Thursday, June 24, 2010

Diana Paxson

Creating Fantasy worlds that are realistic and stimulate a reader's sense of wonder requires special talent. Fantasy authors possess this ability to a large degree. Diana Paxson is such an author. She writes many books and stories of Fantasy including the subgenres of Historical and Arthurian Fantasy. Her works possess rich detail, realistic characters and intriguing themes that gives readers memorable voyages in unique Fantasy worlds.

One of Ms. Paxson's longest works is a series of books set in her Fantasy world of Westria. It is a future California after nature and magic rose to destroy our technological world. The books follow several characters as they strive to bring balance to the new world's problems. The books in the series are: Mistress of Jewels (a combined Lady of Light & Lady of Darkness), Silverhair the Wanderer, The Earthstone, The Sea Star, The Wind Crystal and The Jewel of Fire.

She collaborated with fellow author Adrienne Martine-Barnes on the "Chronicles of Fionn Mac Cumhal" books. These are Celtic Fantasies based on the Irish mythic hero. The series consists of Master of Earth and Water, The Shield Between the Worlds and Sword of Fire and Shadow.

Delving into Historical Fantasy, she has produced works of rich detail and fantastic elements. The White Raven uses Celtic material to tell the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde. Told by the character Branwen, Ms. Paxson gives readers a sad tale of love and triumph in rich vivid details.

She writes stories from other sources too. The Serpent's Tooth is based on Shakespeare's "King Lear." The story takes place in fifth century Britain when Leir conquers the tribes of Britain and fathers three daughters from three different queens. Cridilla, Leir’s youngest daughter, is exiled. When her father’s kingdom starts falling apart, Cridilla returns to help her father. Ms. Paxson adds another interesting book to her body of work.

Another group of books by Ms. Paxson uses Norse mythology. Her “Wodan’s Children” series follow several characters from Norse and other materials through several stories of magic and battle. These books are intriguing Historical Fantasies that present an interesting world. The first two books are The Lord of Horses and The Dragons of the Rhine.

She stated once in a panel at an SF convention I attended that every Fantasy author must attempt to write an Arthurian Fantasy. Her latest books are her contribution to the Arthurian mythos. The Hallowed Isle is split into four books: The Book of the Sword, The Book of the Spear, The Book of the Cauldron and the forthcoming The Book of the Stone. They tell the story of King Arthur using historical periods and what is know about cultures of that time.

She collaborated with the late Marion Zimmer Bradley on several novels set in the world of the book Mists of Avalon. Many of the books are prequels or sequels to this book following the changes of Britain before and after the time of King Arthur. The books in the sequence are: The Forest House, The Sword of Avalon, The Ravens of Avalon, The Lady of Avalon, Priestess of Avalon and Ancestors of Avalon.

Recently she has returned to her world of Westria with The Golden Hills of Westria. This books takes up years after the last series to follow characters that have aged or their children in a new tale of magic and adventure. The book contains the author’s usual powerful storytelling and interesting characters.

Whether it's a future world of magic or a historical period with fantastic elements, Diana Paxson provides readers with thoughtful adventures. She brings her fantastic worlds to life with vivid descriptions and sympathetic characters. She is a writer worth checking out for a new experience. Readers won't be disappointed.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Writing Fantasy: Online Writing Classes

Sorry for the delay of the article this week. Here’s my article for online classes on writing.

Summer is a time of year that can give people some free time to pursue other things. Writing is a profession that takes time, perseverance and knowledge. A writer must constantly pursue research and learning of new subjects to help generate new ideas and feed their imaginations. This is even truer for Fantasy authors that create whole new worlds for their books. Online classes are a good way to learn new knowledge for research and increase a writer’s creativity. Classes come in a variety of subjects, are reasonably priced, and self paced for a writer to gain new knowledge without a lot of time consumption. There are several places on the expanding Internet to take these classes.

A free site for online classes is Suite University (http://www.suite101.com/suiteu/). Divided into several schools, classes can be found in topics under religion, writing, literature, etc. These classes are taught by knowledgeable people who know their subjects. The classes can be taken as an individualized self paced version. A wide variety of subjects helps writers find information they can use in their writing. For instance my class on Fantasy Literature can help Fantasy writers learn about the different subgenres. My class is found at: http://www.suite101.com/course.cfm/17284/seminar

Virtual University is an online class company (http://www.ksurf.net) that has been around for a long time. They have classes in the areas of computers, self help, general interest and others. They have been expanding their subjects recently. One new class is on Screen Writing. The classes are taught by knowledgeable people, some with Masters degrees. A lot of information can be learned in a short time. The courses on forensics and serial killers are informative. This is a good site to learn new things.

Another good site for online classes is Course Bridge. Designed for adult learners, they have classes of general interest, spirituality and useful ones on writing. Fantasy writers would especially find the class on Medieval castles helpful to their writing. New courses are added all the time. Their courses provide a lot of information for a fair price. This site is found at: http://www.coursebridge.com I teach a class on Fantasy Writing here too at: http://coursebridge.com/html/courses/writing/CBWFF01.asp

Some writers have their own classes that they develop and teach. Holly Lisle is a Fantasy author with several published books and years of experience in writing. At her web site can be found several classes and resources to help aspiring writers learn the craft. Her Thinking Sideways course is popular and helpful. Many of her writing E-books are informative too. Her site can be found at: http://www.hollylisle.com

A site of interest for writers is Fathom. This is a site run by several colleges like Columbia University that used to have online classes. The site (http://www.fathom.com) is now an archive, which contains information in several different subjects. There is a lot of good information to learn for ideas.

Writers must seek new knowledge to help their creativity and bring their stories to life. Time is important to writers, which is devoted to writing. They do not have time to travel for classes. Distance learning through online classes is a boon for authors. Classes can be taken from home or anywhere an Internet connection is available. Learning new things helps in the writing process by providing more knowledge and ideas for writers. Online classes will continue to help writers expand their experience for powerful new stories.

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