Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice!

Wishing you all Good Things as the Holly King gives way again to the Oak King and we welcome back the light!

(Gorgeous illustrations from here with thanks! And they can be bought as cards*!)

The Holly King

The Oak King

*I have no affiliation, just found them on a lucky internet search :-)

Black Friday Sale - Dead But Not Forgotten!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate! I hope you all had a fab day and are recovering from the food comas! And the best way to recover, IMO, is to take it easy and read, or you could take a long walk and listen, if you're so inclined! ;-D

If you're into the relaxing and reading then Dead But Not Forgotten came out in print and ebooks this week! Yay! It's full of awesome stories set in the wonderful world of Sookie Stackhouse! And I'm thrilled and honoured that Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner chose my fun tale - The Bat-Signal - about Luna Garza, werebat, to be part of the anthology!

If you want to check it out then here're the links to Amazon UK, and Amazon US. Plus you can get it at any lovely bricks and mortar books shop or etailers :-)

And if you're into exercising and listening then you're in luck! Audible are having a Black Friday Sale! And Dead But Not Forgotten is part of it! Double Yay! All books are featured in the sale at $4.95 each. This sale is open to all (customers do not need to be an Audible member to participate) and is set to end on Tuesday, December 2nd at 11:59 PM ET.

Here's the link to Dead But Not Forgotten on Audible

And here's links to samples from all the Sookie Stackhouse world stories! Happy Listening!


Luna's story!!!  (Just thought I'd point it out ... ;-))  https://soundcloud.com/audible/the-bat-signal

Spellcrackers #1 Going Cheap! (UK only)

The Sweet Scent of Blood (Spellcrackers #1) is only £1.99 at Sainsbury's in their Great Autumn Reads promo!

Or if you prefer Kindle it's the same price here at Amazon UK! 

So if you've been thinking of starting the series, now's a good time to give book #1 a try!

Or if you've already read it, then remember it's October and books make for great Hallowe'en treats!

And Sainsbury's do eBooks as gifts! *winks* ;-D

Check it out here!

Sainsbury's ebooks can be read on most ebook readers, like Kindle, Sony, Kobo, Nook.

(Sorry, UK only, I think)

Sanctuary - Spellcrackers Flash Fiction!

I have a fun Spellcrackers 'origin' flash story - SANCTUARY - over at the lovely Between Dreams and Reality!

Picture copyright to Hunky Punk under CC Licence with thanks

Plus there's a giveaway (winner's choice of one of my books - Int).

So why not pop over and read/enter! 



#Ducks :-D

Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Happy Book Birthday to awesome writer pal Jaye Wells for the potion-tastic Cursed Moon - Prospero's War #2

If you loved the fabulous Dirty Magic (#1) then this one is even better!:-)

“When it comes to crafting outstanding dark urban fantasy, Wells is fast becoming a master.” –4.5 Stars Top Pick, RT Book Reviews.
About Cursed Moon: 
When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magical Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and everyone's emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon's impact is especially strong for Kate who's wrestling with guilt over falling off the magic wagon.

After a rogue wizard steals dangerous potions from the local covens, Kate worries their suspect is building a dirty magic bomb. Her team must find the anarchist rogue before the covens catch him, and make sure they defuse the bomb before the Blue Moon deadline. Failure is never an option, but success will require Kate to come clean about her secrets.

Buy Cursed Moon! 
B&N | Apple | Indiebound | Kobo | Amazon US | Amazon UK

And there's a giveaway for a $50 Book Gift Card over here at Jaye's 
Facebook (may not be international, please read T&Cs). Go enter!

Beta Reader/s Wanted!

A shout out for beta reader/s - not for me (though I might be asking for some soon *looks shifty*) - but for my writer pal, Ailsa Floyd, who is a lovely talented lady, and also happens to be one of my own wonderful beta readers!

Ailsa's book is a (brilliant sounding) urban fantasy complete at 90k words.


History means the Argyll shapeshifter pack don’t trust easily, and Aidan has more reason than most to be wary. So he’s surprised when his Alpha orders him to show the new girl around. And even though she’s pretty, it doesn’t mean he has to like her.

Bryony has come to Scotland for a fresh start, so the cold-shoulder welcome isn’t what she’s expecting. Nor is a pack on the verge of a territory war.

The pack are under threat. And they’re going to lose. As the clock ticks down to a fatal attack by their rivals, Aidan, Bryony and the pack must decide who is worth trusting for help. But with someone betraying their secrets, how can they believe anyone?

I'm a sucker for a Scottish shapeshifter, so I can't wait to get my teeth into this! *g*

Here's what Ailsa is looking for:

"Someone to read through the story and give me some feedback. While spotting spelling/grammar mistakes I might have missed is helpful, I'm more interested in things like what you think works or doesn't, if the pacing is right, any inconsistencies you see, and places where you think I haven't explained stuff properly."

If you're interested in beta reading for Ailsa and would like to know more then email her at: ailsa (dot) floyd (at) yahoo (dot) com

Ailsa's blog is here

Ailsa on Twitter: @AilsaCF

And for all our enjoyment here's a gratitutious picture* of Sam Heughan as Jaime Frazer!
Sam Heughan as Jaime Frazer - Photographer: Ed Miller Courtesy of: © 2014 Sony Pictures Television Inc. 

*Not Ailsa's choice but mine though I'm sure she won't object *g*

Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight by Che Gilson

Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight - my friend Che Gilson's awesome urban fantasy novella (with 2 action-packed stories in it!) is up for pre-order at 15% off! Go check it out!

The blurb:


Illegal pit fighter and werewolf Carmine Rojas gets an off-hours assignment from her boss—babysitting a skin walker who’s gotten herself in trouble with the yakuza. Carmine may kick ass in the ring but tangling with the yakuza is well above her pay grade. So Carmine turns to her gangbanger cousin Rodrigo for help and firearms. Together they spend a terror-filled night battling yakuza thugs, bickering over family, and blowing crap up. 


A martial arts student of Carmine’s finds an opportunity to make some much needed money. What he doesn’t is how slim his chances are. Carmine must intervene or let him die. A tough choice when intervening means asking her boss at the illegal fight club for help.

Pre order here!

The Gollancz Festival 2014.

Wed - 13th August 2014 - 6pm onwards

The Gollancz Festival 2014
Waterstones Piccadilly 203-206 Piccadilly,
London W1J 9HD

Tickets £6 / £4 Waterstones Loyalty Cardholder, including a drink on arrival and a Gollancz Festival 2014 goody bag - book tickets here.

Room 1

A Patrick Rothfuss reading.

The sense of wonderment in SF.
With Adam Roberts, Connie Willis, Hannu Rajaniemi, Gavin Smith, Janie Fenn (chaired by Simon Ings)

Are there thematic differences between SF and fantasy?
With Paul McAuley,Tom Lloyd,Stephen Hunt, Chris Wooding,Suzanne McLeod (chaired by Janie Fenn)

Is fantasy by definition consolatory? With Ben Aaronovitch, Peter Higgins, James Barclay and Joanne M. Harris (chaired by Sarah Pinborough).

Room 2 

A Joanne M. Harris reading with The Bookshop Band.

Joe Hill interviewed by Sarah Pinborough.

The Class of 2014 with Den Patrick, Jon Wallace, Ed Cox and John Hornor Jacobs (chaired by Gillian Redfearn)

A Patrick Rothfuss solo talk and Q & A.

For more information click here 
Tel for further details: 02078512400

Spellcrackers Newsletter!

I've set up a new Newsletter! I might even send one out soon!!! (I know, I'm shocked too ;-)) So why not come and sign up and get all the latest Spellcrackers news first!

And if you're thinking: 'Hey, I signed up before, so maybe that shy little thing, the Spellcrackers Newsletter might now actually drop into my inbox!' - then read on . . .

Sadly, a snafu with my website host* has resulted in some of my subscribers' details being deleted. So if you signed up before May 2014, and want to continue to get the newsletter, please come and sign up again. (Oh, and don't worry about getting duplicate newsletters, if you're already on the list it will integrate your email addy; it's spiffy like that :-D).

Sign up here!

*They decided not to do newsletters any more and deleted the function - without telling anyone as far as I can find out.  *sigh*

Going to Romantic Times Con? Want to win a KindleFire HDX?

Going to Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans? (I am! *Happy Dance* ;-D) Want a chance to win a KindleFire HDX? Love Buttons? Then keep a good look out for our Scavenger Hunt bingo cards in the convention bags! You can add the Scavenger Hunt to your RT agenda here :-)

Participating Authors: Lauren Dane, Delilah S. Dawson, Liliana Hart, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, J. Kenner, Suzanne McLeod, Chloe Neill, Nicole Peeler, Jeanne Stein, and Jaye Wells!

And if you need any clues how to find me (when not in the bar *looks innocent*) and say hello, and get a badge, and maybe other swag, then here's my RT Convention schedule:

It's Not Just About Likes, Pokes & RTs: Growing Your Community Through Social Media 
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Dead But Not Forgotten: Writing in Sookie’s World 
Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 11:15am to 12:15pm

The Tortoise and the Hare: Daily Goals of Bestselling Authors Revealed 
Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

I'll also be lurking around at the Giant Book Fair on the Saturday. I won't be at a specific table but I'm happy (always!) to sign any books (of mine - signing other authors' books would be plain weird ;-)), or anything else (within the realms of normal decency ... though remember I'll be hanging out with the crowd of authors on the Scavenger Hunt card above, so your normal might, or might not, equal mine *looks shifty*).

And here's a larger pic of my fab badge! You're so gonna want one of these Bad Boys, so come find me! *g*

Fairy Wishes (Short Story) Cover Reveal!

Fairy Wishes is a fun short story featuring Genny in one of her first jobs. It's set before The Sweet Scent of Blood – Spellcrackers.com #1 - so is spoiler free. And it's also free to read here, on the website.



Fairy Wishes has a new cover by Yours Truly! My first!

I've used a different model for Genny (sadly I didn't think my pennies wouldn't stretch to the lovely original lady) but I think this 'Genny' (found on Big Stock) despite her slightly longer hair*, is a good alternative. What do you all think? I hope you like it, and enjoy reading the story :-)

*I tried 'cutting' it but my mad photoshop skillz aren't that good.  *g*

Free "Love Story" featuring Adele Hale Stackhouse, Sookie's Gran!

Oooooh! Look a fab free story on audio by the brilliant Jeanne C. Stein!

It wasn't until the death of her Gran, Adele Hale Stackhouse, that Sookie learned the secret of her own ancestry: her true grandfather was a part-human fairy. Now, for the first time, Adele's long-hidden journal reveals how she and Fintan met - and how they loved. "Love Story" by Jeanne C. Stein is one of 15* brand-new tales contained in Dead but Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner.  

Listen to a sample of "Love Story" here

And, I've just discovered to my joy, Audible stories can be listened to on Kindle! (Even my old first gen one :-))

Yay! That's going to make my upcoming four hour coach journey much more bearable (can't read without getting nauseous in cars or coaches :-()

*I may have mentioned this (or y'know, shouted about it in delight from the rooftops *g*) ... I've also got a story - The Bat-Signal, about Luna Garza - in this fab anthology! *Bounces* ;-D

ETA: You can listen to a (4 minute) sample of Luna's tale here on Audible's sound cloud! Yay! 

And there's samples of all the other stories too - Click on the links below to listen :-)

"Another Dead Fairy" by Miranda James (featuring Claude & Claudia Crane)
"Widower's Walk" by MaryJanice Davidson (featuring Eric Northman) 

Awesome Presents Friends Send You!

One of the super awesome things about creating characters is when super lovely and talented peeps do fabulous character art and then send said fab art as perfect pressies (along with other wonderful goodies :-))

And so here are the gorgeous paintings of Genny and Mad Max created by my lovely and talented friend Che Gilson. (Che writes, too! ;-)) Thank you, Che!

 See a better scan of Genny on Che's Deviant Art
Genny's so pretty and her eyes are perfect, and I love her hair!
 See a better scan of Mad Max on Che's Deviant Art

Lol! Max is a Bad Boy, so crafty and devious and this expression is so RIGHT! Plus, I love the way you can just see his vamp teeth, and his dog collar is COOL!

Che also sent me some other goodies - her brilliant Dark Moon Diary comic, some Carmine Rojas stickers (read about Che's upcoming novella here), and some yummy choc! Nomnomnom! I have WONDERFUL friends! Yay!(If you like Che's art she does some fabulous T-shirt designs on Redbubble :-))

Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight by Che Gilson - Cover Reveal.

My lovely writer pal Che Gilson* has an AWESOME new novella coming out soon with Black Opal Books, and here's the reveal of the fabulous cover!

I'm lucky enough to have read Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight and I absolutely love Carmine. She's a mega kick-ass wolf-lady, and her story is a fun, pacy, super-action packed, explosive tale full of amazing characters. Definitely one to read if you like urban fantasy!

Here's the back cover blurb!

Illegal pit fighter and werewolf Carmine Rojas gets an off-hours assignment from her boss. Baby sitting a skinwalker who’s gotten herself in trouble with the yakuza. Carmine may kick ass in the ring but tangling with the yakuza is well above her pay grade. Carmine turns to her gang-banger cousin Rodrigo for help and fire-arms. Together they spend a terror filled night battling yakuza thugs, bickering over family, and blowing shit up.

Find Che:
Deviant Art

Sekrit Project, sekrit no longer - Dead But Not Forgotten.


Woot! Sekrit Project, sekrit no longer! *Pops Bubbly* I'm thrilled and honoured and excited to be part of this wonderful anthology. It's filled with fab stories by lots of my fav authors - just look at that stellar line-up below - and, even more exciting, the stories are all about Charlaine Harris' (one of my writerly heroes!) amazing characters from her FANG-TASTIC Sookie Stackhouse books.

My story is about Luna Garza, werebat, and I was over the moon (sorry, couldn't resist *g*) when I was asked to contribute. I adore the Sookie Stackhouse world and it was super fun* playing in one of my all time favourite author's literary sandbox. It's also been a true honour and I'm grateful to Charlaine for asking me to do so. I hope I've done both her and Luna proud. :-)

Now, if you thought it couldn't get any better, just look at that AWESOME cover by Lisa Desmini!

And here (from the press release) is that stellar line-up of fab authors and the stories they've written about Charlaine's amazing characters! This is one anthology I can't wait to hear/read! (even if I wasn't in it *g*)

Charlaine Harris' smash-hit Sookie Stackhouse series may have reached its conclusion, but the world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, lives on in this all-new collection of 15 stories. Written by a killer lineup of authors, including New York Timesbest-sellers Rachel Caine, MaryJanice Davidson, Jonathan Maberry and Seanan McGuire, and with introductions read by Charlaine herself, Dead but Not Forgotten puts your favorite characters center stage.

The stories included in Dead but Not Forgotten are:

"Nobody's Business" by Rachel Caine (featuring Kevin Pryor & Kenya Jones)
"Tyger, Tyger" by Christopher Golden (featuring Quinn)
"The Real Santa Claus" by Leigh Perry (featuring Diantha)
"Taproot" by Jeffrey J. Mariotte (featuring Andy Bellefleur)
"Knit a Sweater Out of Sky" by Seanan McGuire (featuring Amelia)
"Love Story" by Jeanne C. Stein (featuring Adele Hale Stackhouse)
"The Million-Dollar Hunt" by Jonathan Maberry (featuring Mustapha Khan)
"Borderline Dead" by Nicole Peeler (featuring Desiree Dumas)
"Extreme Makeover Vamp Edition" by Leigh Evans (featuring Bev & Todd)
"Don't Be Cruel" by Bill Crider (featuring Bubba)
"What a Dream I Had" by Nancy Holder (featuring Alcide Herveaux)
"Another Dead Fairy" by Miranda James (featuring Claude & Claudia Crane)
"The Bat-Signal" by Suzanne McLeod (featuring Luna)
"The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars" by Dana Cameron (featuring Pam Ravenscroft)
"Widower's Walk" by MaryJanice Davidson (featuring Eric Northman)

Dead But Not Forgotten is narrated by Johanna Parker, the longtime voice of the Sookie Stackhouse audiobooks, with introductions read by Charlaine Harris, and was edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner.

Dead But Not Forgotten releases on May 13, 2014 through Audible - pre-order link is here. 

There's going to be a hardcover version released on Nov. 25, 2014, too. Cover right ---> :-)

Full press release in the Wall Street Journal here. (!!! *g*)

*Also, super-scary, nerve-wracking, but ultimately a fantastic challenge! I learned a lot about my craft writing Luna's story, and among other things, I now know a lot more about bats and Louisiana than I ever did before :-D

The Problem with Promises!

Happy Book Birthday* to the fab Leigh Evans for The Problem with Promises #3 in her awesome Mystwalker series.


*US today, and UK on Thurs 27th Feb 

US Cover


I LOVE the first two Mystwalker books, and this one is even hotter (in all ways! *g*). Hedi, Trowbridge, and their friends have to fight hard for themselves and what they want, and they do! And boy does it make for a heart-pounding, exciting tale. But hey, don't take my word for it. If you haven't started this series, get to it! And if you have then you're gonna want to read  The Problem with Promises!  :-)


Huge congrats, Leigh! *throws confetti*


If you've read The Trouble with Fate #1, and The Thing with Weres #2, and want a before-read-reminder of the characters and world, then Leigh's done a great one here.

*UK title - The Thing with Wolves


Robson Trowbridge, the Alpha of Creemore and my gorgeous mate, tries to protect me, Hedi Peacock, half-fae, half-were, from all the trouble I get into. The thing is, my past is pretty messy and bad guys keep knocking down my door. Witches, thug bikers, the North American Council of Weres, dark magic fae, and even an evil wizard are all after me. The Old Mage is the only one I really care about: He has my dear twin brother captive on the other side of the Gates of Merenwyn—not cool. So my alpha love is helping me to keep my promise to free my brother…

UK Cover


Unfortunately, everyone who helps me ends up in a heap of trouble too—including my Trowbridge. How much longer he’ll be mine? Who can say. Now, I admit I’ve had my moments as a shivering coward, hoping he will come to my brave rescue. The whole Prince Charming thing is hard to shake. But these bad guys after me mean business. You know that ‘last straw’ metaphor? That was two straws ago. It’s now or never. Again…

Leigh was born in Montreal, Quebec but now lives in Southern Ontario with her husband. She's raised two kids, mothered three dogs, and herded a few cats. Other than that, her life was fairly routine until she hit the age of 50. Some women get tattoos, Leigh decided to write a (brilliant) book. A little tardy, but then again, her Mum always said she was a late bloomer.

Check out The Problem with Promises blog tour here!

Find Leigh:
Website: http://www.leighevans.com/

Follow Leigh Evans on FacebookFollow Leigh Evans on PinterestFollow Leigh Evans on TwitterFollow Leigh Evans' Blog

Creating Better Fantasy Economies: Who Does All the Work?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Kameron Hurley to the blog, with a great post on creating the economics of a fantasy world.

Thanks for visiting, Kameron, and take it away!

I’m a big fantasy reader, especially the epics. Sprawling canvas.Tons of characters.New worlds.New rules.Crazy, complex societies. Unfortunately, a lot of the epics I read often start to blur together. I find myself running into the same societies, with the same rules, time and time again. I find this tendency astonishing in a genre that has free reign to completely reimagine societies from the ground up.

But, hey, I’m just one reader. And a writer to boot. So instead of just saying “Here are the top fantasy economy/society issues that’ll throw me out of a story” I asked folks on Twitter, writers and readers alike, to tell me what they found most annoying or problematic in the fantasy economies and societies they read about.

Here are the top fantasy economy/society failures, crowdsourced on Twitter, with hat tips given to those kind enough to share:

1)      Women are accepted as frontline fighters, but nothing else in the world is different. No mention of birth control, or social mores that change the general patriarchal bent of the rest of the world (which of course always ends up still being there; like women get equality in war but nothing else? Eh?). No mention of how children are minded, or what happens when women become pregnant, or if there are social stigmas between fraternization, or if it’s encouraged, or any other of a myriad of ways that the acceptance of women in combat would also be a reflection of other societal changes in the world. Who does all the work off the battlefield? Is it also accepted that men work in at-home cottage industries?(this was my top annoyance)

2)      Everybody speaks “Common”/every country has a monolithic language. There’s no universal language on this world, and it’s not likely there’s going to be one on a fantasy world, either, unless it’s run by some mega fascist empire. And even then, it’s highly likely there will be regional dialects and variations. Sure, many folks spoke Latin when Rome came a’conquering, but they also spoke their native languages and dialects. It may seem easier, as a writer, to hand wave and say there’s a trader’s language, but doing that actually cuts a lot of potential tension and flavor. I remember being in a restaurant near the Alhambra in in Granada, Spain, and encountering a host who spoke four languages fluently and could have simple conversations with patrons in three more.  I found this far more interesting than, “The host spoke Common.” And it’ll add more texture to the world, too. Lots of plot details can depend on people understanding, or misunderstanding one another. (hat tip @foxvertabrae, @annelyle and @teresafrohock)

3)      Assumed literacy. The sad fact is that outside the implementation of a massive public education system, many people will not know how to read. The UK’s literary rate is 95% (Finland’s is 100%, FYI) but in Afghanistan, it’s 21%. The reasons for that are many and varied, but I invite folks to consider what the literacy rate of a country would be in an area where larger powers were constantly fighting over the resources within it. Unless a fantasy country has free public education for all (and how are they paying for that?), people who read will be rich, or perhaps priests or magic users – a class of folks with the free time and means to pursue this pastime. In addition, lack of literacy also means an increase in the status of people whose business it is to write and transcribe information.  Administrative assistants FTW. (hat tip @doughulick)

4)      Everyone of X race/species is confined to a single country.Populations migrate. They interact. They trade. One of the biggest problems with basing fantasy worlds on an assumed medieval world is that the medieval world many of us are served up in school was not actually a monolithic white Christian one. Our past has been systematically cropped, erased, and rewritten so it looks more like the one the folks in power aspire to, not how it actually was.  Trade routes and hubs and big cities draw people from all across the world. Faces, social mores, awareness of the greater world, will be greater in large metro areas, but even smaller ones will get travelers from elsewhere. The world has never, ever been a monoculture. Fantasy worlds aren’t likely to be either, unless you’re trying to be super ironic. (hat tip @RJSWriter, @metteharrison)

5)      Treasure/resource finds that don’t significantly change theeconomy. What happens when a dragon’s horde of gold suddenly enters the economy? The diamond trade in ours is heavily controlled by just a few companies to keep diamonds from flooding the market and decreasing the value of what’s already in circulation. And we don’t simply print money willy-nilly, or we’ll end up paying for coffee with a wheelbarrow of notes. So if there’s a major horde of gold or wealth that’s uncovered over the course of the book one, in book two it’s probably best that’s it’s addressed how that horde of cash has changed the balance of the economy.In fact, it could lead to some very interesting plot complications. (hat tip @jonmhanse)

6)      Static languages, cultures, and technology.This is a big issue of mine. Change happens. Technology changes. No society is static. One of the things I liked to explore in my last series, which takes place over the course of twenty years, is how technology in the world – and the state of the ongoing war in the background – changes during that time period. It adds an incredible amount of richness, and believability, to an alternate or secondary world.Remember that a piece of technology like, say, a smart phone, isn’t going to change one aspect of society – it’s not just that people can make calls anywhere. It’s access to GPS systems, information on how to fix a car, a camera, a video recorder, and oh-so-much more. Think about how smart phones have transformed the world and how we interact in just a few years. Now what would happen if there was a new spell that could plant farmers’ crops for them? (hat tip @nethspace, @alecaustin and @scottlynch78)

7)      Money systems that make perfect modern-day sense.  I’m not a money nerd, so had no idea this was such an issue for some folks, but it was mentioned by @annelyle, @originalnot, @doughulick and @scottlynch78 as a pet peeve. The history of money is varied and complicated; base metals as currency isn’t as standard as you think. And if you’re using base metals and they aren’t being weighed to see how much has been skimmed off the sides of each coin, well… People do all sorts of things to both verify and counterfeit money. A few minutes figuring out how that happens could provide some useful flavor and interesting plot complications.

8)      Lack of bureaucracy. When I research empires throughout history, from Rome to the Aztecs, what I find interesting is the high level of bureaucracy required to manage such sprawling empires – something which is often lacking in much fantasy fiction. What kind of official stamps or paperwork or additional hoops do folks need to go through to travel, or benefit from government services (are there government services. And if not, what happens to the poor?) How are taxes collected and measured? Folks who sail across borders without question, or sprawling empires that lack solid communication systems, may be a red flag for a lot of readers, and knock them right out. (hat tip @jdiddyesquire and @johnhorner)
9)      “World-shattering magic, strange elder gods, twenty different sapient species, but patriarchy is a given.” (quote via @wallrike) I often suspect that we as fantasy writers and readers have particular blindspots when it comes to worldbuilding, and not paying enough attention to changing social mores/roles is a big one. We’ll spend agonizing amounts of time figuring out religions and different species, but most of humanity still ends up white, and organizes itself into a general patriarchal, hetero-hierarchy. This is a massive blindness, because to be honest, this is not actually how we’ve spent most of our existence organizing ourselves. Humans have been around for over 100,000 years; the hazy history we quote from is only about 10,000 years, and as we uncover and sift through the past, we tend to make it look a lot more like the present than it actually was. Even just a quick look at the Minoans, the Hopi and Iroquois, and the Musuo, will go a long way toward expanding one’s conception of what’s possible. Especially when you’re writing… fantasy. Fantasy! Live a little.

10)  Monarchy as unquestioned (and celebrated) default.  Monarchy is actually pretty boring. And let’s be real, once again: this is fantasy fiction, and we can do anything we want. So it’s astonishing that when we have this huge fantastic canvas to work with, we default to monarchy. In truth, people throughout history have organized themselves into all sorts of ways, from oligarchies to full and representative democracies, collectives, and anarchies. Think outside the norm. Readers will sit up and take notice. (hat tip @mygoditsraining)

11)  Ignoring the consequences of war. War has massive consequences. It disrupts lives. Relationships. Often, it can eliminate or transform entire social systems. At the very least, war leads to famine and disease. Raising a mighty army composed mostly of people who worked the land the year before means that the year after the war, food production is going to suffer. Whole towns and villages will be displaced. Trade routes obliterated. War has consequences – it’s not just a vehicle to get the protagonist to the throne. Also consider birth and infant mortality rates on successive generations, as families are split up and access to proper medical care is greatly reduced. We should see the repercussions of violence, not only throughout an area or country, but throughout the world as disruptions in that space ripple across those it touches through trade and diplomacy. (hat tip @tammacneil)

There’s a whole host of stumbling blocks on the way to crafting fantastic worlds. The amazing thing about fantasy is that we have an opportunity to push the boundaries of our imagination. If a fantasy world is less compelling or complex than the real world, take a step back and rethink it. I want my fantasy as least as interesting as my history.

We have the opportunity to imagine something really different. Why not go for it?

ABOUT Kameron Hurley
Kameron Hurley is an award-winning writer and freelance copywriter who grew up in Washington State. She is the author of the book God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture, and her short fiction has appeared in magazines such Lightspeed, EscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven and Year’s Best SF. 

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