The Summer Sale Continues with War for the Sundered Crown

Week 4 of the Summer Sale already! Where does the time go? This week it’s the turn of book 2 in the epic Sundered Crown Saga, War for the Sundered Crown. You can get the book for just 0.99p/c from now until June 27th.


Five years have passed since the Battle of Eclin, but peace in the Kingdom of Delfinnia remains elusive. Fell Beasts terrorise the countryside, dragons attack the Westerlands and, worst of all, strange ships have been sighted off the coast.

Luxon Edioz still searching for his mother embarks on a journey to Stormglade, a city at the edge of the Great Plains. It is a land full of monsters and deadly tribal warriors. There he will learn that Danon, the enemy of mankind, has not been idle since his defeat at Eclin.

The dark one has amassed a vast army. Its sole purpose; to destroy the kingdom and plunge the world into a never-ending darkness.

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SPFBO Author Interview: Joanna Maciejewska

In my fifth SPFBO author interview I spoke with Joanna Maciejewska the author of the Pacts Arcane and Otherwise series, book 1 By the Pact is her entrant into the competition.


  • Hi Joanna, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hello, nice to meet you all. My name is Joanna. I grew up in Poland, and after college I moved to Ireland. I stayed there for over 8 years, but then winds of adventure and romance carried me overseas to the US. Since then, I’ve already bounced from Arizona to Virginia, so it seems that I’m a bit of a nomad… who loves to spend all her time at home, among her books, writing, and video games.

I think writing was always a part of me. I learned to read very early, and I always entertained myself with weaving stories (growing up in a communist Poland meant little access to other entertainment) and creating rhymes. Then, as a teen, I discovered fantasy and science fiction and wanted to write my own stories, so it seemed like a natural outlet for my creativity.

At the same time, there are two people to whom I should give credit to when it comes to inspiring me. The first one is Piotr Schmidtke, a friend who was the first person to publish my stories on an online platform. The love he gave my writing over twenty years ago (and still generously gives it) likely put me on that path for good. The second one is Inq So, my husband, who encouraged me to write in a second language. Without him, I’d likely never have tried writing in English.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

As a reader, I love the sense of wonder that is inherent to the genre. I want to experience the magic and the adventure without the risk of being eaten by a dragon, losing my limb in an epic battle, or having to commit to one world for longer than it takes to read a book or a series.

As a writer, I’m fascinated by how different worlds and settings can affect humans and their culture, and how people might make different choices in such circumstances… while at the same time all the things that make us human, good and bad, still remain.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I always chuckle at such questions, because I tend to work on many things at the same time, so it’s hard not to ask “which latest project?”. But let’s focus on Pacts Arcane and Otherwise, my epic fantasy series, which gets the most of my attention at the moment. Before I first started writing By the Pact, I had a bout of feeling uncreative, and my husband said, “let’s play video games and get inspired”. I spent two weeks playing Skyrim again, and thinking not only about what I loved in the game, but also about elements of fantasy, epic fantasy in particular. In most classics, there’s always the great evil to conquer in order to save the world, and that got me thinking: what if you had to free the great evil to save the world? I combined it with a few other ideas that seemed to go well together, and the story slowly took shape.

The biggest challenge for me is always writing itself: English is my second language, so there are times I struggle to find the right sentence structure or words to convey what I want to say. That also makes me a rather slow writer.

Another challenge was the story as a whole. It’s an epic fantasy with many characters involved and many interwoven plots spanning four books, so I have to keep track of all of them. Particularly in book 3, Shadows over Kaighal which I’m finishing at the moment, characters move around quite a lot within a limited time span, so I had to make sure they are at the right places at the right time. I ended up making a spreadsheet to keep track of their whereabouts.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like characters who act smart. I’m that person who you would see yelling at the tv when characters ignore the knowledge they already have, and in the past, repetitive unreasonable behaviors of protagonists made me abandon books, so I try to avoid it in my own writing. I love good banter too, so my characters tend to have a lot of witty exchanges. I suppose many of my characters have a titbit of my personality, and in general, I try to model them after how real people behave. Sometimes I have fun with it too: one of the projects I’m working on is a contemporary fantasy series set in Dublin altered by a magical war, and I thought it would be fun to make the main character an immigrant from Poland. This way, I could draw from my own experiences and add the authenticity to how she perceives Dublin. At the same time, even though we share some of the background, she isn’t me, and I’m not sure if I’d make the same choices she makes.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

I think the two most useful things are: embrace “good enough” and learn to move on. I think many beginner writers get stuck in making their first novel perfect, revising, altering and polishing it… and wasting years with little progress. While it’s important to revise and edit, there’s only so much you can learn from the same novel, and sometimes being close to it makes you unable to see its flaws, perhaps even the fatal ones that might make the project unsalvageable. Distance and perspective of another book and then another and another not only helps to see the first project for what it is, but it also gives you tools to go back and fix it if you still love it or believe in it.

That isn’t to say that anyone should settle for mediocre or unpolished projects, but I think it’s important to know when to stop. It’s better to have 10 good books or 5 very good books than 1 near-perfect book that will be ready as soon as you make those final changes—especially that which you consider your best book and what your agent, publisher, or reader considers the best might be very different.

Besides, looking realistically, if you want to be a writer, you have to have more than one story to tell. And if you want to make a living as a writer, you have to, well, write more and faster. It doesn’t necessarily mean a book in a month, but trust me, you won’t have 10 years per book.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I try to avoid setting deadlines. If I could, I’d make sure that I have everything ready before I even have to set one, which really translates to setting generously distant deadlines that account for “everything that could go wrong” and not taking on more than I can handle. Other than that, it’s just the discipline and knowing which tasks to prioritize. That’s why I always deliver my freelance projects before the deadline and—so far—release my books on time, but not always win NaNoWriMo or respond to an email.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I consider myself a plotter as I don’t feel entirely comfortable not having any idea of where I’m going. At the same time, I don’t really outline: my plotting consists of the general idea of the plot and key things that have to happen. I fill the rest in as I develop the setting, the characters, and the story, and then while I write, some things naturally fall into place… or out of place. I suppose that puts me somewhere in between the hardcore plotters who write detailed outlines of each chapter and true pantsers who need as little as “there is a person in a room” to start writing.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I plan to finish Pacts Arcane and Otherwise series first. It’s meant to be four books with possible continuation or spinoffs in the future. Book 2, Scars of Stone, will be released on July 10th, 2021, and I’m wrapping up book 3 for a 2022 release. After book 4 is done, I’ll likely focus on my contemporary fantasy set in Ireland, since I’ve already made progress on the first three books in that series. Beyond that? Anything is possible! I have some other fantasy series in the works, and I also have a several ideas for science fiction books. There might be a few fantasy and science fiction romances along the way too… In short, I’m too slow of a writer for the amount of the ideas I have.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

In general, regardless of the current state of the real world, I prefer my books to be on the brighter side, but as a reader, I don’t shy away from darker themes, as long as there’s at least a glimmer of hope or a satisfying conclusion—not necessary a happy ending, but a fitting one. Darkness for the sake of shocking the reader doesn’t appeal to me.

As a writer, though, it seems I’m incapable of writing darker fiction. In the end there’s always some banter or friendship. I might have once written a novel that you could summarize with “everybody dies at the end”, but when I was thinking about a possible sequel, it turned out hardly anyone actually died.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Now that’s an interesting question. Am I allowed to say none? Having grown up in Poland, in the times of political and social changes, I wasn’t as exposed to Western pop-culture as much as people actually living in it. Because of that, I’ve read Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series (waiting for the author to finish writing each book) before I discovered Tolkien. I watched Star Wars quite late in my life and I enjoyed it but didn’t get hooked. And while I also enjoyed Harry Potter, it first released in Poland when I was approaching my 20th birthday and I’ve already read speculative fiction broadly and voraciously, so it didn’t have that formative effect on me. So, in the end, none of these franchises enchanted me enough to side with one.

Instead, my vote would go to The Witcher, based solely on the fact that I’ve read the whole saga at least a dozen times in my late teens and early twenties.

You can connect with me via:

Website: http://melfka.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterJoannaMaciejewska/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Melfka

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melfkathewriter/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/melfka

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/joanna-maciejewska

You can get By the Pact at all major online stores:

https://books2read.com/ByThePact

https://www.bookdepository.com/By-Pact-Joanna-Maciejewska/9781734606720


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SPFBO Author Interview: E.L. Haines

The SPFBO competition is well under way and the reviews are started to flood in from the judges. To help raise awareness of some of the entrants I’m interviewing them! This time it’s the turn of E.L. Haines, author of Stranger Back Home.


  • Hi E.L. Haines, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’m sure I’m not the only one here who is coming from an RPG-playing background! When you’re running a campaign, there’s something thrilling about leading an audience through conflicts and a setting that you have prepared for them, especially if they keep coming back for more each week.

When my roleplaying group broke apart a few years ago, I was suddenly overwhelmed by all of the unrealized plots in my mind that we had never played out. I also had a treasure trove of unique characters that was going unused. I decided to write a short story for my players to enjoy, and they loved it so much that I wrote more, produced a novella, and self-published.

At the same time, I was living in the Middle East and travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean region. I was experiencing a lot of local folklore, and it naturally made me question how our characters would react to some of the historic events that I was learning about. So I wrote a second novella while in rural France (Episodic Sleep Disorders, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SM95JR6/), about the Beast of Gevaudan and the Strasbourg Dancing Epidemic.

Now, everywhere I travel, I absorb some of the local culture to include in my books. I’m currently living in Egypt, which has nearly limitless potential for inspiration.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

My personal theory about the fantasy genre (and I’ve given this a lot of thought) is that it offers readers the thrill of discovery without the rigors of academia. This means:

Learning about ancient civilizations without drudging through boring history texts

Learning about fantastic beasts without dissecting frogs in a smelly lab

Understanding how the magical forces of nature work without performing those oft-unsuccessful scientific experiments and data analysis

Fantasy allows each reader to become their own Einstein, their own Steve Irwin, their own Howard Carter, and much more.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I’m in-between projects right now. After submitting my SPFBO 7 entry, Stranger Back Home (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B094616VSX/), I’m soliciting reviews and creating targeted ads (I think those are the challenges that all indie authors face the most).

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

My protagonist, Sparrow, is a self-insert. I have no problem admitting that. Hopefully he is relatable and likeable. If not, then don’t bother coming to my next birthday party.

Of course, he differs from me in several ways: he’s short, has less social anxiety, and maybe has time-travel abilities…

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

You’ll never be a good writer unless you’re a good reader. I read a lot of indie fiction and interact with a lot of indie authors, and I can tell the ones who don’t make time for recreational or educational reading. If you are struggling to move past a plot point, pick up a book and see how other authors do it. And don’t think that your favorite Netflix series or video games will teach you the same thing—you’re working with words on a page, and you need exposure to that exact medium to learn how to do it best.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

What’s a deadline?
I’ve heard that other authors dedicate themselves to a few thousand words each day. That’s never worked for me. I’m a big fan of the day-dreaming style of writing, where I just meditate on my story each night before I go to sleep until I give myself insomnia, sit up, and get back to work.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

50/50. I try to figure out the setting first, then the main conflict and resolution at the end, and I jot down notes for all of the minor elements that I hope to include in the book. Then I just write, and I plan a few chapters ahead when I can.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

Actually all of my books so far have been dips into other genres. My upcoming plans include a murder mystery set in an Egyptian palace, an interactive fiction for kids about dolphins and sunken treasure, a spy thriller on a Persian Gulf cruise ship, and a time-travel sci-fi about assassinating Hitler.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’m not sure what this ‘way of the world at the moment’ is. I feel that the vast majority of the tragedy shown to us in the media is more fictitious than my books, though, and I’m envious of their narrative storytelling success.
I love reading darker elements in fiction, but sometimes the author makes the entire book about the darkness, and that’s like preparing an entree made entirely of salt.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I see three franchises that have been expanded far beyond their respective authors’ original scope in order to exploit their audiences. But I’ll give each one an award anyway in the three important categories:

Character development—Luke Skywalker

Setting—Middle Earth

Plot—The resistance against the emerging Death Eater rise to power

Follow E.L. Haines –

Website: https://www.theshortstoryteller.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/sparrowtheshortstoryteller

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/E-L-Haines/e/B07KX888RG/

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18860518.E_L_Haines

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/e-l-haines



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SPFBO Author Interview: D.L Gardner

In my third SPFBO author interview I spoke with fantasy author and creator of the Sword of Cho Nisi series. Book one is an entrant in the competition.


  • Hi Dianne, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was a child and being a devote reader, I lost myself in the worlds of Shakespeare, Dumas, Dickens, Lewis, Poe, and more. I wrote mostly poetry when I was young but having a creative yearning, I expressed myself in other art forms (oil painting and music). It wasn’t until my later years that I decided to write novels. My first successful piece (I have some false starts of course) was about a boy and a dragon. I painted the dragon before I finished the novel. (It’s 3 panels 9 ft X 4 ft oil painting with copper leaf accents) and formed the story while I worked, using my grandsons as not only a target audience, but models for my MC. Since they were raised without fathers, I was especially compelled to write a story that would encourage them to be the man they wished their father had been to them. That series is titled Ian’s Realm and we did some Indie filming of a short concept film, put it in some film festivals and won a good many awards for it. It may be produced sometime down the road.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I have always been a day dreamer! I grew up in southern CA around the time Disneyland was built and we went there the first week it was open. I can still remember the thrill of walking around in a real fantasy world and I never wanted to leave. I guess I am still enjoying being in another place, one where I have control, where I can make the birds sing, the snow to fall, or horses run in a grassy meadow. C.S. Lewis wrote “You can make anything by writing,” and I found that to be the theme of my life. Writing about the here and now, to me is boring. I need a fantasy element to stay connected.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Sword of Cho Nisi is a three-book series that I wrote one after the other with the intention of publishing them quickly. It begins as a story (Rise of the Tobian Princess) about a young princess who makes a fatal mistake and spends the rest of the first book trying to make up for what she did. It speaks of overcoming guilt, forgiveness, and redeeming oneself, has a nice subplot romance, but becomes darker in the next two books as the main characters work through their weaknesses. I published the first book May 25 of this year and the next book; Fall of the Kings is set to launch July 9, 2021.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m drawn to writing male characters who have inner struggles. I put myself into all my characters though. I think if I didn’t write I’d have multiple personality disorder because I can relate to so many characters: the confused female, the wicked female, the flighty female, the weak male, the strong male, the bungling wizard, I’m all those things and more so it’s really easy for me to put myself into them. I also have some experience in psychology, so I enjoy developing backstories and why these characters do what they do…what in their childhood caused them to be the way they are.  Developing characters is the most exciting part of writing, I think.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

If you think you know what you’re doing, you probably don’t. Learn all you can and read as much as you can. Research, even if you’re writing fantasy. Learn about this world and its history and the people in it, and that knowledge will help you develop the world you want to write.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I write in the morning when everyone is asleep, and I give myself a minimum word count every day if I’m on a schedule. To keep my stories on track, I outline my chapters before I even begin, and have character and relationship sketches. I do a lot of pre planning before I write. If I didn’t, I’d lose track.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I plot. I need to know point A and point B. I start with a premise, a logline for the plot. Everything else develops from the relationships of the characters. What are the arcs I want to develop for each character, and then how are they going to get from A to B. I then write all the events to get them there. I develop the world as I go and sometimes move between chapters for continuity, so there is a lot of pantsing after the initial plotting.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I want to write a spin off series to Sword of Cho Nisi. I did a Kickstarter for this series and found it quite successful and once I’m in a world I don’t like leaving! I have other stories I’ve written that I’d also like to expand, shorter, all with a fantasy element. One is historical fantasy and fans have asked for more of that world. I’m still debating on whether to do that though.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’m always a good over evil girl. If it can’t happen in this world, I want to see it happen in my world.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings by far. I don’t think there’s many authors that can compare to Tolkien.

My website: https://gardnersart.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianneLynnGardner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DLGardner2

New release is Sword of Cho Nisi Book 2 Fall of the Kings July 9

Thanks for taking part!

Thank you so much for including me!


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The Summer Sale Continues with Heir to the Sundered Crown

The Summer Sale is already in its third week and this week book 1 in the Sundered Crown Saga is on sale for just 0.99p/c.

First in a series: The Kingdom of Delfinnia is plunged into darkness after its royal family is assassinated. When Luxon emerges as the first wizard in a century, he’ll have to join a band of noble allies and fulfill his destiny as the prophesied hero. Perfect for fans of Raymond E. Feist!

PUBLISHER DESCRIPTION

A realm torn asunder by civil war will give rise to a hero. The Kingdom of Delfinnia is in chaos. After Assassins kill the king and his family, the barons now battle one another for the crown. Unknown to them, one heir yet lives. As the civil war worsens, dark things begin to stir in the vast Eclin mountains.

Horrors long thought destroyed have returned and led by an ancient evil begin to march upon the war-torn kingdom. Meanwhile, in the mage city of Caldaria and as all hope seems lost, a young man named Luxon will discover his powers. The first wizard for a century, he is the man who will one day be known as the Legendary and the hero will give the realm its greatest king.

Sent on a quest to find the hidden heir, Luxon teams up with the legendary monster slayer, Ferran of BlackMoor, the deadly yet beautiful Witch Hunter Sophia Cunning and the noble Knight of Niveren, Kaiden of the Marble shore.

Together they travel the realm battling deadly monsters, assassins, and the most feared enemies of them all, the servants of the dark lord Danon himself, the evil N’Gist cult.

The Heir to the Sundered Crown is a heroic fantasy tale filled with action, battles and magic that will ignite the imagination and set the stage for an epic confrontation between the light and the darkness.


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SPFBO Author Interview: Rune S. Nielsen

SPFBO 7 is currently underway and to help give some visibility to the authors taking part I’ve opened my author interviews up to them. Today I interview fantasy author Rune S. Nielsen.


  • Hi Rune S. Nielsen tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write.

A long time ago in a galaxy called the Milky Way, in a small yellow brick house in the western part of the Kingdom of Denmark, lived a young boy who obsessed over superhero comic books. And also, any kind of sci-fi and fantasy content he could get his grubby little paws or excited eyeballs on.

Besides being an overjoyed consumer, the boy kept coming up with ideas and stories, and as the boy was me, I just happen to know that he wanted to get these out. Share his excitement with everyone.

I did some drawing and writing, then found an outlet in the wonderful world of roleplaying games, and later when he grew up, I became a journalist and got to write articles and do TV news. My love of beer then sent me to work for a decade at one of the world’s biggest brewery groups, Carlberg. Where we for instance told people, “Did you know that a study shows that one beer actually enhances your problem-solving skills but that two or more decreases the same skills?”

Despite the fine frothing beer, there was still something missing.

However, the dream of writing books never faded, and last year I finally published my first epic fantasy novel, Doomsayer Prince.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The vivid imagination. The relationships between the characters. The wonder of discovery. The differences and similarities between our world, society, and norms, and that of the imagined places.

But honestly, my first book could have been sci-fi. I love both genres about equally, and for most of the same reasons.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Currently, I am working on two new books. One coming out this Christmas, the other a year later. And a roleplaying game set in the world I created for Doomsayer prince.

When I began, I knew little about how to write novels. Had I known just how difficult creating a huge epic fantasy was, I would have begun with a short story. Instead, I wrote what I loved—a brick-thick fantasy novel. Kind of crazy, but I loved it. The difficulties I had were many. I had to learn a lot of new skills. And yes, I’m a journalist, but being an author is quite different. The pacing, style, and sheer numbers of hours spent on one project differ from the faster-paced life of a journalist.

Another issue was/is language. I’m a Dane and we speak Danish. For me, English is a second language. I, therefore, use a lot of mental energy on trying to fool everyone into believing that writing English comes perfectly naturally to me.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

Nuanced, intelligent characters with goals and feelings. The kind you can relate to.

All my characters have some of me in them, my prior experiences in life. Like some of the flight sequences, are inspired by my skydiving. Some are inspired by the experiences of others that I have come across in some form or other and still remember.

I would say the same goes for any writer. Why? Let me tell you a cool story.

During the writing of Doomsayer Prince, I went to a lecture. An accomplished scientist who researches the brain for a living was talking about the human memory. I might just have signed up because I thought it was funny that his last name is the same as the name of a Danish fish. I’m getting sidetracked. The memory does that to us.

According to “Mr. Goat Fish,” everything we come up with, inventions, new ideas, and so on, all directly stems from our memory.

According to him: when we humans want to create something “new” we don’t. Not 100%. What we do is take one or more things from our memory and combine them in different ways.

I had a hard time accepting this. My mind rebelled against the mere thought. No, I am creative! I am! Then he talked about the slow pace of new inventions and ideas. It’s typically someone inventing one little thing, then another improves it, and another, and then we all hail one person for “the discovery” of the light bulb or the theory of evolution, or whatever. When in fact it was not one person, but a series of smaller inventions or ideas leading up to someone finally either nailing it or finally getting the message out to the rest of us.

Thing progress in baby steps, we mistake for leaps.

What does that mean for a writer? So, if you want to create a new fantasy monster, you might begin by thinking ‘I want something scary and big for my new book.’ This might lead you directly to ‘dragons.’ But you did that last year. You don’t want that, and this must be new. Feel different!

What could such a monster be like? You then pick something from your memory and combine it with other things you remember. Like what if it has the head of a Geiger alien mixed with a hammer shark? Won’t people see what I did there? I’ll make it white so people can’t see that the black alien inspired it. And instead of the rounded shape of the hammer shark’s face, I’ll give this one reversed pyramid shapes. Does it have wings like a dragon? No, it becomes too much like a dragon, and if I remove the wings, it looks like a dinosaur. What to do? I’ll give it octopus tentacles but filled with needles that suck blood from its victims.

A dragon, mosquito, octopus, alien, shark mash-up. That’s new!

Is it? Well, it might be. What you have made could be a unique combination, but since all the parts are a mash-up of what you know, there are bound to be other works out there with something not so different in them. We all tap into many of the same shared fantasy experiences after all. Like LotR, Harry Potter, or Magic the Gathering.

Yes, as an author you can kid yourself all you like, about writing “new stuff nobody has ever seen before,” and sure, each book differs from all other books, but all of us creatively mash stuff together from our memory to form something that we feel is “unique enough,” but still “same enough” to fit into one or more genres.

The genres for me are different mashes of the author’s memories. Flavored for a specific taste.

When authors are bad at the mashing (or lazy) that’s when the reviewers complain about it feeling too much like a lot of other things they have read/seen/played. That’s why it helps if we know and truly love something. Then we instinctively know which flavors to add to our books.

Or maybe that’s not quite right? Perhaps even completely wrong. What do you believe?

Many authors (including me) feel that we at times get inspiration from somewhere outside of ourselves (no, I’m not talking about beta-readers.) We feel that ideas or words flow into us from some greater and wiser source.

Throughout the years this sort of influence has had many names like muses, guardian angels, genus loci, God…

Believe what you will, but for me, this does not discredit what “Mr. Goat Fish” talked about. Any outside inspiration still must go through our brain, pass through a filter that is us. The same with alien influences or drugs. They might influence your thinking but if YOU write it, it still comes from you and passes through your memory. If you don’t believe me, then think about the letters, we store each of them in our memory (yes, someone taught you to write long ago.)

Trying to get out from under the “shadow of my memory,” I invented a few tricks during the writing of the Doomsayer Prince. All to try to make the characters and the plot less a slave of my memory and hopefully more interesting.

I set up a list of “mental rules” for each character, a guideline to their behavior, and whatever I came up with I checked it with the rules and made sure their arc made sense.

I created randomly distributed “mess up my script bombs.” To help me write in a way that came less from my memory and more from some “other place.” Hopefully making the plot more exciting and unpredictable. I used a lot of time to smooth the rough edges.

If you read the Doomsayer Prince, let me know if you think I made it more unique than most books.

  • For any wannabe writers out there, what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Keep writing. Don’t expect anyone to do you any favors. Stay positive.

  • What writing tricks do you utilize to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

See no. 5.

I also use a fancy app to track all my ideas and structure the plot. It’s Causality by Hollywood Camera Works. It’s made for tv shows but it’s just wicked smart and works fine for novels.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A plotter. HARD MODE.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

The next book (working title: A Company of Adventurers) will be out this Christmas. It’s a new beginning but still fantasy. For the first time, I’m writing together with another (the fabulous British author, Chris Paton! He writes under a bunch of pennames in various genres, this one will be under Bran Nicholls.) We are having so much fun and I’m allowing myself to be loose (doing some pantser moves here and there.) It’s so great to have a colleague after spending years writing on my own.

Around Christmas, the following year, I’ll release the sequel to Doomsayer Prince titled Arch of the Zhi’el. I’m not sure when the roleplaying game will be ready. It’s kind of massive in its own way.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

A mix. Not too dark, not too bright. Not too naïve, not to jaded. Luckily, there’s plenty of space in the middle to tell a great story.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

You might expect me to say Star Wars (based on my answer to the first question.) It’s not, though.

Lord of the Rings, that’s my answer.

Don’t get me wrong. They are all significant works. Then again, if you had a time machine, went back, and killed Tolkien, I’m not sure there would be a Harry Potter or a Star Wars. Or that they would have been successes. That’s how big an influence LotR still has today.

Follow Rune via-

https://runesnielsen.com

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1318760974938958

Thanks for taking part!

You are welcome 😊


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https://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Olney/e/B00LE9XEBS?ref=dbs_mng_calw_1

SPFBO Author Interview: Glen Dahlgren

It’s time for another author interview. This time I chat with fantasy author Glen Dahlgren whose book The Child of Chaos is in this year’s SPFBO competition.


  • Hi Glen tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi! My name is Glen Dahlgren. I’m a 30 year veteran of computer game design, developing fiction with noted fantasy and SF authors such as Margaret Weis (Death Gate), Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), and Frederik Pohl (Heechee Saga). Heck, I even wrote a bit of Star Trek. I’ve always been of fan of those works, so getting to write in their worlds was amazing. It just made sense to apply all of that experience to worlds of my own!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Sf is wonderful, but I love the mystery of fantasy. In my worlds, characters encounter the natural limitations of the relatively primitive society such that magic is more powerful and impactful because of it. When everyone has the tech to make a nuke, nukes aren’t special.

And I think I’m just drawn to mystical underpinnings. Gods, rituals, artifacts, prophecies, rules of magic—they all create the foundation for a compelling world where I want to tell stories.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I released the Child of Chaos in the summer of ’20 after 20 years of work. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to finish it—but, with the help of some wonderful people, it became what it needed to be.

I was planning on writing the sequel right after, but a fan favorite character demanded his own book. That prequel book became the Game of War, the story of Dantess, priest of War. The novel took me about nine months to write. I’m getting faster! I expect to release it this summer.

While that’s being edited, I’m hard at work on book two of the Chronicles of Chaos: the Curse of Chaos (working title).

I love this world and these characters, so I hope to stick with them for some time.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m a game designer, so I enjoy writing smart characters that need to figure their way through difficult problems. I’d say that in Child of Chaos, it was primarily Horace (the villain) who devised the most ingenious plans. In Game of War, Dantess is forced to play an actual War Game and it takes all of his skill and ingenuity just to make it out alive.

Galen—the main character of Child—had some personality traits that a lot of creative people identify with. He is a frustrated story-teller in a world that actively devalues him. But we all know that stories can change the world.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Don’t get discouraged. Keep writing. Allow yourself to write badly (especially for the first draft). If you’re too critical of yourself, you’ll never get to the stage where you can make it better. Also: finish. Completing a work means you can move onto the next one–and believe me, it will be better.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I haven’t been wonderful at setting and keeping deadlines. Hey, it took me 20 years for my first book! The thing I try to do is keep forward momentum. If I’m not writing, I’m living in the world in my head, sorting problems and forging the way forward. Sooner or later, I get to the end.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I cannot start writing until I have an outline. That said, the outline will change many, many times as I’m writing. I’ve learned in game development that you always have to leave room for discovery. I look at it this way: I always give my characters a map, but they don’t always follow it.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I really enjoy YA Fantasy and I have a lot more to say there. When I’ve completed the Chronicles of Chaos, I’ll see where the winds take me.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I don’t shy away from darkness in my books. I put my heroes through the wringer. And Horace is probably the evillest villain I’ve encountered. I actually had a hard time writing one of his chapters because I knew what he was going to do. But I think I would have a harder time writing an ending that didn’t reflect my own sensibilities, which respects the power of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

They’re all great properties for very different reasons. When I was a kid, I had all the Star Wars trading cards taped to my wall (along with all the other merch I could afford at the time). If you asked me then, there was nothing that could compare, but I think fantasy overtook SF later in life.

Of those properties, I guess I would choose Harry Potter.  While I love the world and the races that the seminal Lord of the Rings presented, the property is huge. There’s so much lore.  Harry Potter feels more intimate; almost everyone can connect with it.

(Please include any social media links – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.)

Blog: http://www.mysterium.blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gdahlgrenauthor

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/glendahlgren

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20441786.Glen_Dahlgren

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/glen-dahlgren

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlenDahlgren

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/glendahlgren/

Amazon Book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08BN6S5R2/

Goodreads Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54239375-the-child-of-chaos

Bookbub Book: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-child-of-chaos-the-chronicles-of-chaos-book-1-by-glen-dahlgren

Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B08W8GKDLF/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-236240&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_236240_rh_us


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Voyage for the Sundered Crown Audiobook out now!

I am delighted to announce that Voyage for the Sundered Crown is now available to get in audio format and as per usual the excellent Joseph Tweedale has smashed it out of the park!

This is the definitive way to experience the Sundered Crown Saga and Joseph does an amazing job at bringing all of the characters to life in a way that only audio can.

You can get your copy on Audible, Itunes and ACX.

Win an Audiobook Code!

To celebrate the books release I’m giving away 10 codes. All you have to do to be win one is post a review of any of my books on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo or Barnes and Noble take a screenshot and send it to matthewolney9@gmail.com.

All qualifying entrants will then be added into a draw with the winners announced via the <a href=”http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>All qualifying entrants will then be <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/groups/212672018752900″>added into a draw with the winners announced via the </a>Sundered Crown Facebook Group.</p> Sundered Crown Facebook Group.


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The Summer Sale 2021

If you’ve been following me for a few years then you’ll know that every year I hold a Summer Sale to give you excellent folks new books to read throughout the holidays and with this blasted Covid virus still about who knows whether we will all be put into lockdown again. To that end here is the schedule for the book promos and their sale prices. Enjoy! And please leave reviews of any books you do choose to get. 

Sale begins June 1st

1st to the 6th – Danon (FREE)

7-13th – The Nightblade (0.99p/c or FREE if you sign up to the Newsletter)

14-20 – Heir to the Sundered Crown (0.99p/c)

21-27 – War for the Sundered Crown (0.99p/c)

28th – 4th July – Quest for the Sundered Crown (0.99p/c)

5-11 – Voyage for the Sundered Crown (0.99p/c)

12-18 – The First Fear (0.99p/c)

19-25 – The Temple of Arrival (0.99p/c)

26- 1st August – Terran Defenders: Genesis (0.99p/c)

2- 8 – Terran Defenders: Rebirth (0.99p/c)

9-15 – Blood of Kings (0.99p/c) 


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Author Interview: Ron L. Lahr

In today’s author interview I speak with US fantasy author Ron L. Lahr about what he’s working on and why he enjoys the most about the fantasy genre.


  • Hi Ron L. Lahr, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write? I am married with two grown daughters, which is what affords me the time to write. I love reading, gardening, cooking, baking and working on old cars. I have wanted to be a writer since I can remember and started during high school. I chose to stop writing and get a degree and a career to support my family. Now I have the opportunity to get back at it.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre? Fantasy is my favorite genre to read and write. It has been since I read the Lord of the Rings in junior high. There are many things I love about it, the sense of wonder, good versus evil, and honor mattering.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? My current project is the Kathaldi Chronicles, an epic fantasy trilogy. Dirk, a thief and sarcastic jerk, is the narrator of the story. He and some friends end up accidentally fighting an ancient evil to save the world. The first two books, Children of Kathaldi and Assassins of Kathaldi, are out on Amazon as ebooks and book one is also available as a paperback and an audiobook on Amazon and Audible. I am just finishing up the first draft of the final book, Destroyers of Kathaldi, so it should be out by the end of the summer.  The challenge of writing this trilogy was finishing the third book during the pandemic. With everything else that has happened over the last year it took me much longer to finish the third book than I thought. I like to think that I’ll be back on track very soon.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? I enjoy writing all sorts of characters but my favorite is the narrator of the Kathaldi Chronicles, Dirk. He’s a thief, scoundrel, sarcastic jerk, braggart, and believes himself to be quite the ladies man. However, he is also a loyal friend willing to put his life on the line for you. He’s funny, mean, and gets to say things I would never say in a million years. That is definitely fun to write.
  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? The biggest thing for me is to just finish the first draft before you start rewriting and editing. Get something done and then work on making it perfect, or at least better.
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track? I’m awful at meeting deadlines so any tricks I use are worthless. I need some new tricks!
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)? I am a hybrid. I do create an outline and write pages of notes but the finished story has a lot more stuff in it. Sometime my characters just say or do something while I’m writing that I hadn’t ever thought of and I almost always go with it, even though it can mean a lot of extra work to ensure it fits with the rest of the story. I’d say I’m one third plotter and two thirds pantser.
  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? All of that and more! I have plans for new series, I will be releasing some humorous books and stories, and I have more plans for the Kathaldi Chronicles, including some anthologies where I write a few short stories and the rest are by other authors, and more books with Dirk and other books that cover different time periods and characters. I’m a planning fool!
  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach? I prefer good to triumph over evil but I don’t mind if it’s a close call and lots of good guys die in the attempt. There can be a fair amount of dark and I don’t mind a bit.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? This is a tough one because I love all three of these. Lord of the Rings has probably had the most influence on me, the books, although I loved the movies, too. The Harry Potter books were about the only thing my oldest daughter would read and we eagerly awaited the publication of each one and then when the movies came out it was our special thing to go see them together. She gave me the Blu-Ray set for Christmas one year. And Star Wars? I was a kid when Episode IV came out and it changed everything for just about everybody.  I simply cannot choose. It’s like trying to choose between your own children – impossible!

(Please include any social media links – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.)

Amazon series page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089GW4FVW

Amazon for Children of Kathaldi (book 1): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089FNJHB7

Audible for book 1: https://www.audible.com/pd/Children-of-Kathaldi-Audiobook/B08KHSZXRG

Amazon for Assassins of Kathaldi (book 2): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KNW5TT9

Free audiobook of a prequel short story: https://talltaletv.com/dirk-goes-to-church

Website: www.Kathaldi.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Kathaldi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LahrRon

Email: RonLodellLahr@gmail.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8508877.Ron_Lahr

To join my email list: https://bit.ly/39FIcSu

Patreon: www.patreon.com/RonLahr


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