Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Spotlight: Freakling by Lana Krumwiede

Well met and welcome back, Beardies!

I must begin this post with an apology for our absence of late.  Joshua is still steadily chipping away at his rewrites; his story gets stronger every day, but as we all know, writing is a process.  For my part, I've been busily planning programs and slinging books for my faithful minions at the library, and I recently took a little working vacation.  Vacation wouldn't be vacation without souvenirs for friends, though, so please consider this Book Spotlight (and several more to come) your treats from my trip.  :)  Back at the beginning of November, I attended the Young Adult Library Services Association's YA Literature Symposium in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri.  It was a wonderful weekend filled with new friends, awesome food, much learning about my profession and my writing craft, and best of all, tons of free books and authors to sign them!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Running Man by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

Guten Tag Beardies!

Today I will be spotlighting The Running Man by Stephen King, originally published under the nom de plume of Richard Bachman. A little bit of science fiction, some social commentary, and lots of high octane action and thrills are delivered in this excellent piece of work. This is my favourite Stephen King novel, and I am delighted to share it with you all today.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sir Walter Jean-Baptiste de Rochefort's Cassoulet Recipe

Recipe by Sir Walter Jean-Baptiste de Rochefort

The preparation of a cassoulet is, as with the
preparing of any great meal, foremost an act of love.”
-Sir Walter de Rochefort

If we consider the Cassoulet as consisting of five layers which melt together under a golden crust, we can see at once that the one who cooks a Cassoulet cooks five dishes which can be served with convenience as a single course meal. But do not forget that while you may serve the final dish in one container, you must first prepare the five parts.

They are as follows:

Firstly, The Bean, cooked with bacon, later separated from bacon.
Secondly, The Pork, roasted to your taste.
Thirdly, The Lamb, cooked with duck fat and onions.
Fourthly, The Bacon, as above, having cooked with The Beans and then been separated from them.
Fifthly, The Cakes of Sausage, having been formed from loose and uncooked sausage which has no casing (or you may remove a casing if your butcher does not offer loose sausage.)
(The final layer, dried bread crumbs with parsley, drizzled with duck fat, I do not count as one of the five dishes, as bread crumbs with parsley can be purchased from any reputable grocer. You may prepare your own scratch if you prefer.)

Step I. For beans, gather together:
2T lemon juice or liquid whey
2 ½ cups dry white beans of any variety.
4 oz. salt pork
8 oz. lean bacon
½ cup onions
A bouquet of herbs tied in cheesecloth or tied to one another if you lack cheesecloth (such as: 2 cloves of garlic, 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf.)

Preparation of beans:

Firstly, one day ahead:
Soak dry beans all day in 1 quart of water with 2T lemon juice or liquid whey.
In the evening, drain and rinse beans and place beans in crock pot with 2 fresh quarts of water and simmer overnight.

Secondly, upon the day of eating Cassoulet:
Drain beans, reserving their liquid for use later..
Place beans into a sauce pan, adding enough of the bean liquid to cover everything. If you lack sufficient liquid, water may be added to make up the difference. Cook beans until tender. (One hour should suffice.)

Meanwhile, slice salt pork into ½ inch cubes.
Once the beans are tender, add the bacon and salt pork and cook another twenty or thirty minutes, allowing the flavors to combine.
Then, drain, reserving liquid once more. Separate the beans and salt pork from the bacon and set aside in 2 vessels, one for beans and one for bacon and pork. Dice the bacon, reserving for layering. You may give it a quick fry if you prefer a crispier texture.

Step II. For Pork, gather together:
1 pound pork tenderloin, or any boneless cut you prefer.
Salt and pepper
Preparation of The Pork:
Roast the pork for 1-2 hours, after sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Allow to cool, reserving juices. When cool, cut into ½” to 1” cubes of meat. Set aside.
Step III. For Lamb, gather together:
1 pound lamb, of any cut, without bones
2 T duck fat
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can (15 oz.) of San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, or 5-6 very fresh tomatoes from your garden, peeled. If desired, you may remove the seeds, but it is a messy business and I avoid it, myself.
1 sprig of thyme
1½ cups dry white wine or vermouth
2 cups beef stock (preferably from bone broth)

Preparation of The Lamb:

Cut lamb into one inch square chunks. Heat the oil in a skillet until almost smoking and add lamb, browning on all sides. If your skillet is not large, you should do this in stages, browning ¼ or ½ of the meat at a time. When all meat has browned, remove the meat from skillet. Add onion and cook in fat, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add meat back to onions, along with smashed garlic, tomatoes, sprig thyme, wine, and stock. Cook together for 1½ hours, simmering slowly. Remove meat and set juices aside for later use.

Step IV. Preparation of The Bacon:
You have accomplished this already, in the preparation of The Beans.

Step V. Preparation of The Sausage:
From 1 pound of a mild sausage of your choice, form small patties of sausage measuring 2 inches across and ½ of an inch tall. Cook in a skilled over medium heat until cooked through, flipping over to ensure even cooking. Drain and discard excess fat.

Step VI. To Assemble the Cassoulet:
Into an 8-quart oven-proof casserole, layer the ingredients as follows:

1/3 of the beans
½ of the lamb
½ of the pork
½ of the bacon and salt pork
½ of the sausage cakes
1/3 of the beans
½ of the the lamb
½ of the pork
½ of the bacon and salt pork
½ of the sausage cakes
1/3 of the beans

Now, over all these layers, pour the juice from the cooked lamb (the juice with tomatoes) and the juice from the roasted pork. These should nearly bring the level of liquid to cover the top layer of beans. If you have yet to cover the top layer of beans, add as much of the reserved liquid as reuired to do so.

Spread over all 1½ to 2 cups dry bread crumbs with parsley.
Heat 3 T duck fat to the melting point and drizzle over the top of the bread crumbs.
Place in oven at 350°F and cook for at least one hour, or for up to three hours at 300°F. It will become gradually drier during the longer cooking time.

If you will be at home while the Cassoulet cooks, you may form an exceptionally tasty crust by repeating the following: every 15 minutes or so, break the crust open in several places using the back of a spoon. Then, using the spoon in the regular fashion, gather liquid from below the crust and drizzle all over the top.   C'est magnifique! 

(The above recipe is copyright material; permission to display recipe received from the copyright holder, Cidney Swanson.  Be sure to check out her website to discover all of her great works!)

Sir Walter's Cassoulet: A Speculative Dinner Party

Hello Beardies, and welcome back!

The Bearded Scribe is, first and foremost, a writing blog. We deal in every kind of speculative fiction there is…and every once in awhile, an opportunity arises for an unconventional post. Such was the case a few weeks ago, when I was sitting in a parking lot, cruising Twitter on my phone while waiting for a choir rehearsal to start, and ran across a tweet from our good friend Cidney Swanson. Cidney, it seems, is writing a cookbook based on her Ripple Trilogy. This tidbit of information piqued my interest right away, because when I’m not writing, I love to cook—and when I was reading the Ripple Trilogy, the food descriptions made me hungry. Intrigued, I tweeted Cidney back asking (half-jokingly) if she needed a recipe-tester. She replied that there remained only one untested recipe: Sir Walter’s Cassoulet, a decadent French dish that requires hours and hours of prep. If I was interested, she would send the recipe. Was I interested? Did she even have to ask? Soon the recipe was in my inbox and I had a new mission.  And not only was this an unconventional mission, but a post that will serve as the first in a new feature on The Bearded Scribe, a feature which will take various food and drink recipes found in speculative fiction literature and test them out... Do you dare venture with us into The Speculative Gourmet?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Quiddity of Speculation: Great Dystopian Novels

Well met and welcome back, Beardies!

Welcome to the second part of the first post in our new series, The Quiddity of Speculation. In the first part, we discussed the ingredients of a good dystopian novel. Now, in the second part, we’ll be talking about a few books and authors who have done the job spectacularly. As you’re reading this post, please keep in mind that there are scores of great dystopian novels available, and don’t let my choices limit your reading. If you don’t see your favorite on this list, please tell me about it in the comments—I am always looking for suggestions!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Quiddity of Speculation: Dystopia 101

G’Day to you, Beardies, and welcome back!

Any day that I get to write a post for The Bearded Scribe is a good day, and today is no exception. Today, we’re unveiling the first post in a new series we’re calling The Quiddity of Speculation. “Quiddity” is a word to which Joshua introduced me while we were throwing around titles for this series. According to Merriam-Webster, quiddity means “whatever makes something the type that it is.” The quiddity of a thing, then, is its very essence. In this series, we’ll dissect different types of speculative fiction in detail, exploring the definition and distinguishing characteristics of each. I’ve literally been researching this post since I joined the team here. It’s been a long time coming, so without further ado, let’s get to it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where Have You Been?

Hello, Beardies!

No, the title of this post isn't referring to Rihanna's latest song--although I must say I'm a fan...

And for those of you who have continued reading after discovering that little nugget of information...  ;)

I want to apologize for my recent absence from posting as of late.  Work has kept me pretty busy, and when I am not slinging cocktails for my devoted groupies, I have been typing away at my latest endeavor:  Project Manuscript Split, Part One.

In adding additional scenes to the first half of the manuscript, a few of the original manuscript's loose ends have surfaced, ones which I am excited to close up and tighten so they do not come loose once again.  As I get closer and closer to where I want the new manuscript to go, I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Only a few more scenes left with the current characters' plot lines, and then back to the rest of the scenes with the "other" cast of characters.

Until I am finished, I will be taking a sabbatical from doing posts of my own, but I will not be abandoning my duties as Executive Editor of the blog.

Stay tuned for a new series of posts from our Assistant Editor, Elizabeth, and until next time, wish me luck :)

Your Editor,

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Series by Kenneth Oppel

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Good Evening, Beardies,

Call me indecisive if you will, but making “Best of the Best” lists is my own personal brand of librarian kryptonite. I just can’t decide! Usually, the best book I’ve read this year is the one I’m reading right now. So, instead of making my own list, most of the time I read the books that are on everyone else’s lists. This Dark Endeavor, the first book of Kenneth Oppel’s The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Series, was on a 2011 list from one of my librarian idols, Lynn Rutan. Along with colleague Cindy Dobrez, Lynn writes a blog called Bookends that I follow religiously. She called This Dark Endeavor “a steampunky Frankenstein retelling,” and from that description alone, I was hooked. Everything Lynn promised, the book delivered, and when the second book came out in August, the series skyrocketed to the top of my “Books to Spotlight” pile.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saving Mars Giveaway: Winner Announced!!

And we have a WINNER!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS to Stephanie Erickson, the winner of the Saving Mars Giveaway!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Spotlight: Enemy Mine by Barry Longyear & David Gerrold

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Guten Tag, Beardies!

My name is Kelsey J. Mills and I come to you all the way from Canada. I am The Bearded Scribe's youngest Guest Scribe—a Science Fiction reader and writer, a sucker for aliens or robots, and a lover of social commentary. I’m so honoured to be here on The Bearded Scribe, and I hope that I manage to entertain you.

The book—technically novella—I will be spotlighting today is Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear and David Gerrold. Please note that this is not the original version—the copy that I have was based on the screen play written by Edward Khmara, which was based on the story written by Barry B. Longyear. Also note that I have not yet seen the movie for which the aforementioned screenplay was written.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Guest Scribe: Kelsey J. Mills

Good Morning, Beardies,

As many of you who follow the blog on Twitter already know, it is no secret that I have been seeking new talent to add to my already wonderful and dedicated team of reviewers. Because of their dedication and support, and perhaps without them even realizing it, I have found yet another talented writer to join The Bearded Scribe Team.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Book 1) by Michael Scott

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Good Evening, Beardies,

Back in May, we did an Author Spotlight and giveaway with Michael Scott, author of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series. The contest, and his subsequent interview, were very successful, so it didn't take us long to decide to do a collaborative series of Book Spotlights featuring each of the Flamel books. Unfortunately, finding time to collaboratively write the posts took much longer, but we finally did, and we couldn't be more excited to bring you the first in this series of Book Spotlights.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 Photos

Good Evening Beardies!!

To follow-up with my Dragon*Con series, as promised, I uploaded an Album to The Bearded Scribe's Facebook Page.

As I was not able to make any of the Dragon*Con events--due to a combination of scheduling conflicts and being under the weather--my friend Josh Kirk was kind enough to share his photos with me so that I could post them for all of you to see.

So, without further ado, click on the photo below to be directed to the Dragon*Con Album :)

Dragon*Con 2012

Enjoy & Happy Scribing!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Saving Mars Giveaway!!

Morning Beardies!!

So, in addition to surprising me with a guest post, Cidney also donated a [eBook] copy of Saving Mars, her latest title which released mid-August, as a giveaway for the blog.  She also pointed me in the direction of Rafflecopter, a free website to organize and launch giveaways!

Below, at the bottom of the blog, you will find the Rafflecopter Widget in order to enter the contest.  There are several ways you can earn points for the giveaway--some mandatory and some not--such as "Liking" both of our Facebook Pages, Following both of us on Twitter, Tweeting about the Giveaway, Following The Bearded Scribe on Google Friend Connect, and more.

The Giveaway will run from September 12th at 12:01am to September 26th at 12:01am.  Both times are Eastern Standard Time.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter, so bear with me while I figure it out in more detail :)

Some entries have come through without the task having actually been completed.  Make sure when it says "Like" this Facebook Page, you are actually doing so before clicking the button at the bottom.  If there are any questions regarding the contest, please feel free to click on the TERMS & CONDITIONS at the bottom of the contest widget to access the email address in order to send your questions.  Or feel free to leave your question in a comment below.

Also, because I have been having issues with continuing to use Google Friend Connect as a basis of The Bearded Scribe's membership, I've decided to remove it as an entry option for the contest.  I've also decided to remove GFC from the Blog entirely because of the same glitches.

Again, this is my first time using Rafflecopter, so bear with me while I figure it out in more detail :)

Good Luck to All!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing What You Love

Hello Beardies, 

When I did an Author Spotlight on Cidney Swanson--complete with an interview--back in June, I thought I'd take a chance and ask her if she would be willing to do a guest post on the blog from time to time.  I was thrilled and honored when she agreed!

Much to my surprise, I opened my inbox the other evening to find an email from Cidney, who was curious as to what type of guest post I would like her to write for The Bearded Scribe.  After a couple of emails back and forth, I received an email from her saying that she had already completed and scheduled a post.  And I must say, it's a doozie of a guest post!  I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Spotlight: Bitterblue (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, Book 3) by Kristin Cashore

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Welcome back, Beardies!

Thank you for sticking with me through a week of posts about the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy!  I hope you have enjoyed the posts as much as I enjoyed reading the books—and then dissecting them from a writer's standpoint!

Today we reach the end of Seven Kingdoms—the final installment, Bitterblue.  Bitterblue is the sequel to Graceling, set eight years after the conclusion of that book and forty-eight years after the end of Fire.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Spotlight: Fire (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, Book 2) by Kristin Cashore

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Welcome back, Beardies!

Thanks for joining me for the second installment in my series of posts on Kristin Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms Trilogy. Today, we’re discussing Fire, the second book in the trilogy. First published in 2009, Fire is a prequel set forty years before the events of Graceling, in a neighboring kingdom called the Dells. Fire has only one character in common with Graceling, but as unorthodox as this may seem, it is a stroke of genius for the trilogy as a whole.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Spotlight: Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, Book 1) by Kristin Cashore

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Welcome back, Beardies!

Back at the beginning of May, Joshua asked me for a list of titles I’d like to feature for Book Spotlight. Bitterblue, the final installment in Kristin Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, had just come out, and the trilogy as a whole topped the list. I even owned all the books and had already read the first two. Because of all the reading I have to do for my job, though, often the books that I own fall to the bottom of the pile because I have all the time in the world, rather than the three weeks allowed by a library checkout, to read them. Thus, months passed, and a Spotlight on Seven Kingdoms never came. Then, one night, I asked Joshua for my weekly assignment, and he specifically asked me to read Bitterblue. Turns out, in his words, he’d “been waiting for that Spotlight with white knuckles.” Well, what could I do but oblige him?

Originally, I set out to do just one post on The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, but quickly realized that the trilogy simply had too many strong points and too much depth for one post to do it justice. So, at Joshua’s encouragement, I have decided to cover this trilogy in three separate posts. The first installment of the trilogy, Graceling, hit shelves in 2008 with immediate success, bagging tons of literary hardware. It was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association; was a finalist for the William C. Morris Award for best young adult debut novel that year; and also snagged the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Spotlight: Kiss of Pride by Sandra Hill

Hello Beardies!

This is Sara and I’m excited to write a book review for The Bearded Scribe. Joshua was correct in my introduction post—I am usually not far from a book. The fact that my Nook is about 85% full and I’m still surrounded by paper books is proof. My reading specialty is romance—specifically paranormal. There are so many series I want to write about, but I figured I’d start small.

Vikings. (Not very small, are they?) The word conjures images of giant blonde warriors traversing the European waterways to plunder, pillage and explore. This was a race that scared their time period with just their name, so how could they simply be absorbed into other cultures? Sandra Hill offers and explanation for this in her series, The Deadly Angels.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012: Part III -- Mobile App

Hello Beardies,

For all of you that are already--or soon to be--at Dragon*Con, I found a great FREE mobile app to help you navigate your way around the streets to Atlanta, stay up to date and on schedule, read more information about the speakers and performers, find documents, et cetera.

If you are on your phone, simply tap on the image below; if you are on your computer and have a QR Reader, scan the image with your phone to download the app!

Hope this helps all of you Con-goers!

Happy Scribing,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012: Part II -- Fan Tracks

Hello Beardies!

In my last post about Dragon*Con, I discussed attending authors.  With only one day left until the big day, I want to discuss one of the greatest features of the convention: Fan Tracks.  The events covered within the tracks include panels, seminars, workshops, film previews/showings, gaming, auctions, et cetera.  They are extensive, and nearly every aspect of Speculative Fiction is covered; whatever you're into, you'll most likely find it at Dragon*Con!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alyssa Susanna's Winning Entry

Hello Beardies,

As promised, here is Alyssa Susanna's winning entry for the False Memory contest:

Fantastic, I think to myself, as I bend down and set my latte on the sidewalk, inspecting the side of my shoes. To top off my already disastrous morning, a wad of pink gum is wedged tightly onto the left sole of my favorite pair of Nike’s.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

False Memory Contest WINNER ANNOUNCED!

Hello Beardies,

I do apologize in the delay of this post, but I am sure the wait is worth it for the lucky Contest Entrant... Before I reveal it however, I want to describe the process for determining the winner.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

False Memory Contest CLOSED!

Hello Beardies!

The clock is striking midnight, Cinderella, and that means the contest to win a signed copy of False Memory by Dan Krokos is officially closed!  Joshua and I will be reading all of your entries and will let you know as soon as we have a winner, so stay tuned!

Thanks and best of luck to all who entered!

Happy Scribing!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Literary Spotlight: Agent Sara Megibow

Hello Beardies,

For a while now, I've been trying to secure an interview with a literary agent to be able to share with all of you.  After several "Tweets" over several weeks, I finally received an agent who was kind enough to agree to one.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Spotlight: Saving Mars by Cidney Swanson

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Salutations, Beardies!

Last weekend, I was in a state of bliss, enjoying a rare, quiet evening visiting my parents, watching the Olympics and looking forward to an uneventful week to come. My tranquility was shattered, however, by the arrival of the following text from Joshua.

Joshua: Would you like an assignment? Just forwarded you an email I received from Cidney with a proposal…

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Spotlight: Wild Cards I, Expanded Edition by George R. R. Martin (et al)

Welcome back, Beardies!

After being out of print for a decade, the first volume of George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series is back—expanded with new, original material.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Win A Signed Copy of False Memory by Dan Krokos!

Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn't at all surprised by Miranda's shocking ability.
Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn't easy--especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can't remember loving. Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn't seem to matter...when there may not be a future.

(Source: Goodreads)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dragon*Con: Part I -- Attending Authors

Hello Beardies,

Yesterday I opened my mailbox to find the Dragon*Con Program Booklet lying there in wait... and I had to share with you some of its contents.  I will be doing it in stages to keep the posts from getting lengthy, so I appreciate the patience :)

{Written Information taken directly from the program with no intention to infringe upon any copyrights; images of authors taken from various web sources, also with no intention to infringe upon copyrights.}

Attending Authors*:

Kevin J. Anderson, the number one international bestselling author of nearly a hundred novels, is best known for his Dune novels co-authored with Brian Herbert, his Star Wars and X-Files novels, and his Saga of the Seven Suns series.

Laurell K. Hamilton's writing is characterized by vivid prose, erotic sensuality, complex character and world building.  Laurell is a regular on the New York Times Bestseller List with both her series: Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter and Meredith Gentry: Fairy Princess/Private Eye.

Sherrilyn Kenyon has claimed the #1 spot on The New York Times Bestseller List sixteen times in the past three years--both as an adult and YA fiction author. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre she writes. With more than 30 million copies of her books in print in over 100 countries, her current series include: The Dark-Hunters, The League, Chronicles of Nick, and Belador. Since 2004, she has placed more than 50 novels on the New York Times list in all formats including manga. Her Lords of Avalon have been adapted to comics and graphic novels by Marvel and her Chronicles of Nick will soon be a major motion picture. Additionally, her Dark-Hunters have been optioned for an upcoming television series.

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling novelist, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer.

Todd Johnson McCaffrey has written eight books in the Pern universe, both solo and in collaboration with his mother, Anne McCaffrey.  He is currently working on several non-Pern projects, including the long-awaited City of Angels.

Rebecca Moesta has written the Young Jedi Knights series and the Crystal Doors Trilogy with her husband, Kevin J. Anderson.  She has also written comics and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel.

Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as "spoiling cats."  When not engaged in this worthy purpose, she has published more than thirty-eight books and over a hundred short stories.  Her latest books are A Forthcoming Wizard (Tor Books) and Myth-Fortunes (Wildside Press), co-written with the late Robert Asprin.

R. A. Salvatore is this year's Literary Guest of Honor, and one of the fantasy genre's most successful authors.  He enjoys an ever-expanding and tremendously loyal following.  His books regularly appear on The New York Times Bestseller lists and have sold more than fifteen-million copies.

Brandon Winn Sanderson's fantasy novels include the Mistborn books, The Way of Kings, and Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, among others.  He is completing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series; the final volume, A Memory of Light, will be released in 2012.  Brandon also teaches Creative Writing at Brigham Young University.

Michael A. Stackpole is a fantasy and sci-fi novelist, game designer, and Skeptic who knows how to dance.

S. M. Stirling was born, France 1953.  Best known works are the Change/Emberverse novels: Dies the Fire, The Protector's War, A Meeting at Corvallis, The Sunrise Lands, The Scourge of God, The Sword of the Lady, The High King of Montival, The Tears of the Sun, and Lord of Mountains.

Janny Wurts is a professional author, with fifteen published novels, a short story collection, and a trilogy in collaboration with Raymond Feist.  She is also a fantasy artist and cover illustrator, with a painting on display in the collection of the Delaware Art Museum.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has published in many genres including science fiction, fantasy, mystery, young adult, western, and horror.  She is a Grand Master of the World Horror Convention, a Living Legend of the International Horror Guild, and has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association.

There you have it!  I am fortunate enough for Dragon*Con to be hosted in my current location of Atlanta, Georgia (August 31 - September 3).  For all of you who are planning to attend, I hope to see you there; for those of you who are not attending, you will be missed!   :)

Even though I will be posting more information in the near future, if you care for more information about Dragon*Con, visit the event website.  There you will find a complete list of special guests, full event schedule, and a list of workshops to attend.

Happy Scribing,

* A few more authors have been added to Dragon*Con's guest list since the Program was printed.  For a complete, up to date list, click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Spotlight: Eyes to See (Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles, Book 1) by Joseph Nassise

***I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs.***
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Good Evening Beardies,

Many of you may remember my first ever Author Spotlight on my writing coach, Joseph Nassise.  As a prequel to a follow-up Spotlight--this time complete with an interview--I am doing my first ever Book Spotlight on Eyes to See, the first book in Nassise's Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black

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***Please visit the site and vote for my blog!***

Hello Beardies,

Welcome back to Book Spotlight! It’s been far too long since I wrote one of these posts, but I’m glad to be back at it.

Tonight’s Book Spotlight is a trilogy that had me captivated from its first installment in 2010. Part fantasy, part crime thriller, with a strong shot of humor and a tie to a French fairy tale, this trilogy made me a believer in urban fantasy. Shortly after reading the first book, I spent an inordinate amount of time in a signing line to meet Holly Black at the ALA conference, and my autographed copy of White Cat is still among my treasured possessions. When the final book came out this spring, I couldn’t wait to tell you about this trilogy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Exciting Announcement!

Hello Beardies,

From The Bearded Scribe's inception in February, I've had a handful of devout followers, all of whom kept me typing and posting away when at times I wondered if my audience would ever be big enough for all the work I was putting into the foundation and constant research for exciting posts on the blog.

One such follower--whom you all have met and whose posts you all have had the opportunity and pleasure in reading--is Ms. Elizabeth Norton.

Since joining the blog as a Guest Scribe--and even before then--Elizabeth has shown a passion for the topics that appear on the blog, going well beyond the call of duty that any Guest Scribe should.  She has offered critiques, edits, and her ideas and opinions on most posts, not to mention her constant encouragement.

It is because of this reason that I am pleased to announce Elizabeth as The Bearded Scribe's Assistant Editor! The position is unpaid, except in gratitude and friendship, but I wanted to give her the acknowledgement she deserves.  Because she deserves to be paid for all that she does, I will be indebted to her even more than I am already.

I hope you all take the time to comment and commend Elizabeth on this title!

Congratulations, Elizabeth! And thank you again for all that you've done and all that you continue to do!  I am so lucky to have you as a friend, and I am so happy to have your passionate insight on The Bearded Scribe Team! :)

Happy Scribing!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Spotlight: Brave

Hello Beardies,

Hang around The Bearded Scribe long enough, and you will inevitably catch a glimpse of Scottish pride amidst its contributors. Elizabeth is a direct descendant of Clan Ross, the first named clan, designated by King Malcolm IV of Scotland in the twelfth century; Sara is also of Scottish descent, and Joshua has a bit of all the British Isles in him from his mother's side.

If genealogical reasons of pride weren't enough, JoshuaSara, and Elizabeth met when they were all students at Alma College, home of the Scots. (The city of Alma is nicknamed Scotland USA.) The College has its own registered tartan, which both the marching band and the pipe and drum corps wear for every performance; every convocation starts with the bagpipes; the Choir can often be heard in the Chapel (or, on occasion, in secluded churches in Scotland!) singing tunes such as "Loch Lomond" and "Highland Mary;" and at the end of Spring Term, the students must vacate the dorms to make way for the Highland Festival, a huge gathering including traditional Highland music and dance, a nearly-frightening number of men in kilts, and Highland games.

It is because of this Scottish pride that The Bearded Scribe excitedly brings you its second ever Movie Spotlight on Disney/Pixar's latest film, Brave.  And to top it all off, it is the first ever post to appear on the blog with two contributors! (We're sure it won't be the last!)

Plot Summary A born tomboy and expert archer, Merida is not your average girl, but, as her mother often reminds her, she’s a princess, and with that comes expectations. The clans are about to gather, bringing their suitors to compete for Merida’s hand, and of course, Merida wants nothing to do with it—especially after she sees just who these potential suitors are. She devises a way to compete herself so as not to have to get married, but it causes her worst fight yet with her mother and Merida runs away. Deep in the woods, she follows will-o’-the-wisps to a witch’s cottage. The witch gives her a spell to change her fate, but when the spell backfires, trapping her mother in the form of a bear, Merida must use all her wits and skills—princess-like and otherwise—to save both her independence and her family.
The Land  One of the greatest aspects of Brave is the film's unforgettable landscape, beautifully portrayed through superb animation.  The entire "world" built by the film is complete, and the landscape alone is merely one of its facets.  In addition to the lush, green rolling hills, the crags and high cliffs, and the architecture of monuments and buildings, the film includes key elements to the traditional, Celtic culture.  Intricate knotwork is carved on wood and stone throughout—including Merida's bow.  Nary a scene exists without a man in a kilt or some display of tartan (ever wonder what the Scotsmen wear under those kilts... watch this film and you will no longer), a few of its characters adorned in woad paint (a tip of the hat to Braveheart, perhaps?), and fanciful tapestries line many a wall. Many of the Scottish traditions outlined in our intro are beautifully and respectfully reflected in Brave, one of them specifically is that of the Highland Games.  According to tradition, each clan presents its most desirable suitor for the hand of the Princess, and the winner is determined through a test of her choosing. Brave’s focus is not mainly on romance; rather, in a stroke of unconventional plotting, the games serve as an impetus for the main conflict between Merida and her mother, and between Merida and the conventions of her society. Another aspect we loved about Brave is the wonderful music contained in its soundtrack.  As we are both vocalists and lovers of music, this was one aspect, in our humble opinion, the film had no room to get wrong.  They didn't.  The composer of the film's musical score, Patrick Doyle—also the composer of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—used traditional Scottish instruments such as the bagpipes, a solo fiddle, Celtic harps, and the bodhrán, just to name a few. Doyle was quoted as saying, "I employed many classic Scottish dance rhythms such as reels, jigs, and strathspeys, which not only serve the action but keep it authentic." The only issues we found with the world-building of the film were anachronisms.  Given the film was fictionally set in 10th Century Scotland, the use of plaid (15th-16th Century), kilts (18th century); forks (16th century); Shire horse (breed developed in the mid-17th century) and fighting the Romans (1st-5th century) all fit the bill.  Because we love all things Scottish, we happily forgive them.
The Legend
If there is something that must be mentioned, it is the way elements of folklore and mythology are interwoven throughout the entire film. While there is no precedence for the actual legend of the plot, other elements from Celtic lore are used ingeniously to drive home the “fairytale” aspect. From its very start, we are introduced to will-o'-the-wisps—colloquially referred to as "wisps"—which Merida is told (by her mother) are said to lead a person to their fate. The “wisps” vanish when approached, just as the actual lore states; ironically, however, in most Celtic lore a “wisp” (or ignis fatuus) is said to lead travelers away from the safety of the path (into bogs and other treacherous destinations). Continuing with the “fairytale” notes is the sacred henge in which the final showdown takes place. It represents not only the sacred rock formations that speckle the British Isles, such as Stonehenge—which are placed on sacred sites filled with the natural energies from the Earth—but also the smaller-scale formations referred to as “faerie rings.” These sites were said to be portals to the land of the Sidhe, and were to never be entered. Merida's horse, Angus, obeys this superstition by stopping suddenly at its edge, meanwhile throwing Merida into its center. The fact that the wisps appear from this site to lead Merida to witch's cottage is another allusion to the Faefolk they are meant to represent.
Another mythological element which is prevalent—if not pervasive—is that of the bear. While researching for this post, we discovered a possible connection between Queen Elinor and the Celtic Bear Goddess, Artio, often referred to as “Mother Bear.” We even uncovered an ancient statue of said goddess that appears strikingly similar to one that may or may not have made an appearance in the witch's wood-carving shop. The legends and myths that appear throughout the film and its landscape are like the tapestry in the film; they are tightly woven, never to be torn from one another. The mistakes and stories of the past—however far-fetched and magical they might seem—are there to educate generations of the future. We must take heed and not dismiss them so quickly, which echoes Queen Elinor's line in the movie:
“Legends are lessons, and they ring with truths!"
The Lessons Learned  As firm believers that no woman should need a man to make her complete, we really enjoyed seeing a Disney/Pixar film wherein romance is present without being the main focus of the plot. We’re not anti-love by any means, and both agreed that the romance between the Queen Elinor and King Fergus is sweet.  Love, after all, makes life sweeter, but love comes in more forms than just romance. Merida is a tenth-century girl with a twenty-first century mindset, and her independence and determination is refreshing. She knows she can do better than any of the suitors she is offered, and she’s not willing to compromise or settle—a position we totally support.
Unless you've been living under a menhir somewhere—or trapped under one—you've most likely heard the expression: “Be careful what you wish for.” The main theme of Brave is exactly this, and it is an expression Princess Merida already knows all too well. Despite this, she wishes for her mom to change, and when the Queen is transformed into a bear, Merida must deal with the consequences. Afraid for her mother's life—due to her father's understandable hatred of bears—Merida and the Queen flee the family's castle in search of the witch or the wisps that led her to her fate.  While helping Merida with trying to find a way to reverse the spell, Queen Elinor gains respect for her daughter's strength and wilder side; Merida, too, finds a deeper respect for her mother when faced with the prospect of losing her forever.  Also, they discover that Merida is not the first to wish for a change of fate, and by repairing the mistakes she made, she has the opportunity to correct the wrongdoings of the past.
In Conclusion Given our love affair with all things Scottish, we had high hopes for Brave, and we weren’t disappointed. Add in a strong female lead, stirring soundtrack, and beautiful scenery and animation, and our separate trips to see this film were time well spent. As a bonus, it gave us a chance to truly collaborate for the first time, a practice we hope to keep up in the future!
Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist,

Monday, July 9, 2012

World Building Series: Settings -- Part I (Introduction)

Afternoon Beardies!

When I started my blog back in February, I knew right away that I wanted to include a World Building Series to help other writers.  The series is designed as a reference point, to seek help if you have questions, and sort of a guide of "tips" and "techniques" in various areas of the World Building process.
(Of course, I am always open to direct questions from my followers; if you have a question you can always leave it in the comment section of this or any other post.)

I've been putting this area of World Building off for obvious reasons.  It's massive, and it is going to take several posts to cover such an extensive topic.  Other than on my languages, I've spent the most amount of time on this area when the original story idea for The Chronicles of Aesiranyn kept--for the lack of a better word--haunting me.

Lets start with the starting point you should start with as a writer... Maps.

An Aerial View of Elizabeth's Dream Circulatory Desk :)
Even if you are writing an urban fantasy story set in a major city on Earth, your world should have a map.  Of course, if that is the case, your map is already available, and you merely have to pull up Google Maps.  By saving those maps (screen shots) as a quick reference guide, you will save yourself many headaches of wondering what is located on the cross-streets of say... 42nd and 5th in New York City, wherein lies a bibliophile's own fantasy.

For the purposes of this introduction, however, let's assume you are building your own world.

Maps in Fantasy Books:
Having a map is crucial to World Building because it helps you, the writer, view your world so that you may keep facts and settings consistent.  It also provides you with a somewhat haphazard but helpful scale of your world so that you may know the distance between two places (how long does it take to travel from Point A to Point B).  However, if you decide to include a map in your final product, having a realistic and thought-out map--with a humble regard to how geology forms things such as coastlines, mountains, rivers, et cetera--will greatly benefit you.  There have been a few occasions in which I have opened a book and found a map that didn't seem realistic or thoroughly researched, and so, without even a look at the text, I closed the book and placed it back on the shelf.  On that note, however, there have been a couple of books in which I have ONLY glanced at the included map and decided to buy it.

Let's touch on a few of those geological formations for this blog post.

Coastlines are irregular.  If your coastline looks like a circular or rectangular blob, your doing it wrong. Coastlines are created by the shifting of tectonic plates--plates pulling away from one another resulting in oceanic trenches, which are never clean lines.  Nothing in nature is ever a clean line.  Coastlines are then continually changed by the constant erosion of landmass by the waves, which is completely dependent upon the geological make-up along the coast.  (Softer materials erode quicker, leaving the harder, more resolute material behind).  On the other hand, if your fantasy world is made up of man-made landmasses, then by all means, draw in straight, clean lines.

An excellent place to look at how coastlines appear is an atlas.  Or, in this day's technology, Google Maps.  You can take any island, any coastline of any continent (or, for that matter, just a section of it), or any ocean (or sea, gulf, or bay) as inspiration.  Or, if that doesn't inspire you, maybe its inverse will be appealing to your creative spirit.

Another great place of inspiration for the coastlines of your world can be found in nature--or even those elementally frustrating situations around the house.  Have a water stain on a wall or ceiling? Trace its outline as a start and then embellish.

Like coastlines, mountains are also caused by the shifting of tectonic plates--but their convergence and deformation.  Orogenesis--or the creation of mountains--happens along the lines of tectonic plates, which is the reason for extensive mountain ranges as opposed to singular peaks.  Sometimes the subduction of one plate under the other occurs, but more often the convergence of the tectonic plates pushes both plates upward, causing crumpling on either side.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but taller, rigidly-peaked mountains are usually the youngest, while smooth, rolling peaks signify an older range.  Take the Appalachian Mountains, for example; they are the oldest on Earth--and are one of the most visually appealing mountains because of their gently rolling peaks and valleys.

Take heed when drawing your own mountains.  Get to know your land.  What did it look like in its most primitive stages?  Or is it still in said stage?  Have its plates shifted and moved away from one another creating a drastically different landscape?  Mountains should occur along where the plates collide.

Rivers flow down from higher elevations toward lower elevations.  So, in simple terms, from mountains toward coastlines.  They take the most direct route, so long as there is nothing impeding that route.  In other words, rivers will not often change directions, unless there is, say, another mountain range blocking its route to the coast. I am in no way saying they travel in a clean, straight line (remember that nothing in nature is ever a clean line), just that they their routes are downhill.

Rivers converge; smaller tributaries flow into larger rivers.  Rivers do not split, unless there are sound geological reasons for its divergence, and in this instance, the divergence happens for short distances, eventually re-converging.

If a river flows into another body of water, such as a lake, it will continue.  A lake will empty at the lowest side of the lake, wherever that may be, so pay attention to the altitude in the different areas of your world.

A Word of Advice:
I am sure you all have heard the saying "If you want to be a great writer, then read, read, read," but the same is true for world building.  If you want to create great maps for your world, pick up an atlas.  Look at the intricacies of the coastlines of several different bodies of land.  Study the layouts, paying close attention to the three areas mentioned above.

Another great place to visit for help and questions related to World Building, specifically map creation is The Cartographers Guild, a forum on which you read and even participate in related threads.  

Get Busy Building & Happy Scribing, 

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