Saturday, September 16, 2017

Editing - AKA Putting Out

Inara Serra from Joss Whedon's Fierfly - Cosplay 

Yep, I'm putting out.

No, it's not quite as much fun as it sounds.

In this case, putting out is Latin for the word editing. If you don't believe me, here it is from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

edit (v.) 
    ...  from Latin editus, past participle of edere "give out, put out, publish". Meaning "to supervise for publication" is from 1793. Meaning "make revisions to a manuscript, etc.," is from 1885. Related: Edited; editing. As a noun, by 1960, "an act of editing."

What is it like for an author and editor as they whip a manuscript into shape? Start with working 24/7 to meet a crazy-ass publication deadline that gets closer every day. Think LONG hours, but that's okay due to the insomnia, challenged ego, insane research for justifications and/or corrections, cancelled dates, meetings, hook-ups, anything that requires cooking, dishes or the care and feeding of pets and children.

My editor Tera Cuskaden from Entangled Teen
Time off? Forget about it! Not until the deadline is met.

You're life goes on hold. Your day job stops dead. You might as well have been abducted by aliens for the duration, as far as connecting outside your mind is concerned.

Except for your editor.

They become the only other human on the planet that matters.

The process is so unnatural, there are special workshops and therapy available to help recover from it. A quick google will also produce lists of ways to cope while 'it's happening.'

You might ask, if it's so arduous, and the book's already written, why even bother to have an editor?

Let me pop that quiff right now.

No book will ever be as strong, clean, professional, emotive, driving and awe inspiring as it could be, if you don't have a good editor. They not only help with continuity of characters an plot, they eliminate repetition and increase edge, banish confusion and amp up heart. In other words, they make the book, and the writer, the best they can possibly be.

To prove it, here is a note from my editor Tera Cuskaden that will help avoid confusion, right fromd Chapter 1 of Ascension - the Amassia Series.

Click to expand
One down; 100,000 words to go. Deadline: October 1, 2017.

Oh, and FIY, this new series is YA Fantasy, distinct from my SFF,  Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, so I'm writing under the nom de plum A K Wilder.

I can't wait to show you more.


Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

Learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter. Check @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visit where she teaches law of attraction and astrology.

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astrology Weather Report on Facebook.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Supernatural Underground News

It's almost the equinox, so that seems like a great time to catch up on Supernatural Underground news!

The Heir Of Night is Just .99c Now (USA Only)

First off the blocks, Helen Lowe's multi-award-winning The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night, Book One) is a Kindle Monthly Deal all September!

This is a book recommended by Juliet Marillier, Robin Hobb, and Nebula Award-winner, Catherine Asaro  so if you haven't read it already, now could be your chance. And if you have, The Heir of Night could make a great gift for the Fantasy lover in your life!

You can check it out right here:

E-book of The Heir of Night — 0.99c on Amazon for September

It's not alone either, some other great 0.99c specials include Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, Kelley Armstrong's The Gathering, and Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Cover Art Lead-In For Kim Falconer's New Series  Ascension (Working Title)

Kim tells us   

"Even though my release date for the new, Young Adult Fantasy series, Ascension (working title), is 12 months off, my publisher at Entangled Teen has sent me the ‘cover art’ form. 

It’s extensive, asking about the mood, themes and sub-sub-sub genres the book might be linked to, all the way to character studies and specific references. There’s a section to put links to cover art mood boards, like the one I’ve been making on Pinterest -

And, I’m asked to include an extensive list of covers I like and why, what elements grab me. What don’t.

Also, they ask what I don’t want on the cover. I said, “No unicorns or pole dancers.”

We should be safe, given there are neither unicorns or pole dancers in the story, but believe it or not, this happened to Karen Miller, an author friend of mine. She sold rights to her fantasy series (I think it was The Riven Kingdom) to Russia and, you guessed it, they put both a unicorn AND a pole dancer on the cover. No, the story wasn’t remotely about either...

Which leads to the purpose of the cover  to intrigue the shopper to pick up the book, read the blurb and buy it! 

Meanwhile, I am immersed in cover art, and loving it. There are so many beautiful books out there!"

Great news, Kim. Here at Supernatural Underground HQ we're looking forward to the Ascension series  and we're sure the cover will rock!

Stina Leicht's Blackthorne (The Malorum Gates) Is Out!

Stina Leicht's Blackthorne  a Flintlock Fantasy   was published on 8 August and already has a fab review from reviewer Kelly Anderson on B&N's SciFi & Fantasy Blog:

"...nail-biting thrills of the hunt—when the prey is human lives, and the stakes are extinction... I definitely want to find out what happens next, and you will too."
It sounds like a great read so if you want to to curl up with some Flintlock Fantasy, Stina's series could be just what you're looking for  although the first in the series is Cold Iron.

You can read the full review here:

Blackthorne Deepens A Fascinating Flintlock Fantasy World 


And that's our Supernatural Underground round-up for now, but we'll be back with moar as it comes to hand!

Friday, September 1, 2017

"In Appreciation: Building on the Past and Helen Lowe’s The Wall of Night Series" — A Guest Post By Paul Weimer

"Helen Lowe’s The Wall of Night series stands as a formidable entry in the realm of epic fantasy

At three volumes in (The Heir of Night, The Gathering of the Lost, and Daughter of Blood with the fourth and final novel currently in progress) the series epitomizes what I think of as part of a Fourth Era of Epic Fantasy. 

Like geologic layers, the eras of Epic Fantasy build and layer on each other: sometimes new works in the older traditions coming to the surface; other times, the weight and pressure of newer iterations of fantasy pressing down on those layers and letting them be seen in new contexts. There are many ways to order something as unclear as the history of an entire literary subgenre. However, if you will indulge me, I will use a geologic template to break the history of epic fantasy into five periods.

The First Era of Epic Fantasy

The pre-geologic era, our first era, is the period before there was a defined class of literature called epic fantasy. That is to say that there was no defined subgenre of fantasy and science fiction that one could point to, or ask for, that was called epic fantasy. A time traveler to that era, going to the bookstore or a library or even a SF convention would just confuse people by asking for "epic fantasy. 

This is not to say that there weren’t the progenitors of epic fantasy being written. Yes, this is the era of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Those works would help set the stage for the later ages of Epic Fantasy and provide models for The First Era. 

Besides Tolkien, however, there were plenty of other novels reaching toward Epic Fantasy. Fletcher Pratt’s The Well of the Unicorn and Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions, among others, were singular voices reaching toward a subgenre we might consider epic. The stories of C.L. Moore, and Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser, although more properly classified as Sword and Sorcery, still had an enormous influence on later writers and books. By the 1970’s the stage was set for a subgenre to emerge, once writers could take this critical mass of pre-geologic work and use it as a foundation. 

The First Era of Epic Fantasy, then, starts in the 1970’s with Terry Brook’s Shannara novels, Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant, and the other novels of that first wave of works inspired by Tolkien. This era was an era of codification of the protocols, as they saw them, and established many of the things taken for granted in later eras as absolutely fundamental to Epic Fantasy. Worlds of various nonhuman races.  The idea of a company of companions fighting a dark evil. Various archetypes of those companions the elderly wizard, the young protege, the farmboy who finds out that he has secret power. (You may notice that Star Wars took this template, too, and ran with it in an Outer Space direction). The idea of having a map in the front of the book. The trilogy format, since Lord of the Rings was a trilogy.  

In some cases, these novels were direct pastiches of Tolkiens’ plot and ideas, or first-order reactions to it. However, the idea of a subgenre of novels that filled an epic fantasy space was established. 

The Second Era
The Second Era came in the later 1980’s. The first layers of Epic Fantasy had been laid down, and now two forces came to play for the first time. The first is the influence of the role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. In this era, it was Dungeons and Dragons itself that produced the fiction, in tie-in works such as The Dragonlance Chronicles that used the fantasy worlds of the game to tell epic fantasy stories. 
It would be Dungeons and Dragons, too, that would nurture Sword and Sorcery as Epic Fantasy continued its ascent only to unleash it back onto the world in the next era as players, such as Scott Lynch and Jen Williams, became authors themselves.
The other major development in the Second Era was a sociological one. Women authors started to become prominent in writing Epic Fantasy. There had been forebears for women writing in the space all the way back to C.L. Moore with Jirel of Joiry, but now, authors like Judith Tarr, Robin Hobb, Jennifer Roberson, Mercedes Lackey and Margaret Weis, among many others, really had their voices enter the community. The Six Duchies, the Cheysuli, Valdemar, and many more took their place in the Epic Fantasy canon.

In a very real way, too, this explosion of Epic Fantasy began shifting the longtime balance of speculative fiction away from Science Fiction and toward Fantasy for the first time.

The Third Era 

The Third Era, the Grimdark era, begins in the later 1990’s with A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, and King’s Dragon, by Kate Elliott. The mood in fantasy had changed from the bright colors of the epic fantasy of Good and Evil that was a strong note in the first three eras. Now, more complicated characters, situations, and morally ambiguous situations were the rule of the day. 

Worlds where there were fewer heroes gave the palette of Epic Fantasy a grimmer feel. While Thomas Covenant had been a singleton of the unlikeable protagonist back in the '70’s, now, novels with anti-heroes or at best, grey people forced into fighting greater evils were the dominant narratives on bookstore shelves. 

At the same time, Grimdark caused a questioning of some of the narratives of epic fantasy, and also provided space and opportunity for stories of ordinary people caught up in epic events people as messy and complicated as the ones who walk around the world today. 

The Fourth Era and Helen Lowe's The Wall Of Night

The Fourth Era, the Cenozoic of my epic fantasy geologic timeline
the era we are currently in is the era in which The Wall of Night series is a leading light.

The relentless grimness of the Grimdark movement has receded, although many books continue to be written in that tradition. The Wall of Night series embodies what is to be found in this new era, as well as what has been brought forward from previous periods.

The basic epic fantasy chassis developed over the previous eras is here: A young protagonist, a woman, the heir to power, but with real doubts and real growing up to do. A quest to stop a previously thought-to-be-contained evil from overwhelming the world – and the "thin red line" of the people known as the Derai. A complicated, complex and richly drawn fantasy world that rewards a deep dive. A strong inner life for the characters. 

And with all that, Lowe brings forward the concerns and richness of this new era. Even stronger roles and positions for female characters, reflecting both the real history of our world, and providing role models and characters for readers of all types to admire. A reaching out beyond The Great Wall of Europe for ideas and models for cultures, characters and worlds. Diversity, not for the sake of diversity, but for the richness of escaping the monoculture too frequently found in earlier eras of Epic Fantasy. 

The Wall of Night series by Helen Lowe does all of this, carrying the banner and helping lead the way into this new era of Epic Fantasy. It never forgets where it came from, but it also strides forward. 

As a representation of the current trends of Epic Fantasy alone, then, The Wall of Night series by Helen Lowe is well worth your time. Anyone vaguely interested in the history and trends of Epic Fantasy should read it. 

As an experience of reading however, it is far more than just an intellectual exercise. Instead, The Wall Of Night comprises a deep and rich vein of fantasy fiction that rewards its readers with the egalitarian characterization, in particular, that brings the Epic Fantasy template to modern sensibilities, without sacrificing the underlying strengths of previous eras."

by Paul Weimer


Paul Weimer is a writer, gamer, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and ubiquitous genre enthusiast. Paul was a regular contributor to the former (and much missed) SF Signal and is currently part of the Skiffy and Fanty Show team. Recently, his articles have also appeared on and the B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog.

To find out more, check out Paul's Blog, Jvstin Style or follow him on Twitter: @princejvstin

Get it While It's Smokin' Hot:

The Heir Of Night (WALL#1) is a Kindle Monthly Deal all September!

Yes, that's right, if you haven't read this fabulous series yet, here's your chance to jump in with the first book, The Heir of Night, which will be just 0.99c on Kindle for the whole of September. (USA only.)

Here at Supernatural Underground HQ we're pretty proud of the awards The Heir of Night has garnered, too:
  • The Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012 for Best Fantasy Debut
  •  The Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel, 2011
  • A Catanetwork Single Titles Reviewers' Choice Award, 2010
So if you haven't read it already, get it while the price is smokin' hot! If you have then maybe this could be the perfect moment to gift it to a Fantasy reader in your life.

And if you want to help spread the good word, don't forget to use #TheWallOfNight. :-)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

We're Looking Forward To — A Guest Post By Genre Enthusiast, Paul Weimer!

SU guest blogger: Paul Weimer
The SU team is thrilled to be announcing a guest post by genre enthusiast, Paul Weimer, coming up on September 1.

The title of Paul's guest post is:

“In Appreciation: Building on the Past — Helen Lowe’s Wall of Night.”

Helen Lowe:
SU author of The Wall Of Night series
Yes, that's right -- Paul's post is featuring our very own SU author, Helen Lowe, and her award-winning The Wall Of Night series, which is why we're doubly pleased to be hosting him here on Supernatural Underground!

Paul tells us the focus of the post will be looking at the series in the context of contemporary, "fourth era" epic fantasy -- and all of us here at Team Supernatural Underground HQ are certainly keen to read on and find out moar!

In case you're not familiar with Paul, he was a regular contributor to the much-missed SF Signal 'zine and is also part of the  Skiffy and Fanty Show team. Paul's pieces have also appeared on and the B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog. He describes himself as “a writer, gamer, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and ubiquitous genre enthusiast.”

This guest post will be a great indepth look at once of our SU authors and her work, as well as shining a spotlight on genre more generally — so do check back in on 1 September (US, EST) for:

“In Appreciation: Building on the Past — Helen Lowe’s Wall of Night” 

We'll be using #TheWallOfNight whenever we talk about it, so please feel free to do the same. :-)

We're sure looking forward to Paul Weimer's guest piece and seeing y'all on the 1st!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Importance of Workplace

The Inventionland Design Factory - my fantasy work space
The workplace, defined here as the space where you work and/or play, may be a reflection of your mind. 

Think about it. If our external life is a mirror of our inner world, then wouldn't the actual workspace tell us something about our mental processes? How we think, structure and organise? How we create?

For example, this is where I write and though it's not on par with my dream space of Inventionland Design Factory, it has a lot of plusses.

Click to enlarge

My work space compares and contrasts with these creative spaces, and creative minds!
Neil Gaiman's writing space

"You need a room with a door," says Stephen King

Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer, and producer's writing space

Where Charlaine Harris writes.
For me, the importances of the creative workplace boils down to feeling good. I have to like where I am to immerse in the story and allow it to unfold. Think 'stimulating, atmospheric and most importantly, isolated'. 

I have to work in solitude, where I unplug the phone and close down the social media and simply be with the words.

What about you? What's your idea workplace?

We'd love to hear.

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  Or on where she teaches law of attraction and astrology.

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Family isn't about blood

Things I carry: The Nature of Different Friendships

I was sort of wondering what to write about this month and Helen solved my problem! Which I thought was sort of perfect, because isn't that was friends are supposed to do? Find you when you are lost, comfort you when you are struggling and help you kickass when the time arises. 

I'm sure I have mentioned this a few times, but I'm adopted. The entire notion of family is different for me than it is say for my husband who has two biological brothers that look exactly like him. Its crazy- confusion has ensued. I think that not having people that I look like forced me to look deeper, listen harder to people to make sure that they were on my side. I looked for actions and words to mean family, not just a similar nose shape. 

So here are some on-screen and on-page relationships that really resonate with me, either as something I have found or as something that I've always wanted in my chosen friends. These friendships have defined friendship for me, the best and worst parts. 

Nostalgic friends: Stand by Me. Now most people a little older than me will say it was all about The Goonies, but for me, it was all about these four boys. Now as I watch the movie, I think it was the framing of the story that made it resonate.  Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern taught me there is power in allowing people to be what you need them to be when you need them to be that. These boys were the outcasts, but they were the outcasts together, and that's what they needed. We can look back on these types friendships with a golden nostalgia and a thankfulness that these people were in our lives, even if it was just for a summer, or to find a dead body. 

School Friends: AKA, the people who become who they are while you are figuring out who you are AKA College. I went old school for this one. Horatio to be has always been the model of the classic college friend. Him and Hamlet bonded at the University of Wittenberg and Horatio came with Hamlet to bury his father, to be a good friend in this tumultuous time in Hamlet's life. But the true nature of Horatio taught me that friends should know who you are going to be, see the potential within you, and will sing your praises even when you are not there. 
And I bet there were some crazy times at Wittenberg!

The Power Friends- The Craft. You know, sometimes it just takes a posse to really get the mojo going. Now, I have never actually been part of a coven, though my mom thinks I was in high school, but there is a synergy that happens when girls get together for a common cause. These power groups let each member feel wanted and strong and independent. But they can also get toxic and start to be exclusive of other people. 
And I always really did want to be a witch. 

The Life Friends- Elizabeth Bennett and Charlotte Lucas. Even though these two characters have drastically different viewpoints on love and marriage, they remain friends. Even though Elizabeth couldn't have made the choices the Charlotte did, she didn't just stop being friends. Elizabeth took the time to talk and understand Charlotte's choices and they remained companions through a  transitioning time in everyone's life. This taught me that the good ones stick around, the good ones listen. And they support the decisions that make you happy. 

The Self-promoting Friends- As you can see, I have marinated in friendships so of course, I wrote them into my own book. Jessa Feychild is a spoiled little brat but she is Violet's spoiled little brat. They were friends before they were prophesies and they remain steadfast through breakups and apocalypses. Jessa and Violet will always be together. And I think that is the most powerfully displayed when Jessa nearly rips the world in half trying to rescue Violet from the other side of the Veil in the last in the series. 

So these examples of friendships are the ones that have stuck with me through my life, that have defined friendships for me. 

Until next time, carry on. 

Amanda Arista

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sisterhood is Powerful in SFF

I'm declaring August the month of celebrating sisterhood in SFF! Last month, I posted on five of my favorite romances in Fantasy fiction, sparked by my view that "romance and love are one of the drivers that make human beings tick and the world go around." (And Fantasy fiction, too, for that matter.) In addition to my five picks, commenters also joined in with some reccommendations of their own, so together we ended up with a great selection. :-)

Hermione & Harry: just good friends
Another very important driver—as Kim Falconer discussed under "Relationship" in her post, Read Your Way To Happiness—is friendship. The "bromance" has been a feature in recent television, with shows like Sherlock and Merlin, but although there are also some great male-female friendships, like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, and Uhtred and Hild in The Last Kingdom, friendships between women did not spring to mind as readily.

Willow & Buffy: besties from the get-go
We know women' friendships are a really important component of real life, but the question became whether they figured as strongly in genre fiction. For starters, although "womance" may be the verbal gender equivalent to "bromance" in terms of a strong, vibrant and charismatic, but platonic, relationship between women, it's not as entrenched in popular culture. (I mean, I had to search for it! O-o)

Korra & Asami: from "womance" to romance?
However, a quick mental review of my genre reading convinced me that these fictional relationships do exist. (Phew!) In terms of my criterion that the friendship should be central to the story, rather than "token", here are a few important female friendships that came to mind (in alphabetical order by book title—lest preference should be inferred):

Breq and Lieutenant Awn in Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice (SF). You may argue that the ubiquity of the feminine personal pronoun in Ann Leckie's "Imperial Radch" trilogy means that you can't be sure these characters are female, but the contextual use of that pronoun in a non-gendered society gives you a sense of "sisterhood" so I'm going to stick my neck out and and include them—especially since Breq's liking, and in fact devotion, to the Lieutenant is a major driver for the story. (And there are a few hints that suggest the "sisterhood" tag is appropriate, although you have to delve pretty deep to find them.)

The relationship of Katsa and Bitterblue in Graceling (YA/F) by Kristen Cashore is very much that of older sister / younger sister, although they are in fact unrelated. It is also central to the second half of the book and evolves into friendship despite the disparity in ages and strength, a friendship that continues in the novel Bitterblue, although in the latter book their friendship is more incidental to the story.
Patricia McKillip's Heir of Sea and Fire (F) is the second novel in her famous "Riddlemaster" trilogy and fouses on the heroine, Raederle (rather than the hero, Morgon, as in Books 1 and 3.) The "heart" of the book is Raederle's friendship with Lyra of Herun (a "warrior-princess" long before we encountered Xena) and Morgon's sister Tristan. In fact, together with Lyra's all-female company of guards, I believe they were the very first "band of sisters" I encountered in SFF.

One of the many relationships I love in William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive (Cyberpunk SF) is that between the hardened "razor girl" (think "street samurai" / mercenary), Sally (whom readers of the classic Neuromancer will recognize as Molly) and thirteen-year-old Kumiko, the bereaved daughter of a Yakuza warlord. In one way, Sally is a mentor figure, but never maternal or even sisterly, but Kumiko's intelligence and composure also result in a sense of equality between the two. Certainly, they are allies, and as such a powerful combination...

No discussion of the "band of sisters" in SFF would be complete without the crew of the spaceship, The Pride of Chanur, in CJ Cherryh's novel of the same name. The Pride's crew are all females of their leonine species and all related, comprising an aunt, Pyanfar, and her niece, Hilfy, and two pairs of sisters, Haral and Tirun, Cher and Geran—with all five adults being cousins to some degree. And as a reviewer put it, "These swaggering, vain, tough-talking Hani heroines make Chewbacca look like a pussycat."
While I was writing this, a friend—looking over my shoulder—demanded to know about my own books. The latest, Daughter of Blood, does have a special friendship between two of the women characters, Myr (the Daughter of Blood of the title) and her bodyguard, Taly, which has elements of the womance and is sufficiently important that near the end of the book another character observes: "Yet more than anyone else...Taly...truly loved Lady Myr."

So it looks like sisterhood is powerful in SFF, after all, which is more than A-OK by me. But do tell me your standout female friendships, dear Supernatural Undergrounders: I'm always keen to hear about more great friendships and great reads. 

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) is her most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we