Song of the Fairy Queen – New Cover

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in #epicfantasy, #fairy, #fairyqueen, #fantasy, #female protagonist, #SongOfTheFairyQueen, #SongOfTheFairyQueen #cover, News | 0 comments

Song of the Fairy Queen – New Cover

When last I posted, I didn’t know what the new cover would look like. I loved the old cover and wasn’t sure what to expect from the new cover. I didn’t know if that cover I loved so much could be matched.
It was not only matched, it was exceeded, and I’m not the only one who thinks so! What do you think? Isn’t it incredible?

I said then that I would name the cover artist when I saw the new cover.

Major Kudos to the folks at Damonza.com!

You can find the new edition at
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S

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Song of the Fairy Queen – New cover?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in #cover, #epicfantasy, #fairy, #fairyqueen, #fantasy, #female protagonist, #SongOfTheFairyQueen | 0 comments

Song of the Fairy Queen – New cover?

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

So, like most writers, that’s what I did. 
I love fantasy but I’d run out of books I wanted to read, stories of action, adventure, magic and – yes – passion. Something between Stardust and Game of Thrones. I love Gaiman’s mix of adventure and romance, and I loved G. R. R. Martin’s political intrigue and action. What surprises and puzzles me is the criticism I get for putting moments of positive romance/sex in my books, but no one has a problem with Martin’s incest/rape storylines. (I understand why he did it, btw.). 
What I didn’t want were helpless heroines who needed to be rescued. I wanted strong, capable heroines like the Queens in real life. No one could say that Elizabeth I was a shrinking violet, that Catherine the Great didn’t earn that honorific, or that Victoria wasn’t able to lead her country through difficult times. Or Elizabeth II for that matter. And while some did it alone, others found a partner to stand beside them.
I wanted to write about the price of rule, the sacrifices good rulers have to make for the sake of the people they serve.

I wanted to write about people who struggled to find balance, who succeeded or failed, the repercussions of their actions, and – for one character – his redemption.

In other words, people you could know or relate to, people you could care about. Or hate.

That’s what I wrote. Whether I succeed or not, I’ll let you decide.

What inspired me to write the book? The statues of Nike of Samothrace and another called Night Descending – it was as if she was coming to a landing – and suddenly the first chapter was there in my head. I had no idea what would happen next, I just followed that winged muse until the story was written.

So I gave it to an editor and went in search of cover.
Old cover
At that time, it was difficult to find a good cover artist – so I made my own. I once was and still am a portrait artist, but with so many selfies, there’s less demand. Apparently, I was a good enough cover artist, my first cover for Song of the Fairy Queen won an award. Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite convey Kyriay’s sheer badassery, her strength and courage.
By that time, the Coming Storm fantasy series and Song of the Fairy Queen were doing well enough that I could afford to invest in professional covers. So I hired a company to do one. Their covers were amazing, including a few by other writers I knew. It was a lot of money for me at the time, but once I saw what they created for me, I knew it was worth it. That cover was perfect.
Current cover

So, imagine my sinking heart when, after nearly seven years, someone told me that the same image was on another cover. I knew it was stock art and anyone can buy stock images, but mine had been chosen for this book and the other cover was almost an exact copy except for the title. In a way, it’s a compliment to my good taste in covers, but it might explain some of the confusion about elements of the book – the other author writes for a younger audience, or at least that book was.
I was heartbroken. That cover was so good. And I’d paid what was for me, at the time, a lot of money for it.

All that aside, the person who’d brought it to my attention asked if I or the cover artist knew the image had been used on another book and was it proprietary?

I thought the cover artist had the right to know so I emailed them. I explained to them that I would understand if it was a stock image.
They told me it was, but if I wanted a new cover they would create a new one for me for a discount. 
Now that’s class and professionalism. (I’ll name them with kudos once I see the new cover.)
At first, though, I have to be honest and say I resisted. I loved that cover. It’s so good, so right for the book.

The quality of their work, though, is incredible. (They’ve come up with some other covers for me since then.)

Given that quality and that they offered a new cover at a discount, made it impossible to turn down. 

Now I can’t wait to see what they come up with this time!
Song of the Fairy Queen  – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S
For all my books – https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI

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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
mythology.

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
about.me/Valerie.Douglas

https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI/

Author of
Song of the Fairy Queen 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S
Also available on Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks

The Coming Storm/A Convocation of Kings/Not Magic Enough/Setting Boundaries
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004WLOBG2

Servant of the Gods/Heart of the Gods
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005XMAOP6
Also available on Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks

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Have tropes become too trite? Part 1

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in #amwriting, #fantasy, #mystery, #romance, #WIP, tropes | 0 comments

Are tropes too trite?

For those of you who don’t know, a literary trope is the use of figurative language – via word, phrase, or even an image – for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. For a time, old 70-80s TV programs had a list of standard tropes – the identical twin to one of the heroes, one of the heroes (there were only heroes then) goes blind, or develops amnesia.

In fantasy one of the tropes is the young hero on a quest or becoming the savior of the world. In mystery novels it’s the lead characters problem with alcohol or love of esoteric music (especially jazz), and the uptight woman who melts for him but turns out to be the murderess. There’s also the Sherlock type hero, or the brilliant psychopath as the enemy.
In romance it’s the HEA or HFN (happily ever after or happy for now) ending, and the ‘misunderstanding’ or
downright deceptive hero who doesn’t tell the heroine something important.
That’s where I’m at right now. In my current WIP it just happens that the hero has a good reason for withholding information from the heroine… but it’s a commonly used trope, but it works for the book.
But has that trope been overused?
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in #amazon, #fantasy | 0 comments

Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder as Chuck Wendig pointed out so brilliantly in his recent post ( http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/06/29/beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholders-ten-magical-eye-stalks/ ), but it’s also in the perception of that beholder. I came face-to-face with that issue in a recent review of one of my books.
In The Coming Storm and its sequels and prequels I tried to project a society where physical beauty isn’t the measure of an individual, it’s their accomplishments that matter. In their world, every being has equal value, whether they’re the ones who clean the stables or the Hunters who defend them. Even their leaders have no title beyond ‘first among equals’. It’s a shock for Colath to discover that the people of men consider him beautiful by their standards. Elon, first among equals in his Enclave of Aerilann, is frequently described as stern, imposing, but not physically attractive. He’s fit, well-muscled as suits a swordsman, but that wouldn’t have been that uncommon in any society of that level. Most of our own ancestors would have been that fit, do to the physical labor the vast majority had to perform. In our own history, one of the issues the settlers had to deal with was what they considered the physical beauty of the natives.
Even Ailith, the female lead, isn’t described as beautiful, her features are said to be too strong for real beauty. Nor is Jalila, but it’s her confidence that sets her apart.
The review, by the way, was generally great…especially the comparison to Tolkien…but not the little bit about ‘of course, the Elves are beautiful’. I took pains to point out that they aren’t, that it’s their self-confidence that makes them appear that way.
I experienced that first hand. Growing up, especially during those years when society starts to push young people into slots, I was labelled a geek. I wore glasses, I did well in school, and I was a little chubby. However, just before my senior year, we found out we were moving to a new town, and I decided to reinvent myself. I put the glasses away and took my chances with my nearsightedness. I started exercising. I took pains with my hair and learned how to apply makeup. It was a different, more confident, me who went to the new town and the new school. I knew I had made it when one of the ‘popular’ boys tried to copy my school work, knowing I did well. I didn’t let him and he backed down. Suddenly, I was one of the popular kids.
The essential me hadn’t changed, but the physical me had, and my confidence in who I was made the difference. It was just perception.
I would see that same thing when I met my husband for the first time. As he walked toward me I could tell he wasn’t worried about impressing me, he was confident but not arrogant – he was just comfortable in his own skin and with who he was. He’s not particularly tall, and although I consider him a good-looking man, some wouldn’t. None of that matters, not to him and not to me.
About that perception thing… When my old cats, my constant companions through a lot of upheavals, died, I found myself missing that companionship. So I went to the animal shelter. They had dozens of beautiful kittens, but none as beautiful to me as this pretty piebald kitten in the very back. She was a cuddler, such a love… and she was in the very back for one reason – she only had one eye. I don’t even notice any more. To me, it didn’t matter. Any more than it mattered for the little stray I found attacking something in a discarded McDonald’s bag. That his jaw was broken and his face was a little flattened wasn’t important. He’s got a great personality. And when he looks up at me there is so much love and trust in his eyes that nothing else matters. What’s truly ugly is the person who did that to him, or who abandoned him.
I wasn’t a big George Clooney fan – although people were always focused on his looks, they did nothing for me, I thought he was a little too self-involved…until he got involved in the situation in Darfur. As did the issues in a couple of his movies. His looks still don’t do anything for me, but he has my respect.
Actions. It’s what you do that matters.

If you want more of The Coming Storm series…
The Coming Storm http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004WLOBG2
A Convocation of Kings http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050K6F86
Setting Boundaries http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004RJ7X50
Not Magic Enough http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004RJ44MA

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