Virtual FantasyCon – Being Paranormal

So What Makes Paranormal… Paranormal?

In an age when writer’s are asked to place their work in a specific genre, which genre do we choose? Just to name a few genres we have; paranormal, dystopian, steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, supernatural, epic fantasy, etc… There seems to be an army of option all bleeding into one another and making for a confusing decision. I’ll spend the next few paragraphs giving you a better idea on what defines the paranormal genre and separates it from all the others.

First the actual definition of paranormal as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

“PARANORMAL – very strange and not able to be explained by what scientists know about nature and the world.”

Still not super clear, right? As writers I think we have done a better job by narrowing in on a more thorough answer. Novels tagged as paranormal have been written in our modern day world with the introduction of paranormal elements such as; werewolves, vampires, witches, angels, ghosts, and so on. Examples of books that fall in the paranormal range could be Twilight (a paranormal romance) or The Mortal Instruments Series.

The aspect that makes this genre so different and unique is the freedom to mix our everyday lives with the fantastical. It twists what we know and turns everything we take as ordinary on its head. It makes us ask questions like, “what if?” and challenges us to reimagine what we thought we knew.

Author Bio:

Jonathan Yanez is the author of over a dozen fantasy and science fiction novels. His works include, The Elite Series, The Nephilim Chronicles, Thrive, Bad Land, Steam and Shadows and The DeCadia Code. He has been both traditionally and independently published with his works being adapted into; ebook, print, audiobook and even optioned for film.

You can connect with him by clicking the following links to his website, facebook page or twitter account; jonathan-yanez.comFacebook or Twitter.

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Virtual FantasyCon – The Inner-Life of Science Fiction

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The Inner-Life of Science Fiction

By Alesha Escobar

There’s a certain sense of mastery we feel when we’re able to exert our power over nature through technology. The universe is not man-made, but technology certainly is. What drew me to science fiction, whether it was a film or book, was the idea that future technological advancements presented were just believable enough to be possible, though they had no place in our world today.

What also grabbed my attention was the range of stories–from flying among the stars to discovering intelligent alien life. The possibilities seem endless regarding the types of characters and situations we could explore in a science fiction story.

However, until recently, it didn’t occur to me that most of all, science fiction is really about ourselves. Yes, we are drawn to the scenery and technology, but even more fascinating is how we interact with the scenery and what we do with the technology.

In my recent contribution to the Masters of Time anthology, I set my story in a future where time travel was possible. And while the question of time travel (as well as its consequences) were interesting, what became central to the story was how my protagonist used this as a catalyst to assert his independence and vindicate his humanity.

A story can have the sleekest starships and the most exotic alien life, but if there aren’t characters there to wrestle with deeper questions and issues, then it all becomes window dressing. This is why I enjoy great science fiction stories. They will make you both think and feel, especially as you turn your gaze toward the possibilities that await us in this vast universe.

Author Bio

Alesha Escobar writes fantasy to support her chocolate habit. When she’s not chasing around her children, she enjoys reading, cooking, movies and crafts. The first book of the Gray Tower Trilogy, The Tower’s Alchemist, is currently free in the Kindle store. Alesha also has a short story, The Black Dagger Gods, published in the New Myths anthology by HDWP Books. Her most recent work, Logan 6, can be found in the Masters of Time anthology by Creative Alchemy, Inc.

Blog: http://www.aleshaescobar.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAleshaEscobar

Twitter: http://twitter.com/The_GrayTower

Virtual FantasyCon – An Insight into Young Adult Fantasy

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An Insight into Young Adult Fantasy

Young adult fantasy is a genre readily enjoyed by readers of all ages despite its name. Just look at recent books that have shot to stardom like the Harry Potter series, or The Hunger Games, or The Mortal Instruments. Books for teens have exploded into the limelight, turning adults into rabid fans as well. However, at the heart of the genre the themes relating to the lives of young adults, even in a fantasy setting, is key.

Like any genre there are pros and cons to it and those may differ depending on if you are a reader or an author, or both. A big pro would be the amount of material out there. There are a lot of YA fantasy books. Also, lot of variety if you add in the sub or side genres and then you have reading gold.  A big con… this also gives authors and readers a lot to wade in and through to either find the right book or have your book found.

Readers can expect a lot of variety and there are two different takes on what angle YA fantasy (or even other genres… mystery, horror, supernatural, you name it) can approach the reader. Both approaches work well on their own merits. Either you can make the characters teens, like Harry Potter, and have their coming of age antics spur character and plot growth,or you can make the book readable by teens (think age appropriate themes, pg13), but have the characters more mature…act, react, and behave in far more adult scenarios (Think The Hunger Games). Of course, there is no 100% black and white on this, but most if not all books I’ve read fall into eitherof these angles. The commonality between them, especially in a fantasy setting, appears to be the slower march along the plot and a lighter introduction of details. You won’t find ten pages describing a chair in a house in YA anything. Teens, and even adults, just might not have the patience/attention span. Even The Hobbit may be too wordy for some of today’s teens.

Meshing the young adult themes with fantasy themes is richly rewarding for both the author and the reader. Fantasy by definition, has no boundaries. If you can imagine it, you can write or read it. Zombies, aliens, angels, witches, dystopian society, you name it, are all accessible to YA readers in a fantasy setting (for clarity, fantasy can also be linked to science fiction! Think Star Wars). However, when I study the YA fantasy books popular today I’ve noticed another binding element, realism.

Realistic fantasy has nothing to do with the idea that everything in the book must be real. There are loads of people who’d love to pet a unicorn, but not seen that yet. Realism in fantasy has everything to do with taking that fantasy world, whatever it is, and making it plausible, a seamless integration of the reader into the unreal world. This means fleshing out a world/universe to great detail, yet getting it across to the reader in ten pages or less (remember the chair?). Culture, religions, environment, races, music, writing, architecture, science, history, you name it. This is a difficult job for a YA fantasy author. The good ones do it very well and the great ones make rabid fans out of everyone.

Realism must also apply to characters and sliding into stereotypes and clichés is a pit of no return. Is it out there? Yes. Is it avoidable? Yes. Is it always realistic to avoid it? Nope. It’s up to the YA fantasy author to walk that line and walk it well so that the stereotypes and clichés do not overpower the plot and characters to the point of eye rolling and mic dropping. A great example of a stereotype that worked well is Hermione in Harry Potter as the nerdy-fact-bookish geek. Her role in Harry Potter was obvious. Give Harry (and the other ‘good guys’) the means to an end. Rowling kept Hermione from being eye roll worthy by giving her other roles to fill and other needs as a character. She evolved into a strong, independent, woman that could kick serious butt as well as memorize all the spells Ron needed for class.

Another side of realism is just how real to portray teens when they are the main characters/focus of the story. Drugs. Sex. Alcohol. Abuse. Gangs. Lies. Foul language. Cheating,etc. No one, even teens, denies those exist in our world. Some read fantasy to escape those realities and some read those realities because that is what can and does happen with teens in our world. There is a subtle divide on just how far to portray reality, especially in other genres and it is up to the reader and author to decide where the line is to be drawn. Should realistic portrayals of cultural and societal behaviors exist. Yes. Should it be forced onto a reader or author who doesn’t want it? No. Know that including such realisms is a personal choice as an author, and depending on what type of fantasy you are writing, it might not even be an issue.

In the end, YA fantasy is a thriving, vital part of the bookish world. The genre fills a need of teens (and adults) for age, character, and plot appropriate stories in a fantastical, but believable setting.

Biography:   Cheryl S. Mackey

Cheryl lives in Southern California with her husband and 2 sons. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are both young adult fantasy and available at Amazon.

She has a MFA in Creative Writing and enjoys games, reading and, of course, writing.  She currently has a flash fiction story published online at The Prompt Magazine.

Her favorite genres to write and read is YA Fantasy closely followed by YA Paranormal and she would love to dabble in Sci Fi, Steam Punk, and Dystopian.irtual FantasyC

Virtual FantasyCon – The Magic Within

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The Magic Within

Fairy-tales … from me?

After all, I mainly write medieval fantasy.

And where would I start?

At the beginning, I suppose.

But of course, didn’t we love to hear fairy-tales from our parents?

When I was small, my dad told me a different story every night, and every single one came from his own imagination. Looking back I realise how many were inspired by fairy-tales.

With the vivid imagination of a small boy, I had dreams of standing in front of the fire-breathing dragon and slaying it with one slash of my huge sword. Dad even made me a wooden one. And what about Jack and the Beanstalk? I loved it, but my mum was none too pleased when I cut down her giant sunflower.

Of course fairy-tales were told many, many, years before I emerged into the world. Takethe classic story of Little Red Riding Hood as an example. This tale was originally dated back to the 17th century. But latest research has suggested that it could be over 2600 years old, because a similar tale has been found in China. The only differences being thatthe main protagonist was a small boy and the wolf was replaced with a tiger. Now that is amazing, for stories from that time, and for centuries afterwards, were never written down. Whilst subtle alterations have occurred and the tales have evolved over time, the basic story has endured.

Not long after my father read me that story I met a large Alsatian in our street. I took one look before running all the way home, screaming wolf at the top of my voice. When my mother introduced me to the neighbour’s new dog and he licked me to death, I realised the difference between fiction and truth. I think I slept better that night.

And I still smile at the memory.

One of the most prolific writers of his era was Hans Christian Andersen, yet he is more famous for his wonderful fairy-tales; my favourite being – The Ugly Duckling. What a great tale, and with a nice moral. You can be ugly but you can change, and become beautiful. I’ve always believed that the story should not be taken too literally, as I am sure that he perceived that beauty could be found on the inside as well as the outside.

So, what do we expect from our fairy-tales?

Like any other story we demand a beginning, middle, and an ending, preferably a happy one: anything to keep us interested all the way through. But we don’t always get what we want, do we?

And even then it’s not enough, is it?

We want, no, demand more, don’t we?

We want a princess or three, evil villains, brave princes and dragons with long tales and sharp teeth. And we wish for, elves, imps, dwarves, orcs, and fairies; not forgetting bucketfuls of fairy-dust. For you can’t have a fairytale without fairy-dust, can you?

With all the characters leaping from the pages our fantasies soar like an eagle, and all boundaries disappear in a trice.

I wonder what would happen if we could bottle up the power of a child’s imagination. The mind boggles with the possibilities.

We love fairy-stories, and even though the tales get bigger in the telling, we pass them on to our children, and our grandchildren. We never worry about the effect on our young because we know that the tales never hurt us.

And as we see the magic in their eyes, we remember.

Because fairy-tales will never die as long as we continue to allow the magic of the words to flow from generation to generation.

And as a teller of tales, I should know … shouldn’t I?

Rick Haynes – Author Bio

I was born way back before time meant anything. One zillion reincarnations later, I think I know who I am, but I am prepared for a second opinion.

I have always enjoyed medieval fantasy tales. Once I started, I could never put them down, often reading them into the early hours. I found myself living the characters that jumped out from the pages, and I always hoped that one day I could create my own world, full of vile creatures and true heroes. And after the passing of too many seasons I finally began to remove the ideas from my head and commence writing.

Several fantasy short stories arrived, and I found that the ideas came along quicker than I could type. My Drabbles also received a dose of fantasy magic, yet in the background, the dream of a novel grew.

It has taken many a month to produce a story that had lain dormant for so many years. Evil Never Dies – professionally edited – is my first novel and is a classic tale of good and evil set against a backdrop of green lands, snowy mountains and dusty plains.

I show the horrors of war, as well as the loyalty, love and fears of all those involved. I believe that all men are flawed, and I leave it to my readers, to decide whether I have succeeded in showing their strengths and weaknesses, their compassion and cruelty. For war brings out the best and the worst in even the gentlest of men.

I have let my mind wander freely over the words, and I hope that you will enjoy your trip into the world of my imagination.

http://profnexus.wix.com/rickhaynes

A lovely review for Circle of Five by Marcha Fox

Product Details

“A Circle of Five” kicks off the “Pha-yul Trilogy”, a Young Adult fantasy series. Rather than plunge the reader abruptly into a fantasy world, however, the author slowly transitions to other realms from the daily routine of five “normal” teenagers as they confront challenges encountered following a literal lightning strike which occurs during an after school detention session overseen by the school’s football coach.

The author did an excellent job naming the characters such that they stand out as individuals within a variety of races, ethnicities and financial situations. By the end of this volume you feel as if you know each of them inside and out which is accomplished through the omniscient viewpoint handled in such a way that, to the author’s credit, was never confusing.

Each of the five has his or her own problems, mostly related to their family situation. The details provided for each accurately demonstrate the insecurities and personality issues which can arise from a person’s home environment. These are ordinary teens living anything but a charmed life, other than the fact that most of their parents are affluent or were at some point. Just about everyone should be able to relate to one or more of the situations described from sibling rivalry to neglectful, disinterested or inebriated parents. This factor alone makes this story relevant to both teens and adults, specifically parents, who may see a bit of themselves from the perspective of teens. Life at that age can be overwhelming enough as they try to figure out who and what they are, much less having to do so with a lack of parental emotional support. In today’s world where most homes require two incomes to survive, to say nothing of the financial and emotional struggle of single parents, this situation is probably far too common.

These distinct individuals are not even friends as the story begins. In fact, some of them overtly dislike each other, contributing to plenty of conflict as each character struggles with their own personal issues, dealing with classes, plus being thrust into this exclusive group which involves grueling training they must undergo before and after school. Furthermore, all of this is required without knowing the whys or wherefores of where these abilities came from. While they get a glimpse of what these talents are they cannot control them at will, thus necessitating the training. About all they’ve seen was a quick flash trip to Tibet where they discover the coach is clearly an important figure who reports to a woman even higher in status in that world.

This story is the antithesis of waking up with superpowers and instinctively knowing how to use them, showing it may not be the bed of roses most would expect. The idea that development any skill to a high level requires discipline and hard work is an important concept and life lesson nicely woven into the plot. The teens’ struggles with their daily routine, personality conflicts and typical high school situations brought the characters to life. Their mundane challenges were detailed, realistic and relatable, lending realism to the story but somewhat understating the fantasy element, which the cover and prologue imply. Thus, anyone expecting the book to be heavy on the fantasy side could be disappointed since there is far more reality within the pages than escaping to another realm. The characters as well as readers are left in the dark with regard to various details with a few revelations in the final chapter. Nonetheless, as the first book in a series these questions will most likely be addressed in the sequels which have the advantage of being populated with fully developed protagonists.

Gran-sdur: The Games – Book 2 of the Pha-yul trilogy

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#Weekendoffer #99cents !!!

Gran-sdur, Book 2 of the Pha-yul trilogy! After a sudden lightning storm, Sam, Cassie, Ryan, Maya and Seb find that they’ve acquired strange and amazing powers. Confused and scared, they turn to Mr. Harris, a teacher in their school, who offers to help them control their powers. Can he help them? Will they figure out why they were chosen? Or have they got more than they bargained for? .

Pick it up at http://amzn.to/1zLPCiL

Gran-sdur: The Games

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Review for Gran-sdur:The Games – I forgot how much I loved these characters! The start of the book was a bit slow, but that helped ease me back into the Pha-Yal world nicely. I definitely got a lot more of a feel for Mr Harris as a person this time too, which was a pleasant surprise. Suffice to say he’s actually become one of my favourite characters. As it was before, the team of five kids each bought their own elements to the story, and rounded it out nicely – although I was glad to see some competition challenging those bonds at times. I loved all their reactions, apart from when they grumbled about Mr Harris, and making them participate in the games was a great, adrenaline fuelling addition. Very clever of the author. Oooooh boy, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZAEYTY