Friday 11 September 2009

Today's Guest, Sandy Lender

Welcome please, Sandy Lender who is stopping by as part of her virtual book tour for Choices Meant for Kings the second volume inher wonderful fantasy series:

If You’re Gonna Hit, Hit Like You Mean It, by Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

Weighing in at a whopping 63 grams, Cricket the fancy green-cheeked conure is a diminutive companion parrot. She’s the smallest of the pet birds in my flock of four and she has this habit of standing up very tall on her skinny scaly legs, stretching everything from her feet to her neck until she looks like a manic Jack Nicholson to appear “big” like the African Grey. For all the posturing, she’s still only 63 grams of hollow bones and green-n-gray fluffy feathers. What’s inspiring this post today is that when she flits down from her playgym to the floor four feet below, she does it with surprising force. This psychotic little bird doesn’t aim for the floor beak-first like a dive-bomber (thank goodness), but she jumps and flutters in an almost-graceful arc that loses all semblance of an Olympian swimmer about six inches into the fall. From there on down, it’s all fluttering and flapping and failed attempts to catch an updraft until she hits the floor with the force of a bird five times her size.

Today, while saying the customary “Oops! Cricket fell!” that I hope the other birds will learn to announce if I’m ever not in the room when Cricket does this uncoordinated launch, I thought about what I could learn from this “thud” of tiny bird mass. She’s so small, yet she hits with real gusto. It’s like she’s putting her heart into it. “If I’m going to hit, I’m going to mean it!”

As an author, I can totally relate. When it was time to pitch my Choices series, I sat in front of a publisher where I could have gotten rejection right to my face. But, you know, if I was going to fall, I was going to mean it. When each book has been released, I’ve sent it to reviewers for comments/testimonials/reviews. Scary prospects! But, you know… There are other examples of taking risks and putting yourself on the line. So how about it? Any visitors today willing to share the risks you’ve taken? Any “leaps” you’re willing to tell us about?

(Pet safety note: Cricket does not leap off her playgym every day. And when she does, I don’t reward her. The attention she receives is minimal because I have to get her off the floor and back to her perch, but that’s all the attention she receives at that time. There’s no praise for jumping, no treat, no special toy. Also, the floor around her cage is carpeted with a pad beneath it. We have play time on a separate play perch—and on me—at other times. I discourage the jumping as best I can.)

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Blurb for Choices Meant for Kings:

Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?

A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings

You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour…

As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

“I asked you to accompany Chariss on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”

You can find more info on this book and the first in the series, Choices Meant for Gods, at:

Check out the rest of her blog tour here:

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Guest C.L. Talmadge discusses "Writing a fiction series".

Please welcome my guest today, C.L. Talmadge, author of the Green Stone of Healing book series. She has a fascinating discussion in store for you readers, as she shares insights on writing a fiction series
Don't forget to comment for your chance to win a copy of her book set.

Writing a fiction series
By C.L. Talmadge

A series is what happens to fiction when the story is just too big to stuff into one book. What is old about fiction is new again.

During the 19th century, many of the novels we know today started out as serialized stories in daily or weekly broadsheets or monthly magazines. Two instantly recognizable examples are the works of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s profiles of his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. These authors were paid initially by the word or the column inch, which encouraged them to be prolific writers.

Their readers expected Dickens and Doyle to unroll their tales in stages and looked forward to the next installment. Serialized fiction gained new life in the late 20th century with two publishing phenomena, the Harry Potter and Left Behind series. Both of these showed publishers yet again that diverse sets of readers are willing to absorb fiction a bit at a time instead of all at once.

A fiction series is probably better suited to 21st century readers precisely they do not have to spend a great deal of time with each step of the plot. After all, there are blogs, fantasy sports, Facebook, movies, online news, text messaging, Twitter, YouTube and so forth demanding their attention, too.

The challenge for writers of serialized fiction is to give readers enough to feel satisfied yet hold more of the story in reserve to keep them tantalized. This is a delicate balance and there’s simply no formula for it. How it works out depends entirely on the plot. The easiest, most prevalent kind of fiction series features a character, very often a police detective or private gumshoe, with numerous cases to solve, each case forming a separate novel.

But it is possible to write one long story as a series, too. In this case, the tales that are best for serialization have lots of ups and downs, and twist and turns, offering numerous points at which the protagonist(s) face some sort of danger, challenge, or quandary. Ending at any one of these spots leaves some questions resolved and others still to be answered, inducing frustration and anticipation.
Several hundred manuscript pages into the first draft of what I thought would be one novel, I realized it had to be a series. The Green Stone of Healing® speculative epic was born. The series is really two parallel tales. The first is an old woman’s fictionalized memoire narrated in the third-person past tense. This is by far most of the story.

It is prefaced and followed, however, by first-person, present-tense short sakes about her current perils. This two-track structure is possible only when the author knows how the story ends. Readers also know how it ends (badly), but that is not as important as why it ends so terribly. And thanks to the memoire writer’s running accounts of her current challenges, they also know that hope survives. That is important when times are dark.

Another challenge in writing a series like this is the sheer number of characters involved over four generations and multiple countries. I began a glossary in the first book, and add to it with each subsequent book. Many times I refer to the glossary myself when writing about certain characters, just to refresh my memory about that character’s likely political affiliations and attitude toward the heroine.

Although crafting a compelling series makes fiction even harder than normal, it can also make it more rewarding, too. A series gives an author the luxury of character development over time and of exploring questions, like the why behind the what, that one-book works simply cannot or do not accommodate.

C.L. Talmadge is the author of the Green Stone of Healing® speculative epic. The fourth in the series, Outcast, will be published Oct. 1. Vote for the first book, The Vision, through Sept. 25 and get a free e-book on healing, love, and spirituality. Details at her blog:

The Green Stone of Healing:
The series features four generations of strong-willed female characters who inherit a mysterious green gem ultimately revealed to mend broken bones and broken hearts, protect against missiles, and render its wearers undetectable.
For more information about each book, please visit

You can check out her entire virtual book tour here:

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