Friday, December 31, 2010
"When I think of "fantasy" I think of Tolkien and other works categorized as "high fantasy", i.e dragons, swords, elves, dwarves, magic and other stuff. The music we play doesn't necessarily have to come from movies and games in this genre. The main idea is that the music should be able to fit and support such a world in a soundtrack manner. Our listeners use our radio when playing WoW and other online role-playing games, writing books or poetry, roleplaying etc."
Way back in 2001, Anders began burning fantasy tunes to CDs to enjoy during role playing games with his friends. As an experiment, he added his playlists to a free internet radio service called Shoutcast and named his channel Radio Rivendell. Gradually his channel became popular with enough fantasy listeners for him to set up a domain name and website for Radio Rivendell.
His love of selecting music for fantasy fans has not waned, and Radio Rivendell has grown into a big website with extensive archives of music and interviews. Fantasy enthusiasts will find a big list of artists to explore along with many free music downloads. At Radio Rivendell the emphasis is on promoting young and unknown musical artists who compose and perform fantasy inspired music. Of course Anders likes to land the occasional interview with someone famous like Howard Shore, who composed the music for the Lord of the Rings films.
Radio Rivendell operates as a nonprofit entity in Europe. Donations and advertising revenues support the site that also serves as a forum for a dedicated community of listeners.
Anders appreciates the community that has gathered around his internet radio station and had this to say:
"I just love the community that has grown around Radio Rivendell. It's not a very big crowd, but it's slowly growing every day. We're not the biggest fantasy community out there but our returning visitors likes it since we try to keep a very warm, open and friendly atmosphere. Just think of Lord Elrond's place in Rivendell, that's something I strive to create here as well. And as long as we're growing I'm encouraged to develop the site and the functionality further. I try to keep the members close and involve them as much as possible in all aspects. It makes it both easier for me and more fun for them. Being in a community is all about helping each other out in ways we can, not by displaying power and hiding all decisions from the people in the community. I also want to encourage creativity so we have sections in our forum for our community members to display their artwork, poems and other writing, music etc. So participation is what I enjoy the most!"
Still enthusiastic about his role at Radio Rivendell, Anders is looking forward to its tenth anniversary. With his listener community in mind, he is planning for the future. "It's fun to see what the community wants and try to make that available to them. For next year I also plan to upgrade the software the design of the site, I too will have to give something back to our loyal members. I want to create more things to make it more interesting to come back and participate even more," Anders said.
I've bookmarked Radio Rivendell for my own use. It's a nearly effortless way for me to get some suitable ambient music when I'm editing my fiction on my computer.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
|The Wedding Shroud by Elisabeth Storrs http://www.elisabethstorrs.com/|
Once Caecilia arrives in Veii, the informative historical contrasts between Roman and Etruscan cultures are revealed through detail-rich prose. Caecilia has been raised within the austere and outwardly puritan Roman culture that values sacrifice, duty, and war. In Rome, women are nearly cloistered within their homes. They wear plain wool clothes, are forbidden to drink wine, and are not allowed to join the serious conversations of men. With such a background, Caecilia immediately finds Veii to be a constant moral outrage. Men and women mingle. They wear flamboyant and immodest clothes. They eat rich fancy food. Women can drink and debauch at banquets right alongside their men.
But some things are a pleasant surprise for Caecilia in her new household. She is given a slave, Cythergis. Never was such a luxury granted to Caecilia in Rome. And Caecilia is expected to hold audiences with her husband as his tenants and other guests petition him. In Veii, women have status and respect and are allowed to indulge in the luxuries of life. They might even be worthy of a funeral banquet and honorary games, which astounds Caecilia. She welcomes some of the nice things about life in Veii and is gradually tempted by darker forces in a society where most anything goes.
Despite her elevated status, Caecilia is not a truly liberated woman. The differences in female oppression between Romans and Etruscans are a matter of degree. Although Caecilia is free of the mind-numbing denial and drudgery of a Roman matron, she is still the possession of her husband and her paramount purpose is to produce an heir for Mastarna. This fictional study of female status is carefully crafted by Elisabeth Storrs. Delicate comparisons are presented through the characters of Erene, the courtesan, Caecilia, the proper wife, and Cythergis, the slave woman. All three types are dependent on men and under their control. Erene is strictly for pleasure. She is more than a slave but less than a wife. As a wife, Caecilia is allowed sexual pleasure by Etruscan culture with her husband with the great purpose of procreation looming above all. Most miserable is the slave woman Cythergis, who has endured having her children sold. Although Cythergis enjoys men, she hopes to avoid more pregnancies so she can stop breeding slaves. The nuances of the difficult lives of these three ancient women are touchingly revealed.
Complex relationships in The Wedding Shroud are the ships upon which the story flows. Caecilia struggles to adapt to her new and foreign household where Val Mastarna and his brother Artile, a powerful priest, vie for the affection and approval of their mother, Larthia. The adopted son of Mastarna, Tarchon, is also embroiled in an inappropriate sexual relationship with Artile. The priest is a constant source of meddling within the family, and he soon sinks his painted claws into the vulnerable Caecilia and begins to control her with religion and addictive drugs.
The character of Artile serves to educate the reader about the practices and corruptions of ancient religions. His power is great and even the educated elites are swayed by his interpretations of signs, with the notable exception of his brother Mastarna. Although the Etruscan culture has technology and fine artistry, it remains like all ancient cultures steeped in superstition. The imprint of the primitive world remains deep and fresh despite the presence of architecture, music, metallurgy, writing, and mathematics. Animal sacrifice is commonplace with the most horrifying example shown in wild rites that culminate with the tearing up and eating of fawns. And then as part of a funeral rite, a criminal is savagely executed by having a maddened dog set loose on him.
All of this assaults the sensibilities of Caecilia, whose sheltered upbringing as a female among joyless Romans, leaves her reeling with disgust. Amid the carnal abandon of Veii, Caecilia's husband Mastarna represents a rare force of rationality and affection. Frustratingly Caecilia too often rebuffs his attempts to help her adjust. As the reader, I often wanted her to be more accepting of Mastarna because he really was a relatively nice person, but Caecilia's turmoil and many mistakes are understandable. She is young, inexperienced, and alone in an alien culture. This formula usually adds up to poor choices.
I could write another thousand words exploring the subtleties of this novel without giving away any spoilers. Storrs presents a tremendous amount of research in a gripping story with characters that all feel genuine. Her writing has a literary quality packed with artistic descriptions and intelligent metaphors. For example, from page 79: "It was as though she had kicked the top off an ants' nest and found another world of industry and intricacy and purpose foreign to her own, exposing herself also to the danger of being bitten." The whole novel flows like a coastal Mediterranean wind and supports an unfolding narrative with the strong reach of a thick grape vine. I was drawn in completely to the emotional edginess of Caecilia and pined for her to accept her unwanted love of Mastarna. The Wedding Shroud is not purely a psychological journey. Episodes of visceral action punctuate the unfolding drama, like the breathtaking chapter in which Mastarna recklessly wrestles an Olympic champion. I highly recommend The Wedding Shroud to historical fiction readers. Elisabeth Storrs has created a wonderful novel from a willing marriage of her historical research and writing talent.
Related post: Mysteries of Etruscan civilization still buried in ancient tombs
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Although I expect Google will have a learning curve as it attempts to become a powerhouse in the consumer retail market, Google appears to have developed a platform that could appeal to a broad segment of the reading public. Even people who don't have dedicated ebook readers can easily use ebooks bought at Google. People who read ebooks without a dedicated device use their smart phones, iPads, or personal computers. Google also caters to people with dedicated reading devices, like the Nook, Sony devices, and many lesser known gadgets. The only notable exception is the Kindle.
Google ebooks are available in the cloud. Readers won't have to bother with downloading. Their free or purchased content will always be available in their Google ebooks account and can be accessed through almost any internet-connected device. Some content can be downloaded if the publisher has decided to allow it. For example, I set up my fantasy novels to be downloadable because I know that some people want to be able to store away purchased content on their own systems.
I have no idea if the Google ebooks store is going to be a success. Its flexibility across reading platforms without tying readers to a certain device or format that could become obsolete has great appeal. However, some people will likely be put off by the fact that not all content is downloadable, which means Google must be relied on in perpetuity to store purchased content. But many people won't care about that. They will just like the convenience of accessing their ebooks when they want and how they want.
Time will tell if Google Ebooks matures into a big gun in the ebook marketplace. I'm a part of it of course. I'm willing to try any viable market. I've already had two sales through Google ebooks. Someone bought Judgment Rising and The Borderlands of Power, which are the third and fourth books of The Rys Chronicles respectively. Apparently someone out there was halfway through my series and decided to get the rest from the Google ebook cloud. I hope that person is enjoying them.
Here are the links to my fantasy novels at Google Ebooks:
Union of Renegades
The Goddess Queen
The Borderlands of Power
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I've adopted the holiday tradition of watching the classic film It's a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart. This heartwarming story remains so relatable over 60 years after its release. Unfortunately it is frighteningly relatable. People losing their homes. The threat of financial ruin. The regret of yelling at a small child when your day is going badly. The despair of deferred dreams. This part especially is at the core of the story as the main character George constantly gives up what he wants in favor of his duties to others.
George is always dragged away from his aspirations of education and travel. He cannot escape the demands of his family's business, a savings and loan that offers the only meaningful competition to Potter's larger lending institution that seeks to first profit from lending and then transition loan defaulters into tenants, which equal permanent profits. Dire emergencies in which the savings and loan might collapse repeatedly require George to step in save the day by imploring his depositors to stick with him. Potter meanwhile longs to buy out George's savings and loan so as to eliminate the competition. George's do-gooder business philosophy of making a modest profit from financing affordable yet quality home building in the community galls Potter who idolizes relentless exploitation and profit taking without regard to the consequences to the community.
After a series of setbacks, mostly caused by George's inept Uncle Billy, the savings and loan is threatened by bank regulators who will shut it down because it's lacking sufficient funds. This failure will also cause George to be prosecuted and imprisoned. I especially appreciate the irony that Potter's manipulation of the situation turns the bank regulators against the smaller institution that is actually beneficial to society.
Of course, George is famously driven to wish that he had never been born as he stands on a bridge ready to jump. Then Clarence, a second-rate guardian angel who has no wings, shows up to redeem George and teach him to value what he has accomplished for other people. When Clarence shows George a world in which he was never born, George learns how much he has mattered. If he had never been born, he would not have saved his brother from drowning. He would not have stopped the pharmacist from making a fatal mistake. He would not have provided his wife Mary with the opportunity to love and have a big family.
But most importantly he would not have been there to help his hometown of Bedford Falls remain a decent community. Instead George is shown the garish horrors of Pottersville (the new name of Bedford Falls) in which vice and hardship rule, and progress and hope are banished from the landscape. This is the part of the movie that strikes me the hardest. It's too familiar. Pottersville is widespread. I've been panhandled too many times in the parking lots of box stores. I live in a world where most people don't get the happy ending like George where all the people he has helped over the years come together to save him from ruin. Yet, It's a Wonderful Life remains inspiring. This vision of people helping each other through tough times reminds us that communities are supposed to be based on mutually beneficial relationships, not purely parasitic ones. It's a Wonderful Life reminds people to appreciate their small acts of kindness and to reach for redemption. This classic movie dares people to keep dreaming. The rat race can be resisted, if only by small turns.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Novelist Helen Smith is offering daily ebook giveaways at her blog through December 18th. Plus people who enter the drawings have an extra chance at winning a $50 Amazon gift card.
Different novels from multiple authors are the prizes. Readers can decide which ebooks they want to try to win. See full details at today's post:
Today's Giveaways - ebooks by Imogen Rose, Scott Neumyer, S L Baum
Book Review Blog Carnival
Readers who like to examine book reviews will like this blog carnival in which I started participating. Every two weeks, this book review blog carnival is hosted by a different book blog. Today the Book Frog has the carnival that contains 26 different book reviews from multiple sources. Book topics include mainstream fiction, business books, romance, urban fantasy, and more.
Blog Carnival #58 at the Book Frog
Friday, December 10, 2010
A Winter's Night represents Rie's foray into fantasy writing. She's been a popular romance author for years with numerous titles published.
To encourage sales, anyone who buys A Winter's Night during the month of December and notifies Rie will be entered in a drawing to win her complete back list of steamy novels. Read complete details about her drawing.
And it's a big backlist. Rie is as prolific as she is fertile. When I asked her how many novels she wrote she replied "thirteen, fourteen maybe." It's better that she keeps track of kids and grand kids and focuses on writing hot fantasies instead of counting books, right?
Because Rie and I are both busy writers and mothers, we don't have time for a long drawn out discussion, so here's the quickie interview so romance readers can get to know Rie and move on to reading her "fantasy that keeps you up."
How long have you been writing?
Since I could make my letters! I told stories to my parents long before I could write and when I was ten, I remember my mom sending in some ad she found in a magazine that was for some kind of writing test, which she gave me and sent in. At thirteen I wrote my first romance novel about a young woman from Boston who came to a small town in the wild, Wild West to teach school and fell in love with the town sheriff. I wrote the requisite morose poetry and song lyrics as a teen, then stories for my kids. Writing has always been a part of my life.
You stated in a previous article that you love "good bad boys" and put them in all your stories. Can you explain the traits of a good bad boy?
I married a good bad boy. These are the ones who make the best heroes because they are everything a woman wants in a man. Not only is he the one who will love you forever, be the man who will always put you first, go to any extent to protect you, he also has his own set of rules, standards and morals. He's not above breaking the law if it suits his needs or stands between him and his goals. Especially his lady.
Any additional comments?
To read excerpts from Rie McGaha's 15 of her novels plus the free read Tattoo, go to http://www.riemcgaha.com/.
She is also up for Romance Author of the Year at Deep in the Heart Romance blog, so go give her a vote.
Rie spreads a lot of love around the internet. She publishes numerous blogs too.
Sizzling Releases! Interview with the hottest authors of current sizzling releases.
Author Offerings Interviews with authors of titles older than 30 days.
An Author's Tale Authors blog about many subjects and hopefully some of it has to do with writing!
Spotlight Author/Men In The Spotlight Features of men involved in the publishing industry whether they be authors, cover models, publishers, etc. My first guest is yummy cover model Jimmy Thomas!
Rie is brilliant. Why didn't I think of interviewing male models?
I wish her much success.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
|This famous masterpiece of Etruscan art shows the culture's approval of soft feelings and the male/female duality of civilization. A stark contrast to the later rigidity of Roman civilization that revered pure domination.|
When Romans were still considered rustic bumpkins, Etruscans were exerting their refined civilization into a savage Europe. The November/December 2010 issue of Archaeology Magazine reported that the Etruscans ruled their land of Etruria between the Tiber and Arno rivers. They were excellent seafarers, trading throughout the Mediterranean, but interestingly the origins of the Etruscan language are unknown. Scholarship of their unique language cannot identify any known related tongue. About 300 words from this ancient language have been identified, and the Etruscans adapted the Greek alphabet for use in their own writing.
|The Etruscan Chimera of Arezzo|
Etruscan civilization was well advanced for its time. The Archaeology Magazine article written by Rossella Lorenzi opened with "They taught the French to make wine and the Romans to build roads, and they introduced writing to Europe." (p. 36, Nov./Dec. 2010). These are significant boasts for a civilization that has been historically overshadowed by people who developed within its nurturing realm.
Tarquinius Superbus was the last Etruscan king of Rome. After being expelled by Roman forces in 509 B.C.E., the Romans replaced the Etruscan system of monarchy with their Republic. Gradually from this point forward, Rome absorbed the cities of Etruria and asserted their culture.
Although Roman ruins get the greatest attention from scholars and tourists, Etruscan ruins still have secrets to reveal. Many tombs near the city of Tarquinia, about 50 miles northwest of Rome, have yet to be explored. This Etruscan necropolis contains an estimated 6,000 tombs, and scholars are currently undertaking new excavations. Knowledge of the rich artistry and obscure cultural origins of Etruscans will hopefully expand as these distant ancestors of the Italian peoples are further studied.
Historical Novel Review, where I am a contributor. The Wedding Shroud explores the conflict and connections between the Roman and Etruscans cultures during the turbulent 5th century B.C.E. With my interest in Etruscan aroused, I snapped up the novel and am currently reading it. I'll be sure to alert everyone when my review is done. I can say already that it is going to be a good one.
Her website: http://www.elisabethstorrs.com/
Related post: The inspiration of archaeology
Monday, December 6, 2010
|Sisyphus by Titian|
Mythological king condemned for eternity to roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down, and have to start over.
My editing process involves roughly three edits and/or rewrites that are accomplished by:
- Reading the draft of each chapter on paper and marking it with my corrections.
- Entering the corrections into the manuscript on the computer.
- Reading each chapter on the computer and doing some on-screen editing.
- Print and repeat.
I've now done this twice with the manuscript for Book I. For the third and final round of editing for the first novel, I will make a checklist of tasks and questions. The checklist will help me fine tune multiple issues like dialogue, character development, clarity, style issues, and wordiness as well as overall appeal.
While I've been doing all this editing, I've continued to write the series. I'm closing in on completing the third book. I've set the deadline of New Year's day for finishing the third novel. Some mildly serious family issues are interfering with this goal, but I'm trying to channel my stress into my art.
I actually enjoy editing my work. The process allows me to get out the small chisels and hammers after hauling the big blocks. I can edit a chapter in usually one or two hours. A typical chapter takes me about five to ten hours to initially draft. After three rounds of editing that total three to six hours of work, any chapter involves from eight to sixteen hours of effort in writing and editing.
Until I wrote the above estimations I never actually thought about how many hours go into creating each and every chapter of my novels. As you might surmise, I do not watch much television.
During Book I's next round of editing, I expect to finally figure out a title for it.
Until then I invite fantasy readers to try my already complete fantasy series The Rys Chronicles.
The first novel Union of Renegades can be downloaded for free in a choice of formats.
Or, pay $1 for convenient wireless downloading and access it from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
Barnes & Noble Nook
Friday, December 3, 2010
|Want some shockingly R-rated action with capes and jet packs?|
Kick-Ass uses the classic template of a teenage boy struggling with transition from boy to man. He feels powerless against neighborhood thugs, and wonders why no one stands up to them. His noble spirit ignites in a conflagration of frustrated teenage testosterone heroics. Dave crafts a super hero persona that consists of a wet suit, mask, two batons strapped across his back, a taser, and a sturdy pair of boots. His first foray into defending society puts him in the hospital in serious condition. He survives with nerve damage that provides him with an above average ability to take a good beating. Aside from his bravery, this is pretty much the extent of his super hero powers.
After recovering from his hospital stay, Dave becomes Kick-Ass again and his awesome street fight with a dangerous gang is recorded on a camera phone and Kick-Ass becomes an internet sensation.
Kick-Ass's rising star is noticed by a real superhero called Big Daddy, played by Nicholas Cage that star who works harder than a single mom with two jobs. Cage is of course wonderful because he always is, and his demented quest to defeat crime boss Frank D'Amico has driven him to become an exceedingly gifted high tech super hero. Big Daddy does not act alone. His tweenie daughter is Hit Girl, and she is his dependable and lethal side kick. Hit Girl kills people. She uses guns, swords, martial arts, you name it. She is a killer. Watching a child kill on screen shocked me, but I appreciated the daring of the filmmakers. Big Daddy has raised Hit Girl to be this way, and their relationship is creepily plausible. Ask any warlord in a third world hellhole, and he'll say children can be dependably manipulated into killers.
Big Daddy works tirelessly against criminal forces, and takes their money to finance his superhero lifestyle. His actions often interfere with the business of his enemy Frank D'Amico, who now blames Kick-Ass for his problems.
Dave immediately gets in way over his head, and is lured into a trap by the crime boss's son, Chris, who poses as a new super hero Red Mist. Played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (of McLovin fame in Superbad), Red Mist easily tricks the guileless Kick-Ass.
Kick-Ass is an enormously entertaining action movie with breathtaking gratuitous violence that is not too gory. The contrast between the pathetic incompetence of Kick-Ass, who Big Daddy likes to call "Ass-Kick," and the high-achiever expertise of Hit Girl is charming. The directing of Kick-Ass is high energy and cutting edge. A true pleasure to watch, melding graphic novel pizazz with cinematic artistry.
Kick-Ass serves most brilliantly as a satire of comic super heroes. The story integrates superbly with modern internet culture, something the successful Spider-Man films have failed to do. The character of Dave captures wonderfully the needs of teenage men as they seek to be competent, powerful, and most importantly get laid.
As always parody proves to be the highest art form. Kick-Ass is a slick and guilty pleasure made to satisfy adults and teens craving hard core action.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
|Enter the drawing for the fantasy ebook A Dance of Cloaks when you download my novel Union of Renegades at www.braveluck.com|
A new month brings a new prize offering for people who visit http://www.braveluck.com/ and download my free fantasy novel Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I. You join my readers' list when you download the free sample and you will be automatically entered in the prize drawing for December.
This month's prize is a digital copy of A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish. It's a clever fantasy novel driven by a bloody rivalry between a powerful thief guild leader and an entrenched nobility. Throw in some coming-of-age rebellion against your father's authority and you have some good fantasy reading in a pitiless fantasy world.
I'll do the drawing for A Dance of Cloaks on January 1st. Please visit Brave Luck Books (TM) to download the first book of The Rys Chronicles and see the full details of the monthly ebook giveaway drawing.
I notified the November winner yesterday and am still waiting for a response so I can deliver the ebook in the format requested by the winner. I buy my prizes through http://www.smashwords.com/ so I can obtain files free of DRM that I can delivery to winners without encryption hassles.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
|Multi media specialist and Renaissance faire enthusiast, Mik Wilkens released her fantasy novel The Silver Cage on December 1st.|
Today is the official release date of The Silver Cage, and last night Mik Wilkens answered some questions from me about her novel:
1. Who is your favorite character in The Silver Cage?
Overall, my favorite character would have to be Riak. The funny thing is, he wasn’t in my first rough ideas for the book or even in the first part of the first draft. I was several chapters into the novel when he walked into my head and said, “Hey, I’m supposed to be in this story.” So I had to go back and add him in several places. Good thing I did, too, because he became a really important part of the story. The reason I like him so much is because of how little I knew about him when I started writing the book and how much I found out about him. Plus he’s an emotionally complex character, and he’s pretty darn sexy.
From a writer’s perspective, my favorite character would have to be either Emerald or Karel, mostly because writing dialogue for them is so much fun, although in rather different ways since Emerald tends to be rather talkative and Karel not so much.
2. How long did it take you to write your novel?
I wrote two-thirds of the first draft in about six months while I was attending graphic design school. After I graduated and got a "real" job, I had to put the novel aside for a few months while I settled into the routine of working for a living. Once I got back to writing, I finished the first draft in about three months, so I spent a total of about nine months getting the entire thing down on paper - literally, since I write all of my first drafts by hand.
3. Can you summarize the magic system of your fantasy world?
I would love to explain the magical system in The Silver Cage, but it's such an integral part of the story, I'm a little hesitant to reveal too much about it other than to say that creating a logical magic system was one of the driving forces behind writing the novel. I think I can safely say that on Lucasia, the world where most of the story takes place, magic is a force of nature. To find out how it works, you'll just have to read the book. ;-)
Thank you for answering my questions, Mik.
I have no time to read and review The Silver Cage right now, but it appears to certainly deserve a look from fantasy readers. Read excerpts from The Silver Cage.
It's available at Amazon for Kindle starting today and will be coming to Barnes & Noble and Borders at any time.
The Silver Cage at Amazon.