Tag Archive: guest post


Guest Post Tarrah Anders

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you today from Tarrah Anders, the author of Frozen Over. Enjoy!

Hi! I’m Tarrah. A little background on me if we aren’t already acquainted:

I am a born and raised California girl, constant daydreamer, yet also a doer. My day job consists of managing subsidies for the homeless, and wrangling my toddler, step-daughter and husband into working together without utter chaos. Whereas my moonlighting gig is that writing some steamy words late into the night or randomly during the day.
I have a thing for monkeys, Scott Eastwood and guys with tattoos.

I’ve been writing since I was in middle school and throughout college. While it was a passion, I kept it under wraps and never vocalized or followed through with my desire to be a writer, until I read a horrible book and thought: ‘I could do better than that!’ And so I did.

I start out by writing the first chapter or few pages; I get my hook in there and then branch out from there. I’m an in-betweener – not a full on pantser or outliner – but I operate on the edge of both. Sometimes, I will sit and write for an entire day or sometimes I will go days without writing, those days drive me insane.

My writing style is that I try to keep on earth. I try my best to not be too unrealistic with my characters, what they do and how they live. I want my books to be relatable and not to create too many eye rolls, like when a character starts calling his love interest baby after knowing her for 5 minutes.  I mean c’mon – I’ve been married for almost six years and I still never call my husband “baby”!

I kept my writing romance from my husband for nearly two years, but finally told him because… royalties and taxes. He immediately tried to skip forward to any steamy scenes, then referred to the moment as in Lethal Weapon 4. My husband and I have a fun relationship, we’re both very sarcastic people and well, I was nervous to tell him that I moonlight in the romance author area purely due to him teasing me for reading the books in the first place. He now sporadically asks questions, but still manages to poke fun at me.

I’ve written and self-published 4 books and one novella (coming March 14th). They’re all dual point of view aside from the novella. Thematically, the novels are friends to lovers, random hook-ups and office romances mixed with a whole lot of fun in the middle.

So this brings me to my current book that is out. It’s titled: Frozen Over. It’s storyline is about a normal girl, who struggles to make ends meet with two jobs, and catching the attention of the owner of a modeling job she’s working on. While he struggles with his past, she makes his gooey warm center ooze and turns him from playboy to devoted boyfriend. There are of course obstacles and things trying to tear them apart, but they do reach their Happily Ever After. Tyson is your standard cocky playboy who doesn’t care for anyone’s feelings aside his own or those close to him, who is the CEO of a once dying fashion company. Allison is your standard girl, who works two jobs to take care of herself and have a roof over her head. She enters Tyson’s world and everything gets turned around.
I set out with the intention of making Frozen Over as a standalone, yet due to several requests I’m creating a spin off to go into two other characters stories.  I’m currently in the process of getting my fingers to work magic on the keyboard and make sense on the screen, with the hopes of having it out by the end of the summer.

It’s now in print right? So I have to get my butt moving!

The Bad Boy Bargain Tour Banner.png

Hello everyone. I’ve got a guest post or from the author of The Bad Boy Bargain. This is actually part of a blog tour, so if you’re interested, check out the other blogs on the tour. Enjoy!

the-bad-boy-bargain-cover

How a Song Launched an Entire Book

 

I find inspiration for books in a lot of places, but The Bad Boy Bargain was probably the most unusual. Last year, when she heard “Please” by Sawyer Fredericks (from The Voice), my editor, Heather Howland, had an idea for a new YA romance. She posted her thoughts on Twitter—shy guy with a tough shell—and said she wished someone would write it. When I asked when she wanted the manuscript, teasing but also dead serious, we started plotting.

 

“Please” tells the story of a young man who’s found a near-perfect girl, one he thinks he loves, but he’s lying to her at the same time. He’s scared to tell this near-perfect girl the truth about himself because he’s worried she’ll let him go. It’s a song about love and fear, giving and selfishness, longing and despair. All those themes show up in The Bad Boy Bargain, which lends some extra complexity to Kyle beyond the typical bad boy. He’s a guy full of secrets, pain, and shame, but he reallywants someone to see through all of that and love the true Kyle. The working title of the book was called Keeping Faith—because he wants to keep Faith, but needs more faith in himself.

 

As for Faith herself, she’s been mistreated by one guy and has some reservations about being hurt again. The difference between Faith and Kyle is that she’s willing to continue to look for The One even though she’s been burned. She believes in true love, acting with kindness, and being her real self. She suffers from a lack of confidence and self doubt, and Kyle helps her get past that, especially when she struggles with a dance partner who refuses to do his part. Having him in her life restores her faith in love, and in herself.

 

Overall, this story is about two people finding each other and connecting in a way that allows them to be true with each other.

Guest Post Kate Forest

Alright everybody, I’ve got a guest post for you today from Kate forest, the author of Interior Design and Other Emotions and Grounded. With NaNoWriMo going on, what she’s talking about is near and dear to my heart.

Writer’s Block? No, Writer’s Despair.

Generally, when I am finishing up a first draft I panic. Without a clear idea of what to write next, I decide that it’s time to throw in the towel, give up my writing life. I call my critique partner, Veronica Forand, and moan, “I have no more ideas. I don’t think I’ll write again. This is my last book.” Her response is usually to mumble something encouraging or tell me to shut up because I said that last time. (She really is supportive in some ways. There’s a reason I keep her around.)

But no, I insist. This is really it. I’m blank. Nothing is coming to mind. Oh, wait. I’ve got an idea. How about a story in which a woman touches a magical stone and goes back in time to Scotland? No, that’s been done. Ooh, here’s one. How about a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, only it will be in diary form. Ok, never mind.

But then this happens. On a rare day, I will get a decent night’s sleep. Not a measly 7 hours interrupted by a trip to the bathroom and the sound of the dog vomiting outside the bedroom door. I mean a gooood night’s sleep. One the ends when the alarm chimes, I stretch, gaze out the window at the sun just peeking above the trees, and smile. No cricks in my middle aged body and plenty of time to get everyone ready for school. And then BLAMO!

A pair of characters appears in my head. They are completely formed and I know exactly why they can never be together, but why they must fall in love and find some way of overcoming their personal and relational obstacles.

Sure, I have no idea what their plot is. Where and when will they live? What will the world and villains throw at them to keep them from their goals? Who the heck knows? That’s a problem to hash out with my critique partners. In that moment, I need to write pages and pages of notes as the ideas pour out.

Of course, by that time, there isn’t plenty of time to get everyone ready for school and the morning seems less serene. But my heart is filled with confidence and hope.  And with those tools, I can do anything. Even write another book.

Guest Post Kathy Clark

So, I’ve got a guest post for you all. Kathy Clark is one half of Bob Kat, the writing team for Not My Life, and she’s got a bit about how they decided to do a time travel series.

NOT MY LIFE, the 5th book in the Time Shifters YA time travel/romance/mystery series will be released on October 18th.  Nothing is as it seems and everyone has a story that needs to be heard.  Our teens travel back to either vindicate or convict their old friend, Dan Denucci.  But the man with a medical degree, a beautiful wife, and a young son is very different from the sad, homeless guy who lives under the pier on Fort Myers Beach, FL.  Who is the real Dan and what did he do to lose everything?

 

Of all the concepts (or tropes), I think time travel would be the most amazing adventure.  You can have the trips to Mars or an excursion down to the Titanic.  Give me a trip to the late 1800s any day to see what the Old West was really like.  Or the early 1800s in Ireland before my family left to come to the U.S.  Or even back to the 1960s just because I love the Beatles.  The hardest part of the trip would be deciding where and when to go first.

 

Where would you go if you could travel back in time?  Who would you want to meet?  What historical event would you like to witness?  What era’s pop culture, fashion and music would you like to experience?

 

That was the idea that sparked our Young Adult series TIME SHIFTERS.  How would it be for four teenagers to be able to go back and see how average people lived, and, along the way, experience the feelings and textures of different times and places?  What kind of challenge would it be for them to do without things they thought they couldn’t live without while having to deal with issues (such as no electricity, different currency, and child labor) that they’ve never thought about?

 

Bob and I have had over forty books published (as Kathy Clark and as Bob Kat), but most were written for adults…about adults.  Writing a YA presented new outlooks on everything from friendship to romance to problem solving.  Obviously, a sixteen-year-old is going to react differently to almost everything than an adult would.

 

And even though dragons and witches and vampires are very popular, we wanted our teens to be real.  No magic spells or mythical creatures save them.  Instead, they have to deal with their issues using only their own ingenuity, creativity, and the friendship they share.  Plus, we wanted our young readers to “accidentally” learn a little about history and what was normal back then as compared to now.

 

My favorite books when I was growing up were Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew mysteries, as well as Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart.  We wanted our teenagers to be 21st Century versions of the very interesting and intelligent characters from those famous novels.

 

Having never written a book with lead characters under the age of twenty-one, we were a little nervous about capturing the innocence, insecurities, and youthful logic of teenagers.  But the four characters we created became so real to us that we easily slipped into their heads and their hearts.  Their vulnerabilities and dreams are so pure and yet heart-breaking as they discover the cruelties of the real world.

 

Basically, this series allows Bob and me to do a little time travelling, too, as we go back to the memories of our own teenage years and hang out with our four new friends, Kelly, Austin, Scott, and Zoey as they learn how to love and live and survive in a world that’s not always kind.

 

Come along.  Whether you’re twelve or ninety-two, you’ll enjoy the trip.

 

Visit us at our website www.LoveRealityRomance.com or write us at Kathy@Nightwriter93.com.  We would love to hear where and when you think our teenagers should travel to in the next book.  Reviews are always appreciated.

 

 

Bob Kat loves to hear from their fans.  Write us at TheThrillOfSuspense@gmail.com and tell us where you’d like to have Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey travel to next.

Once, during a discussion with a fellow author (he was in his 40s) where upon discovering that he couldn’t cook, I asked, “Come on, not at all? Didn’t you ever watch your mom in the kitchen?”
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His response shocked me. He said, “In my household, dinner consisted of two things: a can opener and a microwave.”
 
Days later, I was still thinking about it and imagining what it’d be like to live off of nuked canned food. It’s sad. As a kid, he never had the chance to discover or create a relationship with living growing fruits and vegetables in their unprocessed form, but instead ate things like canned pasta, tinned meats, fruits in syrup, and vegetables in brine.
 
This got me thinking: what if I had a YA character whose mom was like that? Perhaps it was a single income, single parent household and she worked long hours (night shift) to support her family so there was no time to learn how to cook? Okay, now how can I up the stakes?
 
What if my hero, Kevin – I’ll make him a talented athlete – thought he was eating better than his mom’s cooking, but in reality, it wasn’t much better? So I thought, what would be worse? Well, what if all he ate every day (meals and snacks) were energy bars, powdered energy drinks, and energy gels (all with artificial imitation flavours)? Themes were developing quickly and I knew I had something here I wanted to explore further. I know people whose diets consist of a lot of powdered protein. Hell, I’ve tried dehydrated/crusty or chalky/chewy protein bars and drinks that left a strange coating in my mouth. They’re disgusting. This was also when something called Soylent, a greyish-beige drink hit the market. It was known to be consumed by video gamers as it apparently meets all the nutritional daily requirements. I’ve never tried it and there’s no way you’ll get me to either.
So how do I take this YA character and his diet and make it worse? That’s when the opening chapter came to me: Kevin fails a gym class food diary assignment and to keep his grades up, so he can score a hockey scholarship, Coach makes him take the cooking component in Domestic Tech for extra credit.
 
The horror! He has to take a cooking class! If his friends knew about this, they’d tease him badly. So now Kevin’s got a secret.
 
At the same time I was thinking about this idea, I’d been watching and reading stories that happened to have overweight girls in them and they all seemed similar: depressed, bullied or the bully, comic relief, or abused. Where was the story about a confident girl who didn’t think she needed to lose weight in order to feel good about herself? #bodypositive
 
Then I wondered, what if Kevin’s got a second secret he’s keeping from his friends:
 
He likes big breasts, hips and thighs in a society that only reveres big breasts. Everywhere we look, Hollywood, corporations, books, music, fashion, etc., play a massive part in shaping society’s mindset. It’s a barrage of messages, particularly to young people, telling them what to think, act and feel. You won’t be cool unless you use a particular product or wear a certain piece of clothing (sold in X store with limited sizes), or look a certain way. And Hollywood? I was wondering the other day what would have happened in the romantic teen comedy SHE’S ALL THAT if the geeky (so called) “unattractive” artist Laney remained who she was and didn’t get the cliché makeover and it was Zach who had to change, and it ended with them as a couple, but Laney was exactly how she appeared in Act I. 
 
At times, Kevin has a hard time expressing his feelings, finding the right words or trying to process what he’s experiencing, but that’s part of who he is and his quest to understand himself. Sure, it would have been more fun to have him spout poetry like other guys in YA romances, but that would ring false. Falling in love is new to him and knowing that Claire is unacceptable to his peers places his world on shaky ground. If Kevin were an adult with a wealth of experience, I’m sure the novel would go something like this: Shut your face, I’m in love with Claire, I don’t care what you think. The End. But it’s not.
 

Writing the scenes with Kevin and Claire were a lot of fun. I really dug their energy and positivity. I have no clue if I’ll ever write another romance, but I’m glad this one happened and I hope I get to experience this much joy in the future. 

 

So, one of the reviews I have coming up is for the first book in Eliza Green’s Exilon 5 trilogy. She’s been excellent to work with. Enjoy!

It’s 2163 and the Earth has become uninhabitable due to overcrowding and poor air quality. Medical interventions mean people can live longer and genetic manipulation clinics provided by the World Government allow the population to look good while doing it. In the beginning, clean green policies were high on the World Government’s agenda until industries began to create their own energy. Not one to miss an opportunity to earn a little cash, the World Government swiftly taxed clean fuel until industries fell back into old habits of relying on cheaper alternatives, like fossil fuels. With 20 million people presently living on Earth, the planet is bursting at the seams. Increased investment in space exploration has allowed the World Government to search for a suitable exoplanet to live on. They finally discover Exilon 5.

 

When I wrote Becoming Human, there were a lot of things I had to get right. How much would the population realistically increase by in 150 years? How long would it take to reach a new planet? How would they get there? What would they find on the new planet?

 

Earth’s decimation was easy to write. Air pollution close to the scale in my story is already happening in Beijing. In my future Earth, people must wear gel masks to help them breathe. The sun’s diminished access to the planet has cooled the planet’s surface and temperatures struggle to climb above a few degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit during the day. Overcrowding is already happening in countries like Africa, India, and China. Access to resources is at a low for the majority of the population. In Becoming Human’s Earth, food farms no longer exist, land belongs to the wealthy and food replicators keep the rest of the population fed.

 

I created Exilon 5 in the image of twentieth century Earth when air was cleaner—well, cleaner than the Earth in Becoming Human—and when technology had not yet invaded our lives. In Becoming Human, the population of Earth relies on virtual assistants, virtual worlds and genetic manipulation clinics to help them cope with everyday life. And when they’re ready to die, termination clinics are at hand. It’s a bleak world they live in and Exilon 5 is everything that used to be great about Earth. But the discovery of a race already living on Exilon 5 causes tensions.

 

There is an alien race that lives on Exilon 5. Known as Indigenes, they differ greatly from humans in appearance. Their skin is hairless and almost translucent in appearance. They need lower concentrations of oxygen to breathe safely. Exilon 5’s atmosphere caters for their needs.  When humans arrive on Exilon 5 they terraform the planet to alter the atmosphere. Their actions drive the Indigenes underground where they live today.

 

Becoming Human is a story about the humans and the Indigenes and what happens when they’re forced to share a world. Who will reign supreme or will they live in harmony?

It’s been awhile since I posted last, but I’m back again with a guest post by Farah Oomerbhoy, the author of The Last of the Firedrakes. I’ve got a couple reviews on the back burner, so those should turn up sometime in the next week or so. Happy reading!

● Favorite Authors – J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, David Eddings, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah J. Maas, John Green, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
● Favorite Books – The Lord of the Rings, Gone with the Wind, The Hobbit, Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia series, Outlander, The Earthsea Quartet, The Song of the Lioness, The Belgariad, The Ruby Knight, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, The Magic Faraway Tree, Throne of Glass, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Mists of Avalon.
● Favorite Literary Characters – Gandalf, Belgarath (from The Belgariad), Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, Mr. Darcy, Aslan, Aragon, Arwen Evenstar, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter.
● Things That Inspire You – Nature, art, authors, books, history, and mythology.
● Books You Are Dying to Read – Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass Book 4), A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Truthwitch.
● Books That Made You Want To Become A Writer – Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings series.
● Pieces of Advice you have for aspiring writers. – Keep reading and write every day even if it’s just a paragraph you will never use.
● Places You Would Most Want to Travel To – Egypt
● Favorite Snacks – Nutella, caramel popcorn, crispy crème doughnuts, and chocolate chip cookies.
● Favorite Movies/TV Shows – Gone with the Wind, Game of Thrones, MasterChef Australia, Merlin, Once Upon a Time.
● Places you would consider paradise – Maldives, the French Riviera.
● Things that bring a smile to your face – my children.
● Places you’d like to take your laptop to and write. An old manor house in the English countryside.
● Books you’d like to rewrite the ending to – Gone with the Wind
● Favorite desserts – Tiramisu, profiteroles, ice cream sundae, and chocolate cake with cream.
● Your favorite cities? Favorite cities: London, Paris, New York.
● Words that describe yourself? Shy, introvert, calm, dreamer, bookish.
● Pieces of advice you would tell the “teen” you. – study what you love.
● Games you like to play – Scrabble, Monopoly, Bakery Story, Hay Day, and online poker.
● Movie you watch over and over again – Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter, Titanic, Superman, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Lord of the Rings (all three movies).
● Favorite series – Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, The Belgariad, Throne of Glass.
● Stand-alone books – Gone with the Wind, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Pride and Prejudice.
About the Author:
For Farah Oomerbhoy, writing is a passion and reading her solace. She is a firm believer in the fantastic and magical, and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest.
Farah lives with her husband and three children in their family home in Mumbai, India. She has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai. Her first novel is The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of the Avalonia Chronicles.
Connect with Farah:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad

About the Book:

The Last of the Firedrakes, book one of The Avalonia Chronicles.

A fantastic adventure story that will transport you to a dazzling world of myth and magic.

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

Purchase:
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Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Cover Design: Fiction category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards

Winner in the Collector’s Dream category of the Wattpad’s 2015 The Wattys Awards

“…the narrative components echo the classics; the Academy of Magic at Evolon could be Hogwarts, while the Shadow Guards are reminiscent of Tolkien’s Ring Wraiths or Rowling’s Dementors…a beautifully drawn fantasy world.” – Kirkus Reviews

“THE LAST OF THE FIREDRAKES is a magic-filled romp that carries you back to the fantasy stories of childhood…Lovers of classic fantasy will likewise gobble down Oomerbhoy’s scrumptious story.” – Dr Vic James, author of the SLAVEDAYS trilogy

“The world building is beautiful…..That really made the book more complex for me……it is the journey of discovery for Aurora and the reader that makes this an interesting story.” – Janelle Fila for Readers’ Favorite

“The Last of the Firedrakes has all the elements of popular fantasy – an orphaned princess, Magical powers, an alternate sphere with seven kingdoms, a young girl with a destiny to fulfil. They are all elements of the Narnia Chronicles, The Faraway tree, The Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings and a bit of Enid Blyton fun.” – Mitali Parekh for Mid-Day newspaper

Guest Post: A.D. Starrling

R & D in Writing: What it takes to put science and technology in paranormal fiction

Seventeen the series falls under the wide umbrella of paranormal fiction. It can further be categorized as supernatural thriller, action-adventure, or urban fantasy. As such, these novels are full of action scenes involving unarmed and armed combat, a variety of bladed and projectile weapons, multiple worldwide locations, and some damn right scary bad guys with crazy ideas cooked up, sometimes literally, in a lab.

One of biggest compliments I’ve been paid about my writing has been the ease with which science and technology slips into the story, almost unnoticed. This doesn’t happen accidentally. It is very much the result of a rigorous exercise involving me staring at all the research I’ve done on a topic and finding the shortest and easiest way to incorporate it into the plot without making my editors’ and beta readers’ eyes glaze over.

Let me give you a few examples.

1. In Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1), Lucas Soul, the main protagonist, uses a daisho as his blades. A daisho is a Japanese weapon consisting of a long sword, the katana, and a short sword, the wakizashi. In combination, they are used in a style of swordsmanship known as the ‘Two Heavens as One’ or ‘Two Swords as One’ fighting style.

Why did I pick swords for the immortals to fight with? Because immortals have been around for millennia and were using bladed weapons for much, much longer than projectile weapons, i.e. guns.

Why did I pick these particular swords for Lucas Soul? Because I absolutely adore Japanese manga and anime, particularly Tite Kubo’s Bleach, where there are many, many bladed weapons, and because I wanted Lucas to have trained with the best samurai who ever lived.

So I started my research by looking up the world’s best samurai from actual history. And I came across an Edo period ronin by the name of Miyamoto Musashi, who wrote a book on the art of war called ‘The Book of Five Rings’ and who created the Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu, the ‘Two Heavens as One’ or ‘Two Swords as One’ fighting style. My research not only incorporated reading up on Musashi, who had a most fascinating life and remains recognised to this day as one of the world’s best swordsmen, but also looking at images and videos of the two sword fighting style itself.

I then worked Musashi into Lucas’s past and had the great samurai gift the immortal with a katana engraved with the latter’s birthmark. When you come to this part of the story, I explain it in as matter of fact terms as I have written about it here.

2. In one scene in the book, I have Lucas open a safe using a computer. In another crucial scene, he breaks through a sealed, high-containment stainless steel door thousands of feet below ground using a digital cell phone. The latter scene was one of Kriss Morton’s favourite because of the simplicity of the explanation. There were several hours of research on digital communications systems in modern mines and overriding coded security algorithms involved in writing those two paragraphs.

3. A large part of the Soul Meaning plotline revolves around molecular genetics and biotechnology, two subjects that I loved when I studying Biology A level and medicine. As such, I had to work these elements slowly and organically into the story, while the enemy’s plans were gradually uncovered. There was a particularly charged scene where Lucas and Anna, his love interest, had to decode a journal left to Anna by a scientist. In order to write confidently about cryptography, I first had to learn the basics of encryption and decryption. Cue lots of articles on the history and development of this mode of secret communication, with a particular emphasis on the ciphers that came about during the Second World War. I also had to find a way of incorporating genetics into the codes and this involved a revision of the molecular structure of DNA and its replication. Two days of research were thus compressed into two pages involved an animated dialogue between Lucas and Anna in Chapter Fourteen.

4. One of my favourite scenes in King’s Crusade (Seventeen Book 2) is Chapter Two, when you meet the modern day Alexa King, a very much grown up protagonist compared to the younger version you experience in the prologue. Because Alexa is the definition of the perfect immortal warrior, this second introduction had to be a spectacular one and had to set the tone of what this character was all about: focused, efficient, deadly, and with a 100% mission success rate. The image of her jumping off a cliff and skydiving toward a plane came to me incredibly easily. Writing the scene was anything but. It necessitated hours of research, from reading up on the exact geography required, including a desert flight path between two airports, to the structural and mechanical details of the type of plane I could use, to how I would get her from the cliff to the plane. One of my work colleagues happens to be married to a serving soldier (who is also an engineer) and he helped me figure out the height, velocity, angles, and techniques I could use to achieve this goal. Their cats were particularly fascinated by the base jumping videos we watched over pizza.

5. In Greene’s Calling (Seventeen Book 3), I ended up having to change the enemy’s plans because of the very research I did to formulate a feasible plot for the storyline. This involved travelling to the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, Nottingham, to talk to an expert on a complex subject matter. I had to scrap my original grandiose idea as it wasn’t scientifically viable, with too many unknown variables involved. The alternative plan I came up was hypothetically possible.
There is a lot more than goes into writing novels such as the Seventeen series than meets the eye. I know many of my friends and colleagues are constantly surprised by the amount of work involved and find it hard to believe that I have hardly been to any of the locations depicted in the books. In a sense, that’s another great compliment for me as a writer. Because it means I’ve made the complex stuff easy to read.

For those of you who have read the books and wish to find out more about my writing process, do check out the Bonus section of my website.

Author Bio:
A.D. Starrling was born on the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and came to the UK at the age of twenty to study medicine. After five years of hard graft earning her MD and another five years working all of God’s hours as a Pediatrician, she decided it was time for a change and returned to her first love, writing.

Released in July 2012, Soul Meaning is her debut novel and the first in the award-winning supernatural thriller series SEVENTEEN. The second novel in the series, King’s Crusade, was released in May 2013. The third novel, Greene’s Calling, was published June 2014.

She lives in Warwickshire in the West Midlands, where she is busy writing the next installment in the series. She still practices medicine. AD Starrling is her pen name.

For a limited time, you can download Void by AD Starrling FREE: http://www.adstarrling.com/free-download-offer/
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Guest Post: Cindy Dees

Let the record show, I was never a gamer, I thought live-action gaming sounded lame, and I wanted nothing to do with geekdom in general. And then I got tricked, yes tricked, into attending a live-action gaming event. Five hundred people were dressed up in crazily detailed costumes, wearing make-up, prosthetics, real chain mail, and running around in the woods like maniacs in the middle of the night. I had to know why.

So, I reluctantly gave it a try. Big mistake. Huge. I fell in love with it, and my life as geek was launched.

It helped matters that I’d been lured into an amazing game called Dragon Crest created by a brilliant guy named Bill Flippin. He’d built a world that was so complex, so gigantic, so real, that it blew away all my pre-conceived notions about fantasy gaming in general. Players had to make heart-wrenching sacrifices, overcome impossible odds, find the hero inside themselves. I mean, sure, they were fighting other players dressed up as bad guys and monsters. But the stress was real. The choices were real. The heroes were real.

And that was when I knew I had to write a book set in this world. I actually wrote THE SLEEPING KING in secret. I told absolutely nobody about it, not even my family. I would do my usual writing for the day (I’ve published fifty suspense and thriller novels), and then I’d sneakily open up the Sleeping King file and gleefully type for a few pages.

As I wrote, I found it pretty easy to describe the characters because I knew exactly what the actual characters looked like from running around in the woods with them. Something like twenty-five of the characters in THE SLEEPING KING are based on real people. The major plot arc of the book was, and is, one of the major story lines being played out in the live-action game. In some ways, I’m more of an archivist than a writer on this project.

Of course, Bill and I dug deeper into the world and expanded the story the players saw into the bigger and more nuanced one that readers can enjoy now. But the main kernel of the story comes from our players.

The hardest part of writing a book that originates in the minds of dozens of players is telling it in a way that satisfies all of them. One character doesn’t like a bad guy in the live game, but to move the book forward, I need them to become allies. I’ve had to negotiate a few peace treaties with players before I could move ahead with the books. One player wanted to be known in the books for making great stew. Done. Another wanted to be known as grouchy all the time. Easy peasy.

But then there was the guy who played the baddest bad guy of all. Would he mind terribly if I immortalized him as a greedy, selfish, psychopathic jerk, please, pretty please? Fortunately, that player is a really nice guy with a big sense of humor, and he agreed to let me write him into the novels in all his horrible glory.

The best part of writing a novel about a live-action game is all the funny, smart, unexpected things a bunch of gamers come up with and then let me weave into the books. It makes writing the stories such a joy. I have this rich, vibrant, colorful world to choose from as I sit down to write. It wasn’t hard transitioning from a live game to a book. But it was murder trying to choose which parts not to put in!

And yes, there are a whole bunch more Dragon Crest novels on the way. Bill and I just finished drafting the second big novel. It’s called THE DREAMING HUNT, and comes out next September. The third book, THE WANDERING WAR is in development right now. As for the fourth book? The players haven’t played it yet, so I have no idea what will happen in it. If and when they save the world, I’ll be sure to write book four!

Blending Magic and Technology in The Left-Hand Way.

The second book in my American Craft series, The Left-Hand Way, is a new set of adventures for the magician-soldiers and psychic spies I call “craftsmen.” These craftsmen are armed with both spells and bullets, and my books have been described as fantasy techno-thrillers. This sounds like a contradiction in terms. Fantasy is associated with magic and supernatural creatures. The techno-thriller is associated with gritty, concrete details of the latest gadgetry, weaponry, and military/intelligence practices. How did I go about combining these disparate story forms of magic and tech?

One way these elements fit together in my series is, paradoxically, through the tension and conflict between their world views. The fantasy perspective allows for a critique of our reliance on tech and may reaffirm the continued importance of personal trust and connection. For instance, the villain of The Left-Hand Way has a preternaturally augmented ability to interfere with the texts, voicemails, and other communications of the heroes. The heroes are nonetheless able to find and help each other because of their mutual knowledge and trust, yet they also have a lot of low-tech self-reliance when isolated from modern networks.

The technological perspective may in turn provide a critique of the elitist or anti-democratic elements that are inherent in many fantasy tropes. With magic in the possession of an aristocratic few, my mundane authorities have a continuous problem of keeping even loyal practitioners in check. As much as I may sympathize with the perspective of my magical heroes, it’s easy to see that their very existence could pose a threat to democratic institutions.

The conflict between these elements comes to a head with the problem of life extension. Up until now in my cryptohistory, the quest for practical immortality has been the monopoly of evil practitioners, the so-called Left Hand.  But as technology increases, so does the prospect of significantly enhanced life spans for all. Why should my characters continue to forego immortality or other magical abilities that may be available to everyone through technology within a generation or two? In our real world, should financial elites forego certain post-human technologies or alterations, at least until they are generally available? Such questions lead to the corruption of the craft secret services, and will continue to haunt my third book, War and Craft.

But of course, the merging of fantasy and technology in my series can’t be exclusively through their conflict; they must also dovetail cooperatively to fit into the same world. Part of how I keep the fantasy elements in line with a “realistic” techno-thriller tone for my novel is by excluding any nonhuman magical entities. I’m as big a fan of a good vampire, werewolf, or elf tale as the next fantasy reader, but some techno-thriller fans will tune out of a story that includes such creatures.

Another way that I keep the story tone appropriate for a techno-thriller is how I handle the magic itself. First, rather than contradicting what we know of the world, my magic system largely fits beneath the facts of science and history, and my modern characters think of magic in the language of technology. The protagonist of my first book, Dale Morton, describes his spells as skewing the probabilities of events rather than running directly contrary to natural law. Certain uncanny incidents in American history, such as how George Washington’s army was saved at Brooklyn Heights, are almost as well-explained by magic as anything else. Arthur C. Clarke wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” but what my characters think is that any sufficiently advanced magic is also indistinguishable from technology.

Also, the magic in my series has limitations similar to other armaments. It has logistical issues: craftspeople find it easier to recharge their power on home ground. Magic is also like a normal physical ability. A well-rested and healthy craftsperson will have more power than one who hasn’t slept or is wounded.

For my practitioners, magic is not viewed as contradicting their religious or other beliefs and practices. Craftspeople come from the full spectrum of belief or non-belief. For my modern-day Puritan protagonist of book two, Major Michael Endicott, magic fits within his ideas of Christian prayer. In terms of ritual language, simple words in the native tongue of the practitioner often work best, so long as the mind is properly focused.

A last component of having my supernatural elements fit into a techno-thriller context is the realism of my locations. In The Left-Hand Way, my characters are scattered across the globe in cities such as London, Tokyo, and Istanbul. I can make my far-flung settings seem real to the reader because I’ve been to most of them, and I think the spells in a location seems more concrete when the sights and smells are true.

Thanks to Tympest Books for inviting me here. If you like to find out more about The Left-Hand Way and my other stories, please go to www.tomdoylewriter.com.

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Tom Doyle is the author of the American Craft fantasy series from Tor Books. In the first book, American Craftsmen, two modern magician soldiers fight their way through the legacies of Poe and Hawthorne as they attempt to destroy an undying evil–and not kill each other first. In the sequel, The Left-Hand Way, the craftsmen are hunters and hunted in a global race to save humanity from a new occult threat out of America’s past. Tom’s collection of short fiction, The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories, includes his WSFA Small Press Award and Writers of the Future Award winners. He writes science fiction and fantasy in a spooky turret in Washington, DC. You can find the text and audio of many of his stories on his website.