YA authors needed!

In honor of Young Adult fiction, I’m dedicating the whole week of July 22 – 30 (with Sunday off) to those who write for young adults.  During that week, seven  authors with published or soon-to-be published YA novels will appear on my blog to talk about anything and everything Young Adult.

If you are a debut author, this is a great opportunity to share everything you want anyone to know about your novel as well as your love for YA fiction.  Your novels can be in any genre, sold as e-book or hardback/paperback and you can also leave links to giveaways on your blog or website (my free wordpress account does not allow for Rafflecopter or similar programs).

If you are interested, please send the following information to kford2007@gmail.com:

*A brief 1-2 paragraph bio.  If you already have one posted on your blog or publisher site, you can use that one.
*A 100 word or less blurb about your book
*Any links (home page, blog, Twitter, author pages etc.) you want to include
*A bio pic
*Twitter and Facebook urls
I will notify the seven lucky authors no later than July 8 so you can have plenty of time to prepare to takeover my blog!

How to write a fantasy novel

All of my life I’ve known I wanted to write fantasy novels.  I knew I wanted stories filled with magic, as well as cool characters like knights, faeries, satyrs and dryads.  But even at a young age, I knew having cool characters was only a small portion of a fantasy novel.  It wasn’t until I got older and started reading and writing a lot of fantasy that I began to see certain trends emerging.  Over the next few days I will try to share what I’ve learned through research, trial and error, on how to write a fantasy novel.  Afterwards, with your help, we’ll try together to figure out how to piece it all together and market fantasy novels to the young adult/new adult audience.

Let the fun begin!

Step 1

What’s the first thing you need to write a fantasy novel (besides the obvious pen/pencil/paper/computer)?

An idea.

I know this sounds so incredibly simple and easy, but it’s not.  First, we have to have an idea that hasn’t been used before.  If you want to write about a boy who attends magic school to become a wizard…well, sorry, but that one’s been taken.  However, if you want to write about a magician who attends school to become non-magical…you might have something.  The story has to be workable.  There has to be an element of truth, of reality.  There has to be a logical structure.  You’ll need rules, guidelines.  Magic and the characters that use them will have to have limitations.  Your plot needs room to grow, expand, and your world needs to be large enough to compensate for the idea.

Step 2

Make your idea

Smart and Believable.

Simply being a magician who wants to become non-magical ‘just because’ is not enough reason to write a story.  However, if becoming non-magical can save the magical world from destruction, you might have something.

Step 3

Make your idea


I’ve found through my own trial and error the plot of the book, the characters of the book, should pertain to something you are passionate about.  The last thing you want is for your book to end up on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.  You want people to read it.  To ensure that happens, you must write from the heart.  If you’re like me, you know what I’m talking about.  How many times have you written something your heart wasn’t into because your boss or teacher asked you to?  Too many, I bet.  Now compare those papers to those you wrote about subjects near and dear to your heart.  See?  It’s like night and day.  If you can find a way to incorporate your passions into your novel, that enthusiasm will shine through and your reader will feel it, too.

And there you have it, the first step to writing fantasy.  Have an idea that’s workable, smart, and interesting.  Tomorrow I’ll take a look at outlining – should you or shouldn’t you?

Inspiration for creating fantasy creatures is as close as your local aquarium

This past Sunday, my family and I drove from the west coast of Florida to Orlando.  It was a dual purpose trip:  one to meet a fellow author and friend I’ve been talking to for almost 2 years online, and two, to visit Sea World.  Meeting my online friend and hanging out with her and her family for the whole day at the park was amazing.  We got along as well together in person as we have online and on the phone.  I feel very blessed we were able to meet and solidify our friendship.

Sea World itself offered up some surprises as well.  If you’re a writer, then you know you can never turn off the writer in you, no matter what the occasion.  It could be a funeral and you’ll always look for something to take note of for future stories.  To my surprise, glorious inspiration came to me inside the aquarium.  What caught my fascination?

Sea dragons.

Yes, Matilda, there are such thing as Sea Dragons, and when I met them, my brain flipped on and all sorts of ‘fantasy’ stories started firing in my head.  I mean, look at these guys.  They’re known as Leafy Sea Dragons.


My mouth dropped when I saw them.  Aren’t they magnificent?

But the wonders didn’t stop here.  On the other side of the same vertical tank were delightful creatures known as Weedy Sea Dragons.  I spent close to an hour hovering around this tank, taking notes about how they moved, what they looked like.  There was even a pair of Weedy’s that stayed very close to each other, as if they might be a mating pair.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of them together as my camera phone wasn’t cooperating very well, but I do have these to share from other websites.  (If you look carefully in the 2nd picture above, you can see a Weedy swimming in the background to the right).

Truly spectacular.

Needless to say, I must write about these beautiful, unusual species.  In fact, I already have an idea of how to incorporate them in the last novel of my Chronicles of Fallhollow series.

What about you?  Do you use real-life animals as inspiration to write fictional creatures?

And the winner is…

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a giveaway of a hard copy of Interrupted – life beyond words, by Rachel Coker.  If you missed it, you can read about it here.

As today is June 16th, it’s time to announce the winner.  May I have a drum roll please…..

And the winner is…


Char, please contact me at kford2007@gmail.com and provide me with your mailing address.

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy the novel.

Letters to Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, I’ve decided to offer up my blog to those of you who would like to write a letter to your dad, grandfather, uncle or husband and father to your own children.  Perhaps this wonderful man is no longer with you and you have something you’ve always wanted to tell him, but couldn’t.  Maybe you just want the world to know how much you love him.  Maybe there is something more personal you’d like to say.  Here is the chance to tell the world what’s in your heart.

If you want to participate, please leave your ‘letter’ in the comment section below.  Also, feel free to tweet about this using the hashtag #letterstodad.

I can’t wait to read your wonderful letters.  Thank you for joining in and sharing your thoughts and feelings about the men in your life.

Writing exercise – If magical, dragon-shifting humans ruled the world…

You are 16 years old.  A race of magical, dragon-shifting humans has taken over the earth and everyone is captured and removed to training camps, but for what type of training, you are yet to learn.  The elderly are deemed useless and ‘removed’ from society, including your beloved grand-parents.   After several months of  painful mental and physical ‘testing’, you find out you are to be eliminated and are thrown into a pit with others like you…others unworthy of the new race.  Unworthy to live.  Determined to stay alive, you brainstorm and discover there is one thing that exists that can return the world to  normal and rid it of the black magic that has veiled the world.

What is that one thing and how do you get it?  Feel free to elaborate.

Open Submissions – do you know of any you’d like to share?

Over the past couple of days I’ve had a couple of friends ask me if I knew of any open submissions for anthologies or magazines.  I don’t know many, but the ones I do know of are posted below.

Please feel free to add any sites you know of that are open to submissions and let us know if you are submitting.  I’m here to cheer you on!



Fantasy and Science Fiction

Lightspeed Magazine

Heliotrope Magazine

Strange Horizons

World Weaver Press – Open until July 7, 2012

Curse you, John Green, for making me cry

The Fault in Our StarsI thought I was doing well, getting through The Fault In Our Stars without shedding a tear. And then I reached page 261 and I fell apart. I sobbed. I couldn’t help it. I’d even been warned and I thought I had prepared myself. I was wrong.

This novel found its way deep into my heart. The two main characters, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, are so real I felt as if I were in the same room with them. I fell in love with them.  They both made me laugh.  They both made me cry. They both made me long for what was and could never be again.  They both made me realize how fragile love is.

The descriptions were impeccable, the settings, perfect.  There was one scene where Hazel and Gus visit Anne Frank’s house and I felt as if I was there, following along behind them.  When I found out the author spent time in Amsterdam to write, I understood why the settings were so perfectly scripted.

I looked and looked for something to find fault with in this story and I couldn’t find anything, not even an editor’s mistake. The novel is riddled with lines worth quoting in every day conversations and I highlighted this wonderful bit of ‘author’ advice:

“…this childish idea that the author of a novel has some special insight into the characters of a novel…it’s ridiculous. That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. What happened to them? They all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended.”

What is The Fault In Our Stars about?  From the inside cover:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis.  But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

This novel is brilliant.  It is an electrifying example of how people inflicted with cancer learn to live with half of their hopes among the living and the other half in the grave.  It deals with every aspect of mortality, including very human realistic fears like Will I ever be loved, accepted, even when terminally ill or damaged physically?  Will people remember me when I’m gone?  Will I leave a mark on the world or will I fade away?  What makes it even more poignant is that the people asking the questions are 16 and 17 years old. I was invested in Hazel’s story from the opening line until the final sentence.

John Green took me on an incredible journey with Hazel and Augustus, one I am sure to travel again and again, if for nothing else than the humor and the prose.  If this story is not picked up and made into a film, curse Hollywood.

John Green, I salute you.  My rating for this novel?  10 stars out of 5.  It is a must read…must own.  It is now a permanent part of my collection.  You should really make sure it’s a part of yours.  You won’t regret it.

Catching up

I arrived home yesterday after visiting my friend for a week. While gone, I didn’t have a big chance to write on my blog, (though I did manage one post), or respond to other bloggers, for which I apologize for. I’m back in the swing of things and ready to rock and roll. This past Sunday, my very first interview appeared on mywithershins blog. Squeee! Pretty awesome, right? I was so nervous and I think that came across, but like everything else ‘marketing’, the more one does it, the easier it gets. Maybe the next time I won’t ramble so much, but I do have to say, I was thrilled beyond words she asked for the interview. Thank you, Susan! Also while I was gone, the lovely Layla at be not afeard nominated me for two blog awards, the Inspiring Blog award and the Reader Appreciation Award! Thank you, Layla!  You all should head over to her blog and check it out.


As a recipient, I have to list seven things about me before passing on the awards to seven other people.  I haven’t done this in a while so here goes:

1.  My first dog was a fox terrier named Gypsy.
2.  I collect small, ceramic lambs.
3.  I also collect music globes of all kinds as well as statues of fantasy related items (castles, dragons, faeries, etc.)
4.  TV shows I can’t miss this coming season:  Falling Skies, Merlin, Once Upon a Time and Smash.
5.  I have type 2 diabetes.
6.  I’ve ridden an elephant.
7.  I’ve been parasailing.  It’s amazing how many sharks swim with swimmers so close to the coast of Florida.

Ok, next step, nominate 7 bloggers to receive the awards.  I hate this part because there are so many blogs that I love and visit all the time.  I hope no one feels slighted.  Please know that all of you are inspirational to me in some way and I can’t thank my readers enough for being so loyal.    Anyway, here goes.  Please pop over to their blogs and check them out.

For the Inspirational Blogger Award:

Julie Catherine
This Little Light
Liza Kane
Katy Upperman
C.B. Wentworth
Darleen Steelman
Lori Freeland

The Reader Appreciation Award:
The Literary Mom
Kourtney Heintz
Victoria Writes
Alphaeus:  The Underground Stream
Julie Reece
Robin Coyle
TBN Ranch

Major Publishing House files bankruptcy

It’s a sign of the times.   Major, large corporations that have been around for years are folding.  It’s no surprise that publishing houses are part of that group.  After all, tangible book sales are down, replaced by an upswing in e-book purchases.  While this is disconcerting and heartbreaking for this author (I love real books and think it’s almost sacrilegious  to eradicate them all together), I understand the big 6 can’t survive unless they put their finger on the pulse of the consumer.  They really need to re-evaluate their approach to publishing.

The first big house to file is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., the publisher of authors from Mark Twain to J.R.R. Tolkien.  They filed bankruptcy to eliminate more than $3 billion in debt.  The company filed Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, along with more than 20 affiliates.

According to an article in the Lake Tahoe News, “The global financial crisis over the past several years has negatively affected” Houghton Mifflin’s financial performance, in a business that “depends largely on state and local funding” for the schoolbook market, said William Bayers, company general counsel, in court papers.

He cited “recession-driven decreases” and “purchase deferrals” by the states and a “lack of anticipated federal stimulus support” for “substantial revenue decline.”

From someone who believes in traditional publishing with all of her heart, this doesn’t surprise me that such a large company would fall in the face of the current economy and its lack of forethought into future publishing.  I only hope the rest of the traditional publishers take notice and do something to stop their companies from the same fate.

It sickens me, literally sickens me,  to think there may be no more tangible books in the future.  It should be an option to all authors and readers.  Books last forever.  Kindles will only last until the next big piece of technology replaces it.  Books can be passed on, handed down from generation to generation.  E-books have to be paid for, you can’t pass them on, they can’t be shared and you’ll never find them at a flea market, garage sale or signed by the author.  But that’s a whole different post isn’t it?

The big houses need to wake up and quit thinking they are too big to be touched by this economy.  Start looking to the consumer instead of the government to find their way out of debt.  Many publishers are already putting their textbooks in e-book format and school systems are handing out Kindles to their students at the beginning of the school year with the textbooks loaded.  This opens a lot of issues that worry me economically (on more of a local state and county tax level), but the concept is a good one.

What are your thoughts on the frailty of the big six and do you think the traditional book can survive?  Do you want it to survive?  As a writer, are you more inclined to approach a big house or are you looking more for independent, smaller houses or even self-publishing?

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