Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Fantasy

Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

Our last conversation was about “serious writing”, on May 2nd, 7th, and 9th… Genre Writing

It ended because the last post had no comments…

So, here I go again, starting up a new conversation :-)

I’ll begin with the word history of “Genre”:

1770, “particular style of art,” a French word in English (nativized from c. 1840), from French genre “kind, sort, style” (see gender (n.)). Used especially in French for “independent style.” In painting, as an adjective, “depicting scenes of ordinary life” (a domestic interior or village scene, as compared to landscapehistorical, etc.) from 1849.

If you did a Google Search on “Genre”, you’d have a merry time trying to sort out all the opinions…

Sure, authors often stay within certain well-established genres; like Murder Mystery, Police Procedural, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Alternative History, etc., etc., etc….

Still, my favorite fiction writer, C. J. Cherryh, usually wrote in either Sci-fi or Fantasy (though, she ably warped them at will…); plus she has a series, the Morgaine Cycle, that is both Fantasy and Sci-Fi…

So what is this slippery “quality” of fiction that has well-walled-off communities of writers and readers, as well as many examples of strange and wonderful hybrids of all types; and, certainly, some works that can’t be corralled into any specific category…

Being the kind of writer I am, I can easily go out on a literary limb and say: One could consider each author’s unique style their own particular “Niche” in the book world…

Oh, my, now I have to show you the word history for Niche:

1610s, “shallow recess in a wall,” from French niche “recess (for a dog), kennel” (14c.), perhaps from Italian nicchia “niche, nook,” from nicchio “seashell,” said by Klein and Barnhart to be probably from Latin mitulus “mussel,” but the change of -m- to -n- is not explained. Watkins suggests that the word is from an Old French noun derived from nichier “to nestle, nest, build a nest,” via Gallo-Roman *nidicare from Latin nidus “nest” (see nidus), but that has difficulties, too. Figurative sense is first recorded 1725. Biological use dates from 1927.

So, following my maverick logic, we could consider:

…the author’s “nook” of “style” for their writing; or, the “nest” of their “kind” of writing; or, their particular “sort” of “recess” in which their writing happens…

Too strange to consider…? Or, fruitful of thought…?

What are your thoughts and feelings about “Genre”…?

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Author Interview ~ Jennifer Morrey

You may know that I’ve jumped into the middle of Wattpad in full Engagement-mode

So much so, that I already have interviews here with three Wattpad authors:   Holly Gonzalez,    J. A. Partridge, and Raphyel M Jordan (here are all the Author Interviews…).

And, here comes number four :-)

~~~  Welcome, Jennifer. First of all, please, tell us about your series, how many books are planned, and any other info you want to share.

Thank you for this opportunity to have an interview! I think the favorite subject of any author is their books…

I’m writing a series called The Ball of Lights. Four books are planned,  two books are completed—available right now on Wattpad, Gallel’s Heir and The Value of Gifts. Book Four is called The Land Beyond The Eastern Horizon. Book 3 does not yet have a name.

The first book, Gallel’s Heir, is the story of what a mother will do to Gallel's Heir protect her daughter from a life she fears, and what a powerful mind mage will do to free a demon she is in love with..

The beginning chapters of Book Three will be posted within the next few weeks. Book 4 has several chapters posted. Before you think I am crazy to post book 4 before book 3—well, it starts with another main character in another part of the world; what is posted takes place towards the beginning of Book 1. The story lines align in Book 4.

Another book, one of my favorites, is a novella I plan to expand into a novel—this is called The Ancient of Dunáya.

Humans believe the well of Dunáya forest is a wishing well, but really drinking from it unlocks and brings to the surface what lurks in the heart. This is from the same world as The Ball of Lights, but 2500 years in the past and (small spoiler alert!) the character Sirah is actually the time mage in most of Gallel’s Heir‘s chapter quotes.

Well! I’ve read Gallel’s Heir—Excellent Book—and you just solved a mystery for me :-)

So, let’s go back in your history a bit—what was your first inspiration for writing?

When I was a kid, I didn’t play with baby dolls or Barbies… They just didn’t interest me. I played with trolls, the ones with the stick-up, colorful hair. I had about 50 of them at one time and created back stories and family groups for all of them. My favorite, Rolletta Neugan, still watches over me on my desk. I still talk to her. My first stories were about her and her family… I made a whole world for them that still lives in my mind. The earliest drafts of my books existed in that world.

Incredibly fascinating, Jennifer…

So, are the sentient species in your novels actually trolls?

Not exactly. Over time, my characters got taller and more human like. Though, I do have races that are blue or gray, in addition to the brown or pinkish groups we are familiar with.

You write fantasy. What do you think of the standard fantasy races– elves and dwarves and orcs and so forth?

If I ever devised a plot where I needed a non-human sentient race, I wouldn’t steal from Tolkien. His Scottish speaking dwarves and snooty, long-lived, and elegant elves were clever back in his day. But really. We are creative people. We should invent our own races.

As far as races like orcs, who are destined to be evil, bloodthirsty, or destructive. I just can’t accept that in my writing. In my stories, free will is an important theme. If a race of orcs existed, then they must have the right to choose to be good and loving like the rest of us.

Again, Jennifer, incredibly fascinating…

So…you wouldn’t read a fantasy story featuring dwarves or elves or bloodthirsty orcs?

I would tend to avoid cliché of any kind. One notable exception, however, is the writing of one author on wattpad: JCKang. His Dragon Scale Lute series is excellent, featuring elves—but, in an Asian setting. Imagine, ninja elves.

Way cool :-)

What do you think of other standard fantasy elements?

What, like dragons or fairies? They certainly have their place in fantasy. Again, I avoid any cliché. And I wouldn’t choose to read werewolf books.

I’ve read one of your books; but, for the sake of my readers here, what magic is left in your world, with no dragons or fairies or bloodthirsty orcs?

A crystal ball is a major element in my series. It is called the Ball of Lights and Truths. “Urim and Thummim” means “lights and truths” in our world.

There are mages who sense the life force,  or “wari”, in living things. Wari is what links the soul to the body and allows the soul to interact with the world. Water mages can sense wari and manipulate it to heal injuries or illness, or steal it to gain strength or longevity.

I well remember the intense issues surrounding wari that Dylin faces in Gallel’s Heir

More about mages, Jennifer?

Mind mages, in addition to their ability to heal, can sense emotions; if well trained they can read or manipulate minds.

The highest order of mage is the time mage, who can sense the flow of time and can sense future or historical events with clarity. In order to become a time mage, a person must devote considerable time and emotional energy, and be at peace with themselves and the universe. They typically have experienced some tragedy that shattered them. They have a link with the Taleni, the Creators.

You certainly have a way to make the reader care about your characters. From where do you draw your inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from groups or individuals I have worked with. I spent many years as a counselor in youth residential treatment. While there, I realized that a young teenager who had experienced the abuse and neglect that Dylin did would most likely turn to self-harm, or cutting. Dylin is the mother who wishes to protect her daughter in Gallel’s Heir.

Some readers have found her cutting distasteful, as if her weakness is somehow unacceptable, while other weaknesses, such as alcoholism or plain rudeness are ok. But I couldn’t remove this characteristic—it is too realistic for a girl of her background.

I have also spent some years caring for adults with disabilities. This is reflected in The Ancient of Dunáya‘s character, Sirah, a person with disabilities who was abandoned by her mother as an infant. She was raised—and abused—by the innkeeper her mother left her with.

I hope with Sirah to show the world the value that all people possess, and that people with disabilities deserve the same dignity and respect as everyone else. We finally live in a world where abuse and neglect are not tolerated.

You share a lot of philosophical ideas, especially in your beginning-of-chapter quotes. What do your chapter quotes add to your chapters, and what do they mean for you?

I typically use chapter quotes to reveal information that would be useful for the reader. I show several prophecies relevant to the series, written by time mages, or reveal information obvious to the characters, but unknown to the reader, like cultural norms. People in Galia often participate in polyandry (the legal union of a woman with more than one man). This is unusual in our world, but accepted in Galia. How would the reader know this, without some way for the author to reveal it?

Many of the chapter quotes are my own philosophies, or my own poetry, rewritten by time mages.

Some of the chapter quotes seem to have a religious theme. Are you a religious person yourself?

Yes, I am a devoted Christian… but I am also an avid science lover, which is reflected in the chapter quotes. I could have been an astrophysicist, if my life had taken a slightly different turn.

My faith, though not Christian, also sees agreement between religion and science. But, again, for our dear readers, how can you be religious And scientific? Aren’t those two realms of knowledge diametrically opposed?

Not any more opposed than the questions Why and How. I am a lover of truth. If I had lived in Galia or Inoplius, I would have become a time mage.

A lot of the chapter quotes, and other themes throughout the books, subtly reconcile science and religion. At the end of The Value of Gifts, the character, Ophia, hears the story of Creation from a time mage. A careful reading of this and the chapter quotes will show I am talking about the Big Bang, evolution of galaxies, evolution of species, and the rise of humans to sentience, but in the form of a parable. Why did I bother to include this? Because Creation has been one of my favorite subjects for a long time and a main reason I studied Anthropology at a major university.

But that is the subject of another discussion. I plan to write a book on it.

I’m starting to understand where some of the “power” of your characters comes from…

Well, moving along. Who are your favorite authors on Wattpad—what works are you reading now—what do you look for in a Wattpad story?

I already mentioned JCKang. Another favorite is JAPartridge (whom you recently interviewed); I was one of the first to complete his novel, Kingdom of The Stone, and he dedicated a chapter to me. I am currently reading his Stone King.

I am anxiously awaiting the next chapter of DAJB01’s Abhorrent Practices.

GreatGustav has a lighter style, and I am reading his Tale That Could Not Be and Defenders of Destiny. This last series is unique, in that he is writing it based on characters submitted by other Wattpad authors; he is using my Casandra, who will be featured in my next series, as well as Minara, The Ball of Lights‘ main villain.

My most favorite author on wattpad is my daughter, Elly. She is seven years old and just learning to spell, but her story ideas are amazing. She shares a Wattpad account with me. Check out her book, Going Into Inoplius, about the adventures of her stuffed cat, Seven.

I am also reading an author called amzolt, who writes emotional poetry and who likes to interview his favorite authors ;-)

What do I look for in a Wattpad story? I won’t read a story with bad grammar and excessive typos. These tell me the author hasn’t put their soul into it enough to make their work presentable for public view.

I look for interesting, unique characters; I try to avoid the cliché fiery redhead warrior princess. Excessive battle scenes get boring; I prefer a psychological connection to the characters. Show me the story, don’t tell me.

Some favorite off-Wattpad authors are: Brandon Sanderson, Diana Marcellas, Orson Scott Card, and Gail Carson Levine. And what fantasy author/reader doesn’t love JK Rowling?

Well, Jennifer, thank you, so much, for shoring with us in this interview. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed your Gallel’s Heir and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I’ll also check out The Ancient of Dunáya when I get the chance—build up the “reads” and “votes” and “comments” for a wonderful author like you.

Well, Alex, thank you, again, for this opportunity—the interview and the free promotion :-)


O.K., Folks—Comments and Questions for Jennifer are definitely welcomed…

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FLASH NEWS > I Just Found, Out It’s Tolkien Reading Day !!!

I love Tolkien. Tolkien Reading Day

Some folks hate him.

I think most people who’ve read him have at least “appreciated” his writing.

I honor him so highly that this is my second post today—unheard of on this blog !

I found out about Tolkien Reading Day just a few minutes ago on what seems an unlikely place—International Business Times

You can take that last link and read some cool quotes from Tolkien and find a bit about why March 25th has been set aside to read him.

Going to open my Kindle Fire HDX and at least read a page or two :-)

If you’d like to find out about the tortuous editing history of Lord of The Rings, check out my past post, The Publishing (And Editorial) History of Some Extremely Famous Fiction.
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I Give Myself A Fantastic Writing Challenge . . .

It’s always interesting how seemingly isolated threads of activity can weave themselves into a new goal

First : I was contemplating the writing of one of the stories for the series, Behind The Scenes, and decided to purchase a deck of “Magic” cards to do a little research

Second : I gave a half-hearted attempt to learn how to play that card game and then just left the cards sitting on my writing desk

Third : I’d finished all the Behind The Scenes posts and faced the unrelieved desire to continue creating new stories each Friday

Fourth : A few days ago I spied the magic cards and playfully (randomly) drew-out five of them

Result: I had a Writing Prompt for a story and knew I’d begin a series of posts called Friday Fantasy

I’ll share, in a bit, a mind-map I created to evoke a plot for a fantasy story; but, first, here’s a graph from Visual Thesaurus for the word “fantasy”:


And, here’s the Etymology of the word “fantasy”:

early 14c., “illusory appearance,” from Old French fantaisie (14c.) “vision, imagination,” from Latin phantasia, from Greek phantasia “appearance, image, perception, imagination,” from phantazesthai “picture to oneself,” from phantos “visible,” from phainesthai “appear,” in late Greek “to imagine, have visions,” related to phaos, phos “light,” phainein “to show, to bring to light” (see phantasm). Sense of “whimsical notion, illusion” is pre-1400, followed by that of “imagination,” which is first attested 1530s. Sense of “day-dream based on desires” is from 1926.

I’ve shared that info on “fantasy” because some of my regular readers might wonder why in the world I’m going to engage in genre writing—check out these past posts on genre—and, be aware, I fully intend to Bend the fantasy genre :-)

So, when I’d drawn those Magic cards, I got Merfolk, Enchantment-Immortality, Mountain, Forest, and Plain; and, I wrote a short fantasy—eventually 32 of them— right here

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A Rave for My Favorite Author ~ C. J. Cherryh

I’ve been an omnivorous reader from the first time I could understand what those little symbols on the page meant.

I had to wait till I was in my thirties to find my favorite author—I’m in my sixties and she’s still my Mega-Fave!!

C. J. Cherryh has had well over 60 books published and is still working to increase that number.

Plus, even though she’s so prolific, her books still continue to challenge me as a reader. I’ve read two of her trilogies four times each and they still hold me enraptured and make my mind and heart spin-out new meaning—she’s certainly not a fluff writer :-)

If you’d like to tune into the daily life of a successful writer, do visit her blog, Wave Without A Shore.

Here’s a Summary Bibliography of Cherryh’s work.

A while back C. J. and her two author friends, Jane Fancher and Lynn Abbey started a very special website: Closed Circle Publications.

Here’s C. J.’s explanation of the endeavor:

“It’s nearly impossible to get backlist back into print these days, with publishers struggling for survival. The mega-oil-companies that have bought up publishers don’t want to print ‘old books’. They clearly don’t understand that science fiction and fantasy depend on backlist [note: all series books definitely depend on the backlist to make money and any author needs a strong backlist] so that new readers can get caught up. So we’ve gotten rights back for some of our books that are out of print, we are hunting down others, and we’re putting those books back in e-print, so you can download a reasonably priced file in formats you can migrate into the Kindle, into a Mobi-based reader (Closed Circle will link you to a conversion utility), or an ePub reader—or—and here’s the good news: your home computer can be a reader: get the software shareware from the left sidebar on my blog.”

Here’s a little “secret message” for my best friend: Have you started reading C. J.’s book Cyteen yet? << That link is an article about the book you should read :-)

So, to round out this post, here’s a two-part interview with Ms. Cherryh:

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