a contemporary bickering married couple swept away to an alterative universe, or a futuristic tale of a lady archeologist in outer space. Hopefully there will be more to come!
The Dark Lady - February 2012
Housetrap - December 2012
Knight’s Bridge - March 2013
The Queen’s Pawn - April 2013
Dial M for Mudder - July 2013
House on Hollow Hill - September 2013
Hounds of Basalt Ville - November 2013
(available through the usual channels such as Amazon or direct form the publisher www.burstbooks.ca)
You can follow me on:
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Mixing history and fantasy: ANGEL HEART and the Knights Templar
by Marie Laval
I am not the first author to be fascinated by the history of the legendary Knights Templar and to find inspiration in their troubled, secretive and dramatic past which to this day has been the source of many tales and myths.
In ANGEL HEART my heroin Marie-Ange must recover a sacred relic hidden by the Knights Templar - the ‘Cross of Life’ – which is rumored to give eternal life. With the help of cuirassier captain Hugo Saintclair, she unravels an old family mystery linked to the legendary Count Saint Germain, a man reputed immortal, and returns the cross to its original hiding place in the crypt of the chateau of Arginy in Saône-et-Loire, to the North of Lyon, my home town.
The Knights Templar, also know as the Poor Fellow-soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, was a monastic order founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, defend the Saint-Sepulcher and fight in the Crusades. The Order grew rapidly in power and wealth and the Knights Templar, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. They managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, acquired vast estates, became the French King’s bankers and built fortifications across Europe and the
The Templars' existence was tied closely to the Crusades and when the
Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded, and rumours that they indulged in heresy and devil-worshiping grew rife. In 1307, as he found himself deeply indebted to the Order, Philipe IV of France – also known as Philipe le Bel – decided to have most of their members in arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then executed. Under pressure from the French King, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of the Order gave rise to speculation and legends. France
One of them stems from the curse issued by the last Great Master, Jacques de Molay, against the Pope and the French King. As he was being burned at the stake, he predicted that the Pope would die within forty days, foretold the French King’s imminent death and cursed all his descendents for the next thirteen generations. The Pope died three weeks later, Philippe le Bel eight months later. Some claim that the execution of King Louis XVI in 1792 put an end to the Templar malediction on the royal family, since Louis was the 13th generation of the Capet line.
King Philipe’s actions against the Templars did not make him a wealthy man since only a fraction of the Templar treasure was ever recovered. Many believe that, forewarned of their imminent demise, the Templar Knights arranged for their treasure to be shipped away - to
Scotland or Cyprus - or transported to a secret location, like the chateau of Arginy in the Beaujolais or Gisors in . Normandy
The Knights Hospitaller – or Knights of Saint John – who were founded at around the same time as the Knights Templar to care for sick and injured pilgrims, still exist today. They are now a charitable organization based in
A mysterious Templar relic.
A web of intrigue and lies.
A woman about to lose her heart.
Marie-Ange, the young widow of an English officer, accepts an inheritance in
only to find that everything in Beauregard is not as it seems. Why is the sinister Malleval so obsessed with her family? What exactly is this mysterious Templar Cross he believes Marie-Ange can lead him to? And could her darling husband Christopher still be alive? France
Marie-Ange finds herself trapped in a dangerous web of lies, political intrigue and mystical possession, and the only person to whom she can turn for help is Captain Hugo Saintclair. Yet the enigmatic Hugo represents a danger of a different kind …
‘Angel Heart’ is a lavish mix of romance, adventure and a hint of the supernatural, largely set in
France against the turbulent background of Napoleon’s return from Elba and his ultimate defeat at . Waterloo
Marie LavalOriginally from Lyon in
ANGEL HEART is Marie Laval’s first novel. It is published by Muse it Up Publishing.
Her second historical romance THE LION’S EMBRACE is also published by MuseitUp Publishing.
You can meet Marie here:
You can buy Angel Heart at:
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Movies…The Moon…and My Novel…
When people asked me, “Why did you write this novel?” my answer is ready.
I wrote it because of a movie.
Two movies actually. One was a movie-of-the-week, back when each of the major networks has their own library of stories for the viewers’ entertainment. Theother was a theatrical release.
Murder on the Moon (also known as Murder by Moonlight) was a made-for-TV movie telecast in 1989. It stared Brigitte Nielsen, Julian Sands, and Gerald McRaney, and was the tale of Soviet/US astronauts on the moon trying to solve a murder happening in their midst. One thing striking me during the story was that back on Earth, a scientist is missing and one of the investigators says, “Why on Earth couldn’t we find him?” The answer? “Because he isn’t on Earth.” Or words to that effect.
That got me to thinking…if you were a witness to a crime and no place on Earth was safe for you, where would be the safest place for you? If you lived in a time of space travel, the answer’s simple…leave Earth and go someplace else.
Just hop a ship to another world.
The other movie supplied my hero. It was Quigley Down Under (1990), about a Montana sharpshooter who’s hired by an Australian rancher. There, the American and the Australian clash…about treatment of the aborigines, as well as treatment of women. Quigley is good with a gun, ready to fight for what he considers right, and gentle with a woman when it’s needed. Tom Selleck’s Quigley formed himself into the model for Sarkin Trant the hero of my novel Three Moon Station.
In the story, Katherine Rawls is a woman on the run. Working late, she witnesses her boss’ murder by two men who promptly chase her through the streets at gunpoint. Only when Katy gets on a subway thinking it heads to the local police precinct does she elude them. There’s a bit of an argument with the guard assigned to protect everyone from the prospective weekly passenger violence but since the tram’s already moving, he lets her stay. Unfortunately, the tram’s going in the opposite direction from the police station. In fact, it’s taking all the passengers to a primitive planet called Tritomis-2. Katy isn’t happy about that, but she reasons another planet could be the safest place for her until she can find a way to get the evidence she has to the authorities, so she goes along…
…and that’s when things get complicated, because all the passengers are women…women prisoners…offered pardon if they’ll marry the womenless men on the pioneer planet Tritomis-2. Tritomis is a place much like the Old West, where men ride horses and use wagons for transportation while spaceships streak across the sky. There, the station owners are the kings, the farm owners come in second, and the gadjas, the natives, are lowest of all. On Tritomis-2, a man’s word is his bond, gunfights are common, and justice is sometimes meted out immediately without calling in the Federation marshal.
Katy’s unaware of all this. She thinks the women will be employed by the men with whom they leave the shuttleport. When Sar Trant, owner of Three Moon Station comes along and wins Katy after a financial battle with another station owner, she goes with him, not realizing the document she signs is a marriage license. Misunderstandings follow, but after Sar learns why Katy really came to Tritomis, he agrees to help her hide out until the year in the marriage contract is up. The only trouble is…he’s fallen in love with his bought bride and he intends to woo her and win her and make her want to stay with him.
Fate, the murderous gunmen, and the station owner who loses Katy to Sar have other plans, however…
A good many readers have fallen in love with Sar and Katy (and I think more would if they envisioned the Tom Selleck of Magnum PI in Sar’s place). At their encouragement, what was intended as only one novel has now grown to three in the series…Three Moon Station, The Finer Gentleman, and In This Kingdom by the Sea, all to be released by Class Act Books. Three Moon Station (originally published as a stand-alone by another publisher) is scheduled for re-release in June. It’s been re-edited and enlarged with added material deleted from the original and a more detailed ending. In This Kingdom by the Sea, will debut in July, 2013.
“…an out of this world must read…so well written that it’s a bestseller contender, one that I would proudly display in my personal library.”—Long and Short Reviews
“If you like epic style romance that leaves you with warm fuzzies and a desire to revisit the characters, and who doesn’t, you’ll love 3 Moon Station.”--WRDR Review
“Mr. Trant. I guess we’d better have that talk now,” she began and he nodded soberly. She walked a little closer, looking up into those bright eyes. Careful, Katy! Don’t get too close. You might fall into that blueness and drown. “There’s so much we need to discuss. W-we haven’t even talked about how much I’ll be paid.”
“Paid? You expect to be paid for—”
“Of course,” she interrupted. “I believe it’s customary.”
He thought about that a moment. “Guess that tells me something about you I hadna wish to know, Sunshine.”
“After all,” she reminded him. “I do have my own welfare to think about.”
“What would you consider fair payment, Katy?” He asked it very softly, his expression serious.
“I guess that’s up to you. What do you think my services are worth?”
“Truthfully? I doubt I have that much money.” He looked a little flustered. “The women in town…at Larkin’s…ge’ ten Federals per toss, so…”
“I’m sorry,” Katy interrupted. “What’s a toss?”
“Maybe they call it something else on Terra.” He startled her by seizing her shoulders, saying with an earnestness that made her frown, “Katy, I want you to know I’ll ne’er hold your old life against you.”
She smiled at this statement of reverse snobbery. Since she had no intention of ever letting him know that her uncle was one of the richest, and also one of the most criminally unscrupulous, men on Terra’s Northern Hemisphere, she didn’t answer.
Trant went on, “Though if you’re a virgin, I dinna understand how—”
“I am.” Katy flushed. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d quite harping on that fact. It’s not going to affect what I do for you. I swear.”
“But how? I mean…” Trant shook his head, murmuring, “We’re too isolated from Big Planet life here.”
Since she didn’t understand what he was muttering about, Katy decided to name her own salary. “How about you pay me five hundred credits a month? For services rendered?”
“What kind of services?” he asked, suspiciously.
“The usual kind.” She shrugged, wondering why he looked even more confused. “But I think we should get one thing straight. I’m grateful for your saving me from Alwin Marsten, and I fully intend to uphold my end of the Agreement and work hard for you b-but…” Taking a deep breath, she pulled herself free of his grasp. “I won’t sleep with you.”
“Na right now, you mean.” He didn’t look too upset.
“No. Not ever.” She shook her head, adding, “I’m sorry.”
“’Tis I who’s sorry, Sunshine, most definitely. But I do na understand. If you intend to adhere to that contract, how can you refuse to—”
“I’m certain the Federation didn’t send me here to satisfy the lust of some sex-starved colonist, Mr. Trant.”
“Is that what you think I am? A sex-starved colonist?” He didn’t looked insulted, as she’d expected, just a little more bewildered.
“Of course not,” she denied, meaning, didn’t you act like one last night? “Not really.” She took a deep breath. He’d obviously expected it to be so easy. “I’ll be a good housekeeper, Mr. Trant but I just won’t sleep with my employer. I can’t.”
“Employer?” he repeated. His face underwent a startling change, disbelief, amusement, relief, she wasn’t certain which. “That’s what you think I am? Your employer?”
“Of course,” she nodded. “You hired me to be your housekeeper—”
He stopped whatever else she was going to say, by laughing out loud.
“What’s so funny?”
A hand went to her shoulder. “Sunshine, I’m na your employer. I’m your husband.”
Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances often set in the South under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US) and also Double Dragon Publishing (Canada). She also reviews books for Two Lips Reviews and the New York Journal of Books. She has several novels scheduled for release in 2013.
Author Database: http://http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/2030-toni-v-sweeneyhttp://http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/2030-toni-v-sweeney
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8
Thursday, June 6, 2013
By: Terri Talley Venters
Minerva awoke to the soothing sounds of the sea, just as she did each morning. As an early riser, she thrived on the solitude of her early morning swim. She meandered through the palace as her family slumbered. Arriving at the terrace, she jettisoned herself into peaceful serenity of the open water.
She began her routine at mach speed, waking her body and mind up as her lithe form cut through the water like a spear. Feeling invigorated from the aqua sprint, she dove towards the depths of the sea.
She swam at the ocean bottom, admiring the tiny seahorses with their tails wrapped around the plant branches. The sand, undisturbed, sparkled as the rays of the morning sun breached the water's surface, illuminating the ocean floor.
Minerva froze, spotting a great white shark a hundred yards away. She prayed the carnivorous creature wouldn’t sense her presence. He appeared occupied with a bloody carcass at the surface. Her eyes scanned the surface above her as more sharks joined the great white and his feeding frenzy.
A dark shadow loomed over her, blocking sun’s rays. Scared, Minerva looked up, knowing the shadow’s source before she verified the terrifying object above her--a boat.
She swam away and headed home, wishing she’d never left the safety of Atlantis. But a wall of rope came towards her, it extended from the surface to the floor with its sides angled towards her.
She knew the dangers of the net; she’d witnessed it capture her fellow Atlantians. She retreated backwards, away from the dangers of mankind’s fishing net. She sensed a presence behind her. Fearful, she turned to face yet another enemy, the great white shark.
The enormous creature swam towards Minerva, trapping her between the net and his carnivorous intentions. He lunged towards her, but missed her in his closed-eye frenzy. She darted around the great beast, never taking her eyes off of the predator. She realized her mistake as the ropes of the net caught her fin.
The shark floated away in retreat, thus avoiding the net. But Minerva saw the net close around her struggling form. She stopped wiggling as the hopelessness sank in. Tears flowed as the net lifted her up towards the surface.
Crunched together with a mixture of fish, she saw the morning sun as the net rose Minerva out of the water and onto the wooden deck of the fishing boat.
“Captain, we’ve caught a mermaid!”
Penelope Manchester, a good witch with one green and one blue eye, awaits her destiny: a warrior of God with the face of an angel, the heart of a saint, and eyes which match her own. St. Michael the Archangel flies into her life and sweeps her off her feet. Meanwhile, an evil sorcerer captures witches, steals their powers and most of their nine lives, and shrinks them to the size of a doll--a Nürnberg, doll. But when he turns two of the Manchester witches into dolls, the Manchester clan fights back with St. Michael and divine intervention. Armed with the legendary copper cauldron, a fire breathing dragon, and an arsenal of spells, good battles evil.
Terri Talley Venters,
Author of Carbon Copy, Tin Roof, Body Of Gold, and Copper Cauldron
Terri received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Master’s degree in Taxation from the University of Florida. She is a licensed CPA and a Second Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband, Garrison, and their two sons.
Carbon Copy, currently available from Wild Child Publishing, is the 1st thrilling novel in the Elements of Mystery Series. The title of each novel will contain an element from the Periodic Table of Elements. Tin Roof, the sequel to Carbon Copy, coming soon from Wild Child Publishing. And Terri’s romantic/suspense novel, Body of Gold, is coming soon from Freya’s Bower. Terri just finished writing, Silver Lining, the final book in the Carbon Copy trilogy. For more about Terri’s upcoming releases, please visit her website http://www.elementsofmystery.com/Terri is the daughter of Leslie S. Talley, author of Make Old Bones which is also available from Wild Child Publishing.