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  1. Hail to you peasants and pedants, tis I, Ulesorin, returned to you once more in all of my glory. Take a look at the verdant forest green of my accoutrements. Marvel at their richness. Neither the blandness of blue nor the putridity of yellow, but a far finer vestment than either, now that my rightful colours have been returned to me following the ultimate gruesome end of the dread dragon divorce dealings. They are the only thing that I still have from my old home in the free kingdoms. Them and the kobold lawyers on retainer, constantly chittering and whining at me that answering letters from pathetic reprobates on other planes of existence is a term of my public service for my contempt of court charge, not the actual divorce proceedings. To the letters! *** Dear Ulesorin, Will you write my mid-winter festivity cards please? Cheers. *** I am coming to suspect that the immortal wisdom of the greatest wizard of our times has been somewhat misunderstood by you people. That the incredible gift that I am offering up to you people on your little round world without the slightest hint of magic and wonder is being overlooked in its entirety. Particularly when I receive requests in this manner. Could I write all of your mid-winter cards? Of course I could. It would be a simple matter for a genius such as myself. My calligraphy is so beautiful it could make the very angels weep. I need not even lift a quill to perform such a feat, I could craft a spell that would seep into your mind as you are sleeping, pilfer the names and addresses of those who are deserving of a remembrance in the cold time of the year, and inscribe them upon plates of solid gold, hewn from the heart of a dwarf-king’s throne-egg. Were I feeling spiteful, I might also have the spell inscribe the precise number of times that you had pictured the person you expect me to write to on your behalf without their clothes on. But of course your question, so artfully phrased, did not ask if I were capable of such feats. Nay. It asked if I was willing to perform them, and to that I must give a most hearty no. Why, I do not even have the time to address and dispatch all of the many scrolls of festive greetings to the myriad kings, queens, dark lords and ladies, dragons of ill repute and miscellaneous heroes that are my own acquaintances. There simply is not enough time between now and the longest night! Furthermore, it would be a most grotesque waste of my precious time to do so. The greatest and most beloved people of my realm, and I cannot spare the time to send them a simple missive? Let me tell you first and foremost that with eternal life comes a great many introductions, and even were you to recall a fraction of them, it is supremely unlikely that you shall muster the energy to recall the respective lifespans of each person that you met. To whit, I cannot write for fear of addressing my card to the great grandfather of the currently reigning monarch. And even in the unlikely scenario that I could recall both who I am writing to, and whether they are alive, I still would not bother myself with such frivolities, for I am Ulesorin the Green, mightiest of wizards! You expect a man of my stature to write you little notes telling you I’m happy you survived another year? I could not give the faintest whiff of a damn. If you live it is only because you have not yet caught a stray fireball in the midst of one of my epic conflicts. Should I ever come upon your world, dear writer. Rest assured. You shall catch a stray fireball, even if I have to hand deliver a demon to your next door neighbour as an excuse. *** Email your problems to thefantasyhive@gmail.com with the subject: Ask the Wizard. Or leave a comment below. Having relationship issues? Need career advice? You name it, our ‘Agony Ant’ can help!* *Disclaimer: All answers are provided for entertainment purposes only. It may not be in your best interests to follow advice provided by a 1794-year-old man who firmly believes that arson is the best medicine. The post ASK THE WIZARD – Pick a Card, Any Card appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  2. Sorry about that title… I didn’t mean it to sound confrontational. It’s really just my internal monologue. Because I consider quitting. I consider quitting all the time. Every day. This applies both to my specific writing projects, and also to writing in general. And with all my other creative endeavors. But I don’t mean to say that I give up on everything. I just consider it. Because, for me, it really is worth pondering whether each crazy venture is worth it. I even considered quitting this video a few times… Do you think about quitting? Do those thoughts reflect a weakness, or an important part of your creative process? About Yuvi ZalkowYuvi Zalkow's first novel was reluctantly published in 2012 by MP Publishing. His forthcoming novel will be published by Red Hen Press. His stories and essays have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, The Daily Dot, Rosebud, The Poop Report, and others. He occasionally makes YouTube videos and apps for iPhones. Check out his website if you actually want to find out more. Web | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=yttBGi9RX78:cqnGl2Ca-aA:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=yttBGi9RX78:cqnGl2Ca-aA:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  3. “Hron’s a country, I guess,” Sorros said, “in that we’re a collection of people with a somewhat-shared culture who commonly defend certain rough borders and principles. But we’re not a country like Vorronia or Borolia or even the Floating Isles. We don’t have a king of a parliament or a council or a royal priesthood or trade barons or capitalists or really any of the vestiges of power at all. We’re a country, but we’re an anarchist country.” “What does that mean?” I asked. “It means that everyone in Hron is the master of their own destiny,” Sorros said. “It means that there are no laws here, no prisons.” Dory chimed in. “The free Confederation of Hron is a voluntary association of autonomous groups and individuals who cooperate to provide on another mutual aid,” Dory said. “Yeah, that mouthful right there. That’s Hron. We’re people who have each other’s backs because having someone’s back means someone has yours, and that’s a good way to live.” Margaret Killjoy’s A Country Of Ghosts is a remarkable book, one that demonstrates the power of speculative fiction and Fantasy as a tool to imagine new ways of living outside of repressive regimes. It’s customary for lazy Fantasy reviewers to compare any vaguely political work of SF or Fantasy by a woman writer to Ursula K. Le Guin, but in this case, Killjoy’s novel is a genuine successor to Le Guin’s exploration of an anarchist, anticapitalist society in The Dispossessed (1974). A Country Of Ghosts imagines a character from an imperial colonising power coming into contact with an anarchist society in a secondary fantasy world in the 19th century, and from this Killjoy explores with eloquence, warmth and humanity how a utopian society might organise itself in a way radically different to ours. Originally published by Combustion Books in 2014, A Country Of Ghosts is republished this year by AK Press as the first book in their Black Dawn series, dedicated to imagining anticapitalist, anticolonialist and antiracist futures in honour of Octavia E. Butler’s works, where it makes an excellent mission statement for the line. A Country Of Ghosts tells the story of Dimos Horacki, a journalist from Borol who is sent to the frontlines of the war to report on the exploits of Borolian war hero Dolan Wilder. Travelling with the Imperial Army, Dimos soon experiences the brutality of Wilder and his men, and the violence which they mete out to the small settlements in the Cerrac mountains. When his honest eyewitness report is intercepted by Wilder, he is sent out on a suicide mission and captured by the Free Company of the Mountain Heather. Dimos finds out that the mountains are home to the anarchist country of Hron, and as he befriends the militia and learns about their ways and their culture, he is shown a way of living free from the tyrannical oppression of the Borolian Empire. Like many classical utopian texts, we are shown the anarchist utopia of Hron through the eyes of an outsider, which allows us to learn about the society’s culture and organisation as the protagonist learns about them. Dimos is an excellent character for this. As a political journalist, a gay man, and an orphan brought up by the state, Dimos has a nuanced understanding of the various layers of oppression that shape Borol. The Borolian Empire is loosely based on the British Empire, and its methods of colonialist expansion, its use of violence and its erasure of indigenous cultures, and its reduction of its own people to a privileged upper class and a starving, downtrodden working class are all too familiar. Dimos may have a healthy cynicism about the Borolian Empire which makes him willing to listen to his new friends he meets in Hron, especially after he has seen first-hand the atrocities committed by the Imperial Army, but he still has many questions about how society in Hron works. As he journeys across the Cerrac mountains, he learns some answers to these questions from the various characters he meets and interacts with: Sorros Ralm, the militia man who first befriends him, Nola, his partner and a woman with a brilliant military mind, Grem, Dory, Joslek and Desil, the younger members of Mountain Heather that he spends his time with. What makes A Country Of Ghosts so compelling is that Dimos’ lessons are not imparted simply through discussion with other characters, although there is plenty of that. Killjoy skilfully makes her arguments by letting her characters lead by example. The novel is excellent social science fiction, imagining various different ways people might approach living in an anarchist society. Through Dimos, we get to see first-hand how the Free Companies are able to organise themselves without having to resort to hierarchical chains of command. Each settlement in Hron, from the villages of Holl and Molikari to the great refugee city of Hronople, have their own particular way of self-organising, that is built around freedom, cooperation and mutual respect. In contrast to the poverty and violence in Borol, the people of Hron have found a way to live outside of the rigid restrictions of capitalism and empire. Killjoy explores how a society might operate that respects personal autonomy, yet is still able to functionally come together to defend itself and in which there are no laws but there are still consequences that prevent murder and violence. Additionally, these freedoms allow the people of Hron to exist free from the racist, colonialist attitudes of the Borolian Empire, with people interacting on a more personal level. Dimos finds that, as a queer person, he enjoys much more freedom with the Hron to explore his sexuality and to be with other people than he ever had at home in Borol, and the difference between how the various people he encounter treat foreigners compared to the brutal violence the people of the Cerrac mountains receive at the hands of the Imperial Army is striking. A Country Of Ghosts works both as an exploration of anarchy and as literature. Killjoy’s writing is thoughtful and elegant, and the story is structured around various armed conflicts between the Free Companies and the Imperial Army, creating plenty of action and tension to keep the reader invested. Killjoy’s characters are human and believable, and she does not resort to short cuts or easy answers to hammer home her political arguments. It is a novel that will stay with me for a long while, and I look forward to reading more of Killjoy’s work and seeing where AK Press take their Black Dawn series from here. The post A COUNTRY OF GHOSTS by Margaret Killjoy (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  4. Big thanks to author, illustrator, and former regular Writer Unboxed contributor Debbie Ohi for use of this comic. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! About Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~50 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. In 2014, the first Writer Unboxed UnConference (part UNtraditional conference, part intensive craft event, part networking affair) was held in Salem, MA. Learn more about our 2019 event, ESCAPE TO WuNDERLAND, on Eventbrite. In 2016, the Writer Unboxed team published a book with Writer's Digest. AUTHOR IN PROGRESS: A No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published has been well-received by readers who seek help in overcoming the hurdles faced at every step of the novel-writing process--from setting goals, researching, and drafting to giving and receiving critiques, polishing prose, and seeking publication. James Scott Bell has said of the guide, "Nourishment for the writer's soul and motivation for the writer's heart." You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, and join our thriving Facebook community. Twitter | Facebook | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=ksRSkiyMLec:fD-YNzrDJAY:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=ksRSkiyMLec:fD-YNzrDJAY:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  5. Content warnings: Death of parents and children, and grief; spousal abuse in all forms; drug use; pregnancy complications and intense postpartum depression. Welcome to the Winter Garden. Open only at 13 o’clock. You are invited to enter an unusual competition. I am looking for the most magical, spectacular, remarkable pleasure garden this world has to offer. On the night her mother dies, 8-year-old Beatrice receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. A place of wonder and magic, filled with all manner of strange and spectacular flora and fauna, the garden is her solace every night for seven days. But when the garden disappears, and no one believes her story, Beatrice is left to wonder if it were truly real. Eighteen years later, on the eve of her wedding to a man her late father approved of but she does not love, Beatrice makes the decision to throw off the expectations of Victorian English society and search for the garden. But when both she and her closest friend, Rosa, receive invitations to compete to create spectacular pleasure gardens – with the prize being one wish from the last of the Winter Garden’s magic – she realises she may be closer to finding it than she ever imagined. Now all she has to do is win. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to blow me away like it did. It feels like any story with a dreamy magical component gets compared to The Night Circus, but almost none of them capture the special feeling that made that a great book – The Winter Garden, however, deserves the comparison, while also being an entirely different beast. This is a book that interweaves darkness and whimsy, using the contrasts of painful reality and sparkling magic to really dig deep into beautiful, emotional character work. I haven’t stopped thinking about the leads, Beatrice and Rosa, for weeks. It is quite a dark read, so do make use of the content warnings above and go particularly carefully if you’re sensitive to domestic abuse and child death, because they are central to much of the book. A lot of the marketing of this book focuses on how whimsical and magical it is, and that is to some extent fair. There is plenty of gorgeous, Night Circus-y magic, and the depictions of the Winter Garden are stunning, don’t get me wrong! But to only go into this book just wanting cool magic would be a disservice to the book and yourself as a reader, because that is beautiful trimming on top of a much darker, more intense story. The competition aspect is important, but while I thought it might offer a fairly typical fantasy trial storyline, with Beatrice and Rosa racing to find dramatic magical items, it’s actually much quieter than that, allowing us to look carefully at their lives and motivations and what makes them tick. This is a character-focused book at its heart, and it pulls that off to perfection, full of nuance and believably flawed people just striving to feel okay. What really made this book sing for me was how powerful and realistic the depictions of mental illness and the stressful early days of motherhood were, and how the Victorian setting works beautifully as both a backdrop and a cage for both women. This is a book deeply concerned with women’s lives – the ways the world tries to deprive them of power and the ways they fight back. But, given that I’m not generally a fan of that style of “normal” historical fiction, I don’t think that I would have loved it so much if that darkness wasn’t balanced with the wonder of the Garden… You know I hate an unrelentingly miserable book, and I’d hate to give you the impression this is depressing when I found it quite the opposite; it’s the juxtaposition that makes it work. (One tiny note about the formatting of this book: there are long epistolary sections, and the letters are printed in different handwriting fonts. I found one of these fonts incredibly difficult to read, which spoiled the flow of the book for me. I hope that this is less of a problem in the finished copy, as I did read a proof, but I wish publishers would stop making this choice in pursuit of aesthetics when they can so easily spoil the reading experience. Readers are perfectly able to understand the concept of a handwritten letter without needing it to be in fake handwriting! But this is such a minor niggle.) I’ll be honest, I’ve spent hours thinking of what I can tell you about this book that isn’t going to spoil the reading of it, because once I’d read it I really appreciated discovering it from scratch, and picking up all the little pieces that made it fit together for myself. It made me cry, it made me huff in frustration, it made me laugh, and it left me absolutely, desperately rooting for these characters to find a way for both of them to be happy (and for the villain to get a drastic comeuppance). It’s gorgeously written. There’s really not much more that I can say than that I was hooked from start to finish, and beyond. Fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January should give this a try: they’re not that similar in content, but I think they have a shared vibe in terms of the fantastic being a vehicle for intensely personal stories of women searching for their own stories. It would also work for those who loved the darkness of Wendy, Darling. I’ll also mention that the comparison that sprang to mind for me most while reading was A Little Princess, with its mix of tragedy, hope, and magic (though the magic here is much more real than Sara’s, obviously). The Winter Garden is really something lovely that took me by surprise. The post THE WINTER GARDEN by Alexandra Bell (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  6. Please welcome author Annette Nauraine (she/her) to WU today! Annette reached out to us recently after learning more about slavery in the 1700-1800s in Great Britain. It made her wonder about the responsibility that a historical author has to depict those times authentically. From her bio: Annette’s latest book is Kissing the Kavalier. She is a wife, recovering opera singer, mom of two, Doodle mom. She loves classical music, gardening and gardens, writing, reading, history, opera and dogs. When she has a spare minute, she enjoys period movies and TV series like Versailles and Crown. She spends her time trying to keep ahead of everything life has to offer and enjoying love and laughter. Learn more about Annette on her website, and follow her on Facebook at annettenauraineauthor. The Issue of Slavery in Historical Novel Writing A New Yorker article (Home Truth, by Sam Knight, New Yorker, August 23, 2021) detailed how many of the great English country estates were created by the use of slaves in the West Indian colonies. I was horrified that I never knew this. As an American, I’m well aware of the history of slavery in the US, but it never occurred to me that all estates for movies and TV shows based on Jane Austen novels, Bridgerton, Brideshead Revisited and stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods, were built and supported by slavery. In 1807, parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, effective throughout the British empire, but it wasn’t until 1833 that slavery was abolished in British colonies through the Slavery Abolition Act and West Indian slaves obtained their freedom. About 12.5 million people were transported as slaves from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean between the 16th century and 1807. When the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, there were 46,000 slave owners in Britain, according to the Slave Compensation Commission, the government body established to evaluate the claims of the slave owners. Slavery wasn’t on the doorstep of the British because it was kept at a great distance in the West Indies, where slaves were used to harvest staple crops such as indigo, rice, coffee, but most importantly, sugar which was used to make rum. Slave owners were euphemistically called, “West India Merchants,” which disguised their ownership of slaves. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 freed 800,000 Africans who were the legal property of Britain’s slave owners. Contained in the act was a provision of £20m of taxpayer funds to bail out the owners for the loss of their “property.” That sum was 40% of the total government expenditures for 1834. It is the modern equivalent of between £16bn and £17bn. The slaves received nothing, and worse, were compelled to provide 45 hours of unpaid labor each week for their former masters, for a further four years after their supposed liberation, forcing the slaves to buy their own freedom. Except for books written by few writers of color, these facts, or even characters of color, rarely appear in historical novels. Romances, in particular, involve relationships meant to meet reader expectations. Admittedly, the ugly facts of slavery do little to enhance the fantasy of a plain Jane being plucked from ignominy and rising to the status of a Lady. However, if writers want to accurately depict history, characters, and a social milieu, it is incumbent upon us to mix in a bit of realism. Using the struggle against slavery in English could add great depth to characters, provide a whole new line of stories, and draw in new and diverse readers. Including the presence of slaves and acknowledging the income source of hundreds of British families, can also bring a wider awareness of history that many would prefer to sweep under the proverbial Persian rug. Is it appropriate for white writers to write about slavery or should it remain the province of POC? Slavery is history; real, hard, painful, and dreadful. Weaving in characters of color takes guts, research and awareness, and sensitivity readers. We might get slapped down for getting it wrong or lose readers who don’t like that slice of history included in their books. Entertainment, not education, is what draws many readers to books, no matter a book’s setting. But leaving slavery, or enslaved persons out of our narratives is like wiping out the fact of slavery and the individuals who suffered under its injustice. We can’t ignore the fact that the blood of thousands of slaves built many of the great, beautiful English estates and, probably, the estates of many other countries who engaged in slavery. People of color and their history have been made invisible for too long. As writers, no matter our race, we can choose to illuminate that with the mightiest tool we have: words of truth. All respectful comments are welcome! http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=0QO8f6amoDw:zKeqaydaJLQ:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=0QO8f6amoDw:zKeqaydaJLQ:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  7. Nils and I received copies of Once upon a Winter from MacFarlane Lantern Publishing, a collection of folk and fairy tales with a winter theme. Fellow reviewer Asha, writing as Adie Hart, has a story in the anthology that we couldn’t wait to read – A Pea Ever After. I do intend to read the rest of the anthology and review it as a whole, but this is just a mini review of A Pea Ever After, as Nils and I read it together. Well ish. Nils read it in one sitting! Nils: I did, didn’t I?! Sorry about that, Once I started though it was pretty hard to put down. Like you, I intend to read the other stories too but having never read any of Hart’s stories before I was eager to begin with hers. Beth: Ha, you were so eager to jump straight in! So, A Pea Ever After is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Princess and the Pea, wherein a queen searches for a suitable bride for her son by testing the sensitivity of a woman (because princesses are so sensitive they could feel a single pea through multiple layers of mattresses). Nils: Are you telling me you can’t Beth?! I of course can, I’m just so delicate and sensitive. Beth: I am a brute who will fall asleep anywhere. It’s a different kind of ‘p’ that gives me problems in the night. Nils: Honestly, same too!! Beth: I’ve always found it a particularly strange fairy tale, and never really paid it much heed, and so what I loved so much about Hart’s retelling was that she’d seemed to pluck all the issues I had with the original to explore in her retelling. Nils: I have to admit I’m not particularly familiar with this fairy tale. I know the basic premise of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever read the original story by Anderson. I’m much more familiar with the Brothers Grimms’ collection. Beth: I don’t think I’ve ever read the original version, but I’ve had various fairy tale collections for children over the years and this was included in one. Nils: Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve read it in a collection of fairy tales either. However I knew that Hart would put a feminist twist on this tale, which I was eager to see. Having finished the story it’s not just a feminist twist Hart includes, she also shows that the Prince has as little say and very few choices as the Princesses do. Beth: Exactly! Those were basically my issues with the original. I mean, with fairy tales in general really! In A Pea Ever After, three princesses are invited to a castle by a fairy godmother looking for the perfect bride for her godson after his mother has taken ill. The fourth princess has yet to turn up, so when our protagonist, a District Witch, seeks shelter at the castle from a snow storm, she’s mistaken as the fourth princess. Now trapped at the castle by the storm, the fairy godmother runs a series of tests for the “princesses”, blind to the fact that none of them are interested in the prince, the prince isn’t interested in them, and none of the people involved believe this a normal or healthy way to find a marital partner. Nils: What did you think of the opening Beth, when we meet District Witch, Elsie? Beth: It’s up there as one of my favourite openings! I absolutely loved the opening line: “I’ve seen a lot of strange things in my time as a District Witch…” I mean, not even the whole line. Just that first half. Immediately I was like ooooh what’s a District Witch?? and what strange things?? I need to remember to ask Hart if she has more stories about Elsie and what her role usually entails. Nils: That would be so great to read more stories about Elsie, from what was hinted it sounds like she’s been on some interesting adventures. I was immediately pulled into the story by the fact that the door is opened by a peacock! As Elsie felt a touch taken aback, so did I. Then we get to the famous bed with its layers of mattresses and inviting plump pillows and I expected this to be the main focus of the story but as Elsie doesn’t feel the pea, the narrative moves on quite quickly. Beth: Ha, I loved that. Immediately I was like OH, I know what’s going on here, and I fully expected her to have a rough night where she couldn’t sleep. So I’m quite glad Hart didn’t go down that more obvious route (sorry spoilers), as I loved how we were treated to the fairy godmother’s disappointment in the morning. Nils: Haha, that was quite funny. As for when Elsie meets the other princesses, Intisar, Harriett and Arrianora, shortened to Nora, that’s when the story really picks up. I was glad to see these characters were not at odds with each other, there was no competition or rivalry between them, instead we see their cooperation and growing bond to escape the fate the fairy has set upon them. Beth: That’s actually an excellent point Nils. Again, the typical set up here would be for rivalry and alienating the protagonist, so it was so refreshing when that didn’t happen. Instead, they turned to each other and helped each other, befriended each other and found ways to work through their problems together. It was such a positive message, but aside from that, it was just fun to read. It was nice to read something with that much warmth, that didn’t work at eliciting concern or worry from me. Nils: Oh yes Beth I completely agree, the way they all worked together made the story so much fun, and often whimsical. Remember the dragon? Beth: See now that was another great point in which Hart inverts things. I mean yes, the dragon was super cute and omg I’d love to have my own little dragon. But also, princesses are always surrounded by cute fluffy little bunnies and chirpy little blue birds, but no, this one has a dragon. Nils: And what princess would say no to a pet dragon! Prince Percival also subverts the trope of being an unlikeable tyrant trying to force a princess to marry him. As I’ve mentioned before he quite aptly states that he has very little choices in life, as much as the princesses are trapped in the castle, so is he and so we feel some sympathy for him. Beth: I can’t think of a version I’ve ever read where he’s a tyrant, in all the ones I’ve read he’s just… absent. Like the princess is expected to marry someone we can’t see, who doesn’t even seem to have a voice. Just some nameless shadowy figure in the background, a Husband Prop. So like you say, I love that we do get to hear from him now, that his feelings are very much given a sense of validation. Nils: Ah I see what you mean, he’s more of a token character, rather than an agent in the story. He even mentions to Elsie that the fairy Prudence hadn’t even asked if he was attracted to men or women, and this is a sentiment I feel Anderson would have appreciated the inclusion of. I really liked this line from the Prince: “My happily ever after doesn’t look like being forced into marriage with whichever random princess passes your tests, no offence, girls. That might be the traditional path, but I’d rather find my own way.” Beth: Such a fantastic quote to include Nils! This story was only fifteen pages long, and on the face of it a light, fluffy and fun retelling of an overlooked classic. But Hart really packed in such a lot, she put an individualistic stamp on the story, addressing the questionable conventions in a way that, whilst thought-provoking, still made for an enjoyable story rather than a moralistic lesson. It’s a perfect story for curling up with a hot chocolate on a cold day (something the characters themselves do). I’m looking forward to returning to the rest of the collection, ideal for getting you in the festive mood! Nils: Absolutely agree here Beth! Once Upon a Winter is available today from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing and also features stories by Josie Jaffrey, Bharat Krishnan, Katherine Shaw, A. J. Van Belle, and many more. Find out more about the collection and order your copy HERE The post A PEA EVER AFTER (ONCE UPON A WINTER) by Adie Hart (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  8. S.K. Marlay is an Irish fantasy author. She’s been a fruit picker, a maths teacher, a factory worker, a touring singer and a boat hand, not to mention a bunch of other jobs not worth mentioning. Before writing her first novel she was a songwriter. She thinks the discipline of having to distil a song’s story down to sixty words or less really stands to you when writing a book, though she does miss being able to just repeat the chorus when stuck. She still doesn’t quite believe writers are real people; this is likely to trigger something of an existential crisis when her own first book is published. Welcome to the Hive, Stella. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out The Stone Keep? Thanks for having me, it’s a fabulous spot you have here. Urgh though, elevator pitch, please no! The whole reason I wrote a book is because I’m useless at getting to the point quickly. How about: the world of the The Stone Keep is ruled by the Channellers, who sap the life-force of others for magic so crops can grow, cities prosper and the dragons can be held at bay. But a different, more ancient power is growing in Eadha, one that doesn’t drain the life out of others. With it comes a terrible choice; use it and make a lie of her true love’s life, or watch him lose everything? Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world! I wish I had a certain method – I started writing after a run of personal trauma meant I really needed to write, to find some joy in my life. So there was no real method, only a need. I wrote everywhere, in snatches, at first – in cars, on stairs, on the sofa, anywhere I could find space and time. Music though, has always been essential. It helps me pull back from the world, especially as these days I write in coffee shops a lot. It’s a way of carrying a mood with me, from session to session. I have this ridiculously long playlist I keep adding songs to, and now just hearing some of those songs tells me it’s time to start writing. I was a songwriter before I wrote my book, and my bandmates curse the fact they now have what they call ‘producer’s ears’, where after years of recording music they can’t help dissecting other people’s songs, but thankfully my ears aren’t that good! Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it? Yes, there’s a magic system in The Stone Keep – it was the first thing I had, before I came up with the world itself. Power on Domhain is drawn from life – primarily from the life-force of other people. This sets up a whole hierarchy, where you have the Channellers, who can draw life out of other people along silver threads and use it to do things like raise crops or buildings, create illusions or fight dragons. Then you’ve the Keepers, who can manipulate those threads and support the Channellers, but can’t draw power themselves. And last you’ve the Fodder – normal people who are drained by the Channellers for power. I wanted to set up a world that’s built around exploitation, and then see the choices and compromises even basically decent people end up making, when you’re born in a world where it seems the only options are to be a user or the used. What (or who) are your most significant fantasy/sci-fi influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday? Ursula Le Guin completely shaped me, as I read her Earthsea books as a child, along with older writers like T.H. White, who wrote The Sword in the Stone – books that were in my local library growing up. As an adult, it’s a fairly even mix of fantasy and sci-fi. I’ll always love Terry Pratchett, Iain M.Banks, Kim Stanley Robinson and David Mitchell, and just very lately I read the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K.Jemisin – their writing is so phenomenally good. In terms of creators who’d be amazing to work with, I’d say David Mitchell. He’s so gifted and rigorous in his writing, but he’s also turned his hand to other art forms, even turning up as one of the writers of the new Matrix movie. He also helped translate a biography by Naoki Higashida from Japanese called ‘The Reason I Jump’ which gives wonderful insights into autism. We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying? There’s the editing you do yourself, and then there’s editing on foot of other people’s feedback. I became very aware of the limits of self-editing, in the sense that you can reach a point where you lack the distance from the story to be able to see (or admit to yourself) what’s not working or what’s missing. You might think you’re editing, but really you’re just tinkering. Having someone else read my writing and give engaged, insightful feedback is still, for me, a novelty, and an incredible experience. Just the idea that someone is taking your story seriously and really thinking about how to make it better. So I felt very lucky to get this feedback at all, and never minded doing the editing that came with it. That said, it is daunting, essentially being asked to explode your story and insert say, some character or relationship development, then put it all back together without ruining the pacing or the plot. What I learned is that often a huge amount of thinking and editing has gone into what ends up being just a couple of extra lines that your editor can read in a minute. We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray? Heroic were great about the cover – they collected lots of quite impressionistic information from me about aesthetic, styles, colours, other covers I liked. I’d like to pretend I had a central role, but honestly it was all the cover designer’s work – she took my garbled notions and created something really beautiful that I would never have come up with in a million years. I was just thrilled when I first saw it. Can you tell us a bit more about your characters? Do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing? I wouldn’t say I have a favourite type of character to write, but rather worryingly I do find it easier to write dialogue for the more unpleasant characters. I don’t know what that says about me. I think it’s because, unlike nicer folk, they just don’t care who they hurt when they speak, so they can just say whatever they think – there isn’t that process of working out ‘is it ok to say this?’ that nicer people go through before they open their mouths. The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day? Singing our songs with my song-writing partner (sorry, is that cheating?). Examines the clauses… no? Preferably at a live gig, as we haven’t been able to play live for so long. One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why? A dragon – always a dragon. I wrote a whole book just so there would be more dragons in the world. Though I think I’d rather be the dragon than ride on it? Tell us about a book you love. Any hidden gems? Not a hidden gem exactly (it’s won prizes) but maybe less well-known outside Ireland is Tangleweed & Brine by Deirdre Sullivan. It’s a wickedly feminist re-telling of fairy tales that’s dark & mischievous and very beautifully written. Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress? Have you any upcoming projects which you can share? I spent the last few months writing something completely different – a book of non-fiction personal essays. I enjoyed it but found it almost like a protracted therapy session – possibly worthwhile in the long run but very draining in the moment, having to excavate things you haven’t ever properly faced before. So, it’s with great joy that I’ve recently switched back to writing fantasy, starting on the sequel to The Stone Keep. It introduces some new points of view, which I’m excited about, but it’s also challenging. You get used to depicting your world from one person’s perspective, so to step into other people’s points of view involves something of a mental reset. Are you planning anything fun to celebrate your new release? Do you have any upcoming virtual events our readers may be interested in? I can talk all day about stories, and characters and plot and why things work or don’t work. For publication the lovely people at Heroic are organising an online tour with some equally lovely reviewers, so I’m really looking forward to being able to talk shop with other story-mad people. Also, my family made me a mug with The Stone Keep cover on it, which I’m really proud of. Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing? While I’ve just said I love stories and plots, fundamentally for me, a story also has to be grounded in a big idea, something important enough to make me want to talk about it. Ultimately The Stone Keep is about power, inequality and exploitation, how they warp everyone (including the powerful) and ruin lives. Many of us are on the pointy end of inequality these days, so if even a few readers feel their experiences of being exploited are in some tiny way seen and acknowledged for the unnecessary cruelty they are, through this story, that would just be the best thing. Thank you so much for joining us today and good luck with the release of your debut! The Stone Keep is out today from Heroic Books! Find out more, and how to get a copy, here. The post Author Spotlight: S. K. Marlay (THE STONE KEEP) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  9. I believe most of us here focus our writing efforts on long-form fiction and nonfiction, but Scrivener is also great for creating and organizing shorter works and non-writing projects. Here are a few ideas for getting value from Scrivener beyond your manuscripts. Blog Posts, Newsletters, and Articles I have one Scrivener project that contains all of my blog posts and newsletters from the last decade. They’re organized by year and month, but you could just as easily sort them by topic or website. I use the Label field to color code them by website, which also lets me create a list of every blog post I’ve ever written for, say, Writer Unboxed with a couple of clicks. Then, once I have that list, I can easily search within it for a specific word or phrase. You can use other fields like Keywords or Status to track things like topics, site, and submission status. Even just scanning the titles has saved me from accidentally writing a post on a topic I already covered last year. By having all of my posts in one place, I can not only avoid embarrassing duplicates, but also quickly find an old post and use it as the basis for an updated version, or for an article. It’s also pretty cool to instantly see that I’ve written more than 270K words in blog posts since 2011. Storing my newsletters in the same project allows me to easily create a blog post from the public portion of my newsletter content. I also have a folder where I capture ideas for future posts and newsletters so everything’s in one place. To get the blog post out, I just copy and paste the text into WordPress or MailChimp, or export (File>Export) the selected document to a DOCX if I need to send it to someone. You can also export to HTML, MultiMarkdown, and other formats. Poems and Short Stories Similar to using Scrivener for blog posts and articles, you can create a single project to hold all of your poems or short stories. Or maybe one project for each topic or series or “world.” You’d then have the ability to move the documents around to play with the order, and compile varying combinations of files. Public Appearances This might not apply to everyone just yet, but if you’ve ever submitted a workshop proposal, or been asked to speak at a workshop, Scrivener can be an excellent way to track everything about that (potential) appearance. For example, I paste in the key email(s) from the conference/group organizer so I have the details of who, what, when, where, how long, and the payment offered. Under the section for that event, I have separate documents for the workshop description(s) and the bio I sent them, and I color code the documents by where in the process I am (Planning, Submitted, Accepted, Delivered, Declined). The color coding was more important in the early days when I was submitting to conferences and groups for speaking opportunities instead of having them approach me. This project file gives me access to everything promised on both sides so I don’t have to read through a bunch of emails to find out whether I said I’d cover a topic or how long I’m expected to speak. I can also quickly crib a previously used bio or description to save me time. Courses and Workshops I’ve been using Scrivener to write and organize the content of my online courses for ten years. Again, it’s a great way to keep everything for the course in one place, easily reorder lessons, and track where each lesson is in the writing/editing/posting process. I organize them into folders by topic, mimicking the hierarchy that will appear on my website. When my courses ran live by email for two-to-four weeks, I color coded the lessons by which week each lesson was in, but folders would be another way to keep track. Other Ideas Honestly, anything where you want to be able to break down the writing or information into discrete sections that you can move, tag, color code, or search is probably a good case for Scrivener. For example, social media/marketing content, a series bible, and agent/editor submission tracking (especially if you’re not great with spreadsheets or want to keep track of the version you sent, by importing or linking to it). Do you have any other creative ways you use Scrivener, or could imagine using it? Share—or ask me a Scrivener question—in the comments. [Coffee] About Gwen HernandezGwen Hernandez (she/her) is the author of Scrivener For Dummies, Productivity Tools for Writers, and romantic suspense. She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes, in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at gwenhernandez.com. Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=XqdsGQNOtzA:sWomWAeKaqc:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=XqdsGQNOtzA:sWomWAeKaqc:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  10. This contest submissions season covers deadlines from December 1, 2021 through February 28, 2022. Thanks to Literistic, Poets & Writers, Submittable Discover, and New Pages for many of these contests. Much like editors are looking for reasons to reject work, I want to focus on opportunities worth my time. Thus, my list of writing contests below includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send your exceptional work. December 2021 Breakwater Review – The Breakwater Fiction Contest – $10 fee Deadline: Dec 1, 2021 “We are seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. We are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000 – 4,000 words, each with a $10 entry fee. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere. … prize: $1000 and publication in our next forthcoming issue … 2022 FINALIST JUDGE: Chloe Aridjis … Winner and Finalists will be published in Issue 31.” Reasons to submit: No hunting for winners—can read past winners online Prestigious judge Share the wealth—multiple prizes Langum Foundation – David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction – $0 fee Deadline: Dec 1, 2021 “A prize and $1,000 honorarium is awarded to the winner each year for the best book in American historical fiction published in the preceding year. Both the winner and the finalist also receive handsomely framed certificates. The novels must be submitted by December 1st of their year of first American publication. Novels that are published in the month of December are eligible and must be submitted for that year’s prize, but may be submitted by December 1st in advanced reading copies or proofs.” Reasons to submit: Eligibility restriction—less competition Friendly to novelists Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Rebirth—accepts published work Nowhere Magazine – Fall 2021 Travel Writing Prize – $20 fee Deadline: Dec 15, 2021 “We are looking for novice and veteran writers of any stripe to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of people, place and time. Every submission will be read blind, so anyone can win! … The winner will receive US$1,000, with publication in Nowhere granted under First North American Serial Rights (FNASR). Up to ten finalists also will be published.” Submit 800-5,000 words. Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Flag-bearer—open to international submissions Friendly to emerging writers Rebirth—accepts published work Voyage YA – Best Chapters Contest – $20 fee Deadline: Dec 15, 2021 “Submissions must be a chapter of a Young Adult novel (full novel does not need to be completed), and from the point-of-view of a young adult, meaning through the lens of a teen protagonist … We want the chapter that makes us ache for the rest of the book, that makes us desperate to spend more time in the world of your creation! The 1st Place winner will receive $5,000 and an hour-long consultation with a literary agent. 2nd Place will receive $300 and publication, 3rd place will receive $200 and publication. Finalists will also receive written feedback from a literary agent.” Reasons to submit: Eligibility restriction—less competition Flag-bearer—open to international submissions Friendly to emerging writers Friendly to novelists Share the wealth—multiple prizes Virginia Commonwealth University – Cabell First Novelist Award – $0 fee Deadline: Dec 30, 2021 “The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. … Winning novelists have written books that may be funny or sad, sarcastic or heartrending, but each is powerful enough in its own way to have moved initial readers and final judges toward the conclusion that, among a field of roughly a hundred submissions annually, its writer has achieved something notable and enduring. … VCU Libraries then organizes the annual event, generally held at James Branch Cabell Library, in which the winning author and two others involved in the writing and publishing worlds, typically the author’s agent and editor, appear at a public reading and Q&A session focusing on the creation, publication, and promotion of a first novel. Travel to and lodging in Richmond for the author and the additional speakers are provided, and the author receives a cash prize.” Reasons to submit: Friendly to emerging writers Friendly to novelists Rebirth—accepts published work Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel Press 53 – Award for Short Fiction – $30 fee Deadline: Dec 31, 2021 “The Press 53 Award for Short Fiction is awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished short story collection. This contest is open to any writer, regardless of his or her publication history, provided the manuscript is written in English and the author lives in the United States or one of its territories. The winner of this contest will receive publication by Press 53, a $1,000 cash advance and fifty copies of the book; all prizes will be awarded upon publication.” Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Friendly to emerging writers Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Prestige—#116 in Pushcart ranking Boulevard – Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers – $16 fee Deadline: Dec 31, 2021 “$1,500 and publication in Boulevard awarded to the winning story by a writer who has not yet published a book of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction with a nationally distributed press. … We accept works up to 8,000 words.” Reasons to submit: Eligibility restriction—less competition Friendly to emerging writers Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Prestige—#38 in Pushcart ranking Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription January 2022 Mississippi Review – 2022 Fiction Prize – $16 fee Deadline: Jan 1, 2022 $1,000 prize. “Winners and finalists will make up next summer’s print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. Contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction and nonfiction entries should be 1000-8000 words; … Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. All submissions will be read anonymously. Please remove or redact any contact information from your submission.” Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Flag-bearer—open to international submissions Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Prestige—#56 in Pushcart ranking Read on—entry fee includes copy of prize issue Bayou Magazine – James Knudsen Prize for Fiction – $20 fee Deadline: Jan 2, 2022 “Winner will receive $1,000 and a year’s subscription to Bayou Magazine. Finalists will be named on our website. All submissions will be considered for publication.” Submit up to 7,500 words, including novel excerpts that work as a standalone story. Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Friendly to novelists Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription North Carolina Writers’ Network – Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize – $10-$20 fee Deadline: Jan 2, 2022 “The competition is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina. Entries … must be unpublished*, no more than 3,000 words, and concerned with the lives and experiences of North Carolina African-Americans. Entries may be excerpts from longer works, but must be self-contained. The winner receives $1,000 and possible publication of the winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.” Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Eligibility restriction—less competition Friendly to novelists Regional restriction—less competition The DISQUIET Literary Prize – $15 fee Deadline: Jan 24, 2022 “Submissions open October 15 for the DISQUIET Prize for writing in any genre, by a writer who has not yet published more than one book with a major press. Results are expected in early March.” Fiction winner will be published in Granta.com. “One grand prize winner will receive a full scholarship, accommodations, and travel stipend to attend the tenth annual DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon (June 26-July 8, 2022).” Fiction winner receives $500 in addition to publication. Reasons to submit: Eligibility restriction—less competition Flag-bearer—open to international submissions Friendly to emerging writers Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel Literal Latté – K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Awards – $10 fee Deadline: Jan 15, 2022 “Send unpublished stories, 10,000 words max. All subjects and styles welcome. … All entries considered for publication.” First Prize: $1000, Second Prize: $300, Third Prize: $200. Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! No hunting for winners—can read past winners online Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Prestige—#116 in Pushcart ranking Share the wealth—multiple prizes February 2022 Lunch Ticket – The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts – $0 fee Deadline: Feb 28, 2022 “Translators and authors of multilingual texts are encouraged to submit their work for The Gabo Prize. The winner, selected by a guest judge, will receive $200, and the winning piece will be published alongside two semi-finalists in the upcoming issue of Lunch Ticket.” Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Eligibility restriction—less competition Flag-bearer—open to international submissions No hunting for winners—can read past winners online Share the wealth—multiple prizes The Malahat Review – Novella Prize – CAD $35-$45 fee Deadline: Feb 1, 2022 “The Malahat Review invites entries for its biennial Novella Prize. The contest is open to Canadian and international writers anywhere in the world. … One winner will receive a prize of CAD $1,750 and be published in the magazine’s summer 2022 issue #219. … A single work of fiction per entry, with a minimum length of 10,000 words and maximum length of 20,000 words (word count must be given at the top of the first page).” Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Flag-bearer—open to international submissions Friendly to novelists Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Prestige—#171 in Pushcart ranking Ruminate – William Van Dyke Short Story Prize – $20 fee Deadline: Feb 1, 2022 “Each year we award $1500 and publication to the winning writer. Short Story must be between 1000 and 5,500 words. Entry fee is $20 (includes a digital copy of Ruminate).” Reasons to submit: Flag-bearer—open to international submissions No hunting for winners—can read past winners online Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit Prestige—#82 in Pushcart ranking Read on—entry fee includes prize issue Fish Publishing – Flash Fiction Prize – €14+ fee Deadline: Feb 28, 2022 “The Fish Flash Fiction Prize is an opportunity to attempt one of the most interesting and rewarding tasks – to create, in a tiny fragment, a completely resolved and compelling story in 300 words or less. … Ten stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2022. (First, second, third and seven honourable mentions) First – €1,000 Second – €300 Third – Online Writing Course with Fish (worth €250) The ten published authors will each receive five copies of the Anthology and will be invited to read at the launch during the West Cork Literary Festival in July ’22.” Reasons to submit: Blind submissions are fine submissions! Eligibility restriction—less competition Flag-bearer—open to international submissions Share the wealth—multiple prizes Have I missed a great writing contest? Please leave a comment and let me know where you found it. Happy submitting! Wish you could buy this author a cup of joe? Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can! You can also read my story “A Damn Fine Town” in The Best American Mystery Stories 2019: About Arthur KlepchukovArthur Klepchukov was born between Black Seas, Virginian Beaches, and San Franciscan waves. He adores trains, swing sets, and music that tears him outta time. Read Art’s words in Glimmer Train, The Best American Mystery Stories 2019, The Common, Necessary Fiction, and more at ArsenalOfWords.com Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=TEYQodPwY9E:yg9JWo1iTYU:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=TEYQodPwY9E:yg9JWo1iTYU:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  11. Worldbuilding gets a bad rap sometimes. If you ask certain people, worldbuilding is either for nerds looking for almanacs, not fiction, or it’s a useless distinction that should be an intrinsic part of writing. But there are plenty of writers who recognize the essential nature of worldbuilding separate from the act of storytelling—for science fiction and fantasy, sure, but also for all genres. And there are a ton of amazing, detailed guides to creating worlds. But years ago, when I was first looking to build out the world I had created for my first foray into fantasy writing, I looked up resources for worldbuilding and quickly got bogged down in the sheer number of details these guides wanted me to know. These guides offer hundreds of questions about the world you’re creating, insinuating that answering each one will lead to developing a believable, original world. I found weeks-long online courses dedicated solely to building a world from scratch. I like to call these types of resources sandboxes. They give you lots of blank space to play around. “Where are the mountain ranges in your world?” they ask. “What military tactics does each nation in your world use?” These are good questions, depending on the type of story you’re writing. Sandboxes are fun places for free play and for letting the mind run wild. But once I had determined the election procedures of a specific political party in my book, which was decidedly not about election procedures or political parties, I was left no closer to a better story. I wondered: “…Now what? What does this have to do with my story?” This is how I came to begin thinking about story-first worldbuilding. Story-first worldbuilding falls somewhere on the worldbuilding opinion spectrum between “almanac” and “intrinsic” by exploring the details of the world around the story you want to tell. You don’t need to know where every mountain range is in your world unless your characters intend to cross them. What follows are a set of exercises that are geared mainly toward writers of fantasy who are creating secondary worlds, but hopefully applicable to all writers. The goal of these exercises to help you build a believable world that will add depth and color to the story you want to tell—without making you spend hours writing out the dominant flora on a continent your story will never visit. How to Build a World Around the Story You Want to Tell To complete the following exercises, I will assume that you have at least a smidgen of a story idea in mind. It’s okay if it’s not a fully fleshed-out plot yet. I will also assume that, since you have a story idea, you also have a vague impression of the world in which it’s set. It’s okay if most of the world is a blurry mess at this point. This section contains a couple of exercises to get your mind thinking about how your world interacts with your story. The exercises are intended to be done in order, but this isn’t school. Do what’s most helpful to you. Exercise #1: Write down everything you already know about your story’s world. Set a timer for five, 10, or 30 minutes—however much time you think you need—and write out everything you already know about the world in which your story takes place, stream-of-consciousness style. Focus on the parts of your story you’ve either written or can picture clearly in your head. For example, if you know a critical scene in the climax involves an escape from a desert prison, write, “There’s a prison in the desert.” Do not consult Wikipedia’s list of desert flora and fauna. Even if you list things that are contradictory or illogical, write them all down anyway. Give yourself permission to let your mind run free. Important: This is not the time to make up new things about your world. If new ideas come to mind as you’re writing, don’t stop to examine them—just write them down and keep going. When your time is up, read back over what you wrote. What are the things that are intrinsic or critical to your story and/or characters? Exercise #2: Pick one thing about your world that you want to explore, then ask yourself “why?” Ideally, this would be something you listed in the first exercise—something that you already know about the world your story takes place in. Whatever it is, make sure it affects your plot and/or characters. Again, this isn’t the time to noodle on weather patterns, unless weather is a key player in your story. Once you’ve chosen one element of your world, ask yourself how that element came into existence. Then set another timer for a period of your choice and free write on that “why” question. Example: Say your book’s protagonist comes from a culture that’s organized into a confederation of different kinship groups. Why are they a confederacy and not, say, a monarchy? Well, they’re also semi-nomadic, and the families herd livestock between summer and winter pastures every year. It’s hard for groups to unite under a single monarch when they spend half the year on their own, resolving their own conflicts, developing their own unique practices, etc. Since they herd, their livestock is the most important thing they have. Livestock means power. Want more power? Steal more livestock. Thus they developed a raiding culture. But they also discovered that it’s hard to protect yourself from external threats if you’re always fighting, so they created a council of all the families to resolve unresolvable issues. Now your protagonist might be forced to marry a total jerk to keep the peace between two families… When your time is up, see where your explanation took you. Is there anything you can use to deepen your plot or characters? Exercise #3: Now pick ONE thing that you know about the world of your story, something that affects the characters and plot. Then change it. You know the drill. Set a timer and free write for however long you want. Pick ONE thing to change, big or small, and summarize your plot, scene, or character background (whatever is affected most by the change) with this ONE thing different. Make your monarchy into a commune, or have that critical heist scene in the tower take place underwater. Be as big or small, realistic or absurd as you want. Is it basically impossible to change one thing without changing everything else? Good—That means your world is probably pretty cohesive already. But try anyway, and see if you get some more insight into what makes your world tick. Not much else needs to change to make this new thing work? You may want to revisit the “why” questions in Exercise #2 some more. Why does this thing exist if it’s not integral to your plot? How to Add Depth to Your World’s History One of the most common issues I see among both newbie and established authors is a clear lack of serious thought behind the world in which their story is set. I sometimes get the impression that characters are walking around on a two-dimensional screen, like one of those old-fashioned landscapes painted on a paper roll that made actors look like they were moving great distances. In other words, the setting feels created specifically for these characters to walk around in. And yes, that’s technically true. But when you think about your favorite fantasy worlds, the ones that feel the most immersive, the ones you keep coming back to, are the ones that feel alive. They feel like you, the reader, are just popping in to watch a story unfold inside a living, breathing universe. So how do you make something like that? There are a lot of things that make for an unforgettable world, but one of those things is that, sociologically, it makes sense. What? Here are some exercises to get you thinking about the societies of your world, based on SCIENCE! (social science) Exercise #1: List all the races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, species, and other “groupings” of beings in your world. Get detailed. Think of every possible way someone in your would could identify themselves. If you need some help, put yourself in a character’s shoes and have them identify themselves as though they were meeting someone new: “Hi, I’m a forest witch who practices a form of tree-based magic. I was born on the western side of the forest but now I live on the eastern side. I’m also nonbinary.” Get as detailed as you want, from hobbies or sports teams or favorite type of music to deeper identities like gender(s). And don’t just focus on your POV characters. When you’re finished, see if there are any identity categories that are over- or under-represented. For example, what if your world contains many non-human races, but no religions/belief systems? Is there a reason you didn’t include religion, or are you just not interested in writing it? That’s fine—not every story needs it, but spare a moment to think about a world without religion looks like. People typically have a need to assign meaning to things they don’t understand. Where do yours find meaning? Where do their moral codes come from? Exercise #2: Now pick a group from your world, and describe in a couple of words (or longer) their historic relationship with some of the other groups on your list. Have there been wars of religion? What about between ethnic groups? Why? Pro points: Split your groups into sub-sects across geographic lines. Have two sub-sects in one geographic zone be allies, while the same sub-sects in another geographic zone are enemies. How might this happen? Double pro points: If you are not of non-European descent, don’t use non-European sociopolitical realities as a model for your fantasy story unless you are ready to also deeply engage with those whose daily lives are affected by them. For more, see Worldbuilding for Masochists and Writing the Other. Exercise #3: Write a history of these relationships from the perspective of the participants. You know those writing exercises that teach you about point of view by having you write the same scene through different characters eyes? Or the ones that ask you to describe a building through the eyes of a person who just got a new job, then describe the same building through the eyes of someone who just lost their father? Do that, except put yourself in the shoes of an historian from one of the groups you’ve identified. Questions to consider: Who fired the first shot (physical or metaphorical)? Who behaved unfairly? Who is “really” the aggressor/oppressor? How might a character who has only ever learned one side of this history react when presented with an alternative story? Worlds Grow in Spirals These are far from the only considerations you should take into account when designing a new world, but I hope I have provided enough information to let you build it out more with your story leading the way. For examples of authors I think are particularly skilled at interweaving their original worlds with their stories and characters, read N.K. Jemisin, Rebecca Roanhorse, Katherine Arden, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. There are, of course, many others. N.K. Jemisin also has shared slides from her brilliant presentation on creating secondary worlds that feel ancient. Happy worldbuilding! What other authors do you think do a good job creating rich, layered worlds? How much preplanning do you usually put into worldbuilding for your stories, and do you think it’s been enough, or too much? Wish you could buy this author a cup of joe? Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can! About Kelsey AllagoodKelsey Allagood (she/her) is a writer, occasional photographer, and trained political analyst specializing in the causes of war and systemic oppression. This background led her to begin writing fantasy fiction steeped in the anthropology of conflict. Her writing can be found in literary magazines such as Barrelhouse, GRIFFEL, Menacing Hedge, and Wanderlust. Her photography is forthcoming in RESURRECTION mag. She has also written on peaceful resistance movements, art as a form of political resistance, and countering violent extremist ideology. Kelsey has a Bachelor’s Degree in international and cultural studies from the University of Tampa and a Master’s Degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University. She lives in Maryland with her husband, mother, and a rescue dog named Henry. Web | Twitter | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=pIwYYp3ROIQ:gvk9-p5wT2s:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=pIwYYp3ROIQ:gvk9-p5wT2s:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  12. Today we’re delighted to bring you an exciting cover reveal for The Collarbound by Rebecca Zahabi, coming 12th May 2022 from Gollancz. Let us tell you right now, this book sounds incredible! As the world faces rebellion and chaos, two people – one an escaped slave, one an amnesiac mage – will discover that their pasts are entwined, and their futures destined to collide. On the other side of the Shadowpass, rebellion is brewing and refugees have begun to trickle into the city at the edge of the world. Looming high on the cliff is The Nest, a fortress full of mages who offer protection, but also embody everything the rebellion is fighting against: a strict hierarchy based on magic abilities, and the oppression of the Kher community. When Isha arrives as a refugee, she attempts to fit in amongst the other mages, but her Kher tattoo brands her as an outcast. She can’t remember her past or why she has the tattoo. All she knows is that she survived. She doesn’t intend to give up now. Tatters, who wears the golden collar of a slave, knows that this rebellion is different from past skirmishes. He was once one of the rebels, fought beside them, and technically, they still own him. He plans to stay in the shadows, until Isha appears in his tavern. He’s never seen a human with a tattoo, and the markings look eerily familiar. Despite his fear of being discovered, Tatters decides to help her. As the rebellion carves a path of destruction towards the city, The Collarbound follows an unlikely friendship between a man trying to escape his past and a woman trying to uncover hers, until their secrets threaten to tear them apart. A tale that questions fate and finds strength in not-belonging, The Collarbound hooks from the opening pages and will appeal to fans of magical, brink-of-war settings, like that of The Poppy War, and lyrical, character-driven writing, as found in A Darker Shade of Magic. Now let’s take a look at the cover, shall we? Cover art by JungShan Can we all agree that by that cover alone this looks like an intensely gripping adventure? Here’s a note from Rebecca from herself: I’m very honoured that Jung Shan Chang, who illustrated The Poppy War, worked on The Collarbound. It’s incredible to see a world that’s only existed in my mind so far spring to life on the page! Here’s a little bit about the author: Rebecca Zahabi writes science fiction and fantasy from her home in Manchester. Her debut novel, THE GAME WEAVERS, is forthcoming from ZunTold, a small indie press. She has translated a middle-grade novel, THE GRIMOIRE: A Practical Guide to Red Magic by Eric Boisset from French to English, and two of her short stories have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Furthermore, her first novella was longlisted for the Penguin WriteNow competition 2016-17, and an earlier version of this novel was longlisted for The Future Bookshelf program for BAME writers at Hachette UK. Her first interactive novel came out with Choice of Games LLC in April 2020, and she is currently under contract to write another game for them. The Collarbound is due for release May 2022 but is available for pre-order The post THE COLLARBOUND by Rebecca Zahabi (COVER REVEAL) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  13. First, you’re probably wondering, “The Gap? Isn’t that a clothing store?” Well, yes. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The Gap is the distance between where you are and where you want to be. For the purposes of this post, I’m specifically talking about The Gap in your writing journey. Maybe you’ve been writing “seriously” for a while now, but you have yet to see one of your stories published. Maybe you’re agented, but you haven’t gotten a book deal. (Hey, that’s me!) Maybe you’ve put a couple solid books on the shelves, but you’re really hoping to break out with the next one, possibly even win an award or land on a bestseller list. Maybe you’re in the midst of NaNoWriMo, and 50K seems impossibly far away. You, my friend, are in The Gap. It can be a tough space to operate in, this between-land. Hope and frustration are baked in by definition, and those two ingredients don’t always mix well. Especially the longer that they are forced to interact. At this point in my life, I’ve been in The Gap longer than anywhere else. I fell in love with writing at the age of 9, and here I am not quite 30 years later, still “on my way” to becoming a novelist. As certain (arbitrary) milestones passed by unmet — such as publishing my first novel by the time I was 25, then 30, then 35 — I started to feel like I wasn’t allowed to dream big anymore. That I had proven I couldn’t meet certain goals, and thus all future ambitions had to shrink. Both as a way of protecting myself from disappointment, and also as a punishment for my failures. Only recently have I begun to realize what a harsh and misguided way of thinking that is. In my youth, I daydreamed all the time — of being a famous actress, or a Starfleet officer, or an entrepreneurial veterinarian with a dude ranch in Colorado — and when those dreams fell to the wayside, I did not judge them as losses! Because they were fun, and they served a purpose. They nurtured my spirit and fueled me on my journey, regardless of where that journey was actually taking me. So I am slowly granting myself permission to dream big again, and more importantly, I am teaching myself to remember that the distance between me and those dreams — The Gap — is not a measure of my self-worth. Perhaps some of you could use this kind of permission too? Here we go: Allow yourself to fantasize — about finishing your draft this year, or the New Yorker accepting your essay, or a bidding war over your latest manuscript, or Oprah reviving her show just to interview you — and more importantly, allow yourself to enjoy those fantasies. Let them put a smile on your face while you’re getting ready for work in the morning. Let them guide you to your work-in-progress when you’re exhausted after a long day. It doesn’t have to hurt if those dreams don’t come to fruition. It doesn’t have to mean you’ve done anything wrong or you aren’t worthy. Dreams are like stars in the sky. They are bright and shiny and beautiful, and some of us may become astronauts who fly up to meet them — but even if not, they can still guide us to whatever lovely place we are going. — Do you ever feel like you are in The Gap? Do you think dreaming big leads more to pleasure or to pain? What do you need permission to do? — Wish you could buy this author a cup of joe? Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can! About Kristan HoffmanOriginally from Houston, TX, Kristan Hoffman studied creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and later attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Now she lives with her family in Cincinnati, OH, where she writes both fiction and nonfiction with a focus on feminist, multicultural stories. Her words have appeared in the New York Times, Switchback, and the Citron Review, among others. She is currently at work on a Young Adult novel, and is represented by Tina Dubois of ICM. For more, please visit her website. Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=71_uZ3VRSOg:1686kzLgqaU:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=71_uZ3VRSOg:1686kzLgqaU:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  14. John Buchan – The Gap In The Curtain (1932, reissued 2021 by Handheld Press) “‘But it was worth it,’ he added, getting up and reaching for his hat, ‘for I have learned one thing which I shall never gorget, and which I commend you to notice. Our ignorance of the future has been wisely ordained of Heaven. For unless man were to be like God and know everything, it is better that he should know nothing. If he knows one fact only, instead of profiting by it he will assuredly land in the soup.’” John Buchan was a Scottish author, politician and historian, who is best known these days for his spy thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915). However, he was also an author of supernatural and Weird fiction, something which Handheld Press have emphasised in the reprintings of his work. ‘No-Man’s Land’ (1899), collected in the Handheld Press volume British Weird (2020), is a fantastic example of just how powerfully he could evoke the Weird and the uncanny, and The Runagates Club (1928), republished by Handheld in 2017, features more of his Weird short fiction. The Gap In The Curtain (1932) was his last full-length work dedicated to the supernatural. The novel explores a handful of characters who during a party at a country-house become involved in an experiment to see the future. The novel explores how Buchan’s five characters react to the single piece of knowledge they each receive from the future, asking questions about fate and free will, and how foreknowledge would change one’s life. Whilst during the course of the novel Buchan displays many of the prejudices which colour his worldview, he also demonstrates his versatility and strengths as a writer, jumping from tragedy to social satire to political thriller with charm and ease. Republished with Handheld Press’s customary beautiful packaging and informative introduction and notes, the novel is a must-read for anyone interested in Buchan’s writing or his contribution to the Weird. The Gap In The Curtain is narrated by Edward Lethien, Buchan’s most frequently used character. Lethien is a barrister and MP, and had previously appeared in Buchan’s novel John Macnab (1925) as well as various short stories. He serves as an entry point for the reader, an avuncular, down to earth voice who can be trusted to report accurately the incredible things he witnesses. The novel begins with an exhausted Lethien visiting the country-house of his friend Sally Flambard for a party. Lethien finds himself chosen by the troubled but brilliant Professor Moe, an Einsteinian mathematician who has devised a way of seeing the future. Lethien and Sally are distracted by the death of Moe, but their five fellow party goers experience a vision of the Times newspaper a year to the day in the future, from which they each receive a single piece of information. Mr Arnold Tavanger, a rich businessman, sees an announcement of the formation of a monopoly for the production of the rare metal michelite. The Rt Hon David Mayot, a career politician, sees a news article that informs him that the Prime Minister will no longer be Labour politician Sir Derrick Tant but will be Mr Waldemar of the Liberal Party. Mr Reginald Daker, a Bertie Wooster-esque moneyed man of leisure, sees an announcement that he will be joining an archaeological expedition to Yucatan. Sir Robert Goodeve, a brilliant and politically ambitious young man, and Captain Charles Ottery, lovesick for the beautiful young Pamela Brune, both see their own obituaries. The novel, in episodic form, follows these characters as they react to the news of their futures and their various attempts to profit from our outrun their fate. Buchan follows these varied characters, and their different lives and spheres of activity allow him to indulge in a variety of genres, tones and approaches, which he does with charm and panache. We get to follow Tavanger across South Africa as he desperately tries to collect up stocks of michelite so he can profit from the merger. Then Buchan takes us to the realm of political satire, where we observe Mayot’s various attempts to position himself best to profit from the coming political change with zero regard for party or principles. Reggie Daker’s story is one of social satire and comedy, in which he finds himself entangled with an ambitious young woman named Verona Cortal whose audacious plans turn Reggie’s life of leisure on its head. Then, in the two most haunting sections of the novel, we witness Goodeves and Ottery struggle valiantly against their foreknowledge of their own deaths, in these two men’s very different ways. Buchan’s strengths as a writer are considerable, and the range covered by the individual stories that make up the novel is impressive. The stories progress from the most trivial to the more serious tales, allowing Buchan to ratchet up the tension whilst exploring his central theme of fate versus free will from a variety of angles. He proves himself adept at both rollicking adventure story and sharply amusing political satire, as he takes the foibles of the British political system and career politicians to task. More dramatically, his stories of Goodeves and Ottery being haunted by their own mortality are both chilling and moving. Goodeves in particular is a wonderfully tragic character, and the contrast from his bright vitality and promising start in politics to his increasingly worn down and hunted outlook as his life slips away from him is convincing and well done. Buchan is an excellent example of British interwar writing, however as an upperclass Tory politician with very traditional ideas about money, class, women, and the British Empire, he has some unpleasant outlooks that make themselves felt in the text. His casual hero worship of Cecil Rhodes demonstrates the level of uncritical colonialism on display, and there are a number of anti-Semitic remarks casually made by his characters that make the modern reader thoroughly uncomfortable. But it is the thread of old fashioned British class ideals that are central to the novel that show his old fashioned attitudes in the starkest light. Buchan has very strong ideas about the superiority of the upper class, and the way that he villainises Verona for both being of new money and therefore unforgivably crass, and a woman who dares to take charge of her boyfriend’s life, detract somewhat from the Woodhouse-ian fun of Reggie’s story. However, for the reader who is willing to grapple with the limitations of Buchan’s worldview, there is much to enjoy in The Gap In The Curtain. As is the Handheld standard now, the book comes with an insightful introduction by Kate Macdonald, the founder of Handheld Press, who is an expert in Buchan’s fiction, and with extensive notes that contextualise and explain elements of the text. The post THE GAP IN THE CURTAIN by John Buchan (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  15. Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page. Here’s the question: Would you pay good money to read the rest of the chapter? With 50 chapters in a book that costs $15, each chapter would be “worth” 30 cents. So, before you read the excerpt, take 30 cents from your pocket or purse. When you’re done, decide what to do with those three dimes or the quarter and a nickel. It’s not much, but think of paying 30 cents for the rest of the chapter every time you sample a book’s first page. In a sense, time is money for a literary agent working her way through a raft of submissions, and she is spending that resource whenever she turns a page. Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre or content—some reject an opening page immediately because of genre, but that’s not a good enough reason when the point is to analyze for storytelling strength. This novel was number one on the New York Times paperback trade fiction bestseller list for November 21, 2021. How strong is the opening page—would it, all on its own, hook an agent if it was submitted by an unpublished writer? When we pulled him from the water, he didn’t have a scratch on him. That’s the first thing I noticed. The rest of us were all gashes and bruises, but he was unmarked, with smooth almond skin and thick dark hair matted by seawater. He was bare-chested, not particularly muscular, maybe twenty years old, and his eyes were pale blue, the color you imagine the ocean to be when you dream of a tropical vacation—not the endless gray waves that surround this crowded lifeboat, waiting for us like an open grave. Forgive me for such despair, my love. It’s been three days since the Galaxy sank. No one has come looking for us. I try to stay positive, to believe rescue is near. But we are short on food and water. Sharks have been spotted. I see surrender in the eyes of many on board. The words We’re going to die have been uttered too many times. If that is to be, if this is indeed my end, then I am writing to you in the pages of this notebook, Annabelle, in hopes you might somehow read them after I am gone. I need to tell you something, and I need to tell the world as well. I could begin with why I was on the Galaxy that night, or Dobby’s plan, or my deep sense of guilt at the yacht exploding, even though I cannot be sure of what happened. But for now, the story must begin with this morning, when we pulled the young stranger from the sea. He wore no life jacket, nor was he holding on to anything when we spotted him bobbing in the waves. We let (snip) Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll. You can turn the page and read more here. Were the opening pages of the first chapter of the stranger in the lifeboat by Mitch Albom compelling? My vote: Yes. This book received 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. This opening gives the reader a good helping of strong story questions. They arise from a likeable character who is already in deep trouble—at least, my sympathy goes out to a person in a lifeboat after a ship explodes. Things are happening, and we’re not slowed down by the snippets of exposition needed to make clear what’s going on. Story questions that drew me in include: who is this man; how can he be uninjured; how can he float on the waves without support; will the people on the lifeboat survive; will the mysterious stranger somehow help them . . . There’s mystery here, and jeopardy to be overcome. For this reader, it’s a turn of the page. Your thoughts? You’re invited to a flogging—your own You see here the insights fresh eyes bring to the performance of bestseller first pages, so why not do the same with the opening of your WIP? Submit your prologue/first chapter to my blog, Flogging the Quill, and I’ll give you my thoughts and even a little line editing if I see a need. And the readers of FtQ are good at offering constructive notes, too. Hope to see you there. To submit, email your first chapter or prologue (or both) as an attachment to me, and let me know if it’s okay to use your first page and to post the complete chapter. Wish you could buy this author a cup of joe? Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can! About Ray RhameyRay Rhamey is the author of four novels and one writing craft book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. He's also an editor of book-length fiction and designs book covers and interiors for Indie authors and small presses. His website, crrreative.com, offers an a la carte menu of creative services for writers and publishers. Learn more about Ray's books at rayrhamey.com. Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=qKca6VHXFWU:EXLDreaYg1U:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=qKca6VHXFWU:EXLDreaYg1U:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
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