Tag Archives: fantasy

Free plug for a paid book blogging gig

Book collection

Book collection (Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

Would you like to be paid to blog about books?

No, I’m not kidding. I saw that in my Facebook feed recently and thought it was worth sharing. Not FB “sharing”, because that would have gone to a lot of my non-bookish friends, but blog sharing. Which means, of course, that I’m telling you lovely people rather than, say, my mum.

momentum logo

The offer comes from Momentum Books, which is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia, and essentially they are looking for someone to write 4-8 posts a month about books, reading, and book and storytelling culture. Essentially, if it’s about a book, it could well be what they’re looking for, and they are offering $AU20 per post. You don’t have to be Australian to enter, but the posts do have to be in English. (Australians are generally a monolingual bunch.) They are especially looking for bloggers who focus on romance, fantasy and/or science fiction, but more general blogs will also be considered.

Sound good? Or, maybe, just worth looking into? Well, go to this post of their blog to get full information and submission details – but do it soon. Entries close on April 25th Australian time (less than two weeks from now).

Good luck, and happy blogging.:)


Filed under blog, community announcement, reading, writing

Book review: The Sword and the Flame: The Forging and The Sword and the Flame: The Purging, by CP Bialois

The Sword and the Flame, by CP Bialois


This is a review of the books The Sword and the Flame: The Forging and The Purging, by CP Bialois. I know I don’t normally review more than one book at a time but it seemed pointless to do only one here when they are very much a set. They are set in a fantasy world of magic, elves, dwarves, halflings and gods, and follow the adventures of a group of travellers seeking their freedom.

The series starts with the halfling Janessa and her human friend Viola, who is a Mage in training. In this world, halflings are known pickpockets and are treated with mistrust, so to have a friendship like this is rare. They venture outside their city walls to visit a travelling company of merchants & entertainers, where they encounter Mern, a Mage with ulterior motives who befriends Viola; Berek, a human with unexplained super-sensory abilities; and Galin, a dwarf who has forsaken his kind who live underground to instead live the life of a travelling salesman.

Normally I don’t like to comment much on editorial errors in self published books. The fact is, if you’re picky enough then you will find mistakes in even traditionally published works, and usually it’s not of any magnitude that matters. These books, however, could really have done with a good proof-read. Run-on sentences are commonplace, and the author seems to have trouble with homonyms – for example, a village was raised (rather than razed) to the ground, a character was moving his personal affects (rather than effects) on a cart, and there were references to a journey to another plain (rather than plane). Done occasionally, this isn’t a big deal, but it happened often enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Once I got past that, though, it was an entertaining, if not high quality, read. The story of Berek’s escape from his slave-holder was well done, and the growing bond between Galin and Janessa was a pleasure to behold. Viola’s journey from trainee to mage was also enjoyable.  Parts confused me at first, like the cleric Gilliam’s mistrust of magic-users when he uses spells himself, but when that was explained later it made enough sense for me to gloss over the initial confusion. I also felt that some parts of it were rushed a little: Fleir’s addition to the company was one example, and the battle in Solava (especially its conclusion) was another. It was like the author had too many subplots and events that he wanted to fit into the story, and I felt that if some of these had been fleshed out a little more it would have made a better read.

Finally, I thought the title was a little misleading. I’m the first to admit that titles are really difficult to get right, and I’m not willing to offer an alternative, but I thought that they implied that there would be a special sword that was forged and used to win the war. Instead, what is forged is the strength of the unlikely company, and what is purged is selfishness and greed. It’s still relevant, but a lot more obscurely so than I had expected.

Overall, if you are looking for a decent fantasy read that tells an entertaining story, The Sword and the Flame is worth picking up. If, however, you are distracted by editorial errors and flimsy segues, then perhaps it might be worth waiting until a new edition is released. An entertaining series, yes, but not without it flaws.



The Sword and the Flame: The Forging and The Sword and the Flame: The Purging, by CP Bialois
Published by Amazon Digital Services
442 and 397 pages (paperback)
Available from Amazon.com as paperback and ebooks

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Guest post: You’re probably a fan, you just didn’t know it, by Eric Swett


I cannot remember a time where I did not enjoy reading fantasy. I have gone through periods of time where my focus had shifted to science fiction, and I will occasionally read a historical fiction, but I always come back to fantasy. For a long time I was unaware that fantasy could be subdivided into sub-genres. It was all fantasy to me. A few years ago a friend of mine gave me his book to read and I loved it. One Right Tricky Bastard was the story of a wizard in the modern world who had to deal with all of the troubles of modern life with the added complication of magic and monsters being real. I was  hooked. I asked if he knew any other books like that and he turned me on to Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files series. I tore through those books as well and started hunting for others. I had been pulled into the Urban Fantasy sub-genre.

So what is an Urban Fantasy? The major defining requirement for an Urban Fantasy revolves around the setting. A traditional Fantasy novel tends to include fantastic creatures and/or magic in some sort of a medieval setting. The Urban Fantasy will include the creatures or magic, but the world is modern (or at least post medieval) and usually revolves around a town or city. Whether the fantastic elements are out in the open or hidden from most people does not matter, as long as it exists. This in itself is a rather broad definition of the sub-genre, and it bleeds into a number of other sub-genres (especially horror), but is the most direct definition of Urban Fantasy.

It is almost impossible to avoid Urban Fantasy lately (not that I would recommend avoiding it), so let’s take a look at a few different books, movies and television shows that would fall into the Urban Fantasy category.


Wow, the possibilities here are endless, but as an example I could use Fright Night, Drive Angry, or Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark as examples. Each of them is a story told in the modern world and involves an element of the supernatural (which is really just another way of saying magic and monsters), but an even more direct example is the 2011 film, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. The main character is a private investigator who works amongst the monsters that lurk amongst every day people. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and magic blend together with a modern world that is all too willing to not notice their existence. The movie itself was mediocre at best, but it is a perfect example of the genre.

Urban Fantasy


Two prime examples of Urban Fantasy on television are the long running Supernatural and Grimm. Both involve monsters, ghosts, and magic in the modern world. Both shows cater to the idea that the world is filled with supernatural entities that people are just not aware of and the heroes do the best they can to keep it that way. Secret Circle and Vampire Diaries are a couple of examples that fall into the genre, but they are also categorized as paranormal romance or even teen drama, but they are set in a modern world and involve magic or monsters (yes, the vampires are sexy, but still monsters). Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and American Horror Story are all examples of Urban Fantasy shows on television.


I could list plenty of books here, but instead I’m going to name two series that fall into the Urban Fantasy genre, even though they are regularly considered part of different genres.

Harry Potter is one of the biggest Urban Fantasy series of all time, though no one ever thinks to call it that. There is magic and monsters in every book and the inclusion of those elements in the modern world definitely qualify the series for the genre. The Twilight Saga, traditionally classified as Romance or Fantasy (as well as Young -Adult), also qualifies as Urban Fantasy with its heavy dose of vampires and werewolves.

As you can see, Urban Fantasy is everywhere, so what other Urban Fantasies have you found hiding in plain sight?



Apocalypse Rising, by Eric Swett

Thanks Eric! Food for thought indeed, as I too had never really thought to split fantasy stories into sub-categories. He is absolutely right, though, and it’s amazing to think how many well-loved books, films and television series fit into this sub-genre. If you’d like to see how Eric puts his love of Urban Fantasy into practice, check out his book Apocalypse Rising, available as ebook or paperback on Amazon.


Eric Swett started writing a story at 100 words a day in the spring of 2011 as an exercise while he worked on his novel. One year later and that exercise turned into his first novel, Apocalypse Rising. He has started another 100 word project (which can be found on his blog here) and the sequel to his first book.

He is the husband of Tracy and the father of Zachary and Connor. He works in the IT industry and is a recent transplant to North Carolina. He loves all things science fiction and fantasy and openly claims the title of geek.


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Novel excerpt: Morning Star (Ethos), by Desiree Finkbeiner

Ethos: Morning Star, by Desiree Finkbeiner

Today I’m privileged to host an excerpt from Morning Star, first novel in the Ethos series by Desiree Finkbeiner. It was released on March 28 and already has 70 reviews on Amazon, 68 of which are five stars.

Here’s a taste of this very highly rated book:

Life goes on as it normally does… work, school, recreation, taxes… and for the ignorant, life is bliss. But when a mysterious stranger enters Brianna’s mundane routine, her eyes are opened to the dark underbelly of reality. She’s thrust into a race for her life when Kalen, a warrior from Ethos, discovers that she is harboring a secret… a secret that he’d give his life to protect.

There’s just one little problem… they are tempted by a forbidden romance, which threatens to compromise a divinely appointed mission. They are faced with a choice… love eternal, or the end of the world…

Sound intriguing? Well, the news gets better. Up till midnight US time, the book is FREE on Amazon.com. Actually, there are ten books that Hydra Publications are offering free till midnight, so if you get in quick you can load up your kindle with some great titles for absolutely nothing. So what are you waiting for?

The books can be found here:
Morning Star (Ethos) by Desiree Finkbeiner
Andraste by Marisa Mills
Bridgeworld by Travis McBee
Gnosis  by Tom Wallace
Heart of the Hunter  by Linda Anne Wulf
Secret  by Morinda Montgomery
The Heart Denied  by Linda Anne Wulf
The Universal Mirror by Gwen Perkins
Ukishima by Nigel Sellars

About the author:

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art– She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events.

Desiree Finkbeiner

She had a scholarship for acting in college though she was not a theater major. Although she no longer performs or focuses on musical/performing arts, she has chosen to shift her talents to other areas that are more conducive to raising a family.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.


Thanks, Desiree! It looks like an awesome book and I can’t wait to read it. I hope that everyone who sees this post makes the most of the free offer at Amazon while it lasts – get in quickly!


Filed under novel excerpt, reading

Author interview: Kathleen S. Allen

Today I’m interviewing Kathleen S. Allen, author of a number of books in genres including poetry, fantasy, zombie, historical fiction, and murder mysteries. Kathleen has a new fantasy novel coming out TODAY, called Lore of Fei, and she has very generously agreed to answer a few questions about it. Here is what she has to say.

Lore of Fei, by Kathleen S. Allen

Tell me about the book. What inspired you to write it?

Lore of Fei is about the race of faeries who are trying to hold onto their land of Fei where they have lived for generations. The warmongering humans know that the Veil of Enclosure, the boundary that separates Fei from Hege, is dissolving. This allows the humans to travel to Fei to steal faerie children in order to enslave them. Ariela is a mutant faerie, she has no wings. She is mistaken for a human child believed to be stolen by the faeries when she was a baby. The warlord, Kel, kills her faerie parents and takes her to Kel’s Lair, the village he governs. She escapes but the Faerie Council wants her to be a spy for them and pretend to be human. They also want her to fix the Veil of Enclosure, but only a silver winged faerie can repair it and no silver winged faerie has been born. But, because Ariela has no wings, she has no faerie magic (magos) – or does she?

It will be released on April 27th  -today – by Muse it Up Publishing. Check out the book trailer on You Tube here: http://youtu.be/V1GF3KP6gGI

I have a webpage at: www.loreoffei.weebly.com set up for the Lore of Fei series.  My other website,  http://www.gaelicfairie.webs.com, has information about each book and also features my Jane Eyre mash up, Thornfield Manor: Jane Eyre and Vampires for your enjoyment.

What is it about the fantasy genre that interests you? How did you enjoy the process of world creation?

I love the idea of a world close to our own but different. As a child I believed that if I could time it right, I would see a faerie. Alas, I never did. So I have to write about them instead! The process of world building is fascinating. I had to be careful and go over it to make sure I didn’t break my own rules. I included a glossary at the end of the book because I use “faerie” words for a lot of things. I don’t usually plot out my novels, I am more of a pantser—writing by the seat of my pants—but for this book I had to plot it using a timeline, characters, time frame etc. I even made a family tree for my two main characters.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How long had you been writing before you began to take it seriously?

I wrote my first book of poems at the age of eight. I remember writing as soon as I learned I could. My mother insisted it was when I was three but I think it was more like when I was five. I’ve always taken my writing seriously but didn’t always have the time to put into it. About a year ago I had an injury that caused me to be off work for a year (now resolved) and so I decided to write and publish some of my novels.  I had my first poem published when I was 15 and my first short story when I was 21. I published two of my novels, Witch Hunter and Please to See the King in 2006 with a publisher but I got the rights back and published them myself this past year.

You’re a veteran of both self-publishing and using traditional publishers.  What have these experiences been like?

I like the freedom of self publishing a lot. I like choosing my own book cover and making my own book trailers and choosing when I will publish it and to what formats. The issue I have with it is having to promote without much money. I’ve done all I can and hope the readers find me but it’s difficult with all the authors out there. I have gone with two smaller publishers and the experience with both has been positive. Of course with smaller publishers again, the promotion is not there as much. Would I like an agent who would send my stuff to “the big six”? Of course. I am actively seeking an agent and have four novels “out there.” An historical fiction, a Dystopian, a zombie book and a contemporary, all young adult. If I don’t get any interest in the next few months I will probably self-publish again.

One of my novels, Fitzroy: The Boy who Would be King is about Henry VIII illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and is my second best selling book. The first is Aine, which is about a girl who discovers she’s a banshee.

I just finished book 2 of the Lore of Fei series, called War of Fei. I am going to do a third book in the series (untitled as of yet).

What advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there?

Don’t stop writing, no matter what and never give up on your dreams. You have to make it happen, you can’t just hope it will. Learn all you can about your craft and write every day. Get beta readers who will help you write to your best ability, join a writing group (even online is good). Don’t be “married” to your words, listen to your betas, listen to your editor and take what they say and use it to make your book better. If you decide to self-publish, get a professional book cover designer, make sure it’s formatted properly for each venue (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords), and this one is important, hire a professional editor to go over you manuscript. This can be pricey but it’s worth it to give your readers the best possible reading experience. Build up your fan base so readers will expect a quality book from you every time.


Thanks, Kathleen! If this has whetted your appetite to read Lore of Fei, you can find it, along with Kathleen’s numerous other works, at Amazon.


Filed under author interview, writing