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March MadnessThe Clean Indie Reads March Madness Sale is still going on and two of my books are in it. Check it out, not just for my books. There are a lot of great flinch-free reads on sale. And check out the other blogs on the blog hop, too. Here.

Don’t forget the giveaway of many of the books in the hop–including The Bard’s Gift. Enter that here. It’s enough flinch-free books to keep you reading for months.

So, here’s a little bit about the world building in these two books.


Fire and Earth:

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Though raised as a fearless, faceless warrior, Casora couldn’t stop her homeland’s invasion. Bullied, hapless princeling Tiaran can’t escape his political doom. When they join forces on the battlefield they’ll rock the foundations of kingdoms.

As is usual for me, the world building for Fire and Earth is an accumulation of many things. The idea for the Deathless, Casora’s band of warriors-turned-mercenaries came from Herodotus’s (possibly inaccurate) description of the elite Persian forces at the battle of Thermopylae. “The Immortals”, as he described them, always numbered 10,000 because killed or injured Immortals were simply replaced. Also according to Herodotus, their headdress included a face-covering cloth (possibly meant to keep out dust or wind). And so, the idea for an elite force of constant numbers–therefore “Deathless”–with face plates on their helmets that prevented any individual from being recognized by outsiders.

Their enemies, the Yriri, were based on the various hordes, like the Huns, who invaded Europe during the Dark Ages.  I wanted the Yriri armor to be different from that worn by the Deathless and their allies, so I based that on certain Oriental types of chain mail, which fastened in the front, like a jacket.


and The Bard’s Gift:

TheBardsGiftCoverSmall

Astrid is too shy to even talk to the boy she likes, so naturally she’s the one the Norse gods choose to lead a bunch of stubborn Norsemen–using just stories to inspire them.

Since The Bard’s Gift is a historical fantasy, the world building consisted mostly of research.

Probably the most surprising thing I found in that research was the Greenland shark.

The Greenland shark lives farther north than any other shark species. They are comparable in size to the great white shark, averaging ten to sixteen feet in length and up to 900 pounds. They can grow as large as 21 feet and over 2,000 pounds. Usually only found near the surface only during the winter, they are otherwise denizens of the deep. They have been found with parts of polar bears in their stomachs.

The flesh of the Greenland shark is poisonous, but the hardy Icelanders (and presumably the Greenlanders), had a way of leaching the poison out. Of course, it still smelled overpoweringly of ammonia, even then.

That was way too good a monster not to find it’s way into the story.

There were also mythological sea monsters, like hafgufa.

Translated as “sea mist” or “sea reek”, hafgufa was a sea monster of the Greenland Sea between Greenland and Iceland. Hafgufa was supposed to lie on the surface to feed. The stench of its belch drew in fish, which the hafgufa would then consume, along with anything else in the vicinity, including ships. Only Orvar-Odd had ever escaped, because he knew the beast rose and submerged with the turn of the tides and was able to get his ship out of range just in time.

Hafgufa was usually seen as only a pair of rocks said to be the beast’s nose. Sometimes hafgufa was equated with the kraken. Others attribute the stories of hafgufa to underwater volcanic activity and the release of methane gas.

And that’s not even getting to Thunderbird. See my post about that, here.

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March MadnessTwo of my books are part of the Clean Indie Reads March Madness Sale this week. Check it out, not just for my books. There are a lot of great reads on sale. And check out the other blogs on the blog hop, too. Here.

There’s also a giveaway of several of the books in the hop–including The Bard’s Gift. Enter that here.


Fire and Earth:

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Though raised as a fearless, faceless warrior, Casora couldn’t stop her homeland’s invasion. Bullied, hapless princeling Tiaran can’t escape his political doom. When they join forces on the battlefield they’ll rock the foundations of kingdoms.

Chapter 1: Berserk

Casora restrained the impulse to get up and pace across the floor of the command tent. She couldn’t show emotion, not even frustration, in front of her troops, but the continued silence from home was troubling. She reached up to rub the little scar above her right eyebrow.

She glanced up at the mountains visible through the open tent flap. The snow crept lower every day and so did her hopes of a recall order to let the troop over-winter at home. Casora dreaded the prospect of a winter stuck in camp with a troop made up entirely of homesick teenagers–every one of them carrying the potential of the berserker curse. Time to start planning a lot of training exercises.

“Riders coming!” The shout came from the lookout to the east, toward home. After a pause, the lookout added, “Two of them.”

Only two riders? She’d sent three out.

Casora walked to the front of the tent and cursed under her breath. They were her scouts all right, but whatever orders they brought had better be end-of-the-world urgent. There was no other excuse for abusing the horses like that. Then she realized that Varana’s braid was redder than it should be–blood red. Casora took off running. So did others from all parts of the camp. Varana fell off the winded mare just as Casora reached her.

“Report,” she said, but more quietly than her usual command voice.

“Stumbled into a scouting party just inside the pass. Ambushed.”

Ravan ran up with a water skin and Casora held it so Varana could drink. “What happened?” She handed the skin back to Ravan and nodded towards the other scout.

“Ledan was out in front. Went down with the first volley. We tried to get to a defensible position. There were too many. Had to run. Bring word back here.”

Casora rocked back on her heels. “What about . . .” She paused to swallow and steady her voice. “What about home?”

“Smelled the smoke even before we got to the pass. Whole valley’s burning. Even from that high up, we could see the Yriri crawling all over the valley in their black armor, like ants on a corpse. There’s nothing left.”

Casora looked down at her empty palms. Her chest was too constricted to breathe. Astraea invaded? It wasn’t possible. Even the Deathless, really only warriors in training, had never been defeated. How could Astraea have been conquered?

The roar of angry voices around her snapped Casora back to her duty. She had to get them occupied with something and quick. She gripped the hilt of her sword. Anger, especially, was the enemy of the Cursed. Not something they could be allowed to engage in for long. Her eye lit on one of the greenest recruits, looking young and frightened. “You, see the wounded to the medicine tent. Look after them.”

Casora scanned the other faces around her. Orders wouldn’t come from home, so the decision was up to her. If Astraea was under attack, there was only one place where the Deathless should be and it wasn’t sitting uselessly in camp all winter. “Ravan, organize the band. We’ll need the horses and gear readied. Break down the camp. I want everything packed up and ready to move by dawn day after tomorrow.” She looked at the stunned faces around her. “Get a move on. The Deathless are needed at home.”

At that, the band broke into excited units, scattering to their various tasks. Casora breathed a sigh of relief. She felt Varana shaking her head against Casora’s supporting arm. Varana had more recent intelligence. Casora looked down to her friend’s face. “What is it?”

Varana’s answer was low enough that not many beside Casora heard it. “You didn’t see how many of those black-armored devils there are. Even the full band won’t be enough. That army could crush us like you or I would swat a fly. All we’d do is get ourselves killed, too.” Varana turned her head back toward the mountains. “Besides, the snow followed us down the mountain. It’s the only reason we got away from them. No one’s going into or out of Astraea until spring.”


and The Bard’s Gift:

TheBardsGiftCoverSmall

Astrid is too shy to even talk to the boy she likes, so naturally she’s the one the Norse gods choose to lead a bunch of stubborn Norsemen–using just stories to inspire them.

Chapter 1: Starvation

Astrid leaned into the freezing wind, staggering down the beach hunting for driftwood to feed their meager fire. She kept one eye open for anything edible. The gale felt like needles of ice penetrating even the thick white bear pelt she wore as a cloak.

The wind swept up the fjord straight off the icy sea, funneled by the steep hills on either side. Astrid paused to take shelter for a few moments under a rock overhang that blocked the gusts. With nothing to hunt for, she let her mind drift, retelling to herself some of the stories her grandmother used to tell her. It was almost as good as sleep to take her mind off her hunger and keep her company.

From her shelter, she could see one of the many islets in the fjord, one that would be a seal rookery later in the year. That made her think of the stories about selkies, sea creatures that could shed their skins and take human form once a year. She pictured them dancing down there on the beach, as the stories described. In her mind, the leader looked a lot like tall, red-blond Torolf. The stories said that if a human stole the seal skin while its owner was in human form, the selkie could be compelled to stay on land as the wife—or, she supposed, husband—of the thief. Pity the stories always ended with the selkie finding the stolen skin and returning to the sea.

She sighed. If it were only that easy. Why would Torolf ever give her a second glance if she could never manage to say a complete, coherent sentence in front of him? Well, Torolf wasn’t going to magically appear on the beach. She might as well continue her search. She had to go farther and farther afield to find anything these days.


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It’s Wednesday. Time for What’s Up Wednesday, a blog hop created by Jaime and Erin Funk to help writers connect.

WUW BadgeWHAT I’M READING

I did go ahead and start re-reading THE HOBBIT. They’re just about to leave Lake-Town and go confront Smaug. I’m also reading THE SONGS OF CHAOS by Morgan Alreth. (I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.)

WHAT I’M WRITING

Still working on the rewrite of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I’m just a couple of chapters from the climax now. I hope to finish this draft next week and then go play with some other characters for a little while and let this draft cool.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Seeing the words “THE END” up ahead. That always feels good.

Also finding my latest release, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, at #24 in Hot New Releases for Sword and Sorcery ebooks and #35 for Epic Fantasy on Amazon.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

A lot of my non-writing time has gone into trying to find ways to promote THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Looks like that’s starting to pay off.

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And I’m still dealing with trying to bring some kind of order around here and sort out things for the estate sale. It is utterly amazing what four generations of congenital pack rats can accumulate. I found a set of cast iron cobblers’ lasts–and I have no idea where those came from.

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It’s Wednesday. Time for What’s Up Wednesday, a blog hop created by Jaime and Erin Funk to help writers connect.

WUW BadgeWHAT I’M READING

I haven’t started a new fiction book since I finished SORCERY AND CECELIA. I’ve been busy and I did read LET’S GET DIGITAL. I have several things on my kindle to choose from, but for some reason I’m getting a yen to reread THE HOBBIT. That tends to be a gateway to rereading the whole LotR. I might just do it anyway.

WHAT I’M WRITING

Still working on the rewrite of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I am reaching the home stretch, though. It’s at 96,000 words. That’s okay. I’m quite sure that I’ll end up cutting quite a bit from the beginning in later drafts.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Still mainly working to my own deadline. I’d really like to finish up this draft of TIP this month. Let it rest. Go through it again. And get it out to beta readers.

What I really need to get inspired on is how to do promotions. That’s where I’m weakest and why I’ve been spending my reading time on things like LET’S GET DIGITAL and LET’S GET VISIBLE. I need all the ideas I can get.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

I’ve been busy.

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE launched on Monday.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I’m still working on figuring out all the things I need to do to get the word out. With every book I get a little better at it. (Hopefully!)

I also started querying DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING — and got a partial request on one of the first three queries. So that made my day.

And I’m still dealing with trying to bring some kind of order around here and sort out things for the estate sale. I got into the garage yesterday. Big mistake.

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I’m going to try a blog hop, today. It’s called What’s Up Wednesday.WUW Badge

 

The four questions for this blog hop are:

WHAT I’M READING:

Hmm. I’m sort of between novels at the moment. I recently finished THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ, by L. Frank Baum. (That’s research.)

Right now I’m reading LET’S GET VISIBLE by David Gaughran, because this is stuff I really need to learn to do better.

I need to pull up one of those new novels on my kindle and start reading.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

I’m in the middle (almost) of the rewrite of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, which is the sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I’m basically keeping the plot the same, but using the writing skills I’ve learned in the last six years or so.

WHAT INSPIRES ME NOW:

Well, doing a rewrite is mostly just a slog, a special kind of revision. I had the inspiration for the story six years ago when I wrote it (badly) the first time. Although I do love these characters and I’m excited and a little nervous to get through this one and on to the third book. The third book scared me back then, but I think I can write it now. It’s the book in the series (four books in all) in which everything falls apart.

I’m also starting to get excited again about my WEIRD OZ STORY. (Which is why I’ve been reading some of the Oz books.) I made an abortive start on this story about a year ago, but it wasn’t right. I had a pretty good idea what was wrong, but I needed time to figure out how to fix them. Reading some of Baum’s Oz stories beyond THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ has gotten me thinking about some new elements.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:

Scattered, as usual.

Preparing for the launch of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE in a couple of weeks.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I really need to learn to this part so much better.

Finishing up the last little bits on DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING so I can start querying that one. I finished the synopsis yesterday. Now I just need to go back over the first couple of chapters.

And dealing with a lot of clean up and other business that got postponed when I got the chance to work steadily for the last six weeks (ending last Thursday.) I’ve still got several things to do before I can settle Mom’s Trust. First up, I need to prepare for an estate sale. It’s amazing how much stuff can be accumulated in 95 1/2 years, especially living in the same house for about 65 of those years. A lot of it is good stuff, but there’s just too much of it. Way past time to clear out some of it out.

 

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