Celebrate the Small Things! And Blog Tour! With Tyrean Martinson and Juneta Key!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here. CelebrateSmallThings_Badge

Today, I’m celebrating that my new fantasy adventure novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, is now available in print! Click here for details.

I’m also celebrating the wrap-up of my two-week-long blog tour with Tyrean Martinson and Juneta Key! Hop on over to Tyrean’s and see what Bilbo Baggins and I have in common, and to Juneta’s to learn more about my characters and their stories in a book-related interview.

Here’s a huge THANK YOU!!! to everyone who hosted me on their blogs and to all who visited along the way! I truly appreciate it!!

Blog Tour Stops:

3/5:      Eclectic Alli & Jo @ My Inner Geek          Reviews

3/6       Doreen McGettigan & Unicorn Bell          Interviews

3/9       Caffe Maggieato                                            Behind the Scenes

3/10     Marie Andreas                                               Reason #57 Why I Chose To Self-Publish

3/11     Elizabeth Hein                                                Lessons Learned

3/12     Sue Archer                                                      Conversation Corner

3/14     Diane Burton                                                  Saturday Sampler

3/16     Loni Townsend                                               Typos: Say What??

3/17     Kari Jo Spear                                                   The Magic of Names

3/18     Kristin Smith                                                   My Writing Space

3/20    Juneta Key                                                       Book-related Interview

3/20    Tyrean Martinson                                          What Bilbo Baggins and I Have in Common

What other celebrations are going on out there?








© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.


The Official Map!

In two previous posts, Western Kingdoms of Alltyyr, Part 1 and Western Kingdoms of Alltyyr, Part 2, I described some of the various kingdoms that comprised the fictional world I had created for my fantasy novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble. I always draw maps to go with my stories, partly because I love drawing maps, and partly because I need that visual reference to plot characters’ movements.

A couple of people commented that they would like to see the map, so — here it is! It took me a while to ink it in, which made me wish I hadn’t drawn it in quite so much detail. 🙂 I’m worried that it won’t look professional enough, compared to the maps I see in traditionally published books, but it’s the best I can do, so hopefully, it will work.


Right now, it’s just black and white. Someday, I want to color it in and hang it on my wall. I think it would be really neat to have a section of wall covered with maps of my fictional worlds.




© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

Western Kingdoms of Alltyyr — Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about four of the Western Kingdoms in my fictional world of Alltyyr from Book I: Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble. Eight kingdoms comprise this part of the realm: Barony, Faragellyn, Dhanarra, Sulledor, Mardainn, Jendairin, Tralyxa, and Clair. The earlier post covered the first four. You can read about them here. This week I’ll get into the last four.

Directly south of Dhanarra and Faragellyn, lies Mardainn. Mardainn’s expansive borders encompass a wide section of the Scarlet Mountains to the west and the deadly Bog to the east. Mines rich with ore and gemstones riddle the mountains. Metalworkers in the various mining towns use the ore to craft weapons, tools, and farm implements to trade, along with jewelry made with the gems, for needed products from the other kingdoms. Ziiracan blades are said to be the best weapons the Western Kingdoms have to offer. Many of the mines were originally parts of Dwarven strongholds belonging to the two races of Dwarves that once lived in the Scarlet Mountains, before a terrible war between them wiped out every last one. Over the years, periodic earthquakes have claimed some of the mines, taking a heavy toll in the work force, but the greed of the mine owners ensures that new mines will be opened to keep the flow of ore and gems steady, whatever the cost.

Near the center of the kingdom, Mardainn’s capital city of Desta straddles the great Amberin River, the main north-south trade route through the Western Kingdoms. Just south of the city, the river sweeps into a towering two-tier cataract, its lower tier a hundred-foot drop to the beaten rocks below. Portage around the Falls is difficult, but manageable — and very profitable — for those experts who’ve made a business out of guiding the traders. Mardainn is ruled by a corrupt Council that keeps its cards close to the vest so no one ever knows quite what to expect from them.

East of the Amberin river lies the Bog. Dark and forbidding, the spider-infested morass of dead forest and quicksand reeks of malevolence. No one in their right mind goes anywhere near it.

The mountainous kingdom of Jendairin, which lies southwest of Mardainn, is very similar to its northern neighbor, though less civilized. Jendairin craftsmanship is lower in quality, its labor force less skilled. The many mining towns are laws unto themselves run by brutal slave traders who answer only to the Nobles who own the mines. The aristocrats are noble in name only. Their main goal is to increase their wealth and power. The Nobles — the dozen or so families of the aristocracy — vie for control of Jendairin’s capitals, the Twin Cities of Dravenmore and Dunsmore, exalted cities with sordid underbellies that lay directly across from each other, one on the west bank and one on the east bank of the West Amberin River.

The kingdom of Tralyxa lies within the deep forest of Shallin Wood, east of Mardainn and southeast of Faragellyn. The Cyranel Mountains form its eastern border. Tralyxa’s Woodsmen and women are all skilled archers. They are hunters and weavers, bards and musicians who worship the goddess Irrowen the Huntress. Their homes are built high in the ancient trees. High Priestess Evrelynn presides over all from the temple in the sacred glade of Tiandinn.

Wild and loosely governed, the southeastern kingdom of Clair is mainly populated by hunters and trappers and solitary souls with no wish to be found. The dense forest of Shallin Wood covers most all of Clair, except for a strip of grassland on the western side along the Dournel River where a few farms with sheep and cattle flourish. The Trader’s Trail stretches across the southern end of the kingdom from the river town of Norelladen on the western border to the Gypsy Crossroads at the head of Klyder Pass that carves its way through the Cyranel Mountains to the East. Trade caravans from the Eastern Frontier on the other side of the mountains meet with their western counterparts at the Crossroads for an exchange of goods, both legal and illicit. The Gypsy Crossroads boasts the single largest marketplace in all of the Western Kingdoms.

Thanks for reading this overview of some of the kingdoms of Alltyyr . It was a good exercise for me and lot of fun to write. I enjoy any excuse to dig deeper into my fictional worlds.




© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2014

Western Kingdoms of Alltyyr — Part 1

I’ve been enjoying updating the maps of my fictional world of Alltyyr. Going back over them has given me the opportunity to delve once more into the varied geographies and histories of its lands and peoples.

Book I: Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble takes place in the Western Kingdoms of Alltyyr. Eight kingdoms comprise this part of the realm: Barony, Faragellyn, Dhanarra, Sulledor, Mardainn, Jendairin, Tralyxa, and Clair.

Barony, the northernmost kingdom, boasts wide vistas of rolling grasslands where horse breeders raise all manner of horses from war mounts to swift thoroughbreds to palfreys for court ladies. Its cavalry is unmatched. Renowned for their training skills, Barony’s horsemen are as much in demand as their incomparable horseflesh. Barony is also well-known for its brandy distilleries located in the capital city of Cierra. Cierran brandy commands an exorbitantly high price. Barony is bordered on the east and north by the dense, wild forest of Shallin Wood, and on the west by the much tamer timberland of Devrin Wood.

Southeast of Barony lies Faragellyn. Half farmland, half forest (the primordial Shallin Wood), Faragellyn grows crops and beef for trade. Faragellyn’s capital, Crystalir, was once the seat of the kingdoms’ High King, chosen to unite the kingdoms centuries ago in the aftermath of the war between the West and the Eastern Frontier. After the High King’s line died out, the kingdoms squabbled and dissolved their alliances, and an ancestor of the current king of Faragellyn, Jacques du Mraine, rose to power. The House of du Mraine has ruled Faragellyn since that time.

West of Faragellyn and south of Barony sits Dhanarra. Rich farmland covers the upper two-thirds of this powerful kingdom — powerful because it controls a large section of the Amberin River, a vital trade route that flows from north to south the entire length of the kingdom. The southern third of the kingdom encompasses the foothills of the Scarlet Mountains, an area of rough terrain inhabited by sheep and goat herders. Carilon, the Dhanarran capital, is highly regarded for its academics, both in traditional education and, for those with aptitude, training in the use of magic.

West of Dhanarra and southwest of Barony lies Sulledor. This rocky, forested kingdom contained mostly within the expanse of Devrin Wood, relies mainly on timber and the fur trade for its sustenance. Sulledor is ruled by a brutal dictator with a restive army. Neighboring kingdoms keep a wary eye on their activities.

This is just a brief overview, an introduction into my fictional world. The other four kingdoms I’ll save for another post. 🙂




© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2014


I love maps. Whenever I pick up a new fantasy novel to read, the first thing I do is look to see if there’s a map of the fictional world I’m about to enter. Maps of these imaginary worlds are so much fun to study — the rise and flow of the landforms and bodies of water, the boundaries of the kingdoms, and the placement of cities and towns. And the names — that’s what I enjoy the most, reading all the names and getting a feel for how they sound and what kind of images those sounds evoke in my mind. It doesn’t matter if they’re everyday words or if they’re exotic or fantastical. Any name can spark my imagination.

Drawing maps is even more fun. Before I started writing my first novel, I had already drawn maps of the world my characters inhabited, and rough sketches of some of the important places. From these beginnings, my stories build, my characters living day to day in a paper land that’s so real in my mind’s eye. I’ve always found it easier to have that visual when trying to figure out the timing and spatial aspects of a story, like how long it would take this person to travel here versus this group traveling there, and questions of that sort. It makes everything seem more concrete to me. I refer to my maps all the time when I’m writing, just as I regularly flip back to the maps I find in fantasy novels, to better follow the characters’ progressions through the story.

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on the map that goes with my soon-to-be-published book. I tweaked a few of the names of the towns and kingdoms to make them more unique, and changed a couple of them entirely when I discovered the names had already been used on other maps in other books, or had previous proprietary claims (such as the kingdom name I “created” which turned out to be the same as a trademarked drug belonging to a pharmaceutical company). When I first drew this map back in the mid-1980s, I never thought about whether anyone else had used the names before. Now, I do Internet searches on every name, for both places and people, to try to avoid inadvertent conflicts. But since I’ll never be able to read every book ever published or every map or character name from every online gaming world out there, I know it’s impossible to avoid all duplication. I try, though, unless it’s a common name or household word, in which case it’s not as important.

I can’t wait until the day I see my map spread out in the front pages of my own book. Soon.