Friday, September 25, 2020

Goodreads Crown of Bones Giveaway


Heyo everyone! 

Goodreads, along with EntangledTeen is giving away 5 copies of Crown of Bones. Jump on in to win.


Click here to enter

It's the USA only this time around bu specials for more countries are on the way.

Good luck! Let me know if you win!


About AK Wilder

I write YA Lit for young adults, and the young at heart.

Meet me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or check out my site, where you can read the Bare Bones Scopes each month, Throw the Bones and discover the latest news and giveaways.

My alter ego on the Sup is Kim Falconer...

Remember, when in doubt... Raise. Your. Phantom!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

5 Reasons to Read Fantasy

Art by Catherine Chauloux

In times of isolation and hunkering down at home, reading is on the increase. Some genres are actually skyrocketing as people find diverse ways to entertain themselves and their family while staying put. 

Catherine Chauloux

Although the circumstances are unfortunate, the results are beneficial. Reading has its perks beyond the obvious one of entertainment.

Benefit #1  - Mental Stimulation 

Researchers using MRI scans to measure the effect of reading a novel on the brain made some exciting discoveries. As subjects read, more and more areas of the brain lit up with activity. The scans showed that brain connectivity is increased by reading, especially in the part of the brain that responds to physical sensations like movement and pain.

Benefit #2 - Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Reading immersive fiction is shown to have a relaxing effect on the body, lowering blood pressure and protecting to cardiovascular system. Even when the story dives and plunges, rushing us to the edge of our seat, the beneficial effects are there.

Benefit #3 - Bye Bye Stress

Research at the University of Sussex shows that reading is a great way to re-energize. Their work provides evidence of how effective just six minutes of reading can be to reduce stress levels by more than two thirds. (And you know you're going to read for more than six minutes!) "Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation,” said David Lewis, MD, who lead the study.

Benefit #4 - Love and Connection

According to social and media psychologists, the companionship experienced with fictional characters can be very real. The phenomenon is called parasocial interactions, one-sided relationships with celebrities or fictional characters. Don't laugh! The research is showing that these relationships, even though one-sided, can offer the mental and emotional benefits of camaraderie, community and sense of belonging, essential states for our health and well being

Peintre Contemporal - Catherine Chauloux

Benefit #5  - Boosts Self-Confidence

While the heroes in our stories strive to do better, accomplish goals, fight off villains, harsh environments, injury and disease, we are doing so too, right along side them. Reading about their triumphs over adversity, how they win love and saving the day makes us feel like we can, too, and that helps us feel a little better about ourselves.

Characters also show us that our “flaws” can be made into gifts, if we perceive them in a new way.
If that's not enough to convenience you, here are three books you may not have read yet that could spark your interest. (I have a reviewer friend who scouts the best page turners and sends them to me! You can follow her on Twitter here.)

Let me know what you are reading right now. Love to hear from you,

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
This is My America by Kim Johnson     Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

* * * 

Author Kim Falcconer

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out January 5, 2020 - Crown of Bones. (Writing asr A.K. Wilder) 

Also, check her urban fantasy  - The Blood in the Beginning - an Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Year of Worldbuilding in Fantasy #8: "Southland" in Elizabeth Knox's "Dreamhunter" Series, & "Mortal Fire"


#YoW Year of Worldbuilding
#WiF Worldbuilding in Fantasy


My blogging theme for 2020 is Worldbuilding in Fantasy, chiefly because it's one of the vital elements that holds all the different strands of the genre together. Plus it's always been one of the aspects of Fantasy literature that rocks my reading and writing world.

As promised from the outset, I'm trying to look at Fantasy worldbuilding over time and across a range of subgenres. So this month I'm focusing on Elizabeth Knox's Southland, from her YA series comprising the Dreamhunter (2005) / Dreamquake (2007) duology, and the standalone, Mortal Fire (2013.)


"Southland" in the YA Novels of Elizabeth Knox

Although Elizabeth Knox's Dreamhunter / Dreamquake and Mortal Fire are secondary world Fantasy, one of the magical things about Southland is that it's a Southern Hemisphere world.
Speaking as a Southern Hemisphere dweller, the Northern orientation of most Fantasy worlds undoubtedly has the appeal of the exotic and the magical for example, snow at Christmas / New Year, which is always high summer here. 
These enchantments aside, however, and at the risk of sounding parochial, there is unquestionably something very special in a Fantasy realm that is recognizably based on not just your own hemisphere, but your own country.

For although Southland is not Aotearoa -New Zealand (NZ), there are undoubted overlaps between the two. Dreamhunter's opening, with its seaside settlement of Sisters Beach, the nearby bush with its ferns, supplejack, and whiteywoods, and the driftwood fires with the smell of nearby flax and tea tree scrub, is instantly recognizable for anyone who's spent summer at a NZ beach. 
On seeing the map of Coal Bay, those with a feel for NZ geography may also notice similarities to Golden Bay, particularly the curve of Farewell Spit. 
The author, Elizabeth Knox, makes the matter plain in her opening note to Mortal Fire:
 "Southland is a large island republic in the South Pacific, in a world very like our ownbut not completely. ..."

The "not completely" marks the boundary between the real and the fantastic, which is where the art of Fantasy begins – and there is a great deal more to Southland than the overlap to elements of the New Zealand landscape and culture.

Dreamhunter and Dreamquake are set in the early nineteenth century, in a distinctly Edwardian milieu of trains, cars with cranks, and cameras that still require tripods for ease of use. In the Southland of this era, the holiday settlement lies close by a mysterious region known as The Place, which is environmentally very different to the rest of Southland. Only dreamhunters can venture there, to capture dreams that are then publicly shared in "dream palaces", similar to the "picture palaces" of the early twentieth century in our world. 
As your may imagine, dreamhunting comes with its dangers, including the secret origin of The Place and its mysterious golems, as well as the ambitions of those who seek to use dreams to achieve authoritarian power.  
Mortal Fire is set much later, in a 1959 that closely resembles 1950s New Zealand, including the aftereffects of polio on Marli, a close friend of the protagonist, Canny Mochrie. Canny is of Southland and (Pacific) Shackle Island descent, but her mother never speaks of her father's origins or identity. 
Although the events of the Dreamhunter period are now relegated to Southland history, Canny has always been able to see something Extra in the world. When her half-brother and his girlfriend take her on a camping trip into the remote Zarene Valley, inhabited exclusively by the extended Zarene family, Canny discovers that her Extra is magic – and the valley is rife with it. The magic centres on Ghislain Zarene, imprisoned in his farmhouse for thirty years, and in unravelling his secrets, Canny discovers the key to her own identity.
In terms of worldbuilding, the magic of Southland is always fascinating. The world of the Zarene Valley is also a fascinating combination of a rural, 1950s farming community grafted onto a slightly later era commune, but where the alternative lifestyle is shaped by magic use rather than by environmental or social philosophy.
So whether you fancy a dip into a Southern Hemisphere world, or love the sound of shared dreaming and dream hunting, or the occurrence of strange and compelling magic in a remote, rural community, then Elizabeth Knox's Southland novels could be exactly what you're looking for.

Note: Mortal Fire's Canny Mochrie was one of the fantasy heroines that rocked my world, in the SF Signal post series of the same name. To find out why, click on:

Helen Lowe on the Fantasy Heroines That Rock Her World: Canny Mochrie in Elizabeth Knox’s MORTAL FIRE


Previous Months:

February: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by CS Lewis
March: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
April: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
May: Palimpsest by Catherynne M Valente
June: Ship of Magic & the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb
July: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
August: Tymon's Flight (Chronicles of the Tree) by Mary Victoria

Helen Lowe's first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. The second,The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012, and the sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood (Book Three), was published in 2016 and Helen is currently completing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Art of Chapter Heads

Map of Amassia for Crown of Bones

Hi Everyone!

The formatting is underway for Crown of Bones and we have some additions I wanted to share: The map above, and also the hierarchy of the robe colors worn by savants.

This chart helps readers keep track of the robe colors worn by savants. Each color represents a rank and level of maturation and ability, the lowest being non-savant.

And, below are chapter head illustrations!

In my post earlier this month, I talked about the History of Chapters, their purpose and how they inform the way we read. You can see that post here - An Affiliation of Chapters.

Today I can show you the Chapter Heads for Crown of Bones, coming out January 5, 2021.

The art is inked by Anna Campbell, and will be set for each POV character, at the head of their chapters.
The record books for Ash's Chapter POVs.
Marcus's War Axe for his chapter POVs. 

Master Brogal's Firebird phantom, C'cen.
Kaylin's Sword for his POVs.
Salila's (Sah-LEE-lah) chapter heads. 
Bone Throwers' Whistle Bone.
Twin Sun Flag.

I hope you are intrigued by these additions. If that's a yes, post in the comments for an ARC (advanced reader copy) to dive into the world.

See you there!

* * * 

About AK Wilder

I write YA Lit for young adults, and the young at heart.

Meet me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or check out my site, where you can read the Bare Bones Scopes each month, Throw the Bones and discover the latest news and giveaways.

My alter ego on the Sup is Kim Falconer...

Remember, when in doubt... Raise. Your. Phantom!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

An Affiliation of Chapters

Murcia y Albacete by  Rodrigo Amador de los Ríos
Image from page 135 of "Murcia y Albacete ... Fotograbados y heliografías de Thomás, dibujos de Cabrinety, cromos de Xumetra"

When we read a book, no matter the platform or genre, we expect chapters. Capitulo. Something at the head, or top. 

Think about it:

Cookbooks are divided into courses or by ingredients. Biology books pan out according to system, phylum and class. Math books by applications... And novels? They are divided into bite-size chunks, little mini-stories all their own.

The Ferial Psalter Medieval Manuscript
The Ferial Psalter Medieval Manuscript

It's been that way for over two-thousand years...

The Evolution of Chapters

Chapters in books and manuscripts where born out of necessity. For example, in ancient 'how-to' scripts, on topics of farming, astrology, natural sciences and the like, authors didn't expect readers to go through from start to finish. They imagined more a 'dipping in' to topics as needed: bovine husbandry, Lunar phases. life-cycles of editable fish. Chapters were like tabs, there for ease of access.

Then there was the Bible. In early renditions, the sections were not consistently divided, at all. It wasn't until the 1300s that Stephen Langton, member of the theological faculty of the Paris University, created a simple and unified system of chaptering the Bible - the one still used today.

"...the chapter has become a way of looking at the world, a way of dividing time and, therefore, of dividing experience. " The Chapter - a History by Nicholas Dames

Chapter Expectations

The Project Gutenber Adventures  of Huckleberry Finn
Huckleberry Finn

Readers, editors and publishers have certain expectations of chapters, ones that authors try to meet at least halfway. 

I liken chapters in a novel to mini-stories complete with a beginning, middle and end. There is an inciting event, something that blows things up, creates contrast and challenge, a potential solution (good, bad or temporary) and a conclusion, of sorts. Hopefully, the end hook keeps the reader turning those pages. 

In Fantasy, that hook is usually a cliffhanger, or an ominous tone or maybe a huge misdirection that the protagonist can't see no matter how loudly we scream the warning.

The Elegance of Chapters

Chapter headings can be simple statements: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and so on... or they can have titles which cue the reader as to what's coming next. ie. Harry Potter, Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived, or Twilight: 1. First Sight.

I like to use chapter headings even further to signal a point-of-view change, as in Chapter One - Marcus, Chapter Two - Ash, but more on that next week in an A.K. Wilder post.

Your thoughts on Chapters? I'd love to hear them.


* * *

Author Kim Falcconer

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out January 5, 2020 - Crown of Bones. (Writing asr A.K. Wilder) 

Also, check her urban fantasy  - The Blood in the Beginning - an Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the site.