Thursday, April 21, 2011


Today's featured author is Franz Mclaren, author of the Clarion of Destiny Fantasy series. Today, Franz returns to respond to my posed question...What is it about the fantasy genre that inspires you to create under its umbrella. I find that the responses to this and other questions of a similar nature can provide insight not only to the nature of the work, but also provide a glimpse into the nature of those who create these works.

A few days ago, George posed the following question to me, "What is it about your chosen genre that compels you to write?"

My initial gut response was a flip (I do a lot of flip), "because it's fun". It is. However, after having some time to think about the question, I realize that it is more than just a satisfying way to pass the time.

I grew up in a difficult time, in a difficult place. I learned early that writing provided a much needed escape. Due to my circumstances, I gravitated to horror short stories as a release. They enabled me to create worlds that were far worse than I was experiencing. By comparison I had it pretty good.

When I grew up and decided that it was time for my writing to wear long pants, I tried my hand at a horror novel. Much to my surprise, in spite of my efforts to channel the tale, it turned out as a fantasy. And there I found something new. Instead of using writing to envision worlds so terrible that my own seemed pleasant, I found that I could create worlds that were places I would like to be. In these lands I could never outgrow wonder. New and exciting experiences were never more than a few pages away. Here, I could know the wonderful and wondering parts of childhood forever.

I still write horror occasionally. It is like taking a vacation to keep everything in my daily life fresh. But now, my heart, mind, and imagination are hooked on fantasy. I would much rather build places I want to be than places I want to avoid.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Today, fantasy author Maxwell Alexander Drake, author of the Genesis of Oblivion series, returns to answer to questions on the inspirations and technical aspects of his creative process.

1. What is it about the fantasy genre that inspires you to create beneath its umbrella?

In a word… I am a geek.

I have been a fan of fantasy since I was about six. You name it and I have probably read, watched, listened to almost anything in the sci-fi or fantasy genre. I really have no interest in writing in any other. And why should I? In both sci-fi and fantasy, a writer can break the bonds of our “politically correct” society and be free to write anything. Case in point, talking about human slavery, and the pros and cons of it as it relates to our society makes people uncomfortable. Yet, in a magical fantasy setting, a writer can really sink some teeth into the subject and explore both sides of the coin. These two genres are very liberating for probing deep emotional situations in a completely hypothetical realm. And with great conflict comes great drama – which is what I use to entertain my fans.

2. Describe your creative process in terms of you narrative choices, its mechanics and the perspectives you employee to create you own unique voice.
In learning the way I write, most people think I am absolutely insane. Yet, I think the way I write is the reason everyone says I create such wonderful characters. Before I write a scene, I sit and have conversations with myself, sometimes with four or more people at once, and the real “me” is not even involved. If that is not the definition of insanity, I don’t know what is. I love to act out the parts. I sit (or stand, or pace, jump, fight, crawl, roll around, etc.) in my office and act out what I am going to write. This may sound crazy, but if something sounds dumb said out loud, it will read dumb as well. I need to become my characters to be able to write them well. I think John Travolta is an excellent example of this. He “becomes” his characters for the duration of the filming of a movie. Even off set. That may sound creepy, especially when you consider some of the psychopaths he has portrayed. But, he delivers an outstanding performance because of it. I take the same approach to writing. If I can become my characters, really understand what drives them, I can write them better.

So, I put myself in their mindset, attempt to feel what they feel. This lets me say what they would say and act how they would act.

As for the “technical” aspects, like POV choice, etc., that is pretty straightforward. I am not a fan of first person narrative, nor of present tense. So, I write in third person past tense. To me, it is the Narrative Mode that has the most flexibility and the greatest opportunity for reader immersion.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


HOME LOST By Franz Mclaren

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become increasingly averse to the notion of review the artistic works of others in a public forum of any kind. Thus, it is a pleasant relief when I read a novel that allows me to offer a heart-felt praise for the work under consideration. Home Lost is the initial offering of Mr. Mclaren’s Clarion of Destiny fantasy series and revolves around his young protagonist, Leena, who is a village hedge witch in training. The novel opens as the young girl returns from a trip to the mythically symbolic Garland tree to discover that her home village has been ravaged and her family has gone, alone with most of the other village inhabitants. The opening volume focuses on Leena’s attempt to discover what has befallen her family…a journey that will lead her on an epic quest during which she will unravel the mysteries of her own monumental destiny. I will not delve into specific plot details here, rather I will concentrate on the tone and style of Mr. Mclaren’s writing. I’m not sure if this novel was intended for the consumption of a young adult audience, but Home Lost is a comparatively simply fantasy offering, but many complex fantasy offerings begin this way and evolve as they progress (Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan being a case in point). It is a pleasant and easy read that will not require a detailed score card to keep track of the pantheon of Gods and religions that one would need to wade through Steven Erikson’s Malazan books of the fallen. This relative simplicity does not detract from the fact that this novel is a tremendously pleasing fantasy read that is suited for genre lovers of all ages. What I particularly enjoyed about Mr. Mclaren’s novel is sense of innocence that permeates every page…every sentence of the story…so far removed from the cynicism and vitriol that seems to have infected so much of our literature and indeed, every aspect of life in today’s world. I find myself thinking of this novel in terms of adjective that I have not associated with the fantasy genre in some time…sweet and endearing. Even the resolutions of the story’s many conflicts were often achieved without the obligatory spilling of buckets of blood and mountains of viscera and this demonstrated a creative sensibility that I have seldom seen. From the technical perspective, Mr’ Mclaren’s writing evokes comparison with Terry Goodkind in his use of staccato narrative and the interrogative as a means of exploring a character’s internal thought process in any given situation. This narrative mechanism suits the story quite well.

The most lasting impact of this novel from my perspective is what compells me to give it the highest recommendation…this is a fatasy story that has been written with both innocence and a gentle grace that is as refeshing as it is delightful. If the story is a reflection of the man who penned it, Franz Mclaren is a man who I would personally like to know and whose perspective on both life and literature is all too rare. Excellent and recommended to fantasy lovers of all ages.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two Very Nice reviews for The Converging and Mark of the Demon

With my efforts in posting the works of my fellow authors on my blog, just a brief interjection so as not to lose sight of my own creative efforts. Here are two rather pleasing reviews of the first and second segments of my Converging Trilogy by author Franz McClaren:

Review by: Franz McLaren on Mar. 15, 2011 :

In "The Converging", George Straatman demonstrates a command of story, plot, characterization, and description that is rare. From the onset, Mr. Straatman carefully spins a tale, one strand at a time, until his web is complete and the reader is fully ensnared. Once entrapped, he leads us into our greatest fears. These run the gambit from lost children to unseen things that stalk us in the night and from confrontation with our own deepest selves to an invulnerable evil that relishes pain and knows no pity. This is a novel that can stand toe to toe with the masters of horror. It is a must read for all dark horror fans.

Review by: Franz McLaren on Apr. 10, 2011 :

Few authors can equal their first success with a great sequel. In "The Converging: Mark of the Demon", George Straatman has exceeded his first effort. In addition to an enviable mastery of story, plot, characterization, and description, he has added the skill of making even the landscape seem ominous. He deftly weaves subplots, horrors that the viewer sees and the protagonists do not suspect, into a chilling series of nightmares. Noose after noose tightens as the ultimate evil spins an inescapable web of terror. Again Mr. Straatman has demonstrated that he deserves a place amongst the masters of horror. This novel too, is a must read for all dark horror fans.

Thank you, Franz. Having someone derive measure of pleasure from your work is really the greatest joy an author can have and is really what this whole creative process is all about for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The guest author featured on this segment is Farida Mestek and her YA Fantasy Novella: Almendra: A Fairy-tale.

Here is the cover art for Almendra: A Fairy-tale:

Here is a synopsis of Farida's novella:

Almendra, the High Lady of The Upper Kingdom, is doomed. Many years ago, in a fit of rage and broken heart, her mother banished all the men from the country and plunged it into unhappiness, loneliness and gloom. For many years Almendra’s only companions were her old Nanny and her faithful friend Woo, the wolf. Now Almendra faces a daunting task of going to The Land of Men and getting rid of the curse. But she doesn’t know the way and she has never seen a man in her life.
In comes Joannah Nibbler-Pincher, a girl with a tambourine, a bag of sad songs and a thick black choker that hides the mystery of her painful past. She and Almendra become best friends and Joannah takes it upon herself to take the High Lady and her unconventional family to The Land of Men, where Almendra intends to find love that, according to a fate line left by her mother, will have the power to restore The Upper Kingdom to all its former glory. But it’s a long way to The Land of Men and the outcome of the journey will change Almendra forever.

Here is a link where visitors may purchase Almendra: A Fairy-tale:


Here are a few locations where visitors may follow Farida and learn more about her creative offerings:

The Upper Kingdom:  (

Twitter: @faridamestek
Facebook: Farida Mestek

As always, I hope that visitors will take a few moments to visit Farida's site and learn more about the world of Almendra!

Monday, April 11, 2011


As the second participant in my series intended to provide visitors with insight to the creative processes and artistic vision or those who have been featured on my Guest author blog, Tracy Falbe, author of the fantasy series Rys Chronicles, has graciously agreed to answer the following question:

What is it about your chosen genre that compels you to write?

I'm a fantasy writer. It's a diverse genre, but I am most attracted to its traditional epic and medieval roots. In the beginning I was compelled to write in this genre because I love the genre so much. A good fantasy novel stimulates my imagination immensely and makes me want to create my own story but in a way that suits me perfectly. Hopefully other readers will like it too, but I believe in writing from the heart. I have to love it myself before I can expect anyone else to make the connection.

The fantasy genre also provides me with some specific freedoms that make it fun for me as a writer. First, I love history and find inspiration in the many cultures that have sprouted from humanity across the ages. When writing fantasy I can dip into this vast reservoir and take out the bits that interest me the most. I can mix and match political systems, religions, social mores, architecture, weapons, and so forth. The fantasy societies I create can illuminate institutions from the real world while providing escapist entertainment.

Next, the grandiose scale of the fantasy genre further excites my creativity. My motivation really thrives when I can craft a narrative that grabs whole societies and flings them into upheaval. Fantasy always has high stakes, and I love that. I enjoy the emotional power generated when the personal dramas of my characters are propelled by events gripping a whole society. This is not limited to the fantasy genre, but it is expected from it.

Because I like playing the fantasy deck, I greatly appreciate its permanent trump card: magic. Fantasy has to have magic. It is the definitive element of the genre. What I like about the concept of magic as a fiction writer is how it acts as a foil to technology, which is the definitive element of our real world. I enjoy medieval style fantasy because I can play in a sandbox that is not dominated by modern technology. Things are fairly simple except for the magic, which is the great mystery and the giver of political and spiritual power. Magic is real in fantasy fiction and deep down everyone wants to believe in magic.

Ultimately, now that I've tried to justify my passion in an intelligent manner, I'll just confess that I like swordfights. I can only write so much fiction before I have to have a swordfight, and you can always have a swordfight in fantasy fiction.

Tracy Falbe is the author of The Rys Chronicles fantasy series. Her fantasy novels have swordfights plus spies, romance, backwoods skirmishes, epic battles, and ambitious heroes. Her first novel Union of Renegades is a free download at

I want to thank Tracy for agreeing to answer this question and look forward to having her back in the future...both to highlight the subsequent novels in this series and to have her provide further insight into Tracy Falbe the artist.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The guest author featured in today's segment is Lily (and really, who needs two names) and her self-described dark fairytale Eden Fell. I wanted to not that in addition to being the author of this fantasy novella, Lily is also a graphic designer and I hope that guests will take a moment to consider her creative efforts in this area as well.

Here is the cover art for Eden Fell:

Here is the synopsis for Eden Fell:

A dark and modern fairytale that chronicles Eden's life as she falls from grace. Following a stream of consciousness, she journeys with her constant companions, the snake and the rhinoceros, through her life as an abstract painter to the end of the world. Together, the three of them encounter zombie marionettes, a frost prince, a winter sprite and a diligent gardener. Without the snake and the rhinoceros, there is only a punk kid, a clerk at a convenience store, an agent and a smattering of acquaintances. Watch... as Eden falls.

Here are just a few locations where you can purchase this fascinating novella:

Directly from the publisher:

Amazon Kindle:

The paper version of Eden Fell can be purchased through the following locations.


Barnes and Noble:


You can follow Lily and learn more about her art at the following locations:

Author website:

Author facebook page:

It has never being my intention to color these posts with my own personal opinion, but this really does look like a fascinating offering and I hope guests will take a few moments to explore Lily's creative world and watch Eden Fall.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Along with wishing to feature fellow authors who create in the genres I enjoy (Fantasy, Horror and Sci-fi) in segments that feature their latest works, I imagined that it might be interesting to have these authors speak to the reader about the nature of their personal attraction to their genres or the specific mechanics of their creative process. This is not a game of intellectual battleships as (despite what academics may insist to be true) there is no 'right or wrong' to the creative is as subjective and individual as the artists themselves. I wanted to provide the guest authors with an opportunity to allow readers to gain a sense of the person behind the art...

Patricia Puddle was first featured in my guest author segment with her children's novel Velvet Ball and the Broken Fairy. I asked Patricia if you she would mind responding to her choice of the following questions:

1. speak to the characteristics of your genre that inspire you to write:

2. describe the mechanics of your creative process:

I must say that I was so delighted with Patricia's response...her help for and love of animals resonates with me on the deepest level...teaching children to love and respect the other creatures of this much-abused planet we share is one of the most precious things an adult can foster in a child. here is Patricia's response.

As a writer of children’s stories, I’m always busy writing, editing, publishing and marketing. I also volunteer for a wildlife rescue, so I photograph, film and write about the animals in care. I also use the inspiration from the animals to create children’s stories. This week, I finally have my own website, so I added some of the short films I made of injured and orphaned wildlife to YouTube. Then I added the links to my website and blog. I was privileged to have an old school pal create my website for me. It was amazing how this happened as we came in contact when I was promoting my published books on the internet and I hadn't seen or spoken to this person since I left England and came to Australia at the age of twelve. How lucky can a writer be?

I have another children’s book ready to be published in the next few weeks. Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot was inspired by a baby bandicoot I was privileged to care for after he was attacked by a cat. I’ve added pictures to this book and it’s aimed at children aged seven to twelve, though it’s suitable for adults too. I'm also editing another Molly Gumnut book, Molly Gumnut’s Little Critters, and that should be available in the next few months. I wish there were more hours in the day as I’m also trying to find time to finish writing the sequels to Star-Crossed Rascals and Velvet Ball and The Broken Fairy.

Here is the link to my website and blog if anyone would like to have a browse at the animals and books:

I want to thank and congratulate Patricia on being the first to participate in this new segment.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The featured author on today's segment is Katie Salidas and her urban fantasy novel, entitled Hunters and Prey. This is the second novel in her series and is the sequel to Immortalis Carpe Noctem.

Here is the cover art for Hunters and Prey:

Here is the Synopsis of Hunters and Prey:

Becoming a vampire saved Alyssa from death, but the price was high: the loss of everything and everyone attached to her mortal life. She’s still learning to cope when a surprise confrontation with Santino Vitale, the Acta Sanctorum’s most fearsome hunter, sends her fleeing back to the world she once knew, and Fallon, the friend she’s missed more than anything.

Alyssa breaks vampire law by revealing her new, true self to her old friend, a fact which causes strong division in the group that should support her most: her clan.

Worse yet, her revelation entangles Fallon in the struggle between vampires and hunters and The Acta Sanctorum is ready to attack again, with a new army of hybrid creations: the Frenzy Soldiers.

If Alyssa hopes to survive and keep her mortal friend safe, she’ll have to be willing to make a deal with the enemy, and regain her clan’s support. It will take everyone working together in a precarious truce to fight against the Acta Sanctorum’s new threat.

Here are some of the locations where you can purchase Katie's novel:
Barnes and Noble:
Visitors can follow Katie on her blogspot:
As always, I hope that visitors will take a few moments to visit Katie Salidas' site and learn more about the world of Hunters and Prey.