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And now for something completely different… ish. I’m a fantasy writer and so I’m a sucker for maps. All the best epic fantasies have them. I’m published in a genre that pulls from this world with fantastical elements and doers of great deeds, sooooooo… no maps. I mean, California? Google it.

That’s why when one of my fellow authors at our publishing house, Tirgearr, put out a very engaging and spot on blog regarding maps in fantasy novels- I just had to share. I hope you’ll all enjoy her point of view and maybe even check out her stunning novel, The War Queen. Thanks again for appearing on my blog, J.M.!!!

Here’s her two cents… ENJOY!

Why E-book Fantasy Writers Should Include Maps

 

I’m an avid reader of fantasy books. I’m also an avid writer of fantasy books. And, what the heck, I’m also an avid enthusiast about maps in fantasy books. I own a lot of the Dragonlance books. I even have a map of Skyrim hanging in my hallway and a map of Maui right above my computer.

WHY YOU SHOULD INCLUDE A MAP IN YOUR FANTASY BOOK

The answer is very obvious. You want a map to, literally provide direction for your readers who have taken a chance on you and picked up your book to read it. You don’t need a map of America if you write contemporary, because, thank goodness to our schools, we were taught where California and New York is. And, if for some weird reason you’ve never opened a book, turned on the TV, or stepped outside in your life, you can GOOGLE those locations. I know. I’ve done it. You get hundreds of different maps for America.

Let’s say I wrote a book and titled it The War Queen. It’s a fantasy book set in my own made-up world called Endendre. Now Altarn is the Lady of Blindvar, who faces opposition from Kaelin who is the Lord of Ruidenthall. Separating these two states is Luthsinia. Altarn travels out of Niesh toward Athenya, stopping along the way at Yott and Gaynord where she eventually ends up on Greatmare.

Are you wishing you had a map of Endendre yet? Did you just try googling it? Didn’t find it? Here it is.

Endendre

 

Pretty fancy. Where did I get this map? I drew it. And because my sister is a professional artist on her way to stardom, I gave the outline to her and she dressed it up to be what you see here.

BUT JM! I DON’T HAVE AN ARTISTIC SISTER ON HER WAY TO STARDOM!

That’s fine. Here’s another map I drew by hand for another yet-to-be-published fantasy book of mine:

Anthrell

Of course when this book is published, I’ll throw it at my sister to dress it up professional like. Oh. Right. You don’t have my sister. But, you DO have programs online, you have illustrators all over the internet who would love love love your business (but JM! That will cost money!) So stop buying coffee at Starbucks every morning, eat beef ramen for dinner instead of sushi, bike to work instead of drive.

The point is, life costs money. Manage your money into the areas you feel are most important. Paying someone to illustrate your map can be cheap. You might find a good freelancer on Fiverr.com to do it for you. Or, again, you can throw it into a program – even word paint – and do it yourself.

Let’s get back to why you should have a map included in your book. It’s for direction. Can you imagine reading Lord of the Rings without having the guidance of a map? Or any of the Dragonlance Chronicles? How about The Wheel of Time?

Reading should be an enjoyment for your readers. Help them read easy by giving them a visual to follow along.

DON’T HAVE THE AMBITION TO CREATE A MAP?

Maps are fun to make. Creating a map brings your story to life and you start to believe you have created a real place that exists somewhere. It’s PART of your story, and you can do SO much more with your map aside from having it in your book. What do I mean by that? You can use it as a background on your book’s webpage. It might even look as awesome as this: https://www.jmrobison.com/the-war-queen1

Or go one step further and create yourself a store on zazzle.com and turn your map into a poster to hang in your hallway next to Skyrim:

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A mouse pad:

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A bumper sticker:

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(see these items in my zazzle.com store)

And then you can use this map as a fun free giveaway for your book. Basically, you’re not creating a map. You’re creating a massive promotion for your book that will hook readers to want to come back for more.

I’d LOVE to see your maps. I invite you to post a picture of it directly onto my Facebook author page.

Now, aren’t you glad you stopped by and learned about maps? Now you have a great book to pick up, War Queen, AND a new marketing tool! You’re welcome.

Have a GREAT weekend!!!

About JM…

Born in small town Bennington, Idaho, J.M. wanted to be just like her big, story writer sister. Big sister paints now, but that initial role model was all the springboard J.M. needed to fearlessly leap into writing the novels of her heart. Getting around the world as a soldier has helped broaden J.M.’s views on cultures and personalities, and settling down as a Deputy Sheriff in Nevada for a time has helped her maintain all the fine intricacies humans are capable of which has helped define her characters into something realistic and believable. Without any prior claims to fame, J.M. is proud to showcase that hard work, even from rock bottom, DOES pay off.

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Please do check out The War Queen- JM is with my press, Tirgearr Publishing, so you KNOW she rocks. Here’s a bit about the book:

Altarn is the first woman to hold the position of State Head in Blindvar. When Lord Kaelin, State Head of Ruidenthall, propositions her to merger with their states, Altarn believes it’s his subtle way of taking her kingdom for his own, making himself king. On the cusp of war, she rides in disguise to her last ally, Luthsinia, to ask for help.

During her journey, Altarn is ambushed but rescued by a man called Torren who offers her protection. Quickly they realize they share a mutual attraction. Upon their arrival to Luthsinia, Altarn receives news that an army has invaded Blindvar in her absence and blames Kaelin. Except it’s not Kaelin’s army, because she discovers Kaelin is in Luthsinia for the purpose of spying on her to take her land. And Torren is not who she thought he was.

Taking advantage of the unraveling situation, Kaelin kidnaps Altarn so he can take her land without her in the way and brings her to Ruidenthall. There’s a war ship on the horizon, led by a fallen angel craving mortal worship. Kaelin realizes he needs Altarn’s help to fight this army if he’s to save his kingdom. She’s forced to agree, but how will she react when he’s wounded in battle? If she lets him die, can she fight the enemy on her own? Or if she saves his life, will he still try claiming her kingdom, or try claiming her heart?

TheWarQueenbyJMRobison200

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog. Erika’s debut novel, The Dragon in The Garden can be found at Tirgearr Publishing.

 

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Venus and Lysander Interview

Venus and Lysander cover

About the Book

Title: Venus and Lysander

Author: Yoshiyuki Ly

Genre: Historical Romance / Fantasy

Living as a nobleman and as a woman, Valerie of Lysander is sick of waiting for the world to change. The discrimination she suffers as an outcast builds into resentment. Once Val takes matters into her own hands, the whole Empire of Tynan feels her brand of justice. The Emperor’s adviser, Lucrezia of Azrith, wants more of Val’s ruthlessness—for revenge against the unjust, and for her own desires. Venus and Lysander is an intricate romance set in the fictional Victorian city of Eden, 250 years after the events in The Scorpion’s Empress.

Lucrezia is Lady Chancellor for the Emperor and a sorceress-in-hiding. She is forced to conceal her identity from the religious public for fear of death. As she learns to trust in Val’s chivalry and affections for her, they both fall for the softer sides behind their similar bulletproof personas. Lucrezia receives a mysterious warning about a sadistic enemy threatening the Azrith and Lysander families. Once they discover their nemesis’ true motive, Val and Lucrezia’s tyrannous devotion for one another is all they can count on to survive.

This week I am happy to welcome Yoshiyuki Ly to my site. I thank her and Enchanted Book Promotions for bringing us together.

  • Let’s start at the beginning… how do you like to say hello? Do you have a favorite greeting? Are you a hugger?
    I usually say “hey” or nod my head. Not much of a hugger unless I know the person well and haven’t seen them in a long time.
  • I’m finding the character of Val fascinating. A woman living in a man’s world is at once very timeless and completely modern. Shades of Orlando. What inspired this character? Can you give us a glimpse into her head?
    I was inspired by my own androgyny as someone who looks feminine but thinks and sometimes acts in masculine ways. She doesn’t fit in. She knows that the binary ways of seeing gender end up causing issues for most people in the world, and not just her. But because she’s affected by this mentality more so than others, Val is the one who’s compelled to change the world “for the better,” even though she’s inherently self-motivated.
  • Fantasy can be so all-consuming (in such a good way) for readers- why did you choose the Victorian era to color your world? What can you tell potential readers about why they should visit the city of Eden?
    I played a lot of Bloodborne while writing this story. It’s a horror action role-playing game with Lovecraftian themes, set in a fantasy Victorian setting. The stark darkness of that setting compelled me along with the soundtrack. Eden doesn’t feature the horror from Bloodborne, but there’s a lot of history from the institutions there: it’s a hotbed of history-in-the-making with a revolution for civil rights at its tipping point.
  • What is next on your writer’s journey? What goal do you have in your sights next?
    Working on a distant sequel for this book that ties everything together.
  • Have you had any cool fan interactions? Have any of your readers’ responses particularly touched you?
    Most of my current fans have been with me since I wrote fanfiction. A few of them are my friends today. Forming those unexpected bonds was nice for me.
  • Can you share three new, relatively unknown books? We all love recommendations so choose three awesome titles to champion. (No fair picking your own!)
    I’m not sure about new, but anything by Pixelnyx, my favorite author, is worth my recommendation.
  • Can you share one resource: website, marketing strategy, social media medium that you feel has most helped you and could help other writers on their way?
    I keep a blog that I update regularly with my writing process and anything else that I’m up to. I think it helps readers stay connected with me.
  • What do you wish your readers could know about you?
    Nothing they don’t already know. I’m a private person.
  • If you could play Fairy Godmother for one night and give three people a gift, which three would you visit and what would you give them?
    It would be three specific people that I don’t speak to anymore. I’d like to give them a smile for once—something they rarely got from me.
  • Mimosa vs. Bloody Mary- the debate rages on… compare and contrast, please.
    I actually don’t think all that much.
  • If you had to choose… country music or rock and roll… what would you choose and why does your choice speak to you?
    I can’t think of any country songs I like, so rock and roll. If it includes alternative rock like Radiohead and IAMX, then that’s perfect. I tend to like a blend of genres.
  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself?
    Actual sleep. I have a bad habit of not sleeping for days at a time when I’m working on a series of chapters. Not because I’m avoiding sleep—the insomnia takes over when I have too many ideas and my mind won’t shut off. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Author bio

Yoshiyuki Ly was born in San Diego, CA. She lived there until moving away to college. In high school, she began writing fanfiction as a serious hobby. Her pen name represents her multiracial heritage and a unique, diverse outlook that reflects in her work. She is a writer and a gamer.

The Links

http://mybook.to/venusandlysander

http://mybook.to/thescorpionsempress

https://twitter.com/LyLikeLee

http://facebook.com/yoshiyukily

http://yoshiyuki-ly.livejournal.com/

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog. Erika’s debut novel, The Dragon in The Garden can be found at Tirgearr Publishing.

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This will be short, but honest. Some people haunt us. They come up again and again. No matter where we go… they are there. Don’t lie- you have them, too.

I have one friend I met when I was when I was thirteen and he was twelve. My first love, my first “go with” boyfriend, my first so many things. We went to cross town high schools- constantly ran into each other. Then I went to Davis and he went to Sac State. Crossed paths through 1995. I ran into him at an Iron Maiden show in 1998, then a Dio show at The Filmore in 2000, and then in Times Square in 2010. Plus we met a few times on purpose. Some people, you just can’t escape. But I’m sure as hell going to try.

We say it’s a small world. It’s not. We all have gravitational shifts. I know I’m not the center of the universe, but you keep spinning around me just the same.  Now stop. In these aspects crazy is a choice. Choose wisely. Walk away.

We don’t have to repeat mistakes. I didn’t. I broke the pattern and have a lovely life as a reward. I’m not going back.

The center of the universe can shift- never forget that. And it can be… glorious. A new, better day.

This week’s song is Heavy by Linkin’ Park- please click here to enjoy.

“Heavy”
(feat. Kiiara)

I don’t like my mind right now
Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary
Wish that I could slow things down
I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic
And I drive myself crazy
Thinking everything’s about me
Yeah I drive myself crazy
Cause I can’t escape the gravityI’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy
 
You say that I’m paranoid
But I’m pretty sure the world is out to get me
It’s not like I make the choice
To let my mind stay so fucking messy
I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning round me just the same
I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning round me just the same

I’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy

I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning round me just the same
I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning round me just the same
And I drive myself crazy
Thinking everything’s about me
 
I’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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Okay… so… I have to confess that these are NOT my interview questions. However, I did agree to help the lovely Enchanted Book Tours out and this is a series I think my readers will enjoy, so I agreed to post someone else’s interview.

I will say, easy peasey for me.

About these books:

Title: Book One- Trials, Book Two- Tribulations, Book Three- Triumphant

Editor: Faith Hunter

Genre: Urban Fantasy

21 Vignettes and Short Stories set in Faith Hunter’s World of Thorn St. Croix.

The Rogue Mage world began long ago, when the epic battle between the High Host and the Darkness was won and lost. TRIALS takes fans of Thorn St. Croix into the past, before the opening pages of BLOODRING. These stories, set in Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage world, are adventures with new characters and old, facing dangers unimaginable. And they must save the world all over again.

If you ever wondered what happened between seraphs, kylen, second-unforeseen, mages, seraph-touched, spawn, humans, dragons, and their creatures before the series, now is your chance to delve deeper and wider. TRIALS features new short stories from nine authors—including Faith Hunter—and vignettes from the Rogue Mage role playing game.

TRIALS will be followed soon by TRIBULATIONS, and then by the omnibus TRIUMPHANT which will bind Volumes 1 & 2 together.

TRIALS Authors: Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, Lou J Berger, Ken Schrader, Spike Y Jones, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Christina Stiles, Tamsin Silver, Melissa McArthur.

TRIBULATIONS Authors: Faith Hunter, Jean Rabe, Spike Y Jones, Christina Stiles, and Lucienne Diver.

trials

 

 

The Interview: Lou Berger.

  1. What was it like to play in the Rogue Mage world?

It was exhilarating!  I was a Faith Hunter fan even BEFORE she asked me to write a story, and I’m an even bigger fan now that I’ve had the opportunity to work with her directly!

She has spent a ton of time thinking through the Rogue Mage world, and her insights are encyclopedic. As a mostly-SF guy, she was very patient with all my attempts at quantifying the mage capabilities.

  1. Was it hard to develop your character within the confines of the Rogue Mage world?

A bit, yes.  I have an engineering mindset and struggle with the ephemeral nature of mage powers. I tried to validate them as electricity-like, and Faith encouraged me in my thinking. Together, we crafted a means by which a stone mage could channel creation energy, use it to her purposes, and NOT die.

  1. Tell us about your character. What species, etc.

Epena Kawai, which literally translates to “Stone Water,” is a mage who was born just before her own mother was killed. She dislikes going barefoot, since contact with stone tickles her feet, and she finds that unpleasant.  It’s a complete surprise, therefore, when her grandmother explains her powers.

  1. When your story was finished, how did you feel about your character and story?

Oh, I *love* Epena!  I like her spunk, her style, her willingness to stare death…or a dark seraph…right in the face without flinching!  She’s a great nurturer, deeply passionate, and she treats her little cousin with the tenderness you frequently only find in moms.

  1. Tell us about your other projects.

I have a couple other short stories coming out soon, including one set in Bordeaux, France, during World War II, and a steampunk story set in the Old West, with an automaton that struggles with completing his master’s last order, so is left carrying his desiccated corpse through town over, and over, and over again.

trials

Links

Amazon Trials: https://www.amazon.com/Trials-Rogue-Mage-Anthology-Book-ebook/dp/B01N43OZ6C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1482094741&sr=1-1&keywords=trials+anthology

B&N Trials: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trials-faith-hunter/1125191913?ean=2940157139261

Amazon Tribulations: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2UTGCF/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482094874&sr=8-1&keywords=tribulations+faith+hunter

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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Everyone, and I mean everyone, is fighting battles that you cannot, do not, and will not see. Each of of us wage our personal wars against whatever Dementors have come for us. No one has it all figured out, no one is immune, no one leads that Perfect Life.

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It might be an infidelity, separation from a loved one, an illness, an addiction, an insecurity. Just remember- as in our capacity for joy- we are also joined by our challenges. When that clerk is rude, that bus driver snaps at you, your friend lets you down– they’re just people with feet of clay. It hurts.

It hurts.

It hurts

It hurts.

You don’t know what news they got that morning. You don’t know who they just lost or are about to lose. Loving makes us our best… and in loss, our worst.

Be kind. It hurts.

I’m not made of stone- it hurts.

Here is Hurts by Emeli Sande- she’s amazing. Sing baby, just keep singing. Sing our pain away.

Please see this video, hear this song. Then, remember throughout your day. We’ll all be better for that small courtesy. Hugs to you all. ALL.

Hurts

Baby I’m not made of stone
It hurts
Loving you the way I do
It hurts

Hold tight it’s a sing-a-long
I’m alright, I’m alright, but I could be wrong, baby
I know you remember me
5’3 in the back of the lavory, come on
You could at least try and look at me
Oh man, oh man, what a tragedy, ha ha
Bang, bang, there goes paradise
I chill why we always had to roll the dice, la la
Heartbeat in the regular
Two seats in the back of the cinema, hazy
Ah yeah, you’re forgettin’ it
And all the mad shit we did after that, crazy
Your heart, come on baby
I swear you’re giving me shivers, shivers

Baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts
Loving you the way I do
It hurts
When all that’s left to do is watch
It burns
Oh baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts

Hold on it’s a marathon
Run fast, run fast like the rivers run, god damn
Never seen in the restaurant
I took a minute till the penny dropped, you know
My tears don’t fall too often
But your knife is cuttin’ me deep
Deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep

Baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts
Loving you the way I do
It hurts
When all that’s left to do is watch
It burns
Oh baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts

It hurts the way
That you pretend you don’t remember
It hurts the way
That you forget our times together
Like the time
Laid in bed when you said it’s forever, baby
I can’t, I can’t explain no more

Baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts
Oh, loving you the way I do
It hurts
When all that’s left to do is watch
It burns
Oh baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts

Oh baby, I’m not made of stone
It hurts
Loving you the way I do
It hurts

Emeli Sande- thank you for singing our pain away- wiping us clean and ready to take on another day.
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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

 

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