Please give a warm welcome to today's Speculative Fiction Writer, Samantha LaFantasie. Over to you, Samantha.
First and foremost, I want to say thank you, Ellie and her readers, for having me as a guest. This is a wonderful honor. I’m Samantha LaFantasie, author of Heart Song. I’m hoping over from central Kansas, USA! Though, I’m mainly a fantasy author, I do dip my hands into other subgenres and more than likely everything that you will read of mine will include some level of romance.
Speaking of writing…
It’s well into November and most of us are stressing to get the final words on our projects for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you that don’t know, it’s the act of sitting down with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days or less. If you write 1667 words each day, you’ll make it. That’s the goal.
Easy, right? Not always.
And that’s where the fun comes in. All over the world writers, amateur and professional alike, sit in front of their computers every free and waking moment they can to make this goal. Some go over the daily goal, some don’t even come close. Writing under pressure and then some…
It just so happens that my first year doing NaNo was 2010. I won in 11 days. It may not be that fantastic in hindsight and a lot of the time I wonder if I wasn’t pushing it, but little do you realize that it was this very NaNo that blossomed into my first novel, Heart Song. Two years of painstaking rewrites and edits later, I have a published work that may or may not make the best seller list. But I’ve achieved my dream of becoming an author with that book and so it will always have a place in my heart.
The following year I participated and won in 14 days. That story is still a work in progress and most likely will not have anything come of it. It was fun to write though and I think that is the most important thing.
This year, I don’t think my win will be quite as ambitious as the previous two years. Mainly due to challenges that have come to my family and home life this year and I’m still learning to work around them. I’ve also added a little bit of a challenge by doing a ‘Word War’ with another friend and writer of mine. We’ll see how it goes.
That is the point of NaNoWriMo. To sit down, and come Hell or high water, push out a novel in thirty days. It may not always turn into a published work, like Heart Song. But it is the act that sticks with you; the feeling of accomplishing that goal. It’s an experience that every writer really should feel and be exposed to. If you’ve been thinking about doing it but think it’s too late? Don’t think that way. I’ve done it in 11 days! You can do it with just over a week left and if not, it gives you just enough of a taste to get you prepped and primed for next year. If anything it’s fun.
Now for an excerpt of Heart Song, the story that I won the 2010 NaNoWriMo with:
“That wasn't entirely his fault,” Marren spoke, walking up behind me.
I turned, startled by his appearance. “Are you always so quiet?”
“Yes,” he answered in matter of fact manner.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “And how was it not entirely his fault?”
“He was set up.” He walked over to a sword, pulled it out then inspected it by spinning it in his hands. All the while remaining nonchalant.
“By who? How do you know this?” I asked with insistence.
“I would think that after my conversation with you last night you would have figured out that I have been following you.”
“Ah, well I also recall that you refused to answer any of my questions, and so I still don’t know how you know about the set up.”
His eyes rested on me, taking in everything they could. I almost felt exposed with the way he stared. It was as if he saw right to my very soul. Before I could say something about it, he blinked a few times then said, “Pick up your sword.” He pointed to mine with the tip of his.
I hesitated, wanting to question his seriousness but thought better of it as I walked over to my sword. The excitement in me was about to burst. I was going to take some of my frustrations out on him and I wouldn't hold back. By the time I turned around with my sword in hand, he was already advancing on me. The element of surprise was definitely his strong suit. I fought him off the best I could. But he was fast—incredibly fast. Too fast to be human. But I didn't have time to think about that.
“Breathe,” he instructed coolly. I let out a breath, not realizing that I had been holding it the entire time.
Our swords clanked against each other, hitting hard. Thrill, excitement, and strangely, a heated, powerful passion ignited within my center. I couldn't help the way it felt to make my body move faster than I’d ever moved before. I twisted and dodged his attacks while he did the same to mine. Moving together in perfect unison.
Just as I was feeling the rhythm of our dance, he spun so he stood behind me. He held his blade to my throat with one hand and gripped my wrist that held onto my sword with the other. His body pressed firmly against mine, hard as stone. A pulsating rush ran through my veins.
“Don't think, just do,” he whispered calmly into my ears, sending tingles down my spine with the warmth of his breath, increasing the rush.
“How can you not be out of breath?” I spoke through gritted teeth, still holding a hate for Marren, despite what this dual was doing to me. I rammed my elbow into his side, forcing him to release me.
“Many years of practice.” His words came out effortlessly, along with another attack that disarmed me.
I watched my sword slide across the floor, spinning several rotations before settling with its point in our direction. The crisp slice of his blade on my neck brought my attention back to him. I glared into Marren's eyes only to have the look dissipate as I saw my own reflection staring back at me. I lowered my eyes, submitting to my second defeat.
Marren lowered his sword as Enid walked up to take it. Marren stepped closer to me, pulling up a part of my hood and lifting the hair from my neck with a gentle graze of his hand, to reveal the cut. The touch lingering long after his hand was gone. My heart flipped. Stupid heart.
His brow furrowed slightly as he placed a cloth firmly against the cut with one hand and his other on the lower part of my back. He put enough pressure on my neck that I had to grab a hold of his arm that held me to prevent myself from falling over. The warmth in his skin was surprisingly soothing. I felt everything within me that was once frozen start to thaw.
“Sorry,” he said softly.
“I've had worse, trust me.” I worked to control my breathing through the stinging of the cut, the pressure he had placed on it and the fact that he was standing against me and it didn't bother me. I actually rather enjoyed it, much to my dismay. My mind started to spin with the conflict. I forced my focus onto other things, resisting looking at him again for fear of completely losing myself.
“You shouldn't keep yourself so guarded,” he spoke quietly. His voice was so soft it brought out of me a nervous chuckle. I was losing it. It felt too good, standing against his body, having his warmth seep into my skin. I felt too good. I couldn't resist looking into his eyes any longer. Confusion flashed across his face. It made me feel like I had done something to upset him. He removed the cloth from my neck. The need for me to hold onto him was no longer there, but I didn't want to let go. It wasn't until he started to back away that I followed his lead by releasing my grip on him.
Heart Song can be found at:
A Kansas native, Samantha spends her free time with her husband and three kids. Writing has always been a passion of hers, forgoing all other desires to devote to this one obsession. Among her writing credentials, she’s a board member of the Kansas Writer’s Association as the Contest Chair and has founded her own critique group lovingly named The Fighting Hamsters.
You can find her presence on
Thank you for your inspiring insight into NaNoWriMo and your writing world, Samantha. I have a feeling you will have no problem achieving this years 50,000 word goal. For those who are not taking part in NaNoWriMo this year there is always next year or, before then, Camp NaNoWriMo during June and August.