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Flash Fiction Writing Prompt

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All over the web you can find writing prompts and challenges. I used many as I was building the 13 TO LIFE series and although I don't use as many now, I still enjoy finding something different to try.

Right now spring is finally showing itself in upstate New York, flowers are blooming, and the air is sweet and warm (most days!). So, in answer to last week's Flash Fiction challenge at The Daily Post (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/flash-fiction/ ) here is my little flash of fiction. I hope you like it--and if you don't... Well, it'll be over in a second.

I see them, little lions' heads, bobbing bright as noon--a late season burst of yellow blossoms where before was only a nest of fluffy wishes waiting to be made among nodding heads of tonsured monks in miniature. Toothy leaves wave, inviting me to bring my basket, and I dream of wine, of jam and jelly, of blooms fried in thin batter, the soft and sunny taste already warm as summer on my lips. But they leap into the air and take flight--fifty golden birds reaching for the clouds with snapping wings--and I remember Gold Finches thrive here, too.


~Shannon Delany

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 May 2014 13:04 )


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Today STORMBRINGER, the second novel in my young adult WEATHER WITCH steampunk series, releases throughout the US--and I have no live launch party scheduled. WHY?! A few years ago I rolled my Jeep trying to reach a winter book signing and (although I got out with only minor injuries) I became very skittish about booking winter signings as a result.

But my books still sometimes release in winter. This can be a bit vexing, but it's the regular rhythm of my current publishing house and their schedule, and I get it. Besides, I love them, so what can you do, right?

So today I am being graciously and virtually hosted online at three different and wonderful sites:

Going Coach! (On Inspiration! And a giveaway!)

Monsters of the Weather Witch World!

Musical and Literary References in the Weather Witch World

I hope you take a moment to peek at the blogs my lovely hosts gave me a temporary home on--and perhaps you'll decide to follow their regular postings (they're all great and very smart ladies!).  And, of course, I hope you pick up WEATHER WITCH and STORMBRINGER.

Oh! And tonight? Join me on my shiny new Blog Talk Radio Station as I interview the awesome Amalie Howard of BLOODSPELL, WATERFELL, and ALMOST GIRL! Her blog is at http://amaliehoward.com/ (and my blog won't let me link to it at the moment so copy and paste, friends--it's worth it!). The show is at this link:




The Astraea Estate: Fiction Built on Fact

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Like the popular Downton Abbey's setting which is very much influenced by the very real and very historically rich Highclere Castle, the WEATHER WITCH series' (St. Martin's Press) Astraea Estate on Philadelphia's Hill is based on real historical homes. It is a place Jordan Astraea is taken from and a place she dreams of returning. She's had many fond memories start there--even though she has frequently felt forgotten by family in the sprawling home. It represents generations of the Astraea family, their changing tastes and fortunes.

Bran Marshall reads this description of the estate in The Hill Families of Philadelphia:

Theirs is one of the oldest and grandest houses on the Hill. Three and three-quarters stories high and an architect's nightmare, the house ambles across three acres, the original structure being built of fieldstone in a seemingly haphazard fashion, long flat stones jigsawed together in herringbone patterns creating a busy-ness of design that was at once striking and enough of an oddity that the last generation of Astraeas decided--rather than living in a stone spectacle--that section of the estate would house the growing multitude of servants. As a result, the servants are one of the best housed in all of Philadelphia, that too being a distinguishing oddity--and a costly one.

The interior of the house includes such luxuries as dumbwaiters, summoning bells, running water, decorative molding, wainscoting and chair rails, the first elevator in the New World, stormlighting, proper paint, and wallpapers and boasts multiple water closets, a warming kitchen, true kitchen, parlor, sitting room, living room, den, dining room, and six spacious bedrooms.

There are, of course, things omitted from the public record (as anyone would hope for their own home).

The exterior of "the original structure" is based somewhat on a house that stands at River and Main in Cooperstown, New York. The home is referred to as Pomeroy Place and is the first stone house built in the village, dating back to 1804. It has an amazing (and somewhat crazed) stone pattern that includes words
and a symbol created by the stones' edges. It is visually spectacular--especially the side facing the river. 

The interior of the Astraea home is inspired by another stunning New York state home: Hyde Hall (constructed between 1817 and 1834). Hyde Hall is also in Cooperstown and lords over Glimmerglass State Park. The exterior is austere, imposing by most modern tastes, and composed of heavy and monotonous ashlar limestone blocks in a Neoclassical style.

As an author of paranormal novels, I should also tell you it is one of the creepiest places I have explored on my own--you are never alone roaming the estate of Hyde Hall.

The parts of Hyde Hall that inspired the Astraea Estate are, perhaps oddly, parts I have been unable yet to glimpse in person but have read about extensively (most notably the book THE LADIES OF HYDE HALL: HISTORY, HOSPITALITY, LETTERS, AND RECIPES, 1819-1963). One of the more notable things about Hyde Hall is the way in which the servants' quarters were kept. The servants at Hyde Hall lived in areas that rivaled many of the finest homes.

There are many other aspects of the Astraea Estate that are influenced by other historic homes and buildings, including New York's Nellis Tavern (St. Johnsville) and Hunting Tavern (Andes), Pennsylvania's Ephrata Cloisters (Ephrata), and a multitude of historic homes that I have either lived in personally, been the guest in, or merely visited as a patron. Exploration and research--even when building fictional worlds--is necessary and quite a pleasure!

Indulge--dive into research!


Downton Abbey, Setting, and the World of Weather Witch: An Introduction

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With the long-awaited (okay, it's only been months but it feels like much longer to me!) return of Downton Abbey, it's put me in mind of my own recent series' setting.

The world of Weather Witch and that of Downton Abbey are separated by approximately seventy very important years, one ocean, and significant dark fantasy elements.

But for both series family and setting rule the roost.

The aristocratic Crawley family is not wholly unlike the Astraea family of Weather Witch, Stormbringer (releasing January 14) and Thunderstruck (May 20). They have money, assets, and important standing in their community. Well, at least the Astraea's did before Jordan's gala when their world was rocked by an accusation.

But I don't want to spoil anything if you have yet to read Weather Witch. So, in light of Downton Abbey's return, I want to focus on setting.

Setting can become a character all on its own. Downton Abbey's setting seems to be such a case.

Much of Downton Abbey is set in the very real (and very lovely) Highclere Castle in Hampshire (although the village of Bampton is used for outdoor scenes and some particular sets still required construction). That setting helps create the authentic mood of the show. And although the Weather Witch series is certainly fictional, real places inspired its setting again and again.

Growing up an hour outside Philadelphia and living and working in the Southern Tier and Central New York areas now, I have amazing opportunities to examine (and enjoy!) spectacular settings. These settings color the Weather Witch series.

The Philadelphia of Weather Witch is different from historic Philadelphia (and certainly different from current Philly!) because the history of that world is very different than ours. If you were dealing with a waterborne threat like the Merrow, you would build farther up the hills from the water, too (unless you want to be chum...). So Weather Witch's map of Philadelphia takes that history into account.

Humanity has always built along waterways (for obvious reasons0 but building by dangerous waterways is...dangerous. Yes, we do it all the time now, building again and again where water and storms wipe our homes away, but perhaps the Philadelphians of Weather Witch are more sensible, in at least that respect.

So, off and on for a few posts, let's examine setting and see where and how the fiction and dark fantasy of Weather Witch was pulled very much from fact.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 05 January 2014 22:45 )

Updates and Upcoming Events

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WEATHER WITCH released June 25 and has gotten great reviews from very bright readers!

The event at the Green Toad was a nice way to ease into the release of a new series with great friends and long-term fans showing up. Some of my workshop attendees also stopped in and updated me on THEIR upcoming books! It was terrific to hear about writers moving forward!

The event at Mysteries on Main Street was terrific--historic snacks, mask-making, ice cream making and a brief book talk and signing. I loved signing books to ship to internationals! A BIG thank you to Patty and Priscilla at MoM for arranging that!

The blog tour is still going strong--jump in for a chance to win some cool prizes including YOUR silhouette cut by ME.

ALA in Chicago was wild--signed 100 copies of Weather Witch in under 60 minutes at the RWA booth and met some great readers (and reunited with others!). Then we raced off to Barbara's Bookstore in Burr Ridge (a lovely store) for another event!

Two events have been rescheduled due to the health of one event point person and because of some shipping and press confusion with the other--but both are being rescheduled to be even bigger and better!

Three events remain at this moment:

July 5 at Strafford, PA's Tredyffrin Public Library (For all ages: 3-4 pm Book talk and high tea with Duchess Delany; 4-4:30 pm Book singing and Steampunk book sale; 4:30-5:30 pm Mayfaire Moon presentation of corsets! For teens only: 5:30-6:30 pm Steampunk top hat craft.7:30-10 pm Midsummer Night's Steam Ball with DJ Matt Holtzer REGISTER in person at Tredyffrin Public Library, call 610-688-7092, or e-mail tpugliese[AT]ccls[DOT]org. Space is limited so reserve a spot ASAP! (582 Upper Gulph Road)

July 6 at Exton, PA's Exton Mall's Books-a-Million Signing and chat from 1-3! The store's moved to a bigger and better location and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there!

July 9 at Enola, PA's Cupboard Maker Books just outside Harrisburg! My signing and book talk starts at 5:30 and then I return for Book Club! This is a new book store for me and I'm excited about being there!

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