Tag Archives: Ross M. Kitson

Into the Woods, a fantasy anthology

MyrddinAnthologyECoverWe at Myrddin Publishing Group are starting the new year with the launch of our anthology, Into the Woods. We’re even having an all-weekend-long Facebook party, with Myrddin Authors dropping in and out over the course of the next few days. There will be gifts, and prizes and just fun and games with the Myrddin crew. The online Facebook Party starts here, so stop on by and and hang out with us!

This collection of amazing tales came about almost by accident.

One day last summer I was looking through stock images I’d found for a cover I was designing for another author. I came across a wonderful image of a lonely house set in the woods. I’m not sure why, but suddenly, like the proverbial dog after a squirrel, I was off looking at images of houses in the woods–like that was going to get any work done.

Of course, my brain is hardwired to write stories, so I found myself imagining all sorts of scenarios and plots to go with these amazing images. Then, it occurred to me that if I was inspired to write by these images, my fellow authors here at Myrddin Publishing would also be.

I threw out a challenge to the group: Write a short story about a house in the woods. The only caveat was the tale had to fall under the genre of fantasy, and the theme was “a house in the woods.”

And wow! What a response– I received nine wildly different tales, ranging from humor to ghostly, to romantic, to horror. These ten tales are some of the best I have read.

In the first tale, “A Peculiar Symbiosis,” Alison DeLuca gives us a moving story of a man who discovers he loves his wife–but only after she is dead.

“The Forest House” is my own take on the Tam Lin tale. Tam Lin is a character in a legendary ballad originating from the Scottish Borders as collected by Francis Child, but there are many tales from all over northern Europe featuring variations on his name, and the story will have slight variations. It is also associated with a reel of the same name, also known as Glasgow Reel. I had always wondered if Tam Lin and the Faerie Queen had a child, and if they had, what would have happened to it when Janet rescued Tam?

In “A House in the Woods,” Stephen M. Swartz takes us back to the 1960s with this dark fantasy. Two boys playing in the woods come across an abandoned house, and discover a true ghost story.

Irene Roth Luvaul takes us deep into the forest in “The Guardian.” A woman discovers her family’s history, and the terrible secret a cabinet once held.

Ross M. Kitson offers up a A Matter of Faith.” In this dark prequel to Kitson’s epic Prism series, an uptight paladin must find a way to work with a free-thinking druid, if he is to be successful in finding and killing a demon.

In “If I Have to Spell it Out” Austin musician and author Marilyn Rucker lightens things up with her hilarious take on two cousins quarreling over the tenancy of their family home, via letters.

“A Haunted Castle” by Lisa Zhang Wharton shows us that a house can can also be a haunted castle in the Bavarian Forest, in her hilarious, hallucinogenic tale of ghosts, rottweilers, and a costume party.

Myrddin Publishing Group’s own master of horror, Shaun Allan, swings us back to the dark side with a horrifying twist on the Hansel and Gretel tale, with “Rose.” Told with his usual flair for words and style, this is a chilling story of demonic magic. Definitely not your mama’s Hansel and Gretel!

In “Hidden,” Carlie M.A. Cullen takes us deep into the woods, where two young women take shelter from a storm in an abandoned house, with terrible consequences.

For the final tale in this treasury, fantasy author Lee French presents us with a post-Civil War tale of star-crossed love, in her magical tale, “Forever.” Tara and Marcus share a forbidden love–and only one place is safe for them.

I am continually amazed and awed by the talent of the wonderful authors I am privileged to work with at Myrddin Publishing Group. You can purchase this wonderful collection of short stories at Amazon by clicking on the buy button below:

Into the Woods: a fantasy anthology

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Cover Reveal Darkness Rising 5–Broken, by Ross M. Kitson

Darkness Rising 5 - BrokenOne the best aspects of my life is to be involved in the process as some of the finest fantasy authors out there make their work ready for publication. A longtime friend of mine is Ross M. Kitson, author of the Prism Series. Several years ago I had the privilege of working with him on Darkness Rising 3–Secrets, and I recently had the absolute joy of working with him on the soon-to-be-released Darkness Rising 5–Broken, the new cover of which has just been unveiled.

This new cover completely speaks to what is inside this book. And let me just say I LOVE that series of books–Kitson’s world is dark and dirty, and yet it teems with vibrant, colorful life. His characters leap off the page, and for those like me who love a really deep fantasy read, he creates an epic-fantasy that is truly original.

The Blurb:

‘Beneath the veneer, beneath the beauty, there is always the coldness of stone.’

Tragedy has torn apart Emelia and her companions, a terrible betrayal instigated by the Darkmaster, Vildor. A devastated Jem struggles to control the fearful power of the crystals, becoming distant from his closest friends. Hunor and Orla are tested by a secret from the past, a revelation that will change everything between them. In the Dead City, Emelia begins a search for her past, a journey that will plunge her deeper into the darkness of Vildor and his twisted schemes.

Desperate to seek aid in their battle against Vildor, the companions travel north to Belgo, capital of North Artoria. But everything is not what it seems in the palace, and danger lurks in every shadow, whether cast by friend or foe.
Separated and alone, can Emelia, Jem and Hunor hope to prevail? Or will the evils of the present and the past overcome them at last?

Darkness Rising 5 – Broken is the fifth in the epic fantasy series that reviewers are calling  ‘epic and spellbinding.’ It is a must read for fantasy fans the world over.

That’s pretty intriguing. But let me just say that Ross Kitson doesn’t rely on the great bastions of fantasy, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn for his inspiration, although he is a great fan of theirs. Kitson’s world is nothing like anything I’ve ever read, yet it is familiar enough that the reader becomes immersed. His characters are  uniquely individual, with great strengths and each with weaknesses that can and do create tension within the group.

If you are looking for a new, truly epic fantasy series, book one of the Prism Series is currently on sale for .99 for the ebook

Darkness Rising (Book One: Chained)

 

Ross M. KitsonAuthor Bio

Ross M Kitson is a published author in the fantasy genre, with an ongoing series (The Prism Series), a number of short stories on Quantum Muse web-zine and several stories in Steampunk and fantasy anthologies.

His debut series for Myrddin is due for release in October 2012, and is a sci-fi series set in modern-day York. It is written for ages 12+, although its combination of killer androids, steam-powered airships, kick-ass heroines and action packed chases will appeal to all ages.

Ross works as a doctor in the UK specializing in critical care and anaesthesia. He is happily married with three awesome children, who nagged him incessantly to write something that they could read. His love of speculative fiction and comics began at a young age and shows no signs of fading.

Follow Ross on Twitter:          @rossmkitson

Find Ross on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/TheNuKnights

http://www.facebook.com/ross.kitson.9

Websites:

For the infinity Bridge:         http://thenuknights.weebly.com/

Blogs:

http://mouseroar.blogspot.co.uk

http://rossmkitson.blogspot.co.uk

http://skulldustcircle.blogspot.co.uk

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Fantasy–It’s a Mystery

MSClipArt MP900390083.JPG RF PDMy favorite books to read are, of course, fantasy. But I love mysteries too, and guess what? The best fantasy books involve a deep mystery.

In the best fantasy tales, at the outset quests are undertaken to achieve a goal against terrible odds, and the basis of that goal could be an object with a mysterious history, or it could be to kill a despot with immense power, the source of which is–a mystery.

And then, once the heroes are made aware of the whereabouts of the object (or person) they seek, the mystery deepens. Obstructions appear in their path, things that both block and enlighten them as they overcome them. With each small victory they learn something new, some random thing that might ultimately be the final clue to removing the source of power from the evil dude’s grasp, thus ending his reign of terror.

480px-Schmalz_galahadDuring the process of this, the heroes grow as people. Where they were comfortable in their secure, middle-class existence, or naive but worldly street-urchins, the experience of solving the mystery and enduring the hardships to arrive at the final scene changes them, some for the better, and some–maybe not.

This also happens in a great murder mystery, or a gripping political thriller.  In writing classes and groups this is called the story arc, but in my opinion, it’s just the basis of good story.  For authors just starting out, StoryStarter.com has a great page.

Along the way, the questers may encounter things that don’t appear in the real world we currently live in, and for me that’s part of the fun.

I grew up in a very rural area, surrounded by deep woods. We left Seattle and moved there when I was nine. Beyond the perimeter of our property lay terrifying things–bears, wildcats–things a nine-year old city-girl has no idea of how to deal with.

Dragon_rearing_up_to_reach_medieval_knight_on_ledgeDaily, my sister and I walked up a 1/4 mile long dirt driveway through the forest to the school bus. A large hill was in the center, and for the first year I lived there, I hated the place more than anything. I hated the school, I hated the bus, I hated my parents for destroying my life.

Sometimes our father would have to drive us to school, if bears were in the horse pasture that bordered our property. We would drive past, and he would point out the wonders and explain that with a mother bear and her cub in the horse pasture, we had to be very careful that morning. “They’re rare, and we’re fortunate to be able to see them once in a while. It’s just the mother will see you as a danger to her cub, so no bus for you today.”

All I knew was the woods were full of danger, and my parents apparently didn’t care, because they made me walk through them daily. I did walk through them and gradually, as summer vacation loomed, I began to see the possibilities of living in a lake-house, where there was no restriction on how many days you swam.

That first summer I discovered waterskiing, and my whole point of view about living all year round in a vacation-house was changed. Over the first few months I learned to love the deep woods around us, and to know and recognize the birds and animals who grudgingly endured our noisy, selfish presence.

This personal journey from ignorance to understanding the characters go through while solving the underlying mystery is one of the most important elements of a story. It is hard to know how a character will react to a given situation, and that is the best part of writing them.

DR 3 Prism Ross M KitsonRoss Kitson’s epic Darkness Rising series is one of my favorites, because the circumstances force the characters to  evolve in unexpected ways. Jeffrey Getzin’s fabulous Prince of Bryonae and his novellas featuring D’Arbignal are also good examples of how circumstances shape characters.

I highly recommend both these indie authors, if you are looking for high quality indie fantasy.

A Lesson for the Cyclops Jeffrey Getzin

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Being a part of the Village

DR 3 Prism Ross M KitsonAs some of you know, besides being an author, I am also a structural editor. One of the books I recently worked on is “Darkness Rising Book 3- Secrets” by UK author Ross M. Kitson.

This is a part of my life that came about accidentally, in the course of beta-reading kajillion manuscripts for an organization called Critters.Org.

I read and review books, often two or more a week, and having been through the editing experience several times myself, it just happened naturally. I found myself helping other authors make their manuscripts submission ready. One day I looked at my calendar and realized my day was completely divided in half—I worked on the manuscripts of other authors, helping them see their work with clarity in the evenings, and I wrote my own work in the mornings.

I am not a ‘grammar queen,’ although I do use the Chicago Manual of Style, and also some AP style. Strunk and White figure largely in my work. Grammar and such is the line-editor’s job, and I work closely with three very fine line-editors. I am charged with helping an author get their manuscript ready to go to the line-editor.

What I actually do is this: I examine the story over all, and point out the rough spots along with the strengths. At this point, I am looking at the narrative, asking questions such as:

  1. How does the story flow?
  2. Do I care about the characters?
  3.  Does the story make sense?
  4. What are the story elements
  5. What is the theme?
  6. What impedes the flow?
  7. Does the tense and voice remain consistent? Where does it change?

I look at individual elements of the story, such as plot, characterization, dialogue, and setting. I look at the interaction between them.

These are the questions I ask myself and in turn will comment on, and ask the author:

  1. Would this sequence of events really happen?
  2. Would this character really react the way the author has portrayed?
  3. How else might the character behave?
  4. Why is this character making this decision?
  5. Does this feel authentic? Is it plausible?
  6. Would this character talk like this?
  7. Is each character a good fit for his/her role in this situation?
  8. Is this the most logical sequence of events?
  9. What is missing that might make it believable or logical?

MSClipArt MP900390083.JPG RF PDIs there too much dialogue and no action?  Not enough dialogue and too much walking in circles?  Is dialogue being used to tell the story? Do they even need to be talking?

Did the back-story accidentally take over? Back-story happens, but it is important not to be married to it. Back-story can be shown in small strokes, without allowing it to take over and bog the story down. I learned this the hard way with my own first book, which is currently undergoing a full rewrite to remove that very problem. I think back-story begins to take over when an author is developing the story, and as the story grows in the mind of the author so does all the fluff. I now write my back-story as a completely separate document, and then use it to build my story, the same way I do my character bios.

How is this story being told? There are places where a small amount of telling is necessary and doesn’t ruin the experience, but is there too much telling rather than showing? I might make suggestions for alternate, indirect ways of getting the point across.

These are just the beginning—there is also the experience of the environment. Is too much emphasis placed on auditory and visual descriptions? Maybe not enough? What is the emotional experience for the reader? Does the author show the hurt, the anger, the joy in a way the reader immediately identifies with? Do they overwhelm you with heavy descriptions of emotional angst? Maybe not enough description?

In my own work I have committed every one of these ‘sins’.

It is essential that you have more than one set of eyes on your work, and that those eyes are attuned to you as an author. The first editor gets your work as ready as it can be for the second editor, who gets it ready for the beta-readers, who find all the typos, incidents and accidents.

I see the raw manuscript as it fell out of the author’s head, and I help him take that diamond-in-the-rough to the next level.

It takes a village to help an author get a book ready for consumption. Indies don’t have the resources the big publishers have. Helping an indie author realize his dream is an awesome perk of being in this business. Yes I do like to be paid, but no amount of money can compensate for hours and hours spent poring over a manuscript that is a worthless mess and dealing with an author who simply wants his ego stroked. This is why we indie editors don’t accept every manuscript that comes across our desk.

BIF Blog Print ScreenI love being a part of the process because I love to read. Reading is my passion and my life. When I read a published novel to review for my Best in Fantasy blog, I am looking at that novel as a starry-eyed consumer, not as an editor or an author. If I don’t get that feeling of amazement, I feel cheated. Like a child sampling sweets at the Easter buffet, I move on to the next book, hoping to discover the next “Memory Sorrow and Thorn” or “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

When I edit, my goal is to help that author find the magic that lies within himself and to help him have faith in his craft and in his ability to tell a damned good story.

I wouldn’t trade this job for anything!

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Heart Search Blog Tour

I am a part of something I have never done before!  I am a stop on a blog tour!  A dear friend of mine, Carlie M.A. Cullen is publishing her first book, Heart Search.  I have a ‘badge’ for my blog and everything!

Carlie, along with Alison DeLuca, is my editor.  She gently guides me through the terrible swamps and dead-end roads of writing, and was the lead editor on Forbidden Road, the soon-to-be published sequel to Tower of Bones.

Carlie’s personal style of writing is very different from mine. Her tale is thick with description and her characters are drawn from today’s urban society and set in the real world (if vampires existed).  My tales are made with people who could exist, set in a world that may exist if Roger Zelazney was right (he said that if you can imagine a world, it probably exists).

Yet I believe it is the radical difference in our personal writing style which lends dimension to my work when she has her red pen in hand.

The way we work together is this: I send her the full ms in a form that is as perfect as I can make it.  This is called making a manuscript ‘submission ready’.  When I send it to her, I have been over and over it, looking for errors and inadvertent inconsistencies, and trying to make sure there are no contradictions in the spelling of made-up names, and capitalizations.  Also, I have already done my best to make sure I have used ‘closed quotes’  for each instance of dialogue, and checked and double-checked my punctuation.  When I send this in, it is as neat and ready to go as I can make it.  I have corrected everything I can find, and can’t see where it needs improvement.

She cuts my completed ms into chapters, making sure I have not mis-numbered them (which has happened!) and sharpens her red pencil and her teeth! As she finishes each chapter she sends it back to me with her suggestions and comments in the right hand side. I return it to her with the corrections and we repeat the process.

Despite my best efforts in making it submission-ready, there will be instances of all sorts of manuscript-mayhem. It is my line-editor’s job to find these nuggets of no-no and guide me in eliminating them.  Not only will she find the contradictions and punctuation errors, she will find the instances where a word has been used either in the wrong context or is simply awkward when used in that way.  She will help me rephrase ungainly ideas in a better way, or even suggest I eliminate them as they may be redundant or not necessary.

She finds and points out the overuse of certain words, such as ‘that’ or ‘had’.  These are words we habitually use in conversation and don’t realize how frequently we say them.  When they are written and appear 6 or 7 times in one paragraph they leap out at the reader and are annoying. They are insidious to the author, because they fade into the background when the author is reading his own work.  Thus it takes the eye of the editor to guide the writer through eliminating these ‘speed-bump words’ as I like to think of them.

She does this for me in as kind and gentle a way as is possible, while still getting the job done.  She builds my self-confidence while tearing apart my cherished manuscript and reassembling it in a way which actually reads the way I always thought it did.

To go through the process of having your manuscript edited is a humbling thing.  I don’t know how a person can produce a decent book with no outside input to shine a little light in the cluttered closets full of prose that will pop up in every manuscript. A completed, submission-ready manuscript is Chaos Theory realized. It is only through the objective eye of the editor that our book is made readable.

Now, I am sure you know Carlie, too, has an editor. Her editor is the wonderful Maria V. A. Johnson, and Maria does for Carlie what Carlie does for me.  Maria is an awesome editor and Carlie is fortunate to have her to guide her through the process.

It all comes full circle.

I also work as an editor. I’ve been privileged to work with such wonderful and diverse authors as Ross M. Kitson and Shaun Allan. My role as an editor is to do for them what Carlie does for me; in essence I smooth out the rough spots and let their wonderful work shine with their voices telling their tales in their own way.

I love editing as much as I love writing.  To be an intimate part of another author’s dream is an experience I treasure. To have had the experience of being edited was exhilarating.  To see my editor’s own book finally released is nothing short of awesome – I can’t wait to read it!

Heart Search, by Carlie M.A. Cullen

One bite starts it all . . .

When Joshua Grant vanishes days before his
wedding his fiancée Remy is left with only bruises, scratch marks and a hastily
written note. Heartbroken, she sets off alone to find him and begins a long
journey where strange things begin to happen.

As Joshua descends into his
new immortal life he indulges his thirst for blood and explores his superhuman
strength and amazing new talents while becoming embroiled in coven politics
which threaten to destroy him. But Remy discovers a strength of her own on her
quest to bring Joshua home.

Fate toys with mortals and immortals alike,
as two hearts torn apart by darkness face ordeals which test them to their
limits

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