Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Rowena Cherry

Welcome Rowena Cherry, whose heroes are larger than life in every way.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Rowena: I write Fantasy because... I want my heroes to be larger than life in every way. The "god-Princes of Tigron" are over seven feet tall, have seven shark-like senses and genie-like powers, all are physically attractive and highly sexed, they're wealthy and powerful and intelligent and courageous and supremely competent... and royal. And faithful.

You cannot find a series-worth of heroes in any other genre (other than Fantasy) without seriously messing with real History and/or Geography, or at the least, grafting a branch that does not belong onto British Lord's family tree. Therefore, I set my self-styled, high-tech "gods" in outer space.

A few examples of things I've researched include: whether or not a woman can really shave her legs with a "razor" shell (she cannot, and I had hairy scabs on my legs to prove it); what forms have to be filled out in Britain before a grave can be exhumed and the remains exported (if a loved one is buried on Church grounds, exhumation is much less likely to be permitted); under what circumstances a Magnum (gun) might jam; the top five ways that able-bodied people unintentionally offend people who are confined to wheelchairs; and the physics and chemistry that would have to be in place for a sky to turn green.

Strictly speaking, my novels are all classified by the publisher as "futuristic romance" but readers have termed them everything from fantasy to paranormal to sfr (science fiction romance). The trouble with "futuristic" is that many readers expect futuristics to be set "in the future", but romances fall into the "futuristic" category if space travel --involving spacecraft-- and/or more technologically advanced alien societies are central to the story.

Just because I claim to write Fantasy does not mean that I make everything up. I believe there is a limit to how far a reader should have to suspend disbelief. It seems only polite and responsible to give my readers a reason to trust me, therefore, if something can be researched, then I research it.
Here's a dilemma for a futuristic series writer. What happens if one book in a "futuristic" series has no scenes featuring advanced technology and spacecraft? It never occurred to me that this could be perceived as an outrage by review-writing readers until I read a chance remark on a discussion.

If I had known, I should still have written Insufficient Mating Material pretty much the way it is. Would I have taken a critical scene and relocated it on a spaceship? I honestly don't know. If my editor had requested it, perhaps so. I can be flexible. At the eleventh hour, when I saw the cover art for Insufficient Mating Material, I decided that I had to take apart one third of the novel and re-work it because I believe passionately that what is on the cover should be an illustration of a scene in the book.

There was no "From Here To Eternity" scene in the original Insufficient Mating Material, but it was obvious after seeing the cover that there had to be one. An important chess-playing scene had to be removed (the word count was already set), a beach had to be cleared of dead bodies (LOL!!!), and the ending had to change... because the original ending would have been an anti-climax after the new sex in the surf scene. It follows that if the cover artist had illustrated a wonderfully sinister, looming spaceship reminiscent of Independence Day, I should have revised the text to go with it.

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Rowena: I can only answer for myself. I love to read. (Full stop!) I love Fantasy, but I also love Mystery, Suspense, Historicals, History, Anthologies, Cat books, Science Fiction... As far as I am concerned, genre labels are a bit of a nuisance.

There are many aspects of Fantasy that I appreciate very much, particularly dragons and magic (which I don't have), psychic powers (which I do have), and the potential for unusual solutions to universal problems.

What I do not appreciate in Fantasy or any other genre is when the author stretches my credulity too far, or breaks the rules they have established for their own world.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Rowena: Hah! Yes, I would, but I'd package and market it as something else.

Rowena Cherry has played chess with a Grand Master and former President of the World Chess Federation (hence the chess-pun titles of her alien romances).

She has spent folly filled summers in a Spanish castle; dined on a sheikh's yacht with royalty; been serenaded (on a birthday) by a rockstar and an English nobleman; ridden in a pace car at the 1993 Indy 500; received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award; and generally lived on the edge of the sort of life that inspires her romances about high-living alien gods.

Rowena's Mission Statement - My goal as a Romance author is to give good value. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying HEA, and something to think –or talk-- about when the book is finished.

Heroines get more hero than they bargain for....

Rowena's Books

The "god-Princes of Tigron" series (also dubbed "The Mating Books") was basically "three royal weddings and a murder". In the first book, a bad-boy Prince abducted the mate of his dreams who happened to be from the black sheep branch of his royal family. Prince Tarrant-Arragon was so pleased with his stolen bride, and with married life, that he decided to trick or force his two greatest enemies into politically disastrous sexual liaisons with liability wives… in other words, to his own controversial sisters.
1. Forced Mate
Buy Forced Mate direct from Dorchester
2. Mating Net (a prequel, only available as an e-book) 
Buy Mating Net direct from New Concepts Publishing
3. Insufficient Mating Material
 Buy Insufficient Mating Material direct from Dorchester
4. Knight's Fork
Buy Knight's Fork direct from Dorchester
(When you buy directly from the publisher, the author receives a bigger royalty check)

Rowena’s Contest!

$25 bookstore token
(either for or Borders bricks and mortar... 
Rowena's choice)
Awarded by random drawing to one commentator 
on Rowena's interview 
(Contest Ends - June 12th)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Heather Kuehl

Welcome Heather Kuehl, creator of kick-ass female fantasy heroines.

Amber: Why do you Write Fantasy?

Fantasy was the first genre to actually gain my full attention. I enjoyed the sword and sorcery and I fell in love with the fact that anything could happen. In a fantasy world nothing is final, not even death. Love is true and it lasts forever, sometimes even transcending time. To me, there’s nothing better

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?

I was a reader long before I was a writer, and for me it was the escape. I needed to get away from the stress of everyday life and into a world of magic. What better way to relax than to curl up on the couch with a fantastic book about far off places and dazzling spells.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?

Of course! I think I’d go insane and suffer from multiple personality disorder if I didn’t have the ability to write. I have so many people going on adventures in my head, and writing seems to be the only way to get them to shut up.

Amber: One of your books is described as "kick-ass. What’s the lure of the kick-ass paranormal heroine?

The loudest voice in my head would have to be Sarah Vargas from FADE TO BLACK. She’s a kick-ass bounty hunter whose sole purpose in life is to kill the werewolf that changed her. It was so fun writing her, because she’s tough. No one can push her around and tell her what to do, and I wish I was just like her. I think that’s what makes tough paranormal heroines so enticing; they have the snappy comebacks and live exciting lives with gorgeous men and women. What person wouldn’t want that?

Heather Kuehl is the author of FADE TO BLACK and PROMISES TO KEEP, as well as numerous short stores. 

Dawn from Love Romances and More said that "Fade To Black is one kick butt action-adventure ride from start to finish."

Her latest release, PROMISES TO KEEP, is available in ebook format from Eternal Press ( and print copies will become available soon at

Follow her on Twitter (@heatherkuehl) 
or on her Facebook Fan Page.

Heather's Contest!
Leave a comment before May 30th.
A random commenter wins a .pdf of PROMISES TO KEEP!
Contest Closed/
Congratulations Dana!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Hywela Lyn

Welcome Hywela Lyn, Fantasy Author with her heart in Wales!

Amber: Why do you Write Fantasy?
I've always loved the romance of fantasy, the sheer escapism of it. As a country person, I hate the noise and bustle of the present day, with the smells and pollution of modern transport. I love world building, drawing on the legends and beautiful, wild scenery of my native Wales. I am in my element when creating settings in sparsely populated worlds, where the usual mode of transportation is either something as basic as the horse, or as futuristic as teleportation. In fact the horse plays a large part in why I write fantasy. I've always been horse crazy and ridden since a child. I usually manage to have a horse or two in most of my stories, and they are very much at home in a fantasy setting (where they sometimes sprout a single horn. :) )

Another thing I love about the fantasy/ SF genre is the challenge. If you give your characters certain powers, those powers have to be logical - and finite, otherwise everything is too easy, there is no conflict and the reader would soon tire of the story. So for every gift or power the hero or heroine possesses, there has to be a downside. The challenge is then for them to be able to escape a tricky situation by their wits, and that's always fun to write.

Amber: Does being Welsh help you write fantasy?
Hywela: I'm sure it does.  Wales is a beautiful country, abounding in legends and folklore.  I was brought up on tales of Twm Sion Catti (a sort of Welsh Robin Hood) and legends such as 'the bells of Cantre'r Gwaelod' (a village which was drowned beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay.) Many of these legends and folktales sparked ideas for stories or characters,  and the rugged landscape itself was an inspiration. Although I now live in England, I visit Wales as often as I can and it never fails to revitalize me and energize my muse.

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Hywela: For the same reasons as a writer does, I think.  The chance to escape the cares and stresses of modern life, for a while, to travel in their imaginations to distant worlds or times and the thrill of the unexpected.  In fantasy one never quite knows what dangers  the reader will pit the characters against - a werewolf or dragon, a blast of magic or a light beam from a laser gun.
Amber: What about the differences between American tastes in fantasy and your UK readers?
 Hywela: I think fantasy is pretty much universal.  Look at the success of  'Lord Of The Rings' on both sides of the Atlantic, or the popularity in both countries of authors such as Anne McCaffrey and Ursula Le  Guin!  Startrek remains very popular over here and the British SF series from the late 70s to early  80s, 'Blakes 7' has a cult following in the USA, not to mention 'Dr Who' from the same stable. So really I think if the quality is good, readers will love it whatever country they're in.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Hywela: Absolutely! In fact I started writing because I wanted to tell a story , and putting it down on paper was the main object. (Yes, I wrote my first stories by hand, although it's difficult to believe now.) The story needed to be told and it didn't occur to me to wonder if anyone else would ever read it. As I said earlier, I love creating new worlds and situations for my characters. They would nag me to death if I didn't write. It's wonderful and immensely rewarding when others read and enjoy one's work, but I think most authors write just because they have to - and they love it!
Although most of my writing tends to be futuristic, the worlds I create are very much rooted in the fantasy genre, and usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature. My characters often have to fight the elements and the terrain itself. I love to write about heroes who are strong and courageous, but chivalrous and honourable - and of course, handsome and hunky. My heroines are also strong and courageous, but retain their femininity - able to look after themselves but not afraid to accept help if it's needed. However difficult the journey, evil will be overcome and love will always win in the end.

Amber: Tell me about your books.
Hywela: I've always been fascinated by the stars, and speculated on what strange worlds might exist in the vastness of space, and what it would be like to visit them. It gradually dawned on me, however, that whatever I wrote, it always had a strong love interest and I realized that as well as a fantasy writer, I was also a romance writer!
My first novel, Starquest a futuristic romance released by The Wild Rose Press was originally written as a short story, and was followed by a sequel Children Of The Mist. I'm currently working on a third story in the series. My story 'Dancing with Fate' was written as part of the Wild Rose Press's Song Of The Muses series, and is pure fantasy, rather than futuristic. My main character is Terpsichore, Muse of Dance and I sent her back to 5th Century Wales, where her story touched on the Arthurian legends. I also drew on several Welsh myths and legends for this tale.

To win a $6 Wild Rose Press Gift Certificate, 
join my Newsletter Group and email me to tell me 
why you enjoy fantasy. Entries close on 1st June 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Brenna Lyons

Welcome Brenna Lyons, prolific dark fantasy world builder.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Brenna: I am drawn to fantasy by the simple departure from everyday life and the exaggeration of the human condition, at the same time.

I had a lousy childhood. No bones about it. Fantasy allows an escape from the mundane, which I always found appealing.

Beyond that, everything in fantasy...spec fic in general...can be so much larger than life. Your fantasy characters can live longer, be stronger, survive more abuse/torture, possess powers humans only wish they had, and so forth.
There's something engaging about creating something new, from the ground up. When you get to create not only flora and fauna, but also laws and mores, calendars and language, imports/exports,'s a rush. It allows the writer to put herself into a different mindset. If your laws said X and your mores said Y and your limitations and powers would you think? What would you do? How would you view human norms? What sort of culture shock would there be when dealing with other cultures or worlds?

Or in finding the story behind the story... One of my favorite games is taking old myths or stories and asking the questions couched between the lines. How did the character get from point A to point C here, when moving from myth to myth? What was that character thinking? What if the character was wrong? What is the story that is hidden behind this? What really happened that the historians/storytellers tried to explain it this way?

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Brenna: Readers like some of the same things I do. Certainly, they seem to like the departure from the mundane and reading about a new place and new creatures/characters. They also seem to like the look behind the established stories, the dark underside of what we think we know, and the ethics and mindset of a non-human character.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Brenna: Absolutely! I wrote before I had an audience, so I'd continue to write without one. Spec fic isn't all I write. Would I focus there more and on spec fic less, if the market dried up and no one was reading it? Probably not, because I have a character driven process, and the characters are very loud and demanding. I write what I want to read and what the characters have to say, so I'd still tell the stories they give me, even if there wasn't a market for it.

Amber: Tell us the subgenres of fantasy you write.
Brenna: Straight genre- dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Romance/sensual romance/erotic romance/erotica cross-genre- urban fantasy, urbanized fairy tales, dark fantasy, horror, science fiction, science fantasy...
Aliens, psychics, super hero-style worlds, angel-like, fairies, vampires and vampyr, ghosts, time travel, zombies, myths, gods, fairy tales, nursery rhyme, weres, and magic users/mages/witches.

Amber: The Night Warriors caught my eye, but then I noticed the interconnected worlds. How DO you keep all of your 21 worlds straight?
Brenna: Every character and world is different, so I don't tend to mix them up. Of course, as you noted, sometimes my worlds want to contact each other. Early on, I had little crossovers, like a heroine in Night Warriors Warriors reading a Night Warriors Beast book...and Alex from Renegades series wearing a "Jorg for President" t-shirt (from Night Warriors series).

As time went on, those connections grew. I hadn't consciously planned to make Council of Worlds as I did. I wrote in that there were three humanoid worlds on the Council of Worlds in the Kegin series without plan of looking at the other two. Then they showed up in the Kegin series, barging in on an established world and forming links. Once I had a taste of them, they took off and demanded their own series that interlinked back into Kegin later. Small details I'd woven into the Kegin series took shape into strong links between the worlds.

Thanks for visiting Wordshaping and giving us a glimpse into your worlds.

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: president of EPIC, author of more than 80 published works, teacher, wife, mother...member of ERWA, MWW, IWOFA, MFRW, WPM, and Broad Universe. In Brenna’s seven years published in novel-length, she's finaled for 11 EPPIES, 3 PEARLS (including one HM, second to Angela Knight), and a Dream Realm Award. 
She writes in 21 established worlds plus stand-alones, poetry, articles, and essays. She's a bestseller in indie/e fantasy, horror, and erom. Brenna has been termed "one of the most deviant erotic minds in the publishing world...not for the weak." (Rachelle for Fallen Angels Reviews) Milieu-heavy dark work is practically Brenna's calling card, with or without the erotic content.
Brenna enjoys hearing from people who read her work.  

Brenna's series include -
  • Kegin Series - Aliens and humans -fantasy and sci fi ero, 
  • Kielan series - Earth colony, psychics, ar futuristic fantasy erom
  • Xxan series - reptilian alien/human sci fi erom
  • Renegade's Run - psychics horror and sci-fi erom
  • Night Warriors series - vampires and vampire hunter/vampyr -dark fantasy sensual and erom
  • Grellan War series - super hero-style fantasy sensual romance
  • Born Investigators series - alien empath fantasy sensual romance
  • Undead in Blue series vampire military horror comedy straight genre
  • dan Aidan Fairies fairies and humans fantasy sensual romance
  • Bride Ball series urbanized fairy tale erom
  • Urban Grimms urban fairy tale erom
  • Mythos collections mythological straight genre and sensual romance
  • Star Mages series magic users fantasy sensual and erom
  • Instinct series weres and humans dark fantasy erom.erotica
  • Blood Mages series magic users and vampires fantasy sensual romance
  • Afterwar series post-apocalyptic sci fi erom
  • Fire and Ice series gods fantasy erom.erotica
New titles coming out in nearly every series.

You can reach Brenna through her site.

Brenna's Contest!
Leave a comment 
for a chance to win a PDF from Brenna.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Gail Dayton

Welcome Gail Dayton, steampunk romance author.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Gail: Why do I write fantasy? Why does anybody?
Fantasy opens the door to endless possibilities. Literally ANYTHING can happen in a fantasy—though it helps if you have rules. But the rules can be anything you like. It opens up the door to playing with all sorts of impossible What-ifs.

What if magic really exists? What if it’s part of everyday life? How would that change how we live? What if another world exists, set sideways to ours, with its own rules of physics that aren’t what we were used to? What would it be like? What if we got sucked through the door between this world and that one? See what I mean? What a fabulous playground!

I was weaned on fairy tales—“old skool” fantasy—and went on to read Half Magic and all the Mary Poppins books, and Wizard of Oz books, before moving on to Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and other giants of fantasy and science fiction. Yeah, all the Tolkien books were in there too. So I fell in love with fantasy when I still thought kissing was icky. Then I outgrew that phase. (wink)

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Gail: I think readers love fantasy for the same reason. Because ANYTHING can happen—and maybe also, because it’s obviously Not Real. It’s very much an escape. Real life is often both scary and boring at the same time. Fantasy is an adventure. It’s exciting, scary things happening to somebody else. Things that will never, ever, in a bazillion, trillion years happen for real.

This is why I don’t read serial killer books. I used to work in a prosecutor’s office. I know the real scary stuff that can happen. I’ve been in a courtroom and looked killers in the eye, and let me tell ya, hun, that is scary. I want my thrills in the realm of the fantastical.

Amber: Would you write fantasy if no one read it?
Gail: I would write fantasy even if no one read it. Even if no one read my fantasies, because people have always, and will always read fantasy. It dates back to Homer, for cryin’ out loud, with his tales of Cyclops and the Sirens, Circe and the Lotus eaters. Every culture on earth has its tales of the fantastical, whether about the Monkey King or Tir’na Nog, and people have loved them and made up more. So there’s no doubt about people not reading fantasy. Not reading mine—well, that’s another issue. If they didn’t read mine, I guess I’d just have to keep working until I wrote better fantasies. ;)
Amber: What is "steampunk"?
Gail: “Steampunk” is a word used to describe books set in historical eras—usually the era of steam, but occasionally earlier—with oddly advanced science, or other fantastical elements. Some have described it as “urban fantasy, in a historical era.” I currently write steampunk fantasy romance for Tor Paranormal Books.

I have a degree in history, so I have a good “timeline” sense of when things happened and what I don’t know that I need to know. I found myself doing a lot of geographical research. Germany didn’t exist in 1863, but the Austrian Empire did, and the Ottoman Empire controlled a lot of eastern Europe. I needed lots of maps to follow my characters travels across the Victorian landscape.

New Blood is the story of a young woman who unexpectedly becomes part of the rebirth of an old magic in a mid-Victorian Europe where magic is part of everyday life. It came out in March ’09. Much of Europe is struggling with the death of magic—and of all life—in spots. These dead zones seem to be spawning strange mechanical creatures, and the rediscovery of the blood-based magic of sorcery might be able to help deal with the natural disasters. The second book, Heart’s Blood, was released Jan. ’10. It follows the story of the conjurer in the first book who now finds himself suspected of murder, and saddled with an apprentice he doesn’t want. Worse, the apprentice is female. New Blood is essentially a fantasy quest, and Heart’s Blood is a murder mystery. Heart’s Magic will be out in 2011, and follow the story of the alchemist and his wizard apprentice from the other books. It’s adventure-fantasy romance in hoop skirts, with clankety mechanical creatures, magic, and politics.

Gail Dayton was a RITA finalist for Best First Book in 2002, with Hide-and-Sheikh, a Silhouette Desire. Her Convenient Millionaire won the Aspen Gold award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2004. Gail made the shift to fantasy romance when Harlequin opened its Luna imprint, with her One Rose trilogy. The Compass Rose took second place to The Smoke Thief in the Prism Award for Best Fantasy in 2006, and The Barbed Rose, and The Eternal Rose, published by Juno Books, won the Prism for Best Fantasy in 2007 and 2008. Gail currently writes steampunk fantasy romance for Tor Paranormal Books. Read more about Gail Dayton’s books at her website.

She blogs at Dreaming in Daylight 
You can find her on Twitter as GailDayton.

Comment and win a book of your choice
from Gail’s backlist.
Contest ends Saturday May 8th!