Monday, May 30, 2016

What Places Have Inspired You?

Happy Memorial Day!

I enjoy learning about history and using it to give my worlds some depth. I've gotten into doing tours. In October, I did a walking tour of haunted spots in New York. The city is far more haunted than I expected.

Last week, I did a trolley tour of Green-Wood Cemetery. If you follow this blog, you'll know how much I love that cemetery. You can feel the history. It has some old graves. Many of the tombstones and mausoleums are works of art. 

What places inspire you? 

To see more pics, visit my Facebook Page

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Week in Links 5/27/16: Captain America, Thor, Beauty and the Beast

Emma Watson Is Here to Save Us All in the First Teaser for Disney’s Live-Action Beauty and the Beast

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
Is Your Story Stuck? 5 Questions You Need to Ask
5 Great Things to do in Writing for 2016
Behaving Badly in Publishing
Character Development Is a Two-Edged Sword
Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 5/27 and next Friday, 6/3. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Moorigad: Complete Age of the Hybrid Series by Debra Kristi

Title: Moorigad: Complete Age of the Hybrid Series
Author:Debra Kristi
Genre: Paranormal/Romance/Fantasy

When Kyra, the Moorigad dragon-shifter, unwittingly finds herself at Mystic’s Carnival, a supernatural world between realms, she believes her runaway days are finished. Amidst the carnies and never-ending magic, she finds a home of the heart – friends and belonging among a gathering of paranormal beings. However, living an uncomplicated life was never one of Kyra’s strengths.

She’s falling for her all-too-secretive best friend, Sebastian. And as she delves deeper into his mysteries, her goodwill sabotages their future and her very existence.

What did Kyra do?

Can Kyra and Sebastian find their happily-ever-after?

In this action-packed, fantasy romance about two coming-of-age would-be lovers, Kyra and Sebastian’s union and strength of character will be put to the ultimate test. The stakes? Everything and everyone that ever mattered to them

*Now you can get the complete story with all three books-in-one, including additional chapters.

A flash snapped near her right ear, and she turned to see what it was. Another flash to the left. Tiny flashes everywhere, like lightning bugs exploding. She jerked her head and jumped.

Sebastian tightened his hold on her hand. “Don’t worry. You’ve been through this many times. It’s Mystic’s―the carnival. She’s getting ready to change.”

Kyra paused and stared at him, a wrinkle in her forehead. “What do you mean, change?”

“You’re about to find out.” He pulled her closer, wrapping his arm around her waist. Studied her with concern brewing in his dark, sultry eyes. “How are you dealing with the knowledge that you’re a dragon shifter?”

"I don’t know. I feel like it should bother me, and yet…” She paused, peered down at her hand and flexed it. She could almost see it morphing into something scaly with wicked-long nails. Damn, she had a wild imagination. She squinted back toward the flashing lights of the rides. “It’s almost like that’s what’s wrong here. I’m supposed to be a dragon, but I’m not.” She glanced at him. “Does that make sense?”

“In your amusing Kyra-speak, it sorta does.” He rubbed her arm. “I don’t want to alarm you, but this place is full of things of a supernatural nature. Like dragons, but not like dragons at all. Does that make sense?”

Kyra’s lips twisted to the side, and she thought about what he’d said for a moment. “I guess it does. Like you?” she asked. “You’re not a dragon.”

“No, I’m not. Your parents made that abundantly clear.”

The metallic smell grew stronger, and the flashing increased.

“She’s working slow today. Must be giving you a chance to acclimate.”
“Who?” Kyra asked.

“The carnival,” Sebastian said. “Like your people are dragons, and I am not, the carnival is an entity all her own. A rather interesting being, at that.” He admired their surroundings, giving pause to his commentary. “She will move us visitors around the landscape of her domain as she deems necessary. You used to tell me it was a fun challenge, making your way from one place to another when Mystic’s wanted you to go someplace else.” He laughed.

“I bet,” Kyra said, and then everything around them spun in a whirlwind of flashing lights. Kyra stumbled. Sebastian caught her. When the world was once again calm, they were standing in front of the carousel.

“And here we are. Exactly where we need to be. Guess she’s feeling helpful.” Following Talia, Sebastian led Kyra to the ride’s entrance.

Live in reality. Play on the other side.

Debra Kristi is a paranormal and fantasy writer. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children and and three schizophrenic cats. She’s a full-time kid chaser, video game maker's wife, and muse prompted writer. Unlike the characters she often writes, she is not immortal and her only super power is letting the dishes and laundry pile up. When not writing, Debra is hanging out creating priceless memories with her family, geeking out to science fiction and fantasy television, and tossing around movie quotes.

“She writes because the dead girl told her to.”

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Naming Your Fantasy World (Infographic)

Need help naming towns, lands, characters...your world? Here's an infographic.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Week in Links 5/20/16: Star Trek, Hashtags for Authors, DC

Book Marketing and Branding
45 Twitter Hashtags for Authors
Starting an Email Newsletter: Why to Do It and Which Service to Use
Infographics Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Miranda and Calibanby Jacqueline Carey
5 Tech-Enhanced Sci-Fi Sports
Check Out the New Star Trek Teaser Trailer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Evolution of a Fantasy Map

With The Lost Sciell's, Book 3 of The Merging Worlds series, release date this summer, I've been designing images. Those who subscribe to my newsletter got a first look at some cover designs.

I'm in the process of updating the maps. Let's take a look at how they've evolved over this series. I won't be changing the world map much so let's begin with that.

I started with this sketch then realized some of the land placements didn't fit in with the story. For instance, Jael gets cold, like really cold, during the winter. It needed to be farther north.

It turned into this:

And this:

See the individual land designs HERE

Jael's map history is a bit more complicated. It evolved a lot. The world is in the middle of an apocalypse. The entire series takes place on Jael.

The United States was my inspiration. At first, I took that literally.

Then I learned more about map making and changed the land's shape.

Here's the map for Book 1, The Sciell.

And this:

Not bad. I still had a lot to learn about map making.

Since Book 2, Chains of the Sciell, mentioned more places, I needed to update the map. Also, I was still researching map making and wanted use what I learned.

I like this a lot better.

Now, I'm changing it again for Book 3. More villages need to be added while other places need to be taken off. The biggest problem I've been having, besides the color and texture, is making the village names clear while ensuring the font size reflects the actual size of the location.

And I just realized one village name is missing: Heaven's Terrance. The characters never go there but it's mentioned.

Book 3's map isn't finished yet. It's better than where it started:

But there's still something off about it. I think the forest lines are too straight. I'm letting it simmer while I think over the design. I'm still learning about map making.

Now it's your turn. Got a map sketch or finished design you want to share. Comment with the link.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fantasy Sword Design

Since I have the time now (sort of), I want to stretch my design muscles--make something purely for fun. Designing, like writing, is therapeutic. I can get in the zone and won't come up for air until I'm so tired I can't see straight. I'll be working with the fantasy classics-- swords, wings and dragons--pulling pieces from different images to create something new. Here's what I've done so far.

Meet Nyda Hal-- the Shadow Trapper. It summons the black dragon who controls darkness and death. The blade can vanquish demons and open the door to the underworld.

I pulled inspiration from Pinterest- collecting fantasy sword artwork onto a board.

If you had a fantasy sword, what would be its name and ability? 

Need some inspiration. Head over to Seventh Sanctum for their world building generators. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Week in Links 5/13/16: Agent Carter, Horror Holidays, Skydiving Quidditch

Extract from Mark Lawrence's THE WHEEL OF OSHEIM
The Importance of Simplicity in Photography

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 5/13 and next Friday, 5/20. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

A chill crept down Gwen’s spine, and her eyes could not refocus fast enough. She clutched fistfuls of Rosemary’s quilt, instinctively preparing to throw herself under it if there was a monster lurking in the dark. Gwen wasn’t afraid in the normal sense of the term, but her heart raced as she noticed the boy sitting on the rocking chair in the corner of the room.

The chair rocked with a squeak as he stood up from it. Walking slowly toward the window, he came into view as he entered the moonlight. He stared at Gwen, and she stared back.

His eyes were steady in their intensity, but impish in all other manners. They impulsively surveyed the room, never lingering on any particular aspect of it, but always coming back to Gwen. A vine of ivy was wrapped around his waist and strewn across his shoulder like a belt and sash, just barely holding his tattered shirt and shorts to him. His clothes seemed held together with bits of twine and magic. He moved fluidly in his own skin. Gwen wasn’t even conscious of how much she envied his playful motion. Even with his gangly, broad shoulders, he stood tall with a childish sense of confidence.

Gwen wasn’t sure, but he looked like a freshman. He couldn’t have been younger than fourteen.

He wore hemp bracelets and braided jewelry around his wrists; pine-cone chips and wooden beads were woven into his necklace. They jangled as he walked.

“This is your sister?” he asked, his question seemed rudely incredulous. “Hollyhock, let me see her.”

Before Gwen could make sense of this remark, an exploding light burst from an inexplicable place in the darkness. Gwen was disoriented when the light came so quickly at her. Circling up around her, the golden light left a trail of fast dissolving glitter that rained down on her. What little of it touched her glowed faintly on her skin before disappearing. It felt like a pins-and-needles numbness in the best possible way.

The bright light that radiated from Hollyhock’s little body half-blinded Gwen in the otherwise dark room, but Hollyhock flitted in front of her, and Gwen caught a glimpse of the creature. Her eyes were unusually wide, and her massive irises were an otherworldly color for which Gwen had no name. Her itty-bitty lips and nose were hardly there at all, but her sunny hair was pulled back in two long, dangling braids. Her limbs were like twigs, and she wore a leaf draped over her like a tunic. Gwen didn’t need to be told that she was looking at a fairy.

“Huh,” he responded, sitting down on the hardwood floor of Rosemary’s room. “You said your sister was a kid.”

“She is, Peter!” Rosemary defended. “I told you—she’s a big kid.”

Finally addressing her properly, Peter spoke to Gwen in a condescending tone. “I expected you to be younger.”

“As did I of you,” Gwen curtly returned.

Peter, the young man, shrugged with his eyebrows and looked away, indicating that he was not going to bother engaging a hostile girl.

Gwen didn’t care. She couldn’t have cared. While Hollyhock played in the fish mobile above the bed like an aquatic merry-go-round, Gwen clutched Rosemary close to her. “Rosemary, we were so worried! Thank God you came back.”

“I had to come back, Gwenny,” Rosemary told her. “I had to come back for you.” Hollyhock, tiring of the mobile, zipped back down and buried herself in Rosemary’s hair, poking her head out of it and trying to part it like curtains. Rosemary giggled, taking Gwen’s hand. “Let’s go.”

“Whoa, wait, no.” Gwen grabbed hold of Rosemary’s arm. “We’re not going anywhere. Mom and Dad are worried about you. The cops were here… You can’t go—where?”

Hollyhock, on Rosemary’s shoulder, said something that sounded like a sneeze and a hum. Rosemary translated the one word she had already learned in the fairy tongue. “Neverland.”

Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Killing Your Characters

This post is very morbid but this has been on my mind. Once again, I reached a point in my series where characters are dying. I'm having a difficult time going through The Lost Sciell. I killed off one character only to go to the next chapter and kill two more. This is right after a string of bad things happened to the characters.

Last week, I needed to take a step back from writing. One scene hit me harder than I expected.  I've been avoiding this section of my story because I knew editing these chapters was going to be difficult.

It's funny. When I first started writing, I thought to myself, I'd never kill a character. I'd make them go through some stuff but no one would ever die. The stories had different ideas.

Since I don't outline, I usually don't go into a story thinking this character is going to die. It's more like, I'm writing a scene and the character is in danger. As the scene unfolds, I realize this character isn't going to make it. Then I take a step back and mull it over for a day.

I've been struggling with one character's death, lately. Some of you know this, The Merging Worlds Series started out as 3 stand alone books that I  molded together to make them into a series. Before the books became a series, one character was dead before the story began.

But as I was reworking the time line to merge the 3 novels, I realized this character needed to be alive during a good part of the series. I decided they'd die later. Now, as I'm going through the story, I'm liking this character way more than I expected. I've been trying to figure out a way to save them. I can't. For the sake of the plot, this character has to go. It's breaking my heart.

My goodness, even writing this post is getting me emotional. It's not easy or enjoyable (at least for me) killing off a character. So why would you do it?

Here's a useful infographic from K.M. Weiland

I generally stay away from killing off main characters, mostly because my heart can't take it. I also worry about turning off readers. My stories are dark enough. It's rare for me to keep reading a series after a main character dies. Remember: write what you want to read.

Reasons and Methods of Killing Characters—And One Reason Not To
Have you killed a character? Has there been a character's death that was tougher to write than you expected?

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Week in Links 5/6/16: Goodreads Ebook Giveaways, J.K. Rowling, Audio for Authors

Social Media Visuals: How to Easily Create Visuals Without a Designer
How to Profile Your Ideal Reader with (Perfectly Legal) Surveillance
How to Create Social Media Videos on a Budget

JOE HILL (Locke & Key, Horns) will appear at the Strand Book Store in NYC on Wednesday, May 18th at 7:00 PM! RSVP on Facebook
JK Rowling apologises for killing off Remus Lupin in Harry Potter
A Landscape Photography Tutorial (from a Portrait Photographer Trying Something New)

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 5/6 and next Friday, 5/13. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Gideon and the Crimson Samurai by R.L. Baxter

Win a PDF copy of Gideon and the Crimson Samurai and a PDF of another released title. Enter at the bottom on this post.

Title: Gideon and the Crimson Samurai
Author: R.L. Baxter
Genre: Fantasy / Adventure

Gideon Joust is your average twelve-year-old boy, with all the growing insecurities one would expect, following the mysterious disappearance of his father. On one fateful day, the boy’s world is turned upside down – leading to a chance encounter with a brash child warrior: Kibishi the Crimson Samurai.

After short moments, the archer and samurai sit by the stream, looking out over the dull sunset. They remain quiet - Kibishi looking troubled, while Albion smiles evermore.

Kibishi: I still stand by what I said. We will part ways once we reach Valero. I cannot allow Gideon to follow me any further. He'll only end up dead.

Albion: I understand. However do you still stand by the other thing you said? The thing about: “Whoever said you and I were friends?” You didn’t honestly mean that – did you?

Kibishi: No... I didn’t mean that. I just don’t want Gideon to trust in me – that’s all.

Albion: And why would you not want somebody to trust you? Friendship is based on trust after all?

Taking a moment to think about his reply, Kibishi bites his lips together while Albion awaits his answer.

Kibishi: When you trust someone... you expect much from that person. You rely on them and look to them for help. I am not capable of doing any of those things, hence why I am not suitable to be Gideon’s friend. If something ever happened to him, I would never forgive myself.

Albion: Hahaha, you and Gideon are so similar. You both are burdened with this cloud of doubt and self-pity. However, if there is one thing that I would criticize about your friendship, it’s that you both assume Gideon to be weak when he is in fact more capable than anyone here.

With a suspicious expression, Kibishi glares upon Albion for many moments.

Kibishi: What are you trying to say?

Albion: Come now, Crimson samurai. You mean to tell me that the thought did not cross your mind, at least once? Gideon is the son of the famous “Miracle Gunman”. Why are you treating him as a weak comrade? That is not a good sign of a friend. Real friends

Ricky Baxter is the author of Gideon and the Crimson Samurai and a collection of short Novellas such as: Mother Gaia, A Sinless Horizon and The Worst Death. He is an avid blogger and speaker, giving advice and thoughts to fellow creators from all walks of life. Currently he lives in London England where he writes and blogs.

Win a PDF copy of Gideon and the Crimson Samurai and a PDF of another released title.

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