Category Archives: Guest Posts

A World without Compromise by David Brown


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A World without Compromise

by David Brown

I was seventeen and studying at college when I first came up with the idea of Elenchera. The previous year I had discovered the RPG series, Final Fantasy, on the Playstation and I found the games to be remarkable. They blended sci-fi elements into richly adorned fantasy worlds, they had compelling characters both good and bad, epic storylines and they offered a memorable visceral experience as well, though that was the least important factor to me. I didn’t realise at the time that these games would change my life.

Final Fantasy allows the user to summon gods to aid their characters in battle and it was from this array of deities that I first discovered Odin. I assumed most of the gods in the game were invented but some were familiar from religious education at school so I delved deeper. I found that not only was Odin an actual god, he was the principal deity of Norse  mythology, the faith embraced by the Vikings who launched relentless raids throughout Europe beginning in the late 8th century and only coming to an end around the 11th century. In that time the Vikings, led by Leif Ericsson, discovered America in 1100 AD, not Christopher Columbus as many may believe.

I began to read the mythology in-depth as well as branching out and reading the Sagas of the Icelanders, narratives from the descendants of Vikings, which told tales of their harsh lives and the many battles fought. Norse mythology is not colourful and romantic like the Greek stories or romance at court as you find in the Arthurian myths. The Norse tales are often gritty and the story of Ragnarok, where the world ends leads to a cataclysmic battle between good and evil where Odin is killed at the very start! I was drawn to Norse mythology because it had this uncompromising nature about it. Yes, there is great beauty amongst the gods, such as Freyja, but in essence this is a harsh world and I wanted that for my own work. It would mirror our own world which I don’t need to tell you is a difficult place to survive for far too many of us.

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Writing to me is … Guest Post by Karen Pokras Toz


Writing To Me Is…

by Karen Pokras Toz

…A new endeavor.  Had you asked me to finish this sentence five years ago, I might have said that writing to me was a chore. It was something that didn’t interest me one bit.  I was a reader – not a writer. But a story in my head kept nagging at me, asking to be put to paper. So, two years ago, I decided to give it a try. An amazing thing happened. I found out I enjoyed writing. In fact, I quickly became infatuated with this new activity I had discovered. Here I was, a 40 something year old woman giddy over this new passion. I wrote every day – the words flowed fast and furious, and before I knew it, I had an 85,000-word novel written. It was awful! But it didn’t matter, as I had discovered something so fulfilling, I was not about to let it escape me. So instead, I worked at improving my art. I found a writing coach, joined critique groups, and asked everyone and anyone for advice. The advice was consistent: “You have a young voice – you would make a great children’s author.”

I took this advice to heart, put aside my first manuscript, and began developing my popular character, “Nate Rocks” – 4th grader extraordinaire and star of Nate Rocks the World, and newly released, Nate Rocks the Boat.

So now when you ask me, “Writing to me is…” I answer: “proof you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.” A lesson I try to convey in the Nate Rocks Series and beyond.

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Reading is what made me a writer by Malika Gandhi


Reading is what made me a writer

by Malika Gandhi

Ever wished you had a time machine? I’m sure, like me, everyone has wished for one at many stages of their lives.

I wanted to be a writer at a very young age, at the age of eight or nine. At that time, something triggered an unconscious thought into my brain of wanting to be a writer. Was it the obsessive reading I did as a child? Perhaps so. The long hours I spent reading words, book after book hadn’t gone unnoticed within my family circle who would tease me about it (I had a tendency to curl up in a corner, take my book out and read, ignoring the activity before me. I always got lost in my book world).

I loved the library.  I made several, glorious trips to the big building which contained the published works of those successful writer people!  I would rummage through the isle looking for those perfect reads. We were allowed to take out eight books at a time and that is what I did when some would only take out two. I took out my cherished library card and had my eight books scanned into the library system.

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Memorable Characters? Who Needs ‘em? by John Zunski


Memorable Characters? Who Needs ‘em?

by John Zunski

I was recently asked during a radio interview about characterization. Wait, let me back up…  unless you’re already a fan and you’re reading this you maybe wondering who the hell is John Zunski and why should I care?  My short answer: If you like memorable characters, it might behoove you to introduce yourself to my imaginary friends. They make their residence in Cemetery Street and Shangri-La Trailer Park.

In my humble opinion, great characters are high octane fuel for the story engine. Without deep characters a high-performance plot will ping and knock. Not to mention, memorable characters come with their own stories. Think about your family, friends, or neighbors: the memorable ones all have great stories, or even better, they have unique if not bizarre traits. Ask Barnum and Bailey, they made a name for themselves promoting such characters.

“John, they exploited those poor folks.”

Maybe… but, let me ask you this.  Who’s more interesting?

Granny A is navigating a shopping cart through crowded aisles. She’s tired, the two year-old throwing a tantrum in the candy aisle annoys her, and the inattentive parent angers her, but she says nothing and politely ambles by.

 Granny B hops onto an electric shopping cart. She hangs her cane from the handle bar and pulls in front of young couple pushing a cart. “Watch where you’re going,” she snaps. She finds a crowded aisle and steers down it. “Get out of my way,” she barks grabbing her cane, threatening to poke those in front of her. “I’m in a hurry; I don’t have much time left.”

I don’t know about you, I would rather know Granny A, she’s probably a dear person and bakes great cookies, but, boring! Without question, I want to read about Granny B. I find myself wishing that if I make her age that I’ll have such gumption.

“John, that’s well and good, but Granny B isn’t believable.”

Dear reader, you haven’t shopped at my local Wal-mart.

 Please help me save my sanity; help stop me from shopping at Wal-mart. How? Check out Cemetery Street. You may fall in love with my imaginary friends, and then I could shop at a real grocery store.

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How Indie is Changing Reading by Charlotte E. English


This post is part of the ‘Charlotte E English as ‘Featured Author’ for an entire week!’ extravaganza. As part of this, we have two other posts at the participating bloggers. So, go ahead and check them out as well!

  1. What Makes a Heroine Strong? – A guest post at Urban Fantasy Reviews
  2. Excerpt from ‘Orlind’, the soon-to-be-released third book in the series at Ebook Apothecary
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How Indie is Changing Reading by Charlotte E. English

I got my first e-reader in October of 2010, a Kindle. It looks a little clunky compared with the latest generation – it’s got the big keyboard on it and seems relatively huge. But I’m used to the weight and the feel of it by now.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but when I first got that Kindle I wasn’t yet thinking about publishing my own fiction. Nor was publishing the first thing that I thought about when I began finding, buying and reading self-published books. As a reader,self-published ebooks were the most exciting thing that had happened in my literary world since… well, since I discovered books at the age of eight.

The new Self Publishing Phenomenon

The new Self Publishing Phenomenon

Why might that be? It isn’t as though I’d lacked reading material before that. Year after year, far more books are published in paperback than it’s possible for a single person to read in a lifetime. What excited me so much was the potential for literature to break out of certain fixed patterns.

I read a lot of different genres, though one of my enduring favourites is fantasy (no surprise there, right?). I’ve found a lot of great fantasy books that have come out of publishing houses in recent years. I’ve also slogged through an awful lot of same-old, however. You know the drill. Such-and-such was a huge hit, so about a million books that are similar in some way proceed to hit the market over the next few years. Most of the books that get published are novels of a certain length; shorter works don’t get much attention. The same plots, character types and worlds come up over and over again. It makes sense from the publisher perspective: these are the formulas that sell best, so they keep being used.

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