Thursday, July 30, 2015

Miri Castor talks about writing Opal Charm

Today I have a guest post from Miri Castor, author of Opal Charm:  The Path to Dawn.  I like to hear about other authors' creative processes, so here's a bit about hers:

I wrote Opal Charm: The Path to Dawn during many phases of my life. I started in middle school-my first draft was short, full of childhood naivety and RPG references; video games were probably the reason I got into the fantasy/scifi genre, and still heavily influence my ideas. I rewrote Opal Charm in high school, using Opal as my assertive persona when I was a passive, quiet girl who tried to be a people pleaser. When I looked back at my novel in college, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to add more of a realistic feel to Opal’s story. The obstacles that Opal faces, the non-fantastical ones, are common to people of all ages who have dealt with depression or have felt alone while surrounded by people.  

For me, writing is a continuous stream of creativity. It was easy for me to create this world and my characters because I allowed this idea to burgeon in my mind before I decided to type it up. I like to let ideas develop in my head for a long time before I decide to write it down. I guess that’s procrastination, as I tended to procrastinate often during my school breaks. I always tried to work through my writer’s blocks though, because after keeping my story in my thoughts for such a long time, I was eager see it through to the end.
        -Miri Castor

And here's an excerpt from her book:

Opal threw the covers off and slid out of the bed. She yawned as she went to the door and opened it ajar, peeking out cautiously. The hallway was empty, but gunfire and explosions were coming from the playroom down on the left hall. Before leaving the guestroom, she quickly texted her mother after seeing two missed calls on her cellphone; she followed the sounds of gunshots and cheesy sound effects down the hall and found Aaron lounging on the beanie couch, watching TV with a bowl of popcorn around his arm. He sat up and beamed at her. “Hey sleepyhead,” he greeted enthusiastically.

“Morning,” she croaked, plopping next to him and taking a handful of popcorn. 

“It’s almost twelve-thirty, girl. Have some more breakfast popcorn.”

“Sure. Are you okay?”

“Look at me, I’m good…but what about you?” asked Aaron uneasily. “You were passed out this morning.” Opal sighed and leaned forward, rubbing her temples.

“I didn’t sleep much last night,” admitted Opal. 

“It must have been hard to,” he said considerately as he muted the movie he was watching. How would he understand anything she felt last night? He slept without a care in the world like Hope did. Speaking of the devil, Hope opened the door with a grave countenance. It didn’t look like she got much sleep either. “I need you to tell me everything that happened when you got to Lusa,” she said immediately. She sounded as if she had rehearsed in the bathroom on how she was going to approach the two of them. “Before you begin, I’m curious to know how you found the teleporter upstairs.”

“You waste no time, huh?” teased Aaron lightheartedly. Hope didn’t smile and Aaron chuckled nervously. “I was looking for the bathroom and Opal tried to help me out.”

“It was something that trivial?” she asked herself aloud. Aaron scrunched his face at Hope unpleasantly.

“Having to take a leak is nothing trivial.” He was joking again yet Hope didn’t crack a smile. It was the most tense Opal had seen the usually, amiable Hope. She was dressed in yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt, the ultimate form of comfort. The heat hadn’t come on and the room was slightly chilled compared to yesterday. Aaron wore the same jeans from yesterday with a hoodie; he leaned back on the beanie sofa to get comfortable again. Hope looked to Opal with a tired expression. “Can you tell me everything that happened?” 

Opal’s stomach fluttered with large moths; she felt no comfort in explaining every detail of what happened last night. She hoped after she had woken up she would forget everything that happened, but every part was committed to memory. Opal cringed when she remembered waking up in an empty meadow. “Actually don’t,” urged Hope considerately, shaking her head. “It brings you great discomfort obviously-I apologize for that, for everything. This wasn’t what I intended.”

Opal remained taciturn, scratching the back of her hair. 

“Aaron, will you give us a minute?”

“Hell no.” Hope was taken aback by his firmness. “I’m not someone you can shove out of the room, I’m already involved in this.”

“Yes, you are,” agreed Hope sadly.

To read more, check out the excerpts and other info on her blog:
Or enjoy the story on wattpad:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Guest Post by Lindsey Sablowski

Today I have a guest post from Lindsey Sablowski, author of the Magicians series.  I asked her to write a little about the publishing process, and here are her insights:

With the completion of the Magicians series, I've learned a lot about writing and publishing. I've learned that every aspect of this path requires work -sometimes more than other times. Lately I have been asked a lot about whether to self publish or go the traditional way. I've done both, and I can positively say it all depends on you. Self publishing requires a lot of work on your side, as the author, but traditional publishing is just as hard. I spent years querying to agents and publishers. Rejection letters flooded my emails, and some days it really had me doubting myself. At the end of the day, though, rejection letters are like a bad breakup. They will upset you, perhaps stop you temporarily, but you will get over it. You'll move on and find something better.

On the other hand, a lot of work goes into self publishing a novel. You go out and find a cover designer -I've dealt with four different ones now. You have to do the interior formatting of the book -or pay someone to do it. Then you have to also do the interior formatting for ebook -that's always a tricky one. There's nothing quick about the process until your files are complete and correct. Then you simply click a button, and the book is published.

About Bloodline Inheritance (new release!):
Dyanna Carpathia narrates the final story in the Magicians series. She is thrown into the magical war, one she never wanted to be involved in. In order to save her friends and loved ones, she may need to keep her magic longer than intended. Will she ever be able to live a normal life? 

Alongside her on the battlefield is Malin Petrescu, a fighter and survivor. He does not trust Dyanna, but they need each other to survive this final war. 
This final book follows their lives through the war and the aftermath with a shocking conclusion.

About the Author:
Lindsey R. Sablowski is a fantasy author. The Magicians series: Cursed With Power, Shadows and Embers, Thicker Than Blood, and Bloodline Inheritance are amongst her published books. Lindsey lives in Maryland with her fiancé and their two cats.

Lindsey Sablowski
Order  Bloodline Inheritance today on Amazon -released July 24th!

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Blueberry Cake--Start to Finish

Locally sourced blueberries (yes, that's me and my mom, picking blueberries in the Czech Republic):

Getting ready to wash my blueberry-stained hands in the local spring:

Part of our blueberry haul (with a delicious wild imposter):

Getting ready to put all the ingredients together for my (American style) blueberry cake, later the same day:

Fresh out of the oven:


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vartovna View Tower, near Liptal, Czech Republic

Here's Vartovna View Tower.  I hiked to it from Prlov this time--a nice little hike, only steep at the very end.  I had the whole tower to myself for a few minutes  On a Saturday!  Then I walked to Syrakov and waited for the bus.  Word of warning:  Don't passively wait for that bus.  Stand out by the road, keep a good watch, and vigorously flag it down.  :)

View from the top of Vartovna view tower
A little scary for those who are afraid of heights

Feels a little like flying

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sheep Festival in Prlov, Czech Republic

Wallachia, my region of the Czech Republic, is full of sheep.  And I love it.  So what better festivity to attend than a Sheep Festival?

Prlov, a village near Vsetin, hosts a fantastic little sheep party every summer (this year it was the last Saturday in June) complete with sheep-dog demos, cute goats you can pet, sheep cheese tasting, wool spinning competitions, sheep shearing demos, traditional music, goulash--the whole works.  I loved it.

Here are some photos:

Shepherd with his sheep dogs, sheep, and goats.
The demo was awesome.  Those sheep dogs are so clever!

This darling baby goat was popular with all--and well guarded by the sheep dogs

Traditional Wallachian musicians

Traditional wood carving

If you've ever wanted to try milking a (fake) cow, here's your chance.
I did it, however, and I think it was easier than the real thing. 

Sheep Shearing.  

Wool-spinning contest.  They make it look easy, but the amateurs who tried kept breaking the string.
Like any great skill or art, it's not as easy as it looks.