History and how it should influence fantasy writers

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in #africa, #Africa'sGreatCivilizations, #ServantoftheGods, #TheComingStorm | 0 comments

History and how it should influence fantasy writers

When I began the prequel to The Coming Storm/A Convocation of Kings some of the research I’d done on Egyptian society for the Servant of the Gods series – particularly how influential the Nubians were – came into play with
some major characters. I knew there had to be other African cultures I hadn’t learned about – especially knowing how much native history tended to be overlooked by European nations. (Forgive me for taking some liberties with those societies, not with the essentials, but combining them to further the story.)

It was a fascinating study. The architecture was astonishing and the art incredible. As luck would have it, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., did a wonderful program for PBS  ‘Africa’s Great Civilizations’. If you get the chance and want to know more about ancient African societies, check out – http://www.pbs.org/weta/africas-great-civilizations/home/

Keep an eye on this space for when the prequel becomes available.

The Coming Storm – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004WLOBG2

Servant of the Gods – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005XMAOP6

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In keeping with Valentine’s Day – who is my favorite fictional couple?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’ve probably had dozens over the years, as a teenager I read a pretty diverse mix of books from the classics to science fiction (which, if they featured women at all, they made them male sex fantasies) to fantasy (Tolkien’s mentioned Arwen only briefly, but Eowyn was stellar) and a few standard romances (which were pretty unrealistic prince/millionaire types).  The old classical writers knew a relationship was essential to a story – Anne, Constance, and Milady De Winter were essential to The Musketeers.  Later novels seemed to lose some of that. (George R. R. notwithstanding – he wanted to show the abuse of women of a given time period, and went a little overboard.)
Fortunately, the depictions of relationships grew and improved.
F’lar and Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider series, a realistic depiction of a relationship with the inevitable ups, downs and conflict. It was the first time I’d seen relationships portrayed that way by a popular fantasy author.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s vampire Saint Germain and his relationships, especially his love/friendship with Madeline de Montalia, is another great couple.
In romance novels, Cameron Quinn and Anna Spinelli – no alpha, just a relationship balancing careers, responsibilities, and life – from Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay books, as well and Eve and Roarke from the J. D. Robb books. 
In my own writing, I tend to prefer relationships/couples as an essential part of any story – each is different, some are intense, some are more low key.
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There are those who say writers shouldn’t insert politics into their writing…

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 in #politics, #romance, #sale, #thrillerthursday | 0 comments

There are those who say writers shouldn’t insert politics into their writing…

To those folks I say, “Oh please! I blow raspberries in your general direction”.

Have you read Charles Dickens  A Christmas Carol? He was using his writer’s bully pulpit to bring attention to the poor, and how they were kept that way through ignorance (lack of public education). Or on the opposite side, Tom Clancy – a known conservative whose political views informed all his writing.

To find myself the subject of a political ‘intervention’, though, was more than a little shocking. After all, in this country, your political party and vote are supposed to be a matter of personal choice, one of our freedoms.

Yes, I said an intervention. I walked into the kitchen of my ex-husband’s parent’s home to find his family blocking all the exits, and his mother – the local chair of the party in question – holding a change of registration form. It seems they needed someone to represent my district and they decided I was it…at least until they discovered I was a registered independent. (I had supported my father in his multiple failed campaigns.) To say that I was not amused would be an understatement. Apparently, they thought I was malleable. (They clearly didn’t know me very well.)

So, they staged an intervention, and they weren’t going to let me leave until I changed my registration. (Of course, they didn’t consider that I could change it back again.) In any case, the one thing it did successfully do was make me more aware, as well as making me research politics to understand the way it worked.

*Grins* Being a writer, of course, I wove that experience and knowledge into my work, both in a more serious way – the results of political policies on those caught by those policies in the political thriller Nike’s Wings – and in a romance on a seemingly lighter, more personal level showing politics on the local arena (with a kind of strange prescience of what would play out on the national stage in recent times) with Dirty Politics.

Everything we do, every part of what we are, informs us as writers…and it will show. We must be true to ourselves, and our readers

If you need an escape this weekend, escape with into the political thrills with Nike’s Wings or into a romance with Cam (and her sexy DA Noah) in Dirty Politics.

Nike’s Wings is available on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GHE94K

Dirty Politics is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005318DNW

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An Optimist on 2016 – A Year in Review…It Sucked. Bring on 2017.

Posted by on Dec 31, 2016 in #2016, #2017, #ValerieDouglasBooks, News | 0 comments

An Optimist on 2016 – A Year in Review…It Sucked. Bring on 2017.

As an optimistic realist (yes, you can be both), I’ve always preferred the view out of the windshield to the one in the rearview mirror. To be honest, though, on a personal and political level 2016 set new depths of suckage.

⇐⇐⇐Yeah, it was like that.

I’m so glad it’s behind us now.

2016 started out okay. I had and have a great marriage and was working my way through a new story after a dry spell. Yay me!

I’d been typing a lot – often with a cat in my lap – so the lower back pain when I took my husband to the airport for a business trip wasn’t a surprise…until it didn’t go away.
*laughing* It wasn’t the kidney stone that did me in (it was hardly my first time at bat there) it was the pain medication. The bottle said ‘may cause dizziness’. Dizziness, my eye. It took the knees right out from under me. Which wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if I hadn’t been carrying a basket of laundry down the stairs when it did. Poor Skeledog ⇒
broke my fall, and died yet again. (No, he’s not real, and my husband fixed him. Skeledog lives again!)
I was bruised from knees to shoulders so badly I was almost unable to move. Weirdly, stuff like that always happens when my husband is away. But I survived.

Somehow, though, I had lost connection with the story, but kept plugging.

Then came the shocker.

My brother died. I was stunned.

I knew he suffered from what I’ve come to call the ‘family disease’ – NASH, NAFLD. Liver disease. (I’m Stage IV.)

Our family isn’t close.

Like many if not most families we were a bit to more than a bit dysfunctional. With my brother even more so. The funny kid who always wanted to become a police officer and achieved his dream transformed into the kind of person I wasn’t sure I liked. As I said, I’m an optimist, and a bit liberal. He wasn’t either. We no longer had much in common and had stopped talking.

So I hadn’t known was how sick he was or that he’d developed liver cancer as a result of NASH.

Did I mention he’s my younger brother? (I do have to say that I heard he wasn’t sticking to his diet, the only way to control the disease.) He left a wife and daughter.

I kept trying to get back to the story I’d been writing, but just couldn’t. It wasn’t that the story wasn’t good, or that I didn’t want to write, it just wasn’t right.

The election was weirder than I thought it could ever be. And it kept getting worse. A level of nastiness that was astonishing – filled with anger, racism, bigotry and misogyny. Even more strange was the lack of thought, research and the profusion of lies. It was mind-boggling.

Like everyone else, I got caught up in it. In the interests of full disclosure, though, I have to admit I’ve always been political. If you doubt me, I have a couple of books for you to read.

Two weeks before my birthday I learned through a cousin that my mother was very ill, but there was nothing direct. I’d heard that my youngest brother, who’d been estranged from the family for years, had moved in with her to help, but there were no details.

Under the best of circumstances, my parents and I never got along – I was too smart, too cheerful, too independent. Too much a dreamer.

More so with my mother, who never really knew what to do with me.

The reverse was true, too. I didn’t know what to do with her.

My mother had always suffered from an inferiority complex. She never met a person she wouldn’t bad mouth, including or especially family.  She would take experiences that happened to others as her own or make up things from whole cloth. Over time she’d alienated me, my twin, as well as almost every friend and neighbor. Everything to her was a trauma – often of her own making. You were never really sure what was real and what wasn’t. And often it was just a way of getting attention. (She’d once claimed to be having a stroke, but drove home to drop off the dog first.)

So when I heard third-hand that she was ill, I wasn’t sure whether it was real or not. I expected some kind of contact from my brother if it was serious. Nothing. Until a phone call from my uncle that she was failing. I called my brother for confirmation.

She passed even as my husband and I were getting in the car to see her for what I thought was likely the last time.

Per her wishes, according to my brother, there was no service. No opportunity to say goodbye.

There are some who probably think I was a bit cold or distant about my losses, but I’m not big on sharing that kind of thing. First, who needs to hear it? Most have their own grief and pain to deal with, why add mine? The people closest to me know.

And in reality, death is another part of life.

On top of everything else, I broke my leg in one of the sillier things I’ve ever done – breaking up a fight between my existing cats and the new indoor/outdoor kitten.

The break was pretty creative I must say. It put me on crutches for two and a half months, unable to drive or move around easily. For someone like me, being restricted like that was incredibly frustrating. The simplest things were difficult, if not impossible.

Just before the holidays, I lost a cousin who’d been incredibly supportive of my writing in ways my own immediate family had never been.

I have to admit that I have a problem with the fascination so many people have over the death of some celebrities. To a certain extent, it did seem a lot, but how much of that was thanks to social media? After a certain age, or when suffering from disease, every day you live well and to the best of your ability is a blessing.
Zsa Zsa Gabor’s death at 99 after being on life support for years wasn’t unexpected and might have been a relief.
One the other hand, the loss of Anton Yelchin was truly tragic, he was only 27 and just proving his talent.
My mother had been ill for years, so her death wasn’t entirely unexpected. My brother died too young. He was old enough to have retired from police work, had a grown daughter but he never got the chance to truly enjoy his retirement and he’ll never dandle his grandchildren on his knee. That is truly sad. In the process, I lost half my family.

(By the way, have I said thank you, honey, for sharing your love and life with me?)

Sometimes I wonder if some of that grief is in response to the decisions we made as a nation.

A contentious election turned into one of the biggest shockers of all time by anyone’s standards and a good portion of the country mourned.

Then came Thanksgiving and with it the reminders of what had been, as well as the same kind of stresses everyone has to deal with, coupled with trying to fit in with my new family and trying to figure out the relationships. Anxiety, an old friend despite being an optimist, was a nearly constant companion. I was constantly having to navigate new waters while missing those childhood moments that were now gone forever.

Like Christmas Eve. My husband agreed to marry me on that day, on the same day my grandparents had married and my family got together for the holidays. Now I have something else to celebrate. And while I wasn’t looking, found a new family with his.

That’s what carries us all through coming good times and bad – love and family.

Add to everything else I suffered another loss between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a cousin who’d been incredibly supportive of my writing in ways my own immediate family had never been.

Did I say I’m an optimist?

So, 2016 sucked. Royally, and in so many ways. (I’m an optimist, but c’mon, let’s be realistic here…)

An old curse says ‘May you live in interesting times’.

I have the feeling that 2017 is going to be very interesting.

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I write fantasy for grownups

Posted by on Oct 31, 2016 in #fantasy, #femaleprotagonist #kindle | 0 comments

I write fantasy for grownups

Writers are frequently told to write what they want to read. I want to read fantasy for grown-ups – in other words for people over age twenty-one. I want to read fantasy where people have complex, healthy relationships and *gasp* sex. Not G.R.R.Martin sex where incest and rape are the primary forms – nothing against George R. R., and I get what he was saying about the culture. On the other hand, in the medieval period, people did have good relationships. There were arranged marriages but they actually and frequently turned out to be long, happy and monogamous. It would be good to show that, too, as a reflection.

Even in ancient times love, marriage and sex were often portrayed well. In ancient Egypt, marriage was an essential rite in their canon, and statues of important figures often included both husband and wife. As an example, there are Isis and Osiris. When Set killed Osiris Isis searched for his body and resurrected him. Gaia has a similar

They say 50% of all marriages fail but that also means that 50% succeed. Happy marriages do exist and have happened. There are plenty of examples, especially of those who struggled against enormous odds. A story on StoryCorps on NPR resonated with me particularly. It told of a couple – he’d been a soldier in WWII – that were devoted to each other. They wrote each other love notes even after decades of marriage. And everyone has heard family stories of a husband and wife so closely tied that when one died, the other followed within hours. I think of my neighbor, who had known his wife from the time she was fourteen. They were inseparable until the day she passed, and he misses her every minute of every day. Yet the stories he tells of her and their time together are always positive. If they had times where they struggled, he’s forgotten it.

They lived, they loved, and they expressed that love.

In this day and age, with so many negative examples, it’s not such a bad thing to show the positive side – to show two people of any type of sexuality, who love, honor and respect each other, and to allow us as writers or readers to see and share that.

Those are the kinds of books I want to read and the kind that I write. Flawed people, going through difficult times, who grow to care about each other, to respect each other, and who simply won’t give up on each other.

Valerie Douglas on about.me
Valerie Douglas


Author of
Song of the Fairy Queen 
Also available on Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks

The Coming Storm/A Convocation of Kings/Not Magic Enough/Setting Boundaries

Servant of the Gods/Heart of the Gods
Also available on Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks

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