Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Teel James Glenn

Welcome Teel James Glenn, adventure fantasy author and actor, stuntman, swordsman and fight choreographer.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

Teel: Sometimes I think I don’t so much write fantasy as allow it to come out of me; that is - whenever I try to write a non-fantasy story - even my mystery fiction always seems to have an element of fantasy or at least the bizarre in it. So I generally “give in” to my muse and let loose. The thing about fantasy, whether it is high or dark or whimsical, is that it allows dreams to be fully realized to serve the story and characters, where in other forms the characters might have to be bent to fit the world.

Amber: Tell me about what genres within fantasy you write.
Teel: I have written in several sub-genres of fantasy from adventure to the darker fantasy that borders on horror though I love the swashbuckling stuff the most. From the sword and sorcery stuff of R.E. Howard to the sword and ray gun adventures like Edgar Rice Burroughs is my most comfortable zone. I have also written a number of urban fantasy that have a comical touch. That seems to come easily to me. (My friends will tell you I have a warped sense of humor that fits that stuff).

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?
Teel: The original Conan, Solomon Kane and Dark Agnes stories of Robert E. Howard are my first pick for fantasy reads, followed by the Martian Novels of E.R. Burroughs. I also read Lord Dunsany’s and Poe’s short fiction for the language. I loved the Lord Darcy stories by Randall Garret (I only wish he’d written more) and his Gandalara books. And the classics: Dracula, Frankenstein (both of which I’ve played on stage) and Lord of the Rings.

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Teel: Because it is the ultimate escape fiction; it is stepping into a dream that a writer presents to you and yet allows you to make it your own.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Teel: I have. For a long time I wrote for myself - always with the idea that someday I would write for money, but the urge to write was always there. I have been so blessed to be able to make a living from what I love to do.  It allows me to let some of those characters that are crowding my mind out and make room for more.
Teel James Glenn was born in Brooklyn and traveled the world for thirty years as a stuntman, fight choreographer, swordmaster, jouster, book illustrator, storyteller, bodyguard, and actor. He studied under the head of the Seoul Military Academy and Errol Flynn’s last stunt double. He choreographed realistic violence for every Shakespeare play at least once, many several times, as well at the Three Musketeers at West Point, Native Son for the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Nine Ball for Cape Cod Rep and literally hundreds of different productions.

And as a performer he's done 52 Renaissance Faires, been in many genre films and TV series including Citizen Toxie (as fight choreographer and Toxie’s double), Spenser for Hire, the Equalizer, Lord of the Strings, Spiderbabe, Dr. Horror’s House of Erotic Idiots, The Bog Creatures and most famously as Vega in the manga/gaming web series “Street Fighter: The Later Years.”

All his life experience enhances his writing. He has 25 books in print from five different publishers (all of them well reviewed). In addition, his short works have appeared in magazines including Mad, Blazing Adventures, Black Belt, Classic Pulp Fiction, Fantasy Tales, AfterburnSF, and Fantasy World Geographic

For more information about 
 Teel James Glenn

To learn more about  his fantasy books:
Death at Dragonthroat, Tales of a Warrior Priest, The Daemonhold Curse,           Sister Warrior, & Of Swords and Sorcery

And for his Romance Fantasy:
The Horsed Thief  &  The Travelers’ Tale

For a FREE copy of  
One of Teel's books
send him an email 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Joanne Hall

Welcome Joanne Hall, fantasy author and founder of speculative fiction convention Bristolcon!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

Joanne: I grew up reading fantasy.  My mother used to read to me when I was very little, and she was a Tolkien fan, so even before I could read I had heard The Hobbit a few times.  She was also a very keen library-goer, and going with her I discovered Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, Louise Lawrence...  It grew from there.  I always wanted to write, and I wanted to write what I enjoyed reading.  You have to feel passionate about a genre to write in that genre – if I’m enthusiastic about what I’m writing, hopefully my readers will be too!  When I[‘m lost in the world of the New Kingdom, I really feel I’m there, running through the echoing Halls of Hierath or riding to war across the plains of Atrath.  I want my readers to feel that too.

Amber: I see that you’re very involved (Founder and Chair!) of Bristolcon the Bristol (UK) Fantasy & SF Society for fans and writers of speculative fiction. Tell me about your involvement in Bristolcon. Does it help your writing and promotion efforts?

Joanne: I don’t see BristolCon as a place to promote myself, as such, but a place to promote my chosen genre.  There’s a strong core of SF in Bristol, people both creating it, such as Colin Harvey and Gareth L Powell (and me!), and blogging, twittering and podcasting about it.  I’m heavily involved in the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society, and also in Bristol Fiction Writers, which leans towards speculative fiction.  Bristolcon sprang from those groups, but we never thought of it as a promotional tool.  It was born from us gathered down the pub moaning that a city the size of Bristol, with such a hub of SF fans, should have its own convention.  And next thing I knew, I was running it! (The lesson is never agree to anything after you’ve had more than two pints, I think....)

Having said that, I think getting out there, being seen at conventions and meeting people, is a good thing for any writer to do.  It gets your name known, and while it might not result in sales on the day, I believe it’s good for your career in the long term.  Although running BristolCon does sometimes steal my writing time!

Amber: What are your favourite fantasy novels?

Joanne: It changes from day to day.  Right now I’m enjoying Juliet McKenna’s “Tales of Einarrin”, and impatiently waiting for the next volume in George Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” sequence.  I suppose my favourites are the ones I always go back to, David Gemmell’s Jon Shannow novels, “Magician” by Raymond Fiest, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, particularly the earlier ones.  And anything by Diana Wynne Jones is like a hug, they’re still a good read even though I’ve been reading her work since I was ten.  They work on an adult level as well, and I think that’s a mark of great children’s writing.

Amber: Why do think readers love fantasy?

Joanne: I think it’s an escape from the large and small aggravations of normal life.  For a few hours, you can immerse yourself in a world utterly removed from the mundane and let your imagination soar.  And I don’t know anyone who’d choose to take the No 47 bus to work when they could fly a spaceship or ride a dragon!

For myself, I had a hard time at school, and I chose to lose myself in stories.  I’ve never wanted to read about people living the same life as mine; I can experience that by walking out of my front door!

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

Joanne: Yes.  It’s what I’m passionate about.  I think you have to write what you love.  Some writers are just compelled to write, and publication is just a nice bonus if you can get it.  I have to write, I have to get the things in my head down on paper, and fantasy is the thing I love to write.  I wrote for years before I was published, and I wouldn’t stop writing even if I was never to be published again.  It’s just something I have to do.

Having said all that, it’s the best feeling to hear that someone has enjoyed your book.  That’s better than any cash reward!

Amber: Thanks so much for being my guest this week. So many Americans are baking pies and roasting turkeys they need a fantasy break.
Joanne Hall lives in Bristol, England, with her partner.  She has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and gave up a sensible job in insurance to be a full time writer, to the despair of her mother.  She dabbled in music journalism, and enjoys going to gigs and the cinema, and reading.  Her first three novels were published by Epress Online, and she has had short stories published in several anthologies and many magazines.  A collection of short stories, “The Feline Queen” will be published by Wolfsinger in March 2011.  She is also the founder of Bristolcon, Avon’s leading Science Fiction convention.  

The New Kingdom Trilogy:
A collection of short stories, “The Feline Queen” will be published by Wolfsinger in March 2011 

 Visit Joanne on her website 
She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to contact her!

Joanne’s Contest!
Joanne will give away a signed copy of Hierath
(and probably a few other goodies from her Giant Box of Goodies) !
To anyone in the world!
Leave a comment and and include the name of your favorite character
from her books.
Find answers on her website!
She'll pick the lucky winner on November 27th!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Website Design Tips from Connie Lee Marie!

Welcome Connie Lee Marie, graphic designer, musician, and Website Goddess!

Amber: Can you share some tips with authors struggling to make their own websites?
Connie: Design your site to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible and your visitor’s experience will be smooth and pleasant.
Save photos and graphics for the web at the smallest file size possible (looking good with details) for fast loading, using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, etc. with the “Optimize for the Web” option.

Amber: You made a great banner for my website. Once I had the banner I used the color and feel to redo the entire site. How important is the header for a site?
Connie: The header is the most important element of website design. It tells the visitor who you are and what the site is about. It’s your first chance to make a good impression.

Amber: What about type size and fonts?
Connie: Here are a few things to remember -

  • Never make your type too wide across the page. Wide columns are hard to read and look unattractive. I like a maximum width of approximately 600 pixels (6 inches) for an easy-to-read column and of course, smaller columns of approx. 250+ pixels are great for ease of reading. Newspapers traditionally used skinny columns for a reason!
  • Use short paragraphs; line breaks help readability.
  • Very long pages (with lots of photos) may take a long time to load and readers will have to do a lot of waiting and scrolling, or worse yet, leave before the page finishes loading!
  • Remember to set your links to "Open in new window" (in Dreamweaver set the target to _blank) to encourage visitors to return to your website after they’re done looking at an off-site linked page. Your site will be waiting for them after they close the linked page.
  • Typefaces - Very small type is hard to read, especially serif styles. Too large type is also annoying to the eye. Experiment with Verdana or Ariel. I like to keep everything readable. I tend to lean towards san-serif for the web and serif for print. Maybe I’ll change my mind on that someday! Also think about how readable the color of the text is on your background color. Think: Contrast.
  • Underlining. Also use sparingly.Use only a few words in special situations. Make words Bold if you want them to stand out. Too much underlining can make the type hard to read and also can be confused with links.
  • Add italics, bold, underling or ALL CAPS like spice to a dish, to taste. Never use too much!
  • I feel the same way about animated gifs or flash. Too much movement becomes tedious and distracting. A little here or there is good; too much can be annoying. (Do I really want to wait to watch some type or graphic dance around on my screen? Most likely I’m out of there before it loads.)
Amber: Can you share some websites you designed and tell us what you especially like about them?
I like the Old Town Center site because it matches the style of the building perfectly! I also created an email blast template that matches their site for email marketing with Constant Contact.
I don't usually like dark backgrounds on websites because the type is hard to read, but I do like this one. I also made a matching email blast template for this site.

Connie Lee Marie is an artist, 
graphic designer,
and enjoys 
a little plumbing and home repair 
once in a awhile, but not too often.

 Amber: Connie, please can you give us just one more tip?

“Shuffle the Chi!” 
Translation: Make your website interesting!

Learn more about 
Connie Lee Marie's designs

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Vijaya Schartz

Amber: Welcome Vijaya Schartz, romantic sci-fi author!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

Viyaya: I was a sci-fi/fantasy junkie as a child (books and TV shows), so naturally when I started writing I wrote sci-fi/fantasy, then I realized that something was missing from the stories for them to completely satisfy me as an adult, so I added the romantic element. Now what I write is called sci-fi/fantasy romance, which is a new subgenre growing in popularity.

Amber: Why do  you think readers love what you write?

Viyaya: Probably for the same reason I love writing it. Who can resist a fully plotted action adventure story in an imaginary world where incredible things are possible, with a fully developed love story, a yummy hero, a kick-butt heroine (or not), and a happy, satisfying and emotional ending? It's Indiana Jones meets Battlestar Galactica (or an episode of Stargate as a reviewer put it), with a sizzling romance to boot. What's not to like?

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

Viyaya: I probably would, although I would also write something else to pay the bills, hoping the fantasy would sell eventually. I cannot be the only person on the planet who loves the stuff.

With over a dozen novels published, Award-winning author Vijaya Schartz writes action romance in Sci-Fi, contemporary, paranormal, and historical settings. Born in France, and having traveled around the world, she brings an exotic quality to her stories. Her books gathered three Golden Quill awards, one Independent Publishers Book Award, and numerous Reviewer’s Choice nominations and five-star reviews.
Book Three of The Chronicles of Kassouk series
came out November 1st. 

Black Jaguar volunteered to sail away on his brother’s Galleon to get away from his roguish past, and prove his worth as a blood prince. The last thing he expects on this virgin land is tragedy, mind-reading natives, scheming Mutants, or hostile Star People...

The Chronicles of Kassouk series is available in eBook in all formats everywhere (including Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Apple etc.) and from the publisher, Desert Breeze.

Find her paperbacks, audiobooks, 
and Kindle editions at Amazon.

Learn more about Vijaya
and her other books at her website!