Finding Fantasy in Other Places Besides in Books and Movies -- 2/1/07

Want to check out some other cool fantasy related websites? Here is a list that will get you clicking at the
speed of light!

Artists - The Best of the Best!

Den Beauvais -- www.danbeauvais.com
Jeffrey K. Bedrick -- www.jeffreykbedrick.com
Michel Bohbot -- www.mbohbot.com
Amy Brown -- www.amybrownart.com
Dorian Cleavenger -- www.dorianart.com
Larry Elmore -- www.larryelmore.com
Jason Engle -- www.jaestudio.com
Dan Frazier -- www.danfrazier.com
Alan Gutierrez -- www.alangutierrez.com
Greg and Tim Hildebrandt -- www.spiderwebart.com
Todd Lockwood -- www.toddlockwood.com
Larry MacDougall -- www.underhillstudio.com
Rodney Matthews -- www.rodneymatthews.com
Patrick McEvoy -- www.megaflowgraphics.com
Rowena Morill -- www.rowenaart.com
Ted Nasmith - www.tednasmith.com
Keith Parkinson -- www.keithparkinson.com
Myles Pinkney -- www.mylespinkney.com
John Pitre -- www.pitreart.com
Marc Potts -- www.marcpotts.com
Stephanie Pui-Mun Law -- www.shadowscapes.com
Linda Ravenscroft -- www.lindaravenscroft.com
Steve A. Roberts -- www.fantasy-graphic.com
Thom Scott -- www.thomscottart.com
Don Seegmiller -- www.donseegmiller.com
Justin Sweet -- www.justinsweet.com
Nene Thomas -- www.nenethomas.com
Ruth Thompson -- www.tarnishedimages.com
Christophe Vacher -- www.vacher.com
Gilbert Williams -- www.gilbertwilliams.com
John Zeleznik -- www.johnzeleznik.com
Mark Zug -- www.markzug.com

Conventions - Meet Your Favorite Authors!

Arisia Science Fiction Convention -- www.arisia.org (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
ArmadilloCon --
www.fact.org/dillo (Austin, Texas)
Balticon --
www.balticon.org (Baltimore, Maryland)
Baycon --
www.baycon.org (San Jose, California)
Capricon --
www.capricon.org (Arlington Heights, Illinois)
Chattacon --
www.chattacon.org (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
CoastCon --
www.coastcon.org (Biloxi, Mississippi)
DemiCon --
www.demicon.org (Des Moines, Iowa)
Dragon Con --
www.dragoncon.com (Atlanta, Georgia)
DreamCon --
www.dreamcon.net (Jacksonville, Florida)
I-Con --
www.iconsf.org (Ronkonkoma, New York)
Los Angeles Comic Book & Sci Fi Con --
www.comicbookscifi.com
Lunacon -- www.lunacon.org (New Jersey)
MarCon --
www.marcon.org (Midwest)
MidSouthCon --
www.midsouthcon.org (Memphis, Tennessee)
Miscon --
www.miscon.org (Missoula, Mississippi)
Mobicon --
www.mobicon.org (Mobile, Alabama)
NorwesCon --
www.norwescon.org (Seattle, Washington)
Odyssey Con --
www.oddcon.org (Madison, Wisconsin)
Opus Fantasy Arts Festival --
www.opusfest.com (Denver, Colorado)
Philcon --
www.philcon.org (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Roc*Kon --
www.rockon.org (Little Rock, AK)
San Diego Comic-Con --
www.comic-con.org
Sci-Fi Summer Con -- www.sfscon.org (Atlanta, Georgia)
Technicon --
www.technicon.org (Blacksburg, Virginia)
Trinoc-Con --
www.trinoc-con.org (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Westercon --
www.westercon.org (Location changes yearly)
WonderCon --
www.comic-con.org/wc/ (San Francisco, California)
World Fantasy Convention --
www.worldfantasy.org (Location changes yearly)

Mythology and Folklore - Collections and Resources!

Bulfinch's Mythology -- The Age of Fable, Chivalry and Legends of Charlamagne.
www.bulfinch.org

The Council of Elrond -- A rapidly growing Lord of the Rings news and information
resource.
www.councilofelrond.com

Encyclopedia Mythica -- An encyclopedia of mythology, folklore and legend.
www.pantheon.org

Folklore and Mythology -- Legends from countries all over the world.
www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html

Gryphon's Guild -- A land where myth and meaning are the same, and Gryphons rule the
rocks and sky. Where Gryphons are protected and their forgotten stories are told.
www.gryphonguild.critter.net

Mermaids on the Web -- This site holds more than 1,720 resources about mermaids,
including pictures, links, movie reviews and more.    
www.isidore-of-seville.com/mermaids/

Mythography -- Explore mythology and art with information about the classic stories of
heroes and gods, from the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, to the legends of the Celts.
www.loggia.com/myth/myth.html

Myths and Legends -- A links page full of all types of myths and legends including general, gothic horror,
early fantasy, and medieval sections.   
www.home.comcast.net/~chris.s/mythold.html

Occultopedia -- Encyclopedia of occult sciences and knowledge.
www.occultopedia.com

Visual Institute of Cryptozoology
www.perso.orange.fr/cryptozoo/welcome.htm
How to Kill a Career: Ghostwriting -- 1/1/07

It's my personal belief that the fastest way for any author to kill their career is to sign a contract that doesn't
allow you to use your own name, or pen name, on an original story that you created. Unless you are starving
and absolutely need the money to pay the rent, do not sign up to be a ghostwriter. What's the point in writing
something that you can't even tell anyone about? How are you supposed to create a resume that way? How
will you ever know what it would be like to experience the thrills that come with an original blockbuster?

And don't even think about having an author write a book for you, or vice versa. Don't waste your time or
money on that avenue. You learn absolutely nothing by doing it, and it only shows you have no discipline or
talent to make it in the publishing world. You don't want to put yourself in a situation that could come back to
haunt you. How would your fans feel if they knew the truth that you didn't really write all those cool books?
You would lose them faster than you could sneeze.

And don't tell me it's gratifying or fulfilling to just write something that has been published. In my opinion, it's
cheating. It's an author taking credit for something that's not theirs. Did you know that around forty percent
of books being published today are ghost written? Yow! Say what? You got it. I think it's another way of
scamming the public out of their money. I would feel offended if I found out that one of my favorite authors
had participated in something like this. Don't you sometimes wonder how some authors write all those books?
It's very probable they didn't. So why do authors do it? To make more money of course, or maybe it allows
them to spend more time with their families or time out on the town. Either way, it's wrong and should be
stopped. Biographies don't fall into this category, by the way. However, writing a book for a star, does, when
the star takes all the credit by claiming it's an autobiography.

I think many famous people just don't want to work as much as they did before they became famous, and
therefore would concede to such tactics to save on their time. I don't care if it's still the author's ideas or
concepts that are being worked from. If the author didn't build the story from the ground up, it's not theirs to
stake claim to. And if the famous author is doing it as a status symbol, they should be ashamed. That's a little
too vain for my taste. Go and bury your head in the sand.

If you love writing, and hate promoting, and that's why you ghostwrite, then you shouldn't be in the business
at all. If you love writing for the sake of writing, then stay home and do it as a hobby, but don't contribute to
the horrendous glut of greed created by the publishing world. People would do anything to make a buck these
days, and much of it is done with mirrors and smoke. Do these people have no dignity? Do they not care that
the public would be up in arms if they knew the real truth? Are there authors out there who have never
completed their own book from beginning to end? I certainly would be curious to know!

And to make matters worse, not all ghost books that have been published were done so legally. I had a friend
write her own book, submitted it to a publishing house to have her own name put on it, but never heard back
from them. Time went by, and then all of sudden she learned that her story had been stolen and published by
that very same house under a famous author's name. You can imagine how peeved I was to find that out. To
top it all off, the story went on to become a national bestseller. My friend took the publisher to court, but
that's all I will divulge here. The outcome wasn't pretty. It really was a sad story. If you're reading a new
book by an author and it doesn't really sound like their style, chances are, it was probably done by someone
unknown.

Be careful what you sign up for folks. Ghostwriting a book for a famous individual only builds their career,
not yours.
Cover to Cover: What Could've Been 12/1/06

The poorest way to market a book is to put a cover on it that tells the reader NOTHING. How many times
have you passed a book over because the picture on the front is boring? And then the publisher couples that
picture with a title that also tells you NOTHING. How do they expect to sell books if the cover can't
effectively communicate what the books are about?

An author I once did a co-signing with told me that some of the covers on her books had NOTHING to do
with the book's plot. The simple reason that things like this happen is because a) the author gets no input as
to what goes on the cover, or b) the publisher buys out a block of artwork from a struggling artist who needs
money and then chooses one that they feel is best suited for the clever title they invented. One-word titles
have never impressed me, by the way. In fact, they turn me off, because one word gives only one image or
impression to the reader, and it may be a bad one. See if you've heard of these recent titles: Velocity,
Desperation, Ricochet and Wicked. At some point the publishing world is going to run out of emotions and
action words to use as titles.

I also believe the title can't be too lengthy. If a person can't read the entire title in less than a few seconds, it
should be shortened to where it can be. There's a fine balance between too long and too short. It's okay if the
subtitle is long. If the reader has gotten past the main title and is still intrigued, then they have the right to
keep on reading. And if the subtitle has still held them, then they can move to the back and the synopsis.

And, boy, have I read some bad examples of those! The first line in a synopsis should be just as captivating
as the first line of the first chapter. Many writers write their own blurbs, but sometimes publishers do it for
the famous authors. I would never hand that piece over, if I have a choice. A synopsis can make or break the
sale of the book just as much as the front cover. It has to say enough without giving everything away, but not
too much to where the reader lets an uncontrollable yawn escape their mouth. Don't bore them to death. Get
to the point and make it exciting! That doesn't mean including twenty exclamation points either.

And now a word about the author's picture: good god, put that thing away if you're not going to put a
professional picture on the back (or inside) of the cover! Who wants to look at someone who appears
confused, misguided, like they just ate more than their stomach could handle, or just crawled out of their
hole? The author's photograph should create interest, a buzz, just as much as the front cover. Have you ever
read a great book and then looked at the author's picture afterwards and was disappointed? Let me give you
an example. My wife loves to read romance books. But the author picture is usually of a frumpy mom on the
back. Ouch! Yep, put it away if you can't at least make yourself look mysterious or intriguing. It seems some
authors don't want fans to meet them. How else can you explain those terrible photos plastered on the
covers? Every single phase of a book should be professional and convincing to make an author exciting to
their audience, yet many fall short in one aspect or other.

Is it unfair to judge a book by its cover? Yes and no. Many good books fail to thrive because a publisher
slapped together a substandard package, and this is unfortunate to the author, who may not have had a say in
that part of the process. However, if an author is allowed to have some choice in the matter, they need to
step forward and be sure their story is communicated in the manner it was intended. Just in case you are all
wondering, I hired my own artist to do the covers for my books, and it has made all the difference in the
marketing category. I reiterate, if a publisher and/or author don't take the time to put forth an eye-catching
product, then they get what they deserve when the sales are tallied. A story can be as good as it gets, but if
the cover doesn't draw you in, it's another addition to "the pile that could've been."
Rehashing the Dead -- 9/1/06

As are many of you, I am wondering what in the heck is Hollywood doing? How many times do we have to
see old television series made into movies for the big screen? The Adams Family? Moderately humorous.
The Dukes of Hazzard? Average. Jessica Simpson is the ONLY reason why that movie got any attention.
And to think, the producers almost blew it by starring Britney Spears in it. Bewitched? Let me vomit. It
wasn't even a clever story line. I hate to say this because I love Nicole Kidman. Starsky and Hutch? Where
did I put the aspirin? Too bad. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are two of the funnier comedians around. What
are we to see next, I Dream of Jeannie? The Love Boat? Gilligan's Island? Actually, yes for the first two.
Please, let it stop. Is Hollywood that desperate for new material? Or are movie producers reacting to a shift in
society's demands, saying that we'll spend money on just about anything these days with a low I.Q.?

Folks, there is so much good material out there that it makes me wonder why producers are failing to
recognize it. One has to question where all the good stories have gone. Have we run out of good ideas for
movies? Far from it. Take Harry Potter, case in point. It's a phenom. Wonder why? It's original. People have
a built-in sense to explore and learn new things, imaginary or not. But, remember, the story must be well
written first for it to be effective, and J.K. Rowling is one heck of a good storyteller. Her fans can't get
enough of her stories--as long as they remain fresh and inventive. Dan Brown is another good one to take a
look at. Another phenom. Originality, folks. Rehashing television series for movies is only to make a quick
buck. These type of movies have no staying power, but yet they are the current trend.

But what makes me more mad is, these reruns on the big screen are eating up money and space for the really
good ideas that may never have a chance to make it there. The same holds true with bookshelf space in the
chain and independent stores. Do we really need to see books by actors and actresses who already have more
than enough money to last ten lifetimes? I wish publishers would give authors who are struggling to make it,
more of a chance to succeed than just whipping out a story by someone with a name who has no business
being in publishing in the first place. I'm not saying all of them are worth yanking, but let's truly sit back and
take a look at the quality of these books being produced. One of the few I have seen by a famous person that
has been a hit is John Lithgow's I'm a Manatee. Get it. Your kids will love it, and it even has a sing-along CD
with it. But his book is one of the few that really differentiates itself from many of the others in print. Please,
publishers, give the unknowns some room to wiggle. Leave the writers to writing and the actors/actresses,
sports stars, musicians and other entertainers to their own lines of work. It's as bad as a supermodel crossing
over to become a silver screen star. Few can do it, and few really should. Support your local author.

The next time you stand in line to see a movie or buy a book, consider the quality and if it's really worth the
money you're putting forward. The only way Hollywood will change will be by one receipt at a time.
A Tale of Two Editions --3/1/2007

Whoa!  What are we looking at here? Two different covers of The Chimes of Yawrana, Book 1 of The
Snowtear Wars? The answer, of course, is yes.

The journey of The Snowtear Wars all began one fall weekend in 2000 when I sat down to plot out my
world, its elements and the central story that would bring it all together. Little did I know at the time how
many trials the fist book in the series would go through before it would reach its correct version.

At book signings, I am always asked, "How long does it take you to write one of your books?" I answer by
saying, "One and a half years for Book One, eight months for Book Two, nine months for Book Three, and
ten months for Book Four. Book Five is still in the works." Now if they would only have asked me, "How
long did it take before you found your publisher?" The answer to that question is a bit trickier, because of
what constitutes a real publisher from a wanna-be.

I won't lie to you. I was very naive when I started out in the business of writing. After being rejected my
many agents and houses, I leaped at the first contract I was presented with for the gleaming chance to get
published. What I didn't understand at the time was that the publishing company I had signed on with was far
from spectacular, a money making machine that had no interest in selling my books to an audience. All they
cared about was selling my own books to me, and then what I did with them from that point on was strictly
my choice. The name of that company was Publish America. If you heard of them, then I know you just
emitted a long groan, and I'm with you there. They are what is called a Print on Demand house, or POD if
you will. They have no distribution system to get their books into stores, no marketing department and have
had a lot of legal troubles regarding the royalties they owe their authors.

If you haven't heard of them, let's back up a step. At the time I signed on with PA, there was little
information about them on the Internet, but they did have a website, which greatly spouts facts about what
their authors have done for themselves. It doesn't matter if the author made all their sales by his or herself,
PA was willing to take the credit and use it as a hook to draw in more new authors to sign with them. Lesson
number two I eventually learned: if a publishing house's website is geared toward selling to authors, and not
the public, then steer clear of it!

Well, before I figured out all the dos and don'ts of the industry the hard way, I did happen to make one
important decision on my own that was correct while I was with them. Many publishing houses will allow an
author to have input on what goes on the cover of their book. Sometimes they will allow you submit a
picture, painting, drawing, etc for consideration, and as long as it meets the criteria they are looking for,
they'll use it. Publish America was such a house. So, being a fantasy fan myself, and having majored in
Advertising, and minored in Art in college, I knew it was crucial to have an attractive cover that would
accurately display my world, and at the same time be enticing enough for a reader to pick up my book and
give it serious consideration.

I searched the web over and found a sight called www.epilogue.net, and virtually looked at hundreds of
artists to do my covers for the series. Finally, I decided on Steve A. Roberts, an artist based out of Old
Town, Florida. Steve and I worked out a contract for him to do the artwork for the first book, which turned
out to be what's pictured above. I gave Steve the idea of the dragul (dragon) sitting on Candlewick Castle's
belltower. I have to say I was blown away by the work when he e-mailed it to me, and made it a no-brainer
for him to do the other book covers as well. It's the most unique and majestic dragon I have ever seen
depicted on the cover of any fantasy book. The dragul looks intelligent (which they are in the book),
powerful and graceful all at the same time. I guess I wasn't the only one who admired it either. Warner
Brothers chose to use the picture for their 2007 movie Michael Clayton. Apparently it will be used as a prop
in Clayton's son's bedroom, and will most likely be hanging on the wall in one of the shots.

So, I had a picture, now for the rest. I had to have a title. It had to be catchy. I don't know about you, but I
hate boring one-word titles that don't tell you anything about a book. It took some time, but eventually I
settled on The Chimes of Yawrana. And my series would come to be called The Snowtear Wars. Now, if
you look at the first cover above, you will see that the name of the series is listed in the subtitle, and my
name was put in a red band of color at the bottom. Publish America didn't care what was on the cover, I
must remind you, because all they wanted to do was sell me my own books. And once that had been
accomplished, I fled from them six months after my book went to print, and pursued getting a lawyer to get
my rights back. Less than a year later I was free of them, and another half a year after that (fall, 2005) I had
signed Book One and the rest of the series on with Behler Publications, a true traditional small press publisher
based out of Lake Forest, California.

Not only did I have to reedit Chimes when Behler picked it up, but the cover also needed an overhaul to
make it stand out better in the stores. It had to survive what publishers call "the ten-foot test." One of the first
things Behler and I decided on was to switch the title and subtitles around, putting the name of the series first.
Why you ask? The idea was to start promoting The Snowtear Wars as its own franchise. Second, Behler's
cover designer changed those vivid red bands at the top and bottom of the old cover to a darker purple,
which actually helped pop that dragul almost right out of the picture at you. Third, we put my name over the
bottom of the graphic instead of inside the band, and changed the font's style and color. In Publish America's
version, the colors from the top to the bottom were all too similar, too warm, which watered everything down
to the point where some items became lost in the overall image.

Comparing the two covers, I think you'll agree Behler's version is superior in quality, even though the same
dragul picture is used. It's funny how a few simple changes can greatly enhance the cover of a book. Publish
America's version is now out of print, however, but you can still find used copies of the book available on
Amazon.com and through other used book websites. If you want to have a copy as a collectible, don't be
surprised to find them being listed over $45.00. The old copy originally sold for $29.95. Behler's version
retails for $18.95, or lower, a much more reasonable price.

There you have it. If you're trying to decide which copy to buy, opt for Behler's version. You may laugh, but
this is true. There's one other thing that Publish America doesn't bother to mention to their new authors
before they sign them: they don't take the time to properly edit their novels. I, like thousands of other authors
who signed with them, was horrified by what I had gotten involved with. I agonized for months over my
misstep, hoping my lawyer could get me out of my contract. I can't tell you how happy I was when the
nightmare was over, and it was a valuable learning experience. Every author's journey to publication is
unique, but mine certainly is a long tale.

By the time all the dust from the fiasco settled, I realized I ended up editing Book One more than twenty
times before it finally reached its first print run with Behler, and it took just over six years before it reached
its February 28, 2007 release date from when I first started writing it. More importantly, it's now a product
I'm now fully satisfied with, as well as the fans. How's that for a story?
Whatever Happened to ... The Dark Tower? --4/1/2007

Do any of you remember the old Dark Tower electronic board game, made by Milton Bradley in 1981? I do,
and I became distraught when my brother accidentally didn't put ours away properly, leaving half of it
hanging off a shelf. You can imagine what happened next. When I heard the crash upstairs, I had a feeling
something very terrible had occurred. Whenever you hear a crash, it's usually bad to some degree, but this
was a fate I wasn't ready to deal with.

Electronic board games became the rage in the early 1980's, and for a while they kept pace with the
emergence of Atari and hand held games. Orson Welles was in the original commercial that advertised The
Dark Tower game when it came out, and my family fell for it hook, line and sinker, since we were all into
fantasy. We played the game for hours on end. You could also play against the tower itself if you had no one
to play with. You could cast spells on each other, fight battles with brigands, face dragons, deal with
starvation and plagues, go to the bazaar and haggle, or watch your army become lost in an uncharted forest.
All of these activities are done, of course, as you search for the brass, silver and gold keys in tombs and ruins
in foreign kingdoms. Once you have all three, you try to unlock the Dark Tower and retrieve the ancient
magic scepter stolen by a tyrant king.
There was an actual black plastic, electronic dark tower that sat in the middle of the gaming board, and each
player would spin it when it was time to take their turn. Inside the window they would see the above images
light up before them as they decided what to do next on their journey. There was a keyboard located below
the window, which you would press to tell the Dark Tower what you wanted to do. It would record your
moves and then interact those with the players around you.

When entering a tomb or ruin, the tower would emit a creaking noise of a door opening. And if you found
nothing, the door would creak shut. Snake charmer's music would play if you entered a bazaar, "Ride of the
Valkyries" would sound if you won a battle, or a few notes of the "1812 Overture" would signal you to solve
The Riddle of the Keys at the end of the game. These are only some of the fun tunes that were played by the
game.  One game could take hours to complete, and you could end up spending a lot of money on D-cell
batteries if you became addicted.

The game was any fantasy fan's dream. Sadly, however, it was expensive to buy and there wasn't a high
enough demand to keep it on store shelves. Eventually it faded away, and my parents never bought another
one to replace the one that my brother had broken. Probably because it was no longer available at that time. I
was mad at my brother at first, but eventually I came to the conclusion that it was an accident. He did enjoy
playing it, too, and would never intentionally break something we had so much fun with. Years went by, and
randomly I would think of it as I grew into adulthood, but I knew deep down that I probably would never
have the chance to relive those memories.

But then something miraculous happened. Thanks to the rise of an Internet based company called E-bay, my
dream was revived. Unfortunately, it came at no small price. Apparently I wasn't the only one who really
enjoyed playing the game. The Dark Tower is selling like hot cakes in the Internet auctions, averaging
between one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars apiece. Spending that much money on one forces you
to store it away properly. Now I only need to find some people to regularly play it with me. Any takers?
Which Came First, the Dragon or the Jar? --5/1/2007

When you enter a specific genre, whether you're reading or writing it, you must ask yourself if the ideas that
have been presented are new or founded on something else. I think you would be surprised to learn that the
majority of ideas being created today are not original. Don't let that dishearten you, though. From the past we
can still take something and give it a new meaning, or a better twist.

One example that comes to mind is the movie Star Wars. Yes, I did say Star Wars. Many critics have berated
fantasy author Christopher Paolini for copying some of its themes, but if we dig a little deeper, we'd find out
that George Lucas also did the same for his epic blockbuster series. In fact, Lucas did a ton of research for
his screenplay, drawing up his plot from mythologies, religious practices and historical events. He also
harnessed ideas from movies such as Flash Gordon, The Hidden Fortress and Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Using the vocabulary from these movies was also a priority, helping set the tone for a different mindset that
could transport the viewer into an escape from reality.

And if you can believe this, Lucas also cited The Lord of the Rings as a major influence on Star Wars, saying
he learned how to handle the "delicate stuff of myth" from Tolkien. The Hobbit was published in 1936 and
The Lord of the Rings in 1954. By the mid-sixties, Tolkien's works were the most influential fantasy stories
in the Western world, and by the late seventies Star Wars had taken over the throne, thanks to father of
fantasy. Tolkien wrote that myth and fairytale seem to be the best way to communicate morality - hints for
choosing between right and wrong - and in fact that may be their primary purpose. "The making of language
and mythology are related functions," he said. "Your language construction will breed a mythology."
Obviously Lucas agreed.

So how do you know if an idea you're reading or writing is new or not? The only true way to find out is to do
what Lucas did. Do your research. It's not a bad thing to know if your story's already been told or not, and to
what degree. It will only make you that much more knowledgeable as a reader, or that much more informed
as a writer.

No one wants to be a hoax, or a whistle blower on those who are. People desire to discover something new,
rediscover something that's been lost, or see something in a new light. It's exciting, and makes life fun. Take
the baby dragon pictured in the jar above for instance. Dragons are probably the most popular symbol in
fantasy today. There have been thousands of stories written about dragons, and yet, this is something we've
never seen before, because of the way it's being presented to the viewer. Is it a hoax? Some scientists
speculate it's made of wax, while others are amazed by its astounding detail, giving no opinion on the matter.
The whereabouts of the dragon now is unknown, and no institution ever accepted it for testing, believing it to
be a fake.

What is interesting, though, is that upon first sight, it immediately makes any person ask, "Is it real?" Even
though a few seconds later we might conclude it can't be, why would we initially ask that? Because no one
has ever proved if dragons scientifically exist, and perhaps somewhere deep within our souls we want to
believe they do. And by believing they do, it leaves other doors for other myths and legends open for
reexamination, and further exploration. How can we possibly know everything about every creature or story
in this world? We simply can't. All we can do is keep them alive in our hearts by allowing the stories to live
on and grow in ways we can only imagine, and create.
The Long Road to Recognition--Summer 2007

Dan Brown. J.K. Rowling. Nora Roberts. R.A. Salvatore. You name an author in today's age, and most of
them seem like they were an overnight success. But the reality is, well over the majority of the authors in the
marketplace take a long time to get the proper recognition they deserve. Some do it by producing a large
volume of work over a long period of time, while others write top-notch books that sell incredibly fast
because of word-of-mouth. Whatever the reason, it just doesn't happen overnight, folks. There is so much
that goes into building a name, an image, before someone breaks through the barrier of
"just-another-wannabe."

Take the father of fantasy himself, for instance. J.R.R. Tolkien started creating his world of Middle-earth
around 1916. He worked on his tales until his death in 1973.
The Hobbit, which sets the stage for the Lord
of the Rings
, was first published on September 21, 1937, in a print run of 1,500 copies. Wow, how cool it
would be to own one of those!  A first edition, first impression of
The Hobbit sells for around $8,850.00, or
more. That's some good pocket change.

So, if you think about it, it took about twenty-one years before that work came to the light, and in an age that
wasn't as nuts about the genre of fantasy as it is now. And it only came to light because of an open-minded
ten-year-old boy by the name of Rayner Unwin, who was paid a shilling to do a report on the book for his
father, publisher Stanley Unwin. Just think, if Rayner's report would've been negative, how much of an
impact that would've had on the genre of fantasy. Wow!  Thanks, Rayner, for letting your imagination be
captivated! And so, The Hobbit came into the world, and is now published in over forty different languages.
But it wasn't until 1965, when a pirated paperback version of
The Lord of the Rings came into existence,
that Tolkien's works really started to become famous. The pirated book was put into an impulse-buy category
at the time, and the copyright dispute generated a good amount of publicity, which caught the attention of
millions of Americans looking for a unique read outside their previous experience. By 1968, the tales of
Tolkien began to take on a life of their own, only five years before his death.

There are many stories like Tolkien's. Janet Evanovich, now best-selling author of her bounty hunter
Stephanie Plum series, took many years to find fame. She, like many new authors starting out, filled a box
with rejection letters for her first manuscript, and probably also like many authors, burned it. A few months
later she received an offer for that manuscript for the low, very low price of $2,000.00. This may seem
shocking, but when you're a no-name, it's not all that surprising. And considering the competition in the
entertainment industry, it's even less surprising. Evanovich, at that point, began to write full-time. After
publishing twelve romance novels within five years, she decided to change genres, moving into mystery when
she ran out of sexual positions to write about. She retooled her writing for two years, and wrote
One for the
Money
, the first in her Plum series, which sold to Scribner. It debuted in 1994, well into her writing career.

So even if you do get published, and published a lot, it obviously doesn't guarantee you fame and fortune, or
at least not immediate. It can take one book, or one series, to break you in, but sometimes it may take a long
time for word-of-mouth to spread, or an accidental negative exposure to happen, as was with the case with
Tolkien, for you to break the barrier.

How will
The Snowtear Wars fare over time? No one really knows, not even me. All I can do is stay on the
road I think I need to be on, and hope that one day something important will happen that will vault my career
to a new level. It may be a person in a specific position of power who makes the choice that will change my
destiny.  We're in the Information Age, so maybe the media will influence my work at a pivotal point. Or, it
could be something completely unaccounted for. I do know one fact, that if I do nothing, nothing will happen.
I can only assure you that I will do my best to keep writing, and with a little help, this train can gain enough
steam to pass the important checkpoint of success to run on its own well after my days come to an end.
Your Name Might be Next --Summer 2007

It's true, if you've heard, that I sometimes will use a fan's name in one of my novels. It's already happened in
all of my released books in
The Snowtear Wars series. And I have no doubt about it for any of my future
books.

But how do I decide what name will work, you ask? Really, it's just something that has to sound right, if you
know what I mean. I try to stay away from more common names, like Joe, Bob, Rick, Mary or Jennifer.
Those names, for the most part, wouldn't realistically exist in the world of Elvana. Yes, I do have Boris and
Roy, but I personally felt like they could have been created there, even though we have them here. But those
are the rare examples in my works, not the common.

I think Rowling could've come up with a better name than Harry for Harry Potter, considering he's her main
character. Harry is pretty average, but perhaps that's why she chose it, because Harry is really, truly an
average boy, for a boy. It's not his fault he's endowed with fantastic spell-casting abilities, is it? And maybe
by choosing the name Harry, it doesn't make him seem too grand to us muggles. Harry is a more
down-to-earth name. Whatever the reason, she just didn't pull the name out of a hat. That name stuck with
her for a reason. She had a special connection to it. Maybe she just always liked the sound of it.

So how do you know when it sounds right? Well, a lot of times it just depends on the type of character
you're portraying. Take Han Solo from
Star Wars, for instance. Solo, by definition, means without a
companion, alone. And that's precisely the kind of person Solo is in the series. He likes to work alone. Sure,
he has Chewy to watch his back, but for the most part, since he's involved in smuggling illegal goods for
Jabba the Hutt, he's better off alone.

I prefer to go a traditional route that most authors use. I scan through hundreds, if not thousands, of names to
find the one that fits, the one that people will be sure to remember. It doesn't have to be flashy, but it has to
be catchy. I like for it to stand on its own, to be a good solid name, one that fans can learn to trust, like
Rydor. Sometimes just changing the spelling of a common name can make it right, like Craig to Crag. Or, if
it's a fan's name, the same can happen. Jeff could become Jeyf, or Sara could become Saruhe.

I usually will not only have a character's mannerisms in my mind when I choose, but also their appearance. If
it's a rugged individual, Nale sounds right. Nale evokes the image "tough as nails". Just as Willow evokes the
image of an elegant queen with a dignified air, but isn't stuffy or overbearing. And so on and so forth. You
get the picture.

So, if I tell you at a book signing that I could use your name in one of my upcoming novels, I'm not kidding,
or just trying to get you to pick up and read my book. I really mean it, and I hope it means something to you,
too.
Which Actors and Actresses Do I Envision Playing The Snowtear Wars'
Characters? --Summer 2007

People ask me if my characters are based on people I know. The answer is, no. I prefer to use characters
from movies, or some of the mannerisms of actors and actresses, to create my characters. I've done it for the
majority of the individuals I've created. In a world as large as Elvana, you almost need a source to draw on,
whatever it is. Perhaps these people would consider playing my parts if I ever were put in the seat to ask
them.

Without further ado, here's my list for the more vital characters in
The Snowtear Wars series. Some of the
answers may surprise you. (I hope this doesn't spoil YOUR image of them). Age of the actor or actress is not
necessarily a factor when I create my characters, so don't get hung up on that. If you don't know anything
about the person I've listed, the best place you can go on the Internet to find their body of work is
www.imdb.com. Just type in their name in the search field and voila!

Oreus Blake: Sean Biggerstaff (if he could lose the accent / Oliver Wood in the
the first two Harry Potter movies)
Rydor Regoria: Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind)
Noran Yorokoh (Deardrop): Shawn Ashmore (Iceman in the X-men series)
Jada Annalee: Scarlett Johannson (The Island, Scoop)
Ola Yorokoh: Emma Watson (Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter)
Willow Deardrop: Kate Winslet (Titanic, The Holiday)
Lanar Lanu: Patrick Stewart (Star Trek)
Boris Groffen: Jesse Ventura (Predator)
Berringer Crag: Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins from LOTR, The Fifth Element)
Roy Stoffer: Paul Giamatti (Sideways, The Lady in the Water)
Bruneau Palidon: Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter)
Blaynor Garsek: Alfred Molina (Spider-man 2, The Da Vinci Code)
Herikech/Heritoch/Herishen Illeon: Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Batman Begins)
Brassus Beel: Shane West (ER, Once and Again, A Walk to Remember)
Braiy Decker: John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in LOTR, Sallah in the Indiana Jones series)
Troy Fields: Mark Wahlberg (Planet of the Apes, Invincible)
Viktoran Ilos: Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith in The Matrix, V for Vendetta)
Windal Barrow: Nick Carter (a member of The Backstreet Boys)
Johr Karagas: Brian Blessed (The Phantom Menace, Macbeth, King Lear)
Kuall the Courageous: Steve Carell (Evan Almighty, The 40-Year-Old Virgin)
Elenoi Ironwood: Rosemary Harris (Aunt May in the Spider-man series)
Kreg Garan: Jon Voight (National Treasure, Ali)
Dillon Pacant: Bruce Davison (Senator Kelly in the X-men series, Runaway Jury)
Hethro Trayson: Thomas Haden Church (Wings, Sideways, Spider-man 3)
Quinn Rainsmoke: Tom Welling (Superman in Smallville)
Haydon May: Scot R. Stone
Whatever Happened to ... Dragon's Lair? --Summer 2007

Way, way back (at least for my age) in 1983, one of the first laserdisc video arcade games came to life
through Cinematronics. Yes, it was called "Dragon's Lair", and our hero, Dirk the Daring, was sent on a
quest to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe. The dragon, as you may or may not remember,
holed himself up in the castle of a dark wizard.

The animation for the game was created by former Disney veteran Don Bluth. The game was developed in
seven months on a shoestring budget, which meant the animators couldn't afford to hire models for the
game's characters. So, believe it or not, the animators used photos from Playboy magazine for inspiration for
our lovely princess. The princess's voice left little to be desire, though, eluding to the fact she was all beauty
and no brains. Despite their budget, the artwork in the video game was the highest quality ever seen in its
time.

Building upon the popularity of the game, a television cartoon series was released, and unfortunately,
short-lived. All in all, thirteen episodes were produced, but to tie in the spirit of the game, right before a
commercial break, the show would ask the viewer how Dirk would get out of a particular problem, showing
several choices he could act upon. Then after the break the narrator would show which choice was the
correct one.

And as home video game systems came into existence, so did Dragon's Lair with them. Nintendo and Super
NES produced their versions of the arcade game, as did Game Boy, Amiga and Atari ST. The original home
game was called Escape from Singe's Castle, a non-linear interpretation of Bluth's original creation. Then
came other adaptations later on, Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp, which was released in 1991, and Dragon's
Lair III: Curse of Mordread in 1992.

In 2002, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original arcade game release, Digital Leisure Inc. came
out with a special edition DVD box set of the three arcade classics that defined laserdisc arcade games:
Space Ace, Dragon's Lair, and Dragon's Lair II. Also developed in 2002 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox,
Gamecube and PS2, was Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair.

And again, as technology changed, so did the game. Late in 2006, Digitial Lesiure began pursuing producing
the game in a high definition format, simply called "Dragon's Lair HD". It will be remastered in Dolby Digital
5.1 sound for PCs that can support it.

Beyond the games, Dragon's Lair also came out in comic book mini-series in 2003 by Crossgen Publishing.
Arcana Studio is also publishing the comic book series in 2006, with three additional issues that weren't
published before.

And, finally, according to Bluth, a script for a Dragon's Lair movie has been written and will go into
production once the financing is in place. The film will be released in the classic 2-D animation style.

It's uncertain how long this legend will live on. I guess it all depends on how long people are willing to open
their wallets for the latest version. I, for one, will go to see the movie if it looks like it's well done. I just
hope they change Princess Daphne's voice and not make her so helpless. Everyone enjoys a good hero
story, but let's not make the heroine completely incompetent. That's outdated, and unrealistic to me.
Catching Up with Your Local Monster --Summer 2007

You probably don't have to look very hard to find out if there's a legendary monster living near you. It
doesn't matter what state, region or country you live in. Everyone's got one near them. Some are real, and
some are myth, but all contribute to this genre we call fantasy.

The oldest of all monsters, as some scholars believe, is the dragon. The funny thing is, it seems that dragons
developed in many different cultures thousands of miles apart, and over a long period of time. They don't all
look exactly alike, of course, but they are a conglomerate of ancient man's worst fears. Covered in scales.
Talons of a bird. Tail of a snake.  The dragon authors seemed to have adopted is the European dragon,
which breathes fire and has large leathery wings. I guess if you're going to have a monster, you need one
that does more than just looks ugly. And who is better to fight these menacing beasts than a hero? Saint
George was one of the first who helped get this ball of man versus dragon rolling. Saint Mercurialis, the first
bishop in the city of Forli, was rumored to have killed a dragon. Saint Theodore of Tyro, who was the first
patron saint of Venice, was also said to be dragon-slayer, which can be seen being depicted in a statue in one
of the tops of the two columns in Saint Mark's Square.

So we have dragons, but were they created by something someone saw in the water (read between the lines:
lake monster), or from a person who stumbled across the remains of dinosaur bones? It's hard to say, but
discovering a T-Rex skeleton in your backyard would surely draw up some frightening images for any
ancient culture. Loch Ness Monster sightings have been reported since 565 A.D., and the creature is said to
appear more in the month of June. Yeah, that's a long time ago for rumors to have surfaced. Humans
undoubtedly have a fascination for the bizarre and unexplained. There's also Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan,
the Thetis Lake Monster in Canada, Manipogo in Lake Manitoba, Igopogo in Lake Simcoe, Chessie the
Cheasapeake Bay serpent, Slimy Slim of Lake Idaho, Bessie from Lake Erie and Whitney the white river
monster of Arkansas.  As you can see, there are lake monsters all over the place, which leads us to one
conclusion: they're most likely a species of dinosaur that has survived extinction, a plesiosaur or something
similar. Scientists say it could also be a Lake Sturgeon, which grow to great lengths. A sturgeon is prehistoric
fish with a scale-less body that is supported by a partially cartilaginous skeleton along with rows of scutes.
This might explain a dorsal fin or flipper, but what about that elongated neck some observers have reported
seeing rising out of the water. A bobbing log? Fat chance.

In Vermont, we also have our own Nessie, named Champ, who purportedly swims about in Lake
Champlaign, hence the nickname. The last sighting of Champ came in 1995 by Dennis Hall of Champ
Quest, who was said to have recorded Champ on video. I do at some point plan to camp at Lake
Champlaign, and would gladly like to catch my own glimpse of the legendary lake beast, but those
experiences are few and far between, and those who report them are scrutinized to the hilt for coming
forward. Some people just can't handle something out of the normal, or something that hasn't been defined
by science, and therefore feel more comfortable ridiculing someone who is just trying to relate their
experience to us. So it's no doubt that many sightings go unreported, possibly a high number. Or they're just
dismissed by those individuals as them having seen something else in their mind. And in case you're
wondering, it would take at least fifty mature Champs to have a viable breeding population for such a
creature exist in the lake, or 500 to keep the species alive long term. That's a lot of Champs, and leads one
to wonder, how come we haven't found a body? Why aren't there more sightings? Where are they hiding
out?

But lake monsters and dragons only scratch the surface of what's out there. There's Bigfoot, which is
referred to as Sasquatch, The Abominable Snowman and Yeti, depending on what region you live in.
Bigfoot sightings have been reported in every state across the U.S. There's databases on the Internet devoted
to cataloging those sightings. There's even recordings of Bigfoot noises. Check out the link for one of my
favorites: http://www.oregonbigfoot.com/sounds.php. The first one regarding the growl/whistle combination
in the High Serrias in California in 1978 blew me away when I heard it. It sends chills up your spine when
you first listen to it.

Now we move on to Puerto Rico's Chupacabras, translated to mean "goat-sucker". It is a creature that is
much like a dragon, in which many of the worst attributes of animals are lumped together to create an
entirely new creature. It's said to have lidless red eyes, fangs, spikes on its back, webbed feet and some
nasty claws. A Chupacabra feeds on local livestock, and, yes, there is substantial video evidence of
something unusual having attacked these animals, which consist of goats, chickens, rabbits and even cows.
Some have been completely drained of blood, and others have had entire organs sucked out through
puncture holes. Soon after these animal deaths in Puerto Rico, others were reported in other countries, such
as the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Peru,
Brazil, the United States and Mexico. Is this creature a product of mass hysteria, or is it real?

Other creatures that have also contributed stories to the world of fantasy are The Loveland Frog/Lizard
(Ohio), The Dover Demon (Dover, Massachusetts), The Moth Man (West Virginia), The Thunderbird
(Arizona), giant Congo snakes, The Owlman (England), Spring-heeled Jack (south-west London),
Leprechauns (England), The Jersey Devil (New Jersey), The Beast of Bray Road (Wisconsin), fairies
(England), The Mongolian Death Worm, and a host of others. Wherever in the world you live, there is an
unexplained legend living near you. If you have a few moments on your hand, try to learn more about it, and
even make an investigation if you're strong-hearted. One of the current television series I truly enjoy is the
Sci-Fi Channel's original series, "Ghost Hunters". If you haven't heard of it, I'd be surprised. If you've never
watched it, you're doing yourself a disservice. Yes, the two main hunters are plumbers by day, but their
team has caught film of some of the most amazing images of ghosts ever seen.

And that's what all of this comes down to, doesn't it? If any of these creatures truly exist, we want scientific
proof, or waterproof evidence of that existence. It's the only way we can come to accept something so
outlandish, something so out of the normal realm of our experience. And until there's enough evidence
gathered, all we will have to rely upon is our imagination, and a host of good writers willing to tell the stories.
Scot's Top Fantasy Movies of All Time--2/29/2008

From novels, that is. This list takes all the oldies but goodies for their time into consideration, as well as the new
action-packed graphic releases of recent years. As is customary with any countdown, let's start with the lowest
number.

14.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), starring Pat Boone, James Mason -- Based on the Jules Verne
classic, the story takes Professor Edinburgh and his colleagues down an explorer's trail inside an extinct Icelandic
volcano to the center of the Earth. I saw this movie when I was seven, and it's been burned into my memory since,
and t was the first time my eyes were opened to the world of fantasy, which is why it makes my top fifteen list.
Everyone has a movie they can go back to and say, "That's the movie that first got me interested in this genre." Then
eventually, of course, that leads to the inevitable: books.
13.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason -- Another Jules Verne adaptation,
another classic I watched as a kid. Shipping vessels are disappearing in the South Seas in 1868. Tabloids attribute the
disappearances to the existence of a sea monster. Professor Pierre Arronax and his assistant Conseil investigate as they
embark on a steamship to the Orient. Among the crew is Ned Land (Kirk Douglas). After a long period on the open
sea, a submarine called the Nautilaus, commanded by Captain Nemo (James Mason), attacks the steamship. Prof.
Arronax, Conseil and Ned are rescued by the submarine, and share the dreams and madness of Captain Nemo. For as
old as this movie is, it's still fun to watch.
12.
Dragonheart (1996), starring Sean Connery, Dennis Quaid -- There's no one better to do a dragon voice than
Sean Connery. Dennis Quaid played adequately as the hero (Bowen), however, he wouldn't have been my first choice
in that part. Another interesting fact about the dragon is that over 200 photos of Connery making facial expressions
were taken and used to bear a strong resemblance to him when creating the graphics. The plot: the last dragon and a
disillusioned dragon-slaying knight must cooperate to stop an evil king who was given partial immortality by Connery's
dragon. An interesting twist, no doubt.
11.
Dragonslayer (1981), starring Peter MacNicol, Caitlan Clarke -- This movie produced the best dragon on screen
for its time. It came out around the time of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which stole a lot of its thunder. Some of the
scenes make it unfriendly viewing for children--baby dragons chewing on a dead princess, for instance. Rent it. It's a
fantastic, often-overlooked classic for the genre. The movie does have some downfalls, such as the shallow character
depth for the main evil knight. The settings are good, though, which help bring the realism to life.
10.
Clash of the Titans (1981), starring Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier -- This was my favorite fantasy movie
growing up. I loved the graphics (for its time). Medusa freaked me out!  I was terrified of those glowing eyes that
could turn any living creature to stone if they looked at them. The fight scenes were good, and the acting good
enough. A new version of the movie is in the works to be released in 2010. Maggie Smith from the Harry Potter series
does make an important appearance in this movie. It won't be hard to spot her. Her voice is a dead giveaway.
9.
Nanny McPhee (2005), starring Emma Thompson, Colin Firth -- This has all the magical charm of Marry Poppins,
only it's better. I know some of you may think I'm crazy for that, but Emma Thompson is an outstanding actress, who
now plays Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies. When the kids of a mortician (Firth) get out of control by
driving all their previous nannies from the house, the father must resort to his last chance (Thompson), who plays the
humorous McPhee. This movie was always rented out when I went to the store. I think it did better in rentals that the
theater.
8.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005), starring Georgie Henley, Tilda Swinton, Liam Neeson, James
McAvoy -- A wonderful adaptation to the big screen from C.S. Lewis's classic. The graphics are outstanding, and for
the most part, they stuck to the book. Disney is now working on Prince Caspian, which I hope is done as well as the
first installation to the series was. Tilda Swinton was delightful as the witch, and Neeson's voice was perfect for Aslan.
I believe Liam is also a Turkish word for "lion". The children were perfectly cast, and let me tell you, casting is a long
and arduous process.
7.
The Golden Compass (2008), starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig -- Phillip Pullman's recent classic is as stirring
as Tolkien's, which you will see further down this list. This series has created countless religious debates among fans,
as C.S. Lewis's series did. And what creates more buzz in the marketplace than debate? Nothing, really. It's why The
Da Vinci Code was so popular. Controversy makes news, every time. This series takes place in a parallel universe
where Lyra Bellacqua tries to save kidnapped children from a terrible organization, with the use of a magical golden
compass and aided by Gyptians, clans and armored talking bears. And what of the magical dust she hears her elders
talking about in Oxford? Find out for yourself. It's a gripping journey worth taking.
6.
Willow (1988), starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer -- Kilmer plays the comic knight Madmartigan, which keeps
the movie light and provides a good balance to the evil witch Queen Bavmorda, who tries to kill an infant child that
threatens the downfall of her empire. Madmartigan falls in love with Bavmorda's daughter (Sorsha), who must decide
to side with Willow's group (Warwick Davis) or her deranged mother. The adventure takes you through forests
inhabited by brownies and fairies, to snow-topped mountains, to castles overrun by trolls. George Lucas and Ron
Howard create a special story within the genre that will be remembered for years to come.
5.
Conan the Barbarian (1982), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones --
Arnold doesn't say much during this movie, but Conan really isn't much for words anyway. That doesn't make this
movie any less captivating. Jones's transformation into a snake near the end of the movie was disturbing, but grabbed
the horror handle of your gut and shook it. Conan sees his mother killed by Thulsa Doom (Jones), the sorcerer
warlord of an evil snake cult, and is then is sold into slavery, where he gains his incredible strength, becomes a
gladiator and learns to fight back. There is nudity and a lot of violence, so cover the kids eyes on this one. The sequel,
Conan the Destroyer, was awful, so stick to just this one. A new version of the movie is slated to be released in 2009.
4.
Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), starring Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando
Bloom -- No one expected this movie to do as well as it did in the theater, including Disney. Depp took Captainâ
Sparrow's character beyond the ordinary, and even got an Oscar nomination nod for Best Actor for it. Orlando Bloom
was average, I thought, as was Knightley. Depp certainly stole the show, but his character was misused in the two
sequels. The first of this series was by far the best. Geoffrey Rush did a great part as Captain Barbados, too.
3.
The Princess Bride (1987), Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin,Chris Sarandon -- This movie had me laughing for weeks
after I saw it. The jokes are non-stop, and who could have told the story better than Peter Falk? Saturday Night Live
regulars such as Billy Crystal (Miracle Max) and Christopher Guest (the six-fingered man, Count Rugen) make guest
appearances. Even though this is your classic fairytale of a swordsman rescuing a princess in distress, it's how it's told
that makes it unforgettable. And, yes, there is some kissing.
2.
The Harry Potter series (2001-current), starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint -- You can't say
any one of these films is better than the other, because they are truly one long story split up over many different
releases, just like the books. The movies deserve to be placed near the top of this list together, just like my number
one selection. I was glad J.K. Rowling kept her thumb on the books' adaptations to the big screen. Who knows what
would've happened to the movies otherwise. The books should always be honored as closely as they can be during the
adaptations. You have to please the fans of the books, who create the buzz for the series to begin with, before you
consider chopping them up for movies. Otherwise they become just another "average" series in a sea on mediocrity.
1.
The Lord of the Rings (series, 2001-2003), starring Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Ian
McKellan -- Tolkien's vision is, for the most part, accurately brought to astounding life. From the dragon fireworks in
the Shire to Rivendell and to Mount Doom, the series took watchers on an adventure they will want to relive again and
again. As much as I love Harry Potter, Tolkien's series was harder to bring to life on the big screen than Rowling's
books because of the extensive background Tolkien put in for the languages and maps alone. What can you say more
about Peter Jackson's ability to create a successful adaptation of one of the most beloved storylines in the history of
the world? Gollum was unbelievably well done, as were the ring wraiths, orcs, Sheloub, the Balrog and the treants. I
give credit to Peter for not destroying something that could've easily been doused with Hollywood cheese. The
masterpiece by the father of fantasy was carefully handled, as it should've been. If you want to do nothing for an
entire day, watch the series all back-to-back-to-back.

As you can see, I left many films of this list, and for good reason. Eragon was badly handled as a movie, and I'm sure
the fans of the books would agree. The Star Wars series, Transformers, Aliens, Predator, Indiana Jones, superhero
movies and other space movies did not make the list, since these movies are more science fiction based, rather than
true fantasy.
On The Passing of Robert Jordan -- 2/29/2008

Farewell, fellow author, James Oliver Rigney Jr (October 17, 1948-September 16, 2007). Many loved his Wheel of
Time
series for its depth, rich detail and realism. Many hated it for its lengthiness, over-wordiness and because it
seemed it was going to be a never-ending tale that was just poised at sucking more money from a fan's pocket.
Whichever side of the fence you're on when it comes to Jordan's works, you must stop and consider what he meant
to the genre.

Jordan, in many ways, was your real American icon. He served two tours in Vietnam as an army helicopter gunner,
just like my father, Harland. Jordan received the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster. He attended
the Citadel, received an undergraduate in Physics, and was employed by the navy as a nuclear engineer. Then, of
course, he began his writing career in 1977, and started what would become his most famous works to date. He
married Harriet McDougal, who is an editor with TOR books and became Jordan's personal editor.

In January of 1990, the WOT series became known to the world, and he never looked back. The first volume was
titled The Eye of the World. Eleven more volumes would follow the first (including New Spring), with the last to be
released in 2009 by TOR, A Memory of Light, which his wife and author Brandon Sanderson will help finish from
his detailed notes. He also wrote novels under the pen name Reagan O'Neal and was one of several writers who
wrote new Conan the Barbarian stories. Millions of copies of Jordan's works have sold. And it wasn't only because
he had a good publisher with great distribution.

I'm sure there were many fans who were disappointed he couldn't finish his series before his untimely death in 2007.
But what can you do at this point? He, I'm sure, wanted to spend more of his remaining days with his beloved family
and friends than in front of a computer. Can you blame him? Absolutely not, unless you think writing is more
important. Was it unfair to the fans that he didn't work harder to finish the series sooner? Or maybe he should've
made it shorter? It's hard to answer that question. When a writer has a vision, he or she should stick to it. I have
always told my fans that The Snowtear Wars was only going to be five books. That wasn't the case with Jordan. He
was on a different path, one that many fans began to realize might not come to fruition. Everyone wants to hear the
end of the story, but unfortunately Jordan's own story ended before the WOT's.

So, even though Jordan never got to finish his tale while he was alive, does that mean his series was all for naught?
No. If you read what he completed, and liked it, then it wasn't. And there are millions of readers who can agree with
that. It really comes down to each fan, you see. If you touched one person, then you've made a world of difference.
In the end it doesn't matter what awards you've gained, or how much fame you've achieved. It's about your
audience, as it's always been. If you have a story to tell, and others are willing to listen, then you've made a
difference, and the world of fantasy thanks Jordan for his contributions
.
Get 'em Now --- Author Trading Cards -- 2/29/2008

You read the title correctly. There are now author trading cards making their way into the marketplace. These
cards, as you have guessed, are modeled after baseball cards. They can be used as a promotion to remind a
customer of an author event, or they can just contain statistical facts about any particular author, such as book
titles, biographical information or a website.

The Booksmith store, based out of San Francisco, CA, has been using the cards for years. They've created cards
for authors such as Anne Rice, Terry Pratchett, Wes Craven, Laurell K. Hamilton, Ursula Le Guin, Steve
Erickson, Ray Bradbury, Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and a host of others. When the author appears at their
store more than once, the author gets more than one card. The cards are now being traded and sold, as they are
elsewhere in other parts of the country where other vendors or authors are using the same promotion. The cards
have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The San Jose Mercury News, Publisher's Weekly and American
Bookseller. Not only are the cards becoming highly collectible, they're also getting the word out on an author's
works. Their value is already starting to rise for some, and could one day have mind-boggling values, especially if
they're signed.

Powell's Books in Portland, OR is starting to sell the cards in sets, which fans are taking a liking to. Word has it,
James Fey, JT Leroy, John Berendt and Kaavya Viswanathan are in it. The set contains sixteen cards and can
obtained (for a limited time) with the purchase of any featured title. Just go to
www.powells.com to learn more
about it.

For authors, this may be a great item to start giving out at book signings. I'm going to get into the act as part of my
new marketing campaign for the 2008 season. They will be in limited quantity. I will announce which signings they
will be available at when I get them created.

How are author trading cards made? Through one of the two sources I could find:
http://iconix.biz/trading-cards.htm (If you are interested in a 1,000 or more)
http://www.customtradingcardmaker.com/

Specific authors can join together to form a unique set. An author can use a card to promote any new book. Cards
can be made for specific characters, or events in a book. The ideas are endless, and I think this is only the
beginning. Some authors already have their cards posted on the net. Check out this link for a group called "Word
Weavers".
http://tradingcardspace.com/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=220

Have fun collecting!
Why Favorite Characters Must Die --1/6/09

    

        We all have a favorite character in any book we read, and it's not necessarily the hero or heroine. There comes
a time, in some books, a character meets a formidable obstacle they can't get around. This obstacle, whatever it may
be, ends your favorite character's existence. You may cry, and you my get mad, but sometimes it just has to be.
Characters should die in a good book or series. Authors who write comedies should also be open to it. Why you ask?
Because death creates what? Yes, controversy.

        It's why the media is so obsessed with reporting deaths. It elicits a reaction in the viewer. The same goes true
with books. If you can't get your readers to talk about a series, then what the heck are you writing for? Death is, as
they say, a part of life. Characters who face challenges that seem insurmountable must surely experience death in
some fashion or another along the way.

        So that brings me to another interesting point. You can kill off a portion of character's personality. Or, let me
put it this way: the character encounters something that changes their outlook on life, something they can never forget.
In a way, that is creating death. You kill the old character you knew by changing his or her personality. Whatever he
or she experienced was too great for them to ever be the way before it happened.

        As you can see, death can be implemented in many different forms. Death is interesting, and helps us become
attached to characters affected by it. It makes those characters seem more real. What creates friction or a conflict
faster than death? Luke Skywalker's foster parents were killed by the Empire, immediately making him want to go to
fight for the Rebellion. What makes a villain the worst villain of all? One who kills someone who meant something to
the protagonist. Don't be afraid to incorporate death, and be open to reading stories or watching movies that end in it.
Think Dead Poet's Society. Think Romeo and Juliet. Think Titanic. Even though we can see tragedy coming, how
the characters deal with it makes it alluring. Characters that go through an entire story totally unscathed are boring,
and it's unrealistic to believe that could actually happen. Even though we could be reading fantasy, it still has to be
realistic. At least if you want to be respected in the industry it has to be. I think I've made my point.
Addressing Incorrect Conclusions --1/16/09
       
   Okay, I have to jump in here and address two important topics regarding my Snowtear Wars series before they gets out
of control. I always read the reviews about my novels. Criticism is a good thing, whether the reviews are good or bad.
You absorb it all and improve. If you can't take criticism, then get out. But there were two items mentioned in a couple
reviews I have to clear up. You may have thought about them, too, and they are questions that should be asked if you are
an astute reader.

The Languages of Elvana

    First, about the languages in my world of Elvana (which includes Yawrana, Zonack, Salmus, Arna, The Waungee
Grasslands, and other countries): there is more than one language per country! I can understand how you can come to the
conclusion that there is only one language per kingdom, but I assure you, there is more. As you read more of the series,
you will begin to see that. For example, the draguls, dobbins and fire mice all have their own languages, but you only see
them speaking in Yawranan tongue during the first three novels. I chose not to delve into their languages at first, because I
didn't want that to detract from the story, or distract the reader as they get use to my world. I had enough to set up to
begin with. I didn't need to explore those languages yet. You can overburdern a reader with too many details in the
beginning, making your series a turn-off. As more series are released for this world, more will be revealed. Critics, on
some fronts, need to learn to be more patient with writers. They want everything spelled out now. I don't operate that
way. There are answers for everything, I promise you. And if I did miss something, well that happens, and I can always
backfill a story if I need to later on down the road. That's the magic of storytelling.

  In addition, there was some concern regarding Elder Harland Ghere learning the language of Zonack and teaching it to
the Yawranans with no concern that the language would change over the course of 4,000 years, when Oreus's Prophecy
would happen. Okay, this is a valid concern, but there is an explanation, but it will be a short story I will someday publish
on my website. Again, there's no patience shown by the critic in this instance. They want everything explained NOW.
Sorry to disappoint, but you just have to trust the fact that for every question there is a sound answer. So, fans, be patient.

Yawranan Land Restrictions

    A comment was made that as kingdoms grow they would search for new land to expand. I'm all for that, but where
exactly will Yawrana expand to? Arna? A frigid wasteland that has nothing to offer and has more dangerous creatures than
you can count on all your digits?  West? The Sea of Sarapin. East? The Sea of Racorn. South? The Pydora Dunes, where
no Yawranan is allowed to go because of the vast, harsh desert conditions, and those who do go there will find themselves
in a pickle with the Volars. So, the only thing the Yawranans can really do is go across the sea, however, in the Prologue
of Book One I stated how dangerous that is with all the sea monsters roaming about. Details, folks. Pay attention to
details! The Elders always have warned the kingdom about sending travelers abroad. So, there is really NOWHERE for
anyone to go, and as a result, land is limited. By Yawranan law, additional taxes are applied to couples who decide to have
more children than is suggested. The taxes are a deterrent, but they don't necessarily stop couples from having more than
two little ones. You have to be wealthy enough to support having more than two children. And if you're not, life can get
rather difficult. The kingdom won't turn its back on you, but it won't say it didn't warn you either. So keeping the
population down, as is replenishing your resources, which the Yawranans are intelligent about.