The Qwillery | category: Melanie R. Meadors


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Riddle of the Loremaster Coming from Outland Entertainment

Riddle of the Loremaster Coming from Outland Entertainment

Outland Entertaiment has announced Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino!

Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art:

Riddle of the Loremaster Coming from Outland Entertainment

Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy world full of adventure and romance, mystery and laughter. Keep your eyes open, it is set to premiere at the beginning of August!

What's the Appeal of Dark Fantasy? by Melanie R. Meadors

Please welcome the fabulous Melanie R. Meadors to The Qwillery writing about the Appeal of Dark Fantasy.

Melanie is co-editor of Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology, which is presently being funded via Kickstarter here:

About Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology:
Outland Entertainment is proud to bring you Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology. Featuring fourteen brand new tales of scheming anti-heroes and dark protagonists from the wrong side of the palace gates, Knaves brings together some of the finest fantasy authors in the industry in a book that will make readers wonder, “What is the ‘right side,’ anyway?” Authors include Mercedes Lackey, Anna Smith Spark, Cullen Bunn, Maurice Broaddus, Anton Strout, Walidah Imarisha, Cat Rambo, Lian Hearn, and more! Edited by Melanie R. Meadors and Alana Joli Abbott
What's the Appeal of Dark Fantasy? by Melanie R. Meadors

What’s the Appeal of Dark Fantasy?

People read books for all kinds of reasons. Escape, enlightenment, laughter, inspiration, entertainment. But why would someone read a dark book about nasty people, dark times? Don’t we have enough of that in real life? Here are some reasons I learned when co-editing the book Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology, currently on Kickstarter.
  1. Live life on the dark side. Escapism can take many forms. Let’s face it. We’ve all, whether we want to admit it or not, have had fantasies about committing some sort of violence at least once in our lives. And that doesn’t mean we’re bad people. I mean, there are bad people out there who are doing atrocious things. Just watch the news. How can we NOT want revenge on people like that? But because we are not bad people, we don’t do those things in real life. Sometimes it can be satisfying to read about a Robin Hood type character who takes matters into their own hands, someone who can make a difference when the law’s hands are tied. Sometimes it can be satisfying to escape into a world where you can be that person who doesn’t care, who does what they want. Which takes me to number two… 
  2. “I do what I want!” Sometimes we just wish we could do whatever we wanted. And it doesn’t necessarily make us bad people. Not all protagonists of dark fiction are BAD people. They just don’t always go with societal norms. They don’t always behave in a way that makes them play well with others. One of the interesting aspects of dark fiction is that we can read through a story where this character wreaks havoc and causes chaos…and that was exactly what that story world needed. Sometimes, in a good way, to help people who needed help but who were being oppressed, and sometimes in a bad way, just to throw a wrench in things and show a weakness on the side of “good.” But in the end, it helps the world to see things that were broken so they can be fixed. It has to hurt to heal, sometimes.
  3. That gray area between good and bad. When we fight to save our children. When we hit someone to stop them from bullying someone else. When we fight to save ourselves. When we go to war to save an oppressed people. Is it wrong to blow up a building full of drug lords who prey on downtrodden people? Is it wrong to kill a man who has taken advantage of children, yet whom the law can’t seem to hold accountable? What IS good, anyway? It’s subjective. What’s good for one isn’t good for another. Dark fantasy explores a lot of this. Sometimes the protagonist is vindicated at the end, and is shown to be a “good” guy with maybe some questionable methodology. But other times, the protagonist is not, and is punished. Dark fantasy introduces us to the idea that sometimes the paths we are told to be the “good” ones are not necessarily the “right” ones or the only ones. These books make us think.
  4.  Sometimes, painful decisions have to be made. The heroes of dark fantasy aren’t always evil people. They sometimes aren’t even remotely bad. They are good people whose hands are forced to do things that go against their moral compass. Their stories are about the struggle they go through to make these decisions. Sometimes their stories are about the repercussions they face after making the decision. The stories of people who dared to stand up to oppressing forces: The results are good for the majority of people, but the action was not “socially acceptable,” so those people are shunned. Anyone who is a parent is familiar with the battle of, “This will make my child happy in the moment, but it’s bad for her in the long run,” or “My kid hates going to the doctor, but this has to happen for her to be healthy.” Sometimes, someone has to be the one to rip the bandaid off. To push society off the dock so it can learn to swim. And often, that person isn’t appreciated.
  5.  Villains are the heroes of their own stories. And reading their stories helps give us a new perspective on things. This doesn’t mean, by the way, that we have to agree with these people. Far from it. But the thing is, these vile people honestly believe they are doing the right thing. They think they are helping society, sometimes—and sometimes…they aren’t wrong. See the above, about pulling the bandaid off. Some methods, however, are less palatable than others. Say we have a character who wants to end war, and he decides religion is the cause of most wars. Well, why not just wipe out everyone from one side? Voila! Peace! Only…yeah. You just killed a whole lot of innocent people just because they were on the “wrong” side. Thanos in Infinity War was correct in his assessment that huge populations were running through resources and causing lots of suffering. Was he right in the solution he came up with? Without getting too spoilery, lets face it. He could have done a lot of other things with that infinity gauntlet. Would they have worked? Who knows? But his solution isn’t a fail-proof one, either. Looking at things from another perspective helps us think, however, and come to conclusions we might not have otherwise. It can strengthen our own convictions to see what goes through the minds of people who are on the other side.
  6.  Hope. That’s right. Reading about bad things can give us hope for our own world. A lot of dark fantasy portrays the best of even bad people coming out in a time of darkness. If those people can change, can make a sacrifice for the greater good, can’t we all? If people who are, to that point, self-serving, money-grubbing, only after number one, can suddenly turn around at the end and save the world through a decision of sacrifice, can’t we all? Can’t we all find the hero inside of us? And for the stories where there is no happy ending….well, at least WE don’t live there!
I’m having a lot of fun putting Knaves together and reading all the stories. We have stories from awesome folks like Linda Robertson, whose story really moved me because it was about a subject near to my heart, Toiya Kristen Finley, Clay Sanger, Anna Smith Spark, Cat Rambo, Maurice Broaddus, Mercedes Lackey, and more! I really hope you check it out.

About Melanie

What's the Appeal of Dark Fantasy? by Melanie R. Meadors
Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy stories where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. Her fiction has most recently appeared in the anthologies Champions of Aetaltis and Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters. Melanie is the co-director of the Gen Con Writer's Symposium and the publisher at Outland Entertainment. She's the co-editor of the anthology MECH: Age of Steel and Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology, and editor of Hath No Fury and Tales of Excellent Cats: A Monarchies of Mau Anthology. She is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast.

Melanie R. Meadors: Ogres—And Stories!—Have Layers

Please welcome Melanie R. Meadors to The Qwillery!

Melanie R. Meadors: Ogres—And Stories!—Have Layers

Ogres—And Stories!—Have Layers

When Nick Sharps and Alana Joli Abbott invited me to write a story for their new anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II, I was pretty ecstatic. I love a good monster story, and I have several ideas I’d like to some day write about. I pretty much immediately accepted, and off I went, on an adventure with some unlikely heroes to kill some monsters.

Only…it wasn’t that simple.

My story is one that kept surprising me with every draft. What started out as a simple action monster story grew to have a depth I didn’t expect. Yes, it was action-adventure, but as I got to know my characters, and spent more time with them even within the seven thousand word confines of their story, all these little connections started happening. Little motivations for their actions. Or vice versa—they would do something, and then I would say, “Oh, they are doing that because___,” and I’d discover something new about that character.

For example, I had my character, a half-orc, in draft one, traveling to a town where she took a job hunting a monster. OK, that was fine. And it would have been perfectly fine. In fantasy stories, that happens all the time. But then as I wrote, I said, “OK, maybe she has this job because it’s personal. Maybe this monster messed with her home city.” “All right,” another side of me said, “But how can we make it WORSE? How can the stakes be raised?” In the next draft, the stakes got higher. Then, as I learned more about the character as she interacted with other characters, I said, “Oh, here is a new way to make her experiences shape her situation even more…” and “What if her own MOTHER [redacted for spoilers]??”

After doing this with the main character, the secondary character started coming into more focus as well. If the main character’s mother did this thing, then this other character would do ___. Wait…What if that character actually was the hero of the story? As one thing developed, another thing would, like a chain reaction. And one of the hardest things for me to do while writing is to not fight this process. I often feel the need to rush. I have some author friends who seem to write four books a year. Could I do that? Sure. Should I do that? Well, I don’t know, but I do know that when I let a story grow as it needs to, that story turns out to be so much better and deeper than it would have otherwise.

Part of a writer’s job is to make the reader’s experience seamless and effortless. Readers aren’t supposed to see the machine behind the works, they aren’t meant to see all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a story. They are supposed to just get swept up into the story, live life through their characters’ eyes, and have adventures, fall in love, or do whatever it is the story’s purpose is—mostly, they should be entertained. Sometimes, as a writer who is also a reader, it’s easy to forget that stories have layers. With each draft, something new comes out, some new aspect of a character, or of the backstory, of the world. This is why, at least for me, when I’m in the middle of my first draft, with every story, I think to myself, “My glob, I have forgotten how to write!” No, I haven’t forgotten how to write exactly. I’ve just forgotten that the way I write, I have to start with a core, and work out, fleshing out the details as I go. Draft one is often terrible, but then draft two gets better. Draft three is where things start getting really interesting, and then when I hit draft four, I’ve got the story as it should be, usually, and will just need some proofreading. It takes time for things to process. But sometimes, the best stories are the hardest to write.

Melanie R. Meadors: Ogres—And Stories!—Have Layers
A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Seanan McGuire, Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won't want to miss it. Support this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.

About Melanie R. Meadors

Melanie R. Meadors: Ogres—And Stories!—Have Layers
Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy stories where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her fiction has appeared in Circle Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis. She studied astronomy and physics at Northern Arizona University and has published some non-fiction in the field of astronomy and library sciences. She's the co-editor of the anthology MECH: Age of Steel and editor of Hath No Fury, and she is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast.

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers

Please welcome Jeff Somers to The Qwillery!

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers

The Answer is Always Giant Robots
by Jeff Somers

Like most people, as a youth I ignored the advice to go into a field that might be of practical use and lucrative earning potential, preferring to play video games and write novels. This means I’m more or less entirely dependent on the folks who can actually do math for just about everything I need in life, leaving me free to be one of the least useful things on the planet: A futurist.

All sci-fi writers are in some sense futurists, of course; we’re paid (sort of) to imagine what the next five minutes, five years, or five centuries will be like. Which means that when I was approached by Ragnarok Publications to contribute a story to their Mech: Age of Steel anthology it was the perfect partnership, because Mech: Age of Steel is all about giant robots, and according to my research when it comes to questions about what the future will be like, the answer is always giant robots.

Problem-Solving with Giant Robots

Question: Is there anything that can’t be solved with giant robots? Answer: No. There is nothing that cannot be solved by the generous application of giant robots. Let’s examine some of the problems facing humanity now and in the future.

Death. This, in my opinion, isn’t getting nearly enough attention. As shocking as it is to discover that, say, Britney Spears is going to die someday, it is almost twice as alarming to discover that I might die someday. Luckily, the solution is pretty simple (at least according to all the comic books and cheap paperbacks I read as a kid): Pop our brains into giant robots, preferably robots with missiles mounted on the shoulders and jet engines in the feet. Or butt. I’m flexible on the placement of the jet engines.

War. Needless to say, if everyone was either given, assigned, or placed inside a giant robot that could fly and had missiles on its shoulders, war would quickly be a thing of the past, if only because so many people would be dead from vendettas, grudges, and drunken brawls within months of the robot bodies being handed out.

Dancing. I think all reasonable people can agree that watching other people dance is an affliction to the soul. This applies equally to your inebriated relatives at a wedding and the endless procession of “crews” on televised variety shows; every pop and lock just erodes our will to live. Luckily, however, dancing in enormous armored robot bodies is almost impossible. In an alternative future where not everyone gets a giant robot body, the rest of us can apply our shoulder missiles to eradicating dance crews everywhere.

Disease. Having your brain housed in a huge robot body means you eliminate the main vector for disease: Your disgusting biological body (and man, it is disgusting). If science can simply upload your brain to the robot, even better! Though the possibility then exists of a computer virus getting into your source code and assimilating you into a hive mind, but at least we will never have to deal with a runny nose ever again.

Parking. Every year the average adult spends about two years looking fruitlessly for parking spots in major urban areas. If we’re all just flying around as robots, we won’t need cars any more, or parking spots. Although there will be an increased risk of drunkenly crashing into buildings, plus all the associated destruction when we collide with each other in the air and riots break out, destroying entire downtowns in mecha-brawls. Well worth it, if you ask me, a man who once aged ten years seeking a parking spot after 6PM in Hoboken, New Jersey.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point: Very soon all of our problems will be solved via the liberal application of giant robots. Which makes Mech: Age of Steel a useful primer on what life will be like when this glorious future comes. Buy one copy for your crapulent current physical existence so you can read it in the bathroom, and buy a digital copy for easy uploading when you wake up to discover you’ve been upgraded overnight.

Mech: Age of Steel
Tim Marquitz and Melanie R. Meadors, Editors
Ragnarok Publications, June 20, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 658 pages

The Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff Somers
MECH: Age of Steel is a collection of 24 mecha-inspired short stories in the spirit of Pacific Rim, Macross, Transformers, Robotech, Gundam, Evangelion, and more.

The MECH: Age of Steel anthology features a vast array of tales showcasing giant human-piloted, robot war machines wreaking havoc in blasted cities, or on dystopian landscapes, or around space stations and asteroids against a cosmic backdrop, and more!

MECH is anchored by authors such as:
  • Kevin J. Anderson
  • Scott Sigler
  • Ramez Naam
  • Jason M. Hough
  • Jeremy Robinson
  • Jody Lynn Nye
  • Peter Clines
  • Martha Wells
  • Graham McNeill
  • Jennifer Brozek
  • James Swallow and more!
This anthology also features illustrations for every story and is the perfect companion to its sister title, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. So strap in. Activate your interface array. And let's rock!

About Jeff

Jeff Somers ( was first sighted in Jersey City, New Jersey after the destruction of a classified government installation in the early 1970s; the area in question is still too radioactive to go near. When asked about this, he will only say that he regrets nothing. He is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books (, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People (

Jeff’s published over thirty short stories as well; his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris and his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006. He survives on the nickels and quarters he regularly finds behind his ears, his guitar playing is a plague upon his household, and his lovely wife The Duchess is convinced he would wither and die if left to his own devices, but this is only half true.

Today, he makes beer money by writing amazing things for various people. Favorite whiskey: Glenmorangie 10 Year. Yes, it is acceptable to pay me in it.

Facebook  ~  Twitter @jeffreysomers  ~  Google+

A Peek at "A Whole-Hearted Halfling" by Melanie R. Meadors

The Qwillery is thrilled to exclusively share with you the first page of Melanie R. Meadors story, "A Whole-Hearted Halfling", which will be published in Champions of Aetaltis on April 12th!

A Peek at
[click to really embiggen!]

Champions of Aetaltis
Mechanical Muse, April 12, 2016
Trade Paperback, 480 pages

A Peek at
More than three hundred years have passed since the fall of the Atlan Alliance, and the people of Aetaltis have finally brought order to their fractured world. Fledgling nations have grown into powerful kingdoms, thriving merchant states have re-established old trade routes, and the priests of the Enaros have rebuilt their great temples.

But in this time of hope, the shadow of an ancient evil has emerged from the darkness to threaten the world once again.

Discover a new world of adventure in this collection of pulse-pounding stories written by some of the greatest fantasy authors alive. From the vine enshrouded ruins of a lost jungle temple to the seedy back alleys of the villainous city of Port Vale, experience the thrill of heroic fantasy with these gripping tales of action and adventure.
PreOrder - Amazon

About Melanie

A Peek at
A writer of speculative fiction and lover of geeky things, Melanie R. Meadors lives in a one hundred-year-old house in central Massachusetts full of quirks and surprises. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion.

Melanie studied Physics and Astronomy at Northern Arizona University, and uses her education to a surprising degree in her writing. Her short fiction has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. She is a freelance publicist, publicity coordinator for Ragnarok Publications, and the Marketing and Publicity Specialist at Mechanical Muse. She blogs at GeekMom and the Once and Future Podcast. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Riddle of the Loremaster Coming from Outland EntertainmentWhat's the Appeal of Dark Fantasy? by Melanie R. MeadorsMelanie R. Meadors: Ogres—And Stories!—Have LayersThe Answer is Always Giant Robots by Jeff SomersA Peek at "A Whole-Hearted Halfling" by Melanie R. Meadors

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