Friday, June 28, 2013

Fantasy Sand Castle Art

Last week I spent many days at local beaches with our house guests--a normal thing to do when relatives from up north visit us in Tampa. Kids and parents building castles in the sand inspired me to search for some fine examples of fantasy sand art.

These should get you in a summertime state of mind! They sure make me want to head back to the beach to make my own dragon slithering in the moat of a fairy castle.

May your summer be filled with many lazy beach days!

Photo credits from Wikimedia Commons in order of photo appearance: 11:54, 1. Feb 2004 . . Guyking (Talk) . . 300x355 (35607 Byte) (Sand castle sculpture)
Benoit Rochon [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jon (Flickr: Ultimate Sand Castle) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Photographer Amos Gil [CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Curt Smith from Bellevue, WA, USA (Sand Castle at Cannon Beach) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Paulo Juntas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By William Cho. [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jebulon (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE.. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Why Faeries and Zombies Belong Together

We're very pleased to welcome Melanie Karsak to the Salon this morning with a fun discussion about some of the surprising supernatural creatures in her novel, The Harvesting. Check out her links and don't forget to enter to win a super cool swag bag at the bottom of the post.

Crossing Genres; Why Faeries and Zombies Belong Together
By Melanie Karsak

**Before I begin the post, I want to let readers know that I will be talking about some of the “other” paranormal creatures in my series, “The Harvesting.” I will do my best not to give away any big surprises, but you will discover one minor spoiler here.

My book jacket mentions that in “The Harvesting,” we have the story of Layla’s struggles during the zombie apocalypse. I also allude to the fact that zombies are not her only problem. Other creatures have been lurking about in our world waiting for mankind’s fall from power. In the world of “The Harvesting,” there are several supernatural creatures creeping about. One of the first “otherworld” players Layla encounters are “forest spirits.” Now, why in the world would a book about zombies include forest spirits or faeries? Some die-hard zombie readers hit the fantastical wall in “The Harvesting” then turn the novel aside in confusion. But one must consider what zombies and faeries communicate about us and the duality of their metaphor.


The zombie is typically depicted as an undead, unthinking creature who likes to do nothing but eat. It consumes flesh as it ambles mindlessly in search of the next meal. Zombies don’t seem to notice other zombies. They walk over others as if they do not see them. They have no consciousness of the physical environment. They have no consciousness of their physical self—save hunger. They just move, absently, through their world while they consume. Sound about right? Now, let me ask you something: have you ever been in Walmart on Black Friday? Notice much difference? Save entrails gnawing, our current culture seems to have generated a league of zombies. How different are we from the undead in the way we interact with our environment and others. Zombies have become the very symbol of a culture that feels dead inside. So what does that have to do with faeries?


When you think of the faerie folk of lore, the human-sized, magisterial beings of the Celtic past, what do you imagine? Do you envision creatures that are sensitive to emotion? Do you envision creatures that are so in-tune with the earth that they are often one with the natural environment? Do you envision creatures gnawing on a massive hunk of processed meat or someone daintily eating a fist full of berries? Faeries, forest lords, the ancient ones, are symbolic of mankind at its purist. It is a form of our legendary self. Lore suggests mankind’s rough ways sent the faerie folk into hiding, but that we may be, in part, descended from them. Both zombies and faerie folk are one step removed from human, but are related to mankind nonetheless. And they create a perfect duality.

In “The Harvesting,” I present both of these mythical creatures, zombies and faeries, to get people thinking about the “sides” of mankind. The unconscious verses the conscious self. Zombies depict what is worst about us, our lowest, id-driven thinking. Faeries depict us at our best, our highest level thinking. It might seem odd to mix the genres, but when you pair these two against one another, the results are pretty interesting. The forest lords of my novel seem to want to help mankind. The question is why? If you enjoy dark fantasy, I invite you to consider these and other creatures in “The Harvesting.”

Thank you so much for the tour stop today!

The Harvesting  
The Harvesting Series, Book 1
Melanie Karsak

Genre: Horror/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Steampunk Press
ISBN-10: 1479327247
ISBN-13: 978-1479327249
Number of pages: 394
Word Count: 71000
Cover Artist: Michael Hall Photography

TV interview with book info:

Amazon Smashwords

Book Description: 

When mankind finally consumes itself, can any spark of humanity survive? Layla fights to keep those she loves alive when the zombie apocalypse unfolds, but she soon learns that zombies are not the only problem. With mankind silenced, those beings living on the fringe seek to reclaim power. Layla must learn who to trust, fast, if she hopes to save what is left of our kind. 

About the Author:

Melanie Karsak, steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Visit the author at her blog,, to learn more about upcoming projects.

Enter below to win this awesome swag!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fashionable Punks

I still love steampunk. In fact, I just downloaded a new collection of steampunk stories to investigate, this one based on fairy tales. I'll let you know how it is when I get to it.  Meanwhile, my Facebook messages seem to be decorated by lots and lots of clothing based on what might be considered steampunk. Yeah, I have liked the page. No, I don't like everything on it.  But, as a character creator, I still need to dress my characters.  I do get inspiration from time to time.

But I might need to re-define steampunk in this context. I like the genre for the opportunity to investigate the relationship between society and technology.  Yeah, I know,.  That's not what everyone else is looking for.  It's just that I think this is an opportunity missed. Given our current state of investigating the relationship between the quality of our lives and our technologies, there is so much we can play with here.

So, where does that leave the fashions of steampunk?  Well, what is the relationship between fashion and society?  I come out of the era of bra-burning.  I was a bit young but still that was my era and my inheritance.  I'm not sure how I feel about corsets and hoops and all the other bindings that we have tried so hard to get free form literally and figuratively.

What I do get from the era, from revisiting the Victorian era, is the role of the hand in creating the life we parody now.  I'm a needlework junkie and have been collection original instructions for the making and decorating of the costumes.  Why? Part of the world of my own stories.  The power of women's work.

We don't think of fashion as world-changing but there have been times... Do you have a favorite fashion?  A designer that you would love to have create something for you?  Alexander McQueen does it for me.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Amazon's new searchable fantasy fiction categories--good news for readers and writers!

Good news for fantasy fiction readers and writers!

Amazon has recently expanded their search categories within the fantasy genre. Before, there were only about five fantasy subcategories, so glutted with listings that they weren’t useful. Now there are exciting collections of theme and character subcategories. The new labels sure tempt me. My thought is that other readers will feel the same.

Here's the new list of themes for fantasy:

 And the searchable list for fantasy character types:

What does this ultimately mean for the publishing industry? Readers will be better able to find the type of fantasy fiction they’re looking for. More finding should equate to more buying, which makes authors happy. More books sold benefits Amazon. It’s a big win—win—win!

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE.. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Savvy Authors Writing Communities Blog Tour

When Savvy Authors' Membership Director, Melinda Pierce, asked for volunteers to write blog posts about writing communities for the site's big re-launch blog tour, I jumped at the chance with twinkle-eyed enthusiasm. I sat down to write my contribution a few weeks later, only to realize that I didn't really have much experience outside of Savvy to talk about. I gave it a good long think, and I kept coming back to an early experiment from my youth. Cue the 90's pop punk music in the background as the wavy lines shuffle across the screen to take us back in time...

When I was nineteen, I started a little "writing" group with some friends and co-workers all around the same age as me. We got together every two weeks or so in my tiny apartment that I shared with three other people to drink Boone's Farm and explore our creative tendencies. I think our original idea was to eventually collaborate on a zine - you know, those little booklets of photocopied pages folded in the middle and stapled up that every young person in college tries to produce at one point or another, usually full of artwork and bad poetry.

Our meetings revolved around group writing at the messy kitchen table and geeking out over our favorite authors. We knew nothing about craft or the business of writing, and we shared very little of what we wrote during the sessions. Sometimes we would draw or try our hand at song lyrics instead, and we even attempted to incorporate a book club into the mix, but most of the group didn't read the selection (maybe The Good Earth was a poor choice for the first book, LOL).

We were young and clueless, but it was the feeling of being part of something special that has stuck with me. Despite the fact that nothing measurably productive came out of it, that pseudo-writing group was exciting and filled me with a creative energy that kept the spark of writing passion alive for many years. Eventually the whole thing fizzled out (as these things do) and we went back to playing video games and watching X-Files on Sunday nights.

Unfortunately, I've never had another opportunity to join a writing group in person, but Savvy Authors has shown me that you don't need to be sitting at the same table to get that  kind of support and shared enthusiasm for writing. The biggest difference is that the Savvy community has both experienced and novice authors, giving me a chance to learn from the pros while also achieving new insights along with fellow aspiring writers. And I can still have a nice glass of wine while interacting with them, although I've traded in the Boone’s Farm for slightly more sophisticated brands :)

A big thanks to Melinda and all the wonderful Savvy Author peeps for their hard work and dedication to giving writers of all kinds a great place to hang out, meet new friends, and find the resources to reach our goals. Visit Savvy Authors today and check out the rest of the stops on the tour listed below.

Hit the comments and tell me about your own experiences with writing communities, good or bad.


Join the Savvy Authors admin and volunteers as we tour the blogosphere in anticipation of the launch of our improved and updated website. We are excited to share our love of Savvy, and all writing communities, with each of you during the summer months. Below is a list of stops we’ll be making – please feel free to stop by and say hello! (and definitely check out the new look of our site)

May 27th – Melinda B. Pierce on Author’s For Life
June 10th – Ella Gray on The Speculative Salon
June 12th – Elizabeth Gibson on Maggie’s Meanderings
June 19th – Sharon Pickrel on Pen of the Dreamer
June 21st – Riley Darkes on Writing Secrets of Seven Scribes
June 25th – Leslie Dow on A Writer’s Musings
June 24th – Angel Realz on The World in My Hands
June 28th – Marilyn Muniz on
July 1st – Lynda K. Frazier on Guelph Write Now

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Thinking about November

November 2012, that is.  Having won Nanowrimo last year, and for the seventh or eighth time, I decided it was time for me to take advantage of one of the real prizes. Yes, getting to the finish line with a fifty-thousand-word story has been prize enough. Until now.  I just got tired of telling my friends that I am writing and, No, the novel(s) aren't finished yet.

So, I decided that I would, this time, take Create Space up on their generous offer to print me a book.  With my name on it.  And my stories inside. 

It's been an exciting, and affirming, process putting this together.  No, it's not a novel. It is, however, a fifty-thousand-plus-word collection of stories based in the worlds that have been fueling my Nano writing for the last couple of years.  You may sit down on October 31 and get started writing, but I don't.  I write all year long.  Not novel-length writing.  I write lots and lots of shorter things.  Some of them are actual stories, according to the people who know such things. Some are just strings of words put together quite nicely.

So, what will I be doing with this lovely, if plain, tome?  Putting one copy on my bookshelf just to annoy myself with the plain cover.  Yes, it's my sketching, but couldn't I have been a little more decorative?  With the lettering, at least?
Another copy goes to the person who got me started on this writing path, and who is responsible, in part, for the multiple Nanowrimo wins.  He tells the most wonderful stories of his own, and wanted to hear mine.  My brother will get one to put on the shelf next to our grandfather's book. And my sister will get one to keep my grandmother's poetry company.  The last one will be a secret.

Meanwhile, I'll be sending out some of the stories to see if anyone else wants to read them.  That is, after I get the volumes in my grubby, little hands and drool over them a bit.

Who inspires you, in your life? And what would you do to honor them?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Seal of Surrender gets my "seal" of approval

I am always super excited to find a new author and a new series to sink my teeth into and with summer fast approaching, I've been stacking my list of must-reads. I was pleasantly surprised with the Seven Seals series as I reviewed Book 2 of the series, "Seal of Surrender" by Traci Douglass. After the read, I have added Book 1 to my reading list.

Worldbuilding: I have to admit that I was swept away with the worldbuilding of this book. It was so real and completely imaginable that I was pulled in immediately. I loved the premise of the seals and the story behind the heroes. I loved the world that the Miss Douglass created.

Characters: I find that sometimes when I am reading a paranormal romance that the hero overshadows the heroine, but while I absolutely fell in love with Chago, I adored the heroine Irene Soldan. Her character is so heroic and while she is incredibly tough, she has this heart of gold that makes me love her as much as I loved Chago. And believe me, I LOVED Chago. Chago is perfect with his dark sense of humor and his damaged personality. He is a true hero and has landed himself on my list of favorite heroes.

Pros & Cons: There are so many pros including a different and unique world for paranormal romance lovers, super awesome and realistic characters that you not only root for, but stay up extra late just to get in another chapter. I loved how the villain's point of view was also included and although he was evil, you could almost understand why. My only con is that I missed some of the worldbuilding because I hadn't read Book 1 yet and I had a few questions that I had to research a little on the Scion. I would suggest that although it's not necessary to read Book 1, I think that I could've gotten even deeper into the Scion world if I knew more of the background.

Fresh Factor: This is a very fresh series and a different spin on the normal paranormal romance world. It's not vampires or werewolves, but it is as equally intriguing. While the hero has similar characteristics of the damaged alpha hero, Miss Douglass created fresh and intriguing lead.

Overall: The Seven Seals series is the reason why I love paranormal romance novels. Not only do you get swept up in a different world of make-believe with a strong set of characters, but the romance between the hero and heroine sizzled. I could fell the romantic tension growing each step of the way and Miss Douglass made Chago and Irena the perfect match in spite of the fierce challenges and obstacles they faced. I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5 and have placed Book 1, "Seal of Destiny" on the top of my must-read list.

Book Description:

Love, like War, will always find a way…

War has shaped every aspect of Irena Soldan’s life—her childhood, her work, her DNA. Unaware she is the genetic host of the second Seal of the Apocalypse, Irena battles for those who cannot fight for themselves. As a top human-rights operative for The Omega Consortium, her company provides both the financial backing required to undertake her task and a charismatic, publicity-loving boss to promote her cause. Life proceeds on plan for Irena until a mysterious, sexy stranger arrives claiming to be her guardian and Irena’s path takes a sudden, inauspicious turn for both the erotic and the lethal.

Chago has always been the quiet one amongst his warrior Scion brethren—the brooding, Spanish combat expert with a hidden soft side.  A member of Divinity’s covert special forces, he’s protected humanity for more than a millennium. Still, his greatest joy comes not from the battlefield, but from tending the cattle herd on his remote Montana ranch.

Irena’s new assignment takes her straight to the heart of a bloody civil conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa and Chago’s mission demands he follow. Expecting a seething cauldron of female whoop-ass, he instead discovers a harbinger of peace amidst a world of ever-increasing violence. The explosively tense situation is further magnified by the cunning Omega Consortium leader, his ambiguous personal agenda, and an ancient foe whose audacious rise to power threatens the world’s very existence.

Despite the cataclysmic circumstances, an undeniable attraction ignites between Chago and Irena. Together, they must unravel the ancient puzzle of the Seals and discover her employer’s ulterior plans before they both become casualties of War. Soon, both are forced to choose between a past riddled with old torments or risk everything they treasure on a love capable of defeating evil incarnate.

About the Author:
Traci is the author of paranormal/urban fantasy and contemporary romances featuring a sly, urban edge, including her current Seven Seals series. Her stories feature sizzling alpha-male heroes full of dark humor, quick wits and major attitudes; smart, independent heroines who always give as good as they get; and scrumptiously evil villains who are—more often than not—bent on world destruction. She enjoys weaving ancient curses and mythology, modern science and old religion, and great dialogue together to build red-hot, sizzling chemistry between her main characters.
Traci is an active member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Indiana Romance Writers of America (IRWA) and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Writers (FF&P) and is pursing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction through Seton Hill University. Her stories have made the final rounds in several RWA chapter contests, including the 2012 Duel on the Delta, the 2012 Molly Awards, and the 2012 Catherine Awards. An earlier draft of Seal of Destiny won the paranormal category of the 2012 Marlene Awards sponsored by the Washington Romance Writers.

Other current projects include upcoming books in the Seven Seals series and a new futuristic suspense series with hints of the paranormal and plenty of romance.

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