Fantasy and How the World Ought To Be


Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn

This article is by Christian Madera.

Early Fantasy literature, with its black-and-white morality, was very comfortable making statements about ethics. I’m using ‘ethics’ in a broad sense here: I don’t just mean questions about what a person should do in a difficult situation (though such questions are definitely a mainstay of Fantasy literature and merit discussion), but rather broader questions about how a person should be and how the world should be.

Recently, we’ve seen a backlash against black-and-white morality and a move towards so-called “grey” Fantasy. While I think it is very important to be cognizant of and think critically about the potential pitfalls of black-and-white Fantasy, I would argue that grey Fantasy is not without pitfalls of its own.

5 Essential Publishing Skills

This article is by T.L. Bodine.

ereader and booksSelf-publishing can certainly seem like the easier route to take when it comes to getting your words in front of readers.  After all, there are no gate-keepers – no agents to court, no publishers to approach.

With the click of a button, your book can be released into the ether for anyone to come across.  And if the traditional path to publication seems daunting, it can be comforting to think that going indie will be easy.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.  There’s a big difference between publishing a book and actually getting people to read it, and many of the things readers are looking for are exactly the things agents and acquisition editors want as well.  As it turns out, most of the key skills needed for landing an agent are very similar to those for hooking readers.

5 Reasons Why Narration Can Work in Fiction

This article is by Anne Marie Gazzolo.

BilboAuthors can use narrators in many different ways to add value to any story. Among them, they can speak directly and indirectly to their audience, inform the readers of things not even the characters inside the story know, give a look into the heart and soul of the heroes and villains, and praise or condemn them for their actions.

Here are five reasons why you should consider using one:

Navigating the Self-Publishing Fandango

get publishedThis article is by Cate Morgan.

There’s no doubt about it: there is a lot of noise out there in the crowded, Dread Interwebz when it comes to what I refer to as the Self-Publishing Fandango.

It’s like a tango in the respect that it sounds sexy at the outset, and certainly looks sexy when it’s done by trained professionals. But without full knowledge of the steps, it can turn violent in terms of tangled legs, stepped-on toes, and ballistic stilettos impaling innocent bystanders. In other words, disappointing and not pretty for all concerned.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all know the publishing landscape has changed dramatically with the wide acceptance of eBooks and the wild popularity of the Kindle. That’s not news. What is news is authors’ perspectives changing right along with it, and as dramatically as a sudden stiletto to the eye.

Should You Write a Fantasy Trilogy?

trilogyI recently came to a part in my Work in Progress (WIP) when I said, “Huh, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a standalone after all.”

While I believe there are a lot of important decisions to make about your book (awesome characters, coherent plot, enough giant roach mutants, traditional vs. self-publishing), one may be the decision to write every fantasy writer’s dream: the Great (Insert Nationality Here) Fantasy Trilogy.

Many of my favorite books of all time were part of trilogies, but the thought of beginning one myself brings thoughts of both excitement and apprehension. Is it the best choice for the story I want to tell? If I don’t write a series, am I cramming too much into one book? After some writers squeak out, “I’m writing a book,” the next question from curious minds may be “Will it be a trilogy?”

Well, will it?

4 Essential Tips for First-Time Con-Goers

Baltimore Comic-Con Loki

Ditch the Costume

This article is by Joseph Zieja.

Cons are vicious, insane things, where emotions run as hard and fast as the alcohol, where dreams are made and broken at bars, and where George R. R. Martin sends people out for cheese steaks at three o’ clock in the morning.  You will meet people dressed in costumes from anime you have never heard of and, now, never want to see.  It’s a horrifically daunting, exhilarating, and generally rewarding experience.

So why should you take advice from me about going to a convention?  Because I’m you.  I’m the new guy, and I’m here to give you the new guy’s perspective on con-going, and I think I did pretty well for myself at the last few cons.  I’m here to give you the 4 Essential Tips of Convention Attendance.

Racial Diversity in Speculative Fiction

This article is by Anne Leonard.racial diversity

A current – and recurring – topic of conversation in the SFF writer/ blogger/ reader community is the lack of people of color (POC) writing and publishing in the field.  (This is also an issue in the literary community in general; here’s a recent post on the subject that appeared on the Book Riot website.)

People of color are underrepresented in SFF for a lot of reasons, but one which I see frequently mentioned is that books without diversity make POC feel excluded.  This creates a vicious circle – POC don’t read SFF, so they don’t write SFF, so there aren’t POC in SFF books, so POC don’t read SFF.  One way to break the cycle is for white writers to include more diversity in their own work.

Making Romance Epic – 5 Tips for Writers

Romantic relationships are a part of being human.

Not every novel needs a romantic subplot. But given enough time and depth, most characters will develop that side of their lives. If we’re ignoring love, we aren’t writing fully realized characters.

If we as writers can tap into the allure and mystery of romance, we have the opportunity to evoke more powerful and compelling emotions through our stories.

Here are five tips for making this happen:

Is Fantasy Fiction Too Safe?

fantasy booksThe last dozen fantasy books I’ve read would be classified as epic fantasy. Some kind of hero or heroine goes on a quest, or there are world-spanning conflicts between kings and queens.

I guess you’re expecting me to say, “Ugh, I’m so sick of epic fantasy.” Actually, no. I quite enjoy these kinds of stories for the most part, and have done so for around twenty years or more.

However, I found myself in a bit of a quandary recently when I thought, “I’d like to read something a bit different in tone, structure, and scope.” So I started looking through my collection of books.

The Why of Weapons: The Great Sword of War

This article is by Joseph Malik.

Today I’m going to discuss an underrepresented weapon in fantasy, although it was likely the single greatest casualty-producing weapon on the medieval battlefield until the development of the longbow.

Image 1A Gran Espée de Guerre by Michael “Tinker” Pearce. (

It’s a sword. It’s arguably the sword. It’s the Oakeshott Type XIIIa great sword of war, referred to as a gran espée de guerre.

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