Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of the Quest 2011

The end of the year brings all those articles where people reflect on the year gone by. Then there are all those best of and worst of lists. Mostly what it's all about is not having to actually think or do much in the final days of the year and just slopping together some old content.

So here's my effort at not being particularly productive.

January

Interview with Lindsay Buroker

She was just starting out then on her first blog tour. I've noticed she's gone on to be a hit.

February

I was blogging a lot that month, and I have two posts that deserve repeat attention.

My glowing review of Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell

Review of Wallstreet: Money Never Sleeps

I liked this movie and it's message that Gordon is hardly the bad guy anymore in these hard times.

March

I'll be selfish and highlight my character profile of Dreibrand Veta.

April

This month I pondered real world matters in my post Real life more epic than any fantasy novel. I wrote about an article I read about Doma in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is thronged with war refugees and apparently destined to be destroyed by its nearby volcano.

May

I just have give a second shot to my review of Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie. The Cold War atomic bomb video in this documentary is jaw dropping to behold and to think about. And for the kicker, it's narrated by William Shatner.

June

Once again I want to mention two posts from this month.

Reflections on the Battle Creek tornado

I inspired somebody

Taken together, these posts remind me that I never know what will happen and sometimes people are actually noticing what I do.

July

Author W. Brondt Kamffer posed the question Can good fantasy be good literature? in his guest post. This post actually proved to be a popular one and drew traffic for months.

August

If you like music, romance, history, and epic action, I suggest you read my review of Jodhaa Akbar. Awesome movie.

September

It was a long time in the making, but the audiobook podcast of Union of Renegades started in this month. Chapters are still being added. It's an epic.

October

I lost my beloved dog Sasha on the 22nd. This is my tribute to her. It's been over two months, and I've only begun to emerge from my grief-stricken fog. Her absence is a constant sorrow.

November

Reviewer Meagan Morin of the Great Minds Think Aloud Literary Community lavished a five raven rating on my novel Rys Rising: Book I. Thank you!

Throughout 2011 I met many great and supportive people online.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looting the temple flash excerpt at Indie Snippets

Today a small excerpt from Union of Renegades appeared at Indie Snippets, the blog that shows off indie fiction in bite-sized flavors. Every ebook featured has a 200 word or shorter excerpt published at the site. I like this concept. As you go through the posts at Indie Snippets, it is quick and easy to assess each writer's style and get a feel for each story.

From "Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I" by Tracy Falbe

Thank you for publishing the little scene I submitted where Dreibrand sees the inside of a temple to Onja for the first time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rys Rising: Book I now listed at Super E-Reads

What's cool about Super E-Reads.com?

I think this ebook promotion site will develop into a popular destination for people who read ebooks. So many ebook sites focus on one retailer, almost always Amazon Kindle. But many people read on devices other than Kindle and rather enjoy their Nook, Sony, Kobo, iPad, etc. When a person peruses new titles at Super E-Reads, he or she can find fiction available on many platforms, and all listings link to any place the ebook is available.



Friday, December 23, 2011

Introducing Tracy Falbe Etsy

Vintage findings and original fiction at Tracy Falbe's Etsy store Perfect Pages
Since the end of summer I have been gradually building a store at Etsy.com. I'm doing this because I adore Etsy.com, I appreciate its purpose, and I want to be part of its marketplace.

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an online marketplace where artisans and vintage and antique lovers can sell their items. All manner of fine artists and crafters sell on Etsy. You can get original works of art, jewelry, home decor, clothing, garden decor, fancy baked goods, flower seeds, floral arrangements, and so forth on Etsy. You can also find vintage books, dishes, clothing, and thousands of other items. Another interesting segment of the Etsy scene is the upcyclers. These people take old or salvaged items and make new things. There really is no limit on the variety of items you'll see people make to sell on Etsy.

Why do I like Etsy?

I support Etsy's purpose to provide real people with a place to sell goods to other people. It is about allowing people a place to make an income from doing what they love. It's a place where handmade creativity can pay off. Many people make a full time living at Etsy. Others make an income on the side.

Shoppers at Etsy get to know that the money they spend is going to support actual individuals, instead of some corporation that sends jobs overseas. Etsy shoppers appreciate the opportunity to buy something besides goods made in foreign sweatshops and sold in box stores. It's a nice way to encourage the consumer paradigm to shift from exploitation (cheap goods and inhumane wages) to nurturing a nicer economy (paying for value and supporting the people who make the goods). As an independent creative businessperson, I am completely on board with what I see going on at Etsy.

What do I sell on Etsy?

Because I am a written word artist, it may seem difficult for me to participate in Etsy. Even so, I have listed my fantasy fiction ebooks there as well as my audiobook. See my original fiction section.

But wait. I'm an estate sale junkie.

Going shopping at a store seems so boring to me now. I like the mystery and excitement of going through someone's house and garage. I never know what I will find.

My husband and I buy all kinds of things at estate and garage sales. He's begun dabbling in the auction scene too. We buy everything from furniture to art prints to kitchen utensils to toys to electronics. It saves us a lot of money and vintage items are often of better quality than goods produced today.

While shopping I keep an eye out for interesting vintage books. Some of them I sell as whole books, but others I take apart to sell the illustrations and pictures inside them. These I list in the vintage supplies category at Etsy for people to use in scrapbooks, collages, or to scan and use in new works of art.

I've also developed a few pieces of upcycled wall decor by framing vintage book pages. I've been rather pleased with the results. The wall decor is hanging in my house. I almost hope they don't sell because I like them so much.

Right now I am in the process of listing vintage art prints recovered from the 12 volume 1958 Metropolitan Seminars in Art. These vintage prints are of famous or interesting works of art from various periods in art history. So far I've sold a lovely Renoir print. I expect more will sell as time goes by. There's a couple prints from this collection that I think I will keep for myself.

Going forward, I'll be showcasing some of my vintage finds here at Her Ladyship's Quest.

I recommend that people add Etsy.com to their online shopping venues. It really is one of the best places to find unique gifts. And artisans and vintage addicts can find an endless supply of interesting objects to stimulate their imaginations. 
Vintage findings and original fiction at Tracy Falbe's Etsy store.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blog dedicated to Nook readers launches ebook deals for $4.99 or less

Bargain Books for Your Nook - blog dedicated to helping Nook readers find ebook deals
A new book blog catering specifically to users of the Barnes & Noble Nook ebook reader has launched. Along with monthly giveaways, the purpose of Bargain Books for Your Nook is to present ebooks from the Nook store that are $4.99 or less, including free. Published by Rose Gordon with contributions from Ruth Ann Nordin and Melanie Nilles, this new Nook blog includes a rating system to help readers select works that suit their tastes.

This blog fills the very underserved niche of Nook reading, and I suspect it will enjoy much success because many people enjoy reading on their Nooks and would likely appreciate a website that helps them peruse the Nook ebook catalog.

My ebooks have been in the Barnes & Noble Nook store for close to two years now, and Nook users comprise a substantial part of my readership. Thank you!

If you have a Nook or get one soon (I know of you are crossing your fingers for Santa), please do two things:

1. Subscribe to Bargain Books for Your Nook.
2. Download my free fantasy ebook Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I for your Nook.

I also invite my growing group of author colleagues to leave a comment here with a link to your Nook books.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Devil's Lair by David Wisehart free on Amazon today and tomorrow

I received an email this morning from author David Wisehart alerting me to his promotion for Kindle. He's the author of the well-received epic fantasy Devil's Lair. The story is set in Dante's inferno and a medieval knight quests through Hell in search of the Holy Grail.

Readers can get it for free on December 21st and the 22nd.

Devil's Lair for free on Kindle.

Merry Solstice to all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Movie Review: The Devil's Double


Interview with actor Dominic Cooper from The Devil's Double


I love it when a story makes me care about the main character and makes my mouth hang open with breathless anticipation for what will happen next. The Devil's Double based on Latif Yahia's autobiographical novel that recounts Latif's enslavement as the body double of Uday Hussein is one of those movies.

Uday Hussein was the eldest son of Saddam Hussein. Although Saddam was an iron fisted tyrant of Iraq, his spoiled son Uday was a completely vicious psychopath with free rein to abuse the Iraqi people in any way that suited him. For example, one of Uday's favorite diversions was abducting school girls off the street, drugging them, raping them, and killing them.

As you may recall, Saddam was famous for having one or more body doubles that made public appearances while Saddam stayed safely out of the action of his wars. In The Devil's Double, Uday decides that he needs a double.

After an exhaustive search for likely candidates to serve as Uday's double, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia is selected. He is intelligent and looks enough like Uday to make a convincing double.

Uday is smitten with Latif and delights in his possession of him. Latif refuses to serve as the double because it means giving up his own life and identity. Latif endures imprisonment and beatings but remains firm in his refusal until Uday threatens to commit wholesale slaughter of Latif's entire family. Beaten and miserable, Latif surrenders.

He is groomed and trained as Uday's double and must live as part of Uday's entourage. Uday calls him his brother Latif and lavishes attention on him and makes him accompany him while he commits atrocity after atrocity. Latif's life soon becomes unendurable because he is a good person and hates Uday's ceaseless cruelties. As I watched the movie I was utterly wrapped up in Latif's misery and constant challenges.

Uday is the most reprehensible character. Even Saddan comes across in the story as a reasonable person. In one scene Saddam declares that he should have strangled Uday at birth. Despite his paternal disappointment he continues to let Uday use Iraq as his sadistic playground.

I never knew what was going to happen next in this movie. At all times I was terribly concerned about Latif. The story is set in the late 80s and early 90s, so I had no idea what would happen. Because of Latif's circumstances I could not imagine anything but torture and death as his fate.

I won't give away the ending. Please watch it for yourself. The Devil's Double is a top shelf production. The filming is slick. The acting is wonderful, especially Dominic Cooper in the dual role of Latif and Uday. The movie is sexy, violent, desperate, and thrilling. Latif is a true hero. He is strong and smart and his courage under the worst circumstances is inspirational.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Online appearances and web activities

On Monday December 12th I will be a Highlighted Author at Beyond Worlds, a blog dedicated to fantasy and sci fi authors. I submitted my guest post for this feature a couple months ago, so I had to look at my records to see what I had written. I wrote an essay featuring Amar from Rys Rising: Book I and talked about the pleasures of writing a novel that embraces the bad guy.

I titled the guest post Fantasy Isn't Just About Good Guys. Visit Beyond Worlds on Monday to read what I have to say. Or find out what I'm talking about right now and download Rys Rising: Book I for free and spend some time with Amar.

I'm participating in the Good Tidings & Trimmings ebook giveaway organized by the Great Minds Think Aloud Literary Community. This is a massive giveaway drawing with dozens of prizes, among them ebook copies of Rys Rising: Book I and Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book II. See the giant list of prizes and enter.

In case you missed it earlier...

One of my favorite ways to promote my novels is to offer excerpts for publication at other blogs. It's the classic free taste, like those little cubes of cheese on toothpicks at the farmers' market. My most recent excerpts around the web can be found at these places:

Over at Indie Snippets - the best little blog for discovering indie ebooks - I snipped a scene from Rys Rising: Book I from the climax of Amar and Urlen's initiation into an outlaw brotherhood.

The book blog To Read or Not To Read published a flash excerpt from Savage Storm in which the rys seize a tower from their overlords.

Paranormal romance author J.R. Pearse Nelson kindly published this flash excerpt from Savage Storm that reveals a quiet moment of conversation between Cruce and Rayden as they prepare for a siege.

Union of Renegades audiobook review


Thank you to W. Brondt Kamffer author of the Ossian Chronicles for listening to the entire audiobook Union of Renegades and writing a very thoughtful review. (Read the full review of the fantasy audiobook.)

Kamffer found the story in Union of Renegades quite engaging and he wrote that he "hungrily devoured each chapter." It's always great to hear that.

Kamffer did have some issues of dislike for some of the main characters, but he did find them to be very real and genuine people, which for me means I succeeded in crafting characters. However, Kamffer often finds them irritating (just like real people). He disliked the heroine Miranda the most. Although I find his opinion that she brought all her problems on herself and self inflicted her wounds rather mystifying, I will admit that she is a character that invites the most criticism. Personally I like and admire her. She's born into a horrible life in a world that is literally against her and she decides ultimately to fight for her freedom. Of course in real life people tend to revile most a woman who rejects her oppression and chooses to stand up for herself. I suspect this is why Miranda gains the least sympathy among readers. I accept that maybe I could have written her better, but she is one of the very first characters I ever created. Her first fictional steps started in 1997. If I had done a better job creating her, then perhaps more people would be able to appreciate her.

My character the rys Shan, however, did appeal to Kamffer, who really liked Shan. Kamffer wrote:
"Of all the characters in the story, it is really Shan, the non-human Rys lord, who gave me someone to cheer. His cause is right. His heart is noble. His manner is gentle."
Although it was many years ago now that I wrote Shan, I was very much in love with him when I created him. He needs to be someone worth cheering. In Union of Renegades he inspires a rebellion in which his adherents risk their lives and very souls.

Thank you to W. Brondt Kamffer for taking the time to review Union of Renegades. He even managed to enjoy it and recommend it despite its gritty similarities to blockbuster fantasy author George R.R. Martin. Kamffer dislikes Martin's saga because of its lack of good noble-hearted characters. That's a fair enough criticism, but I actually enjoy Martin's writing quite a bit. For the record I wrote the entirety of The Rys Chronicles before ever reading the Song of Ice and Fire, but I am a great admirer of Martin. My fantasy fiction isn't quite as harsh as his, but we do share a realistic view of how people think and act.

If you like fantasy audiobooks, please consider giving Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I a try. Visit Brave Luck Books (TM) to download a free 3-chapter sample or purchase the whole 19 hour audiobook.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You know it's winter when you decide to watch Canadian movies



I happened upon the title FUBAR: Balls to the Wall while browsing my Netflix service. A movie with the tag line Spinal Tap meets the Trailer Park Boys simply demands my attention. Although any nice lady would disavow ever selecting such a title for viewing, I watched the whole thing in one sitting while my kids were at school. (Yes, I watch horribly inappropriate non-family content while my glorious offspring are safely ensconced in a government institution.)

This movie will delight people who enjoy losers with a disdain for sobriety, have ever been to an eviction party, consider workers' comp fraud a worthy goal, and are horrified by the abomination known as the Alberta tar sands.

My review:

I extend my happiest compliments to a story that can find a silver lining in testicular cancer and manage to be a heartwarming Christmas tale.

FUBAR: Balls to the Wall is a Canadian comedy that I rate NOT SAFE FOR YOUR CHILDREN OR YOUR PARENTS.

Enjoy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fiction appreciation – The transformative moment of a character

When I read fiction I like to be swept away by the dramatic difficulties faced by the characters. I want to empathize with them and understand them. I want to be hit by the full force of the changes sweeping their lives.

Good fiction is full of transformative moments for one or more characters. In such transitions, a character realizes something new. Perhaps a cherished belief is swept away. Maybe the character realizes that he or she has lost something precious forever. Betrayal, loss, accomplishment, physical challenge, and other creative events trigger these transformations within characters when they begin to understand and believe new things and act in new ways.

A well known example of a transformative moment occurs in the 1930s blockbuster novel Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The heroine Scarlett O’Hara after a great struggle reaches her family’s plantation after General Sherman’s army has laid waste to Georgia, and Scarlett fully realizes that her wealth, privilege, and prestige have been eradicated. As she scrounges for root vegetables in the garden with hunger stabbing at her stomach, she vows that she will do whatever it takes, even lying and stealing, to regain what she has lost. The time when Scarlett can bat her eyelashes and be a charming Southern Bell and get what she wants has ended. It’s time for her to get a lot tougher with the world, regardless of how others might judge her.

As a novelist, I work to build such moments into the lives of my main characters. These are the dramatic highs in which the story becomes intense and hopefully readers are completely wrapped up in the feelings of the character.

To illustrate a transformative moment, I am presenting a short excerpt from one of my fantasy novels Rys Rising: Book I. In this scene, the rys Dacian who has always valued obedience to the ruling order is confronted by the reality that the tabre who lord over the rys will use brutality to keep them in their place.

Breymer said, “Long centuries ago, before tabre had fully come to master and appreciate the orderly joys of civilization, harsh methods were employed to teach us discipline. I have decided that the use of the phlia-mel has become necessary again because the rys are a young breed and, as this female has shown, have need of discipline.”

No one among the hundreds of rys said anything, but Dacian could feel the collective protest caged all around him. He felt he should say something. Ask for mercy at least, but so many things held him back. Was he wrong to question his elders? Did he want to jeopardize his future as a Nebakarz? Did he have any reason to risk himself on account of this female who ignored the law?

“Begin,” was all the Daykash said, and the two priests who had escorted Onja earlier swiftly grabbed her again and pushed her to her knees. Angpar walked around the trio and regarded his subject. He shook the phlia-mel once so that all could see the spring in the rod, and then he reached down and yanked off her cloak and whipped it aside. He seemed eager to have at her.

Onja’s clothing was meager. She wore only a small vest and shorts and her lower back was already properly exposed. Dacian could see the muscles in her back tense in anticipation of the abuse, but she did not look over her shoulder at her punisher.

Angpar raised the phlia-mel, but his eagerness faded for a moment, and he contemplated his next action as if he suddenly realized that the world would change when he lowered his arm. Then his self righteousness returned and he swung at the rys female hard. The crystal barbs flashed with white light when they struck Onja’s blue skin and her cry mixed with the meaty thwap of the rod hitting her. She lunged forward automatically but her handlers yanked her back in place.

Many rys cried out or gasped, and some turned away, and before anyone could recover from their disgust, Angpar hit her again. The Daykash fixed an emotionless gaze on Onja. Dacian could not see her face but he imagined her grimace.

Dacian looked at Halor urgently. His lips trembled with outrage. “Stop this,” he begged.

“It will be over soon,” Halor said woodenly. His eyes insisted on obedience.

When the third blow fell, Onja’s cry was louder. Dacian heard her take a deep breath to brace herself for the next stroke. As she filled her lungs with this painful gasp, Dacian felt all his rational reasons for standing by collapse like a hillside soaked by torrential rain. He looked at the tabre priests and acolytes lined up on both sides of him. They watched the punishment raptly. Where was their compassion for her suffering? They were all civilized creatures, but Dacian realized that their values did not entirely extend to their much-maligned rys cousins. They would watch Onja endure eight strokes from the phlia-mel and agree with the Daykash that it was necessary and proper. Civilization required order but was brutality the only path to that end?

Angpar gave Onja her fourth stroke. Her sentence was half complete.

“Stop!” Dacian shouted. He rushed forward and felt Halor grab him but he shook him off and moved toward Angpar.
This scene illustrates the transformation when Dacian decided to cast away his comfortable life of obedience and save another rys from harm. He does not know what the consequences will be, but his life henceforward will be very different from the life he had planned to live.

I invite readers to join in the dramatic journeys of the many characters I create in the epic fantasies I write. You can download the free ebook version of Rys Rising: Book I. Formats for Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony, and most any computer or reading device are available. Rys Rising is a hard-hitting fantasy epic told from many angles.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Meet Amar from the Rys Rising fantasy series

Character Profile: Amar
Amar is a complex man. At times he can be supremely confident, but deep down he is tormented by his great failure to defend his tiny tribe. But there is no fixing the great devastation that swept away the life he was born to, and he focuses on serving Onja, the magical rys that fortuitously appeared at the moment he should have died. Her magic saved him and will influence him for the rest of his life.

Amar loves serving Onja. Her greatness soothes all his sorrows. Joining her glorious quest for power sets him on the path to becoming a warrior wrapped in mystery and fear. When she tells him to seek power and be as great as he can be, he defies outlaws and kings alike to achieve her goals. And Amar leverages his extraordinary relationship with Onja to attract loyal men.

Through a combination of shocking deeds and magical help, Amar quickly earns a reputation as a fearsome figure in the tribal kingdoms of Gyhwen. The peasants of the Sabar'Uto Domain whisper that he is the dro-shalum, which means curse demon.

Amar likes the name.

Famous quotes:

“You have a great sense of possession over she who dances naked before so many."

“My Lord must agree that this head is sufficient evidence that your enemy is dead.”

“I’m not going to touch you nor let any other man touch you. Lax Ar Fu wants your ransom. I’m not going to throw away that gold just for the pleasure of breaking you in.”

To join Amar on his adventures, download a free copy of Rys Rising: Book I. No matter what he does, serving Onja makes it right.

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

Read how to submit your character profile. I'd love to meet the incarnations of your Muses.

Followers