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Sep. 14th, 2011

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Today I'm Interviewed Over on YAFANTASYGUIDE!


Today, I'm guesting over at YA Fantasy Guide, where I discuss books, writing, and where I find inspiration!

Sep. 12th, 2011

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It's Seven Realms Week at Emily's Reading Room!


Emily is collaborating with the Provo City Library  to sponsor contests and events to celebrate my upcoming appearance at the library Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Download avatars and show your support for your favorite warring faction in the Fells—the wizards, the clans, or the queen’s guard. 



They will be giving away TWO signed sets of the Seven Realms books.
Want details? Get them at Emily's Reading Room.

Sep. 11th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Post 9/11: First Night Akron 2011


The bubble machine on the stage spun out clouds of bubbles that descended gently on the crowd. And the bubbles were actually freezing in the breathless cold. They would break, and collapse, but spiral down, like deflated balloons of spun sugar, to be collected on the palm and shrivel and disappear at the touch of a warm breath. By now, the strollers were gone, but school-age children who were up too late were laughing and chasing after them, and twirling to make themselves dizzy, and feeling like they were getting away with something. We all, all were getting away with something on that night.
At New Year’s my Cleveland area family joined the First Night celebration in Akron, one of many held around the country. There was a question as to whether people would actually turn out to greet the new year, given the terrible events so fresh and present in our common mind. It was a time for people to hide in their houses, to stay close by the hearth and bar the door against the terror outside. Yet we went out among the hardy people who braved the cold darkness, and the late hour, and anthrax, and car bombs and the memory of September 11 to gather together to welcome in a new year.
There were venues all over downtown, with music, and dance, and drama, and storytelling, ice sculpture and juggling and magic. The four of us walked and rode busses, joined the crowds collecting on the corners and the bus stops. People were swathed in hoods and scarves and parkas and gloves, babies riding around in little bubbles, their strollers covered over with plastic to keep out the cold. Music and light spilled from doorways into the night. We saw a blues band, and an Irish folk band, and sandcastle builders, Fret Daddies with flying fingers and other builders of dreams.
Men walked around with crowns of balloons on their heads, and women with illuminated roses in their hands, and people of both sexes and all ages with necklaces and bracelets and wands of light, blowing horns and generally making noise.
Towards the end of the evening we arrived at E.J. Thomas Hall and climbed the long, winding staircases in time to hear the University of Akron steel drum band play Auld Lang Zyne, a world music commemoration of things passing away. And, finally, close to midnight, we walked down to Canal Park, where fireworks were to be launched. The time and the countdown were displayed one wall of the stadium. We looked up at the time and temperature sign on the Beacon Journal, and it was 12 degrees, and then 11, doing a frigid countdown of its own. Music blasted from the amplifiers, and I swayed to the music and sang old rock and roll songs and embarrassed my children, which is a parent’s privilege and only revenge.
There were politicians and speeches. Akron congratulated itself for buying fire trucks and ambulances for the New York City Fire Department. More money raised per capita than any other city, the speakers announced, and the crowd cheered.
It is easy to understand why the Druids built bonfires to their gods in the cold, dark midwinter, despairing that the sun has gone and will never come again. For I despair also, when the lighted space of days is measured in just a few hours, and the night is a long mystery. That is when the cold leaks into bones and souls and the demons crowd around, just outside the circle of firelight. The ground is brittle and breaking underfoot, frozen ash, and it is beyond imagination that life and hope could push through it once more. It is then that we need the Midwinter revels.
I am not a sucker for the forced and desperate merriment of New Year’s Eve, or forced and desperate patriotism, but I am easily seduced by magic, and it was a magical night.
And we counted down together, and the light show began, shimmering showers of silver and gold and red and green and blue, lop sided and symmetrical, whistling rockets and Roman candles, a meteor shower to end the year. We thrust our collective fists of light into the winter darkness. The light will come again. We are not afraid of the dark, we shouted. We are not afraid.

Sep. 9th, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Meet Me at the Elyria Public Library Saturday September 10 (Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow (Saturday) I'll be at the Elyria Public Library West River
Branch for a presentation, book sale, and signing. Hope you can come
out.

Elyria Public Library West River Branch
Magic on the Page: Writing Young Adult Fantasy
Saturday, September 10, 1 p.m.
1194 West River Rd.
North Elyria, Ohio 44035
440-324-2270
http://www.elyria.lib.oh.us/locations.html

Sep. 7th, 2011

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Out in the Blogosphere!

@Your Library (the campaign for libraries) has posted my op-ed piece on the value of libraries here.

The awesome Cindy Pon has interviewed me over at The Enchanted Inkpot here
Today I’m also guest  posting over at GreenBeanTeenQueen on the topic of Magic! Here's a taste!
Magic 101
Magic is the element that distinguishes fantasy from other types of fiction. But what is magic? And how much of it do you need to call your work a fantasy? What are the keys to developing a coherent magical system of your own?

First and foremost, remember that there are more similarities than differences between fantasy fiction and other genres. Successful fantasy fiction has to nail the other elements common to fiction—character, setting, and plot. It doesn’t matter how spectacular your magical fireworks—they won’t save a lame story starring one-dimensional characters. Well-written fantasy should be accessible even to those who don’t generally seek it out.

Magic is a term used for the supernatural—events and beings outside of natural law as we understand it. As far as we know, people cannot turn invisible (though I understand they’re working on that.) As far as we know, people cannot fly without benefit of airplanes, helicopters, and the like. As far as we know, people cannot predict the future.

A well-conceived magical system will enhance your story and provide endless options for complicating your characters’ lives. A poorly-conceived system will give you fits through the entire story arc and cause readers to lose confidence. So it makes sense to take some time and do it right up front.

Questions to Consider in Magical Worldbuilding
Read the rest here!
Cover, Enchanter Heir

Dragon*Con!

Dragon*Con 2011 is over—but the memories will linger for a long, long time.
For the uninitiated, Dragon*Con is a kind of Mardis Gras for creatives, geeks, gamers, role players, artists, writers, musicians, costumers, bikers, and other misfits. Every Labor Day weekend, a counter-cultural tidal wave rolls over downtown Atlanta and it’s get on the bus or get out of the way.
This was the 25th Anniversary of Dragon*Con—but my first visit. Last Labor Day weekend, I was in the Atlanta area for the Decatur Bookfest, and I kept hearing rumors about what was going down in the city. I talked to a couple of writers who were doing both events. And I thought—hmm. Would I fit in there? Would Dragon*Con be a good gig for me?
And so I completed an extensive online form and qualified to be a guest of the con. I managed to get a room at the Sheraton—one of the headquarters hotels. I wanted to make the most of my visit, and so I volunteered for several fan tracks—the Writer’s Track, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Track, and the YA Lit track.
Be careful what you wish for. I ended up on 6 panels, with a reading and signing to boot. As my agent said, “Have fun working like a farm animal.”
My first glimpse of the Dragon hordes was outside the Sheraton hotel, where a line snaked miles down the street in the Atlanta heat—waiting for registration. There was a line like that at each and every headquarters hotel.
In the entrance of the hotel, I met Arkeda, a World of Warcraft character, who gave me a quest. When I fulfilled it, she gave me silver and a heartstone—to lead me back home. I palmed the heartstone, glad I had a talisman in case I lost my way. 

Most of the action took place in a trio of hotels connected by walkway umbilical cords—the Hyatt, the Marriott, and the Hilton. Hotel lobbies and common areas became stages on which costumed performers flaunted their brilliant plumage.
It’s all about context. There were so few “civilians” that before long those of us who were out of costume began to wish for the anonymity of headgear. As my son said, “For the first time in my life I felt like I wasn’t nerdy enough.”
I encountered a middle-aged couple in the corridor of the hotel. “Are you one of those ‘dragon people’?” they asked nervously.
“Yes, I am,” I said.
My son met me there, to help me schlep books around, and to be my guide to popular culture.
Here are a few photos from around the con.
And here are some of my panels.

            

            
 We went to the dealer’s room, where there were more than seven booths selling corsets! No wonder every other person had one on—even some of the men.

Ah, Dragon*Con—the place where highly diverse people can find their posses.

Sep. 2nd, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

The Seven Realms Book Trailer!!

Right here, right now!! The awesome Seven Realms trailer featuring original music by James Rotondi. Hope you love it as much as I do! View it here

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Are You an Ohio Teen? Vote for Your Favorite Book at www.bcbookaward.info/teens

Five awesome books have been nominated for the Buckeye Book Award, including The Exiled Queen!!!
This award is unique, because the award winner is nominated and then chosen by teens themselves.  To vote, ask your language arts teacher or librarian how to vote in class or go to the Buckeye Teen Book Award Website from September 1 to November 10!


Vote For Your Favorite NOW at

Sep. 1st, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Worldbuilding--It's More Than A Map

Today I'm guest blogging over at The Story Siren. on the topic of World Building.

The term “worldbuilding” is often associated with fantasy fiction,
because fantasy writers have so many options when it comes to setting.

Yet all novelists engage in worldbuilding, even for stories set in the
so-called “real world.” My Heir Chronicles contemporary fantasy series
is set in Ohio. Yes, there’s less ‘splainin’ to do about a contemporary
Midwestern world, but I can’t assume that all of my readers have been
here. And even if they have, it’s detail and specificity that will bring
them back.

Also accuracy. If you get something wrong in a real-world setting, you
will receive emails. Any reader who spots an error will be thrown
completely out of the story and spend the rest of the book looking for
the next mistake. Whether you write contemporary real-world fiction or
epic fantasy, the reader must have confidence that you know what you’re
doing.

Although I’ve been to most of the settings used in The Heir Chronicles, I
still spent time researching so I could get it right. In one of the
scenes in The Warrior Heir, the warrior Jack Swift and his Aunt Linda
take refuge in St. Margaret’s Church, a real church next to Westminster
Abbey in London. I’ve been to St. Margaret’s, but I couldn’t remember
whether or not there were pews in there. I spent considerable time on
the church website and travel sites, trying to find an interior view of
the church.

World-building goes beyond landscape to social and cultural elements.
Seph McCauley, one of the characters in The Wizard Heir, is Catholic. I
don’t happen to be Catholic, so I did some fact-checking with my
Catholic friends.
By now, you’re saying to yourself, “Maybe I’ll write high fantasy set
in a made-up world. I won’t have to do any research and I won’t get any
emails.”

Sorry, but no. Epic fantasy writers have to work much harder to put the
reader in a world they’ve never been to and entice them to stay. It’s
even more challenging because, like as not, the writer has never been
there, either. The old adage, “Write what you know,” doesn’t work here.
Or does it? How do you go about creating a world that the reader believes in? You mingle the familiar and the fantastic.
Now coast on over to The Story Siren to read the rest!

Aug. 31st, 2011

Cover, Enchanter Heir

Interview on WCPN Radio

I was invited to do an interview about The Gray Wolf Throne and other
things on Around Noon, a local arts and culture program on WCPN radio.

 Here I am, ready for the broadcast!




















And here I am with Dan Paoletta, the host of the show.



















If you'd like to listen, you'll find the on-demand show here.

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