Archive for the ‘Fantasy Articles’ Category

This weekend, I was invited to the 12th annual Baltimore Comic Con at the Baltimore Convention Center. Baltimore’s Comic Con has been called, “…the antidote to San Diego.” by the Washington Post. San Diego’s Con has drifted away from comic book lovers and now focuses on the big draws like television shows and movies. In contrast, Baltimore’s Con is purely about the comics and that’s why I love it.

This year’s guest of honor was Stan “The Man” Lee. Not sure you recognize the name? He’s known as the architect of Marvel Comics. Still not sure? Ever heard of Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, Iron Man, X-Men, or Doctor Strange? Stan was the co-creator on all those comics. Yeah, he’s pretty much a rock star and legend in the nerd world. He was gracious enough to sign autographs and sit for pictures with hundreds of his adoring fans!

In addition to Stan, the weekend was jam packed with lots of amazing activities including the Harvey Awards and panel discussions with amazing guests. The weekend included a costume contest that brought out some outstanding competitors. I’ve included pictures of my favorites. Hundreds of vendors attended the event selling collectables that ranged in price from one dollar to well over fifty thousand. Cards, comics, toys, posters, decals, and clothing for miles.  

But the best part of the weekend for me was talking to the talented people behind the comics we all know and love. Naturally, I couldn’t go home empty handed. I purchased some cool stuff from the awesome guys at FUBAR. I’d tell you what that stands for, but it’s above a PG-13 rating. Let’s just say it’s lots of zombie goodness. I also purchased a comic that I’m happy to say is marketed toward the female comic fan. Monica Gallagher was on hand to sign her new series, Gods & Undergrads which is a modern comic based on aspects of Greek mythology.

If you’ve never been to a con, it’s a great fun for everyone in the family. Make sure to check it out next year and don’t forget your superhero costume!

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You also follow her on Twitter.


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Don’t you love books? Lucky for us, they’re lots of great books coming out in 2011! I could list some amazing names for you like Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, but I’m sure you already know about those. Instead, I made a list of ten debut young adult fantasy authors that I’m personally excited about. The list order is based on release dates. 

Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney (Published: February 8, 2011)

Freak. That’s what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna’s own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Published: February 15, 2011)

First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (Published: February 22, 2011)

Eden didn’t expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.


So long, happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own.

And that’s only the beginning of the end.

Clarity by Kim Harrington (Published: March 1, 2011)

When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth?

This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

Enclave by Ann Aquirre (Published: April, 12, 2011)

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim (Published: May 17, 2011)

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers. Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?

The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire (Published: May 24, 2011)

Since the age of fourteen, Emerson Cole has seen strange things – dead things – swooning Southern Belles, soldiers, and other eerie apparitions of the past. She’s tried everything to get rid of the visions: medication, counseling, asylums. Nothing’s worked.

So when Emerson’s well-meaning brother calls in yet another consultant from a mysterious organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to give it one last try.

Michael Weaver is no ordinary consultant. He’s barely older than she is; he listens like no one she’s ever met before; and he doesn’t make her feel the least bit crazy. As Emerson ventures deeper into the world of the Hourglass, she begins to learn the truth about her past, her future–and her very life.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (Published: May 31, 2011)

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

Hereafter by Tara Hudson (Published: June 7, 2011)

Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won’t want to miss.

Possess by Gretchen McNeil (Published: August 23, 2011)

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by the hunky son of the police officer who got her father killed, and by the eerie voices which she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Turns out the voices are demons–the Biblical kind, not the Buffy kind–and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them.

San Francisco’s senior exorcist and his newly assigned partner from the Vatican enlist Bridget’s help with increasingly bizarre and dangerous cases of demonic possession. But when one of Bridget’s oldest friends turns up dead in a ritualistic sacrifice that mirrors her father’s murder, Bridget realizes she can’t trust anyone. An interview with her father’s murderer reveals a link between Bridget and the Emim: a race of part-demons intent on raising their forefathers to the earth in human form. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the Emim’s plan before someone else close to her winds up dead, or worse–the human vessel for a Demon King.

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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This morning, I was a guest on The Eclectic Artist Cave. The show is hosted by YA author and publicist, Joann Buchanan. Each week, Joann discusses all aspects of publishing with various guests including writers, bloggers and industry insiders.  

My particular show discussed the importance of social media to aspiring or recently published authors. You can listen to the full thirty minute interview here.

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This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the premiere of Mythic Faire: A Celebration of World Creation, Time Travel & Fantastic Realms. The event was held on March 11th – 13th 2011 at the Baltimore Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. Medieval, pirate, faerie, fantasy, and steampunk themes were incorporated throughout. Many of the vendors and guests wore elaborate costumes and some even acted in their roles.

The three day affair featured appearances from master painters of the fantastic Daniel Merriam, Don Maitz, Jean Baptiste Monge and Larry MacDougall, author and folklorist, Raven Grimassi and themed entertainment concept designer, Don Carson. My favorite moment of the weekend was when I had the opportunity to meet best-selling author and artist Janny Wurts. She’s written fourteen fantasy novels, short stories, and the internationally best-selling Empire trilogy, co authored with Raymond E. Feist. I haven’t read Empire, but I did enjoy Traitor’s Knot and To Ride Hell’s Chasm.  

Panel discussions highlighted topics that ranged from magical medieval meals to European myth and folklore. I personally attended a session regarding the philosophy of steampunk. If you follow me on twitter then you’re already aware of my love for all things steampunk. I enjoyed the discussions of the origins of steam powered ideas and images that have captured imaginations around the world. The images left me with a craving for some new toys.

Along with the panel discussions were rooms of some of the most beautiful merchandise I’ve ever seen that included books, music, artwork, jewelry, clothing, and items for your home. Saturday and Sunday closed with the Time Travelers & Keltic Worlds Masquerade Balls. We got to enjoy live music from Delhi 2 Dublin, Abney Park, Woodland String Band, Adam Hurst, and SJ Tucker. I had a great time, but felt a bit undressed next to some of the amazing outfits the guests wore. They truly outdid themselves. 

The Mythic Faire was everything that I’d hoped it would be. I will for sure be back next year and am looking forward to FaerieCon 2011 this November! I may even dress up in my new faerie outfit. Well, we’ll see.

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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Thank you to everyone who helped me put this project together. It’s been a labor of love. It’s amazing what you can get done with a very small budget. This probably won’t be the trailer that I release with the book, but it’s a peek into the story. I would love to hear your opinions on the trailer. You can watch it here and there’s also a place for you to comment. If you like the trailer, I encourage you to tweet something to Megan. She’s growing her book trailer and editing business and this was one of the first trailers she produced. Her links are under the trailer.

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There seems to be no shortage of complaints about the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. She’s not the greatest writer, she contradicts everything we know of vampire lore, her books send out a bad message to young girls about marriage and children, and that’s only naming a few. I suppose with success like hers you’d expect her critics to be harsh, but let’s look beyond the book and really explore the Meyer effect.

Fact #1: Meyer brought teenagers back to the bookstore! It’s an amazing accomplishment considering that book competitors are iPods, text messages, Facebook and Twitter. She brought them in by the droves and now they’re not just reading Twilight books! I talk to readers all the time that say they started off reading Twilight and then moved onto other young adult fantasy authors. Meyer, in many ways, has been the gateway drug that led teenagers to other amazing writers like Cassandra Clare, Melissa Marr, Holly Black, and Scott Westerfeld. 

Fact #2: Meyer gave us a new version of tired theme. You may not like her vampires, but you have to admit that they’re original. Vampires in high school that don’t drink blood, sparkle in the sunlight, and want to be human. This goes against everything ever written by Bram Stoker and Anne Rice. Not to mention that none of those books ever appealed to teenagers. You’ve got to give this girl props for giving us a new perspective on both vampires and werewolves.

Fact #3: Teenagers are writing because of Twilight. I know of many readers that got the writing bug after reading the series. They’re tons of websites dedicated to Twilight fan fiction. Young readers writing their own versions of the popular series. Of all the things my daughter could be into, I’d much prefer her interested in creative writing. I couldn’t care less what the subject is, just the fact that she’s writing and using her imagination is enough for me.  

I hope you take these facts into consideration before you jump on the hater bandwagon. I’m not a Twihard, but I do consider myself a fan of the series. Do I think she’s the best fantasy writer out there, hmmm no. Do I think that her books could change the world and bring about world peace, emphatically no. But, in my opinion, she does deserve a high five and a little slack from the critics.

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You can read her advice for aspiring writers on her blog The YA Fantasy Freak or you can follow her on Twitter.

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The end of the year has left me reflecting on my own writing journey. Like most, it’s still ongoing with plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. Some stops I expected and others had me turned completely around. I’ve learned a ton and I’d like to share my experience with you. At the very least you can get an idea of how things work and how they don’t.

In September 2009, I completed my first young adult fantasy novel. This was a major high for me. I’d never written a novel before so achieving this goal meant everything. Afterwards, I took a break from writing to query agents and learn about social media. This was about the time I started attending writing conferences and taking online courses.

January and February were two tough months for me because that’s when the rejections started to arrive in my email inbox. I’d say over the next several months I received around 35 total. I imagine taking a bullet would feel similar because you’ve invested so much of yourself into a project and it hurts when the response is negative. This was when I found myself at a crossroads. Do I self publish with hopes that the agents/publishers are wrong, shelve my manuscript and move on to another, or quit writing all together?

I went against all my choices and decided to research. I wanted to understand the agency’s decision to decline my novel. I also wanted to get a better understanding of the YA market. So, I went on Amazon and bought every young adult fantasy novel on the NYT bestsellers list. The next several weeks were all about reading the forty or so books I’d purchased. After my reading, I decided that the agents were right. My book wasn’t that interesting. I’d say I had peeks of interest, but not enough to stand out in the crowded YA fantasy market.

By May 2010, I decided to split my time between an idea I had for a book and a website. Through my research into social media, I found that I needed to create an audience for myself. But, how do you develop an audience if you don’t have a published book? I decided to create a website that catered to all the great books I’d been reading and to aspiring writers like me. I teamed up with my fantasy website Yoda, Will Kalif, to create the YA Fantasy Guide.

We decided the website would feature book reviews and recommendations, literary agents and author interviews, articles about writing, and contests. The biggest surprise of the year came from the popularity of the website which has surpassed even my expectations. We’ve been able to land some amazing interviews and really reach out to fans of our genre. Now I’m getting emails from publicist and agents hoping to get their clients featured on my site.

The end of 2010 left on a positive note. I’ve received interest from several agents regarding my second novel. Nothing’s happened yet, but I’m very encouraged. My message to all aspiring writers is to keep moving toward your dream. For most writers, it takes years. My journey started three years ago. Don’t get discouraged by rejections. Instead, focus on your writing and storytelling. Always strive to get better at your craft. Don’t forget to use the information that’s out there and take part in the writing community. If you take anything out of this post then let it be this: Never Give Up!

You can check out some of my other articles for writers here: Articles for Writers

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