Tag Archives: fantasy

A Dragon is Coming For Christmas

19 Dec

I’m happy to announce that my new book, Drag’n Drop, will be coming out next week–right in time for Christmas! If you ever wanted to read an alternate history urban fantasy novel (and who hasn’t), now is your opportunity! 🙂

Okay, now that I’ve piqued your interest, what is it? Imagine an America where magic exists–not openly, but in the shadows there are wizards, orcs, elves, dwarves, fairies… and most importantly, dragons. Now imagine how that would have changed history. Europeans still colonized the continent, but only the coast, because the natives had their own medicine men to fight back. England didn’t conquer New Amsterdam, but instead was repelled. Pushed back against the sea, the colonists were eventually forced to unite together, and formed the multicultural Staats-General von Amerika.

So in the modern day, Caleb, a green dragon who’s been living in New Amsterdam (you’d know it as New York) has seen native invasions come and go, but this time, something’s different. The united tribes have burst through the Cordelyou Line–a massive defense work built along the western border–with a new magic that should be impossible. Now they are threatening to finally destroy the European Settlements once and for all. Threatened with the loss of his home, he gathers his friends–a washed-up wizard and an arcane librarian–to travel across Amerika. His hope: find the source of the natives’ new power, gather an army of magical creatures, and destroy it… before it’s too late.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you enjoy it when it comes out! I’ve got a great cover–which you can see–and it’ll be available at the low, low price of $1.99! Right in time for you to use all those Amazon gift cards you got for Hanukkah. 🙂

When You’re Pressured to Read a Book

18 Nov

I am generally happy when I see my kids reading; they are very picky about what books they’re willing to tear into. However, my son feels the need to share what he feels passionate about. So after many prompting, he really wanted me to read Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. Quick review: this book was really not meant for me.

I really, REALLY want to be positive about other authors’ work; writing a novel is not easy. It’s especially difficult because my kids are dyslexic, so getting over the hump to actually read text is a lot harder for them than it is for me. However, I’m flipping through this big text, wide margin book and I’m immediately realizing that this is written for a pre-teen audience. Fair enough–my kids are 13 and 10, so check that box.

Let’s start with Sophie, our main character, a young pre-teen girl who finds the world too loud… because she can read minds. Okay, promising start. Then there’s mysterious people following her. Better. Then we reveal her true heritage and fast track to the alternate world. Gee, this sounds familiar, I tell myself. In this case, the elf world is in a different dimension, not in the same world as us, but elves can and do jump between Earth and Elfland… but they’re not supposed to.

There are folks that think that Sophie shouldn’t be in Elfland because… reasons. She can do things that elves aren’t supposed to do. There are those mysterious people trying to capture her because of what elves aren’t supposed to do. There’s political fights and mysteries, all of which could be really interesting, but our POV character doesn’t have a lot of time to figure those out, since she has to go school.

What? Sophie is immediately shoved into Firefox Academy, tells her its the best school for elves, and if she doesn’t pass her midterms, she’s going to get kicked out. My first thought is Why would Sophie care if she flunks? She’s not going to get kicked out of Elfland. She knows nothing about the world… and neither do we!

I guess if we’re going to match the appeal of Harry Potter, she has to go to a school. However, schools are a rather new invention in the modern world–only three hundred years old, and that’s stretching it. Rich brats used to be tutored at home, they only went to university at… well, roughly this age. Poor brats were also tutored at home, but boys usually apprenticed with an older man to learn a career. Women had to work around the home or the father’s business and eventually get married off.

Mercedes Lackey did this in her Collegium series; she even has to lampshade this by saying, “Well, we used to just have the herald-mages apprentice with a master, but the demand is too great, and there’s not enough masters around.” I enjoyed that series, but in that case, I thought the world-building was done better. In Elfland… eh, you’ve got this weird insta-wealth system, and you get very little sense of how the elf world works.

The plot was… okay. The story got about three stars–wasn’t amazing, wasn’t bad–and I even was forced to read the next in the series. Exile–which was better, but not much. Like I said, this book wasn’t for me. If you have a pre-teen, they’ll love it, because frankly… they won’t have read these tropes so many times before.

Did you find these books interesting? Do you find the kid in mystical college idea done to death? Let me know in the comments below!

Fantasy World Yelp Reviews

10 Oct

The Hissing Chef: 2 1/2 stars. Quaint, elf-run establishment, but turned off by the perpetual orc attacks.

Prancing Pony: 3 stars. Great beer, good entertainment. High pitched screaming by nazgul made it impossible to sleep.

So I woke up this morning with the weirdest thought – what if fantasy worlds had Yelp reviews?

Of course, it’s a silly idea – you don’t have the Internet in a D&D universe – but there are enough magical equivalents that could have a virtual bulletin board. However, once you leave the main cities, it’s not like the village of Broomfondle is going to have to many choices. You can go to the Boiling Leopard or you can sleep in the street. Gee.

So you only bother to have reviews when you have choices to make. The first restaurant reviews – Michelin – is a tire company. They made maps and reviews so that people would drive their fancy new cars and put more wear on their tires (so they could buy more tires). So you could drive from Paris to Caen and check out this “rustic interpretation of Norman cooking” without having to stay there.

Your intrepid band of adventurers doesn’t have this option. It took two days to get to Broomfondle. They’re hungry, they’re tired, they want a roof over their heads. So the Boiling Leopard is the place to go… the ONLY place to go.

Of course, I could extend this goofy metaphor to include dungeons, ruins, et al… but the point of these abandoned places is that “no one has journeyed there in a hundred years,” “No one ever returns from the Mines of Moria!” Well, then they’re not about to post: “Moria used to be a nice dwarven family establishment. Then they changed management. Goblins not friendly, rude service, had to run out of there. Will not go back.”

What you had instead was the wise woman of the village spreading rumors that she may have heard third hand from a passing bard. You know, what Facebook is today. 🙂 Actually, this shift in research really bit me in the butt once. One gets so used to Google searches that the time I played in a Call of Cthulhu game set in the 30’s, I forgot how to research! Thankfully, the game master took pity on me and suggested, “You remember reading something in this book…”

Have I beaten this metaphor enough? Have you been thinking we need to have more reviews or less reviews of things? Let me know in the comments below!

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