“One Last Chance To Save Happily Ever After!”


A great reblogged interview with Roy Mauritsen

Originally posted on AUTHOR JENNIFER LOISKE:

The best part of interviewing authors is that I get to meet the most interesting people and find books that I probably would have never found on my own. Interviewing Roy Mauritsen was a special treat for me as not only are his book covers quite eye catching but the little I’ve already read of his stories has hooked me for good. Roy, you have a new fan here! So who is this guy? Yeah, I can see you’re all dying to know, so I’m not gonna hold the information any longer!

RoyM_author_RGBSpanning a 20+ year professional career as a graphic designer, Roy Mauritsen is also an award-winning digital fantasy artist and author of the Shards of the Glass Slipper series. Presently, Roy Mauritsen handles photography and television commercial production as a day job and also keeps himself busy moonlighting as an art director and book cover designer with over…

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Author Interview Number Ninety-One – Toby Neighbours – Fantasy


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Welcome to Toby Neighbors.

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I grew up in Northwest Arkansas, and lived for several years near Dallas Texas.  When my writing grew to the point that I could write full time my family of five sold almost all we owned, packed the rest in a 5x7x8 U-Hall pod, and made the 2,000 mile trip to North Idaho.  We love living in the Pacific Northwest and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Please tell us a little about your writing.

I write mostly epic fantasy.  The Five Kingdoms was my breakout series.  It has seven full length novels in the series, which was a best seller on Amazon’s Fantasy lists.  The Lorik trilogy was a spin off series, which was featured as an Amazon Daily Deal.  I’ll be writing a new series this fall with all the characters from the Five Kingdoms and Lorik books.  I’m currenly writing the final installment of my Avondale series, which is epic fantasy, but I’ve also dipped my toe into the zombie genre with Zompocalypse and I occasionally write Sci-Fi.

Where do you find inspiration?

As you might guess, I’m inspired by the beauty of the mountains all around me.  I’m also inspired by the concept of someone discovering their purpose in life and chasing their dreams.  I’m a storyteller first, writing is just my preferred medium.  So I love movies and television shows.  I grew up reading the Tarzan novels by Burrows, and the Conan books.  And I love the rugged individualism of good westerns along with the mysticism of native american folklore.

Do you have a favorite character?

I love all my characters and I relate to different parts of each one.  Of my main characters, I relate to Zollin’s feelings of insecurity, and Lorik’s love of strength.  I love Tiberius’ sense of adventure and over all I love their loyalty.  Most of my female characters are modeled in some way after my wife.  She’s my muse and really is incredibly talented.

Do you have a character you dislike?

No more than normal.  I don’t like the bad guys, but I can appreciate what drives them to their evil ends.  I’ve had fans tell me they hated characters before, which I love because it means they really feel the characters are real.

Are your characters based on real people?

No, not on actual people, but I do pick up on personality types and issues that certain people deal with which I try to incorporate into my characters.  I’ve had very narcisistic people in my life who have hurt me.  In looking for ways to heal and forgive, I’ve learned a lot about what motivates people to do things, so those issues, personalties, and motivations become part of my characters.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this important in a book?

Any messages in my writing are implied and never there on purpose.  I believe that people can and should discover who they are and pursue their purpose in life.  I was made to be a storyteller and I’ve been blessed to find an audience for my writing, but long before I sold a book I was telling stories and I always will.  That concept is found in my books.  Many of my characters, like many people in the world today, are looking for meaning in their lives.  Sometimes they find it, sometimes they don’t.  I think books that are written to convey a message have their place, but I don’t write that type of novel.  I just want people to have a good time and be inspired to chase their dreams when they read my books.

Sort these into order of importance:

1.) Great Characters – I write character driven books.  I lose interest quick in a story where I don’t care about the characters.  I want to know each person I’m writing about, I want to feel what they are feeling, and I want my readers to fall in love with them.  My books always begin with the characters that drive the story forward.

2.) Solid Plot – I think the plot is almost equally as important as the characters.  I don’t want to write a book about great characters where nothing happens.  I love drama, I love the way tension propels the story.  I love strategy and understanding why a character does something or how they handle their often times difficult circumstances.  And I think good books always have a beginning, middle, and end, even if the book is part of a series.

3.) Technically Perfect – I write mostly for e-readers and I’m a proponent of indy publishing, but I believe that writers today have a responsibilty to produce the best books they can.  I don’t want a glitch on their device, or a typo, or grammatical error to jerk them out of the world they are playing in.  I wouldn’t say my books are perfect, but I’m always striving for perfection.

4.) World Building – I think world building is important.  In my books the world is almost like another character, but I don’t spend a lot of time creating complex rules for the worlds my books are set in.  I want those worlds to be unique, but I also need them to be relatable to every reader, so I strive to make my worlds as close to the real world as I can make it.

In what formats are books available

All my books are available on Kindle and most are available in print as well.  I have a couple of books in audio and plan to produce more in the future.  I publish exclusively with Amazon simply because that’s where my audience is.  Amazon continues to make exclusivity with them financially smart, so until that changes I’ll stick with Amazon.

Do you self edit?

Once I have written a complete draft, I read back through it and make my edits.  Then I send the manuscript to a professional editor.  And once that process is complete it goes to my Beta Readers.  After all that, I’ll publish.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors?  Why?

Yes and no.  I think for most avid readers, indy authors are loved.  We produce quality books at a fast pace and at a fraction of the cost of traditionally published books.  I personally don’t need a publisher to validate my work, my readers do that and allow me to retain all the rights to my books.  Obviously the industry is changing and there are people who always resist change.  And there are poor writers who produce poorly written, formatted, and packaged books.  Unfortunately, people who are against indy publishing point to these types of books as a reason that allowing anyone to write a book and publish it is a bad idea.  But I don’t feel that I need to champion change, it will happen without my help.  I focus on writing the best books I can and connecting to my readers.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?

A book is a magical union between a story and a reader’s imagination.  I think what books bring to the art of story telling is the reader’s experiences and preferences.  Visual story telling has many excellent qualities, but the audience is merely a spectator.  In books, the reader interprets the story and the characters become much more real to them.  Plus, a book can be enjoyed in a very low tech atmosphere.  You can read for a few minutes here and there, always advancing the story.  Movies and video games require a much greater time/technology commitment.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  1. The key to success is to keep writing. Readers always want more and the more work you have to show the greater your chances are that you’ll find an audience.  Plus, there’s no better way to improve as a writer than to practice your craft.
  2. Get help editing. It doesn’t matter what your background is, a writer needs an editor.  You just can’t view your own work without bias.  For instance you know what a character is trying to say, so even if the dialogue makes no sense to a reader, it will make sense to you.  You have to have that independent, unbiased editor to help you.  Also, don’t hire a friend to edit for you.  Get a professional and treat your book to the best editing you can get.  It will always be worth it.
  3. Don’t give up. There is no secret formula to success.  Learn as much as you can about what works in marketing, but don’t fall for every fad or promise you come across.  Keep putting yourself out there.  It takes even the best writers time to build an audience.  And treat your readers like royalty.  They are the ones making your dreams come true.  They deserve a moment of your time.

The Importance of Research – Lorna Collins – Guest Post


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Welcome back to Lorna Collins who discusses the importance of research, and how she goes about it.

*Name: Lorna Collins

Does a writer always have to do research?

Yes. Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or historical or science fiction, it is absolutely necessary to do your homework.

How do you define research?

Research may involve fact checking, authentication, or delving into a time period. If you write about real locations, you must know everything about them. Even if you create a fictitious location, as we did with Aspen Grove, Colorado for our romance anthologies, we had to know what the area around the mountains of Colorado looked like. Our little town was also a silver mining town, so we had to research what those were like.

Yes, but if you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi and creating your own world, no research should be necessary, right?

No. Even if you create your own world, all physical attributes must be explained rationally and consistently. Know what others in the field have written, and ‘piggy-back’ onto their ideas. My husband, Larry, writes sci-fi, and it is all based on current scientific research and innovation.

What are you working on at present/Just finished?

We are currently writing the sequel to The Memory Keeper to be called Becoming the Jewel. We left the first book at the end of the 1800s when Mission San Juan Capistrano was in ruins. In this next book, we’ll tell the story of how it became the “Jewel of the Missions.”

We are also writing the third in our mystery series, Murder with Honor.

I am working on another ghost story called, Sophia’s Garden. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

*Tell us about your process for research.

In the Digital Age, there is no excuse for failing to do adequate research. Some of the resources I use include:

  • Online Research. Wikipedia is a good place to start, but I don’t finish there. I take each element of the story and search on it until I have a complete grasp of the subject matter. Google maps and Google itself are great places to start.
  • Go to the Source. When we were in Colorado in 2012, I visited both Idaho Springs and Georgetown, the two cities we used as the inspiration for Aspen Grove. We went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought locally written books about the history of the towns. We learned a great deal of new material we subsequently used in our books. In addition, we visited the gold mine in Idaho Springs. We asked how the silver mining process would have differed from the one for gold. We were told they were essentially the same. By the time we left, we had a much better feeling for our town and its roots.

    We also write our contemporary cozy mysteries in Hawaii. Before we start a new one, we take a trip. (I know it’s rough, but we have to do it. On one trip, we discovered a restaurant we described in our book had moved. We were able to change the location before the book went to press.

  • Ask an Expert. I learned from a dear friend and fellow mystery writer that everyone will talk to you if you say, “I’m a writer, and I’m trying to get the facts right.” If you have a question about a police procedure, ask your local police, If you have a medical question, ask a doctor.

    When we wrote our historical, we enlisted the local Indian storyteller, the official town historian, the historical society, and a number of long-time residents. They provided extremely valuable details we couldn’t have found otherwise.

  • Librarians are still great resources for research. They are there to help you, and they generally enjoy the research. Ask for help.
  • Your Friends. Let them know what you are writing about and what you are trying to find out. I have been amazed at how simple mention to friends has resulted in tremendous resources I never would have found on my own.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? 

I’ve always loved learning, so the research process is an opportunity to learn new things. We spent two-and-a-half years researching The Memory Keeper. Because the history of San Juan Capistrano is so well-known and venerated locally, we had to be certain we only included verified incidents. In a number of cases, we obtained several sources before including a fact. The book is now sold in the store at Mission San Juan Capistrano and at a gallery in the Los Rios historical district. The local families and experts have all embraced the book.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

For years, I never told anyone I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year award as a senior in high school. I was an academic, after all. I won several college scholarships. The award seemed trivial at the time. However, I more recent years, I have become proud of the achievement. I still have the pin mounted in a shadowbox, along with other memorabilia. Whenever I see it, it makes me smile.

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

My husband, Larry K. Collins, and I write both together and alone. After fifty years of marriage, we figured out how to do it.

We were both members of the team that helped to build theUniversal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. Our memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and chosen one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books.

We have also co-written two cozy mysteries set in Hawaii: Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, the latter a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for mystery. We are currently working on more in the series. The Memory Keeper, is our historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.

I co-authored six sweet romance anthologies set in the fictional town of Aspen Grove, CO: Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, and Directions of Love, 2011 EPIC eBook Award winner.

My fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, launched Oak Tree Press’s Mystic Oaks imprint. It combines elements of fantasy, romance, and mystery. It’s a beach read with a dog, and a ghost.

In addition, I am a professional editor.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can find out more about me at our website: http://www.lornalarry.com

Follow my blog at: http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com/

Social Media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorna.l.collins

Twitter: @LornaCollins

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lkcollins75/

LinkedIn: Lorna Collins http://tinyurl.com/nunt9no

Author and Audio Book Producer – Lorna Collins


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Today I welcome author and audiobook produce Lorna Collins.

My husband, Larry K. Collins, and I write both together and alone. After fifty years of marriage, we figured out how to do it.

We were both members of the team that helped to build the Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. Our memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and chosen one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books.

We have also co-written two cozy mysteries set in Hawaii: Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, the latter a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for mystery. We are currently working on more in the series. The Memory Keeper, is our historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.

I co-authored six sweet romance anthologies set in the fictional town of Aspen Grove, CO: Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, and Directions of Love, 2011 EPIC eBook Award winner.

My fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, launched Oak Tree Press’s Mystic Oaks imprint. It combines elements of fantasy, romance, and mystery. It’s a beach read with a dog, and a ghost.

In addition, I am a professional editor.

How did you become involved with audiobooks?

A friend and fellow author had one of his books made into an audiobook. I was very impressed with the result. When I looked into the details, I decided to see about our books recorded.

Tell us about your the titles you’ve had narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? 

Our first audiobook was Ghost Writer. This is my solo “beach read.” It was published by mid-level independent publisher. The contract with her did not include the audio rights. However, I checked with her to be sure I could convert it and also for permission to use the cover art. She was enthusiastic and said she’d hoped one of her authors would try audio.

I must confess my favorite to date, however, is The Memory Keeper. This is our historical novel set in the 1800s in San Juan Capistrano, California. The story is told in the voice of a Juaneño Indian. We spent nearly three years researching and writing this book, so we were very particular about how it would be presented. The voice actor we chose, Aaron Miller, was nearly as much of a perfectionist as we were. He struggled through the Indian words as well as the Spanish ones. (He was born in Wisconsin and now lives in Tennessee where Spanish is not a common language.) The final book perfectly captures the voice of our protagonist along with all of the other characters in the story.

We liked him so much, he is now creating the audiobook for Larry’s short story collection, Lakeview Park.

The gal who did Ghost Writer, Jean Ruda Habrukowich, is now doing one of the sweet romance anthologies I was part of, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.

How did you choose your narrators?

For an author, the process is quite simple. I uploaded an audition text. I chose a section of each book with several characters so I could see how the actor would interpret their voices. For Ghost Writer, the narrator had to be female since the story is written in the POV of a young woman. However, the other major character is a very proper British ghost, who is male. I wanted to be sure the actor found the right tone of voice for both. Jean nailed it.

For The Memory Keeper, we needed a male voice. Aaron had me as soon as he pronounced San Juan Capistrano with just the right touch of Spanish accent. He also indicated he would work with us on getting all the voices and pronunciation correct. A few of the words (like alcalde, noshuun, and Elena) gave him problems, but in the end, the book sounds better than we could have hoped for.

Are you planning on having more books made into audio?

Yes. We can only do the ones for which we have the audio rights, so we are limited. For some of our fourteen titles, the publisher’s contract gives them the audio rights. However, Larry has written a sci-fi series, The McGregor Chronicles. So far he has two books published in the series with the third due out before the end of the year. As soon as Aaron finishes Lakeview Park, we’ll get him started on the sci-fi books.

We also would like to have our memoir, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, done in audio. We have had a couple of auditions for it, but the people had no knowledge of Japanese, and one had a New York accent. We have helped several friends embark on the audio process, and one of them is currently using a husband and wife team for their book. We have spoken to them about their doing ours when the other one is finished. Since our memoir is written in two voices, this will be the perfect solution.

*Tell us about the ACX process.

This turned out to be much simpler than I had imagined. Our last few books have been published through KDP and CreateSpace, so I was familiar with those processes. Amazon now owns ACX, so they have made it much simpler for everyone involved.

  1. Make sure you have the audio rights for your book.
  2. Choose a chapter or section for the audio audition. This should be a short section with multiple characters. (We did not want to have our books read, we wanted them to be acted out.)
  3. Upload the book details. (ACX guides you through the process and links the book to its Amazon listing.)
  4. Upload the audition text.
  5. Wait for auditions.

Some books garner more auditions than others. Some genres attract more actors. Within two days of posting Lakeview Park, Larry had three auditions. Since one was from Aaron, we decided to stay with him. However, either of the other two would have been terrific.

During the actual recording, the author and actor are in communication. When the chapters are completed, the actor posts them to ACX. The author can then listen and send back comments or corrections.

When the entire book is completed, the actor closes the file and the author approves the book for publication. It appears on ACX and Amazon in about ten days to two weeks.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?

We were fortunate to find two excellent actors for our books. Both of them were nearly as picky as I am! Both were willing to make as many changes/corrections as necessary to ensure a quality product.

Hearing our books read added a whole new dimension to them. We knew what we thought they should sound like, but the final interpretations were far better than we could have hoped for.

Did you choose royalty share for your books? Why is this?

Confession: I’m essentially cheap. We have done (and plan to do) all of our books with a royalty share agreement. It is a win-win for both author and voice artist. From the time the book is listed for sale, passive income is generated for both parties.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Yes. I have listened to more of them since our books have become available. They are great for long car trips. Larry used to listen to the text-to-speech feature on his old Kindle on long commutes for work. The actual audiobooks are much more enjoyable.

*With many people owning MP3 players, do you think this is the future of storytelling?

I don’t think books—ebooks and print—will ever go away. But many people enjoy the listening process. We are at an age where many of our friends have developed vision issues, including macular degeneration. They can now enjoy our books.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular?

They are now much more accessible, and more people are commuting. In addition, the actors producing them are getting better and better. The sheer competition is improving the quality.

Did you consider producing your own audiobooks, or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice?

We had talked for years about producing our own books—especially our memoir. But the cost of renting a studio and the time required to get the task done seemed daunting. We have been very fortunate to have found exceptionally good actors who understood our books.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?)

So far, it has exceeded our expectations. We had anticipated having to work with the actors, monitor the completed chapters, convey our expectations to them, and the process was very satisfying. Of course, we were blessed with terrific actors. It made all the difference.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

My husband, Larry, says I collect friends like other people collect stamps or coins. Very true. I strike up friendships in the supermarket line. I’m still in touch with nearly all of my friends from childhood, grammar school, high school, college, and nearly every place I’ve ever worked. I actually know who every one of my 1500+ Facebook friends is and how we met.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can find out more about me at our website: http://www.lornalarry.com

Follow my blog at: http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com/

Social Media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorna.l.collins

Twitter: @LornaCollins

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lkcollins75/

LinkedIn: Lorna Collins http://tinyurl.com/nunt9no

Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse – Free on Kindle


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Until 19th July Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse is free on all the Kindle sites.

This short tale within a tale is a mythic story of monsters, revenge and unwise bargains.

Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse.












Doctors in Hell – Review


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5 Stars

Everyone knows Hell is a pretty awful place to spend eternity. It just got worse. Not only are the auditors in, which is bad enough, but now a terrifying new plague stalks Old and New Dead alike. Rumours abound on its source, be that Erra and his mighty weapons personified, Old Nick himself or something else. Whatever the answer might be cures are sought, bought, sold and bold. Hell being Hell, of course it does not go entirely smoothly….

Dr Frankenstein, Polydory, Dr Neill Cream, Shakespeare, Kit Marlow, Calamity Jane, Napoleon, Wellington, nurses and physicians from civilisation’s birth, gangsters, poets and even artificial life in the form of Galatea, and Adam Frankenstein, battle against a foe they don’t understand, have no clue how to beat and yet, as Heroes in Hell, fight they must and endure the twisted half-life in Satan’s domain. Truly mythic, where myths get turned on their heads and characters you thought you knew live (or unlive) again.

Filled with diabolical machinations, intrigue, courage, dark humour, and even searching questions about the nature of the soul – particularly from Joe Bonadonna in Hell on a Technicality this collection of Hell themed tales from a mix of talented writers from science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. Janet Morris, has yet again, produced an anthology which flows from one scenario to another, despite the varying styles and stories. There were stories I didn’t want to end, and some which made me chuckle (Napoleon and Wellington always crack me up), some which were tragic, some vengeful (Grim) and some which were extremely clever.

This is a world of darkness, but it is a shared world across time, across history, across the good and great and the weak and pitiful and the characters reflect that. There is something for die-hard fans of the series and new authors to discover, and an exquisitely crafted greater whole for those new to the series.

The eighteenth Heroes in Hell is, perhaps, darker and bloodier than its predecessors. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but then again – this is Hell, what do you expect?

#Fantasy #mythic #historical #Heroes in Hell.

‘Mother’ of Heroes in Hell is on my blog today! Meet Janet Morris!


A great interview with fantasy, sci-fi and historian author Janet Morris.

Originally posted on AUTHOR JENNIFER LOISKE:

Janet bio pic cropped 12 05 13 Janet B&W Portrait 2Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the Bangsian fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of non-fiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.

Want to know more about…

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Summer Sale – Children’s Author


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Some of my books are enrolled in the 2015 Smashwords Summer/Winter sale.

Details of which books are enrolled, and how much they’re discounted
by, can be found here:

Could you help me spread the word, please?

Victoria “Tori” Zigler
(Children’s author and poet)

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tori.zigler
Facebook author page:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler
Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.com

Greek and Roman Mythology – Course – Review


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Greek and Roman Mythology – Coursera

Greek and Roman mythology is fascinating, in many ways it is at the core of many Western traditional stories.  Even today we are enchanted by such tales of heroes, monsters, errant gods, and the goings on of those far removed and yet ever close. Hercules, Odysseus, the Trojan horse, Oedipus, and much more. The terms have fallen into modern usages – An odyssey denoting an epic journey, a Herculean task, a Trojan horse for a gift which is not all it seems.  Such tales spawned others – and in many ways influence modern heroic fiction.

I’ve studied Classics in the past – although it was more for the historical perspective and so this course really appealed.  I’ve also studied with Coursera – an online organisation which offers courses from a variety of sources, including the University of Pennsylvania who provide this particular course.

Myths intrigue me, I read a lot of mythic fiction, and write it too in my Tales of Erana series.


This is what the Coursera site says about the course ‘Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death.’ (Coursera Website)

Does the course deliver? Yes it does. The tutor Peter Stuck is engaging, obviously knows his subject and is enthusiastic. The course is presented through a combination of videos, reading materials, quizzes, two essays and some discussion forums. The course recommends 10 hours a week of study – in truth it’s probably slightly more as some of the reading is quite long.

The subjects covered range from how the myths were perceived, the notion of pietas (duty, honour, loyalty) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietas to religion, to food, to concept of the hero, what it meant to be a man in that society, the notion of how to treat one’s guests (or not) and familial ties. The reading includes The Odyssey – possibly THE epic adventure of antiquity and one of my first introductions to ancient Greek literature during my Diploma in Classics – so this was a very welcome re-read; The Aeneid – the tale of Aeneas and the struggle of the survivors of Troy and their quest for a new homeland – which lead (apparently) to the founding of Rome. Julius Caesar and Augustus traced their ancestry back to Aeneas and through him back to his immortal mother Venus; to the Oresteia (the tragic tale of Agamemnon after he returns from Troy); Oedipus the King (the tragic play so famous in which fate and prophecy play such a terrible role). Plus several more.

The video lectures made me think about some of the books in a new way, by focusing on aspects I may not have initially seen, and seeing the greater whole of the stories. Homer was incredibly influential and the later works often copy (or attempt to) his style and incredible narrative versatility. The books cover a period far removed from ideals and ideas of today, yet still something resonates – the challenge, the struggle and the emotions of the characters, the fight to be something more, and in some cases to survive. Of course much is different – Hesiod’s Theogony is not favourable to women, there are of course slaves in these societies, the gods are many and walk with humans, often begetting offspring in one form or another, and playing with the lives of mortals, ritual is important and there is violence – a lot of it. Actually that’s not so different from today and for much the same reasons – greed, honour, territory, religion etc.

These are not books for the faint hearted, or for those who are shocked by violence, sex, double crossing, murder, betrayal and such like. Themes in fact which tend to pervade our media – watch any soap opera and these themes are there in abundance. The influence of these authors and their work is monumental and this course helps to show why. Why this works need to be preserved and celebrated and why these cultures are so important to our own. These books are real heroic fiction, they are at the core of heroes and monsters, and of fantasy as we know it.

So, you ask, is it expensive? No it’s free. You can pay a small fee and get a certificate of completion (assuming you’ve done all the quizzes to an acceptable standard and one of the assignments) but it can be completed simply for the pleasure of it.

Is there anything I didn’t like? I did find the workload quite heavy – with work, writing, and family life commitments can be difficult to find the time and energy to put it but others may find that easier. I also didn’t use the forums much, although that was personal choice.

The course does not require any prior experience in the subject (but it helps) and assumes a level of literacy and intelligence in order to discuss and appreciate the themes and topics.

Would I recommend this? Yes, without a doubt to anyone interested in mythology, Greek and Roman literature or religion, fans of heroic fiction, and historians of the period.

#Mythology #Coursera #HeroicFiction #Fantasy #GreekandRoman

Released at last: “You’re Not Alone” an athology in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care


A very worthy cause.

Originally posted on writerchristophfischer:

11705837_967531943267360_280957472_oThe wait is over:

“You’re Not Alone” an anthology in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care has been released. A paperback version is also available! Get your copy now!

Twenty-seven writers from around the world, including myself have entered an assortment of short stories for your pleasure, show your support by liking the new page on Facebook and expressing an interest in buying the book.

You’ll find the book on your Amazon  via these links:

You’ll find the Facebook page here: 


And here is the fund, in loving memory of Pamela Mary Winton


100% of the royalties earned or accrued in the purchase of this book, in all formats, will go to the Pamela Winton tribute fund, which is in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.


An anthology, themed on relationships, of more than 20 authors 

from around the world –  from urban fantasy to stories that bring tears to the…

View original 673 more words


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