Friday, September 11, 2009


September 11

Eight years ago.

I was sitting at my computer like any other day, having sent the kids to school, checking my email and going through my morning routine. Happy and oblivious.

I saw the newsflash on AOL. I didn't believe it. I turned on the TV and I saw the second plane hit the Twin Towers.

I thought this might be it.

You know, it. The End.

When you grow up, as the child of politically engaged Russian émigrés, with the perfect awareness that the Bad Guy is not a fictional construct and that They Are Really After You, anything of this magnitude will glue you to your seat with a mixture of fear, fatalism, and helpless fascination.

Add to that a lifelong preference for fantasy and science-fiction, and you start building scenarios for the counter-strike and retaliation once you realize that it's not an accident.

And you've seen War Games. You know there can be no winner.

Fortunately, they've seen War Games, too.

But there is one realization that doesn't go away.

Someone has done this on purpose. Someone took several civilian planes and used them as weapons. Someone broke the most basic rules of engagement. Someone perpetrated an uncivilized, barbaric act worthy of the darkest moments of the most dramatic post-apocalyptic movies. Something that would have driven Mad Max to tears.

Today, we have monuments to our losses. Memorials. A minute of silence. A moment of rememberance. The president spoke briefly on the occasion. The local newspaper has a small front-page note. Google doesn't have a touching graphic attached to its name.

Has it been so long? Aren't we angry any longer? Almost 3000 people died in one day. I can't believe it wasn't yesterday. It's one of those moments that will always be there. Right in front of me.

Because like eight years ago, it's unbelievable.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guest Blogger Sandy Lender

Welcome back, Sandy! And congratulations on the release of the sequel of Choices Meant for Gods. Let me say that I love your titles. Of course, I'm a big fantasy fan, and these titles just invite the reader's imagination to fly!

And don't miss the blog-tour special excerpt!

Inspiration in All Places

By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

A lot of folks have asked me about inspiration. It’s a question that folks like to ask of creative types like artists and movie stars and writers. (Please notice how I just lumped myself in there with artists and movie stars. Cool, eh?) I don’t like to be glib because anyone asking the question deserves a real answer, but, honestly, everything inspires me.

Duran Duran, baby sea turtles, my parrots, sci fi shows/movies, thunderclouds over the Gulf at dawn, short elderly drivers in huge Lincoln town cars, bizarre chicks in L.A. bars, snow in the mountains, etc. At my fancy new Web site that just launched this summer, my letter to visitors tells of a funky incident from my early teens that inspired a short story in the Choices-supporting chapbook WHAT CHOICES WE MADE.

Something I know that fires the flames of inspiration for me is setting up my writing space. I participated in the annual 3-Day Novel Contest over Labor Day Weekend this year and found myself going through an almost ritual getting everything nice and “set” before the start time. What I’m curious about is readers’ “inspiration.” When you pick up a new book and prepare to crack open the front cover, do you need a special setting or a special mindset or some special music softly in the background to inspire you to drop easily into another world?

Thank you for checking in today and for participating in the conversation! “Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

Good question, Sandy! And posters will be entered into a drawing for a hard cover copy of Sandy's book! So speak up: how do you prepare to enter a world of fantasy we create for you? And writers, what do you need to step into a world of your own creation?

Choices Meant for Kings.

Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?

A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings

By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender

You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour…

As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”