Monday, May 23, 2011

Writing the final part of a fantasy series is hard

Ever wonder why some fiction series go on and on instead of finishing? Maybe because it is easier to just keep going with the narrative instead of wrapping it up.

Right now I am deep into writing the final novel of my new fantasy series Rys Rising, and I am thoroughly reminded of the many challenges of writing a finish to an epic story.

I think the toughest part is wrapping up the many details without triggering new subplots that will require even more chapters to resolve. As a novelist I naturally have the ability to dream up new situations and problems for my characters, but eventually I need to focus on tying up loose ends instead of starting new threads.

Right now with my writing I am enjoying my characters and letting them do their things for a while. I want to let the intricacies of their lives play out a bit more before I hurl them into a terrible crisis, but I am approaching the stage in which some serious events need to start happening. This leads me to another problem. Procrastination is creeping up on me, and I know why I am going with the flow instead of paddling my canoe faster downriver. Finishing this series means I have to kill some people. I never like doing that.

I've been in these woods before. I remember how difficult writing The Borderlands of Power was. Borderlands is the last book of The Rys Chronicles (so far) and its creation was often a great trial for me. At one point I had to ditch a whole chapter and start over. Deleted scenes and second attempts make for hard work. It's hard to erase something after spending a week composing it, but if I don't like it, then it has to be rewritten and sometimes even scrapped entirely.

Enough of this procrastinating on my blog. I'm going to go work on that novel. This novel is the one that will tell a story that's been imprisoned in my mind for a long time. I'll go work on its escape tunnel and let it inch toward freedom.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meet Shevata, the dark fantasy heroine of the Gastar Series by C.C. Cole

Act of Redemption
Children of Discord
C.C. Cole creates a strong female assassin filled with complexity, deadly powers, realistic limitations, and a brutal attitude toward her enemies. 

As a new author, it’s difficult to restrain my enthusiasm when I am approached to discuss my books on radio or blog interviews/features. So when asked by a fantasy site to introduce my lead character Shevata, (shee-VAH-tah) I found it to be an exciting challenge, as this is the first time I’ve been asked to discuss this dark character of my creation enjoyed by many readers. When Goodreads nominated her for Most Memorable Female Assassin, I screamed with excitement, because, to a new author, that’s like winning a National Book Award (please, I’m not saying my writing should be a front runner for that).

Shevata’s journey began in my mind while recovering from my sister’s death, as I’ve written in previous articles. I knew I wanted to write a medieval fantasy/action/adventure story.

I asked myself what I liked most and the least of strong female lead characters, which are already abundant in fiction. My definition of a strong lead character is one that the reader remembers long after the book is closed.

Who is Shevata? She is a former child slave fighter, amongst thousands of children born and bred for the sole purpose to fight a centuries-long war for the city of Gastar against the Abbians, evil priests who conjured undead soldiers of slain people, creating an almost limitless army. Shevata was born in the latter years of the war, and was made an assassin instead of a soldier, so she rarely visited the battlefield. Instead she eliminated enemies inside the great city by direct order of the city’s leadership, a King at the time. She had parents, but were unidentified because all efforts were made to the ongoing war and the once-great city of Gastar was doomed to fall. Historical comparisons to her creation would be the numerous regimes that use children for soldiers, for example, the Nazi children of WWII or the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s, just to name a couple.

What are Shevata’s abilities? I decided early what I didn’t want her doing. No magic, no clairvoyance/mind reading/ and no martial arts. She’s a small, underdeveloped, sixteen year old girl that doesn’t appear dangerous, which is a great advantage for an assassin. So how can one so small be such a competent killer? I added her one unique skill, moving objects with her mind (telekinesis). As a weapons expert, she can use anything from swords, arrows, and a kitchen skillet to the bad ends of her opponents. As she concentrates, the weapons are propelled far beyond her physical strength, making her a particular nasty adversary. She rarely misses her targets, and most strikes she makes count, thus making her a perfect killer. She can open locks without keys, climb walls with expertise, and move the earth to bury small buildings and slain enemies.

On a radio interview I was asked what was Shevata’s weakness. Physically, she has few. In the first two novellas, “Act of Redemption” and “Children of Discord,” her soul was removed as a curse for killing the last Abbian high priest without a death order, which demoted her to murderer. With no soul, she doesn’t bleed nor age. I know too well by taking martial arts myself that a small person cannot easily overtake a large person by hand-to-hand combat. So size does count in the Gastar Series. Shevata loses plenty of fights with opponents her size and larger. As a small spoiler, I’ll say she does re-gain her soul for the final two novellas. Readers have asked me how can I keep a story moving when a character becomes weaker. My answer is “Why does becoming a person make a character weaker?”

The main supporting character of the Gastar Series is Zermon, demon lord of Hell. His personality is based on my older brother, now a family joke. He met and imprisoned Shevata in hell after she rescued scores of living child soldiers held by him as a favor to the Abbians. She was captured and imprisoned by in hell for twenty years before her escape, so the two know each other quite well. This pair of powerful adversaries plays off one another to add an element of humor to the story; as some call it a “backward spin” of a huge demonic monster accusing a small teenage girl of barbarism.

What does Shevata want? She wants to grow up. A reader told me something very moving regarding my sister’s death. She said Shevata was “stuck” in an existence with no way out. Following the death of my sister, I felt “stuck” as well in my life, and with time, faith, family, and creative writing I found my way out. Shevata will find her own way out as well. Unlike many medieval stories, she doesn’t make a geographic journey. Her path lies within herself, and the challenge is for her to change everything she’s ever known or learned to become a completely different person who matures, discovering the true life of love and family.

So I welcome readers to meet Shevata in my Gastar novellas. These are not romantic cuddly stories; Shevata’s tactics rival the brutality of her enemies. But her feelings are real, she sees people around her living a normal life, and yearns to do the same. But she knows her enemies from the dark past and her intentions towards them are not forgiving. War, not vengeance is her primary motivator.

Thank you C.C. Cole for sharing this thoughtful article about your heroine Shevata from your blog.  

The Gastar Series fantasy novels of C.C. Cole are available at Amazon in print and Kindle formats. Shevata and her fantasy world are getting strong 4 and 5 star reviews.

Act of Redemption: First Book of the Gastar Series
Children of Discord: Second Book of the Gastar Series

Want your character to appear on Her Ladyship's Quest?

Authors please refer to the post how to submit your character profile. I look forward to reading about the children of your minds and Muses.

Friday, May 20, 2011

5 star review for The Goddess Queen: The Rys Chronicles Book II

Continue The Rys Chronicles with The Goddess Queen
Free Book Reviews blogger Albert Robbins III and indie author enthusiast gushed earlier about my first novel Union of Renegades and now Robbins is officially hooked according to his review of my second fantasy novel The Goddess Queen.
"After the first book I thought I might get disappointed since I loved the first, but I could not have been more wrong. Tracy picks your imagination right up where she had left you and brings you deeper into her rabbit's hole."
Thanks for reading and I'm so glad that you're enjoying my fantasy series and recommending it to your blog readers.

Fantasy fans who are hooked on The Rys Chronicles can purchase the novels in numerous formats at my main website Brave Luck Books.

If you want to be hooked on The Rys Chronicles, start by downloading the free first novel Union of Renegades.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie

If you ever want to learn about the Cold War, I recommend the documentary Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie. I ran across this title in the instant view catalog at Netflix. It came out in 1995 and I vaguely recalled that it was really cool. My memory was certainly valid this time. In less than two hours Trinity and Beyond drives home the jaw dropping and soul shuddering madness of nuclear weaponry and the insanity that reigned supreme among Cold War leaders.

Derived from declassified films of nuclear weapons detonations and narrated by William Shatner, the documentary takes you year by year from the end of World War II to the first successful atomic test by the Chinese. The movie mesmerizes with the astounding beauty of multiple megaton mushroom clouds and the transformation of Pacific atolls into deep dark blue craters. Watching explosion after explosion, I was gripped by the loving marriage of terror and beauty in the colossal releases of atomic power. More disturbing than the lunacy of blasting radioactive particles throughout the atmosphere hundreds of times were the comforting propaganda films where clean cut men reassure a nation that it will never succumb to the Soviet Union. In one film the narrator explains that those who may die of cancer from the radioactive fallout from testing are the fallen unknown soldiers in a war not yet fought. Scary!

I'm a child of the Cold War. I grew up worrying about nuclear war, but the truth is that the nuclear war actually happened in the 1950s and 60s as the United States and the Soviet Union detonated hundreds of powerful weapons in a grotesque display of gorilla chest pounding on a global scale.

From the pictures of piled up skeletons in Japan to the buildings and vehicles disintegrating in the blasts in the Nevada desert, this documentary shows that no fiction writer's imagination surpasses the tragedies that occur in real life. If you are like me and dare to seek horrible information, then Trinity and Beyond is an absolute documentary classic. The films are riveting. The music selections are epic, and as I mentioned William Shatner narrates.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fantasy art in development for my new series

Onja, image developed by
Part of publishing novels is developing artwork to go with them. After recently announcing my decision to begin publishing my new fantasy series Rys Rising, I started the search for artists. Right now I am working with that specializes in illustrating characters for role playing games. I thought this would be a good fit for my needs. The company has four levels of art from basic sketches to detailed illustrations with color. Of course I'll be commissioning colored artwork for book covers, but, as I go down the road, I also plan to commission some sketches of various characters to use on my websites and promotions.

Above you can see a sketch that Avatar Art prepared of my character Onja. She is pictured here at age 100, and this scene is taken from the upcoming release Rys Rising, set 2,200 years prior to the events of The Rys Chronicles. This is the scene used to inspire the sketch:
"She emerged with downcast eyes and a tabre priest holding each arm. The wind caught her plain brown cloak and flung it back from her perfect body and blew strands of unruly black hair across her face. She shook her hair away from her mouth because her hands were not free.
Manacles with cold white warding crystals bound her wrists. Dacian had not expected to see her clamped by a domux. Although he had never seen a domux in use, he had read about the device that was meant to contain the magic of a criminal."
I'm very excited to be at this stage in the development of my new fiction. This sketch pleased me greatly and I can't wait to see more. I'll share more artwork as it comes along.

Please follow this blog or join my readers' list at Brave Luck Books so you will know when my new novels come out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fantasy character profile: Meet Onja, Queen of the rys

Onja can plant a thought in your mind and trick you with your deep desires and fears. She can cast blazing spells of battle magic to destroy her enemies. And worst of all, she possesses the ability to claim the souls of her victims and enslave them to her service.

For over two thousand years, Onja has ruled the rys in her isolated mountain realm. The human tribes west of her homeland have been forced to worship her as their Goddess and deliver tribute to her every year. She has maintained this supreme domination of so many because her magical powers were truly insurmountable. In centuries past her magic incinerated rebels from afar, and her many loyal humans gladly followed her orders to punish her enemies in more conventional ways.

Her hegemony was first established 2,200 years ago in a Great War with the neighboring realm of Nufal, ruled by the magical tabre race. When she achieved total victory over Nufal, she enslaved many of its tabre and human souls who remain trapped in her service. She has used these wraiths to guard her eastern frontier and destroy any people that wonder into this wilderness that separates Onja's world from the expanding civilization of the east.

The Rys Chronicles portray the saga that unfolds when Onja finally allows people through from the east. She does it as a gamble to revive her waning power but her act unexpectedly triggers a daring rebellion that challenges her powers that have been blunted by her advanced age.

Favorite quotes from Onja:
"Your respect is your obedience to me."

"Speak not to me of history. I was there. My magic ended the killing, and my magic will guard the rys forever."

"Take heart, Kwan. The demonstration on the boy has spared all of your men a worse fate. Furthermore, I will not hold today's insubordination against you. I knew this lesson would be necessary. My original proposal remains. Obey me and you will see your homeland again."
I invite fantasy readers to enter the world of the rys and see how the rebellion against Onja turns out. The first novel Union of Renegades is a free fantasy ebook. Download your preferred format today. If you enjoy my fantasy fiction, please consider supporting my writing directly and purchase the rest of the novels through my website.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Indie writer news - New fantasy novels

M.R. Mathias has made many fans in less than a year and they will soon get to read the next novel in his popular Wardstone Trilogy
I received an email yesterday from M.R. Mathias announcing his plans for an official release of his new fantasy novel Kings, Queens, Heroes & Fools on the Fourth of July. This is the second book in the Wardstone Trilogy that started last year with his publication of The Sword and the Dragon, which maintains high sales rankings at retailers and enjoys lavish 4 and 5 star ratings from readers. For more details about his fantasy fiction, see his recent press release at Fantasy Book Critic. Keep an eye on Mathias because I happen to know that he is planning some exciting promotions to celebrate the release of this novel.

Website for M.R. Mathias

The Broken Sword by Joseph Robert Lewis promises swashbuckling action in an alternative history setting
Joseph Robert Lewis announced on May 5th the release of his historical fantasy The Broken Sword. Lewis styles it as an excellent choice for readers who like The Princess Bride and The Three Musketeers. The Broken Sword is the sequel to The Burning Sky.

About the novel:

When they tried to conquer the New World, the Espani lost everything: soldiers, ships, wealth, and even their faith. But Don Lorenzo Quesada believes an ancient holy relic will restore his country to prosperity and honor, unless the military finds it first. Accompanied by his best fencing students, his Incan wife, and her sabre-toothed cat, Lorenzo races across his wintry homeland through a gauntlet of blood-thirsty assassins, undead demons, and giant beasts to recover the sacred skyfire stone.

But when the stone is stolen and a massive Espani warship sets sail for Marrakesh, Lorenzo must stop a war that could destroy all the nations of the Middle Sea, even if it costs him both the holy stone and his life.

About the fantasy world:

Readers return to The Other Earth in this stunning vision of an alternate world where fantastical machines sail the seas and the skies, enormous prehistoric beasts still roam the earth, and the restless dead walk among the living.

Visit the author's blog to access his novels at your favorite online retailers.

Have some indie writer news to announce?

Leave a comment or contact me through the form at the bottom of the blog tours page.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review of fantasy anthology Shadows & Light Volume II

Shadows & Light Volume II - High quality fantasy short stories
The Pill Hill Press of Chadron, Nebraska has proved its excellence once again with its ability to select quality fantasy short stories. The collection published in Shadows & Light Volume II edited by Alva J. Roberts rewards readers with lovingly written stories filled with intrigue, emotion, creativity, and some good old sword and sorcery action. Every story in the anthology makes the book a worthwhile choice for fantasy readers.

Dragon lovers will like getting to know the crafty dragon in Gerald Costlow's "Master Race" as the beast battles German Nazis penetrating its plane of existence. Then in Lydia Sharp's "Spread Your Wings and Die" the feelings of dragons as they suffer cruel captivity come through in a poignant tale illustrating the subjugation of one species by another. Both stories are excellent examples of storytelling from the point of view of dragons.

A personal favorite of mine in the anthology was "The Hand of Fate" by David J. West. This gripping tale is driven by strong action and strong characters. A great conqueror is betrayed on the battlefield and his army is overrun. He escapes into the desert and comes under the protection of a mysterious nomad named Ahimoth. I greatly enjoyed the skill and resourcefulness of Ahimoth as he overcame overwhelming odds. The brutal desert environment and steadfast faith of Ahimoth are well portrayed in this story.

I wish I could explain all the qualities of every story in the anthology, but that would take too much space. I would like to give one more honorable mention to the skillful writing of Christopher Heath. Here's how he sets a scene in "Azieran: The Secret in the Mist":

"The chill damp evening ensured the streets were occupied by only those on the most urgent of missions, or by dregs lent to errands most indecent. The massive moon, waning to naught but a thin crust of light, succumbed to the whims of darkness. The stars seemed more distant than ever."

Readers who enjoy fantasy will surely find several stories to enjoy in Shadows & Light Volume II. Tastes vary, so what my favorites are might not be the same for other people, but the quality of this collection will surely entertain those who like traditional fantasy palettes. The anthology gets an unhesitating 5 stars from me for its carefully chosen landscapes, fully realized characters, interesting twists, combat, and action.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Enter to win The Blackgloom Bounty historical fantasy ebook

 Described as Braveheart meets The Lord of the Rings, The Blackgloom Bounty by Jon F. Baxley is the prize for my May ebook giveaway drawing. To enter the drawing, join my readers' list at Brave Luck Books. On June 1st I will select a winner and email that person a copy of the novel in his or her format of choice.

As an added bonus, the author Jon F. Baxley has offered to also give the winner the second book in his saga The Regents of Rhum in Kindle format.

Baxley's novels earn high ratings from readers. The Blackgloom Bounty has a solid 4.5 stars at Amazon based on 40 reader ratings.

Please visit Brave Luck Books to enter the drawing and you can download for free my epic fantasy novel Union of Renegades while you're there too.