Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Writing Conferences: The Story of Mamanda

Year of the Thumbs Up:

Hey, long time no type. April was just a little CRAZY. It was an all thumbs on deck sort of month with teaching and working and writing and mom-ing and breathing. So no thumbs were given.

But this month: Let's give a big thumbs up for Writer's Conferences!! The season of conferences and travel is fast approaching for writers and readers. So if you are on the fence, here's a little story:

There was once a girl, lets call her Mamanda, who read a short story in class and the popular girls made fun of her. She never read anything out loud ever again until she entered a writing program and she had to. It was the most nerve wracking day of her adult life.

As her hands shook, she waited for some one to tell her that she was the worst thing to put ink on a page.

But they didn't, because they too were putting their thoughts to paper and knew the courage it took to face the fear of not only public speaking (Introverts Unite Separately!) but also sharing a deeply personal part of your creative self.

Mamanda had found her tribe who accepted her, shared a common language and would not think she was insane when she kept talking about Supreme Ordeals and the dreaded Act IIb. Now, Mamanda writes her happy little stories of death and destruction and shares them with the world (or will, soon, my friends, soon).

This is the power of Writer's Conferences. This past weekend I was invited to speak at the DFW Writer's Convention and it reminded how awesome it is to be surrounded by people who share your passion for story telling. I've been to Romantic Times and Romance Writers of America, but this year, I wanted to do a few smaller events since I'm between contracts.

I met writers in all stages of their journey. I met agents who were really just excited to be there and talk to others about story and arcs and the industry. And I learned! I took a million notes from others just like me who had cracked some part of their story process and wanted to SHARE it with others. that was the major thing. Everyone was just so damn supportive of good pitches and new deals and completing a manuscript. There were THUMPS UP all over the place.

I walked out of that conference with more gusto about writing than I have all year. And completely unable to talk for three days due to human interaction overload, but my brain was a firing!

So this month's Thumbs Up goes to : Writing Conferences, equally exhausting and exhilarating. If you are an aspiring writer or an accomplished one, just give it a chance. You never know -you might sit next to your new tribes-person.

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Amanda Arista
Author, Those Who Wander Universe
www.amandaarista.com
@pantherista

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Five Magical Kisses From "The Wall of Night" Series

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Last month, I maintained that despite The Wall Of Night series being epic fantasy, the story still contains romantic moments — and checked out Five Romantic Moments to prove my point.

In talking romance, nothing is more magical than a kiss, so today, I thought I'd share some of those magical moments: whether light-hearted, star-crossed, or the classic true love's kiss ...
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from The Heir of Night (Book One)



USA/CAN
"Garan just doesn't like to miss an opportunity to kiss a pretty face," said the guard Lira, who had a darkly pretty face of her own. "And I am much the same!" she added, stepping up to Tarathan and kissing him on the mouth. The herald looked startled for a moment, but then he laughed and kissed her back. She laughed, too ..."

*

UK/AU/NZ
"The ghost of a smile caught at the guard's lips, but he had to bend even closer now to hear her whisper. " ... kiss ... farewell ... "

"I would be honored," he replied softly, "to kiss one so valiant and so true." The ghost smile deepened for a moment as he kissed her, very gently, on the shadow of her cold mouth. Her lips parted as though to speak again, but no more words came."
 

from The Gathering Of The Lost (Book Two)

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USA/CAN
"The bloom was of a kind that grew wild along every roadside and was already starting to wilt, but he worked it into the knot of ribbon around his arm—Ghiselaine’s colors, which reminded him to turn and raise his sword to her, where she sat at the Duke’s right hand ... She bowed, smiling, and the crowd cheered—and cheered again when Ilaise leaned forward and blew him a kiss."

 *
UK/AU/NZ

"Tarathan lifted her hands to his lips and kissed them, the touch of his lips warm against her skin. And then his arms were around her, drawing her close. She could feel his heart beating: sure and strong, she thought, listening to its rhythm, strong and sure. Beautiful, the moonfire sang, and dangerous ..."

— 
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from Daughter Of Blood (Book Three) 
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USA/CAN
"Just as well Eria isn’t among the elect then, Garan reflected. Otherwise she could not have kissed him the way she had, the day he departed for the River ... Garan, who had been conferring with Asantir, was the last to reach the gate—and at the final moment Eria had come running, swinging herself up by means of his saddlebow and one foot resting on his in the stirrup, to kiss him on the mouth."
UK/AU/NZ
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Proof positive, I hope, that a story can be epic and still be romantic!

I think the light-hearted and more serious kisses are reasonably clear, but as for which ones may be star-crossed and which true love's kiss, as with last month's romantic moments, the answers lie in the the story ...


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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) was published on January 26, 2016. 

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, occasionally on SF Signal, and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Los Nefilim omnibus is here!

When I wrote the novella, In Midnight's Silence, it was essentially a stand-alone; I had no intention of furthering Diago's story in novella form. However, when my editor asked if I had more novellas planned, it was exceptionally easy for me to devise the stories Without Light or Guide and The Second Death, both of which would build on the first.


I talked about writing the novellas as pulp novels here on the Supernatural Underground with my post Writing Serialized Novellas--The Shadow Knows, and even as they follow the noir format, there is something a little different about Los Nefilim.

The protagonist Diago is gay, and rather than looking for love, he is already in a committed relationship with a member of Los Nefilim, Miquel. Although Diago and Miquel share intimate moments, the characters are not fetishized, because the stories aren't about falling in love and sex. That was a conscious decision on my part based on comments made to me by several readers, who were very tired of seeing gay men portrayed as always being on the prowl for sex.

If you give Los Nefilim a surface reading, the novellas are simply three adventure stories. If you look a little closer, you will see that they aren't about Diago accepting himself--or his father issues, or his son--as much as the tales are about the necessity of having supportive friends and family to help a person grow.

Diago's story has been a great deal of fun to write. In spite of all of the cool aspects of angels, daimons, and Nefilim, I think I enjoyed writing the intimate scenes of family and friends with Diago, Miquel, Rafael, Juanita, and Guillermo the most. Each of these small moments helped peel back another layer of not just Diago's personality, but of the unique people who surround and support him.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the individual novellas, Harper Voyager Impulse has now released all three novellas in an omnibus edition:

Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas—In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.

Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.

Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.


The Los Nefilim ominbus is available in an ebook edition right now at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, HarperCollins, and Kobo.

Currently the mass market paperback is available for pre-order and will be published on June 14, 2016. You can find the pre-order buttons for Los Nefilim at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, HarperCollins, and don't forget to check with your local independent bookstore--find the store closest to you at Indiebound.

So if you've been waiting for the series of novellas to conclude before purchasing them, now is the time! If you'd rather sample each novella--In Midnight's Silence: Los Nefilim Part One, Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim Part Two, and The Second Death: Los Nefilim Part Three--they are all still available as ebook editions at $0.99 each.

Will there be more adventures with Diago, Miquel, and Rafael? I can't say right now. A lot will depend on pre-orders and sales, but in my heart of hearts I hope so. I already miss Diago and his friends and their unique world.

If you're on the fence as to whether or not the stories are for you, there was a lovely review for the series at Fantasy Faction.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Blood in the Beginning

Pre-order

Hi Everyone! I have two big reveals today. 


Over at AvaSykes.com the cover and pre-order is up for the first in the Ava Sykes novels, The Blood in the Beginning. Coming out through Harlequin Books Australia, the launch is scheduled for July 1, 2016, but you can pre-order now to make sure you don't miss out.

Knock down, kickass nightclub bouncer Ava Sykes takes us deep into a dystopian world and out the other side in this dark and gritty, high-action urban fantasy.

Undergraduate by day, bouncer by night, Ava Sykes is just trying to make her way in New LA, a city recovering in the ‘Aftermath’ the time after an earthquake tore the country apart. Ava studies hard, trains at the local dojo, and teaches kids self-defence. Sure, she has a rare blood disorder and a stolen identity, but who doesn’t keep a few secrets these days?

Life is tough, but when Ava takes a job at the trendy new club, Poseidon, her financial worries seem to be over.Then the evil wakes up.After stumbling into the VIP area of the club, where humans are on the menu, Ava is attacked in the street, and finds herself in the hospital, trying to put the pieces together. The bizarre hallucinations aren’t helping, and neither is Dr. Miguel Rossi, the man who claims to know more about her origins than she does.

Shocked to the core at the discovery, Ava begins a search for her birth mother — and the truth —  but with a copycat killer on her tail, the attractive and powerful Daniel Bane offering to protect her and a doctor bent on unravelling her mysterious ‘condition’, the facts are hard to pin down. Meanwhile, the ‘otherness’ in her blood makes her increasingly irresistible to all the wrong people.

Ava used to dream of knowing where she came from but faced with the truth, she’d give anything to forget.


Here's what best selling fantasy author Traci Harding has to say:

"Rich in atmosphere, intrigue and action, and a heroine who just will not quit. Long live Ava Sykes!"

 And reveal number two?


Ra and Kim

I want you to meet my newest muse, a demon cat from a feline dimension far beyond our familiar world. His name is Ra, and he means it!

If you want to know more about the new series, or the new Bengal, tweet, email or FB. I am about most mornings. Or pop over to AvaSykes.com for the inside scoop.

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing urban fantasy, paranormal romance, YA and epic science fantasy novels.

You can find out more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook and GoodVibeAstrology.com.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

It's Superheroine Time on Supernatural Underground: Here Are 5 We Heart!

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Here on Supernatural Underground it goes without saying that we heart superheroines. Here are five of our favorites to liven up your weekend -- but we'd love to find out yours, and why you heart them, in the comments!
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Buffy Summers -- Slayer Extraordinaire of Sunnyvale

Always as ready with a quip as with a stake, Buffy spent seven wonderful seasons cutting a swathe through the supervillains of Sunnyvale (with the occasional away-visit to nearby Los Angeles.) Mostly fun but with serious elements, Buffy was distinguished by a great Scooby gang of sidekicks and suitably star, or gysy-cursed, crossed loves -- and proved her superheroine credentials by always saving herself when the going got tough.

Oh yeah, and she saved the world -- a lot.

The Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanova

She may be the only woman in the current The Avengers lineup,  but Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow, more than holds her own in the superhero stakes.  As smart as she is superlatively fit, Natasha like Buffy, is also quick with a sidecrack. We like her ability to give more than as good as she gets in the superhero rough and tumble, her easy camaraderie with and loyalty to Hawkeye, and her more complex relationsip with Dr Banner, aka The Hulk. Quite simply, the Black Widow is kickass.

Storm, aka Ororo Munroe

Among many cool characters in the X-Men movies, Storm is literally a force of nature and one of the most prominent and powerful of Marvel's "X-Men." Storm can fly as well as control the weather, and from her earliest inception in the Marvel universe she has always been a superheroine of African-American origin, including with the white hair. One of the strongest and most consistent of the X-team in the films, she is also one of the most stable characters, while in the Marvel story arc she is frequently a leader in both the X-team and the Avengers.

Elastagirl, aka Helen Parr

Elastigirl in The Incredibles is not only a superheroine but a supermom, and in that sense the most traditional of today's lineup. Her superpower is super and extended flexibility, but she is also quick thinking and resourceful, as well as being the Incredible with the strongest and most grounded sense of self. She puts her family first, both in trying to build a credible normal life for them in an anti-superhero world, and then in responding to the danger of the evile Syndrome. And when the chips are down, Elastigirl more than holds her own in the superhero showdowns of the film.

Rey

And then there's Rey, the latest superheroine from the Star Wars 'verse. As young as Buffy when the TV series started, she's brave, capable, independent, a "hot" space pilot -- and strong in the Force. Like Buffy, she doesn't wait around to be rescued either: when kidnapped and taken to a Death Star, Rey frees herself and breaks out to meet her would-be rescuers. Again like Buffy, she's a real person as well as a superheroine, so as viewers we see her confusion and doubt, and also understand her stubborn persistence, and longing, in remaining on Jakku in case her missing family return.

With the possibility of a TV series being made of Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novel series, we'll also be very interested to see the characterization of Death -- but that is not only speculation for now, but going beyond the title five superheroines.

But if you have a superheroine or even another five to add, let us know in the comments! :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Five Romantic Moments From "The Wall Of Night" Series

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Being epic fantasy, you might think that romantic moments and The Wall Of Night series do not go hand in hand.

So here are five moments from The Wall Of Night books that are all about two people coming together, from unexpected encounters, to loves that can never be, as well as the moments or relationships that can.
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UK/AU/NZ
USA/CAN

from The Heir of Night:

"They had walked together in woods that were faintly misted with green, the first shy flowers peeping above the snowdrifts. He had stood, bare headed beneath the birch buds, dragging his leather gloves through his hands, and asked her to leave her home and her kin and her beloved Winter Country. He had not spared her the truth of what a Derai keep was, or the Wall and the surrounding Gray Lands in all their grimness, but he had still asked that she come and live with him there.

And she—she had stood in the midst of her own world and looked up into the infinite layers of the sky and wondered if she could bear to leave, or bear to forgo his love, one or the other."
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UK/AU/NZ

 
USA/CAN
from The Gathering Of The Lost

The second book in The Wall Of Night series has more than one romantic moment. Here are two of them: 

"Kalan and Jarna had crossed to a booth selling midsummer fruit and Malian saw Jarna smile as Kalan hung long-stemmed cherries over her ears. They swung when the girl moved her head, glowing richer in the lanternlit dusk than any jewels worn by the great ladies of the Emerian court. Kalan leaned close, saying something, and Jarna ducked her head shyly, but she was still smiling. Malian, watching, was conscious of a pang that she had not felt before. ... She bit her lip as Jarna glanced up again, the young knight’s feelings written all over her face for anyone who happened to be looking."
*


"Her fingers freed another braid, unraveling its full length as he had unbound her queue. She had loosened enough of the braids now that his chestnut hair was a fall of silk, heavy down his back. She smiled, thinking how it would sway as he moved, following the line of his spine—and swing around them both, shutting out the world, as their bodies came together. He was smiling, too, as she leaned forward and kissed the hollow of his throat."
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UK/AU/NZ
USA/CAN

 from Daughter Of Blood


The recently published third book in the series also has its romantic moments ...

"A single step closed the gap between them again. When she did not move away, Ilkerineth brushed his fingertips across her hair, much as the wind had done. “I asked you to marry me because I love you.” Pain roughened the softness in his voice. “I will release you from that bond if you wish it—because you wish it—but not without a plea. We have lost our son, must we lose each other as well?” ... 

Nuithe’s arms slid around his neck and her lips met his ... Ilkerineth savored its edge against the softness of her mouth, their kiss lengthening ..."

*

"Curiosity replaced the navigator’s surprise. “You know, I think Rayn may be right about you.” Her tone was reflective. “You’re not like any other Blood warrior I’ve met.”

“You’ve met a lot, I take it?’ he replied coolly, although his heart had begun to hammer.

Che’Ryl-g-Raham’s smile glinted. “Enough to decide that you’re a puzzle.” The smile deepened as he kept his expression impassive, and she spoke softly, leaning forward so that her lips almost—but not quite—brushed his ear. “Don’t let it trouble you, Blood warrior. I like puzzles.”

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I'm not going to to tell you which are the loves that can never be, though, or those that can ... Because of you don't know already, that would spoil the process of finding out.

However, I do hope you'll agree that just because a story is epic fantasy doesn't mean it can't include romantic momentsbecause clearly, The Wall Of Night series does

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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) was published on January 26, 2016. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, occasionally on SF Signal, and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we