Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of Ogres, Orcs, and Beowulf (A Repost)

In honor of the release of Honor Among Orcs, I'm reposting some of my "Orc Romance: In Progress" posts from those days in 2012 when I first began writing it -- with my early thoughts on what makes an orc, and those creatures which seem to have influenced our ideas of them. Here's the second!


Stories of beowulf grendelThese Beowulf illustrations predate Lord of the Rings by a couple of years, though not Tolkien. In fact, with a publication date of 1908, I almost wonder if Tolkien read this particular edition.

Fangs instead of tusks, but fearsome and very Uruk-hai in style, all the same. Even if Tolkien wasn't influenced by this depiction, it seems to capture the essence of the beast. I'm not sure I subscribe to Grendel as an Ogre, myself. I've always thought of him as more dragon-like, but since he's not all that well-described (and I am known for ignoring description anyway) it could just as easily be a me thing, than anything grounded in fact or literature.

Stories of Beowulf water witch trying to stab beowulfBut look also at the image of Grendel's mother in the same book. Green skin, blue-black hair, a long ugly nose. If anything, she's even more orc-like than Grendel, complete with rippling muscles.

We know that Tolkien was studying Beowulf -- and in fact he was one of the first to study it seriously for more than just the evolution of language. Looking at images like this, I can't imagine how the ogre isn't the father of the Orc -- or at the very least, the father of our perceptions of what makes an Orc. It's obvious that as a culture, we were already imagining them in 1908.








And if you're interested in another reimagining of orcs as we know them, be sure to check out HONOR AMONG ORCS, where Tolkien meets Beauty and the Beast! 

Kindle | Paperback | Nook
After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father's abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid.

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Double Trouble New Cover Reveal for Tur and Elsker!

You all remember S.T. Bende, who was kind enough to partner up with me for the ThorLove Blogfest which kicked off Fate Forgotten's release -- and now she's re-releasing her Elsker Saga, about the Norse God Ull, god of winter (and form-fitting sweaters) and the charming college girl-of-the-world Kristia, who turns his world upside down! And because we're all about all things Thor here at Good to Begin Well, and Ull happens to be Thor's step-son,* I'm thrilled to be part of her cover reveal!

So, let's talk about the books and showcase some rockin' Cover Art! (also there's a giveaway WOOO!)

TUR
The Elsker Saga #0.5 
by ST Bende

Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. She’s a fight choreographer for Odin’s army, she’s in love with one of Asgard’s top assassins, and her best friend is Ull, the uber-reserved and ridiculously good-looking God of Winter. But being a goddess is anything but easy. Inga would rather use her sword to fight than to teach, and Ull’s been perfectly exasperating since he found out he’s fated to love a human. Now Asgard is under attack from Dark Elves, the Norse apocalypse is a nanosecond away, and Inga’s about to be kidnapped by a giant. Again. There might never be a better time for a vacation, but where can a trio of Norse gods go to get away?



ELSKER
The Elsker Saga #1
by ST Bende

You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way.

Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr.  Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting.  He’s an honest to goodness Norse God - an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth.  Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.  Her orderly life just got very messy.





And finally, a little bit about the fabulous S.T. Bende herself:

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

You can follow ST Bende on Twitter @stbende, or send an e-mail to stbende@gmail.com.
Website + Facebook + Twitter + Goodreads

*Not to mention the fact that S.T. is pretty much one of the nicest and kindest of author-folk out there.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Of Orcs, Ogres, and Cyclopes (A Repost)

In honor of the release of Honor Among Orcs, I'm reposting some of my "Orc Romance: In Progress" posts from those days in 2012 when I first began writing it -- with my early thoughts on what makes an orc, and those creatures which seem to have influenced our ideas of them. Here's the first!


Giovanni Lanfranco Norandino and Lucina Discovered by the Ogre
A cyclops-esque ogre!
I'm not entirely sure why I'm doing this to myself. The what-if kind of took over my brain, I guess. But the end result is that I'm meditating on the semi-fluid definition of what makes an Orc an Orc.

There's the Warcraft definition-- the green-skinned brutes kind of reminiscent of Gamorrean Guards, right down to their tusky-teeth. When I was little, I called them pig-men. But if you go back further, there's Tolkien, and the SILMARILLION tells us that Orcs were elves once, stolen by Morgoth when they wandered too far afield into shadow, and twisted into evil and darkness by torture. In mannerism and behavior, you can see clearly the relationship between Tolkien's Orc and the traditional Ogre of the human consciousness. They're vicious things that like to snack on naughty children when you get down to it.  Not too dissimilar to the idea of the Cyclops of Greek Myth, but with two working eyes, though we imagine them, generally, to be a whole lot uglier.

But isn't that the nature of dark things moving beyond our sight? That what we imagine them to be is often worse than the truth of what they are? An Ogre or a Cyclops has no real redemption. It is what it is, and it is bound by its nature and, in the case of the Cyclops, the gods. But Tolkien's Orcs are something else. They were, once, all that was good and beautiful.

Why didn't he ever use that?

Or maybe the better question is: Can I?


You can decide for yourself by grabbing a copy of HONOR AMONG ORCS!

Kindle | Paperback | Nook
After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father's abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid.

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Honor Among Orcs Update!

First, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped to spread the word about HONOR AMONG ORCS this week, and for those of you who picked up the book, I hope you enjoy it!! Because of you and your purchases and your enthusiasm, HONOR rocketed up the charts on Amazon and had a FANTASTIC first day:



Second, definitely make sure you enter to win the 25 dollar gift card -- the giveaway is still going!

Thirdly:
Some new reviews and blogposts have arrived praising HONOR and I just wanted to give them a quick linky-link, here, in case any of you are still on the fence about picking up a copy and investing some time with Arianna and Bolthorn! I've included a quote from each, but be sure to klikky klikky to read the whole review!

From L.T. Host:
Kindle|Nook|Paperback
"I [...] love that the skeleton of the book feels familiar-- it is orcs, elves, and humans after all-- but the plot is super twisty and keeps you guessing until the very last page!"

From Random Acts of Hope and Mayhem:
"The adventure of the story alone makes it a fantastic read, but the depths that Amalia explores inter-race politics, gender roles & expectations, and family dynamics make it something more than a simple adventure-love story."

And, From Booksellers without Borders:
"...there is definitely influence from Tolkien, but this is not a Tolkien story either. I love the way the orcs are constantly yearning to return to their "true" forms as elves and how that impacts the behavior, politics, and decisions which in turn affect both Arianna and Bolthorn."

Keep the reviews and ratings coming, and be sure to tell your friends about HONOR AMONG ORCS! Let's keep climbing the charts!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

RELEASE DAY for HONOR AMONG ORCS!

And in celebration, I'm giving away a $25 gift card! But first, see what readers are saying about HONOR AMONG ORCS! Just in case you were on the fence about grabbing a copy for yourself...

"Honor Among Orcs [...] takes you by surprise and doesn't let go of your imagination even after you've finished it. A truly unique take on romance, reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast that I absolutely loved. The writing, characters, and story line were so well done I stayed up late to finish the book in one day and [...] can't wait for the second book in this series."
-- Shannon Mayer, Author of the Rylee Adamson Series

Kindle|Nook|Paperback
5 Stars!
"...Dillin will do for Orcs what Mccaffrey did for Dragons..."
Goodreads

"If you like fantasy, magic, romance, adventure, monsters or princesses, this is the book for you."
Goodreads

"In the vein of Tolkien, Honor Among Orcs is a high fantasy filled with danger, intrigue, magic, and love that you will want to read again."
Goodreads

"The characters may be my favorite part of HONOR AMONG ORCS, but it's Dillin's skill at creating deep, rich cultures based on what we'd normally think of as "stereotypical" fantasy races that really shines through."
Goodreads

4 Stars!
"“Honor Among Orcs” has a Tolkien-meets-Twilight feel to it and should appeal to fans of supernatural romance and high fantasy alike."
Goodreads

"...an interesting tack on the standard fantasy fare of Orcs being Elves who have been twisted by dark magic..."
Amazon


"Dillin weaves a tale fraught with adventure and true love, in a dynamic and fast moving tale that turns all the classic fantasy tropes on their heads. I loved it from the start!"
-- Caitlin Greer, Author of ParaWars: Uprising

"Majestic storytelling, a breathtaking, larger than life world, and characters that offer new perspectives on long-standing traditions, HONOR AMONG ORCS is a fantasy triumph."
-- Diana Paz, Author of TIMESPELL

"It not only held up to my expectations but it had depths I hadn't anticipated. It had the world-building complexity of a Tolkien fantasy. The star-crossed aspect of a Shakespeare tragedy. All with the character and relationship development of a romance."
-- Wendy Sparrow, Author of FROSTED (Full Amazon Review)

Grab your copy of HONOR AMONG ORCS today! Available in paperback from Amazon, and ebook from Amazon and Barnes and Noble!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Honor Among Orcs Giveaway

Earlier this week, I received a couple of early copies of HONOR AMONG ORCS, and I have to say, they do look mighty fine alongside my other titles! So fine, I had to take a picture.


As you can see, the paperback edition of HONOR AMONG ORCS retains the original art, while the e-edition's art got a little bit of a revamp, which you can see below. I have to admit that I LOVE the way the paperback came out, but I'm also really thrilled with the e-edition's art, too, and it's kind of fun to have distinct art for each! 

e-edition cover art

In celebration of receiving said print copies, I'm offering up one AUTOGRAPHED copy in a Goodreads Giveaway, going on now! I'll be throwing in some Fate of the Gods bookmarks and stickers for the winner, too. And in case you were in danger of forgetting -- HONOR AMONG ORCS releases April 1st! 




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Honor Among Orcs by Amalia Dillin

Honor Among Orcs

by Amalia Dillin

Giveaway ends March 29, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Liebster Awarded

I may have been Liebstered in the past already, but since the questions are always changing, I do not see why I should not Liebster again! (and yeah, I know, this is two questionnaire type posts in a row but they are different! so! there!)

Thanks to Michael Robinson for the awarding! You should all check out his blog, and also follow him on twitter (@mkronline), because he tweets interesting and thought provoking happenings, so get on over there post haste and hit the follow button.

His questions for me (and the fabulous Valerie Valdes, who you should also follow immediately):

1. You both have wonderful families. How do you balance being wonderful back to them and writing regularly? Asking for a friend.

I do have a wonderful family, as defined by El Husband and our cat(s). It's pretty easy to be wonderful back to my cat(s), because all they really need is for me to provide some lap to sleep on, and they even sometimes share it with my laptop without too much complaint. El Husband is also pretty low maintenance, and I do most of my work before he gets up in the morning and after he goes to work, so when he's home, he can generally capture my attention without too much trouble (assuming I am not mid-draft on something I need done yesterday, of course.)

I also live in pretty close proximity to my parents and one of my sisters (hopefully two of my sisters, soon enough), and some of my extended family -- Cousintry, I am looking at you! We're pretty tight-knit. And finding balance there is a little bit trickier, but mostly it involves me trying to clear my schedule for a block of time when people are around to do things, and beyond that saying "Look, I'm really sorry, but I have to write." Sometimes it works, sometimes I get behind.

I can't imagine figuring it out if I had more than just el husband and the cat to worry about, so I have a lot of respect for the writers out there who have kids and still manage to get words on the page. Seriously, it boggles my mind, you are all amazing.

2. How does the local climate inform your writing?

I do not always get to write things that are set in a climate which allows me to draw from my local climate experiences, but man, in Upstate New York, we get all four seasons, and they are pretty much all awesome -- with the possible except of Summer, which is a humid, energy-sapping beast, sometimes -- so it's pretty great. I have written a couple of short stories/novellas which are much more informed by my local climate and my personal experiences in that regard, because there are days that I go outside and breathe it all in, and my fingers itch to capture everything in that moment.

But I guess, it's more the natural world around me as a whole which informs my writing, more than just the climate.

3. What is your favorite Twitter hashtag and why?

#ThorLove

do I really need to explain?

Sidenote: it was Mr. Robinson who coined my catchphrase of "Come for Thor, stay for more!" so. Credit where it is due!

4. Thoughts on traditional publishing?

Um. Traditional publishing definitely has the advantage when it comes to distribution and marketing when they choose to make use of it, but it isn't quite so nimble and while I think it is trying really hard to remake itself and change with the times, it's a lot harder for the behemoth that is trad pub to switch things up and turn on a dime than it is for individual authors or small indie presses. Right now there's a lot of change in the industry, but I think that we'll come out the other side and traditional publishing will figure out how to make it work when things start to smooth out. It's kind of like the Catholic Church -- change is really slow, and really deliberate, but change happens. Of course, that doesn't always mean it's the change we WANT, but I have hope. For traditional publishing. And the Church, I guess, now that Pope Francis is social-justicing it up. TIME WILL TELL!

Now, I must choose two people and come up with some questions to ask them...

I'm going to point the finger at the awesome MIA HAYSON because zombies and hilarity and ZAK TRINGALI because The Five Kingdoms!

Questions:
1) Can you tell us about the project you are currently most excited about?
2) Facebook vs Google+ vs Twitter vs Tumblr GO! Which social media platform do you think is going to win king of the mountain for writers this year?
3) What is your favorite kind of storytelling? (interpret this as you like.)
4) Which literary character (or character of your own invention) would you MOST like to hang out with regularly, and why?