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Friday, May 17, 2024

Welcome Wendy Blanton, Author of Dawn of Shadows


Friends, I know I was supposed to put on all the poems from Poem A Day but April was very busy for me and I had some health issues. But now I will post the rest of them on the My Poems section of this blog. The reason is I am starting my Author Interviews today with author Wendy Blanton. Each month I will be featuring another author. Please contact me if you are interested. I am on Facebook: BarbaraJEhr.

Wendy is someone I met at Prosateurs, a group which meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Zoom to write and share our results. All we do is meet the first five minutes to talk of what we will write and then the last five or ten minutes to say how we did. It has enabled me to work on my writing in manageable increments and given me motivation to write all the time. Stephen Bagley, who is our leader, creates an atmosphere of confidence and openness with his funny comments and offhand remarks. Anyway, that is how we met and I learned of her new book series. I always admire authors who write about dragons, even though I know I couldn't possibly do it. With her Balphrahn Books she brings you into the world of dragons.

Interview with Wendy Blanton

1. Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Michigan and I live near St. Louis, Missouri.

2. What made you decide to go into the Air Force? Did you know how to fly before you enlisted?

Oh, no, I don't fly. You have to be an officer and have special training before they let you do that. I enlisted so the Air Force would pay for my college education, but really, being in the military is an education in its own right. It's a blessing that I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the tender age of 19. 

3. How did you meet your husband? Do you have any children?

I met my husband in the Air Force. The squadron I worked for housed single airmen in the first two floors of a dormitory, and his squadron had the third floor. We tangentially lived together before we even met. We met, married, and birthed our two children in North Carolina. It was our longest tour in his career.

4. Describe the difference between being in the Air Force and being an Air Force wife. Were there any funny or unusual incidents you might relate to our readers?

On active duty, you're told what you need to know and nothing more. We said we were mushrooms--kept in the dark and fed BS. But there was a comradery in that, and we did have news trickle down through the chain of command. 

As the wife, it was the same, but sometimes the news didn't get to us. We got news from our spouses, but if they were deployed, we were at the mercy of whoever was supposed to remember to contact us. The spouse also takes on the responsibility of keeping the family together--caring for the kids/house/car/pets when the airman is away (and you can plan on something breaking within the first week of their departure), overseeing all the details of every move, and changing jobs with every new duty station. The job situation might be a little easier now, but when we were in the Air Force there was no such thing as remote work. We barely had the internet. It's a challenging life, but there are nuggets of wonderful. We lived in Italy for a year, and while that had challenges of its own, it was an amazing experience and came when our kids were the perfect age for it.·       

5. Who or what was your greatest influence for writing?

I've been a reader since I was little, and I've been making up stories almost as long. I think it's part of my DNA. My mom's family is artistic, and my dad's family is imaginative and witty. And sarcastic. I learned the fine art of BSing at my grandparents' table.

6. Why do you write about Balphrahn? What significance does it have for you?

 Balphrahn came into existence through a Facebook comment. I was working on short stories for the Blackbirds anthologies, and I posted about needing ideas. My friend posted a comment about fire exploding across the sky--the dragons were back. I thought it was cool, but I didn't want to write fantasy. At the time I thought I was going to write historical fiction. Silly me! I did one short story, which led to another and part of a third before I dissected them and scattered the pieces through the first novel. That was nine years ago, and it has taken on a life of its own, as projects like this often do. 

 7How do you know so much about Celtic history? What made you decide to go to the festivals in Scotland?

Oh, I hope to do a festival in Scotland someday. For now, I tell Celtic folktales and history at Highland Games in Missouri (although I'm open to traveling under the right circumstances), and at local libraries. I got into it accidentally. The guy running the Clan Campbell tent at the St. Louis Scottish Games is a storyteller, and since I'm a writer, I volunteered to apprentice under him. He agreed, and the best part of a decade later, I'm doing it myself. I've gained knowledge through my mentor, but most of it has come from reading and study. I still have a lot to learn.

Thank you for clarifying that.

8. Please describe a typical day of writing for our readers.

Oh, you don't really want to know that, do you? I generally write between 8 am and 11 am, and I schedule sessions from 1 pm to 3 pm, but those hours are flexible and are usually writing-related things, like editing, marketing, scheduling social posts, and so forth. We won't get into the cooking/cleaning/scooping cat litter part. I think if you are working from home it's necessary to do all these things along with writing.

9. Why did you republish this book with a different name? 

Dawn of Shadows was originally Dawn Before the Dark, and it was published by Bear Publications. I had a three book contract with them, and writing the second novel made me realize we have different ideas of how the series should go. I negotiated to get my rights back, and changed the name and the cover to make it clear that it is no longer with Bear, but also to avoid any confusion with Amazon. It also marked a fresh start in my career, which was more important than I realized.

10.  Are you planning to add more books to this series after Book 2?

Yes, there will likely be 3 in this series, and I have a prequel series in my head that will probably also be a trilogy. As I write book 3, I'm getting ideas for spin-offs, so who knows how many books there will be?

11.  Are you planning to have any in person or online events for the book besides this blog, of course.

I'm open to it but don't have any plans currently. I have enough going on with editing book 2 and writing book 3, and I'll get more serious about promotion when I have more books out.

12. Please put your links here so our readers may learn more about your work.

 Coffee With Dragons? Where did that come from?

Dragons can represent the challenges we face in life. When you come up against one, you can kill it, but there will be another one right behind it. Killing dragons takes a lot of effort and energy. It's better, in my opinion, to find out what it's trying to teach you, and what better way to do that than over a cup of coffee?

Plus, I'm a coffee junkie. I quit drinking coffee for a while in the '90s and my family says I was hard to live with, so here we are. 

To give credit where it's due, I got the idea from Stephen B. Bagley. This is the second time his name was mentioned on this blog. Hmmm. No, seriously, Stephen is practically our muse.

13. Finally, this is always my last question. Are you a plotter or a pantser? In other words, do you outline or do you just write? 

I'm a pantser, which is strange because in every other part of my life, I'm a long-term compulsive planner. I've tried plotting, though, and it locks the process up, so it is what it is.

Excerpt from Dawn of Shadows

Chapter 1

    Three bodies lay like discarded rag dolls, all with the throats cut, but no blood. Not one drop. 

    Tanwen paced in the clearing. "What do you think it means?"

    Her dragon, Quillon, opened one eye. His silver scales glittered in the sun. He answered telepathically. I have not seen its like before. Speculation would be futile.

    She snorted and turned away from him to look at the carnage at the far end of the clearing. "What do you make of the tree burned into the side of the house?"

    It is a fair rendering, if a bit crude.

    She glanced at him over her shoulder. "Do you think it was done by magic?"

    I think all of this was done by magic. He lumbered to his feet. The others are coming. Though I wish to bask here in the sun with you, I will circle to guide them in.

    His muscles bunched as he leaped and flapped his wings to take off. He clipped the top of a spruce tree with his tail and circled the clearing.

    Tanwen turned away from the wrecked homestead and focused on the flowers in the meadow. Someone had been encouraging certain wild herbs to grow in the area. She recognized feverfew, skullcap, and coneflowers. All the other plants had been pulled out, and the grass that was there was patchy. She wondered if someone who had lived in the house suffered from headaches.

    From the west, she heard the clink of chain mail and the murmur of voices. "Tanwen?"

    "Over here." 

    A few minutes later, her husband rode out of the woods, followed by two other men.

    Liam slid out of his saddle and led his horse to her. His black hair was tied back, and the blue of his tunic matched his eyes. He kissed her lightly and said, "What are you doing in the woods?"

    He smelled of leather and chainmail, and she wrapped her arms around his waist. "Looking for you."

    He smiled, and her knees melted a little.

    Behind him, Siril said, "It's the same necromancer. See the tree branded on the side of the house?"

    She shivered. "Nice of him to sign his work, I guess."

    The others dismounted, and they led their horses to the clearing.

    Siril stopped as the sunlight reflected on his bald head. "We should tie the horses up here and let them graze. I don't like what I'm sensing over there, and they won't either, I'd wager."

    They led the horses to a patch of alfalfa at the edge of the woods and tied the reins to bushes before walking toward the scene. 

    As they got closer, Liam nodded. "I see what you mean, Siril. It's odd, like necromancy, but not the same."

    "I felt it at the last scene, too."

    "Pity a magical signature can't tell you who it is," said Tanwen.

    "Without a known signature to compare it to we can't, but when we find him, we'll know," said Siril.

    "But you're sure all the homesteads have been attacked by one necromancer acting alone?"

    "One bad single mage," said Colum.

    Liam bent next to the nearest body, looking at the wounds. "We need to check the buildings."

    They searched the house and outbuildings and found no people. There was evidence of cows and horses, but they were missing, too. Only the chickens and a barn cat were left.

    The cat twined around Tanwen's ankles. "I wonder if the dead are the people who lived here?"

    "Where are the women? There were two here, judging from the clothing I saw," said Colum.

    Siril ran his hand over his bald head. "I'm not sure it's possible to say just now. We'd better get back. Arwyne will need the details to pass along to the king."

    Liam nodded. "It's going to be close to dark when we get back." He took Tanwen's hand. "Are you going back with Quillon?"

"    Yes, I'll go ahead and report to Arwyne. Should Aithne and I wait to have dinner with you?"

    "No, go ahead. She'll be starving and cranky if you wait."

    "I might be, too." She leaned in to kiss him. "See you at home."

Wow, this excerpt makes me want to read the book! You have packed so much into this first scene. I want to know more about the dragon and Tanwen's life.

Wendy Blanton Bio:

Wendy Blanton has been telling stories since she could string sentences together. In addition to the Balphrahn Books, she is featured in several anthologies with her writing group, including Yule Tidings, Prosateurs, Tales & Truth, Blackbirds First Flight, Blackbirds Second Flight, Blackbirds Third Flight. She is a United States Air Force veteran, having served on active duty for the United States Air Force for eight years and an additional thirteen years as an Air Force wife. Being the wife was a harder gig.

In addition to writing stories she performs as Scottish festivals and private gatherings, telling Celtic folk tales aned history to educate people about Celtic culture. If you see her at an event please feel free to ask her for a story. She divides her time between various locations in Balphrahn and her home in Missouri with her husband and cats. Visit her website at:


Thank you for being here, Wendy, I hope our readers will have comments for you. If you, as a reader, wish to comment please remember to be courteous. I moderate the comments so please be respectful and do not spam. Other than that please feel free to leave a comment and it will be posted as soon as possible. For Goodreads readers please add Wendy's book to your list of Want to Read books.

Wendy's interview will be up here for the rest of May and some of June, since I promised her a whole month. Until the next time, check out my poems from this April in the Poetry tab here. I will start with April 9. Also, please check out my books: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, and You'll Probably Forget Me Living With and Without Hal.

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