Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson

Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 5, Midnight Tides

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these. Yes, I’m still trundling along with this series.

It took me a while to get into this one, okay, I slogged through the first half. Midnight Tides is like starting an entirely new series, and had a lot of background story that did not seem to tie in to that we know of the series so far.

I questioned my taste for epic fantasy. Could it be? Was this too epic for me? Was it, in fact, too broadly reaching to hold my interest in the middle section of a series? I missed the old characters I haven’t seen, heard or even wandered around the same region as for half a book. And then the enemy showed up (to save the day?). A few characters revealed some quirks that, knowing Erikson, promised to be interesting. And I was hooked.

In short, hang in there, it ramps up, a lot. I think I picked away at the first part for 3 months and then finished the rest in about a week, which is fast for me.

Midnight Tides adds yet another facet to the story as a whole. This series is the most epic story I’ve ever read, for sure. This really reminds me how much can be going on in a world at one time. Instead of one character hearing about the occurrences in a distant place, Erikson puts a set of point of view characters in the middle of it. Throwing in but a dash of the familiar to connect the signature dots of this story, and you have to know what to look for, which adds to the fun of it.

Structurally, Erikson is managing the scope of the series by adjusting how he introduces new things this many pages in. In book 4, House of Chains, the first half was all about one character without getting other points of view, as if catching up the character to the time line. It seems as though Erikson did the same here, but with a new corner of the world, not just one person; with a new plot element, not just a new character.

With book 5 still riding the story development arc up, and only five books remaining, I’m hoping the next installment will start to bring everything together for some more of the merry plot mashing goodness that Erikson has shown a unique aptitude for so far. And yes, I read the Dramatis Personae in the front of each book to see who is in it.

Jamie Marchant Shares the Lay of the Land in Soul Stone

Help me welcome Jamie Marchant. She is guest posting with me about her new book The Soul Stone (The Kronicles of Korthlundia Volume 2). In this Sword & Sorcery novel two royals strive to save their kingdom, and Jamie shows us around the land at stake.

The Soul Stone

The Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant.

Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?

Find The Soul Stone Online:

Black Rose Writing


Barnes and Noble


Lay of the Land

Korthlundia is often called the joined kingdoms because throughout most of its history the northern kingdom of Korth was separated from the southern kingdom of Lundia. Divided by a mountain range that is impassable for most of the winter, the two kingdoms have a long history of animosity. In attempt to end centuries of warfare between Korth and Lundia, the heirs of the two kingdoms—Queen Samantha’s grandparents, Maeve of Korth and Lir of Lundia—married. However, it took an additional fifteen years and the reign of their son Solar to end the hostilities and meld the two kingdoms into one. Thanks to Solar’s brilliant rule and long life, peace has reigned in the land for the past fifty years, but the murder of Solar and the ascension of his young heir—Samantha is only nineteen when she takes the throne—has made such peace precarious.

However, civil war is the only military threat to the joined kingdoms, which are isolated and mostly inaccessible to the rest of the world. Korthlundia is bordered on the north by the frozen wastelands of Fruscarettr and on the south and west are the deserts of Sehra. Both regions are inhabited only by a few isolated nomads. The east of Korthlundia faces the sea, but the waters off the coast are littered with rocks and reefs, making approach by sea extremely dangerous. There is only one semi-safe harbor, that of the capital city of Murtaghan. Even this harbor can only be navigated at high tide and requires the guidance of a local vessel with knowledge of all obstacles that scattered throughout the harbor. Because of it isolated nature, Korthlundia does not even have an army, just a small Royal Guard. Long years of peace have led to great prosperity for the people of the joined kingdoms.

Korthlundia is a beautiful country. Just inland from the capital city of Murtaghan, which is in Lundia, lies the Setanta forest. There the trees tower over the forest floor and are as wide around as a house. The forest gives way to the Reidhlean Plains, a flat land of endless grasses that are inhabited by the Horsetads, a race of horses that possess magical properties and cannot be tamed. Korth is more mountainous with sheer cliffs, steep drop offs, and magnificent waterfalls.

In The Soul Stone this peaceful, beautiful land is threatened by the Bard Alvabane. In order to reclaim Lundia for her people who were driven out a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn, Alvabane claims the power of the Soul Stone, an ancient weapon that drains the life out of the land—killing people, animals, and even plants. Alvabane’s use of the Stone creates the Dead Lands, in which nothing, not even the cockroaches, can survive. Robrek and Samantha must find a way to stop her before it is too late.



JamiesoulFrom early childhood, Jamie Marchant has been immersed in books. Her mother, an avid reader, read to her, and her older sister filled her head with fairy tales. Taking into consideration her love for literature and the challenges of supporting herself as a writer, she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. But in doing so, she put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. Then one day, in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized that what she wanted to be doing was writing fantasy novels. Her muse thus revived, she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. The second volume in the series, The Soul Stone, was released June 2015.

She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son, and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. Her short fiction has been published on Short-Story.Me, and her story was chosen for inclusion in their annual anthology. It has also appeared in the anthologies—Urban Fantasy (KY Story, 2013) and Of Dragon and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds (Witty Bard Publishing, 2014)—The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Bards & Sages.

Goddesses Choice

The Goddesses Choice, (The Kronicles of Korthlundia Volume 1) is also available on Amazon.

Find Jamie online at her website and her blog.


Scribings Vol. 1 Featured at Her Ladyship’s Quest Big List of deals at Google Play Books

In case you missed it last weekend, Scribings Vol. 1 was one of several books featured at Her Ladyship’s Quest Big List of deals at Google Play Books!

Scribings Vol. 1


Scribings Vol. 1 was the first Greater Portland Scribists publication, published by Lost Luggage Studios in 2011. I have three short stories in this volume, and it is near and dear to my heart.

“The Last Mate”
What will the last mate do to gain control of a ship who chooses her own crew?

“The Making”
The young gods thought it was they who ruled the world.

“In the Business of Rotting”
Forced to find a new passion after a revolution, a jeweler-turned-distiller is determined to forgive and forget. But a new discovery changes the nature of her business.

Scribings is a fabulous compilation of speculative tales by four Maine authors. The collection starts with one piece of flash fiction from each author. The rest contains longer pieces of fiction for a total of eleven pieces representing a range of styles and genres from fantasy to science fiction and beyond. Watch young gods learn their place, see what the afterlife is like, meet Dappil, taste the sweetness of revenge, feel the fires of judgment and more.


“A well-written, eclectic collection. Worth the time, and I hope to see more from these authors in the future!” -David Day on Smashwords

“This collection contains several short fantasy stories of varying length. Each writer made sure to include a ‘suprise’ feature keeping it fresh . Most stories left me hoping to see more about these characters and themes. Probably the best use of two dollars I’ ve made in a while.” -Amazon Customer

Her Ladyship’s Quest Big List of deals at Google Play Books also features 13 other books by 13 different authors. Go check it out. You may find your next summer read!

Her Ladyship’s Quest: Big List of Free through $2.99 deals at Google Play Books

Lingering in the Woods is Back

I can finally announce that Lingering in the Woods is back on the virtual book shelves at Amazon, this time as an ebook. Lingering in the Woods is a fantasy novelette and is available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. All of you should leave reviews!

Lingering in the Woods is the first installment of a serial epic fantasy collection, A Shaman’s Rune. A sequel will be coming out later this year.

Check back here for updates, or sign up for my mailing list in the sidebar. (Your information will be safe, and no, I won’t spam you, unless I become outright prolific.)

Lingering in the Woods

An untested shaman. A demanding chieftain. If Chrigle can’t protect his tribal hunting party and their bounty, exile is certain.

When his Spirit Guide cries a fierce warning, he halts their homeward ride. The hunters are not alone. Chrigle must wield his runes to protect the hunters for dark magic fills the wood and a vengeful spirit is desperate to find its next victim.

The night fills with uncertainty and fear as his struggle to win a place in his tribe becomes a test of
will and sacrifice. If he survives
the price of success may be too high.


For more information about Lingering in the Woods, visit the book page.



Artist, Hard at Work, Disturb at Own Risk

I was going to write out a post, my first of the year, my first in months, about how while I thought I’d be starting out the year with a good bit of writing (what a great resolution, eh?) but instead realized that I needed to begin this year with marketing–a very different kind of work, but then this picture flowed through the Facebook feed (no, I wasn’t procrastinating that much) and it really says it all…

I’ll be away from my computer writing some pitch copy now, thanks.

Wandering Around in L. Blankenship’s Words: Interview with a Prince

Disciple is a gritty fantasy romance series in six parts. The Disciple Half-Omnibus collects the first three parts into one meaty ebook. Part IV will be on sale March 1st!


War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.


Interview with a prince:

Prince Kiefan is the only surviving son and heir of the king of Wodenberg. Like his father, he has a reputation for discipline and stern expectations–and he’s eager to prove himself now that he’s come of age. I had some questions for Prince Kiefan at the beginning of Disciple, Part I. He’s about to leave on a vital secret mission to find allies for the kingdom.


L: You’re an alpha male in training and this secret mission is your most important command yet. Do you feel ready for this?

Kiefan: I trust the saints’ judgement. Though Father and I disagreed over the cavalry charge that I led some months ago, he cannot deny that it won the battle. The saints have judged me fit to lead and I will not fail in my duty to them or my people. 

L: You didn’t expect the master healer to send his apprentice, though.

Kiefan (frowning): No, I was told he would be with us in this, and then he brought Kate in his stead — but the saints affirmed her, gave her charge of our well-being. One must work with what’s given. 

L: It’s not because she’s a girl, is it?

Kiefan (he laughs): I squired with Captain Aleksandra. Any who dares doubt her will be put straight on the matter of a woman’s strength and courage. But Kate’s no disciple of the sword. She’s a healer. It’s clear enough this will be no easy journey across the mountains — none have made it and returned, that any know of. The saints ask much of us, as it is.

L: So the problem is more that she’s — bookish?

Kiefan: Kate has never even been in the saddle before today. Surely she’ll learn it, but yes, she’s spent more time among books than —

L: I hear you’re fond of books yourself.

Kiefan: Father’s seen that I’ve studied tactics and —

L: No, I mean those philosophy essays you’ve been sneaking peeks at.

Kiefan (frowns): Father’s kept my days busy enough with serious matters.

L: There’s nothing wrong with a little philosophy, surely?

Kiefan: The king of Wodenberg must be a knight, firstly. He must see to duty. We’re at war.

L: Yes, it’s always duty for you. Including a political marriage someday.

Kiefan (gets up from his seat, impatient): The privileges of the throne have their price. I’ve a mission to lead. (strides away, armor clinking)

L: You’re not concerned about traveling with a cute, philosophy-reading healer?

Kiefan (circles back): Pardon?

L: Well, she is cute.

Kiefan (spreads one hand, confused): Yes, certainly she’s… cute. Philosophy?

L: Oh, yes. She’s been reading those essays too. Her teacher might’ve sent some homework with her on the mission.

Kiefan (doesn’t know what homework is, but he gets the gist): Why should that be troublesome?

L: I’m sure it won’t be, Mr. All Work And No Play.

Kiefan: Which books is Kate bringing?

L (shooing him off): It’s not part of your duty, is it? Go, you’ve got a mission to lead.


Disciple I

Read Disciple I for FREE from

DISCIPLE, PART IV arrives on March 1st!
Get a reminder by joining L’s mailing list

Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway to win one of two free copies of the Disciple Omnibus.

L3-250pxL. Blankenship started writing animal stories as a kid and it’s just gotten completely out of hand since then. Now she’s out publishing her gritty fantasy and hard science fiction adventures. L grew up in New Hampshire but currently lives near Washington, DC. She blogs here.





I've Been Hitting the Keyboard Again

Some may ask if this is a good thing. It is, of course! On November 9th I sat down and plotted out a 10 installment serial novel. I’m not giving myself a choice about making this a reality. It is going to happen and it’s going to take at least a year and a half. Lots of time for the project to go and change on me.

It took me ten days to pound out the rough draft of the second story in this series. I was shocked to come out with a 14,000 word MS Word document (because, yes I still use Word to write, don’t you?). Boy does it have issues! I look forward to correcting them. The part about writing I thrive for the most is revision.

So my little celebration to completing the rough draft is putting up this blog post.

Truth is, those 10 days that I  forced myself to sit and write, they were grueling. Going through grad school I had a set-in-stone schedule. Having been away from writing so long (shame on me!) I don’t know how I did it. In fact, going into that story, I was afraid that I’d forgotten how to write. How ridiculous is that? I’s not like I’d been in a major car accident or something. I’ve just been busy being boring, going to work and watching TV because there is only so much time in the day. But what I had forgotten, was my good writing habits.

If you make it a habit, it will happen. I know people who swear by writing every day. While I don’t think I can do that, yet, I can get pretty close. In fact, that is the only way my 10 mini-book series is going to happen.

Greater Portland Scribists Launch 3rd Collection

My friends over at Lost Luggage studios have been super busy lately. They’ve just completed the 3rd Scribings Anthology from the Greater Portland Scribists group. I’m excited to see more work from this group so I’m sharing the inside cover info with you here (because I can) so you can have a taste for yourself! 


Change is inevitable. Everything that happens in your life alters you, forever, for better or worse. Whether the change occurs to one person or to a whole society, it eventually affects us all.

Scribings, Vol 3: Metamorphosis contains six stories from the Greater Portland Scribists that explore changes, from the self-inflicted alterations of a glory seeker to a victim forced to learn how to live his life all over again.


Genre: Anthology (multiple authors) / Science Fiction / Urban Fantasy

Formats: Ebook and Paperback

Length: about 54,000 words


Six Authors

Scribings, Vol 3: Metamorphosis features stories from six authors who live around Portland, Maine. This volume includes stories from returning authors Richard Veysey, Timothy Lynch, and Jamie Alan Belanger; as well as stories from new GPS members Shelli-Jo Pelletier, Steven Inman, and D.L. Harvey.


Six Stories

Each member has contributed one story about a drastic life change. Sometimes the transformations happen at the physical level, sometimes emotional, and sometimes entire civilizations are altered forever. Here’s a brief tease of each story:


Third-Person Hero by Jamie Alan Belanger

An arrogant youth has one last chance for fame. Will cheating bring the success she desires?


 Last Defender by Shelli-Jo Pelletier

After centuries of forced servitude, the last living gargoyle must decide if he will still uphold his kind’s sacred duty to protect.


 Disruption by D.L. Harvey

After ingesting a toxin, Braven’s life is disrupted. Will an accidental romance and a foreign planet get him back to where he was?


 Otherkin by Steven Inman

Marcie saw life as sink or swim, but her new friend led her to depths she didn’t imagine.


 Four Degrees by Timothy Lynch

The straw that broke the planet’s back.


‘Rose in Dreams by Richard Veysey

A boy discovers great power in a realm beyond dreams… and is ensnared in a nightmare from which he may not wake.


If you haven’t been introduced to the Scribings series yet, don’t panic! While some of the stories across volumes take place in the same worlds, each story is carefully crafted so that it stands on its own. But now is a great time to start reading all of our work. Get these free PDF samples below and you can start reading a sample from each story today:



Wandering Around In Vanna Smythe's Words: Anniversary of the Veil Series



Characters in the Anniversary

of the Veil Series and Me




Writers are often asked whether they base their characters on themselves. I wholly admit to doing so. Though none of the characters in my fantasy series Anniversary of the Veil are exactly like me. When creating characters and formulating their reactions to the situations in the book, I look inward and discern how their individual personalities would react.

 So who are these main characters, and how do they resemble me?

Protector Kae: He is the main character and, in my opinion, the one most like me (even if he is a guy ;)) So, Kae is honest, truthful and just, but he’s also self-assured, confused and not altogether averse to breaking the rules a little from time to time. As his whole world topples around him, and as he finds himself possessing strange magical abilities, Kae has some trouble making sense of it all and find balance again in all the new knowledge.

Princess Issa: She is a daydreamer, though always keeps a grasp on reality.  I’m like that too. Issa is also a little spoilt and a bit selfish, but she has a good heart and does, truly, want the best for everyone around her. She does also want the best for herself though.

Head Priest Rhaldan: He’s an old man with a poor sense of humor and very little humility. He is also very set in his ways and has a hard time adapting to change. In some ways that’s me too, though I don’t like to admit it. Especially since Rhaldan is the villain 😉

First Captain Entan: In the series, Entan goes through quite a crisis on a personal level. He struggles with the choice between obeying orders on the one hand, and doing what is right on the other. We’ve all been in a similar situation, and so have I.

Keeper Alet: Hers is a similar choice to Entan’s though Alet’s is even more dire.  Alet has spent many years training to become a soldier, and this, coupled with personal loss, has made her rather cold and distant. In the story, she is put in a situation where she must face her emotions again. She is probably least like me of all the characters, since I am almost rarely able to keep my emotions in check with cold reason. Though, sometimes, I succeed.



More about the Anniversary of the Veil series:

Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1) is available now form Amazon and Smashwords

Decision Maker (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 2) Decision Maker is coming soon!


Find Vanna Smythe on the web:

Website and blog
Twitter: @Vanna_Smythe