Thursday, April 10, 2014

Feature: Nance Bulow Morgan, author of Minstrel's Gambit



Minstrels' Gambit is the first in the Minstrels' Tale Mysteries Series.

Saeede knew that Behlanna was not going to be a good city. She knew it the moment she saw the dark tower looming over the sleek dark wall. She and her partner Andreas needed to rest after a long journey. They would stay long enough to rest and perhaps play a tune or two for the locals but then they would be off again to more pleasant surroundings.

Upon their arrival in the city the two tired friends; minstrels and adventurers, are soon caught up in a murder investigation and find that they are the prime suspects!

Their investigation leads them to discover that an ancient riddle is at the center of their problem. Evil forces are at play against them and they must solve the riddle, and foil the unleashing of evil upon the world, to clear their names.

The keys to the riddles are hidden within four musical scores. As adventurers they must retrieve the scores from their protections within the elements. As minstrels they must decipher the keys hidden within the scores.

Thrust into an epic adventure the friends learn how deep and unwavering is their friendship-- how deep and unwavering is their skills with sword, music, and magic.

Minstrels' Gambit is Bulow Morgan's second novel. Sprung from the setting of her first novel Legend Destiny. This epic adventure attests to her story telling ability. The reader will be hooked from the very beginning of this gorgeous adventure.


The tip of the vortex was mere feet in front of us when I felt a tangible release of power from Andreas. He channeled it into his hands and directed it straight ahead into the swirl of clouds. This time he successfully created a seam and we passed into the vortex. He immediately put his hands down at his sides and directed the force he was calling upon behind us. I did not repeat his actions quickly enough. We shot up through the center of the vortex eye. Where Andreas rode the force he had created, I was bounced and tumbled across it. My heart raced. I was completely at the mercy of circumstance. This situation made all those previous to it fade in comparison. When we shot out of the column Andreas snagged me out of the air, pulled me to him and wrapped himself around me. I could still feel the power emanating from his hands. He somersaulted us around in mid air to maneuver us toward the outer ring of clouds with the power he controlled. I would have screamed in fear had I not been in such awe. He was laughing with glee. There would be no living with him now that he had learned to fly.

We hit the second draft from the surrounding ring at an angle that skipped us across the top and we were free of their influence. We fell quickly, but Andreas still controlled our descent. I actually began to enjoy the sensation of flight but we were nearing the top of the mountains that surround Winter Top and we needed to find somewhere to land, before Andreas tired. I pointed out a suitable spot and he steered us toward it. It was a landing to behold, we tried to position ourselves for a smooth transition to the ground, but we each had our own ideas and we became a twisted, mangled heap, even before we hit the side of the mountain.

We sorted ourselves out, brushed ourselves off, assessed our injuries, cracked our aching joints, and danced. I danced because I was happy to be alive. Andreas danced because he was drunk with the power he had discovered in himself on that day. I was happy for him too, but I wondered if my friend would be able to keep his perspective. If he began to lose it I would have to attempt to rein him in, remembering that he wielded a weapon I could not. His ability to control the elements could kill me. I looked at him. He was frolicking—actually frolicking like a pony on an early spring day. I knew that he would be high on this for quite awhile. I knew that I would be too. We flew! I danced over to him and we frolicked together a few moments until we laughed at our own outrageousness. We settled into a walk and made our way back to the horses. When we arrived we collapsed and fell asleep.


What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a fantasy/mystery meld. It went more fantasy on me, but I like to go with the flow. I love music but I can play only a little. Having characters that are minstrels lets me live vicariously.
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
Although this was totally unintentional; the interaction between the main characters is very much like my husband and I. Write what you know, right?
How did you choose your title?
There are two definitions to the word, gambit: a planned series of moves at the beginning of a game of chess or: something done or said in order to gain an advantage or to produce a desired result. My characters are in a game that needs them to make the right moves to gain a desired result, and they are minstrels; so Minstrels’ Gambit became the title
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
In the end of the story my characters are separated. The woman is seeking a gate to hell all alone. In that quest she must cross a black river. At that point in the story she is near to giving up and feeling the depth of her loneliness. The cover is not an exact depiction, but more of a composition of events and emotions.
Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?
I self published. I am not opposed to traditional publishing, but I worked in the print industry all of my working life and as a graphic artist and writer I wanted to see what I could produce. I like the end result. I hope others do as well.
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
Starting it.
What is your writing process?
The only structures I really hold to are character profiles and a conflict resolution outline. The characters are so important. I have the story in my head and the conflict resolution outline gets me started for a few chapters. I seem to always run without it after awhile and the story just comes out. I have gone to the end and written that before filling in the middle, just to make sure I held true because I actually knew what I wanted the end to be.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was about 8. I used to write funny little half baked stories. People wondered about how I could put myself into, and understand the people in the situations I put them in at that age. My mother used to tell me my imagination would get me into trouble. I hope to prove her wrong.
How did you get started writing?
Oddly, it was my mother who would communicate through tough times with handwritten notes. She had trouble dealing with anger and would slip a note under my door while I was sulking in my room. I learned to emote through those notes and from there the characters in my half baked stories became more human.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’d have to say I am somewhere in between. A little structure to get me started, but I thrive on the freedom of the evolution of a story. Not always having an end in mind can be scary, but when it comes to me I’ll jump ahead and write that and then bring the story to that finish.
What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
Proofing and editing, sometimes I find a scene that I thought was wonderful when I wrote it, just has to go for the sake of continuity, or worse --it is just awful. I also find it tedious work; checking grammar and spelling, spacing, etc.
What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
Write. Write anything, if you have to get away from your current project do it, but write something else for a day and get back to that main project ASAP.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
Anthem Rock, Classical, Celtic Folk, Celtic Rock, Blues, Blue Grass
Who is your favorite author? I have several. I’m not sure it is possible to choose just one. My top 5: Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, David Eddings, Clive Cussler, Robert A. Heinlein

Who is your favorite character from a book?
Robin Hood, it was the first piece of literature that wasn’t a children’s story that I ever read, and still he stays with me.
What is your favorite book?
That is so hard to answer, but hopefully it is the one I am reading at any given time.
Read anything good lately?
I just reread The Lion of Ireland and Lions Pride by Morgan Llwelyen (another of my favorite authors).
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I have a forest in my backyard. I like to tend it, pull out fallen trees, and crop the vines that seem to want to strangle all living trees where I live. I love to hike. I am not far from the coast on one side and the mountains on the other so my hiking locations are many and varied. I get a lot of scene inspiration from places that I have been. My family is spread out, but I love to hang out with them. We are all very different, but everyone has a great sense of humor, which helps because we are so different.
What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Don’t get discouraged. If you have a voice and something to write about do it. Listen to your critics. Good, kind, creative criticism is part of the game and if it is honest and kindly given it can make you a better writer. Don’t let any one pigeon hole you or tell you that your process is wrong. Get better at grammar. I hate grammar. It seems like a lot of arbitrary rules to me, but if you want to be taken seriously you must. I am still working on that myself.
Have you had anything else published?
Aside from a couple of poems and articles I have a book of prose, called Voyage (out of print, but I still have several copies), and another novel called Legend Destiny. Legend Destiny has become the spring board for the world in which my Minstrels’ Tale Mysteries will be set

What's your next project?
Minstrels’ Covenant will be out late spring or early summer of 2014. That is in the design phase now, then I go into writing Minstrels’ Prize.


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