The Dragons of the Cloud Land Saga

Stick figure dragon

Stick figure dragon

Writing dragons has always a bit of a challenge for me. It has taken me years of writing in my genre before diving into working with that main fantasy species.

That’s for two reasons:

1. Existing dragon stories

Of course, I want my dragons to be recognizable, and yet somewhat different from all the other dragons out there in fantasy land. Or roleplaying land, at that.

The 800-pound gorilla is obviously Pern. And I can’t deny the influence Pern dragons had and have on me. I still go back and re-read those stories. And yes, I had my own dragon’s name all thought up. I still remember it, too. So that’s why my dragons „speak“ telepathically and in cursive.

I’ve also played Dungeons & Dragons in a few different editions. And well, dragons feature largely in that Monstrous Manual. Except their abilities are color coded, and most of them are not… friendly.

So I went with something in between. And that’s where the work really starts because I needed to …

2. Create an entirely new species

You can’t just go and say „have a dragon“. Well, you could, but it makes things a bit boring for you, the reader. And it’s also unfair and lazy.

So I thought about „my“ dragons, and the first question that comes up is:

What do they look like?

And in order to have at least a bit of a scientific base for my dragons, I looked at dinosaurs. Big reptiles – that fits the size. Warmblooded – yep, even dinosaurs are now thought to be warmblooded, which I find very fascinating.

And the best thing about recent dinosaur research? Not only did they have the scales and leathery skin, they had feathers! Most of them didn’t fly with them, obviously, but down can certainly help in maintaining body heat, or at least be of decorative value. Scientists think that was the purpose of most feathers when they first evolved.

My dragons have scales on their body and down on their wings. And as additional gimmick, they can change their color like a chameleon. How do they do that? They would tell you that they just do, but there is a reason. Which I won’t tell until the end of the series. Mwahaha.

After looks comes ecology. And that’s where it gets really tricky.

How do they reproduce?

Admittedly, I’m leaning close to Pern dragons again… with that mating flight (yes, there will be one). But all of my dragons can mate and produce offspring, which is why mating is tightly regulated in the Western Kingdom, and most dragons are discouraged from doing so.

How do they bind with humans?

Impression is actually real. It happens here in the animal kingdom, but it rarely lasts beyond an animal’s youth. I went away from Pern style impression (although it sure is a lovely fantasy!), and chose to have riders and dragons create a bond that was supposed to happen between babies and adults. There will be hatching and bonding scenes in upcoming stories.

What do they eat?

Admittedly, that wasn’t much of a question for me. Yes, it’s possible that dragons could be herbivores, but can you imagine dragons spending most of their days eating grass? You’d be surprised how much time horses spend eating, in normal horsie lives. So mine are carnivors. That simple. Which does explain their claws and fangs, too.

And yes, like Pern dragons, they hunt and eat whole animals, but also chunks of them. But they aren’t quite that big, so they are a little less hungry.

So that’s it for now. Cloud Land Saga dragons are a little bit different, and a lot of … dragon.

Your Turn:
Got more dragon questions?
Want to read a story about something specific in Dorelle’s world?
Let me know! Write a comment!

Links:
The Cloud Land Saga
Dorelle’s Journey
Kraken War

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Idea Questions

Questions that spark ideas

Major Questions

Again and again, I’m being asked how I come up with my ideas. And I do have more ideas than I can write in my entire lifetime.

Thing is … for me, ideas are everywhere. It’s more a question of mood and how I feel rather than where I hunt for ideas. I don’t usually „hunt“ them. They slam into me, no matter where I am. Could be in bed, in the shower, at work, or walking around.

It could be the news, some weird sentence or – as is happening right now – a couple of friends chatting in my irc chatroom about some scientific question.

And then there are two major questions that really set me off:

What if…?

That’s really the basis of all stories, to be honest. Every fiction writer goes „what if…?“ in their writing. That’s why we call it fiction. We deviate from reality.

What if…?  can take me from my desk in northern Germany to imaginary realms, to alien invasions to complete new societies on Earth. It can take me into history and the future. It’s is THE central question.

What happens if dragons are not war animals?
What if a dragonrider acts out of love rather than out of duty?
What if there is an old school of thinking rejecting dragon intelligence?

That’s what got me going in the Cloud Lands Saga.

Of course, directly tied into that is the next question:

Why?

Now that is so simple that it can be easily overlooked.  But this simple question can totally develop a story, a world and a history. Let me give you an example:

Why does Dorelle leave her home land?

I had to give her a compelling reason. And I chose love for her dragon.

Why does she love her dragon that much?

Because Mashira is intelligent and much more than a mere beast of burden or beast of war. If Mashira had just been a difficult horse, Dorelle might have been reluctant to let her go, but she wouldn’t have become a traitor for a horse. (And I love horses!) The dragon had to be more.

Why Dorelle and not everyone else, too?

Because Dorelle is open to loving her dragon and communicating with her.

Why don’t other dragonriders open up to their dragons?

Well… that’s a question I’ll answer more fully in part 3, „Dragon Court“, but it has to do with old traditions around dragons.

See how that goes?

A lot of story telling is answering those two questions. And it’s great fun.

Your Turn:
Do you have a question about writing?
Do you want to know more about Dorelle and her world?
Write a comment!

Image source: F. Moebius

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The Dragons go to War – „Kraken War“ Release

Cover Kraken War

Kraken War

Today, „Kraken War“ has gone live. It’s the exciting sequel to „Dorelle’s Journey“.

Dorelle is back in the Western Kingdom, after delivering her warning. And the King springs into action, organizing a fighting force, and giving Dorelle joint command with the Crown Prince, Orlen.

They don’t know that treachery is already brewing in the wings. A dragon has plans of her own… and when the fighting doesn’t go well, she acts on them.

Dorelle and Orlen have to fight the ultimate battle to save their lands, to beat back the aggressive kraken and to keep as many dragons alive as possible. Of course, Dorelle listens to her heart more often than to cold, military logic, with far-reaching consequences.

And then there’s a Wing Commander who stays true to his calling and his heart even under horrible circumstances and duress. A hero who would rather die than betray his Kingdom…

Follow the fighting dragons, and be swept away to a foreign land full of adventure, love, treachery, and heart-wrenching loyalty.

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„Kraken War“ is released both as ebook and in print. And as a special favor to my fans, you’ll receive the ebook for free if you buy print through Amazon. (Print is going through review, as well as matching with the ebook and should be available again tomorrow.)

As always, I’m asking a favor:
Please leave a few words on Amazon, Goodreads or your blogs if you enjoyed the story. And please, let me know if and when you do.

Also feel free to comment below!

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„Dorelle’s Journey“ Goodreads Giveaway!

Dorelle's Journey

Dorelle’s Journey

This is an awesome opportunity for every reader and fan: I’m giving away five signed print copies of „Dorelle’s Journey“ through a Goodreads Giveaway – starting today!

And yes, I’m sending them to all possible countries listed on Goodreads. (I personally hate Giveaways restricted to the US and the UK. And since I’m in Germany, I’ll have to pay international postage anyway. So there!)

The catch is that you have to be a Goodreads member to participate. On the other hand, registration is totally free, and of course, Goodreads is a great way to find new and exciting books.

So how can you get one of the signed copies?

Follow this:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dorelle's Journey by Hannah Steenbock

Dorelle’s Journey

by Hannah Steenbock

Giveaway ends May 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

If you’re already a Goodreads member, just fill in your address and hit submit.
If not, you’ll have to sign up and then come back to participate in the Giveaway.

I will sign every single copy with a personalized entry before sending them out.

What are you waiting for?

Your Turn:
Do you have any questions about the Giveaway?
Would you like to say something about „Dorelle’s Journey“?

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The „Print is Growing Again“ Meme Must Die

Argh!

Argh!

This is a meme that really, truly has to die. It rears its ugly head way too often and is constantly repeated in one medium or other. Today, it showed up in the Guardian, and I just couldn’t take it any more.

This meme is WRONG.

It’s based on the idea that Nielsen (and other bookseller) reporting numbers are close to reality and can actually give valid information about how many ebooks are being sold. Or allow correct comparisons between ebook and print sales.

Thing is, Nielsen’s numbers are based on ISBNs. And that’s the simple reason why their data is flawed. Severely flawed. Here’s why:

Amazon ebooks have ASINs. (And yes, Amazon is the biggest distributor of ebooks.)

They may have ISBNs, especially when they are published by a big publisher, but most self-published ebooks on Amazon do not. They don’t need them. And most indie authors don’t bother with ISBNs, because buying them is expensive in most countries. (Yay for Canada where they are free!)

Which means:
Nielson does not even
see most sales of self-published ebooks.
Weiterlesen

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New BHCAuthors Website—Connecting Readers to Authors

This is awesome news from the wonderful people who turn my manuscripts into wonderful and beautiful ebooks and print.

I present: Blue Harvest Creative!

Blue Harvest Creative is excited to announce the next generation of independence has arrived!

BHC Authors Logo

Welcome to the BHC Authors website—a place dedicated to bringing readers and authors together. If you love to read, this is the place to be. Find a new favorite genre or author. Check out new releases and titles. Or enter a giveaway or promotion.

Here’s what you’ll find when you visit BHCAuthors.com

  • Author spotlights—Get up close and personal. Enter our monthly giveaway for a chance to win autographed print titles or eBooks from featured authors.
  • Reader/ARC (advanced reader copy) Program—Love to read? Want to see new titles before they are released? Enjoy giving feedback and discovering new authors or genres? Be sure to sign up for our ARC program.

BHC Authors Reader Program

  • News and events—Check our calendar often. You never know where a BHC Author will turn up!
  • Are you a reviewer, blogger, or journalist interested in review copies or scheduling an interview? Visit our media center, and we’ll be sure to get you everything you need.
  • Librarians and booksellers can also contact us at the media center. We’re here to make your job easier.
  • If you run a readers’ group, we offer book club reader’s guides for many of our titles and we’re always adding more.
  • Purchases titles and other nifty products from our Amazon affiliate store—From books to writer’s tools of the trade, and more, you’ll find it all here, right at your fingertips.
  • Meet the BHC Authors—Many of whom have won multiple awards and are USA Today bestsellers—and get to know their work.

BHC Authors Website

 

  • Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know about new titles, promotions, events, sales, and more. We hate spam as much as the next person, so we only send out about one email per month. Our intent is not to solicit services. Our newsletters only feature information about BHC Authors.

We’re just gearing up, and we’ll be adding more exciting features. Love our website? Have an idea to share or something you’d like to see featured? We’d love to hear from you, and we appreciate and value your ideas and suggestions. Please email us at:  Feedback (at) BHCAuthors (dot) com

Thanks for stopping by and supporting independently published authors!

Click HERE to visit the BHC Authors website.

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I’m Proud to be an Indie Autor

happy author

Happy Author

From my posts you may have seen that I’m an indie author who self-publishes her books.

And I’m proud of it.

Yes, sometimes I see things that make me cringe. Yesterday, I was pointed to a book (which shall remain nameless) that was obviously, painfully, badly indie.

– The cover was gruesome.
– There was a glaring error in the first sentence of the description.
– The copyright notice looked utterly unprofessional.
– More errors in the first few paragraphs, disjointed writing, and headhopping.
– And yes, it was free.

Now, the fact that this particular author hit „publish“ on Amazon KDP doesn’t make me proud. But what I like is that he or she had the option to do so.

The biggest part of being an indie author is freedom.

Freedom to write what we want.

You see, I have a friend who wrote a great historical novel – set in Egypt. No publisher would touch it. She wrote another novel set in the middle ages, and they loved it. That’s where the market was, they said, and gave her a contract. And asked her to write more of the same.

I can write what I love. I can write stories that make my heart sing – and I believe that such stories will find readers that connect with it.

Freedom to do our own marketing.

There is one novel I wrote that I don’t have control over. The marketing makes me cry. It doesn’t sell. To me, it’s a wasted novel, which is a shame because I also happen to think it’s a good one.

If I could, I would change everything about that novel, but most of all the price and the description. Control is very important.

Freedom to create awesome book descriptions.

Book descriptions are what makes a potential reader either buy outright or „look inside“. A great book description is the the best prep for a sale. And as indie authors who are responsible for every aspect of our books, we can tweak them until the do their job.

Freedom to be professional.

I believe this one is key.

You see, as indies, we don’t have to follow everything that traditional publishers do, but we can take those parts of their business that work, and find our own ways to do them at least as well – or better.

– Get editing.
– Get a professional cover.
– Invest in marketing.

And then there are things we can do even better than traditional publishers.

– Create a professional presence on social media.
– Own our webspace and presentation.
– Connect with readers and create fans.

The choice is ours. And  believe every indie author should choose to be as professional as possible.

– Write the best book you possibly can.
– Write what you love, with heartblood.
– Make your book show up as professional as possible.
– Learn everything you can about publishing.

Yes, I’m proud to be an indie author.

Your Turn:
What do you think about indie authors? What are your experiences?

Image source: F. Moebius

PS: If you like my books, please consider writing a review. It doesn’t have to be complicated or long. You don’t have to explain what the book is about. Just let people know what you enjoyed about the story.

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About Writing Dragons

It has taken me a long, long time to write about dragons in a serious way. Which is funny, because I’ve always loved dragons.

I remember reading a German children’s book that has dragons in it. Ugly, nasty, dirty and altogether unpleasant dragons. (Jim Knopf und Lukas, der Lokomotivführer, by Michael Ende). Actually, there is one exception to that but she doesn’t get much screen time – I won’t say more because of spoilers.

Then Pern happened to me when I was an exchange student. I spent much of my free time translating Dragon Flight into German… And that set the standard rather high. Of course, I imagined my very own dragon, with her own name. Who didn’t?

Also, most dragons in Dungeons and Dragons are … bad news. I actually played a character once who developed dragon characteristics – there was a half-dragon player set in 3E, if I remember correctly. Sadly, that game didn’t go very far, and the group dissolved soon after that.

So dragons have always been on my mind, but it has taken me until now to actually tell a story about them. Maybe it’s because I decided that the Pern dragons are not going anywhere anymore. Or maybe I finally wanted to create my own take.

Dorelle's Journey

Dorelle’s Journey

You see, „my“ dragons are a little like Pern dragons. They speak in their riders‘ minds. They don’t go between, though. And their wings are covered in down, like dinosaurs, while the bodies are covered in scales. I kinda liked that idea, so it’ll stay. Oh, and they can shift color, which is rather neat, too. And different.

Sadly, most of the dragons are treated like animals, or flying horses. Only a few people are aware enough – or not indoctrinated enough – to recognize their intelligence and loyalty.

My hero, Dorelle, grew up in a fishing village and thus was not taught as a child that dragons had to be dominated and rigidly controlled in order to be safe. Instead, her dragon Mashira became her best friend.

That’s why Dorelle did the unthinkable when Mashira was threatened with death. She deserted.

You can already preorder the tale of what Dorelle and Mashira went through on their journey, and find out why they chose to return, after all. And it’ll go live on February 24th, together with a print edition.

„Dorelle’s Journey“ on Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.de

And there will be more. I’m calling this The Cloud Lands Saga.

Because I discovered I love writing dragons.

Your Turn:
Which is your favorite dragon? And if you’re really daring … what’s your Pern dragon’s name? (Mine was Marianth.)

Image Source: Blue Harvest Creative

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Books I enjoyed in 2014

Reading

Reading

I’ve been thinking about what to write at the beginning of a new year. I could talk about projects, about plans and characters that I love … but there is plenty of time to do so later.

So I decided to make a list of books that really touched me in 2014. That’s not going to be easy because I don’t usually take notes about books. (Here’s a thought: A book journal, jotting down a few ideas about every book I read…)

I’m excluding non-fiction (of which I read a lot, being a coach and therapist in my other life), since this is the blog of a fiction writer.

Anyway, here we go, in no particular order as I dig through my Kindle:

The Mage Winds Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey

Reading these books early in 2014 was like revisiting an old friend, with new adventures. I enjoy Valdemar a lot, and these tales were nice, entertaining and soothing. There was some brooding, but not near as much as in the Vanyel trilogy. Also, much less heartbreak. ( And it was kind of nice to learn something new about Vanyel, too.) I was at a point where I needed soothing and entertaining more than dark. Weiterlesen

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Flash Friday: The Summoning

Well, demons are the favorite playthings of some summoners. Not all of them, as you can see.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carefully, Daron drew the pentacle with holy chalk. Then he lit the candles one by one, closing the circle with the calling of the four elements.

With two deep breaths, he centered himself before starting the incantation.

“I call thee, Svarog,
for the might of the fire
for the power of the game
for the will of the desire
for the aim of the flame.”

The air flickered around him. Power moved on a larger scale than he ever expected. A flicker of fear stole over him, and he brushed it away.

“I call thee, Svarog,
for the roar of the fire
for the …”

Something moved. He whirled. A flickering spark flew up from the pentacle, followed by a larger one. Daron cringed as the pentacle on the floor filled with fire. Flames roared up, and he took a step back. One candle fell, breaking the circle. As fire engulfed him and seared his body, a voice entered his gibbering mind.

“YOU CALLED?”

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