Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Lyndi Alexander & Her Elves!

Welcome Lyndi Alexander, urban fantasy author who discovered elves living in Montana!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Lyndi: I really enjoy writing fantasy because I can push the "what if" envelope outside normal boundaries. Fantasy is also a perfect format to showcase weird and quirky characters, which seem to trail around behind me like dropped crumbs. Being "different" is an asset when you're working with a situation that's out of the norm. I have three children with special needs, one with ADD, one with autism and one with Asperger's, and I like to consider their differences as assets, rather than detriments. The Elf Queen has not only barista Jelani Marsh, but her WoW-playing computer geek friend Lane, his roommate paranoid child abuse survivor 'Crispy,' and their social worker friend Iris, as well as a host of elves with various skills and talents. It takes cooperation among all these diverse folk to make the magic come together.

Amber: How do you work elves into urban fantasy?
Lyndi: I have to admit, elves were new for me, but I knew I didn't want to use the traditional "elves, faeries and leprechauns" kind of elves. Though these elves come from a time beyond the existence of humans in the mountains of Montana, they co-exist with humans. They are the same size, shape and can blend in quite well if they have to. In my story, they've been forced to live in the human city by an ongoing schism in the elf clan, and what they want more than anything is the chance to return to the natural world. When the clan is functioning well and in harmony, then nature is also harmonious, the environment healing itself and the world a better place for it.

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?
Lyndi: Anne McCaffrey's dragon books, by far. I love her world-building, the way her series carries the characters forward and adds and expands with new and side characters. We share the same birthday--April 1. I hope that's lucky!

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Lyndi: As readers, I believe we want to escape from our own realities, the stack of dirty dishes, the blather of talking heads on TV, the kids, the spouse, the empty, quiet rooms. Fantasy gives the reader a two-fer, in my opinion; not only can they find a fine story, but they can move into a realm of something that is not necessarily of this time or this world and stretch their minds with the author's imaginative tales.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Lyndi: I would. *L* My stories get written because they come to me. I don't set my brain for "Today I'm going to write a vampire story." Instead, I see what stories are inside, waiting to get out, and then I write them. Several reviewers have said that The Elf Queen is not a typical fantasy, and I'm glad to hear that, because I don't want to feel like I'm trapped in a genre formula.

Lyndi Alexander (aka Barbara Mountjoy) has been a published writer for over thirty years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at a newspaper in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications is eclectic, from science fiction to romance to horror, from tech reporting to television reviews.  Lyndi and her absent-minded computer geek husband have a dozen computers, seven children, and a full house in northwestern Pennsylvania. 

The Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series 

The Elf Child, The next book in the series, will be out in spring 2011, 
& The Elf Mage  in 2012.

Lyndi’s"Be An Elf" Contest
Leave a comment for a chance to be an elf character in 
book three of the Clan Elves series.
The winner can be an elf in the big battle 
and can choose what power/talent he or she has at their disposal.

Learn more about Lyndi and Barbara on her writer's blog.
And her blog Awalkabout’s Weblog about autism, science fiction and life  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Tracy Morris

Welcome Tracy Morris, author of urban fantasy mysteries!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

When I started writing, I was drawn to reading fantasy. There were plenty of non-fantasy books that we were expected to read in school, such as the Newbery Award winners like Sarah, Plain and Tall and Dear Mr. Henshaw.  These books never engaged my imagination. I didn't go
home after school and pretend that I was Sarah from the book, or Anne from Green Gables. I wanted to be a Dragon Rider from one of Anne McCaffery's books or Alice having an adventure through Wonderland or Dorothy with magic shoes that could transport her anywhere with a click of her heels (though never Wendy. In the books she only got to play mother and clean up after the lost boys and fix their socks and she ended up tied to the mast of the pirate ship instead of getting to fight the pirates).

I didn't really care for the problems that the girls in the mainstream books faced. I didn't want to read about the girl who was bullied in school (or perhaps I identified too well). I thought books should be an escape into a world where I could be the hero and slay the dragon and solve problems that I couldn't seem to solve in the real world.

When I started writing, it was an extension of the fantasy worlds I already invented. The heroes and heroines of my stories were an extension of myself. And, unlike me as a pre-teen and teen, they were always able to solve their own problems.


Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?

Tracy: The ones with strong heroines and heroes who take on a problem and solve it believably. I know that sounds funny, since it is fantasy. But at the root of every fantasy are human characters with human motivations. I love reading Terry Pratchett because his characters are recognizably and believably human. He may write about wizards, but they still worry about getting tenure in the wizarding classes that they teach and the score of the most recent soccer game.

Amber: Why do you think readers love fantasy?
I think readers are drawn to fantasy for the escapism. Fantasy can be a place where they can ride along as an unseen extra character on a grand adventure. You can be right there with Frodo as he climbs Mount Doom. That's why when some of the largest, most beloved fantasies are brought to the big screen, there is intense scrutiny and fan outcry. Particularly if the fantasy portrayed isn't a close match to the
fantasy that the reader has in their head.

I think that's why big budget fantasies like Lord of the Rings were so successful. The fantasy that was put on the screen was obviously a loving and faithful adaptation of the novel series. It's also why inconsistencies with the book, like the missing Tom Bombadill subplot were remarked on by fans. When you make a film adaption of a classic like that, you're challenging every fan's personal fantasy.  

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
I think most writers would. Writing is like a compulsion that most writers can't deny. They will often go without hobbies, television or necessities in order to be able to write. That's why a lot of us are still at it in the face of daunting odds.

Tracy S. Morris is a self-described kamikaze speller who is blessed, thrilled and occasionally befuddled that someone actually pays her to write.

She is the author of the Tranquility series of urban fantasy
mysteries. The most recent, Bride of Tranquility is a murder mystery set in a haunted hotel during a Renaissance wedding. 

The series is available in paper format from Yard Dog Press, or in E-Format from Baen books.Additionally, the Tranquility series is available in paper format at Yard Dog Press.
Baen is running a special on
Tracy's e-book series. 
Both Yard Dog Press series released through Baen 
have been bundled together& offered for $20.
Including Tranquility & Bride of Tranquility as well as 
The Four Redheads of theApocalypse &
The Four Redheads: Apocalypse Now! 

Also anyone who buys a copy of either Tranquility or Bride of Tranquility directly from my publisher, Yard Dog Press between now and Christmas, I will send them a "free preview" of the first two chapters of the third novel in the series, It Came To Tranquility, which I am now in the process of writing. 
Order from Yard Dog Press  

Tracy’s contest
Leave a comment 
for a chance to win a copy of 
Bride of Tranquility.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Christine E. Schulze

Welcome Christine E. Schulze, author of Christian Fantasy and cover model for her own books!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy? 

: I cannot imagine writing anything but fantasy--that is, I have tried, but failed miserably. In college, I took a fiction writing class which actually proved quite a challenge since we were required to write in the real world. I felt very restricted; the possibility of anything and everything happening had been stripped from me. I suppose that is one thing i love so much about the genre: freedom. An author can be quirky, random, and fresh like Diana Wynne Jones or tell a very classic, epic legend like J.R.R. Tolkien. Or, like myself, an author can incorporate both these methods. I truly love creating new worlds, peoples, and magics, as well as the intricate plots and deep characters so fitting in such worlds.
Amber: Is there any considerations in writing Christian fantasy compared to other subgenres of fantasy?

Yes, I suppose there are, though writing Christian fantasy has always come so naturally to me, I suppose I haven't thought terribly much on it until now. As a kid, around twelve or so, I decided that if I was going to keep enjoy writing books and spreading them across the world, I better give back to God by including Him too.

That being said, I've always aimed to NOT make my books sound preachy. If God is included, it needs to be natural, a part of the characters' lives or the world they live in, the same as eating or breathing. For most of my books, I use Amiel, my allegorical version of God/Christ, much like Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, though I occasionally have books referring to God directly, like The Pirates of Meleeon.

For most of my books, I just incorporate Christian traits like friendship, forgiveness, love, etc., which can be seen in many non-Christian books as well, such as Harry Potter's self-sacrifice in Deathly Hallows. In the words of Briana, a reviewer from The Book Pixie on reading Bloodmaiden: "Another thing I loved was the incorporation of religious elements. They were subtly done so that a Christian like me would pick up on them; however, they weren't blatantly obvious enough to detract from the story for those non-religious readers out there."

This is what I aim for in most of my books; however, I have had a few which touch upon deeper Christian issues like salvation. In The Pirates of Meleeon, this ends up being an important aspect. So, for both adamant Christians and just the regular fantasy readers, I have something for everyone.

There are also certain things I WON'T include, namely cursing and sexual immorality. This doesn't mean I never have intimate scenes; however, you'll never seeing me pairing up a threesome...okay, except in Tears of a Vampire Prince, but that wasn't a good situation for Aaryn anyways, and you'll just have to read the book to understand his plight. ^_^

So, to sum it all up: allegorical God, morals like friendship and forgiveness woven into the story, and occasional deep theme but mostly subtle symbolism that adds that Christian touch but won't turn off other readers. A final example is a reader on Goodreads who just DEVOURED my entire Hero Chronicles series. It mentions issues like jealousy, friendship, and forgiveness the characters deal with, but not in an unbelievable, preachy way. She granted five stars to the whole series, enamored with the world, edge-of-your-seat plot, and intriguing characters; needless to say, I don't think she was turned off in the least.

I honestly hope that writers and readers alike will cease shying from the Christian fantasy genre. There doesn't seem to be a lot of it out there, which is a true shame.
On a final note, I have penned and plan to publish--in the farther future--a book which shall give an end to all my books. It incorporates a lot of fantasy elements and is an epic allegory of Revelation, the last chapter in the Bible. Drawing on many characters and worlds from previous of my books, it is one Christian fantasy work I am especially excited about sharing with the world.

Amber: What are some current fantasy projects you are working on?

Christine: Well, I just completed my first fanfiction novel entitled Silent Hero, which is based upon my favorite video game series, The Legend of Zelda. Zelda actually has inspired many a book from the time I was twelve. From the unique, quirky characters to the interesting plots to the rich fantasy worlds, Zelda has always been an important part of my fantasy life. I've been contemplating doing a fanfic for a very long time now, and the mood finally hit me. It was finally time. I've published the book as a free ebook on Smashwords; obviously, I can't really "sell" it or Nintendo would sue me, but at least I can give readers a good read which hopefully does the games justice.

As you can also tell, I also enjoy graphic art and a bit of modeling. I've appeared in multiple covers and other artwork for my books, including Bloodmaiden, Bloodmaiden: a fantasy anthology, and the upcoming Tears of a Vampire Prince: the First Krystine. Hence the mask and cape; no, I don't really dress like that on a daily basis.

Since I've written so many classic fantasy books now with the normal strong elements of intricate plot, vast world-building, and deep, complex characters, I'm sort of branching out more, experimenting with different projects. Silent Hero was one. I'm also trying a bit of horror; I just published a story with Victory Tales Press in A Halloween Collection Anthology: Sweet and intend to publish a horror/romance anthology of my own in the near future, entitled Broken. Also, I'm working on a book which I like to think reinvents both the novel and video game at once. It will be an extensive adventure set in an extensive fantasy world, much like Zelda or Final Fantasy. As readers follow the main character, they embody her, making decisions along the way which will majorly affect the outcome of the story and characters' lives. That book is called You, Fairie, I. I am penning it with a good friend of mine, Salvain, my first truly co-authored work.

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?

What a terrible question! No, really, I actually don't read a TON, I'm so busy writing, creating coverart, composing music for my books, etc. But, here's a few favorites: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit; Tolkien classics; Twilight saga; for all you haters, I discovered and loved the series before I even knew it was popular--or had ever even heard of it; Chains of Gold; actually ended up inspiring Bloodmaiden; Darkangel; Brilliant! Fresh, unique, both in world-building and characters. A must-read!; Chronicles of Narnia! Resonates especially with a Christian/fantasy author like myself. Harry Potter; need I say more?; Howl's Moving Castle; too classic! Quirky, beautiful, a unique work of art!; Stardust; also a quirky but beloved, unique fantasy read.

Amber: Why do you think readers love fantasy?

I think readers love fantasy for much the same reason as I enjoy writing it--it's that escape and freedom which makes it all worth while. Of course, one can find escape in reading almost any genre, I suppose. But in fantasy, it seems more so. A reader feels, in a sense, more removed from their world, in a far-off place where truly anything can happen. As for my part, I revel in delving into the unique worlds, interesting characters, and often twisting, suspenseful plots fantasy has to offer as well.


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

That is a question I have thought upon before, and am of two minds. On the one hand, I would say definitely yes. For the way I write, I don't often sit down and try to think of something to write. It just comes to me; as a Christian, I often say that God inspires me, and I must write. I assure you I am a very cranky author when I don't have time to jot down new ideas which are literally about to explode from me.

On the other hand, I do desire for readers to enjoy my work around the world. Always have, even as a small kid. So, while I would probably still write, it would be a shame if no one else could ever read my stories or enjoy them; I would feel partly as though I squandered the gifts God has given me. But if just one person can be positively affected by a story, then maybe, just maybe, it's all been worthwhile.

Christine E. Schulze has been creating books since she was too young to even write them in words. The stories from Bloodmaiden: A Fantasy Anthology are only a small part of her vast collection spanning over thirty books, The Amielian Legacy. She hopes to inspire readers throughout the world with these books by publishing in both traditional and electronic formats to make them available to all readers.

Christine has published several stories with Calliope and Kalkion magazines and is an active member of the WEbook online writing community. She has also published several Christian/fantasy books and ebooks which are available at various online retailers, as well as publishing several eBooks via Writers-Exchange. Her latest and most exciting ventures include publishing her novel Bloodmaiden with Old Line Publishing; being a part of Victory Tales Press' Sweet Halloween Anthology; and completing her first fan-fiction, Silent Hero, based on Nintendo's Legend of Zelda and available as a free download on Smashwords. Christine currently lives in Shiloh, Illinois with her Mom, three dogs and a rabbit.

All her books can be found on either Smashwords, Amazon, or both, most as both print and ebooks
For more about Christine E. Schulze and her books visit her Website
Please consider joining and leaving a comment; guests are welcomed and much-sought-after!
and her Goodreads Page Read reviews of many of my works, and keep on the look-out for give-aways! Please feel free to send me a message and chat as well.
Schulze's Blog  also includes artwork of characters from her books.

Christine’s Contest
 Leave a comment for a chance to win
A print copy of  Bloodmaiden: A Fantasy Anthology
(U.S. Residents only, please)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Caroline Clemmons

Welcome Caroline Clemmons, Texas time travel author!

Amber: First, tell me why you write fantasy? 

Caroline: I love the challenge of introducing a time traveler to a new time. I bring my characters forward. They have to be introduced to changes. A person traveling back in time would have some historical knowledge of the past, but for my character (always the heroine) it's all new and a challenge to navigate through her new location. (I have to say I also write traditional contemporary and historical romance.) In addition to traveling from 1845 Ireland to 2010 Texas, the heroine in OUT OF THE BLUE is also clairvoyant.

Amber: What are your favorite fantasy novels?

Caroline: In spite of my own preference to bring my heroines forward, I loved the writing of Kathleen Kane (Maureen Childs). He books were my introduction to time travel and I’ve read each of her novels. I wish I'd kept them because I'd love to reread them. Then I read Theresa Medieros. I don't remember the first book of hers I read, but it was contemporary in which a lovely and lively witch dropped into a fountain in front of the hero's business building.  Such a precious book! Then I read Diana Gabaldon after I met her at a conference. Honestly, Diana must have a Mensa+ I.Q.

Amber: Why do you think readers love fantasy?

Caroline: We want to be transported, to have our imagination stimulated until we believe every word we read. Remember when you were a child and played "Let's pretend" this or that? We're just big kids who still want to pretend.

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

Caroline: Of course! I would continue to write if I were the only one who saw the result. Oh, but it's so much nicer to have readers and good reviews, isn't it?  Although I also write contemporary and historical romances, my current WIP is the first of a time travel trilogy. (Say that quickly three times.)There's a great deal of pleasure dumping a heroine in a new time and letting her fight to adjust as she discovers a new life--and teaches the hero a few things.

Amber: Tell me more about yourself.
Caroline: As long as I can remember, I've made up adventures. Okay, I admit the early creative stories featured me riding the range with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and saving the West. What a disappointment to learn that Roy was exclusively committed to Dale! Eventually, my best friend from across the street and I decided to become better detectives than Nancy Drew. We drove our parents and neighbors crazy sticking our pert little noses where they didn't belong. About that time I started writing down my adventures, but mostly I was a reader. Not until I read Nora Roberts' early novels did I decide to create my own romance manuscripts. My road to publishing was a lot slower than Nora's was. No surprise there! I still read Nora's books—as well as those of countless other authors—but now I write full time. Unless life interferes, that is. 

My Hero and I live one a small acreage in the ranching and horse country of North Central Texas. Our two daughters are grown, and supportive of my writing. Living with Hero and me now are Webster, our sweet black Shih Tzu, and our two shorthaired cats: Sebastian, a large black and white tuxedo who thinks he's our watchcat; and Bailey Erin, a shy apricot tabby. When I'm not writing, I love spending time with family, reading, traveling with Hero, browsing antique malls, and digging into family history and genealogy. Writing about strong heroes and heroines who overcome amazing obstacles to forge a meaningful life together is my passion. 

My earlier books from Kensington included one contemporary, two historicals, and one anthology--all of which I hope soon to have available as e-downloads. The Wild Rose Press has published one fantasy titled OUT OF THE BLUE, one historical titled THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, and the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES. Coming out in 2011 will be something new for me, a sweet contemporary, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME. I'll also have released soon a sensual western historical novella, SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME. I'm an eclectic reader, so I'm an eclectic writer.

Caroline’s Contest!
Comment for a chance to win your choice choice a PDF from her current list.
Find out more about Caroline
at her website

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!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Flying Free Won the Heart of Excellence!

Flying Free 
won the  
2110 Heart of Excellence 
Readers Choice Award 
in the Strong Romantic Elements Category!

And the Ancient City Romance Authors 
(RWA Chapter in St. Augustine, Florida)
sent me this gorgeous trophy. 
The only thing better would have been there to pick it up in person.

I think ACRA must have known that when I lived in the Keys
I loved to stay in St. Augustine and walk the old city 
and the beach on my way to the North. 

Flying Free by Amber Polo 

Can a meat eating Texas advertising woman find love with a vegetarian Buddhist and get her pilot's license despite interference from her wacky Arizona airpark neighbors?


"...profound and high recommendation for general fiction readers searching for a quirky romance." Midwest Book Review

“[Polo] puts puts two complete opposites together and stirs the plot with a healthy dollop of conflict…Her amazing gift of creating vivid images with only a few words such as "When the cake was crumbs ..." is awesome. …a powerful, and sensually written, very heart-warming story that I'm certain will keep you turning the pages to find out the ending.” Long and Short Reviews 

“Have you ever read a book that entertained and opened your eyes to new and interesting facts? If not then I suggest you take a look at this one. A nifty, sweet story filled with planes, airpark life and a super sexy vegan Buddhist that anyone would find hard to resist. A heart warming tale about discovering what is really important in life.....sometimes a little later than you had hoped, but finding it just the same. Creative, quirky characters really set this story alive and give it a spark. Good work Ms. Polo a true enjoyment :)” Seriously Reviewed 

“Flying Free is a light and pleasant read. Spiritually pure Seth meets and falls for "let's get this job over with and get outta here" Lia. There are villains. There is mystery. And there is love that overcomes all. What I enjoyed about the book is the caring group of folks in the second half of life who live on Airpark Mesa near Sedona. It is there that Lia must learn to fly in order to inherit her late father's estate. The Airpark folks, whose passion is flying, building and maintaining small planes, seem very real. I was surprised to find myself learning interesting bits about the camaraderie of those who eat and sleep flying. There are villains. There is mystery. And there is love that overcomes all.” Story Circle Book Reviews, reviewing books by, for, and about women