Fantasy Reads: Meg Boepple

The question of why do you write has come up several times recently in my group of writing friends, and most recently, on one of my #BeStill blog posts. Everyone has a reason that they started writing. I love to hear these stories because sometimes it reflects my own journey in some way. And sometimes it reminds me of how powerful it is to connect with readers through our stories emotionally. This happened when I read this week’s author, Meg Boepple’s article on why she writes fantasy. 

Welcome, Meg!


 

But…why?
by Meg Boepple

“Why do you write fantasy? You should write what’s real.”

Yes, someone seriously said that to me, not very long ago!

Well, in a nutshell, here’s why.

When I was not quite thirteen years old, wearing the uncomfortable identity of “the poor little girl who lost her father to cancer,” I found solace in books. Madeleine L’Engle and Andre Norton were my favorite authors, but any book would do if it helped me avoid how I was feeling. When the language arts teacher pointed out a dusty trilogy in the school library written by a British linguistics professor, I practically moved to Middle-Earth.

My mom had to pry the first book out of my hands the night of the memorial service, where a parade of grownups eulogized a stranger who bore no resemblance to my daddy. They described a stuffy old preacher who liked to play golf and tennis and had been in the old Army Air Corps.

Where was the beloved man with the zany sense of humor and the crooked smile who dished out a bowl of ice cream every night? The man who ran beside me for miles after he took the training wheels off my bike? Who made a monthly ritual out of reading each new issue of National Geographic from cover to cover with me?  I desperately wanted to escape. Anywhere.

When we finally arrived back home, I dashed upstairs to see how Frodo and the Fellowship would get through the dreadful blizzard, while two dozen well-meaning folks sat around downstairs and did the “wake” thing with my mom and older sister.

Soon, tears I hadn’t dared to show earlier poured down. I tossed the book on the floor, huddling on my bed.

My sister came into my room. “What’s wrong?”

I buried my head against her shoulder. “G—g—Gandalf’s dead.” Not Daddy’s dead. Gandalf.

“Keep reading. The story’s not over yet,” she said.

That night, JRR Tolkien taught me to believe in eucatastrophe, the sudden happy turn of events that follows on the heels of sorrow.

Gandalf didn’t stay dead.

Through the magic doorway of fantasy, I got a handle on my feelings of grief. Even young children can grapple with good and evil, lean to face the things that go bump in the night, when they listen to tales that begin “Once upon a time” and end with “They lived happily ever after.” Identifying with loss on such an epic scale as Gandalf’s fiery plunge into darkness gave me a safe way to acknowledge my own pain. I didn’t need a reality check … I needed something that transcended reality.

I still do. Maybe all of us do.

So, that’s why I write fantasy. Because I want everyone to know … the story’s not over yet.


FIrstLove_imageEveryone has had a first love…the one they had new experiences with and the one they can’t forget. Whether it be the boy next door, a loyal princess, or a supernatural being, all of these stories have two things in common: love at first sight and elements of fantasy.

In “Message in a Bottle,” Moira is immediately attracted to the tall, handsome man who’s a fellow volunteer on her beach-cleanup vacation. But he’s got a ring on his finger. He’s equally fascinated by the alluring woman. He thinks she’s a Siren, not the Mermaid he’s engaged to but has never seen…and she has no idea that he’s a Selkie. She doesn’t even believe in them. And she can’t possibly be his Mermaid, since she can’t even swim. Is it love at first sight? Or will fate keep them apart forever?


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Meg Boepple is the pen name for Sara Meg Seese, an author who writes fantasy, romance, and inspirational women’s fiction. She wrote her college honors thesis on the works of JRR Tolkien and has been looking for evangelium and eucatastrophe in stories ever since.

Her second published short story starts off the FIRST LOVE fantasy romance anthology (released this past February) and her third story comes out next month in SEA OF SECRETS.

She lives in Fort Worth with three feline companions/editorial assistants, Her Majesty Sparkles the First, Ambassador-Plenipotentiary Peanut the Cowardly Lion-Hearted, and Lady Pistachio “KitKit” Sharpclaw, aka She Who Kneads Sensitive Body Parts at Midnight.


Social Media Links:

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/MegBoeppleAuthor

www.tinyurl.com/dspFirstLove

Before you go, make sure you connect with Meg online and check out her latest release, First Love, and her upcoming release, Sea of Secrets

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Wisdom Wednesday: Dakota Caldwell

It’s time for you to write. You sit down at the computer and what happens next? Does your desk have to be spotless or is messy okay? Does the house have to be quiet or maybe you have to have a constant stream of noise? 

Today, we have author Dakota Caldwell sharing his writing tip.

Welcome, Dakota!


Name: Dakota Caldwell

Genre: Various (sci-fi/fantasy, comedy/horror)

Latest Release: Apocalyps Squad

Writing Tip:

When you sit down to write, what do you do? Naturally, you have to pull up both Facebook (to provide ample opportunity to post about how you keep getting distracted), Youtube (to provide the distractions. And cat videos!), and Google (to provide obscure answers to random issues in your book that most people will skip over anyway). However, once this is done, you likely pull up your favorite music player and tune out the rest of the world.

Music is a key part of writing that I honestly believe is far too overlooked. For some people, simply listening to an epic soundtrack can provide the inspiration to create truly mesmerizing imagery, to invoke the natural resonance of a scene. However, it can actually be taken a step farther than that.

Simply put, audio is the most powerful form of stimuli that we have access to. Your mind will retain a noise for many times longer than it will retain an image, a smell, or a feeling. Hearing a song that you listened to in high school can bring back those feelings of being a teenager, the examples go on. With this in mind, it’s actually quite possible to train yourself using music.

In short, pick one type of music to listen to while you’re writing. Once you’ve done that, don’t listen to that music ANYWHERE else. After a while, after simply hearing that particular type of music, your brain will automatically switch into writing mode. For me personally, it’s helped eliminate writer’s block on more than one occasion, and has improved my focus a hundredfold.

I love listening to music while I write. My pandora playlist is a mixture of genres, but as soon as I hear  80s’ music (my favorite), my mind starts rolling with ideas. I will have to try only listening to one genre!

Advice For New Writers: 

In the interest of providing the most cliche and overused advice on the internet: Go for it.

Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like a shoe commercial, but… The fact remains that this single piece of advice has lead me to the point where I stand today. Allow me to explain.

Through my writing, I go to a lot of comicons. They’re fantastic places, indeed. Wonderful venues to gawk at cosplay, full of amazing people to meet and befriend. When I started going to them around two years ago, I quickly met a number of other local authors. Friendships formed almost immediately, and I am still in contact with many of them today. I’ve met high schoolers self-publishing their first book, and I’ve met seventy-year-olds who are just getting around to releasing their first novel. And… Something struck me as quite interesting about it all.

The older members of the author crowd were full of advice and wisdom, life experience and wonder that they placed carefully into their books. However, almost every one of them had a single regret: “I wish I had started writing sooner.”

In fact, as I’ve continued doing cons through the years, this has become a theme. I have never once met an older individual that didn’t wish that they had started writing earlier in their life. Conversly, I’ve never met a younger author that regretted starting out when they did. And… I think a lot of this comes back to fear. We fear the unknown, we fear rejection, we fear all these terrible and horrible things that could come with putting ourselves out there. But… We’ll never know how far we can fly unless we get some air under our wings. Our close friends and family, those beta readers that have put up with us for years, are never going to be able to point out all the flaws in our writing. There’s no way that we could truely know how people will respond to going on a journey with our characters.

Maybe you succeed right off the bat, maybe it takes a few releases to build up steam. Maybe people hate the book, maybe they love it. The fact of the matter is that there’s only one way to find out. I published my first novel in January 2017, against the wishes of… Well, pretty much everyone except my girlfriend. Two years later, that book has been taken out of print, that girlfriend is my wife, and my writing is better than it ever would have become if I hadn’t put myself out there. The road might be full of bumps… But there’s only one way to know for sure.

I think you’re right. When I was in high school, I wanted to be traditionally published and well on my way as a writer by the time I was thirty. Life happened, and then that goal changed to completing my novel by thirty. I ended up going back to school to get a degree in Creative Writing in my thirties. My first novel was traditionally published by thirty-five. Looking back, I wish I would have majored in Creative Writing from the very beginning, instead of trying other things first. Don’t let fear stop you!


Apocolyps squad cover (1) low res

The Apocalypse Prevention Department is a secret division of the United States Military, tasked with detecting and preventing world-ending events before the world, well… Ends. Of course, since the world isn’t really in the habit of ending that often, the government keeps it staffed with their misfits and renegades. For years, the ragtag group of bureaucrats has enjoyed a life of luxury. However, when their department is threatened with budget cuts, they’ll be faced with a task even more daunting than saving the world: Actually doing their jobs.

 


 

bio

Dakota Caldwell is the author of multiple series that involve violently ending the world (and a few that involve saving it). He currently lives in Kansas City with his wife (who doesn’t want to see the world end) and his daughter (who basically is his whole world).

 


 

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/dakotacaldwellauthor/ 

www.leadpyramidpublishing.com (blog/online store)

Before you go, take a moment and connect with Dakota on social media and check out his latest release, Apocalyps Squad. 

What about you? Do you listen to music while you write? And if so, what kind of music?

Wisdom Wednesday_Dakota

Fantasy Reads: The Fay’s Apprentice

I’m excited to share with you a new release for my new blog segment, Fantasy Reads. Author Amy C. Blake is here to talk about her brand new release, Fay’s Apprentice.

Welcome, Amy!


Levi Prince and The Fay’s Apprentice

Today I’m celebrating my newest release, The Fay’s Apprentice, the third novel in my four-book Levi Prince YA Christian fantasy series. This series features scrawny, redheaded, homeschooled pastor’s son Levi Prince during his summers at Camp Classic, a camp for classically educated kids that’s actually a haven for mythical creatures.

Years ago, when I first dreamed up Levi and Terracaelum, it was only natural that Levi be a redheaded, homeschooled pastor’s kid like my own children. Camp Classic came into being because we follow a Classical Christian educational system for our homeschool, and I thought it’d be intriguing to include stories from Classical mythology into my plotlines. The Trojan Horse Traitor plays off of the Greek Trojan horse incident. The Fall of Thor’s Hammer incorporates the funny Norse myth about Thor in a wedding dress. The Fay’s Apprentice integrates the Ancient British legend of Morgan le Fay’s apprenticeship to Merlin.

My Levi Prince series is set in Terracaelum, a realm populated by mythical creatures yet ruled by a human man and a human woman. The name Terracaelum comes from the Latin words terra (earth) and caelum (sky or heaven). Camp Classic is on Castle Island, a tiny island in the middle of Lake Superior. Unknown to most of the campers, the far northern cliff of Castle Island is the connecting point with Terracaelum, which is invisible except when the drawbridge is lowered. Besides the director and his wife, Camp Classic’s staff is not human; it is comprised of elves, dwarves, and pixies who pass for humans to the campers who are unaware that they’ve left Castle Island and entered Terracaelum. Beyond the castle live many other mythical creatures—dragons, mormos, basilisks, dvergar, harpies, griffins, rocs, unicorns, merweavers, lake monsters, and a shape-shifting demon sorcerer named Deceptor.

While my flawed but lovable main character Levi is a homeschooler, making him appealing to home educated kids, he’s also relatable to traditional-schoolers and even adults. While especially geared toward 10- to 16-year-olds, readers of any age will enjoy watching Levi tackle archery, fencing, canoeing, dragon jousting, Latin verbs, History dates, and, of course, Deceptor and his evil cronies in their bids to take over Terracaelum.

If you’re interested in reading Levi’s stories, you can buy my books on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle formats. I’ve included the buy links and blurbs for each book below.


TrojanHorseTraitor_FlatforeBooksThe Trojan Horse Traitor (book 1)

Left on Castle Island to attend Camp Classic, Levi Prince finds himself at the center of an enchanted world of amazing abilities, cloudy motives, and wicked beings that will challenge his very spirit. He begins to form friendships, but life at camp becomes more confusing as questionable activities and uncertain agendas bring about conflict that tests his character in ways he never expected. Finally, faced with a friend’s betrayal, Levi is forced to confront true evil. Will he find the courage to stand his ground, and to become the hero he was always meant to be?

ThorsHammer_Flat (1)The Fall of Thor’s Hammer (book 2)

Stay out of the cellar! One of Camp Classic’s firmest rules puts Levi in a dilemma when he hears banging on the cellar door. Could it be a Lake Superior sailor driven into Terracaelum’s underbelly by a storm? Or is it one of the Dvergar trying to lure a foolish camper to certain death? It’s only the first night back in the castle and already Levi must make a potentially disastrous decision: Should he disobey Mr. Dominic at the risk of his own life? Or do as he’s told, possibly leaving some poor sailor to wander in darkness until he starves?

FaysApprentice_FlatThe Fay’s Apprentice (book 3)

On Levi’s third summer at Camp Classic, he’s torn between two responsibilities. On the one hand, his parents expect him to watch over his little sister Abby, who has no clue their summer camp is a haven for mythical creatures. On the other hand, Mr. Dominic wants him to train at Fort Terra, a full day’s hike away from his sister, because of Levi’s previous encounters with the demon sorcerer Deceptor. Although he enjoys training with his friends, Levi finds life at Fort Terra difficult thanks to the ongoing tension between him and Hunter and the stress of having his former kidnapper Regin as his chaperone. When the woman Regin claims to be the evil sorceress Anna appears, Levi faces a whole new challenge.


SONY DSCAward-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She’s also writing two series for the Christian market, her Levi Prince YA fantasy series and her On the Brink Christian suspense trilogy.

WhitewashedColorblind, and Tie-Dyed, featuring three homeschooled girls on the brink of adulthood…and danger, are available in paperback and Kindle. The Trojan Horse TraitorThe Fall of Thor’s Hammer, and The Fay’s Apprentice, about homeschooled pastor’s kid Levi Prince and his adventures in Terracaelum, are also available in paperback and Kindle.


Before you go, make sure you check out Amy’s newest release, The Fay’s Apprentice and connect with her on social media.

http://amycblake.com/

Amy C. Blake Facebook author page

Amy C. Blake Twitter page

Wisdom Wednesday: Kandi J. Wyatt

Sometimes, we need a reminder of why we started writing in the first place and that writing is a journey. One that takes time and requires discipline. Author, Kandi J. Wyatt is with us today for Wisdom Wednesday. 

Welcome, Kandi!


Name: Kandi J. Wyatt

Genre: Fantasy

Latest Release: An Unexpected Escapade

Writing Tip:

Keep writing. No seriously, the best thing you can do for your writing is to write. So many writers think they’re doing well, but they haven’t finished a first draft. Nothing can be done without a finished draft. Even if it’s sloppy, finish it. Then you can revise and edit.

 It will be sloppy, believe me. I’ve heard of first drafts described as throwing up on paper. Embrace the sloppiness, and view it as the beginnings of a masterpiece. Author Tosca Lee says that the first draft is like throwing clay on the potter’s wheel. You first must put clay on the wheel before you can do any pottery. First draft potter quote Tosca Lee

When I get discouraged or when time gets away from me, I remember this advice, and I keep writing. I plug away in the sloggy middle-ground where my characters feel flat and unexciting, and I write. Eventually, I finish a draft and give it a break. Then I can go back to it and see the good things, take out the bad, and adjust the mediocre. Without a first draft, I’d have nothing to work with. It’s been this mentality that has allowed me to publish eleven books and finish writing another three novels for future publication.

Great advice! Years ago, I used to let perfection keep me from finishing rough drafts. Now, I love the rough draft process.

Advice For New Writers: 

My best advice comes from a Twitter conversation with Margaret Weis four years ago. Earlier there had been a conversation with other authors about ‘making it big’. The advice I’d been given was being an author is for the long-haul. It’ll take at least five years before you start to see results. The same week as that conversation with my publishing team, I came upon a conversation between Brian Rathbone and Margaret Weis saying that she was told when she started out to not expect any fame for the first six years. I think it’s wise advice. Many people think becoming an author will lead to immediate success, but that’s not the case. It will take hard work, many years of labor, and hundreds of thousands of words before people will begin to notice you.

This is an excellent reminder to all of us to keep writing and keep going. It does take time and lots of persistence. 


2 An unexpected escapade front cover preview

Protect friendship, family or a creature that’s not supposed to exist?

Ana and Daisy have been friends since third grade, but a rift in thspace-time continuum in their little town may change that. When unicorn waltzes into the pasture with Daisy’s appaloosas, a poacherwho will stop at nothing to gain the unicorn horn and its healing tearsshows up. Daisy is focused on saving the unicorn while Anas parentface sudden life-threatening health issues. When Ana learns about the healing tears, she’s forced to choose between friendship and her family’s health.

Can the girls and the grace to compromise and save Ana’s parents and the unicorn?


 

Kandi J Wyatt Author small

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandhad learned to put words together on paper to create stories for thosshe loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that‘s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi‘s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.


Social Media:

Website: http://kandijwyatt.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/kandijwyatt/

Google: http://plus.google.com/u/0/+KandiWyatt/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kandijwyatt

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kandijwyatt

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/KandiJ-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10/

Before you go, take a moment and connect with Kandi on social media and check out her latest release, An Unexpected Escapade

Wisdom Wednesday_Kandi

Joy

We had a jam-packed weekend and a long day yesterday at our youngest child’s chemo appointment. Top it off with a migraine that lasted for almost three days, and it was nearly an unbearable trip riding in the car for eight hours.

I woke up not hurting this morning. YAY! I snuck into the living room (the kids are still snoozing) and opened the windows by the computer. It’s been quiet in the house except for the sound of the birds chirping and my fingers hitting the keyboard.

My day is already full of things to do and errands to run. But for now, I’m letting the kids sleep, and I’m listening to the birds. 

There’s something so calming about the early morning hours when the house is quiet, and all I can hear is the birds calling to each other all around our house. Spring is here, and I’m so grateful for the warming temperatures.

Do you feel that calmness this morning? The promise spring, new life, and sunshine? Maybe you can’t feel it yet because you woke up late getting the kids ready for school and it’s been a mad dash out the door. Maybe your work trip was canceled and all you can think about it how it’s thrown everything off this week. Perhaps you’re worried about bills, and missed work because you’ve had to take care of sick kiddos.

Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve made plans to be intentional today. You want to take a moment and just breathe. Your soul needs to find peace in this crazy day that’s guaranteed to turn into a crazy week. Maybe you’ve been following the #BeStill Tuesday blog for a couple weeks now, but you just don’t know how you can find the time. Perhaps you have the time set aside for only you, but now that it’s here, you can’t let yourself relax.

That was me this morning. I was thinking about my to-do list, and wondering how I could fit in a blog about rest.

Then I opened the windows. Then I heard the birds. Joy_BeStill

Sounds corny, I know. But have you ever stopped and listened to them before? I mean, really listened to them? They are not worried about anything. Their songs are not full of melancholy, but joy.

I hope you find some joy today. Whether it’s reading a book outside, going to the park and playing with your kids, writing a new chapter in your book, or creating something with your hands. Take a moment and find joy.

Take a moment and #BeStill.

Hugs,

Erin

Wisdom Wednesday: Jebraun Clifford

Do you struggle with an internal editor? Or maybe you are new to writing and unsure about handing your manuscript over to a critique partner? You’re not alone. Every writer deals with both of these issues to some degree. But how do you get past them?

Today, we have author Jebraun Clifford with us for Wisdom Wednesday. Welcome, Jebraun!


Name: Jebraun Clifford

Genre: Science fiction and fantasy

Upcoming Anthology Release: Encircled

Writing Tip:

Learn how to turn off your internal editor! I’m a bit of a grammar nerd and end up spending way too much time checking my spelling, grammar, and sentence structure when I’m writing a first draft. Instead of letting the words flow (and reassuring myself I’ll go back later and fix stuff), I find it easy to get bogged down in the details of editing as I write. And, unfortunately, the editorial side of your brain doesn’t play nicely with your creative side. I have to tell myself often what Shannon Hales said, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” So shovel in that sand, get those words in, and work on creating a masterpiece after the first draft is finished.

I’ve always liked this quote. I battle with my internal editor as well, but I’ve finally got to the point where I can write the entire first draft without editing each chapter as I go. It’s still hard at times, but I keep reminding myself that the first draft is supposed to be messy. It just has to exist. 

Advice For New Writers: 

Don’t be afraid to share your writing with other writers. It can be scary, handing over your precious scribblings, but finding a critique group of like-minded writers was the best thing I ever did. My writing improved immensely, and I ended up becoming friends with the amazing group that is publishing this anthology!

I completely agree. It’s hard to hand them over to someone and wait to find out what they think about the story. Writing groups are amazing, and the people there know exactly what you are feeling/thinking because they’ve had those same fears at some point.


Encircled cover

Back cover blurb for “Beyond the Stars and Past the Moons” which is a science fiction re-telling of the fairy tale “East of the Sun, and West of the Moon” in the anthology, Encircled:

Astrid makes the mistake of landing on a derelict moon base above a planet with a corrosive atmosphere. Inside the base lives Milos, a lonely young man who always wears his space suit and a reflective helmet. The base seems familiar, like from a memory or dream. What isn’t Milos telling her? And why won’t he show her his face?

Milos waits for the one destined to break his curse. When Astrid arrives, he realizes she’s everything he’s dreamt about for the last five hundred years. Can she save him before the sorceress who imprisoned him wakes up and destroys them both?


CliffordToo short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, Jebraun Clifford lives smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island surrounded by thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. She writes about discovering identity, living without fear, and enjoys creating fantastic worlds. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.

 

 


Social Media:

Encircled pre-order campaign: https://forms.gle/PRK6HSRgUbbzQAYN7

https://jebraunclifford.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jebraun.clifford.author/

https://www.instagram.com/jebraunclifford/

https://amazon.com/author/jebraunclifford

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18985233.Jebraun_Clifford

Before you go, take a moment and connect with Jebraun on social media and preorder the anthology, Encircled, which releases on April 16th.

Wisdom Wednesday_Jebraun

Unstoppable

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A couple of weeks ago, I found a note in one of my notebooks. My husband left it for me to find and never said anything about it until I brought it up to him. The note said, “You are an unstoppable creative mastermind of untold ideas. Now go create a world others will live, love, and die in.”

I needed that reminder so much.

I’ve been a little stuck lately, trying to figure out how I can make my new series fit in the story world of my current series. I love my story world and want to stay in it for a little while longer. 🙂

You are an unstoppable creative mastermind of untold ideas. I love this. And it’s going in a frame beside my computer.

There are many days where I don’t feel like a creative mastermind, and nowhere near unstoppable, but if you are serious about this thing called writing, you need this mentality.

Because the truth is, it’s hard to be a writer. You have to overcome your fears, competitive markets, and push through. You have to continue to learn and strengthen your writing skills. You have to market yourself and your books. It’s a never-ending cycle.

But it’s worth it.

I know your days are busy. Your schedule is bursting at the seams. Maybe you are running late today, and nothing has gone as according to plan. Maybe you stayed up late last night to study so you could spend time with your kids on spring break.

Maybe, just maybe, you have all these creative ideas that are begging for you to acknowledge them, but you can’t seem to find the time.

I hope you take that time this week and remind yourself why you wanted to be a writer, artist, crafter (or whatever it is that you do) in the first place. Remember that you are an unstoppable creative mastermind of untold ideas.

Take some time to #BeStill.

Hugs,

Erin