Magical Fantasy Stories, Both Light & Dark



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Keeping Your Writing Fears on a Leash -- Guest Blog by Helena Smole

Keeping Your Writing Fears on a Leash
Guest Blog by Helena Smole

    I have so many fears associated with writing that it would be really difficult for me to pick just one. Thus I decided to shortly depict each and every one of them. Writing is my greatest passion in life, although it had taken me a while to write my first book. It was at the age of 36 that I became a published author. I had felt the passion before, but had found every excuse not to write. Considering all the fears in my heart it was easy to find excuses.

   My first book ‘Balancing the Beast. A Bright View of Schizoaffective Disorder – Bipolar or Manic-Depressive Type’ is a first person account of my struggle with mental illness. The greatest fear while writing it was the fear of coming out of the closet with a stigmatized illness. I overcame this fear by meditation and great emotional support from my husband.

   When I started to write my first fiction book ‘Vivvy and Izzy the Dwarf: A series about relationships. Book 1: Out of the Forest and into the City. A Fantasy Novel’, I first thought it would be easy. On the contrary, there were new fears popping up. Firstly, I was afraid of writing something unlikely. While writing a fantasy novel one could easily be tricked into thinking that one can write anything, since it is fantasy anyway. Yet, in my opinion, one can quickly lose readers, if the plot is too illogical. I am trying to solve this problem by balancing the every-day reality with the careful inclusion of supernatural phenomena like wizards and dwarfs.

   Secondly, I am always afraid of disrupting the time sequence, like for example writing about the spring first and shortly after about the winter, while it should be the other way around. I worry a lot about it while writing, but I also dedicate one reading of the finished text solely to the time sequence.

   The worst fear, of course, is the fear of being uninteresting, or generally inadequate. It is the fear of having no readers. This can escalate into a paranoia, so for me the only way to keep it down is to meditate.

   One has to know something about fears though. If they are kept on a leash, they can be very useful, because they force us to try harder.

Author Bio:
Helena Smole

    Helena Smole abandoned her career as a scientific researcher and decided to dedicate her life to writing. In her first book, Balancing the Beast, she describes how she learned to maintain her mental health. She is a 40-year-old language specialist who managed to learn to live with schizoaffective disorder. She decided to write about mental illness because she believes that the most dangerous stigma is the one mental health consumers carry in their heads. Her mission is to make mental illness casual and thus help her co-patients rebuild their self-esteem. 

   After her first book, she continued by writing novels. In her novels she writes about relationships and, being aware of the hectic world we live in, she lets supernatural beings help couples make it through the rough patches. In a way, she is reviving the old tradition of fairy tales, only this time they are intended for grown-ups. She has also authored over 170 analytical blogs on maintaining one’s emotional and mental balance, which can be read at 

   Readers can contact Helena at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter. She also has some questions for you. Would you be interested in a fantasy novel with romance, where wizards and dwarfs help a couple make it through the rough patches? See more information. Readers can also contact her:

Book Blurb:
Vivvy and Izzy the Dwarf:
Out of the Forest into the City 
   Izzy the dwarf comes out of the forest and into the city to befriend Vivvy. Izzy proves to be a true friend and source of wisdom throughout the story, also by consulting Wizards. Later, they both move to Pond Town, where Vivvy meets Felix. What follows is a story of a couple who love each other truly, but face many obstacles in their relationship, just like any other couple. The difference is that in addition to couples therapy, they can also rely on dwarfs and fairies in a pinch. This fantasy novel about relationships will enrich you with human emotion viewed under a microscope.

         Readers can buy Vivvy and Izzy the Dwarf on  Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

Monday, June 29, 2015

When Writing About Magic -- What Genre Should You Call It?

    Magical systems are one of Mercedes Lackey's fortes. Every story I've read of hers has played with magic in some way. Her paranormal mystery, Sacred Ground, focuses on Native American shamanism. Lackey shows her fellow writers how they can involve their readers in different way of thinking without over-burdening them with factoids and mechanics. It's all in the description and the images the writer creates.

   I'll say upfront that I'm disgruntled that this book is a stand alone. I think Jennie Talldeer deserves at least a trilogy. I'm assuming that the sales figures didn't encouraged her publisher to print more than the additional novella I was able to find. [I soothed my irritation by buying one of Lackey's newer novels.]

   In Sacred Ground, the "real" world of shopping malls and corrupt contractors impinge on Native American shamanistic practices. And my little pea-brain started wondering about magical realism of the literary types since the book is roughly contemporary. So I looked up the term. Discovered you can call the Sacred Ground magical realism instead of fantasy.  Lackey has her storyline meshing a magical system with the mundane world. You can't get any closer to the mainline definition than that.

   Jenifer Talldeer is a complex character--a regular on the powwow circuit, a private investigator who has a project a professional Waspy veneer, and a powerful shaman in training whose progress is blocked in some mysterious way. Then, Talldeer discovers a shaman ancestor's grave has been desecrated plus an old lover, who she still has feelings for, shows up on her doorstep.

   Yeah. The storyline twists and turns through all the possibilities as she investigates arson at a construction site for an insurance company, a crime which has supernatural implications that could endanger the world. Lackey uses the possibilities to create a vivid set of interacting primary characters, all of which have back stories that make them break the normal thriller cliches. 

Recommended, especially if your are tired of the same old Celtic-based magic systems. Lackey gives you a refreshing magical alternative in Jennifer Talldeer and her teacher, who just happens to be her grandfather with his own interpretations of traditional magic. See an excerpt and more reviews on


   In the last couple months, I've received several emails telling me my books were so good, they should be entered in their award contest or displayed on their website. Did you catch the reason I did the fast-delete? I should enter my self-published "books". Well, I've only published short stories, some longer than others, but short reads none the less.

   If I wanted to enter my stuff for some award, I'd look up the fantasy contests at Writer's Digest or the Absolute Write Water Cooler. More, I'd look up what Writer's Beware would say. In fact, Victoria Strauss has been writing about contests recently. You might take a look. My guys aren't the only ones running dicey contests.

No. I didn't recognize the people she discusses.

My Writing Rut

    The story line of On the Run bumps along. I'm still revising chapters...adding 500 or more words to existing chapters as I change telling into scenes showing  feelings.

   The end result, I hope, is a series of better developed characters...including my mage dogs which reappear from Showdown at Crossings. Not the same dogs, but similar ones. Unfortunately, I have to kill a character for them to follow Pillar. Oh, well.

   My edits on Taking Vengeance are just about done. Would have finished them last week, but I goofed off. Hey, it's summer and I have to feed the mosquitoes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Solving My Greatest Writing Fears Over the Years

Solving My Greatest Writing Fears Over the Years


Robert Eggleton
Once upon a time, our forefathers earned calluses on their thumbs and index fingers to produce prospective masterpieces. In shaky script, some writings could not be deciphered, most were never read or even found, but a few manuscripts survived prehistory and beyond to influence international cultural developments.  Writing was very hard work, likely scorned by those who harvested grains, fruits, and hunted to feed their families, the black sheep of which were the “authors” – the equivalent of the “food stamp recipients” of their times. 

In graduate school, my greatest writing fear, almost to panic attack intensity, occurred when using a manual typewriter. My wife had bought one at Goodwill in 1970. It had a two inch drop before the letter key hit the paper. I was freaked out that I might place a paragraph out of order and have to restart the entire assignment at the beginning in order to correct my work. I used so much White Out, reportedly invented by Alice Cooper’s mother (the fake transgender rocker), that sometimes I would be too high to continue the assignment. 

In 1977, I got an electric typewriter as a Christmas present. It was also purchased at Goodwill, but had an auto-feed correction film, so I didn’t get high as often. My greatest writing fear that accommodated this new technology was replacement ribbon. Before a big school assignment, I had to triple check that I had replacement cartridges. They could only be bought at office supply shops that were closed on Sundays. I became so “paranoid” about being in the middle of an assignment and running out of film that I probably still have a couple cartridges stashed someplace in an overwhelmed drawer.

I was also afraid of computers when they were first introduced. I worked as an investigator for the WV Supreme Court. This job involved a lot of report writing. I felt too old to learn the technology. I was so afraid that, after printing a report, I would circle paragraphs and draw arrows for my secretary to relocate sections for the final drafts to be presented to my bosses. 

Today, my greatest writing fear concerns self-promotion. I’ve learned the basics of word processing, nothing fancy, own a computer, and participate in cyberspace. But, will I become so consumed with marketing that I neglect writing?  I’m also afraid that if I don’t market I might as well draw pictures on the walls of caves. Or, that after I die the manuscripts stuffed under my bed will become a trash pile in front of my house. Worse, I’m afraid that I might become tempted to write fan fiction instead of listening to my cross-genre heart. Self-promotion, for me, is a significant barrier to creativity and the possibility that I may not achieve a balance in activity level has become the greatest writing fear that I’ve ever faced. 

 Author Bio:
Robert Eggleton
Robert Eggleton is a retired children's psychotherapist with 45 years of professional experience, and 52 years of total contributions into America ’s Social Security fund. Over the years, dozens of his nonfiction works have been published – social services manuals, investigative reports, research, and statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency in West Virginia – most by the WV Supreme Court where he worked from 1983 through 1997.
In 2006, Eggleton turned to fiction.  The Lacy Dawn Adventure Project was born during an actual children’s group therapy session – a powerful, intelligent, and potent female protagonist who takes on the evils within the universe, starting with saving her own family first.  There she was – right in front of me, two seats from the head of the table where I facilitated group interactions, moderated true horror stories. Three short Lacy Dawn SF/F adventures have been published in magazines. Rarity from the Hollow, Eggleton’s debut novel, was released in 2012 by a small traditional press and is scheduled to be reprinted in July, 2015.  The sequel, Ivy, is ready for editing, and is expected to be released in a few months.  


Rarity from the Hollow

 Lacy Dawn pointed her nose up, gave a little twist of her not-yet-fully-developed-butt, and the hearts on her panties flashed.

“I want you to help me move,” DotCom said.

“Move where? That’s what Faith did. She moved. Then she flunked and now she’s dead,” she hyperventilated. “Why do you want to move any­way?”

Tears dripped onto her keyboard. Her monitor went black—a pro­grammed response to excessive moisture.

“I have a job to do,” he said.

“Job, job, job, job, job…,” she cried. “So many people have taken the Hillbilly Highway out of this hollow that there’s almost nobody left. They all went to Charlotte , wherever that is. Or, to Cleveland , wherever that is. Everybody’s moved to other places to take jobs and now you too.”

"I'll be back soon."

“Sure, that's what you say now. Grandma and Grandpa took that highway once. Grandpa went to TV school in Cleveland . That's where Mommy was born. I don’t think you ought to go because Grandma said it's full of big potholes. What if you fall into one? You might get hurt and not be able to make it back home. Grandma said they were lucky to make it back home alive.”

"I'll be careful."

“And what about your job right here? You told me that you'd help me fix my family. Just because Daddy don’t switch me as much, that don’t mean the job’s finished. He’s destroyed almost everything in the house that ain’t his.”

“My, ahh, my supervisor gave me a timeline for a project and, ahh, by Earth time tomorrow is the deadline. And, ahh, I, ahh, just a mo­ment please…. I want you to consider the option of going with me, Lacy Dawn.”

DotCom turned his back to her and wiped his first tear ever with the back of his wrist. He licked at his second with his tongue, but it escaped and hit the spaceship's floor. She noticed and wilted into her recliner…

Rarity in the Hollow can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Dog Horn Publishing.