If you like fantasy novels…

Dear reader,

Something wonderful is happening to one of the books brought forth by the Alexandria Publishing Group:

Song of the Fairy Queen, written by Valerie Douglas, is still in Amazon.com’s top 100 of Epic Fantasy. If you have not read the book and you like fantasy, I can recommend it. (Interested already? Click here.)

And since you are reading about books: another great fantasy novel is created by Terry Simpson.

The Shadowbearer (Aegis of The Gods), which you can find here.

The challenges of fantasy

Challenges in fantasy writing? Why? Isn’t everything possible in fantasy?

Yes. Everything is possible. But the big question is: should everything be possible?

Lately I have seen a large surge in new fantasy authors, people who start into writing and expect that fantasy is a genre which is easy to do, because of the many possibilities.

Something that often gets overlooked is that, even when you write fantasy, there has to be a sense of reality in it. Your writing should not alienate the reader. It has to feel as a step into a new, fantastic world, but some base values (not all of them, and not always the same ones) should make the readers feel that they are able to relate to the environment that is painted. Life forms can be strange, there can be magic. People can fly, or change shape, or become invisible. Perhaps they confer with ghosts just for fun. In that case a basic necessity like houses, to name something, should be recognisable.

Another challenge is to be innovating. Try to find something new, something that no one, or at least not many people have tried before. This does not mean you have to go out on a limb and invent something totally new and unique (although if you succeed in that, more greatness to you), but if you start writing about, let’s say wizards, see if you can add something new to the wizards. Dress them in jeans and give them plastic wands. Or make your main wizardly character stand out because he found a baseball cap. Add something fresh to your story, but keep it credible. If your wizards live in a deserted, far-away land where technology does not exist and the furthest away someone has ever been is 400 miles, you will have a hard time explaining that baseball cap. Or an empty Coke-bottle.

The worst thing of fantasy, in my experience, is to make sense. Contrary to the lives we lead, in stories everything has to make sense. Loose ends are not allowed. The weirder and more outrageous your fantasy world is, the more challenging it will be to keep everything together, to make the different parts and plots in the story interact and connect. If the ever so important dragon is there, then give it a bit of a background story. Why is it there, how did it become how it is? Why is the dragon slayer invincible, or why isn’t he?

There I reach another thing in fantasy: keep your characters “human”. Give them some vulnerabilities. Give them traits that the readers can identify with, let them make mistakes and pay for those. No matter how fantastic, let your story talk about the real life and problems of your characters, like the readers have their real lives and problems. Life can be difficult, so make it equally difficult on your characters, and while doing that, give your readers the certainty that every problem has a solution. No matter how fantastic it sounds.

Paul Kater

(This post originally appeared at http://thereforyoumelissa.blogspot.com/, as the guest post in the OrangeBerry Summer Splash.)

Book review – Dragonriders of Pern

Title: Dragonriders of Pern
Author: Anne McAffrey
Genre: Fantasy

I really enjoyed Dragonriders of Pern. Anne McAffrey paints a fascinating world, the world of Pern, that used to be threatened by mysterious matter falling from the sky whenever the Red Star appears. This Red Star has not been around for a long long time (many Turns), so the ways of old to counter the mysterious falling Threads have been fallen in disuse. And then the Red Star appears again.

Ann McAffrey introduces a wonderful world with fabulous characters and many dragons, that will not disappoint the avid fantasy reader.

The book I read consists of the first 3 Dragonriders stories, I have for now stopped after the first story as there is so much more to read… but I’ll return to Pern.

10 writing rules to break

Dear reader,

IO9, a wonderful site (in my humble opinion) on all things scifi and fantasy, has unleashed a list of 10 rules they would like writers of science fiction and fantasy to break more often.

  1. No third-person omniscient
  2. No prologues
  3. Avoid infodumps
  4. Fantasy novels have to be series instead of standalones
  5. No portal fantasy (= gateways between worlds)
  6. No FTL (=Faster Than Light, for travelling)
  7. Women can’t write “hard” science fiction.
  8. Magic has to be just a minor part of a fantasy world
  9. No present tense
  10. No “unsympathetic” characters

I feel like I have managed to break many of these rules, so far. Rules, as usual, are made to be broken. Otherwise they are no fun. If you feel like going into the full article, please follow this link to IO9.

Indie Promotion

Dear reader.

It is Monday again, so I present to you: today’s Indie Promotion:

Crystal Shade






by Istvan Szabo, Ifj. and Orlanda Szabo

Ebook Short Description: “Thousands of stars could tell thousands of stories.”

Seven year old Grace always dreamt of becoming a guardian angel; like those who guarded and guided her people and prepared to bravely fight in a dreaded mythical event, the Crystal Shade – which never came. It’s not like Grace ever wanted to see Demons. Or wants to know what evil and darkness is – things that no one ever faced on her world and as the legends says, the Crystal Shade carries within –, nor does she want to die to be reborn as a guardian. But she thinks the mysterious life of angels is so noble, a fable that it sounds exciting – until it actually happens.

Crystal Shade: Angeni, Volume 1 explores the early life of a young daydreaming soul who is destined to reveal the forgotten past of her home world and to seek the answer for the eternal question; what the legendary Crystal Shade really is.

Where to find.
This book is available at the Amazon stores in the US and the UK, as well as on Smashwords.com and Lulu.com.

Indie Promotion Day

Hello, dear reader. Welcome once again.

What is this? This is the first Indie Promotion Day post. I will use this recurring opporunity to bring a book by an independent author to your attention, each week around this time. Independent authors work hard for their books and stories and oftentimes go unnoticed, so here is my humble attempt to change this situation.

So, may I present today’s Indie Promotion:

Between Darkness and Light

by Brianna Hawthorne

Ebook Short Description:  This is book one of The Universe Cycle trilogy. Shi’ahn and her brother William find themselves transported into a realm beyond anything they could have possibly imagined. Where they had once been powerful individuals, they are now almost inconsequential – at first. This book unfolds the ‘childhood’ of siblings that will soon have a tremendous effect upon the fate of everyone.

Between Darkness and Light is a Scifi/Fantasy book addressing the battle between the forces of order and chaos.

Where to find.
You can find the e-book on Smashwords.com where it is available for free. It is ready for download in all the common e-book formats, like epub, Kindle .mobi, pdf, etc.