Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Comment from Sandra Bell Kirchman

Comment from Sandra Bell Kirchman

You might wonder what a true story about a dog is doing in a fantasy fiction site. No, it’s not because this is a fantasy and didn’t happen. It did. Fact is, I LOVED this story when I read it on fellow blogger Barb Taylor’s Passionate About Pets site. It brought home the fact that pet shelters do so much for pets abandoned or mistreated or abused or lost. These shelters truly deserve our full support.

Anyhow, I wanted to reblog this for my weekly column with my hometown’s online newspaper. I asked for and received permission from Barb to reblog it, then asked for and received permission from my editor to use it for my March 25th column. I wanted to test it on my blog here, to make it easy for my editor to post it, since he was smart enough to use WordPress to carry his newspaper (

I had no idea it would publish it right away…I thought it would go to draft like a regular post does. Long story short, it did publish right away. I didn’t want to be so rude as to delete it, since that act would show up on Barb’s site and possibly lead people to believe that I didn’t like the story after all. So far from the truth. Anyhow, this is now a special treat for my Fantasyfic readers. Don’t blame me…blame the reading treats fairies.


NaNoWriMo Without Power

Since I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this years, first time in a few years, I thought this article would be relevant to my fellow WriMos.  Warm wishes and thoughts go out to all the Eastern US and Canada people who have been affected by Sandy.  (The following article is reblogged from the blog post written by Lindsey on Oct. 29, 2012.)        ~ Sandra Bell Kirchman

NaNoWriMo Without Power

Given a certain weather system named Sandy encroaching upon a goodly number of our East Coast Wrimos, there’s a very real possibility that November will start for some of you without access to a computer, or, or access to modern light sources!

We asked the community of Wrimos over on Facebook what they suggest for participants writing without power, and we’ve compiled their replies here. (All in all, it sounds like this approach is far more romantic and way more fun than the way we’ve been doing it all these years…..)

Who needs a computer…

when you could write with a typewriter, AlphaSmart (amazingly long battery life), pens and notebooks (“ink and trees,” as one Wrimo put it), pencils and a manual sharpener, an iPad charged off the car (!!!), or use a hand-held voice recorder. One participant even claimed he had hand-sharpened, turkey-feather quills at the ready. If you are writing on paper, one Wrimo suggested storing your reams in a watertight bag in case of flooding.

Who needs lightbulbs…

when you could write by the light of a headlamp (Look, Ma! No hands!), strategically propped flashlight, candles, or a camping lantern. If you run low on batteries, use a hand-crank flashlight!

Who needs a plot…

when you could drop exciting elements like a hurricane, power outages, and candle-lit novel-writing into your novel. Talk about ready-made inspiration! If you do have a plot at the ready, your fellow writers suggest printing off your outline in advance or mapping your novel on note cards pinned to a corkboard for reference.

The upshot: Wrimos are an incredibly resourceful bunch, and always ready for anything! We’re all sending good, safe thoughts your way and rooting for your extra-exciting noveling experience.

— Lindsey

Photo by Flickr user jasleen_kaur

Building A Former World – Guest Bloggist Haley Whitehall

Haley Whitehall, historical fiction author

One of the movers and shakers of the historical fiction world is a young gal named Haley Whitehall.  When I joined WordPress last December, she was there organizing a critique group, moving around the blogosphere, making friends, and writing up a storm.  I was privileged to help somewhat in the writing of her debut novel.

Living Half Free is quite a story.  Furthermore, I can highly recommend it for its historical fact, adventure, memorable characters, and an energetic, crisp delivery.  I found it to be a page turner, a book that I didn’t want to put down.

So what do fantasy and historical fiction have in common?  Easy!  In both cases, the author has to build a world.  The fantasy author builds a future world, or an alternative world, or a fairytale/fantasy world.  The historical fiction author builds a world from the past.  Here are some words of wisdom from Haley on how she does it, with an excerpt of her novel and her bio at the bottom.


Building A Former World

By Haley Whitehall

In fantasy the only bounds of a story are the author’s imagination and the rules governing how things work in the imaginary world. Magic and other supernatural phenomena are used as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. It is important for the author to clearly describe details of this imaginary world in order to bring it to life for the reader. It is impossible to visit Hogwarts, but J. K Rowling described it so well that I felt like I was there.


Historical fiction authors have a similar goal. Only they work to bring a former world to life. The author relies on research to learn what life was like during the historical era of their story. They use these facts to recreate the setting, their characters’ dress, manner of speech, and personal behaviors. All the details of the story need to sound authentic enough to the reader to be believable.


Why do I write historical fiction? I love the comfort of the facts. I do not need to strain my brain to create everything. I can research all the stops along the Oregon Trail or what the training was for a drummer boy, and be sure I have it correct. Instead of creating a world and everything in that world from scratch, I am recreating.


I also like the limitations of historical fiction. You wouldn’t have a Civil War soldier texting his girl back home. There are enough ways to bend the truth, to put the fictional in historical fiction without crossing the historical line in the sand.


A goal I have with writing historical fiction is to teach history, hopefully in an entertaining way. I like to expose untold or little known historical stories or events. There is so much history that is not in popular history textbooks. I want to give a voice to those people whose lives are not shared in history class. I want my readers to see, to feel, to hear what life was back in the 1800s.


My debut novel Living Half Free follows the life of Zachariah, a naïve mulatto slave. When he is sold to a Kentucky slave trader and separated from his ma and sister, he realizes the true meaning of not having rights. Seeking escape, he falls in love with a Cherokee woman, under whose direction he learns to pass as white. But, he must find his voice, and the courage to stand up for his beliefs or else lose everyone he loves forever.

Here is a short excerpt:


Zachariah’s stomach turned with the smell of sweat, tar, and rotting fish. He could taste the burning acid in his throat. He wrinkled his nose and willed his food back down.


The Mississippi River lapped softly at the docks while white men talked business and smoked. They accentuated their points with a wave of their cigars. Slaves pulled barges or unloaded bales of cotton or unloaded cargo wagons. They lifted boxes of tobacco from wagons and hauled them up ramps onto the two steamboats. A few lucky slaves relaxed over a game of cards or caught a few minutes of sleep listening to the waves. Zachariah struggled to catch a glimpse of the vast muddy water, to see the smartly painted ships.


He followed the barge slaves with his eyes, overcome by a deep yearning to join them. It looked like hard work, the sweat pouring off their brows, their drenched shirts, but he desperately wanted to take a ride on one of those big boats. Most slaves spent all their lives on land. He wanted to see more of the country, wanted to know what it felt like to be on big water, to travel with ease.



HALEY WHITEHALL has been studying the Civil War era since the 5th grade. Her writing style is Mark Twain with a little more faith. She likes to write out of the box stories that feature an underdog. LIVING HALF FREE is her debut novel. Released February 29, the ebook can be found at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Find out more about Haley through her website or connect with her on Twitter @HaleyWhitehall or Facebook.


The Celestial Wonders of Creation

The Cone Nebula – Credit: ACS Science & Engineering Team, NASA

Due to the fact that my friend, Paula Tohline Calhoun, is having surgery today, she requested help with blogging at her blogsite.  I responded as fast as I could and was lucky enough to be picked for today’s offering.  You can see my full article on some of my favorite celestial wonders populating the heavens at Paula’s site, Reflections from a Cloudy Mirror.

Quick recovery, Paula!


Oatmeal and cornflakes Christmas cookies

"So I make him cookies when my husband is gone..." Image via Wikipedia

Once again, Fantasyfic writer Eric Esteb has written a chilling flash fiction story that still gives me the shivers.  He has kindly offered to let me post it here for him as a guest writer.  Thanks, Eric.

* * *

by Eric Esteb

Despair is a man who lives on my street.

I believe in being a good neighbor, and my husband is gone on business a lot, and toddlers aren’t the great company you might expect. He seems lonely, when I see him (which isn’t often to be honest) I feel his nature wash over me. It drives the others on the street away, even the local teens, bored and wasted on hormones leave him alone, but it just makes me want to talk to him.

Despair is middle-aged and lives alone. I’ve never seen a woman coming or going, early in the morning when the sprinklers run, and when it’s day time he only ever wears the same ratty looking robe and unkempt, spotty beard. At night he wears an old black suit but the beard stays.

He’s the kind of person you might worry about… you know when you read in the paper about a neighbor noticing a funny smell coming from someone’s garage. Sometimes I worry I’m going to be that person, telling the paper, “I’m as shocked as anybody! I thought he was just quiet, if I had known he was in such a bad way I would have helped!”

So I make him cookies when my husband is gone and leave them on his door step with his paper (which I pull out of his unwatered rose-bush) on the weekends.

Only recently has he started taking them. He leaves the platter on my doorstep when he leaves his house late at night. I seem to be getting through to him, and im happy but there is something else. Something in the pit of my stomach twists, when I drop my son off at day care, or make love to husband or have tea with my girlfriends it’s like a part of me isn’t there any longer.

I don’t know if I’m going to keep making the cookies to leave the man named Despair just a few doors down from mine.

People say cookies are made with love. I know this is going to sound crazy but it’s almost like he’s taking that little bit of myself that gets baked into those little cookies and taking it for himself. What would the reporter from the paper say when someone complains of a bad smell and they get around to asking me why I quit. “It was your cookies keeping him going Debra.”

“It’s what he lived for.”

So I guess I can spare a little more of myself. I want to be a good neighbor.

428 words
Copyright (c) 2011 by Eric Esteb
All rights reserved.