Saturday, March 29, 2014

Live! March 31st Monday 7PM Central
These 3 successful authors will be on The Writers Lounge to discuss their books and what it means to them to be an author. They will share their tips and experiences in the writing and publishing world and we hope you will join us for this very special 2 hour show!
If you have questions for the authors a chat room will be opened during the show. Phone calls will be taken but they will be limited because of the volume of calls expected.
Please visit the authors at their sites:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

YA Fantasy

The other day I was asked if I had considered write adult rather than YA fantasy. I replied that I did, in fact write adult fantasy, but I also take into consideration that children read my work as well. Over half of my readers are adults who enjoy my stories without the inclusion of explicit sex or excess profanity. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a prude and have no problem with mature subject matter. But I choose to write for a broader audience. This usually gets my books classified as YA or Teen, and to tell the truth, I don't mind at all.

When I think about the first fantasy novels I read as a youngster, most of them would be considered YA by today's standards. I fell in love with the genre during a time that good versus evil was not thought to be an old fashioned concept, and it shows in my work. And from what I can tell from the response to my books, I'm not alone when I say it's a theme that will never become outdated or uninteresting.

Fantasy has come a long way since the days of Tolkien. Brilliant authors such as G.R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and many others have taken it to levels unimagined in my youth. Their skills rival that of the greatest writers in literary history. Martin, in particular has captured popular culture with the way he has integrated Tolkiensque world building with edgy, brutal, and often over the top situations and plot twists. Such fantasy did not exist for me as a young reader. And though I would not want my son reading it (for obvious reasons) I enjoy his work very much. Still, there seems to be room enough in the world for writers like me who don't take content so far.

I suppose as long as there are people who like a good ole fun romp through the world of heroes, elves, wizards, and monsters, and love it when good triumphs or evil, I'll still have a job. I'll keep plugging away and hoping that I can continue to entertain yet another generation of reader ready to discover to the magic that lives within the pages of a genre I love dearly and has brought me so much joy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Anonymity, Privacy, and Freedom

Anne Rice certainly has stirred up a storm. In case you haven't heard, the best selling author has started a petition with the goal of forcing to ban anonymous reviews. Her claim is that it will prevent the bullying of authors, some of which have received threats and unwarranted attacks on their character. At first I was in favor of it, though I didn't go as far as to sign the petition. I simply hadn't had enough time to consider the arguments to do so. Now that I have, my position has been altered.

As a writer, I am in favor of free expression. And though some use the cloak of anonymity to hide the fact that they are truly horrible human beings who derive pleasure from saying reprehensible things to undeserving people, most do not. There are many reasons to want to remain anonymous and the majority of them are understandable and completely valid. To deny someone the ability to say what he/she thinks without fear of retribution is wrong. And as wrong as it is for someone to threaten and harass an author, I don't see where two wrongs make a right.

Indie authors, for the most part, are a bit up in the air about how to feel about all this and have become somewhat divided on the issue. Most of us have experienced personal attacks and have had to deal with people who would like nothing more than to harm our careers. But typically it's someone we know - not an obsessed fan whose cheese has slid off their cracker and could possibly carry out their threats.

This debate rages during a time when people are increasingly in fear of their privacy being violated. In the wake of the U.S. domestic spying program being revealed, it is little wonder that this seemingly minor issue is touching nerves and flaring tempers. It makes me think that perhaps this has more to do with an intrusion upon our rights more than it is about anonymous reviewing. We are slowly seeing our right to privacy eroded by faceless, soulless government agencies, all in the name of freedom.

I for one, believe in freedom. But it seems as if the price of freedom, is freedom...and that's more than I'm willing to pay. So therefore I will not be signing Ms. Rice's petition.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Women and Fantasy Addendum

I posted the link to Women and Fantasy to a discussion board I frequent the other day. The site (at least the area I visit) is mostly populated by other writers from every imaginable genre. I had little doubt that there would be opinions posted regarding what I had written, but I was not prepared for what happened - or for what I would learn as a result.

Apparently, I was born a few years too soon and in the wrong part of the country, because as the posts accumulated, I became astounded by the passion and knowledge of fantasy shown by the women there. They explained to me in no uncertain terms that not only were they lifelong fantasy enthusiasts, but were into comics, D&D, gaming, etc. In a way, it verified my earlier blog, being that I am a bit older and many of the books they love weren't around in the late 70's and early 80's which is when I first discovered the genre (though some of them were). But, that aside, I couldn't help feeling that I had missed out on some awesome people as a kid - particularly when I hit my late teens and early twenties. Perhaps if I would have opened my eyes, I would have noticed that they were there all along.

One thing that struck me was that a lot of the women felt mistreated by the male fans. When in comic shops and fantasy gatherings they said that men would act in extremely inappropriate ways. I'll not go into specifics, but what was being said and done was reprehensible.This behavior is inexcusable and anyone who exhibits it should feel ashamed. Furthermore, should you see someone doing it, you should step in and make it known that it will not be tolerated.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Women and Fantasy

For years fantasy fans have been primarily male…and for good reason. What woman or young girl would want to read about a weak, weepy, damsel in distress, in constant need of rescue by the male hero? It's insulting and frankly, uninteresting. Even the cover art was geared toward men; half-naked, buxom maidens, clinging desperately to the arm of her sword wielding champion. Though this image may appeal to young boys or forty year old adolescence, it is not exactly the type of material you could imagine a teenage girl rushing to the local bookstore to purchase. I mean come on…is it the way a girl would want to imagine herself; needy, dependent and weak? Let us not forget, the main reason people read fantasy is to escape their daily lives and immerse themselves in a world of wonder, magic and adventure. You see yourself as the hero or heroine, battling demons or weaving spells, saving the world from evil. With that in mind, why would anyone read a genre that tends to portray their gender in ways that are demeaning and inaccurate? The answer is, they would not, and until recently, in large, they have not.

Fortunately, things have changed. With the popularity of books such as The Hunger Games, Eragon, The Harry Potter Series, The Twilight Series, and many more, fantasy is becoming far more appealing to the avid female reader. Fantasy writers are cluing in to the fact that wimpy, unrealistic portrayals of women do not equal book sales. And in an industry where there are literally thousands of products to choose from, that's what it really boils down to anyway...sales. Combined with the fact that women tend to be more prolific readers, this change in the genre has brought fantasy from basement bookshelves of a handful of fantasy fanatics (mostly men), to the forefront of the literary world.

I first noticed this change while researching my own fan base. Nearly 60% of my followers were female, mostly ranging in age from young teen to early fifties (though some were much older). I became curious about this, and began making inquiries. What I found made an profound impression. The majority said that what they enjoyed most was the relationship between Gewey and Kaylia, two of the main characters. They also mentioned that they very much liked the strength and determination exhibited by Celandine, another primary character. None of them made mention of any of the male characters. That was when it occurred to me that the reason my work was enjoyed by so many women was due to the way I had depicted females. Though I had not done this specifically to attract a female audience, the result was undeniable. From there, it wasn't difficult to connect the dots and see the current trends.

As a life-long fan of fantasy, I am very happy to see the genre that I love become accessible to a much broader audience. With stronger, more realistic female characters, the stories have become far more interesting and have gained a new depth that has captivated readers who had never considered fantasy as a true literary form worth consideration. As a fantasy writer I am thrilled to have become a part of this new dynamic and I look forward to introducing the genre to a whole new generation of fantasy lover.