Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest Blogger YA fantasy novelist Debra K. Dunlap

Please welcome Debra K. Dunlap, whose novel Rubyar on the Mountain is a YA fantasy, a genre I've never tried and believe must be especially challenging. Debra was kind enough to share her thoughts on developing the novel.

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Hello, Anne.  Thank you for the invitation to guest post on your entertaining and informative blog!

In discussing the inspiration for Rubyar on the Mountain, I confess that I did not spend hours struggling with a subject or searching for a storyline.  It simply came to me in its entirety in one flash.  Let me explain.

I live in a rural area in Wyoming.  Because local shopping is limited, I make frequent trips to a nearby town.  During the hour-long drive, rock and roll keeps me entertained.  One day, while driving and jamming to Led Zeppelin, the entire novel just popped into my mind, including the title.  How sweet is that?!

When I began writing my first novel several years ago, I vowed to finish my current work before beginning another.  Thus, these sudden flashes, such as the idea for Rubyar, often fade away before I’m ready to start a new project.  In this case, the opening scene proved so powerful that it remained with me during the time I wrote the second novel in my Magic in the America series.

The setting of the novel names no specific time or place, but I visualized a village in Wales as I wrote.  Since I’ve never visited Wales, I invented everything related to the setting.  However, I did scour the internet for pictures and information about Wales and Welsh names.  The following sites proved useful for names and definitions:

You mentioned that Rubyar contains elements of both realism and fantasy.  It seems to me that while the setting of a novel may be a fantastical or alien world, the inner struggles of a teenager abide.  Why me?  Why must I accept that responsibility?  Why can’t I do as I please? 

While most of us will not face situations as dramatic as Gwenllian’s dilemmas, the underlying choices remain the same.  Rubyar on the Mountain belongs in the fantasy genre, but it is also a coming-of-age story that I hope you will enjoy!

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Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? And what a nice way to have a novel fall from the sky!
You can purchase Rubyar on the Mountain at various locations, including MuseItUp, Amazon, and B&N.
You can visit Debra K. Dunlap at her website.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blogger Rosemary Morris

My guest today is Rosemary Morris, author of the historical romance novel, Tangled Love. It takes place during a fascinating period of British history, when issues of politics and religion were making the monarchy a very complicated institution indeed. Rosemary is here to explain it to us!

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While reading about the Stuart kings and queens I became interested in James II.

As I wrote in my Author’s Notes at the beginning of Tangled Love: - “When the outwardly Protestant Charles II died in 1685, he left a country torn by religious controversy but no legitimate children.  The throne passed to his Catholic brother James.

“It was an anxious time for the people, whose fears increased when Roman Catholic James II became so unpopular that he was forced into exile.  In 1688 James Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, became the new king and queen of England.

“Some English Protestants, who had sworn allegiance to James II, refused to take a new oath of allegiance to William and Mary and joined him in France.

“When James’ younger daughter, Anne, inherited the throne in 1702, many Protestant exiles returned to England.  Others declared themselves Jacobites, supporters of James II’s son, James III, by his second wife, Mary of Modena, and stayed abroad.  They believed James III should be king.”

Having assembled these facts I wondered what would happen to children whose parents supported James II.  I imagined a little girl left in England with her mother when her Protestant father’s honour demanded he did not swear allegiance to William and Mary during James II’s lifetime.  I also imagined a boy who accompanied his father to France for the same reason, and decided to set most of my novel in 1706 in Queen Anne’s reign by which time the children were adults.

Queen Anne reigned from 1702 to 1714.  During her reign the Duke of Marlborough won the war of Spanish Succession.  If he had not a French prince would have ascended the Spanish throne and France, in the reign of the Sun King, Louis IV, would have been the most powerful country in the world.   

The more I read the more interested I became in Queen Anne’s reign, a period in which international trade increased, which is not often the setting for historical novels. 

For many years the Duke of Marlborough’s wife, Sarah Churchill, was Princess Anne’s favourite before and after she became Queen.  However, this was the period when political parties began to evolve; political conflict coupled with Sarah’s arrogance ruined her relationship with the queen.

After studying the political and economic background to the era I studied the social history.  Amongst other things I wanted to know about the architecture, furniture, coffee houses, what people ate, what they wore, and how they behaved.

The more I researched the more fascinated I became. The result is Tangled Love, and another novel Tangled Lives, which I am revising.

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So excited that there's going to be a sequel, Rosemary!
You can visit Rosemary Morris at her website and blog.
You can purchase Tangled Love here or on Amazon, BN, Smashwords, and elsewhere.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Blogger Amy McCorkle

Any James Bond fans out there? Amy McCorkle's new story is Another Way to Die, a sexy, nail-biting thriller from MuseItUp Publishing. She kindly agreed to share some thoughts about the process of writing this story.

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Writing Another Way To Die wasn’t supposed to end in publication. That wasn’t the plan at all when I started it. I was putting together a screenplay and movie package and wanted something to do with my time while I waited for an actor to get back to me with an answer as to whether or not he would attach himself to that project and I needed something to keep me busy. And I wanted to write a James Bond story. More succinctly I wanted to fall in love with a character who looked suspiciously like Daniel Craig and voila, Daniel Logan was born.

Well, it wasn’t quite that simple. I thought I also wanted to tell a marathoning story. In the subsequent rewrites the only running involved were the chase sequences. And Daniel Logan turned out be the hero I fell in love with.

At the time I was reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. That, combined with my own personal experiences, and a dash of high drama the core of the heroine’s (Almira Sands) backstory was settled on. And while the story is gritty and dark there is a HFN* involved and there are plans to eventually create stories for Luke Logan and another character.

I love my cover, I hated the editing process, not my editor, but the process, and am hopeful I never lose that much of a story again. LOL.

*HFN is an ending in which the characters are “happy for now.” -AEJ

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Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? If you'd like to purchase Another Way to Die, click here.

Learn more about Amy McCorkle by visiting her website.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guest Blogger Angelia Almos

Today's guest, Angelia Almos, recently released a space opera, Spectors, and has written novels in other genres as well. She agreed to share her thoughts and wise advice about the tricky business of naming characters.

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One of my favorite and sometimes most frustrating tasks is naming characters. As an author we can add some extra meaning by choosing our characters names carefully.

When I first started writing I picked names I liked and didn’t think about ethnicity, history or the meaning of the name. I sometimes still do this. I’ve occasionally named a character after someone or someplace special. A character sometimes comes fully formed with a name and has no interest in me renaming him. While other times I might choose and discard several names before finally finding one that fits.

I used a combination of naming techniques for Spectors. The heroine – Kristy Ryan is named after my childhood horse, Kristy. The hero – Andrew came with his name from the beginning. The ship was always the Unicorn. I did a little research and playing around with names for the secondary characters and the places they travel to. I consciously decided to keep the character’s names Americanized despite it being a space opera. The more unusual names were reserved for non-human characters and the planets.  

I had a lot of fun naming my characters for The Beast’s Redemption a modern sexy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I started with the original fairy tale being French and went from there. Belle was the heroine’s name in not only the Disney version, but the original. I gave her the last name Beaumont because it sounded nice with Belle and is an old French surname meaning beautiful mountain or hill. The hero was more difficult. I tried and tossed out several names which didn’t fit until I found Alexander Leandre. Leandre is French and means lion-man; the hero is a mountain lion shapeshifter. Alexander matched Leandre and means defending men; the hero’s natural instinct is to protect and defend.

Baby name books/websites and census records can be a great tool, but my new favorite spot to figure out character names is 20,000 Names From Around the World It has a Special Categories section of the site making finding names with a particular meaning incredibly easy. This is how I figured out all of my character names for The Beast’s Redemption. For Unicorn Keep and my new Angie Derek short story, I needed several names meaning a particular color. I looked up color names through the Special Categories and was able to find all of their names in a very short amount of time.

Here are some of my tips and techniques for picking out character names. Understand your genre. Certain styles of names go with different genres. Fantasies and science fiction characters tend to have more unusual names than contemporaries. Do you want your character to have an odd name or a boy/girl next door name? What is your character’s ethnicity? Pick a name from that country or background. Does your character have something special about them? Pick a name reflecting that. Consider all of your character names. Do you want them to have similar names or contrasting names? Keeping track of beginning letters can be helpful in making sure you don’t have five character names starting with A unless you’re doing it on purpose.

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You can learn more about Angelia Almos at her websites and
You can purchase Spectors here.