Tag Archive: The Lord of the Rings


Building Your World: Scale

When figuring out where to set your story, one of the simplest things to do is pick how far your story extends. Does it take place entirely in one town? Does it span an entire galaxy?

There has been an increasing trend toward larger and larger settings in the last few decades, though that trend may be reversing now. It seems as if, as our perception of our own world increases and our ability to get from place to place becomes easier, we seem to think that the same should be true even in a medieval fantasy setting. Lately, though, I’ve been coming across more and more stories that detail smaller areas, as if authors are realizing that — like with the real world — “flyover country” actually contains some interesting stuff. You can set a lot of stories in one small area.  Continue reading

23500493Recently, I gave you all a review of Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted series, an urban fantasy romance set in a version of New York where wizards, fairies, gnomes, and elves live among unsuspecting humans, hidden by magical illusions, with lives both astonishingly similar and predictably different from reality. My future co-author Elizabeth Hajek has given her own enthusiastic verdict on the series, and I should note she hadn’t even finished the sixth book before deciding to endorse it.

Well, while I waited for Swendson to publish the next book in the series, I decided to take a look at what is currently the only book in a separate series written by her, titled simply A Fairy Tale. This is similar to Enchanted because it takes place in New York, it’s a fantasy, it’s women’s fiction with significant cross-gender appeal, and it’s very good. It’s different because it’s adventure rather than romance; it’s urban fantasy only in that some of it takes place in New York; and it’s not as light and humorous as Katie’s adventures with Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc.

It’s also one of the best examples I’ve found so far of adapting British fairy folk tales to the modern fantasy genre that is their direct descendant. If you like your fairies to be less like Walt Disney’s Tinkerbell and more like Jim Butcher’s Queen Mab, you’ll be right at home.  Continue reading

A pretty good description of me trying to read a random selection from the Paranormal Romance shelf.

A pretty good description of me trying to read a random selection from the Paranormal Romance shelf.

Most of the time, when someone refers to “romantic urban fantasy,” my brain starts turning off.

Now, I’m not opposed to chick lit; in fact, I’ve been so far to the other side that when I was a favorite target of schoolyard teasing, the one thing they never managed to get under my skin was that I avidly read Nancy Drew as far back as the fourth grade. I didn’t get why it was weird. I’d already read every Hardy Boys I could get my hands on, after all! But chick lit fantasy seems to mainly be a genre where you have mere variations on a woman swooning over a vampire, werewolf, or . . . well, no, just vampires and werewolves. Yeah. It’s gotten a bit stale out there.

Well, it turns out there’s a seven-book series that, while not exactly new (the first book came out nearly ten years ago), still brings new life to this particular sub-genre. Enchanted, Inc., by Shanna Swendson, kicks off a lighthearted romantic fantasy series staring one Katie Chandler, small-town Texan girl, who discovers that New York is weirder than most New Yorkers ever dream of. It’s smart, funny, enjoyable, and just a little addictive without ever coming close to “guilty pleasure” territory.

In fact, I suspect that many of my own readers would be interested in a romantic fantasy series that is 1) very fun to read, 2) cleverly described, 3) has no sex scenes, and 4) does not feature a vampiric or wolfish love interest. I welcome you all to prove me right.

contentI spent an enjoyable week and a half reading through the entire series, occasionally discussing it with my friend Lori, and generally just enjoying the change of pace from my usual fare. I wound up being a rather enthusiastic fan of the series by the end, and decided it was something to recommend far and wide. If, like me, you normally get your hackles up at the phrase “paranormal romance,” you owe it to yourself to check out this series.

I’ve got more stuff to say about it — this is a writing blog, after all, and there are some things to look at if you’re a writer yourself — but I’ll be splitting it off into a separate post because it ran long. For now, I’m concerned only with the review portion. Continue reading

ACDClogoThis Easter weekend happens to fall on the third weekend in April, which means only one thing: it’s time to cosplay as the Easter Bunny at AwesomeCon!

. . . okay, I won’t actually be in a bunny costume. But I will be at AwesomeCon. I was invited back to do another presentation at DC’s only genre convention (sorry, otaku, but Katsucon doesn’t count). I’ll be part of a panel this Friday at 4pm, called “Worldbuilding and Fantasy,” and giving a solo talk on Easter Sunday, “Writing Dynamic Characters,” at 11:15am.

I was at AwesomeCon last year, and it was pretty fun. It wasn’t the biggest convention I’ve ever been to (nor was it the smallest), but between what I observed and my brief conversations with Ben Penrod, the convention organizer, I could tell it wasn’t going to be satisfied with a small footprint.  Continue reading

March 25: Ring Destruction Day

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kind of like remembering a messy divorce, only with more epic battles.

That’s right, Tolkien fans! It’s the anniversary of the day when, mumbleteen thousand years ago, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum entered Mount Doom to pitch the One Ring into the fire below.

“Wait,” some of you are asking, “Why did Tolkien use modern dates in a fantasy world like Middle-earth? I mean, I get that it’s supposed to be our super-duper epic forgotten past, but really.”

Yeah, I get that. But you also have to remember that Tolkien was three things, in this order: a proud Catholic, an expert philologist, and a fascinated medievalist. What does all that have to do with March 25th? I’m glad you asked!

Continue reading

What I’ve Been Doing Lately

So I’ve had another period where I haven’t been posting anything, and I haven’t even been updating on the Facebook page (which you should totally like). Well, this is a major part of what’s been occupying my attention:

Hang on, I got some dust in my eye or something . . .

Hang on, I got some dust in my eye or something . . .

Now, just to be clear, that is not me in that photo. I’m the one taking it. And the radiant beauty in white is my dear friend, mutually-adopted sister, and future co-author Elizabeth Amy Hausladen.

Er, wait. Elizabeth Amy Hajek. Yeah. Got to remember that. Fortunately, she likes hearing people repeat themselves on this subject.  Continue reading

Highs and Lows

You may have heard of the phrases “high fantasy” and “low fantasy.” Or perhaps you haven’t; while they’re used very commonly in an academic sense, they aren’t as common outside those circles. As is so often the case, this leads to some confusion in the definitions. And so I decided to give you a quick overview of the topic. That’s what this blog is for, after all! Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: