Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Silver Leaf Ren. Faire - Revisited

We went to the Silver Leaf again - this time as patrons. It was a total blast. I had the chance to visit with the vendors and see all their wares (hint - great place for shopping!). We were able to see some of the shows and watch the antics of the cast.

We did watch some of the International Jousting Tournament, however, I have to say...no offense to anyone...I like Silver Leaf's original Jousters better. By far.

Lawren and Mark - both new to the world of Faires - had a great time too...even to the point where Mark is planning his next trip to the US around it :D

For those of you who haven't gone - for goodness sake go! You won't regret it...unless you get stewed, or put in jail or...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This Week's Events

We'll be doing a book signing atLeelanau Books in Leland, MI from 1p-3p

Check out their web site for directions and more info.

See you there!


Monday, July 23, 2007

On The Suspension of Disbelief

(This was written by a friend of mine, Michael Costello, I thought it was very neat, so he gave permission for me to post it here.  Enjoy!  ~ Raven)

You know, it's funny but, I know people who would jump at the chance to tell that guy how ridiculous his story was and what a freak he must be, but I run across this stuff all the time and I always ask myself, "What would be the point, besides just generating a lot of hard feelings?"

Some people just don't bother to stop and ask themselves, "What difference does it make how ridiculous a story is?"

It's almost as if they feel like they can't "let someone get away with conning them", because if they're forced to allow their imagination to wander for a moment, it's going to damage their brain somehow.

These are the people who won't allow themselves to have an interest in cryptids or the paranormal and if you were to examine their lives, I'd bet you'd find out that they're suspicious of all the wrong things, anyway.

As a member of unknowncreaturespot , there have been a number of occasions when someone related an experience that even I, with my wild imagination, had a hard time with.

I've given this a lot of thought and the conclusion I've arrived at is that this can go in three different directions.

#1. You can be completely gullible and believe everything that crosses your path, despite all the red flags.

#2. You can be completely suspicious and miss out on a lot that life has to offer.

#3. In cases where it makes no difference and no one gets hurt, you can just run with it.

It's my opinion that, there's gullibility and then there's the "suspension of disbelief", because doing so, hurts no one.

Personally, if someone can tell a colorful story and make it interesting, I don't have a problem with letting my imagination run with it for a moment. Ultimately, it's my decision as to whether I want to believe it or not. Frequently, I do, for no other reason than, it's fun.

Besides, you never know.

It might actually be true. Mike

Michael L. Costello
Copyright (c) 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Worming a Rabbit

As some of you know Mark (my dear friend/brother from Finland) is in the US visiting with us for a month!! We've been having a blast.

Today in fact, we both did something we've never, ever considered doing before. We wormed a rabbit. Yes. A rabbit...

See. My Hellhound was out in the field, hunting, as Mark and I plotted away by the picnic table. Then, we see that the said Hellhound had actually caught something! A bunny to be precise. We saved it, I cleaned it up from Hellhound slobber and realized he (the bunny) was bleeding and it smelled awful. Worse than regular rabbit blood (no, I'm not going to say he was Bunnicula) Turns out he was somehow injured in the foot and maggoty worms infested it. GROSS!

Sooo to make a long story short, Mark and I spent the eve cleaning up the bunny's foot (we call him Herbert now) and pulling maggots out of its wound with tweezers. It was...interesting...I'm happy to say though, that Herbert is doing fine and he hasn't bit me yet...yet. If he did I wonder if I'd become a Bunicula too...or perhaps a weremaggot!

Sandy Lender Doesn't Recommend Quitting Your Day Job

Sandy Lender Doesn't Recommend Quitting Your Day Job
Or...the joy and insanity of being a writer

By Sandy Lender, fantasy author

Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman University, prides itself on offering a liberal arts education to graduates. I got out in four years with a degree in English and a liberal arts education that has garnered me a 15-year career in magazine publishing and public relations/marketing, but my true passion, the "career" I've nurtured since I was about six years old, is writing. And I don't mean journalism. Yes, journalism and editing are what have paid the bills the past 15 years (and will continue to do so), but fiction writing...oh...fiction writing is what has kept me alive.

It's probably going to be the death of me.

Let me explain. If you're visiting this site, you've probably been drawn here by an interest in books or authors or a writer's lifestyle or something along those lines. Let me give it to you straight. All writers have a touch of insanity about us (this is normal). We usually carry a muse around with us, but this is not always by choice. We complain about characters fighting for their rights, refusing to conform to our wishes in a scene. We go on writing binges that keep us up until 3 a.m. before collapsing next to our computers just to get up and start typing again when the sun blazes in to wake us around 7, skipping meals, showers, potty breaks and phone calls until some aspect of reality forces us out of the writing cocoon. We will tear a room to shreds looking for a pen if an idea has just struck us. And woe to the fool who gets between us and a piece of paper when we get hold of that pen...

Because I've experienced the insanity described above, I've been lifted up by hearing stories of people who have enjoyed my first published novel, Choices Meant for Gods. Now I get to read comments on my Amazon.com page of people claiming Nigel Taiman is "by far" their favorite character, or "I want to be just like Chariss when I grow up," and I feel this lump of pride in my darlings rise in my throat.

That's the joy and insanity of being a writer. You pour your heart and soul into the work; and pray that someone out there likes it, too. Now here's the hard part. People have to read it to like it. They have to know it exists to read it. So you have to get it to them.

Enter the marketing and promoting aspect of the new author's job. I attended the ArcheBooks Publishing's Professional Novelist Workshop about two weeks before receiving my contract for Choices Meant for Gods, and had attended the Naples Press Club Writers Workshop the week before that, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of the marketing nightmare new authors faced. I was ready. Lay it on me, I thought.

Now I'm on the last day of a two-month online book tour I organized myself, contemplating repeating a moderately successful instore book signing at the local Barnes & Noble that I organized myself, and managing six blogs (including www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com) for the promotion of my fantasy novel that I've organized myself, preparing a spate of press releases I've written myself that I'll spew forth like water from an erupting sprinkler next week, etc. Do you see a trend there?

New authors are on their own. Unless you have the few thousand dollars it takes to hire a publicity firm/PR agency to send out press releases for you, you're on your own. I don't have a few thousand stray dollars and I don't trust people who charge less than professional rates to do a professional job.

I take hope in the fact that even J.K. Rowling was once in the same boat I'm in now. She was down to her last food stamp as the story goes when that fateful call came: Her little story about a boy named Harry Potter had been picked up. I've already had my call. Choices Meant for Gods is published and out there. Now I need my lottery winning event to propel me into J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter status, but, for right now, I'm going to just keep writing deep into the night and reading those fabulous e-mails that praise Nigel and Chariss. Because making a living at this would be nice, but, truly, the writing binges that result in someone singing Chariss's praises are the real joy and insanity of being a writer.

I'd like to thank my host today for posting this guest blog article. And I'd like to thank everyone who made the CMFG Online Book Tour the raging success it's been. You know that paragraph above where I said new authors are one their own? I'd like to correct that. We actually have each other. Without each of you, the name Sandy Lender wouldn't be all over the internet right now, and readers wouldn't be one click away from http://www.amazon.com/Choices-Meant-Gods-Sandy-Lender/dp/1595071652/ref=dp_return_1/104-9089752-5140754?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1175821346&sr=8-1 to pick up my epic fantasy novel. And new author Sandy Lender is grateful to every one of you.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Friday, July 13, 2007

This Week's Events

I'll be doing a book signing at Log Mark Bookstore in Cheboygan, MI with a few other authors. We'll be there from 5p - 7p.

Drop in and visit!

LOG Mark Bookstore

334 N Main St
Cheboygan, MI, 49721
(231) 627-6531

Silver Leaf Ren. Faire

Silver Leaf Ren. Faire

We spent Saturday at the Silver Leaf Ren. Faire in Battle Creek, MI. We had such a good time my cheeks were sore! Seriously. From smiling and laughing of course. I love Ren Faires but haven't been to one in years and never to the Silver Leaf. It was very impressive. It's mostly set in the woods - so you walk in through the gates and it's like you're transported back in time. Dirt paths, colorful and creative tents - food! all nestled into the forest. They have almost everything there you could possibly want - including 6" pencils made of branches...they're good for more than just writing (oh and get your minds out of the gutter...) we were thinking sneaky weapons.

The people there were just awesome. The story line runs like Camelot. There's Arthur and his court, Knights of the Round Table, Mordred and his skulking band (the Huntress was so fun to watch as she stalked her prey). The Lord Marshall Edward Egglesworth posted proclaimations about fairies - yes there are fairies there! What does he do with them? That my friends, you have to go and see for yourself. There were dryads, pixies and wizards. If you manage to make it there (which I highly suggest) make sure you drop by and catch Robyn the bard's show. He's got quite a talent for filking.

We also met pirates! Imagine that! Kevin the Pirate was right across from us - it was a blast. If you have kids - or know kids - he and his family make wooden swords, axes and shields. Just go straight down the path once you walk in and look to the right, he'll be the pirate telling you that you'd better smile...I wouldn't ask 'or else?' if'n I were you...

There were also a lot of wonderful people there who visited, stopped to chat and in general were having a grand time. There's nothing better than to talk to people who are really enjoying themselves by emersing into a fantasy world.

We were there with the gracious help of Heather, the Vendor Goddess, who managed to sneak me in last minute despite how incredibly busy she must have been co-ordinating the Faire. Thanks Heather!

Thanks to all those who work so hard to put the Silver Leaf Ren Faire on! They go above and beyond so that the lot of us can have fun. They should get boxes of chocolates after all that.

In fact, we're going back. Yes indeed. Purely to glut on the fun this time. Mark is coming with us - he's from Finland - did you know they don't have Ren. Faires in Finland?? Blasphemy I say. Lawren will be there (she's going as a 'Fair Maiden....but don't believe it...she's not as innocent as she looks) and Lain too as a snotty noble. I'm also looking forward to meeting up with a few friends from Battle Creek area that I've met on line but never in person. It's exciting.

We'll be going the weekend of the Jousting Tournament. I was told by the Lord Marshall (with a great amount of glee in his voice by the way) that it's REAL jousting... and not the fake stuff. If you're a fan of knights in shining armor, the International Jousting Tournament is on July 28th -29th.

Annnyway, I think I should stop this rampant post. It's tremendously long but, what can I say, I loved it! Oh and to check out pictures and more info go to their web site there's also some pictures from this year's Faire on my web site.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Event - Saturday July 7th - All Day!

If any of you like Renaissance Faires like I do...(Love them!!) this event might be for you.

This Saturday I'll be at the Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire in Battle Creek, Michigan signing my book, Apparitions. It's an all day event - so come early or late to enjoy the festivities. It's their 'Believe the Magic, Live the Legend' weekend - filled with elves, fairies, draaaagons and of course us magic folk!

Pop on by, have some fun and say Hi!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

4th of July

4th of July
Category: Writing and Poetry

During the festivities of this Fourth of July weekend, please take a moment to remember - and thank - the brave men and women to whom we owe our freedom. Without their sacrifice and the sacrifices endured by their families, we wouldn't have a day as grand as the 4th.

Remember your freedom
Remember the blood spilled to obtain it
Thank those who are bleeding now to preserve it

For my small part -

Thank you, to the men and women of all branches of our military. May you find the courage you need to continue, the support you need to be successful and may you find your way safely home.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Interview with Sandy Lender

Tell us how you got started writing. Was it something you've always wanted to do?
Always. I think I was writing in the womb…
I got started writing because my great grandmother, to whom Choices Meant for Gods is dedicated, encouraged me. When I graduated from the cute little stories about mice picking berries and getting frightened by cats, I started writing books with chapters. But to do that, you need a table of contents. So I used to write books, starting with the TOC, where I very primly wrote in page numbers where I believed each chapter should begin.

Do you have a set writing schedule? How do you balance your writing time with your personal time?
The only real schedule is to get home from work, turn on the computer, and start typing. (although I update www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com every morning like clockwork—that's on a schedule) My writing time is my personal time. My muse shackles me to the desk and away we go!

What would you consider your major life achievements so far?
I'm only 36. So far, my major life achievements would be rescuing a disoriented baby sea turtle near Bonita Beach Road, and seeing Choices Meant for Gods published.

What 5 words most sum you up and why?
Impulsive—I make decisions (a lot of them sound) quickly and firmly
Obsessive—Once I get taken with an idea, I don't let go easily; I've been a Duran Duran fan since 1983, a St. Louis Cardinals fan since 1982, a Charlotte Bronte fan since I first read Jane Eyre
Conservative environmentalist—I am obsessed with protecting sea turtles and our oceans. You'll notice that a majority of Choices takes place at an estate that overlooks the Meredore Ocean; that's not an accident.
Imaginative—I built a fantasy world and have a language for the Ungol that I'll be unveiling in the second book of the Choices trilogy
Exhausted—I get about three hours of sleep a night these days, sometimes four

If you get to Heaven and the gatekeeper informs you that you forgot to do one thing and sends you back to earth to do it, what would that task be?
That's going to depend on when and how Jesus calls me home, but if I get to play around with the space-time continuum, I need to go back to the '70s and do a better job of hiding Grandma's cigarettes. I failed her there. But when I get to the gates, St. Peter will probably tell me I left the stereo on. (And the neighbors are complaining about how loud it is.)

What is your favorite colour and what does it remind you of?
Lavender, of course! Seriously, I've always been fond of purple and lavender, so when I looked at Chariss, I saw her eyes as lavender and I saw the gem on her cheek as an amethyst. Now I find myself surrounded by purple and lavender things because I'm in full-out marketing mode for the book and it's all about her beautiful eyes and that beautiful gem that seals her fate.

Many authors often put traces of themselves into their characters. Which character in Choices Meant for Gods is most like you and why?
You know, I realized when I was working on marketing materials that I'd put poor Chariss through something that I'd been through in my life without realizing it. You see, I was born on Homestead Air Force Base and had moved about 18 times prior to going to college, so I was "on the move" a bit during my childhood. Without realizing it, I put Chariss and Hrazon through that by putting them "on the run" from Drake for 16 years. Now, I didn't have an evil sorcerer chasing me with the intent to kill as I was growing up…

As for characteristics, I've given Chariss some of my cynicism (see the balcony scene in chapter 22), which is a shame, but I think it contributes to her flawed and faulty life view. And she needs that for her overall arc through the trilogy. I think I gave both Chariss and Nigel some of my "just-get-it-done" attitude.

You have also mentioned a…fondness…for Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Has Jane Eyre influenced Choices Meant for Gods?
Go ahead and call it an obsession. The thing is that my obsession isn't just with the novel Jane Eyre—it's with the whole Bronte family. Expensive, let me tell you. I've been informed that my Bronte reference library is more impressive than that of a nearby university library's. I don't have the first edition of Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte, but I have a third edition two-volume set, and I think I'm going to give up and say that's as close as I'm going to get. I was really trying to get that first edition because I wanted the original references to the Cowan Bridge School and Branwell's "affair" with Mrs. Lydia Robinson, which Elizabeth was forced to change after the first edition came out and people started flipping out and threatening her publisher.

Anyway. Your question was how has Jane Eyre influenced CMFG? Greatly…and mostly subconsciously, which I found intriguing, and I'll explain. But Charlotte's life also influenced the novel, and I'll explain that, too.

First of all, Jane Eyre includes a fabulous gothic mansion called Thornfield Hall with a deep, dark secret fastened away inside, protected by its dark and mysterious master. As I wrote CMFG, I realized I painted Nigel Taiman as my Edward Rochester, so I had to be cautious not to mirror the gentleman too closely, but I didn't realize until the novel was complete that Hleo-Arcana mimicked Thornfield.

The moment that I realized I had basically written Rochester's proposal to Jane for Nigel and Chariss (see the balcony scene in chapter 22—it's not a proposal, but it's close enough), I nearly came unglued. I feared the Bronte Society, of which I'm a member, collectively appearing on my doorstep with a cease and desist order of some kind. Needless to say, I did some heavy editing to adjust that scene. The savvy Bronte fan will still recognize it, and probably send me a chastising note unless they realize I adore Charlotte. The Jane Eyre reference that truly caught me off guard, though, and the one that should have been the big, neon, flashing sign, is Chariss's status as an orphan seeking refuge at Arcana and discovering her attraction to the master of the house. How insane am I that I didn't recognize this parallel until years after the novel was complete? I was writing some snazzy text to include on a bookmark for marketing purposes and I referred to Chariss as an orphan, and all those thoughts fell into place.

As for Charlotte's life, there is at least one little piece of the story that brings me this incredibly sad feeling, and it's influenced by Charlotte's real-life experience during her mid-twenties. Charlotte and Emily Bronte had gone to Brussels to study at the Pensionnat Heger when Charlotte was 26 years old (Emily 24) and Charlotte fell in love with her professor M. Constantine Heger. The gentleman, to his credit, appears not to have led her on, for he was married with a gaggle of children. When Charlotte returned to Haworth, she absolutely pined for this man she adored yet could not be near. She wrote to him concerning a boarding school endeavor she and her sisters wished to undertake and he offered her a recommendation, but when her letters became too frequent (or too flowery, who knows?), he wisely suggested she could only write to him once every six months. It was like a punishment to her, and her notes prove it. In CMFG, Abigail Farrier literally pines for Nigel Taiman, living on another continent where she fantasizes and dreams and builds the man into something ultra-heroic that even our amazing Mister Taiman couldn't possibly measure up to. Or could he? Abigail grieves for this man she can't have, and when she finally sees him, finally lays eyes on this creature she's obsessed over for years, she learns that he's on a quest to assist another woman who's essentially preparing for war—and a woman that he intends to marry because he's so much in love. Abigail is crushed. As I wrote those scenes, I could feel Abby's heartbreak and I could feel the influence of Charlotte's experience with her professor.

Where can readers buy your book?
Right now, Choices Meant for Gods can be ordered at any book store you walk into, if it's not sitting on the shelf. I know of three stores in the United States that have it on the shelf, but unless you're near the Borders in downtown Tulsa, the Barnes and Noble in Chesterfield, Missouri, or the Barnes and Noble in Naples, Florida, I can't make any guarantees. But you can always order it online at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9781595071651&itm=1 if you want to use your Barnes and Noble membership card. You can also shop online at Amazon to get the free shipping option at http://www.amazon.com/Choices-Meant-Gods-Sandy-Lender/dp/1595071652/ref=dp_return_1/104-9089752-5140754?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1175821346&sr=8-1.

Tell us about your debut novel, Choices Meant for Gods.
Choices Meant for Gods is an epic fantasy tale about a young lady who's been on the run from a madman all her life. To make it worse, the madman is an evil sorcerer. When Chariss finally chooses to stand and fight, she discovers she's wrapped in centuries of prophecy that demand she protect the gods of her society. It's a tall order for an orphan who doesn't, at first, believe in herself.

But her mentor/guardian wizard believes in her. And that's the dear and tender storyline in the novel. This powerful and amazing wizard Hrazon of Mon'dore, who once collected the four-year-old Chariss when Jamieson Drake murdered her family, and fled with her, has raised her for sixteen years, taught her how to use the geasa, which is a form of "magic" that I created for this world, taught her how to take care of herself, taught her how to survive, and taught her how to fulfill her destiny—to be the protector of an arrogant god that Hrazon doesn’t think deserves his girl's sacrifice.

Of course, it's not as simple as that. She doesn't just stop running from place to place, figure out she's supposed to protect a god, and, pow, we're done with the tale. No. The sorcerer teamed up with an evil goddess as old as time itself and they're coming after Chariss, who, by the way, is no longer a moving target. But where did Chariss stop? She stopped at an impressive, gothic estate on the southeast border of Onweald where her latest benefactress reveals a few secrets...

It's the kind of fantasy story that involves a map, which my amazing artist friend Megan Kissinger provided for me, even though the majority of the action takes place in the same corner of Onweald.

How long did it take you to write Choices Meant for Gods?
It's kind of strange to fix a time on this because I first met Chariss back in about 1982 or '83. I saw her standing on Lord Baine's balcony with her arms open, holding back the curtains, as if embracing the morning. I didn't realize at the time that I was viewing her through the bad guy's eyes. I was seeing her as Jamieson Drake saw her. Drake actually spoke to me before any of the other characters, and neither he nor I knew Chariss's name at that time. So I began meeting the characters and sketching out little ideas and little scenes years ago. It wasn't until 2000 that I sat down and started typing. I pounded out three chapters on the keyboard, printed them—double-spaced, of course—and took them with me to get the tires replaced on my car. Yeah, I had to sit at the mechanic's shop for this interminable block of time one Saturday, and I knew it, so I took the beginning of Choices Meant for Gods with me and just sat there writing like a fiend. They had to think I was crazy… I finished the first book—more than 270,000 words—in June 2003.

How did you get started on Choices Meant for Gods?
The process began when the main female character, Amanda Chariss, appeared to me on her benefactor's balcony. I didn't know it then, but I was watching her from the vantage point of the bad guy that morning. I fell in love with her instantly, which is probably why the dragon in the story cares for her as deeply as he does.

You've stated on your Dragon blog at www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com that there are Old English and Anglo-Saxon themes in Choices Meant for Gods. Can you explain that?
First of all, a lot of the strange words that you can't pronounce (and you're welcome to make up whatever pronunciation you want for them) in Choices Meant for Gods probably start out with an Old English root. All during this online tour, I'm featuring those words in the Word of the Day section on my blog at www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com, so I encourage folks to jog over there to check that out. Words like Wepanchiele and Freotho and Dreorfahn all have meaning other than being a river, a mountain, and an army, respectively.

Next, there are elements of Anglo-Saxon society and literature that are fascinating to me so I couldn’t help but include them in a medieval society like the one Chariss lives in. The mead hall is one item that intrigues me. I love the idea of a bunch of burly ol' warriors gathered around a huge wooden plank of a table slogging down mead and telling riddles and challenging each other to stupid drunken broad-sword fights. So I made a mini-mead hall in the family's dining room at Hleo-Arcana (and hleo-burh is another Old English word). Now, the Taiman family doesn't get rip-roaring drunk and challenge one another to crazy duels, but they do have a huge wooden plank of a table and they gather around it in a sense of camaraderie that makes this author happy.

Then there's the introduction of Sergeant Brendan Naegling. Can any of you visitors guess where his name came from and what his purpose will be?

I've got a Middle English reference to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde in there as well.
There are other elements, but folks will have to read the book to pick them out.

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