Guest Post: Katherine Kayne on ‘Choosing a location for your novel’

Katherine Kayne on “Choosing a location for your novel”

As an author, the question I am asked most frequently is how I chose to write about Hawaii. Let me give you the short answer; how could I not?

So few of us on the mainland know much about the islands. Once I began to learn about Hawaii’s past I become enthralled. Let me share a bit more about it; suffice it to say Hawaiian history is complicated. There is more to unpack her than I can explain in this brief essay. But I will give it a shot.

First the geology. Millions of years ago, through a fissure in the earth’s crust, emerged the miracle that is today’s Hawaiian Islands. First Kauai, then Niihau, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kaho‘olawe, Maui until . . . at last . . . the island still being born . . . the big island of Hawaii.

Geographically isolated as well as geologically young, Hawaii possesses perhaps the best climate in the world—not too hot, not too cold, and rarely the victim of violent storms.

Human habitation came late. A mere millennium or so ago, bold navigators set forth from islands thousands of miles to the south to follow the stars. They sought a legend – a rumor – of new lands in the north. Only then were the islands of Hawaii populated.

Old Hawaii was ruled by chiefs and chiefesses called ali‘i. By 1810 the rule of the island chain was consolidated under one man, Kamehameha the Great, later known as King Kamehameha. Once the western notion of a monarchy took hold, Hawaii was ruled by kings, and finally one queen, for eighty years. That is until the islands became caught within the twin coils of international diplomacy and capitalism. In the late 1890s, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown by a group of mostly American businessmen, with military backup from the United States. A kingdom was lost.

During the monarchy Hawaii and Hawaiians thrived. A constitution was adopted. Waves of immigrants were welcomed. Education was encouraged and honored. By the mid 1800s, Hawaii was one of the most literate countries in the world. Education was encouraged and honored. This was a particularly stunning achievement given that before 1820, there was no written Hawaiian language. While the impact of the early Calvinist missionaries is debated, one thing is true. In their eagerness to convert the “heathens” to Christianity, the missionaries assembled a method of reading and writing Hawaiian that is the basis for how the language is recorded today. Now a renaissance of the Hawaiian language is in full swing. The written `ōlelo is key to that movement.

Both cattle and horses arrived shortly after the first Europeans. Ranches in Hawaii rapidly became some of the most successful cattle-producing operations in the world, well ahead of Texas, supplying beef for the California gold rush and the U.S. civil war. The granddaddy of them all, Parker Ranch on the Hawaii Island, remains in existence today with hundreds of thousands of acres.

By the turn of the twentieth century Hawaii was a study in contrasts. Cowboys and kahunas, wild pigs and steamships, hula dancers and rickshaws, land barons and mail-order brides made up the stuff and substance of the islands’ colorful history. The rise of the sugar industry gave great fortunes to a few and bypassed the many. Hawaiians today still fight to right the wrongs of that era. Yet despite it all, those times evoke a great nostalgia.

These are the times I write about. Although my stories are pure fiction, I find inspiration in so many wonderful pieces of Hawaiian history. Just as the colors are deeper, the smells sharper, and the sun brighter in Hawaii, the true stories of the people carry richness beyond imagining.

If you (like me) never got over your love for horses…. if you (like me) always prefer the feisty heroine…. if you (like me) crave hunky heroes with senses of humor…. if you (like me) want to believe there may yet be magic in this world, then these stories are for you.

Please, join me. We are never too old to believe in magic, are we?


Katherine Kayne is the author of Bound in Flame, the first in a series about hard-riding Hawaiian suffragettes at the turn of the twentieth century. Her next installment, a prequel novella, Pistols in Paradise will be out this fall! You can check her out and join her newsletter at Yes, there are cocktail recipes!


About Bound in Flame

In 1909, Leticia Lili‘uokalani Lang is en route home to Hawai’I when she dives into the ocean to rescue a horse in distress — and changes her life forever. Brilliant and headstrong, Letty is an accomplished horsewoman, among the first female veterinarians, and now: mākāhā, a Gate to the healing fires of the land. Complicating matters is Timothy Rowley, the horse’s owner, who ignites a special flame of his own in Leticia. Can Letty learn to master her power to have a chance at life and love? Or is the danger of the flame too great?

Spotlight with Felicia Watson (and Naiche!)

Conversation with Naiche

Hello everyone! Thanks to Dr. Rosemarie Herbert for hosting me on her lovely blog for the day. I’m Felicia Watson, author of the Lovelace Series, a sci-fi adventure set in the 31st Century. Book One is We Have Met the Enemy and Book Two is the just released Spooky Action at a Distance. In Spooky Action we find the main character of the series, Lt. Naiche Decker, aboard the Uniterrae Defense Corps starship Lovelace, the first real home she’s had since she left her Chiricahua Apache community at age seventeen. With the recent war behind her, she’s looking forward to life as an explorer rather than a soldier. But her latest adventure – exploring a quantum entanglement – proves to be her most dangerous mission yet.

I’ve decided with two books published and a third underway, it’s finally time to sit down and have a heart-to heart with my Main Character. You folks get to listen in. Say hello, Naiche.

Naiche: Hello. I’d say it’s good to meet you, Felicia, but you’re the one who killed off my mother and grandfather, pulled me away from my people, and put me in a brutal war with an alien race. Where I was forced to kill five friends.

Felicia: Uh, yeah, that’s one way to look at it. On the upside, I gave you an interesting life! And also gave you a wonderful CO, Conroy Kennedy, and a Search and Rescue dog, Kayatennae, by your side.

Naiche: Yes, Con is the best friend I’ve ever had and Kay is the greatest dog in the galaxy – but it seems to me you could have given me those minus all the heartache and mayhem.

Felicia: Only if I was writing a picture book for 4-year-olds. And hey, I did show some mercy. I didn’t give you your father’s nose – that has to count for something.

Naiche: Oh, yeah, that makes up for being put through a meat grinder of a life.

spookyacFelicia: In my defense, that’s my job. Moving right along, let’s talk about Spooky Action, where we find that after helping the UDC win the war, you’re going to have a fabulous adventure in deep space. It involves the coolest ship the UDC has ever designed. It’s fast, sleek, and the navigation control actually links directly into the pilot’s brain. Since you’re one of the best pilots in the Corps, I know you’re just itching to get your hands on a ship like that – aren’t you?

Naiche: The ship sounds awesome but what do you mean “fabulous adventure”? Doesn’t it say up there that this is my most dangerous mission yet?

Felicia: You can see that?? Whoops! Anyway, on this mission you’re also going to run into an old friend of yours – Talako Jacoway.

Naiche: Friend?! That jackass? Granted, he sure is good-looking – but so conceited.

Felicia: He’s not really conceited, just…quite confident. And that comes with the territory. Pilots do have a tendency to be a little over-confident. Don’t they?

Naiche: What makes you say that?

Felicia: Oh, no reason. As for Tal, I think ‘jackass’ is pretty harsh. Isn’t it possible that you’ve misjudged him? Like you did with your father?

Naiche: Nah, I learned my lesson there. I know when I’m being unfair to people, now.

Felicia: I’ll guess we’ll see about that.

Naiche: Do you know something I don’t?

Felicia: Always. What part of “omniscient narrator” don’t you understand?

Naiche: If you’re waiting for me to laugh – don’t. How is it you developed me and I’m still funnier that you?

Felicia: I give you all my best lines.

Naiche: You really didn’t save anything for yourself today…. Tell me, what else happens in this book? What is a quantum entanglement, exactly?

Felicia: It’s a stellar phenomenon where the space-time field is in constant flux.

Naiche: How the hell do you navigate through something like that?

Felicia: Good question. One that has stumped the best minds in the UDC – and that’s why there are two ships stuck there, needing rescue. By the Lovelace, specifically. Oh, did I mention that the entanglement is collapsing and if you folks don’t find a way to rescue the 80 people trapped there, they’ll be lost forever? And you have to team up with your nemesis, Jacoway, to do it.

Naiche: Can I read your bio again? Are you sure you’re an author and not a sadist?

Felicia: When it comes to our characters, there’s not much difference.

Naiche: What else happens to me? Alien encounters? Death-defying feats of bravery? Deep emotional connections? Do I get lucky?

Felicia: Yes, yes, yes, and – yes and no.

Naiche: What does that mean?

Felicia: I guess you’ll have to read Spooky Action at a Distance to find out. I hope you’ll all do the same! Good-bye from me and Naiche. And many many thanks to Rosemarie for hosting us here.

Guest Post: Brian Marshall on ‘Reinventing the Gods’

Reinventing the Gods
Brian Marshall

Brian T. Marshall was born in Southern California and graduated from UC Santa Cruz. He currently juggles writing novels with performing in multiple bands. His latest – “Choosing the Dark” – was released last spring.

Today I have Brian here to tell you all about Greek Gods, and how he has incorporated that material into his book, Fleet. Take it away, Brian!

A couple years back I started a novel which wound up being Fleet.

I set out on this journey with two main goals in mind. First-off, I wanted the book to serve as an homage to the Marvel comics I’d grown up with. It had to fun, imaginative, filled with adventure, but never condescend to the reader. Secondly, and even more importantly, it would be a big, fat Thank-You to someone who’d been a huge influence in my life, namely the god known as Hermes.

All right, all right, that may sound bizarre, but bear with me for a moment. To begin with, I was a Virgo, which meant that the planet Mercury (the Latin name for Hermes) had been ascendant at my birth. As a result, I had always displayed a lot of the same traits that defined both god and sign. I’d been a lifelong runner. Was a bit of a brainiac. Had a fussy, obsessive streak which hid a sharp sense of humor. And if you had to choose a role model, who better than some guy with wings on his feet?

So I had my protagonist all lined up. But how do you tell a brand-new story about someone who’s been around since forever? You shake things up. Start somewhere unexpected. A homeless guy who’s been arrested, buck-naked and speaking in tongues. When police translators draw a blank, they call in their resident expert, a cranky, misanthropic professor of linguistics who consults with their mystery man. What’s that he’s speaking? Greek, of course. Only it happens to be an archaic form, unused for three-thousand years.

Dr. Patrick adopts the stranger. Decides to teach him English. After navigating a string of red herrings, we finally learn the truth. The Greek gods visited Earth long ago. Tried to shape Man in their image. Were so disgusted by the results that they left their brood behind. But now, thanks to an ancient foe, they’ve been returned against their will, stripped of their memories, even their powers. Recast as humans with imagined pasts that mock their former selves.

Athena, we learn, is a roller derby queen, living in Southern California. Ares, the god of war, heads a private security firm based in Johannesburg.  As for Artemis, the Greek’s bowed huntress, she’s currently living on a wildlife preserve in Crete, while Hephaestus, their smithy, owns a junkyard in the barren hills of North Dakota. For the Greeks, each god was an archetype, embodying an essential truth, so the trick became one of transplanting that essence into the world we now know.

And so we find Hermes plagued by doubt. He’s just a messenger, after all. Ill-prepared for the task that awaits him, setting his siblings free. And yet when he does so, liberating Athena, he immediately grows jealous, relegated to her shadow once more. Ares is a bloated oaf. Artemis a scared and sickly girl who suddenly becomes wild, wanton, under the rays of the moon. And crippled Hephaestus is addicted to drugs, thanks to his tortured dreams, dreams in which he fashions swords for his family, all of them gods.

The more I played around with my cast, the more impressed I became. Because the Greeks had somehow done it, created the Dysfunctional Family, and thereby set the bar, formed the template, for every troubled family since. But it went even further than that. If we accept their premise, that Man was created by God, then we have to ask ourselves, what kind of creator would settle for something as flawed, as imperfect, as mankind? Obviously there could be only one answer. The gods themselves were flawed. And it was this realization, this reckoning, that ultimately drove the book. God and Man had been reunited because it was only through accepting their own faults, and forgiving each other’s, that either race could heal and grow.

A long way from a comic book? Maybe. But the power of myth lies in its breadth, its universality. It can be as simple as a nursery rhyme, a story before bedtime. Or as complex, as imbued with meaning, as the work of Jung or Campbell. For anyone who thinks that a god with wings on his feet seems childish or simplistic, remember this. Complexity and simplicity are allies, not foes. In the one exist the many. And the very same people who codified Reason, who first explained the world we see, gave us their gods as well.

Keen to get your hands on Choosing the Dark? You can purchase a kindle copy from Amazon. Fleet sounds like more your style? Direct link here.

Guest Post: J.W. Golan on ‘The Persistence of Dragons’

The Persistence of Dragons
J.W. Golan

Today I have J.W. Golan here to tell you about the persistence of dragons. I am of course excited about anything related to dragons, and I pretty much drooled when he suggested this as his topic. Take it away, J.W.!

The world of mythology has reserved a special place for dragons. They have persisted across centuries of human myth and legend: from the creation mythos of Babylonia where the dragon Tiamat gave birth to a pantheon of deities; to the dragon Fafnir of Norse lore – recorded in legend thousands of years later. Moreover, in one form or another, dragons have appeared in the legends of nearly every civilization: from the Chinese dragons who were the emissaries of the gods and the embodied spirits of the rivers, lakes and seas; to the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs – whose forebears dotted the architecture throughout mezoamerica. Across languages, centuries, and continents, dragons have held an important role in human storytelling. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien:

“I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood. But the world that contained even the imagination of Fafnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever the cost of peril.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories,” The Tolkien Reader)

When certain elements reappear and persist across different cultures and across the centuries of human civilization, it’s usually a strong indicator that the element in question plays an archetypal role in the human consciousness. In other words, our human brains were pre-programmed to identify and anticipate certain archetypal characters or story elements. This is why, when we see these characters or stories on stage, in film or in literature, we instinctively know what we should expect. They form a tie between our shared human psyche and the stories we tell – a tie which was first identified by the Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in the early 20th century.

But if the dragon forms a similar archetypal role in the human consciousness, then we must ask what role it is that the dragon fulfills and where in our human psyche does the need for that role arise? It’s easy to understand why the human brain would be pre-disposed to identify such roles as the mother and father figure, or the sage and the trickster. It’s easy to understand why we would have a preconceived, biological blueprint for what we should expect from such figures in our stories and lives. These blueprints, after all, help us to navigate the world into which we are born. But what role does the dragon fulfill?

There are two, common threads that underlie the depiction of the dragon throughout each civilization – from ancient times to today. The first, is its reptilian or serpent-like form. The natural human tendency to fear or at the very least respect snakes has been explained many times before. It is a natural fear that any arboreal species should have for one of its principal predators.

But there is another common thread that transcends all retellings of dragon legends – from ancient times to today: a sense of awe. Whether the dragon was feared as it was in Norse and other European mythologies or revered as it was in China or pre-Columbian America, the dragon was depicted as a creature of immense size and power. It was not merely that a dragon was larger than a horse or ox. Far more than that, it evoked a sense of respect and reverence even among those who feared them.

Of the Norse dragon Fafnir, for example, it was written;

“Now crept the worm down to his place of watering, and the earth shook all about him, and he snorted forth venom on all the way before him as he went.” (The Volsunga Saga)

Or when describing stories of the winged serpent Quetzalcoatl, the Aztecs would relate:

“Quetzalcoatl – he was the wind, the guide and road sweeper of the rain gods, of the masters of the water, of those who brought rain. And when the wind rose, when the dust rumbled, and it cracked and there was a great din, it became dark and the wind blew in many directions, and it thundered; then it was said: ‘He is wrathful.'” (Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain)

Image from

Similarly, in Far East tradition, the dragons commanded the winds, the rain and the seas. In Tibet, dragons were depicted as the masters of thunder. In all of these instances, the dragon was portrayed as something more than just animal. They were the forces of nature embodied. A dragon was not just something larger than any animal which humans might encounter, they were something beyond the pale of humanity to tame or master. Even in those traditions where an evil dragon might be defeated by a victorious hero, the dragon was never depicted as something which might be subdued and muzzled. Even if it might be defeated, it could never be truly tamed.

So here we are, living in a modern world, with wonders which our ancestors from only a few generations past could never have imagined. And despite all of our technology, we continue to tell each other stories about dragons. Why is this? Why has the mythology of these mystical, magical creatures endured?

Archetypal theory suggests that the reason that certain characters and certain storylines have endured across the ages and across cultures and continents, is that our minds were pre-programmed to expect and embrace these characters and storylines. Our brains were pre-programmed with what a mother or father figure was expected to be, how a child coming to adulthood was expected to behave, or what an elderly sage was expected to embody. The fact that dragons have endured in our modern stories should tell us that our brains were hard-wired to recognize the role of dragons as well.

Perhaps, now more than ever, I would propose that we need to be reminded that there are things in the universe which we cannot tame. Things bigger than our ability to comprehend, and which, even if we might overcome them, we will never fully master. The dragons have been, and remain, all of this. Creatures of awe or reverence. A part of our own consciousness reminding us that the universe is bigger and more wonderous than we could possibly hope to fathom.

Guest Post: Andrew Joyce on ‘Self-Promotion, Self-Confidence & Reflection’

Self-Promotion, Self-Confidence & Reflection

I want to welcome back today author Andrew Joyce. We’ve worked together extensively in the past, including two interviews (2015 & 2016), a spotlight and another guest post! I’ve asked him to talk a bit about his history in terms of promoting his novels and staying true to his own writing self.

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Rosemarie has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Mahoney. She thought it might be interesting to any new writers out there if I talked about my journey in general and the publishing business in particular.

I sold one of my first short stories and it was published in an anthology of short fiction entitled The Best of 2011. Since then I have written seven books. Several have become best-sellers on Amazon and two went on to win awards in their genres.

My first book, Yellow Hair, was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing, to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. I had them as adults in the Old West. Then I sent out query letters to literary agents.

A few weeks later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in the country emailed me. He loved the story and suggested a few changes. They were good suggestions, and I incorporated some of them into the book. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon (twice) and won the Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. And just for the record, the final word count was 79,914.

My readers really enjoyed the book. So I ended up writing two sequels, one of which reached #5 in its category on Amazon. Then I turned my attention to my first novel, the one I couldn’t sell to an agent. I whittled it down from 164,000 words to 132,000 and published it myself. It won Book of the Year from one outfit and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from another.

Okay, now that I’ve conveyed my bona fides, I think I’ll tell you what I’ve learned along the way. It might help you with your writing career or it might not. I hope it does.

The first piece of advice I received from a fellow writer (while I was writing my first novel) was that the process of writing is what’s important. Not the dreams of becoming a best-selling author. Not the certainty that Hollywood would come a-knocking on my door, begging me to let them turn my book into a movie. No, what is important, according to my friend, is the act of creating.

Of course, I did not believe him. I was going to be the next Stephen King, and I was already (figuratively speaking) picking out a tuxedo to wear to the Academy Awards. I was not going to self-publish. I was going to get an agent and get published by one of the Big Five Publishing Houses.

I did everything I had to do. I spent ten hours a day, seven days a week sitting at my computer, writing. When the book was finished, I spent ten hours a day sending out query letters to agents. When the book was rejected because of word count, I wrote another, shorter novel. When it was accepted and published, I spent ten hours a day sending out emails (over 3,000) to book bloggers (each addressed to the blogger by name, and that takes a lot of work) requesting an opportunity to write a Guest Post for the purpose of marketing my book. Then writing the Guest Posts took up another serious chunk of time. To date, I’ve written well over three hundred Guest Posts (another of which can be found right here on The Cosy Dragon). At first, the rate of return was not much. But once I worked with a blogger, they were more apt to respond positively when I came to them for help in marketing my next book.

Side note: Even Stephen King has to market his own books. He puts aside $200,000 of his own money to buy advertising for each book he writes.

Now, ten years later, this is what I can tell you: My friend was right, plain and simple.

My agent and I have since gone our separate ways. His client roster included some of the most famous authors in the world who, combined, sell millions of books a month. Understandably, he was more focused on them than me, so I set out on my own.

I love writing. I used to hate editing, but now I like it. And I really hate marketing. This kind of marketing is okay because I’m writing. Before I wrote my latest novel, I came to a decision. I was going to write Mahoney for myself. I had a story I wanted to tell and I wanted to tell it in my own way. I didn’t care if the book sold or not. It’s a long story (171,000 words). I was told time and time again that I should make it into a trilogy. But that’s not what I wanted. I ended up doing it my way and it worked out pretty well.

This post has gone on a little bit longer than expected. So, I better wrap it up. Here’s my advice for all you new or aspiring writers:

  • Sit down at your computer and write. Let the words flow. You have to have the fire in the belly. Turn off the TV. Better yet, throw it out the window.
  • Write for yourself. Enjoy the process.
  • If you want, try to get an agent. But do your homework. Learn how to write a killer query letter. And never approach an agent until your book is finished and 110% edited!!!
  • There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing. Here’s an article you should check out.
  • Read, read, and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete … as breathing is to life.
  • NEVER, EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Do so at your own risk.

That’s about it. Good luck in your endeavors.

Andrew Joyce
August, 2019
Gloucester, Massachusetts

About the Author

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.


In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a riveting story of adventure, endurance, and hope as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

Guest Post: E Russell Braziel on ‘Writing Historical Fiction: beyond getting the names and places right’

Writing Historical Fiction: beyond getting the names and places right.

History gives us a path to tell our stories, but how we transverse it says a great deal about ourselves as writers.

Historical fiction is a word that carries contradiction. As writers we have the instinct to weave our narratives to our whims. Yet, when writing historical fiction, we must maintain a delicate balance between fiction and fact.

Some of these details are small: a character can’t fire a colt peacemaker before 1873 or make a cellphone call before 1983; however, the greatest challenge for many historical fiction writers is creating the cultural context of the time period with which our stories are set. In this difficult task we face misrepresenting and appropriating a culture and people. Never is this more true than when writing stories about America History and the indigenous tribes whose past on this continent are far greater and longer than our own.

One of the most important details to the story of Kado: Lost Treasure of Kadohadacho was respectfully representing the culture and history of the Caddo people. This is all the more important since the cultural impact of the Caddo people has been erased or destroyed by narratives with heavy bias towards native tribes. The Caddo people were a large nation of ethnically diverse citizens who had a complex economy of goods and trade. They did not fit the historical stereotypes and for that reason they have been pushed to the footnotes of history. Though the story of Kado takes place in a period of decline for the Caddo Nation (caused by violent colonial expansion and disease), it is vital to speak to the rich history of this people.

Therefore, telling the story of a young pioneer in the early 1800’s requires navigating the pitfalls of past narratives. This means that extensive research needed to be undertaken and the story needed to go through many periods of review by members of the Caddo Nation and experts in Caddo culture and history. Two experts in the fields of the Caddos and their homeland played a vital part in telling this story, Phil Cross and Jeffery Girard.

Phil Cross is a Caddo elder, former chairman of the Caddo Culture Club, and expert in all things Caddo. He provided Caddo stories, and invaluable help with the language and background of Caddo culture. This insight was vital in representing the Caddo language both within the book, but also in creating the pronunciation guide that can be found on the official Kados website. His expertise in the Caddo Grass dwellings helped to inform the illustrations of Jean Guillet. These illustrations can be found in the book and on the Kados website. These beautiful images are pivotal in representing the complex society of the Caddo people while debunking stereotypes of natives residing only in impermanent dwellings.

Jeffery Girard is an archaeologist and author of The Caddos and Their Ancestors. He provided a great deal of scientific evidence of the Caddoan culture. He also aided with research and ensured that the descriptions in the book were accurate to his archaeological findings at sites in northwest Louisiana where Kado: Lost Treasure of Kadohadacho takes place.

The additional research and review of Kado by tribal members and experts added a great deal of cultural context to the book. As historical fiction writers we have a responsibility to retain the facts of history, but even more so we have a moral obligation to ensure that our stories do not uphold bias and misrepresentations of the past. All while creating engaging and alluring characters and stories.

In Kado: Lost Treasure of the Kadochadacho we meet 18-year-old Tom Murrell who feels restless after his family moves to the Arkansaw Territory. Upon arriving to his new town, a single arrow nearly strikes Tom. The event causes a great stir as there hasn’t been conflicts with any tribes in the territory.

One such person that stokes the flames of this event is James, a young man that Tom befriends rather begrudgingly as James is known for telling tall tales. Tom makes another friend in Mattie, a smart and honest young woman with an interest in Kado culture. She begins teaching Tom words in the Kado language.

While Tom settles into his new home, conflict is on the horizon as a band of renegade Osage plot against the Kado. Tom is pulled into the dispute after witnessing the death of Tiatesun, the spiritual leader of the Kadohadacho tribe. The stakes get dangerously high as the only chance to save his family is for Tom and his new friends to join with six Kado warriors, make sense of the many clues they uncover on their quest, and discover the real Na-Da-cah-ah.

Packed with action and adventure, Kado draws on the rich history of the Caddo people to create a lush and nearly fantastical world.

About the Author

E. Russell (“Rusty”) Braziel is the author of KADO – Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho. He has been a rock musician, company executive, serial entrepreneur, widely read blogger and is the author of The Domino Effect, bestselling nonfiction book about energy resources.

Born in Caddo country in Northeast Texas, Rusty is the gggg-grandson of John Murrell, patriarch of the Murrell family whose 1818 expedition from Tennessee to a frontier settlement in Arkansas launches the story in Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho

For over 15 years, Braziel has been a student of the Caddo tribal culture in pre-Columbian and early frontier periods, including the tribe’s history, language and beliefs.

He and his wife Teresa split their time between a homestead in Northeast Texas and grandkids in Houston.

Guest Post: Caitlin Lynagh on ‘The Power of Knowledge’

Lost Frequencies is a forthcoming Sci-Fi Fantasy Release from Caitlin Lynagh. I asked Caitlin to provide a guest post introducing her ideas and inspiration for the book.

Lost Frequencies is the first book in The Soul Prophecies series and is set on the ancient, planet of Iyeeka, many light years from Earth and millions of years before the dawn of mankind. Iyeeka encounters many issues which humanity struggle with today. The story follows Zerren, Ehi, Ahrl and ten other characters as they travel across their dying world to the home of a time-travelling scientist in the search for answers to their problems. Iyeeka is not the place it used to be, changing weather patterns, natural disasters and increasing global temperatures have destroyed entire continents and left the last two continents barely habitable. Water shortages have left the southern regions completely desolate and their fleeing refugees have pushed the northern regions to their limits. Millions have perished over the last few centuries and some Iyeekans have turned to violence in order to survive.

Iyeekans are not a violent species by nature; they lived peacefully for many millennia, choosing to work together from early in their evolution. Their continents are bigger than the continents of Earth, but their oceans are toxic and their lands were filled with many fearsome creatures. The Iyeekans built fences to keep the creatures out of the mainland and confined to the coastal regions. They lived by simple principles and recognised that it was better to work together towards a common goal rather than fight or kill. If an Iyeekan committed a crime they were punished, usually by banishment from their districts or sent out to work in sanitation which meant going to the coast for a period of time. It was rare.

Iyeekans lived in districts near to a supply of freshwater, similar to a village or town on Earth. Every Iyeekan family had a home and the same sized plot of land on which to grow food and bury their dead. They didn’t have a currency and hoarding supplies in any form was frowned upon – those who did were seen to be mentally deranged. All Iyeekans developed some kind of profession or skill and anything that they made or produced would be put into large warehouses where Iyeekans from their district could come and take what they needed and leave what they didn’t need. In this way supplies were shared without the need for trade, money or wars. Since there was plenty of land and all Iyeekans worked together, there was little travel between districts.

Iyeekans lived longer than humans and families were important to them. Younger generations would look after older generations and families would nurse sick relatives back to health. To be married, or ‘unified’ in Iyeekan terms, was a major decision and not one that was taken lightly. They settled with one partner for life, they couldn’t divorce so they chose their partners carefully. Bringing new life into the world for Iyeekans was seen as a great responsibility and honour so having children carried the same amount of importance and care. As a parent it was your duty to care and teach your child how to be a good Iyeekan.

This complacent lifestyle however, became a major downfall of Iyeekan society. Life was so simple and relatively easy for so long that there was no motivation or desire to change, which meant that their technological advances happened at a much slower pace in comparison to Earth. Iyeekans didn’t need to learn anything new and were not as curious as humans. They channelled all their waste into their already toxic oceans which unknowingly increased their toxicity and changed the atmosphere. The changes were gradual and happened over many centuries, and once they realised the error of their ways, it was already too late.

The last of their kind were finally finished off due to bad luck and events outside of their control. Maybe it could have been avoided had their technology been more advanced but during the final, difficult centuries, not many Iyeekans were interested in technology or space travel. Had Iyeekans known about the damage they were causing to their planet earlier, they would have undoubtedly changed their ways and tried preventing their problems.

In this sense Lost Frequencies is a book about having knowledge and foresight. There may be many problems we have here on Earth but having knowledge is our power. Being curious is one of humans’ greatest traits; it could potentially destroy humankind but it could also save us. We have knowledge of a problem here now, so we can fix it.

But we must act on that knowledge…

About Caitlin Lynagh

CAITLIN (27) was born in Cardiff and graduated from Keele University with a BSc in Biology and Geology. Caitlin won a Young Writers’ Award with Outlet Publishing in 2013 and her first two books in The Soul Prophecies series, Anomaly and Lost Frequencies – collectively Another Path, have gained much praise, as well as attention from the science community, trending on Reddit/r/Science for a while. Caitlin now lives in Cumbria, UK, works part-time in a bookshop in Sedbergh and helped organise the Sedbergh Book Town Festival in 2018. She runs several popular blogs, sketches, paints, makes bookish art and enjoys travelling. Caitlin once spent six weeks in the Amazon rainforest studying primates.

Lost Frequencies is released Nov 19th 2019 and is available to pre-order now on eBook and Paperback. You can follow Caitlin Lynagh on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Guest Post: B.C. Sayer on ‘The Importance of Realistic LGBTQAI+ Novels’

The Importance of Realistic LGBTQAI+ Novels

The process of figuring out who you are is both exciting and terrifying. For me, that process mostly happened during my four years of college and came to a perfect head when my anxiety, my bisexuality, and my androgyny all kicked in at once. These things opened new worlds for me to look into. I searched for hours online and read articles about people who had similar experiences to me with anxiety, sexuality, or gender. These searches often brought both positive and negative results, but either way, I learned a lot about myself and how the world tends to perceive people like me.

Writing has always been a cathartic process for me, one that helped me to understand the labels I used above before I even had an inkling that they existed. When I was younger, I would constantly get questions such as:

  • “Why is your writing so dark?”
  • “Why do you only write from the male perspective?”
  • “Is there something you feel like you need to tell us?”

My generic responses to all of these questions were, “I just know what makes an interesting story,” and “I’m always a girl, so I like writing as a boy instead.”
As is turned out, I was dark, and I am most certainly not a girl.

But as I grew to label these vital things about me and how to live and grow with them, I found myself wanting to do more research. Because now that I had labels, I could write about them more accurately. So, as any author usually does, I turned to books.

LGBTQAI+ books, to be exact.

I started writing my first gay love story (The Unseasonal Warm Front) in April of 2018. It was based off a short story I had written in high school, but my short story did not have a happy ending. It was not a love story, but a classic “gay guy falls for a straight guy” story. That was not the story I wanted to put out into the world. So, I read a lot of LGBTQAI+ young adult fiction, and I found a terrible thing: there were so few happy endings.

I thought maybe LGBTQAI+ movies or TV shows would be better.

I was terribly wrong.

After all the angry rampaging and book slamming that accompanied my disappointment, I came to realize that not only did I want to write this one happy story, where the boy gets the boy and also ends up proud of himself, I wanted to write a slew of LGBTQAI+ stories (that include mental health topics) that had happy endings with closure.

Of course, “happy endings” does not always mean the best-case scenario occurs, but it does mean that the characters are left in a realistic and hopeful place by the end of the book. I write in a world where mental illness is not cured just because someone loves you, and LGBTQAI+ people get the happy endings straight and cisgender people have been getting in literature for centuries. I want to pull the LGBTQAI+ community out of the typical literature tropes they are forced into and out into the real world where they are well-rounded and fully-faceted characters that work hard and can ultimately get what they want.

About the Author

B.C. Sayer is a self-published author who sells exclusively through Amazon. Sayer is an active advocate for mental health as well as the LGBTQA+ community, using literature as a tool to reach out to readers and spread awareness and understanding of minority groups.

Sayer is a strong proponent for the happy (yet realistic) endings that often seem to be missing in LGBTQA+ literature as well as literature about mental health, where the ending seems to be “all or nothing.”

Sayer is an elementary educator in Pennsylvania as well as an avid lover of dogs, dessert, grammar, and crafting.

Guest Post: Aaron Piper on ‘Unique vs Original Writing’

Everybody expresses their thoughts their own way; and that’s good.
Nobody is truly original; and that’s not bad.

You may or may not have noticed it but the title is a play on Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph’s ‘bad guy code.’ You see, nobody is truly original.
I can hear the volume level in voices across the wires of the internet rising already, yelling out original movies and books at me, but hear me out.

Stephenie Meyer is Anne Rice, wearing a new skin. The Hunger Games is a worse retelling of a Japanese comic and light novel series called Battle Royal (I will go down fighting on this point of view). Percy Jackson and the Olympiads series is a retelling of classical Greek and Roman myths with a new twist. Even J.K. Rowling has acknowledged that Harry Potter is an amalgamation of many stories from before – there are notable similarities between Harry Potter and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising plot, a character receiving a scar from an enemy that lets them know where they are from Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, or a witch school from Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch.

Even this guest post is not entirely original.

Decades ago, a prolific writer by the name of Mark Twain said: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.” He illustrated don’t can’t be original, but you do have to have your own thoughts and ideas on the way things should (in your humble opinion) have been done.

One of my favorite young adult series is Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain chronicles, which started with The Book of Three (I, again, will fight Harry Potter fans that it is better). One of the characters in the book has what the reader is lead to believe is an omniscient book, called obviously, The Book of Three. At the end of the series, he reveals The Book of Three is not an all-seeing book, instead it could just as easily be called “The Book of ‘If’”.

And in many ways creative writing is much like The Book of If.
What if that character was in another book, what would he do? What if the villain was more intelligent? What if that happened to in another world?

That’s how truly unique ideas start.

Christopher Booker wrote a book called The Seven Basic Plots, (good read if you’re interested in that sort of thing). In it, he describes the basic plots of almost every story:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Rebirth
  6. Comedy
  7. Tragedy

If Booker is right, and if nothing’s truly original, how do you write a new story? That question is the question that authors, writers, poets and artist have spent their lives trying to answer.

My answer comes from something my 8th grade language arts teacher told me. Mr. Pauff told our class one day: “None of you is original. You are the combination of ideas of every person you’ve ever met, filtered, mixed together, and regurgitated,” Mr. Pauff told us. In that simple explanation, he also explained the perfect way to create something unique.

First, ingest as much as you can, both things you like and things you don’t like. Read with a voracious appetite, watch with equal gusto. Study them, understand why you like or don’t like them. This can be anything, character traits, situations you enjoyed, sentence structure, how the author created flow, the characteristics of the world, whatever, and remember them and discard the unnecessary.

Mix all these together then start by asking “What happens if…?”

And then write, it doesn’t have to be good or bad, just write. If you get stuck, just ask “What if this happens?”

I wrote a YA novel recently (sorry not trying to self-promote, just using this as an example)…

  • I personally found Draco Malfoy the most interesting character from Harry Potter, but instead of writing my own fan fictions (if you don’t know what that is, I kind of suggest you don’t look that up), I decided I would make my version of Draco. (We’ll call him something stupid like Titus Fogg for the sake of this example).
  • I didn’t want Titus to live in Rowling’s light hearted, magic loving world (especially because that is her idea of a magical world). I wanted him in mine.
  • I always liked H.P. Lovecraft, but also found his monsters probably would be more humorous than most people interpreted, so I put Titus in a world where weird and horrible monsters lived.
  • Additionally, I always liked the idea of the magic presented in an ancient (1980s) series called The Belgariad. Magic in it was still affected by the rules of science.

So, I combined all these, an anti-hero spoiled child of a rich family, a world with horrible monsters in present day, and magic that is closer to a science than an art and then I went from there.

It probably is starting to sound like I’m encouraging people to copy other people’s works and there is a simple answer to that, ABSOLUTELY NOT (in fact slap yourself for even considering that).

The way the worlds work may be similar, the characters may be similar, there’s nothing you can do about that, people will always find connections to other things they see. Where you set yourself apart is the way you show your ideas, the methods that convey it, your own thoughts on the world and what exists in it.

It’s not important to try to be original, but it is important to be unique. No matter what you think there is always going to be someone that said it or thought it before, what is important is bringing your own personal way of telling a story, your own soul, to the work. That’s what sets you apart.

About Aaron Piper

Aaron Piper grew up in the cornfields of Ohio, where he discovered books were better conversation partners than most children his age. One day after complaining to a family member too much about a book, they replied, “If you think you could do better why don’t you write one?” The challenge was accepted and many years, a degree in Photojournalism, a Minor in English, and 10 years in the journalism industry later, he published his first novel Titus Fogg. Currently, Aaron lives in Indiana with his wife and daughter (as well as a room full of books).

Blurb: Titus Fogg

Titus Fogg hates magic, and with good reason. Born into a murderous family of cruel and powerful casters in modern Massachusetts, magic has contributed to every bad thing that has happened to him since birth. After finally managing to banish the most likely evil (but definitely dirty-minded) entity called Shade from his body to the sidelines as his shadow, Titus has the chance to have a normal, magic free, high school life. But, when Tess Roe, his classmate, neighbor and model of justice at their school realizes she can see the creatures Titus calls the Wyrd too, Titus must return to the world of the strange to help her. Soon Titus’s dark past comes to light as he must prove that he isn’t responsible for the death of one of Tess’s friends, and the theft of a magical book that could lead to the destruction of Arkham.

Find Titus Fogg on Goodreads and Amazon.

Guest Post: Melissa Chan from Literary Book Gifts​

Books, Writing, and Books on T-Shirts

What reader doesn’t like displaying their love for books? There’s numerous sellers of book-related products out there, but how do you choose just one? I’ve asked Melissa Chan, the creator of Literary Book Gifts, to give us some insight into her online store that is dedicated to bookish tees and totes.Take it away, Melissa!

I love books. I love literature, reading, and everything that has to do with it. I always make an effort to go out of my way to seek out multiple books by the same author after I’ve found a title I like. Sometimes the author only has one great work, but other times I am rewarded with a goldmine of titles to read, enjoy, and appreciate.

I took my love of reading to put together some gifts for book lovers. It’s a collection of designs that I hope resonate with readers and writers alike. While many shirts and accessories extol reading, libraries, or the written word in general, I made a conscious decision to focus on particular titles and authors for the designs. I’ll talk about a few of the reasons why I chose to do this.

I always like to think of curation as an art in and of itself. The collection as a whole is as important as any single piece in it. Because the designs are so specific, down the exact title or author literally printed onto the shirt, it definitely runs the risk of deterring many people. For example, someone who has not heard of Edgar Allan Poe’s work is not going to want to want a Poe Shirt. And what if they are familiar with Poe but actually don’t like his work? Perhaps they are not a fan of the horror genre at all. No size, color, or styling is going to make a difference in this case. Everyone has different tastes in books, and even though there are various designs from a wide range of titles and authors in the collection, because the designs are so specific it’s not humanly possible to include everyone’s favorite book.

I selected individual titles for a few reasons. I believe it’s important to have specific tastes, and share those tastes with others. Few would deny that they like reading in general. Those that are perhaps too exhausted and busy during the day to open a book still appreciate stories. It even doesn’t mean much to say things like ‘I love fantasy or romance’. Nobody likes every single book within a given genre. Specific titles give people the opportunity to find common ground on the exact title. Wearing shirts is a great way start fun conversations between book lovers or those interested in literature. Telling someone to go and read a book is a lot different than recommending them your favorite title.

For those don’t like wearing specific books, there are still designs for you. They are still all in vintage styling so they remain cohesive with the collection. This ‘The End’ Shirt is a reminder of the last pages of each book. The Typewriter Tote Bag is for writer who wants to remember a time before writing took place on computers.

Thank you so much for reading a bit about the collection and the curation of the designs. I had a lot of fun putting them together and I hope that they can spark a least a bit of conversation between readers.

~ Melissa