Hi lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host CJ Perry and his new book, “Dark Communion”! For other stops on his Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above.
Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win one of TWO Gift Cards!! Yep – that’s right!! There will be TWO lucky winners in this giveaway!! One lucky winner will win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card and the other lucky winner will win a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card. Also, come back daily to interact with CJ and to increase your chances of winning!
Thanks for stopping by! Wishing you lots of luck in this exciting giveaway!
by CJ Perry
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
The minotaurs have kept Ayla and Deetra's people in chains for 200 years. With nothing left to live for, and a death sentence in her womb, Ayla trades her soul for a chance to break the curse which holds her people in slavery. Armed only with her faith, she and Deetra start a revolution, and bring about the return of the Goddess of Darkness.
Ayla lifted the woman’s chin with her finger. “What is your name?”
“How far along are you?” They both knew what she really asked; are you carrying a calf?
The woman met Ayla’s eyes and did not look away.
Ayla’s heart ached with pity. Judging by the size of her womb, if she had carried a human child, she would only have two months to go. Horses clopped up the drawbridge until the other wagon stopped behind the first. The people on the back leaned to see what went on up ahead. Ayla knelt down in front of the pregnant woman on the cool stone of the gatehouse.
Her voice echoed off the stone walls. “Who is this man with you?”
The woman bowed her head. “My brother, Gaelan, milady.”
Butch’s chest rumbled. “It’s Priestess.”
The woman looked up, then back down and hurried to correct herself. “He’s my brother, Priestess.”
Ayla shook her head at Butch with a stern look and he dipped his head in silent apology. She lifted the woman’s chin again. Her voice kept the compassion it had before, but with an edge.
“You are too far along for any surgeon to help you.”
“I know, Priestess. That’s not why I came.” The pregnant woman’s green eyes held Ayla’s gaze and did not waiver. She set her jaw. “I want to fight.”
Making the Story Believable: How to Write Realistic Fantasy
There is no trick to writing realistic fantasy, but there are some things to keep in mind. The first one is: “plausibility not realism.” The most helpful question to ask while writing is: “Does this fantasy element NEED to be in here?” If the answer is, “No,” or “I'm not sure,” or “I could make a reason,” or any variation of those - cut it. There’s a chance it will stick out in the reader’s mind as odd, or bring up too many questions that will distract them and pull them out of the story.
For instance, I once was asked to review a Modern Fantasy novel on my blog (artofthearcane.wordpress.com) that I put down after one or two chapters because of a single fantasy element. It was a cube worn on the wrist like a watch for communication. Nothing wrong with that I guess, until you consider that it was a “magic” device with a silly name that duplicated something that we, and the characters in this MODERN story already have in real life. Cellphones. At first I didnt know that was what bothered me. It just felt hokey. Later, as I wrote the review I finally figured it out.
A product like that has to have a need. With so many devices that can do the same thing, a magical cube-phone is superfluous. What wizard, shaman, or mage is going to burn lean calories to make a cellphone/tablet/smartwatch when he can just run out to a store that sells them, or just steal one? Now, the argument could be made that the need was to avoid detection by the NSA or what-have-you, but that need was not expressed in the story. Not only that, but that world had an abundance of magic. Invariably, the same surveillance/protection arms race would still exist amongst magic users - again negating the need for that device in the story.
So, what's the point of that looong example? It demonstrates how long the discussion or explanation has to get to explain or argue a bad fantasy element in a story. It works the other way around too. If a lot of technology exists in a high fantasy story with plenty of magic, it should be obvious why that technology exists. Is magic a recent thing and the technology was already there? Because, who the hell needs steam power when you have levitation and other forms of magical propulsion and travel? Who needs gunpowder when there is a mage on every corner with a fireball spell? Your reason for having these things in your story should conform to the setting or to common sense without the need for too much explicit telling.
Another mindset that’s needed is courage. Stephen King said, “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.” Don’t be fearful of fantasy elements in a story. As long as they have a need in the world, it is plausible that they exist. It’s the author's world and they can shape it any way that serves the story, plot, and characters best. Write fearlessly. While a wrist-cube-phone made me close a book forever, the Medusa sitting at the front desk of a police station made me keep reading another one. But there was a REASON medusa took a receptionist job at the police station. The premise of the book explains it, and the author used just one sentence to help with the justification. It was just enough that, while it surprised me, I liked it. Medusa felt right in her swivel chair, her snake-hair fetching her a pencils and watching who else came in the door. It was brilliant.
Moral of the story: As long as logic is on the side of the fantasy element, and it is written fearlessly, the reader will believe in the story. Suspension of disbelief is powerful, but illogical, or fearful storytelling can snuff it out. Stay logical and courageous - and your reader will follow as far down the rabbit hole as the story takes them.
My deep and abiding love of fantasy began when I was six when I first saw the 1981 film Dragonslayer on VHS with my father. He loved fantasy movies too, but didn’t have the courage to be a dork about it like I did. That movie was a gateway drug that led me straight to the hard stuff - CS Lewis. I was far too young for such potency but by the time I was ten I had read the whole series. That’s when I found my first Dungeons and Dragons group. When I started playing, my friends and I used pre-made campaign settings and published adventures, but I quickly grew restless with their limitations and trite story lines. I needed my own persistent world: something adaptable to my whim and that no one else owned.
Back in my day, there was no internet, so I took out every book about castles and medieval history from the school library and read them in Math class (I'm still terrible at math as a result). I came up with an entire world and brand new history. I read books on cartography and hand drew maps of my new world. I created a cosmology, a hierarchy of gods, and the tenets of their religions. I read the Dungeon Master's guide a dozen times, and every fantasy novel I could get my hands on.
Then, one day, I sat down and told my friends, "Hey guys, wanna try my story instead?"
Even 15 years after the original D&D campaigns ended, former players tell me that they share our incredible stories with their children. I'm honored to say that most of those players still have their original character sheets 16-20 years later, and a couple have even named their children after them.
Now, I'm 39 years old and a loving father of 2 girls, and I still play those games on occasion. My passion has evolved into putting those ideas and amazing stories on paper for the whole world to enjoy. My first novel took me and co-author DC Fergerson 10 years to write and topped out at 180,000 words. Being too long and too complex, I finally ended the project and took its lessons to heart.
I learned that Dungeons & Dragons did not translate well into a novel. D&D made for great times, but also for some meandering plot lines, pointless encounters, and poor character motivations. No matter how memorable some of the moments were, if I wanted anyone to read my story, I needed to learn a lot more about writing.
I threw myself into being a full time student of novel crafting. I read every book on writing by Dwight Swain I could find. I paid Chuck Sambuchino (Editor for Writer's Digest) to critique and edit my older work. I took James Patterson's Masterclass, went to college, and joined online writing communities. All the while, I read my favorite fantasy novels again, only this time with a mental highlighter. I reworked my stories, outlined them, and decided to start from the beginning.
Many, many years later, I am in the final edit and proofreading stage of Dark Communion, the first installment of the Shadowalker Chronicles. My role as a father of two girls heavily influenced the characters I’d known for over 20 years, shaping them into women that my own daughters could respect. My characters took on a depth and quality that brings them off the page and into the minds of readers, because they have become all too real. I was privileged enough to work on two careers at the same time to accomplish this feat - a fun-loving and involved stay-at-home dad, and a full time writer.
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This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions. Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.