Today I have a fabulous guest post from author Krista D. Ball to promote her new book What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank. Whether you're a reader or a writer of fantasy, a historian, or a cook, this is a MUST READ.
Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should look like when your heroine is seducing the hero.
Learn how long to cook a salted cow tongue, how best to serve salt fish, what a “brewis” is (hint: it isn’t beer), how an airship captain would make breakfast, how to preserve just about anything, and why those dairy maids all have ample hips.
What Kings Ate will give writers of historical and fantastical genres the tools to create new conflicts in their stories, as well as add authenticity to their worlds, all the while giving food history lovers a taste of the past with original recipes and historical notes.
Abortion, Epic Fantasy, and The Good Ol' Days
I’ve encountered a lot of interesting reactions to my fiction, and have gotten some fairly oddball comments and complaints. There isn’t an author out there who hasn’t at some point. Authors often say that you haven’t really made it until someone takes the time to blog about how awful your book was. But, there is nothing like getting emails that make your jaw drop. For me, those emails are about abortion.
In Tranquility's Blaze, a character has an abortion following a sexual assault as part of a magical rite:
“Was it your choice?” Ruth motioned her head at Amber’s thighs.
Ruth already knew the answer, of course. Bethany outlined the details in her letter to the midwife. She didn't see the point in making the girl tell the story. Bethany swallowed. Woman.
Amber broke into sobs, hiccupping the words out. “He forced...forced me...raped me.”
Ruth wrapped her thick arms around Amber and rocked her, hushing and whispering sweet words. Bethany’s heart dropped as her memories forced her to relive her trek into Taftlin. Instinctively, she wrapped her fingers around the dagger sitting on her belt, gritting her teeth. No word brought out her battle rage more than rape. Every time she heard that vile, disgusting word, her mind flooded with the memories of her younger sister.
Memories resurfaced, threatening to drown her. So often had she pushed that memory to the furthest reaches of her mind only to have that word, that hateful word, drag it back up into the light. Thankfully, Jovan wasn’t here. Bethany could now control her anger in the face of that word. He still could not, and never would.
“Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?” Ruth asked. “It will be painful and there is a lot of risk."
Amber nodded weakly and then collapsed her head into Ruth’s ample chest. “Yes.”
I’ve gotten a lot of hateful comments about the above scene. It wasn’t because of the politics of abortion; I had been braced for that. In fact, I tried to address the different beliefs surrounding abortion by having the law of the local land being against abortion, whereas Amber was from a nation where abortion was OK. But, see, that didn't bother anyone.
It was that abortion is a modern creation and therefore is “anachronistic.” It stunned me. It was one of those facts that you just assumed everyone knew. Like, did they think the long list of foods pregnant women couldn’t eat was to just irritate them?
So, for those people, I have a very shocking announcement: abortion has been happening for a long, long time and food was in league with it.
I took Introduction to Anthropology in my first year of university. I don’t remember the professor’s name anymore, but I remember when he talked about the role of abortion and birth control in hunter-gatherer groups. Assuming single births, a woman is capable of giving birth to three children every two years. How would any nomadic group function if its women each had three babies to look after?
Nomadic tribes have lower birth rates than agrarian communities because children are a hindrance. (Children in agrarian communities are an asset since they can work the land.) Women could only carry, at maximum, two babies at once, and would need to carry them for the bulk of the first two years.
The Georgians and Victorians brought us the concept of “laying in”, where a very pregnant and new mother would be locked up in her room for a month to ensure she did not become sick and die. However, this was a luxury for the leisure class. Working class women in many centuries did not have that luxury, nor did nomadic women. My mother often talks about how she gave birth to her eighth child, and had seven others under the age of nine waiting for their dinner. She gave birth, cleaned herself up, and got to making meals since there was no time to lay around.
The nomadic woman would need to practice birth control in some form to prevent this, either in the form of abstinence for two or three years, plants such as juniper to reduce the likelihood of conception (juniper might also cause a miscarriage before she is even aware she is pregnant), or active abortion once her menses has ceased. Or, perhaps a combination of all three.
Many plants have birth control properties. Many of them also can cause abortions, too. Any midwife worth her salt would know the best combination of plants to end a pregnancy. There might be religious or legal edicts against it, but like on the streets of London during the Regency period, the prostitutes and servants who were used and abused by those glamourous bucks often needed an outlet to protect themselves from pregnancy.
The above is an excerpt from Krista D. Ball's latest book, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank: A Fantasy Lover's Food Guide, and is available now on Amazon and soon on other sites.
Tranquility's Blaze is the first book in Ball's Tales of Tranquility series and is published by Mundania Press. Her second book in the series, Tranquility's Grief, will be available in early December.
About the Author: Krista was born and raised in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, where she learned how to use a chainsaw, chop wood,and make raspberry jam. After obtaining a B.A. in British History from Mount Allison University, Krista moved to Edmonton, AB where she currently lives. Somehow, she’s picked up an engineer, two kids, six cats, and a very understanding corgi off ebay. Her credit card has been since taken away. Like any good writer, Krista has had an eclectic array of jobs throughout her life, including strawberry picker, pub bathroom cleaner, oil spill cleaner upper and soup-kitchen coordinator. You can find her causing trouble at http://kristadball.com
And we're closing out the week with a guest post from the fabulous Darien Cox.
This one might be somewhat NSFW, but a great post on some of the challenges of writing the smexy scenes in erotica. Read on!
In the Details
A while back a couple of female friends were discussing contraceptive options, and when diaphragms and spermicide came up, one of them responded, “But it’s messy.” Without missing a beat, I jibed in, “But sex isn’t?”
Yes, sex is messy—we all know this, though it’s usually not the bit we focus on when discussing the horizontal bop. Things don’t always go as smoothly as they do in books or films, where no one ever gets tangled up and falls off the bed, no one ever fights over who gets the wet spot, and every daring position, no matter how awkward, leads to a mind blowing orgasm. But of course this is what readers want to see in erotic fiction, because the goal is fantasy. Naturally they want a story where the sexual partners are all gorgeous with smoking hot bodies, and the sex is wild, climactic and ultimately successful. But as writers, we’re tasked with the added responsibility of making it real for the reader, and not too cartoonish.
Of course the exchange of bodily fluids and the like are often part of the excitement, depending on the scenario, and many readers enjoy references to ejaculation and other intimate bodily details. But it’s interesting how different authors of erotic fiction handle graphic descriptions; some going to extremes in presenting the nitty-gritty, others glossing over it as cleanly as a moist towel. The style choices of erotic fiction writers vary as much as the sexual preferences of the readers. Some people like hairy buttholes; others want it all smooth and waxed. So we could say that striking a balance doesn’t matter, as there are a bevy of readers out there with varying tastes and preferences. Go with what feels right personally as an author, and you’re bound to hit the mark with a portion of your audience either way.
In light of that, to jizz or not to jizz isn’t really the question. Like any form of fiction, the element of reality has to begin with character development. Sure, erotic romance characters can be over the top, idealized fantasy, the strapping lumberjack, the rich playboy, but what makes the reader connect is how the author delves inside these love interests, not just how they delve inside each other. Sex is messy, but it’s also complex. The term ‘casual sex’ has always struck me as humorous, not because a random encounter without emotional attachments is wrong or unappealing, but because sex is pretty much the least casual thing you can do with another person. So regardless of whether it’s a quick fuck in a broom closet, or a blossoming relationship, readers tend to enjoy a flicker of conflict simmering in the background of this sweaty encounter. Insecurity, desperation, jealousy, or just plain lust, we should include whatever tumultuous thoughts and desires have led the character to this place.
So it probably doesn’t matter whether an author chooses to describe a lubed up cock pumping into a hot, tight ass, or if they take the more poetic route in their descriptions. The bottom line—pun intended—is that something must connect the reader to the characters. Readers don’t, for the most part, just want to see wooden puppets bumping against each other. They want to know who these people are, and what makes them tick, in and out of bed. That intimate character knowledge, even in small doses, can torch up the heat level when the lovers finally get down to business. So while spunk and junk details are crucially important to visceral, realistic sex in erotic fiction, it’s good to remember that while ministering to the head of your character’s cock, you shouldn’t completely avoid what’s going on in the head on his shoulders.
About the Author: Darien Cox lives in New England, bouncing back and forth between the mountain and the ocean states, anywhere there’s a wave or a ski slope. A nature lover and thrill seeker, the author enjoys exploring the intensity, insanity, humor and chaos that accompanies cupid’s arrow, whether it’s love at first sight or just the overwhelming power of lust. Paranormal elements are occasionally tossed in to further spice up the mix, because let’s face it—sometimes the world is not enough.
Check out Darien's newest release, Body Surf--a hot, m/m summer read!
Hello folks! Today I bring you the first of two guests this week. Read on for a post by the lovely October Weeks, who is celebrating the upcoming release of The Red Barn.
I Was Minding My Own Business When…
The voice of an older woman came into my mind and interrupted the editing of another book. I was in the middle of a paragraph when she rudely barged in and gave me the first line to her story; It must be close to the mid-day, for the man who owns my house has shown up to chop more wood from the stack several yards to the side of the barn.
I saved the changes to the manuscript I was working on, knowing there was no way in Hell this new voice was going to just go away and leave me be, and opened a blank document. It took just a day and a half for me to write The Red Barn. Would have been less, but I do work full time. And, just to note, this happens to me often. A voice comes out of nowhere and demands I write their story or else. Sometimes they even come with soundtracks! Normally, I write anywhere between a few paragraphs to the entire first chapter, depending on how demanding said character is, but sometimes it’s impossible to stop writing. I have to write.
As it turned out, this older woman who rudely interrupted me was a two centuries old ghost. She dictated what was happening to her as it was happening, and boy were there some surprising twists in her tale!
Two things I can tell you without giving too much away:
~ She is NOT a nice woman. As a matter of fact, she’s downright nasty.
~ She is completely unrepentant for her deeds, both past and present.
After I had gone through and edited The Red Barn, I realized that I wanted this short story to be shared with the world. After some research I chose to send it to Musa Publishing, who, after just a week, offered to publish it. I was beyond thrilled. When I learned that it would be its own ebook I was even more excited. This short story that had come from nowhere was going to be my first official publication!
So, am I upset that this older woman barged in on another story? A teensy bit, but I’m very glad that she was so damn pushy. And I’m even more pleased to be able to share her dark tale with all of you.
The Red Barn will be released Friday, August 31. You can find an excerpt, a book trailer, and even some bookmarks and postcards on my website, http://www.octoberweeks.net/. I am also giving away four copies of the book, one for each format it will be released in: PDF, PRC, ePUB, and MOBI. The winners will be chosen this Friday- release day!
I'm a little MIA this week (it promises to be the Busy Week of Business and just expect my default setting to be "out of the office"), however to keep you company I have my Twitter (and garbage day) buddy, author R.C. Murphy!
Read on for her guest post and don't forget to say hi!
Fairy Jizz and Author Happiness by R.C. Murphy
Every time you Google an author’s name, a fairy orgasms.
No, really. I’m serious.
Being an author, especially a new author, is kind of like shouting into a dark, empty house. You know no one is there to hear you. Yet a small portion of your mind holds out hope that, despite the cobwebs on the banisters and dust on the tables, someone will hear you calling and answer. Or a serial killer could be hiding in the broom closet waiting for you to saunter further inside. Either way, all authors want is some sort of recognition.
I can’t count the times I’ve stalked the stats on my blog and grinned ear-to-ear that someone actually searched the internet for my name. My. Name. They didn’t land on my page by some freak Google-fu accident. Really, how the hell does “They held her down and tortured her belly with a knife” lead someone to MY site? Don’t answer that…
But when they search for the author by name, it means they want to find us. Sometimes what they find isn’t up to snuff or their cup of tea. That doesn’t matter because they still looked at the blog/website/inane spray-painted ramblings on the inside of a bathroom stall.
Writing is lonely. A lot of people far smarter than I have said it. But you know what? Marketing yourself is even lonelier. Think about it, some poor soul who has been locked in their office for over a year, at the least, suddenly thrust into public and forced to make coherent statements—all in the hopes of selling a book that they’ve poured blood, sweat, and booze into.
If you’re a self-published or small press author, you do it on your own or with very few people to help. And that’s where the guilt comes in. “Am I annoying people by advertising my book?” “What if they get tired of my attempts to make a living off of my brain-vomit?” It goes on, and on, and on, until finally you drink enough rum to drown it out…and fall into an alcoholic coma.
The gleaming light at the end of the tunnel, folks, really is fairy orgasms. Those few people who take time out of their lives to search for said sad, lonely, insane author. And I thank them endlessly for it.
About the Author
R.C. Murphy spends her nights writing urban fantasy novels and a slew of short stories for her blog, The Path of a Struggling Writer. By day she is a not so mild-mannered housewife, wrangling vampires, demons, and various other nasty creatures. R.C. has joined forces with fellow writers, artists, and actors to form the Zombie Survival Crew where she reviews movies, TV shows, as well as penning articles on important survival skills.
Her first novella, Be Ours Forever is available in paperback via Amazon.
You may contact her via Twitter, @RCMurphy.
Today I have guest author Frances Pauli for her Fairies in February Blog Tour.
I worked with Frances on her AMAZING Changeling Race Trilogy and the third book has just been released. I had a few questions with her and please join me for her answers below.
Last year you told us about how so many things led you to create the world of your Changeling Race Trilogy. We know its beginnings.
Now I’m going to ask you a bit about the ending and about process, as finishing a series is the one thing I’ve yet to do. *cough*
There is an...undeniable level of confidence in the writing of the third book. The pacing, as I’ve told you, is spot on, and the threads laid out since the first book all come together. Did you know from the start of A Moth in Darkness how it would all end? Did certain characters or events surprise you along the way?
I knew a great deal about the primary plot arc of the trilogy before I started actually writing on Moth in Darkness. Despite that, so much happened along the way that I never saw coming. When I began the series I had the main conflicts worked out. I knew about the elves and the Sidhe and how that history would come to light, and I knew the ending scenes for the first two books, where the breaks in the story would happen. I never expected a lot of the character arcs, however. In fact, I never expected a lot of the characters period. Old Mary was originally a one scene character. Now, she may be my very favorite. Sed never existed when the books began. Daimon was a minor influence. I’m thrilled that these people demanded more attention, more screen time. I think they fleshed out a bare bones idea into a living, breathing story.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Does this change the deeper you get into a series? (For example, I often start a first book with no idea of where it’s going, but after the second in the series, I get a clearer picture.)
I began as a pantser who did a great deal of plotting in her head. I liked to think I was fun and spontaneous, but in truth, a lot of organization was happening—it just wasn’t happening in formal, outline form. When I wrote my latest novel, Shrouded, a good friend talked me into trying out a system she uses that involves forms. I hate forms. I’ve always claimed they give me hives. I detest forms. But I relented for this particular book, and I was surprised by the result. The novel is thicker, deeper, more complex and also a good twenty thousand words longer than I usually write. Dang it all. So, now I don’t always fully organize, but I do spend a little more time in that preparatory phase than I used to.
Is there anything about yourself or writing you learned/realized during the journey of seeing these three books to publication?
Yes, I realized that I had a lot more to learn than I ever guessed. Because this series started with my very first novel, it really traces my own steps into the craft. While I wrote the books, I was learning about the business, the art of writing, everything. I discovered just how much that entailed, how far I was from where I wanted to be, and how bloody stubborn I could be about getting there.
Having finished a series, looking back is there anything you would’ve done differently?
Yes and no. I wouldn’t have done anything differently with the story. I really am happy with it the way it unfolded. I might have slowed down a little bit myself, breathed, learned a lot more about writing before I started subbing that first book. Even so, I wonder if not diving in head first might have stalled me completely? I know there could be more polished prose starting out, but I also know a lot of authors who polish and polish and polish and never do anything with it. I think, if I had to choose between starting a little rough and never starting, then I’d stick to the path I took. I’m very happy with where it’s put me today.
How about advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t ever stop writing. Also, don’t ever stop subbing. I was told when I started out to “keep writing” so many times. Back then I thought that meant, “don’t give up, keep at it.” No. It means when you finish something and send it off, write something else. Don’t wait. Write another book, and another.
Don’t give up is great advice, sure. But don’t stop creating inventory is even better advice. Write it, fix it up, send it out, write something else. Repeat.
Okay, fun stuff. They’re making a movie of your life. Who would play you, who might be the supporting cast, who would direct, and what would the theme song be?
Oh that is fun. Let’s see. I could be vain and say Madeline Stowe (because I love her) or honest and say Roseanne Bar. Is there someone that’s an equal blend of those two? Supporting cast…I think Ray Ramano could play my husband. He’s pretty much a blond version of Raymond. We could add in some cute, unknown child actors (not mine—no way) an evil mother in law, kooky friends…hmm and Jason Isaacs. (because It’s my damn fantasy) Theme music depends on the day, either Alanis Morisette or Cirque du Soleil. I get to direct. See above note. My movie.
Cat person or dog person? (I think I know the answer to this but am asking anyway.) And why?
I’m a dog person, but let me explain. I always was a cat person until I met my crazy, Peruvian hairless dogs. Okay, that’s only part true. I’ve always owned both, and I love dog shows. I watch them like most people watch the super bowl. Still, cats involve cat boxes and I am old and cranky now. My dogs are cat-like and yet, do their business outside. Short answer? Dog person with latent, cat person tendencies.
Who/what inspires you when you’re really not motivated?
Fear! I am fear motivated. If I don’t write for more than a few days my neurosis begin to invent horror stories about failing careers and forgotten books and stories that never get told because I get hit by a bus before I can write them.
Do you prefer cupcakes or pie?
That most definitely depends on the pie. I don’t love fruit pie, but a cream or nut pie trumps cake any day. I’m particularly susceptible to peanut butter pie.
What’s your zombie survival plan? What character of your creation would you want to help out during the zombie apocalypse? What character of another person’s creation?
Run away! Gather food and big guns…hide. In that order, I suspect. If I get a character from my books on my side, I want Thump the troll with his big shotgun. It worked on the kelpies, after all. Someone else’s character? Initial instinct would say Rambo or the Terminator (because I am a product of the eighties) but after some thinking I would say Todd from the Curt Russell movie, Soldier. I have a very good reason, really. I have kids now, and Zombie invasions are not such a fun idea when you have dependents to protect. Todd kept a whole compound of women and children safe in an all out war. He’s my guy.
What question do you wish I’d asked and what would your answer be?
When is the movie coming out? :) My answer would be a wistful sigh.
Thank you for hosting me, and for the awesome questions!
Please welcome Krista D. Ball with a guest post today!
Lesbians don't have wives, or Finding the Right Writing Group
Folks love to join writing groups. I even suggest that people join them to get a handle on their work, learn new skills, and figure out how to best present their work. There's so much good that can come from a writing group. And so, so much bad.
Over the years, I've gravitated away from the group RAWR RAWR environment where all that happens is your work gets line edited. Nevermind that my plot fails the Magic Cell Phone test*; it has a missing comma and everyone knows editors will reject books with incorrect commas. (As a side note, this is a myth I disprove with each acceptance).
A few years ago, I was running Road to Hell through a critique group. I had written a fairly basic after-hours military scene. I got a critique back that told me I was wrong and to talk to people who actually knew something about the military.
So, I talked to myself. I was a weekend warrior with the Canadian military for a year or two (I actually forget how long). It was a part time job during university. My ex husband? Reg force. My brother? Regs. Other brother? Regs. Other brother? Retired reg force. Brother's spouse? Full-time reserves. See, it wasn't that my scene was incorrect, but that it wasn't correct according to his idea of how military folks should act. But, I let it slide.
Then, Captain Francis was unveiled as a *gasp* lesbian. What was my dark science fiction novel was now the lesbian space captain story (a label that has stuck). The space matter hit the fan when Katherine called her wife her, you know, wife. I was told by several people that it should be partner or, if I must, spouse. But never wife. Lesbians don't have wives; they have partners. (In Canada, they have wives, thank you very much).
Even though I had a rather major plot hole, which I didn't fix until years later, the writing group were focused on nitpicky things that were in fact not even errors. I eventually left and joined a small group of authors who were all around the same skill level as myself. I no longer get 20 critiques of my work, but I also get "you have a plot hole" comments, as opposed to "lesbians don't have wives."
I've learned a couple of things when searching out writing groups. Here's what I found:
1. Personality. Never underestimate the power of personality clashes. I have seen successful groups ripped apart by nothing more than two people not liking each other.
2. Goals. We are all in different spots in our writing careers; some of us don't even have careers. We also have different goals. It's important to belong to groups that encourage and support your goals, as opposed to get jealous, discourage, or belittle your goals.
3. Feedback. If you've never gotten feedback about your work, you might need an easy, light touch the first time around. Some people don't, but many people do bristle when they first getting into writing groups. I was told that I'd caused someone to never write again (if she couldn't handle me saying "I spent 4 hours writing this out for you because I think this story has excellent potential and is worth working on" she couldn't have handled her first 1 star review as an author saying "I wish I could give this a 0.")
At the same time, back patting can only last so long. Folks talk about self-publishing because there are no "gatekeepers" to prevent them from publishing. Yeah, but instead of being rejected by publishers, you'll be rejected by readers who paid money to look at your work. It sure doesn't get easier.
4. Commitment. If you only have 2 hours a week of quiet time where you can write, do you really want to be spending it critiquing 8 stories that you hate?
*Magic Cell Phone Test: Can your heroine get out of this sticky situation by the use of a cell phone or magic? If so, there better be a damn good reason why she has neither.
About the Author: Krista D. Ball is a Canadian speculative fiction author who is currently hiding from necromancers. Better safe than undead. www.kristadball.com
Please welcome my final guest for the Awe-Struck author blog tour, Sharon Poppen!
Hi Skyla, Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your site this week. It’s always fun to find new avenues in attempting to reach new potential readers. Thank heaven for readers! I meet so many folks who say that they don’t have time to read or they only read non-fiction. Then, I often find that these same folks are glued to their TVs each evening to watch some TV drama or reality show. I think sometimes we’ve lost our ability to ‘picture’ things that we read or hear about. I remember, as a child, listening to the radio with my grandparents and picturing the Lone Ranger saving the day alongside his Indian sidekick Tonto. They shot silver bullets as they rode across the plains on their white and pinto horses, ‘Silver’ and ‘Scout’. Or, laughing when someone opened Fibber McGees’ closet and hearing the array of clattering items falling out of that overly stuffed closet. I guess I can thank those old radio days for stimulating and bring to life my creative imagination.
Now, on to some questions from the Awe-Struck authors, who have been along on this interesting wild blog tour. It has sure been fun reading the views of those authors and getting some excellent excerpts to draw us to their books.Read more
The Changing face of the Erotic — fiction and fact
When I sold my first novel in 2006, it was deemed erotic women's fiction. In spite of the standard heterosexual pairing and lack of toys, games or envelope pushing, it premiered on the top ten at the very respected and establish e-press where it was published.Read more
My apologies to Sue--this should've gone up Sunday but as my week long vacation was winding down, I discovered my mouse wasn't working. Better late than never, right? Here's Sue!
Hi Skyla and thanks for inviting me today.
Since I victimize all guests on my blog with awful questions, I thought I’d answer those very same questions here.
Usually I ask unsuspecting authors to write five things about themselves that isn’t
obvious from their social media presence. So here goes:Read more
Hi, all. Skyla Dawn Cameron is off on a blog tour; I am filling in for her.
I am Ann Tracy Marr, an author with Awe-Struck Ebooks, an imprint of Mundania. Before I tell you what kind of books I write, promise you won't go away -- give me a chance. Half of the battle of selling books is convincing people they might enjoy what I write. That is what I hope to do here (arrogant, pushy me). Convince you to try one of my books. But...
You might not read romances, and that is what I write.Read more