My most recent post over at the Guild of Dreams…can’t George leave something for the rest of us?
No, this isn’t a post about a bunny hiding chocolate for the kids to find, though that is one of my favourite times of the year (I kinda like chocolate). It’s about a different kind of Easter Eggs…the ones Yahoo dictionary defines as ” a hidden message or feature, as in a video game or DVD.” Or a book.
Most of us have probably seen them pop up here and there. The first one I remember noticing in a book was when I was reading Stephen King’s excellent novella The Body (later made into the movie Stand By Me). In it, the boys sneak past a junkyard that has the meanest dog in town, until years later when a certain Saint Bernard got rabies. I’ve paraphrased, but I’d already read Cujo, so I caught the reference immediately.
The thing is, not all Easter eggs are immediately obvious to all readers, and that’s not terribly fair. It’s like when you know a good joke that you aren’t willing to share with everyone.
Since I’ve added a few Easter eggs in some of my books, I thought I’d let everyone in on the joke.
The first one I want to reveal has actually occurred in two of my books. You see, I love my children a great deal, so I try to sneak their names in wherever I can. My son’s name is Erik, my daughter is named Anya.
Do you recognize where they’ve slipped in?
The first time it happened was in my Khirro’s Journey trilogy. The name of the kingdom from which Khirro hails is Erechania.
I’ll be doling out more of my own Easter eggs over the next few weeks, so keep checking back. In the meantime, I found a great site where people list Easter eggs they’ve found in books, movies, video games, etc. Go check out eEggs.com to see if they have some you spotted.
What are some Easter eggs you’ve come across in your reading/viewing/playing? Do you like finding them?
Chantal Boudreau looks into the problem of gender bias that plagues fantasy fiction (and our wolrd at large). Great read, so take the time to have a look.
Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:
by Chantal Boudreau
When someone mentions female characters in fantasy, some stereotypes come to mind. There is the damsel in distress, the plucky princess, the matronly queen or the bawdy tavern wench, just for a few examples. These seem to show up everywhere, unfortunate tropes who sometimes serve as sidekicks and who often give the male hero extra purpose to their cause, but don’t have much purpose in their own right.
Then there’s the flip-side – the “strong female” character: the man-hating amazon, the stoic and noble female warrior who is an exception to the norm, the experienced sorceress or priestess who often proves self-sacrificing. While they may have a prominent role in the story, they tend to be loners and atypical of the women in that particular fantasy culture. Most of the women in the story other than that one outstanding character fall into the traditional medieval female roles:…
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Three days only…grab a copy of When Shadows Fall for only 99 cents!
Originally posted on ellamedler:
If you like epic fantasy, the kind that feels like reality, you want this book. This is a world the likes of which you cannot even imagine. No problem, Bruce Blake has already done that part for you. Honestly, you want this book. And you want it now, while it’s on this incredible deal.
What’s that? You don’t know if it’s for you?
Read an excerpt:
It rained fire the day the Small Gods fled.
Balls of flame fell from the sky, shattering homes and skulls alike, burning gardens and turning forests to ash, setting alight both farmers’ fields and farmers’ lives with disregard. Much later, it would be said the Goddess banished them for their wicked ways, but on that day, the Small Gods were naught but men and women afraid for their lives. In the eyes of history and legend, the width of the line between…
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In the year and a bit I’ve been working at my day job, it has been fairly common knowledge that I am a writer, but it wasn’t until my recent announcement of my Small Gods series being released through Paper Gold Publishing that my co-workers really sat up and started paying attention. Since then, I’ve had numerous requests for books and many conversations about writing and being a writer. One particularly interesting conversation happened a couple of days ago when I was speaking with my boss. During this interchange, he commented on how knowing someone who is a published author (and getting to know them before it really hits home that they are such) actually changes how he thinks about authors at large, gives him the insight that writers are just real people like anyone else.
With this in mind, we come to today’s entry. In my last post, I mentioned that I had been away for a while after an intense year. I left it purposely vague because I tend to be a private person when it comes to personal issues, but I’ve decided it’s time to lift the proverbial veil. Time for all to know that Bruce the writer is a real person. To accomplish this, let’s take a look back a little over two years ago.
Those of you who are dedicated blog followers may remember my These Are the Days of Miracles and Wonder post from back in October of 2012. As a reminder, or to fill in those who might have missed out, I lost my job, which at first glance seemed horrible, as it would to most people. Then, after a couple of hours to reflect on my situation, it began to seem like the best opportunity of my life (and perhaps the worst decision ever made by my former employer if everything I’ve heard is true). Like anything else, the year that followed had some very high highs an some very low lows.
First, the good. In the year I was off work, I published 5 books plus 4 parts to an erotica serial co-written with my wife (have a look at my stuff here). During that time, I actually sold some books and made some money; more than the average writer makes in a year, to be honest (but nowhere near as much as I made at my job). Being able to sit and write or edit–do something that contributed to publishing and fed my creative needs–gave me joy beyond words. That, and taking daily walks with my wife, being able to get my daughter ready for school every morning, being available when my family needed me. This was the dream I always wanted to live. Hours spent with the people I love, or sipping a mocha in a coffee shop with my laptop open in front of me. Life couldn’t be any better, right?
The thing about dreams is that you always eventually wake up.
Sound cynical? Come back soon for part 2 an find out more.
I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since the last time I wrote in my blog (bad writer…bad!), and even then, the last time I lazily reblogged one of Steven Montano’s entries from the Guild of Dreams blog. I’d like to think that there are still a few of you out there wondering where I’ve been, what’s been going on. In case there are, here is the answer:
That’s not really true. After a very intense year, the time had come to take a little time away, to concentrate on my family and myself for a while. Yes, it was selfish of me, but it needs to be done once in a while. The important thing is that it’s done…time to get back to work.
I’d like to tell you this is completely my own impetus, that my innate drive sparked back to life and is driving me back to it, but it would be wholly unfair of me to take the credit. No, this phoenix-like rising from the ashes (overly dramatic, you say?) was spurred to life by an email I received a couple of weeks ago. This magical correspondence came from my editor, the irrepressible Ella Medler. It seems that while I was lazing about ignoring my blog, Ella was busily doing all the work necessary to start her very own publishing company.
And her email was to invite me to be her first author in the newly created Paper Gold Publishing stable. After a couple or three years of struggling on my own, I now feel as though I have a partner.
Ella and Paper Gold have just released WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods) and will be releasing the second book in the
series, THE DARKNESS COMES, shortly.
I could go on about how happy this makes me for a few hours, but I will leave that for another time. For now, go check out Paper Gold Publishing (they are open to submissions), and Ella’s announcement on her blog. As for me, expect to see more of me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as showing up here a lot more often. In fact, I think it might be time to redecorate the old place, spruce it up and give it some life.
Make sure you pop back and have a look soon.
Great post from Steven Montano. What are your favourite cheesy fantasy movies?
Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pretty awesome. Game of Thrones, perhaps even better. For fans of epic fantasy, these efforts represent the culmination of what we love about the genre, everything that pulls us in whenever we pick up a new novel or sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons with our friends — the drama, the politics, the darkness, the sense of danger and wonder and excitement and the discovery of worlds that can only exist in the imagination.
But not every effort to bring epic fantasy to the screen have been nearly so successful. In fact, it’s safe to say that most of them were pretty awful…and yet we love them anyway.
It’s hard to say why epic fantasy translates so poorly to film, but it seems that much of what feels so sweeping and serious in the personalized experience of reading a novel comes across as a bit…
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For those of you who may not follow the Guild of Dreams blog, here’s my latest post in which I’m dabbling with a horror short story. Let me know what you think.
Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:
by Bruce Blake
A pleasant thing happened to me the other day…one of those things that all writers have experienced, but want to have happen more frequently.
A story began to form in my head.
It came out of no where, opening before me like a rolled carpet careening down a hill. It was only a few lines to begin with, but the more I turned them over in my head, inspecting them with the keen eye of a prospector determining the value of a nugget, the more it stuck, grew, developed.
This is how it started in my head:
It was Friday, April 13th the day they locked the door; none of us knew when it would open again. If it ever would.
I liked it. Two quick sentences to set up some questions in the reader’s head–who was being locked…
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We’ve come to the doldrums of the year…Christmas is long done and summer is too far away. How’s an intelligent man or woman supposed to pass the time? Watch reality TV? Invent role-playing games for you and your cat?
If these and other inane activities don’t work for you, then jump into I Read Fantasy’s Urban Fantasy Sale and Giveaway! From Feb. 20-22, pick up some great reads for cheap to pass the time and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card!
CHECK OUT THESE GREAT TITLES
Oh…and did I mention the opportunity to score a $100 Amazon gift card? Click the link for your chance to win:
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!!
A little while back, the Guild of Dreams hosted a cover reveal for Steven Montano’s next book in his fantastic Skullborn Trilogy, and I know you’ve been holding your breath ever since. Probably your palms have been sweaty with anticipation and you’ve been logging into your Amazon account every couple of hours to see if Path of Bones has gone live yet.
Great news…the wait is over.
Before you scroll down to the purchase links, here’s a little something to whet your appetite!
Path of Bones
Return to the world of Malzaria in the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling epic fantasy adventure City of Scars.
Hunted by Empires and crime lords alike, Ijanna Taivorkan and the young warrior Kath Cardrezhej make their north through the dire Bonelands, a twisted wastelands populated by unnatural terrors. Hoping to find the answers to her dark destiny and driven by a need to escape her fate, Ijanna won’t rest until she locates the last of the Skullborn.
Azander Dane, fallen Dawn Knight, pursues Ijanna in order to help her as a way for making amends for the crimes of his past. Aided by an exiled giant and gripped by a magical disease that is slowly driving him mad, Dane must brave the dangers of the Phage-controlled city of Kaldrak Iyresin order to reach the Dream Witch in time.
Beset at every turn by evil magic, powerful assassins and dark revelations, Dane and Ijanna will ultimately find themselves in the ruined city of Corinth, where ancient artifacts may hold the key to the world’s salavation…or to its untimely doom.
FROM CHAPTER 6
They made their journey in near silence.
Ijanna had never beheld a place so tainted and foul. The wind-blasted ruins of Gallador were dead lands, a black waste of dust and pestilence.
Steel clouds filled the sky like lost ships. Ijanna and Kath moved away from the River Black to avoid pirate vessels sailing out of Kaldrak Iyres, and traveled north along the eastern edge of the Razortooth. Dense black forests covered the mountains like fields of shadow.
Memory of what she’d lost turned her blood to ice, but Ijanna buried her fear and carried on.
The land was rough and bleak, all jagged hills and fields of razored thorns. They saw the ruined remnants of burned out buildings, and the few inhabited structures they came across were old forts or shanties used by refugees or slavers. They were deep in lawless territory, and Ijanna made clear to Kath there was only one rule in the Bonelands – stay alive, no matter the cost.
It was near dusk. The sky was muted orange and filled with ribbons of cloud. Everything glowed red as the sun set behind the knife-like peaks. There were few trails, but at least there was cover. Ijanna’s legs had started to cramp, but she wanted to make more progress before they had to camp for the night. The air smelled of something dead, and the black wind whistled like the voice of a dying man.
Kath, for his part, had been stoic and tight-lipped for the duration of their week-long journey across the unpleasant steppes, hacking his way through brambles that twisted like blades across the foothills. They’d be able to see Kaldrak Iyres within another day or two, but Ijanna had no intention of actually going there. She had enemies in the city, even more there than in Ebonmark, but avoiding it presented them with a problem, which Kath pointed out on those few occasions when he spoke to her: food in the region was scarce, and they’d soon need more of it. Bloodspeakers didn’t have the ability to conjure nourishment the way a Veilwarden could, and since there was little game to be found Ijanna couldn’t even use charms of beguiling to slow a deer or hawk down long enough for them to hunt game.
Voicing concern over their provisions was really the only conversation Kath had offered since leaving Ebonmark. Ijanna didn’t blame him – she’d taken him from his world and his family, all for a purpose he didn’t believe in and couldn’t understand.
How can he, when I hardly understand it myself?
She wanted to talk to him, to try and comfort him, but she didn’t know where to start. His mother had been stolen away from his family in much the same way that Ijanna had stolen him, and though she hated herself for it there was little she could do. The Veil had bonded them the moment Ijanna used her magic to heal Kath of the magical plague Serpentheart, and to deny him his Veil-driven purpose to protect her would kill him.
But it doesn’t have to be a death sentence, she thought. Talk to him. But every time she tried he just grunted and made clear he wasn’t interested in what she had to say.
So they pressed on, awkward and silent. They walked and camped and scanned their surroundings for any sign of enemies or pursuit, but there was rarely anything living in sight. The few pirates or scavengers they’d viewed had all been from afar, and aside from an occasional hawk or vole they hadn’t even seen any wildlife. Even insects seemed to avoid the Bonelands.
After another hour spent walking across uneven stones and climbing through brush Ijanna was thoroughly exhausted. Since Kath always followed her lead she tried to make good time, rising early and marching for as long as they could. She didn’t know what else to do. Direction had been burned into her mind since she was young, and her desire to find the other Skullborn – and possibly the answers to her questions about avoiding her suicidal destiny – had been reinforced by the thar’koon, those bizarre twin blades which guided her into the heart of the Bonelands. She felt close, so close, to escaping the fate foreseen by the mystics of Allaj Mohrter. They told her she’d heal the world through her sacrifice, and that the only way to prevent a terrible cataclysm was to end her own life and resurrect the Blood Queen. It was a well-guarded secret she imagined would be enough to bring the Empires of Jlantria and Den’nar to the walls of Allaj Mohrter looking for war if it ever got out.
Ijanna couldn’t accept that fate.
And yet that path felt right. It was difficult to doubt its validity, what with all of the signs, the prophecies and portents that had been shown to her time and again, the evidence of her power, the dreams, and the many forces who wanted to get their hands on her. She felt guilty for wanting to find another path for herself, guilty that many had already died in her attempts to elude her destiny, but she’d come too far to stop now.
She had to believe there was some way to be free of her curse. She was one of the most powerful Bloodspeakers to have ever lived, and unlike others of her kind she had a limitless reservoir of power. She would never wonder how many minutes of her life she’d just burned away creating some charm or illusion, never regret those spent seconds as she grew older, wondering what piece of magic she could have avoided just to give herself more time.
I have my own prison, she thought bitterly. I have a freedom no Bloodspeaker will ever know, yet it doesn’t matter, because in the end I’ll die just like the rest.
A sense of dread weighed heavy on her soul even now that she finally had the means to track down the last of her kind. What if Kala had no more information than she herself did? In many ways this gambit felt like it was her last hope. Ijanna had already tracked down the other Skullborn, and as a reward for her diligence she’d made a deadly enemy. If Kala couldn’t help her, all of Ijanna’s efforts would have been in vain.
But would that be so horrible? she asked herself. There are worse deaths than sacrificing yourself for the greater good. People die by the hundreds every day, murdered, starving, diseased. Your death would have purpose. Meaning.
It didn’t make her feel any better. Ijanna went to sleep every night in the grip of fear. Her nerves were frayed, and it wasn’t just because of the dangers of their surroundings or her desperate hope that Kath would survive his servitude.
Before long she’d finally have to accept the inevitable. She’d have to accept her fate.
I can’t. I’m not ready.
Check out the page on Goodreads!
City of Scars (Skullborn Trilogy #1)
It’s been three decades since the Blood Queen led her legions on a brutal campaign of conquest and destruction, and the Empires are still struggling to rebuild. Now, in the distant aftermath of the war, the real battle is about to begin.
Haunted by the crimes of his past, fallen knight Azander Dane ekes out a mercenary existence as he drifts from one city to the next. His latest job is to hunt down Ijanna Taivorkan, a powerful outlaw witch desperate to escape her destiny.
Dane and Ijanna find themselves in Ebonmark, the City of Scars, where deadly crime guilds and shadowy agents of the White Dragon Empire prepare for a brutal confrontation. Pursued by apocalypse cults, mad alchemists, exiled giants and werewolf gangs, Dane and Ijanna soon learn a deadly lesson – in Ebonmark, only the cruelest and most cunning can survive.
City of Scars is the first volume of The Skullborn Trilogy, an all new epic fantasy adventure from the author of BloodSkies .
Check out bloodskies.com for more!
Steven Montano is an author, accountant, and blogger, part human and part…well, we’re not entirely sure, but he sure does write a lot of books.
Steven is the author of the Skullborn novels (City of Scars, Path of Bones), the Blood Skies series (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, Crucifix Point, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a paranormal action/horror/thriller; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and The Black Tower, the conclusion to The Skullborn trilogy.
He and his family live in Michigan, where even zombies fear to tread.
Visit Steven’s official website at http://www.stevenmontano.com