Guest Blog

Fantasy Authors Unplugged: World-Building 101 by Simon Lindley

The Fantasy Authors Unplugged feature has been re-booted lately and here’s another post by a guest author named Simon Lindley sharing about his upcoming book, Mannethorn’s Key and world-building. Take it away, Simon! 

World-Building 101 by Simon Lindley

The Realm, The Land, Middle Earth, Narnia – I presume you have spent some time visiting at least one of them. I know I have. And, if all goes well with the ‘travel brochures’, Drageverden will soon be another fantasy ‘tourist’ destination. However, I expect people will only visit if the place promises immersive adventure!

World-building in fantasy is as critical to a plot as character development. When done well, it can transport the reader so absolutely that they yearn for the place long after finishing the book.

I’ll share with you some of my challenges, and the process I go through in creating a land that I am confident is not only believable but tangible, tactile and immersive for my readers.

One of the difficulties I’ve struggled with at times is purple prose. As writers, we sometimes lean to the flowery – long, buttery descriptives – waxing poetic, sprinkled with a fine, magical dust, like morning dew settling on the vine and… oh, I beg your pardon!
I have learned to 1) be succinct, 2) alternate between long and short/slow and faster-paced sentences, and 3) avoid overuse of adverbs. Purple prose detracts a reader as much as a similar life scenario. We’ve all been in one of those awkward moments when someone has talked for well over twenty minutes about, say, fruit flies because, well, they’re a fruit-fly expert, and we nod, and nod, and nod and mm-hmm — until we nod off.

Another habit I picked up came from kindergarten: Show & Tell. I love to tell people things. He saw a dog. Maggie was angry. The bird was tired. The danger is that by doing so, a writer creates a barrier rather than an invitation. We must ‘walk’ as we write, immersed in the land and noting its effect upon our character/s. I must show, not tell.

Like all trips we take, we discover as we go. I make an effort to step from character interiority back into Drageverden regularly, to generate an interaction between the two. It is easy to blurt out all the details of a place, but that is not how we naturally absorb our surroundings, and it quickly becomes tedious. Our character must shake as she enters the darkness of the spider’s lair, snap her head back at the whisper over her shoulder, brace with teeth clenched as the dust cloud rises from the horde cresting the last knoll – and we must be there with them.

Tolkien carried his readers along – experiencing the ground under a hobbit’s foot, smelling the foul mead and men of the Prancing Pony, and anticipating the Brandywine narrowing near the ferry, still far too distant to escape the Nazgul. He rarely tells. What’s more important is that no matter who you talk to, Middle Earth is different for everyone. Why? Tolkien let the scenes play out as much by emotion as he did geography and although he painted a vivid picture of the land, he left our conviction of and immersion in Middle Earth to fill in the deeper details.

So I haven’t provided you much regarding DrageVerden. Oh, I could talk, believe me – ask anyone who knows me and you’ll soon discover I rarely shut up — but you must ‘walk’ alongside the giants crossing the Arvian Plains to understand the shock of it all, or spend a day with Ka the drakehawk to experience her love for the Swamps of Ierloquetze. Brochures never do a place justice. You have to book the holiday.

Okay, okay! I’ll give you a little foreshadowing prior to your trip: Drage is Danish for dragonVerden means land.

Happy Trails!

Simon Lindley is an author, musician and intrepid explorer in the real world and along the rolling landscapes of his imagination. His book, Mannethorn’s Key, the first in the Key of Life Trilogy, will be released in print and ebook formats January 5, 2018 at fine retailers everywhere. It is also available for pre-order now.

Thanks for stopping by to visit and read about this new book. Please click over to the book page, have a look and see if your interested in a pre-release copy.

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Fantasy Authors Unplugged: The Cost of Survival

Behind The Cost of Survival

Today on Archer’s Aim, the Fantasy Authors Unplugged is renewed with a SciFi entitled, The Cost of Survival:

The Cost of Survival is a science fiction thriller exploring the dark side of human nature from a world on the brink of destruction. Author J. L. Stowers asks the question, “What if humankind could no longer reproduce?” The answer is shockingly disturbing, but perhaps not too far from the truth if our dark history repeats itself.

The main character, Walt Marshall, is cynical and distrustful of the very government who hired him. Yet he can’t say no to a once in a lifetime mission to a remote area devoid of the masses and their overwhelming use of technology. He makes his new home outside a military camp in a war-torn valley in hopes to restore the area to its once fruitful nature. However, Walt quickly realizes things aren’t what they seem.

Walt stumbles upon an unspeakable secret regarding the truth as to why this valley was selected for colonization. Readers are emerged in Walt’s journey and internal conflict. The closer he gets to finding answers, the more he’s reminded of the emotional anguish he tried to leave behind.  His path to the truth leads through espionage and treason all while forcing Walt out of his comfort zone. The long time loner is forced to trust and rely on the people around him in order to uncover the facts.

This story is filled with twists, turns, and symbolism to keep readers on their toes. However, the best thing the first book in the Genesis Rising series has to offer is a glimpse at the lore fueling the trilogy. In the short story prequel, Project Genesis, we witness the discovery of the Genesis documents and the formation of the secret organization behind the translation. In The Cost of Survival, Walt Marshall experiences the mysterious language once more. We learn some of the information uncovered in the Genesis documents and more will be revealed throughout the series.

This incredible journey will take readers beyond what they’ve expected and it all starts with learning the secrets within The Cost of Survival.

Buy The Cost of Survival on Amazon here.

Thanks for stopping by today and please take a look at this amazing book by J. L. Stowers.

Story Empire Roadshow Featuring Mae Clair

Thanks for visiting today! Join me in welcoming Mae Clair, one of my fellow contributing authors from Story Empire. Also, welcome to a lot of new visitors today from various other blogs and groups including those from Story Empire and Mae’s followers. Take it away Mae!

When the Sky Had a Tail

Hi, friends! I’m pleased to visit P.H. Solomon’s blog during the Story Empire Roadshow. If you’re just now connecting, there are posts at all SE author blogs today, with tour prizes scattered throughout. Be sure to check the full slate of events HERE to view the latest happenings.

Grand prizes are up for grabs when the tour is complete (mine is a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card), but there are goodies along the way. The more you follow and comment, the more your chances to win. I’ve even got a surprise in store for today.

 

 

If you’ve been following the Story Empire Roadshow Bookmobile tour, you know that my mystery/suspense novel, Eclipse Lake, is on sale for .99 cents through April 7.

In addition, Kensington Publishing has reduced A Cold Tomorrow, the second book in my Point Pleasant series, to .99 cents for a limited time. Easily read as a standalone book, A Cold Tomorrow continues the urban legend of the Mothman in Point Pleasant, West Virginia,  with the addition of a new element—UFOs and Men in Black.

See that green sky on the book cover? It factors into one of the early scenes in the novel. The idea for it came from an experience I had when I was six. Let me set the stage:

A warm summer night, almost dark, and I’m sitting on the front porch with my father. He and I often sat together at dusk, watching the sky. My memory of that evening is spotty but some moments are crystal clear.  After a time, my dad drifted to sleep. He’d worked a long day and was relaxed.

Shortly afterward, something large and green trolled across the sky. I remember it as a semi-cloud, the color of algae-rich seawater. Light spilled from the bottom, drenching the street, front lawn, and half of the porch in an eerie green glow. The light swept over me but didn’t touch my father who remained tucked in the shadows.

I don’t know why I didn’t wake him. When you’re a kid you tend not question the unusual. The “cloud” moved past, and soon people were walking up the street, jabbering excitedly. My dad woke up and I followed him down to the sidewalk where a woman stopped to chat. She told my father “the sky looked like it had a tail.” I remember those words vividly. So vividly, one of my characters repeats them in A Cold Tomorrow. The green cloud makes an appearance too.

Had I seen a UFO? Maybe not of the alien variety but, even now, with the knowledge of an adult I can’t say what it was. Hot air balloon?  Definitely not. Weather anomaly? Maybe.

What I do know is that I saw an object. In the sky. It was unidentified. Fits the description of a UFO for me.

Given the woman on the sidewalk confirmed something strange had happened that night, it will forever live as a goose-bump memory in my mind. I’ve since found out (through researching information for A Cold Tomorrow) that the year in which this occurred was a year for an unusual amount of UFO sightings in my state). Interesting.

Alien UFO saucer flying on a clouds background above Earth

Here’s a look at the some of the strangeness that takes place in A Cold Tomorrow. The passage below is from one of the opening scenes. Sergeant Ryan Flynn of the Point Pleasant PD responds to a call from local dairy farmer, Chester Wilson, who called after discovering a strange substance strewn across his fields. But that isn’t all that has him worried. Take a look:

“What exactly did you want to show me?” Ryan asked, trying to keep Wilson on track. 

 “It’s just over the next rise.”  

Thankfully, the walk wasn’t far. As soon as they crested the hill, Ryan knew exactly what Wilson wanted him to see. A pattern of black-and-white splotches defined the bulk of a large farm animal lying on its side. 

“Shit.” His muttered exclamation had nothing to do with stars or UFOs. Blowing out a breath, Ryan approached the cow wordlessly. Wilson and several other area farmers relied on their prized Holsteins to keep their dairy operations running smoothly. All he needed was for some drunk to have gone on a joyride and put a bullet through the animal’s skull. But all thoughts of tanked-up behavior fled the moment he got a closer look at the carcass. 

Odd that the kill hadn’t attracted turkey vultures or crows, almost as if the poor thing was too defiled for a scavenger to touch. As far as he could tell there was no visible wound, bullet or otherwise. To be certain, he walked around the animal before squatting to take a closer look at its head. 

“Sick, ain’t it?” Wilson asked. 

Like something from a B horror movie. Ryan didn’t think an animal had that much blood in its body. The gory mess that had coagulated into a dense puddle under its head had come from its ears, nose, and mouth. 

Grimacing, he glanced up at Wilson. “Was this animal ill, Chester?” 

“No, sir. Fit as a fiddle.” 

“Kind of a weird place to find her.” The cow was in a field Wilson didn’t use for corralling, judging by the lack of fencing. Even odder, Ryan saw no sign of bovine tracks or crushed grass in any direction. And no footprints to indicate the cow had been led there. 

“How did she get here?” 

“That’s just it.” Looking puzzled, Wilson scratched his chin. “I haven’t got a clue. I put her in the barn with the others last night. That was the last I saw her until I found her this morning.” He shook his head, remorse filling his eyes as he gazed down on the dead cow. “What do you think happened? All that blood… What could do that to her?” 

Ryan hated to speculate. “I’ll call the county veterinarian for large animals.” 

“You know what he’s gonna say, don’t you?” Wilson looked up, his eyes bulging, face drawn in the early morning light. “Nothing about it’s natural. It’s like her damn brain exploded.”

Blurb:
Where secrets make their home… 

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events.   But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive…. 

Intrigued?
A Cold Tomorrow is a full-length mystery and suspense
Presently on sale for .99 Cents

Purchase a copy from any major online bookseller
Universal Purchase Link

Thanks for visiting with me today. Don’t forget to see what the other SE authors have going on during the Story Empire Roadshow. Leave a comment to be eligible for my grand prize drawing for a $10.00 Amazon gift card.

For today’s tour stop, I’ll also draw one randomly selected name for an ebook copy of A Thousand Yesteryears, the first novel in my Point Pleasant Series.

Connect with Mae Clair

Website and Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |Goodreads |Google+ | Pinterest

Newsletter | Story Empire

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Mae’s Point Pleasant series thus far and it’s excellent so make sure to click on her links to see more! You can view the Story Empire Roadshow tour schedule for today and all week. Also, please make sure to leave comments below so you can be in the running for Mae’s prize at the end of the week! Thanks for visiting today and have a fun week!

Note: The image of the flying saucer was one purchased from Bigstock Photos.