Friday, February 1, 2019

A Theme For 2019: A Year of Romance in Fantasy Fiction

 Last month, when thinking about the year ahead here on Supernatural Underground, I realized that this July will be my 9th anniversary of posting here on the 1st day of every month – and I think that I’ve only missed one of those dates.

When I started out, our Supernatural Underground theme was “Books That Go Bump In The Night”, which felt quite deliciously magical and maybe just a tad spooky. Now we’re all about “Fiction That Makes The Heart Beat Faster” – which I sure hope yours may have done when reading some if not all of the books featured in our side bar. J
Over the past few years, I’ve been very impressed by Amanda Arista’s fabulous post series that focus on a theme for the year, such as #YOLA, the Year of Living Authentically and last year’s Year Of The New. 
Nine years (the magical “three times three”) seems like an excellent time to mix things up a little, so I’ve decided to try out Amanda’s theme-for-the-year approach.
That decision made, I then had to put on my thinking cap, to find a theme to resonate with “Fiction That Makes The Heart Beat Faster.” (And if I can touch on “Books That Go Bump In The Night” as well, then all the better!) 
As a starting point, I thought I’d best stick with Fantasy, since that’s the fiction I write (and generally adore.) I then reflected that the Supernatural Underground’s origins were strongly grounded in Romance, particularly the Paranormal Urban kind – and when all’s said and done there are few things that make the heart beat quite so fast as romance…
So this year, dear Supernatural Undergrounders, I’m going to focus on Romance In Fantasy, trying to hone in on a distinctive form of fantasy (e.g. epic fantasy) and/or style of romance (e.g. “star-crossed”) with each post. It will not be exhaustive (or, I hope, exhausting!) in any way shape or form, just a fun look at books I’ve found interesting and at how romance figures – or mostly doesn’t figure, The Lord of the Rings I’m looking at you! – in the story.
There's this kiss -- but when it comes to romance in the book, I'm not so sure...
Sadly, I will almost certainly not feature all your favorites. L Quite probably, I will overlook what you believe to be a definitive book. L L This is because, as you have probably realized by now, I am a deeply flawed “ ‘uman bean.” 
Undying love -- but one sided?
But (great big “but” – huge, in fact!) I do aim to have fun with the Year of Romance and I hope you will, too. And, taking a leaf from Amanda’s book, I’m even going to use a hashtag. Yep, you guessed it, it’s #YOR! (Said with a roar [winks.]) But wait there’s moar – I may even have a second hashtag: #RIFF – Romance In Fantasy Fiction. ;-)
See ya next month with #RIFF #1 for #YOR. J

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, 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 Helen's 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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Can't Wait To Be Read 2019

The second in the Blood Eternal series is on my radar, out April 2019
With 2019 underway, it's time to reassess the alluring and sometimes daunting To Be Read list. 

Because, no matter how long the TBR stack, there's always room for more great books, right?

Here are some of my new additions, coming out in 2019. They range across a bevy of genres and sound amazing to me! Loving the cover art too! Do you have a favourite?

Can't wait for this by one of my fav authors.

I love this author. Her writing is crisp and engaging, the subject matter always deep. Don't be halted by the YA tag. Dunn is great reading, for any age.

The Wicked King, Book #2 in The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black
My first Holly Black title was The Darkest Part of the Forest and I've been a fan ever since. The Folk of the Air is right up there with her best!

#11 in the Mercy Thompson series out March 2019.
Fabulous Urban Fantasy! In all of this series, I think the first, Moon Called, is my fav, but I'm looking forward to more Mercy and Patricia Brigg's fabulous writing

Coming out February 19th, by Sup author, T. Frohock.

This is a long-anticipated read, a lyrical historical fantasy adventure. It's set in 1932 Spain and Germany and brings to life the world of the novellas collected in Los Nefilim: Spanish Nephilim battling daimons in a supernatural war to save humankind. Can't wait to read more of our own Supernatural Underground authors!

We're all waiting for book #4 of this fabulous series!

Speaking of our very own Sup authors, I just talked with Helen Lowe. Although she concedes it's not quite as exciting as anticipating a new release, Helen is very much looking forward to completing the fourth and final novel in her The Wall Of Night series (working title: The Chaos Gate)... coming out in the middle of the year? I hope so!

And, of course, she can't wait to share all the pre-release excitement, including cover art and sneak previews of the final instalment! Because (I was going to say "at the end of the day" at this point but realize it is every part of the day--and night!) the story is what we're all about here on Supernatural Underground.

Debut epic fantasy? Yes, please.
This is the first book in Lyons’ A Chorus of Dragons series launching an epic fantasy tale I'm really excited to dive into. I mean, dragons!

This book had me at the cover and the tagline. The ARC reviews are riveting! 
Seanan McGuire, who brought us October Daye, has a standalone fantasy coming out in May 2019. Looking forward to this one too. That cover...

Finally, I have a title coming out in September 2019 but am not allowed to say more. Sneak-peek it though, at :)

I'd love to hear of more books for 2019... especially the different and obscure ones that might be on your TBR list. As Haruki Murakami says, "If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."


Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. Also check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment SeriesYou can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Kim also runs where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Time To Chillax: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I love the whole idea of the new year, with its official marking off of the old and welcoming in fresh starts.

Most of all, though, I love the opportunity to chillax after all the pressure of Christmas—you know, decorations, food, presents, full on family-and-friends time—followed by New Year's Eve retrospectives and serious party time. Which is all fabulous and fun, but not precisely relaxing, especially when it all comes at the one time!

So New Year's Day is for finally kicking back, putting my feet up, and mixing up such delights as lying on the couch reading a book or watching a great TV show or movie.

At home, I hasten to add. There's no way I want to move away from that couch and "feet up" time if I can help it!

Right now I have a number of books on the go. Having fallen in love with the Shetland TV series this year, I have the first two books in the Ann Cleeves series to read: Raven Black and White Nights.

I've just finished the first one and really enjoyed it. Despite having seen the TV series, the novel still managed to hook me in and keep me reading so I'm really looking forward to White Nights.

Another two-book pair is Lamentation by historical-crime/mystery writer CJ Sansom and his latest work, Tombland (that's Tomb Land, folks, not Tom Bland, as I heard one fellow bookshop afficionado  say, in a slip of the tongue! ;-) )

The books are set in Tudor England, during the period of religious, political, and social unrest that followed Henry the VIII's breakaway from the Roman Catholic church.

The author's historicism is really good (imho) and the main character, Matthew Shardlake, wonderfully flawed.

I am reading Lamentation right now and have my suspicions who the mysterious antagonist may be, but must read on to find out if I have guessed correctly...

The fifth book on my New Year chillax reading list is Tempest and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles Book One) by Tamora Pierce. I am a longtime fan of Ms Pierce's fantasy fiction, as well as hugely impressed by her output, so really pleased to have a new Tortall adventure to relax with.

As for TV series, besides Shetland, in this past year I've enjoyed time with The Expanse, The Last Kingdom, and Babylon Berlin, so am pleased the latest season of The Last Kingdom is still "to be watched" before the holiday is over.

The Last Kingdom
And then, of course, it will be back to writing, writing... But putting one's feet up with a good book and a TV series or two is a great way to ensure a little refreshment of both mind and spirit before returning to the hard work.

I hope you are all getting in a little chillax time, too, before returning to work. If you have some good reads to recommend or shows to share with your fellow Supernatural Undergrounders, we'd love to see your comment. :-)

In the meantime: Happy New Year!


Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, 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 Helen's 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

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Fantasy Festivals

Snoggletog in the fictional world of How to Train Your  Dragon
looks a lot like Christmas.
There are a number of ways an author draws the reader into their story. They can use pace, suspense, fear, excitement, but behind the page-turning tools is a little something called atmosphere, the nuance that creates immersion.

The character of Buffy Anne Summers  - DOB January 19th.

In this way, the readers and audience are captivated by the story, not just because it excites them, but because it feels 'real'.

Ways to create an atmosphere stem from language, word choice, dialogue, character and worldbuilding - the sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes and history of the story-world. Included in the art of worldbuilding is the power of celebration.

Harry Potter's first festival feast not only helps create an atmosphere at Hogwarts,
  it shows a contrast to his austere upbringing.

Fantasy festival like birthdays, weddings, seasonal celebrations, government holidays and religious ceremonies show the reader what the story-world is like. They can reveal a character's beliefs, family relationships and outlook without having to tell the reader through dense descriptions and narrative.

There's nothing like a royal wedding to make the heart sing.

These fantasy festivals might match ones the reader is already familiar with like the mid-winter solstice, Chrismas, birthdays, weddings, independence days, or they might be unique to the story. In any case, they have the power to convince us that the book we're immersed in is as real as everyday life.

Do you have a favourite fictional celebration? I'd love to hear it.

Happy Holidays, everyone. See you next year!

* * *

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. Also check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment SeriesYou can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Kim also runs where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Truth Behind The Title

I have all the butterflies in the world in my stomach right now. Valiant released last week. This YA Sci-Fi is a book that I love so much, because it's about an average girl who's been given an impossible task—she must save the world. Despite the fact that it's impossible, she's continues to try because she's doing it out of love—the love for her younger brother. 

So, average girl + impossible odds + a motive of love = anything can happen. 

I think this is how we all succeed in life. Yes, we have impossible tasks and, yes, we must do our best to try and succeed. But the success comes when our motive is born out of love.

Love conquers all. 

It chases away the shadows. It heals the sick. It gives hope when there is no hope. 

In Valiant, love is that 'extra' characteristic Sara has. It gives her the ability to lead a group of teenagers in a war against invading aliens. She isn't the strongest girl, or the smartest girl, or the prettiest girl. 

Still, she's the girl who's going to win because she'll never give up. She loves her brother and she'll do whatever it takes for him to survive. 

Yes, this is an action-packed apocalyptic tale, yes, there is fighting, and yes, it is heart-breaking at times. But in the midst of it all, there is hope and there is love. 

This is life. 

In the midst of the chaos and the darkness, there is a single candle that can guide you to safety. I hope you get a chance to read this story and I hope that you see Sara the way I do—and I hope you enjoy the story. 💖💖💖

Also, I have something extra for those of you interested in this book. Click on this link for a free short story prequel to Valiant.

Also, if you're in Southern California, I'd love to have you join me and three other authors for A DARK HOLIDAY GATHERING at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Join JONATHAN MABERRY (Broken Lands, Rot & Ruin), SARA WOLF (Bring Me Their Hearts, Leave Me Never), RACHEL MARKS (Darkness Brutal, Fire & Bone), and me (Valiant, Shade) for A DARK HOLIDAY GATHERING at MYSTERIOUS GALAXY BOOKSTORE.

DATE & TIME: 2 p.m., Saturday Dec. 15th.
LOCATION: Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, 5943 Balboa Ave., Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92111

This event is free and seating is first come, first serve. To get a book signed during this event, a copy of the event book must be purchased through Mysterious Galaxy.

And last but not least, I'm taking part in an Instagram event, Dec. 10 - 21. 18 YA Entangled Teen authors are giving away 18 books. Follow me on Instagram for details!

Monday, December 3, 2018

2018 was the Year of the New

Hello my Supes!

2018 was the year of a lot of new things. Mostly stressful. We got up early, we wrote out goals, we made lists, we watched new stuff to feed our muse. Some worked. Some didn't. Some messed me up for an entire month! (looking at you August).

Last month I missed my post because every word I wrote, I wanted to count towards my NaNoWriMo goals. I didn't make 50K, but I did something else that I haven't done in a while- WRITE.

See all of these new things, new practises, new philosophies finally kicked me into gear to write a NEW BOOK! After a year of editing and batting around a manuscript like a cat with a ball of yarn, I have finally cleared off my desk and de-cluttered my brain enough to start on another book.

From scratch.

Blank pages.

Beginning again.

And I'm not panicking because this 2018 Year of the New actually taught me a lot about my process, what I can keep and what I can't. What I can really do with out and what REALLY distracts me from writing.

One of the things I learned this year is that I still love learning and I have lots of things to learn about my craft and my process and the world. I'll be taking more classes to hone in on what I need to work on or just to stir the cobwebs off. I know I don't know it all, but I do know enough to be dangerous.

One of the other things I learned was that I am a hybrid author- both a plotter and a panster. I need to know where I'm going, but I don't want to know how to get there before I sit down to write. I still need the journeying. AND THE POST-ITS!!!

One of the things that I didn't love was getting up early. Yeah. Not happening. I am a devoted night owl so lets make #10pmwriteclub a thing.

I didn't get a chance to dress my muse or do some of the other stuff that Elizabeth Gilbert said to do in Big Magic, but I'm still writing, so I've got some time to keep exploring

And I hope you will keep exploring the paranormal writing life with me.

Carry Onward, dear readers,

Amanda Arista
Author and Night Owl

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Color Blue – And All Of You!

Recently, Thanksgiving was celebrated, and although it’s not a festival “where I come from”, I think we can all benefit from pressing pause from time to time, in order to take stock and reflect upon what we can point to on the “giving thanks” side of our personal ledger.

Last year, the Skiffy and Fanty blog did this in another way by designating January as their Month of Joy. In it, they asked authors and others in the speculative fiction community to aspects of life (the universe and everything that bring them joy.)

When reflecting on Thanksgiving and looking ahead to this coming year’s Month of Joy (yes, Skiffy & Fanty are doing it again, and again I hope to take part) I thought Supernatural Undergrounders might be interested on what I had to say last year.

I haven’t posted it in full, but there’s a link to the compleat post at the end. If you do check it out, say “hi” to the Skiffy and Fanty crew why you’re over there — I’m “pretty sure” they’d love to hear from you. ;-)


“Helen Lowe’s Month Of Joy: From The Color Blue To “The End”

“These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood…”

 ~ from The Great Lover, Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915

This excerpt from Rupert Brooke’s poem,The Great Lover, captures how seemingly small things can encompass joy. I recognize many if not all of the items contained in The Great Lover—from “the cool kindliness of sheets” to “blue-massing clouds”—but of course I have a list of my own…

River, Ocean, Sky…
The color blue informs it, because I love the changeable blues of ocean, rivers, and sky, a love that spills over into the blue dart of a dragonfly and the flash of a kingfisher by a summer river. The blues of lapis lazuli, turquoise, and sapphire also beguile, just as the contrast of blue-and-white—whether white caps on the ocean, or a Hokusai print, or Cornish kitchenware—is an enduring delight.

Blue on blue; blue-and-white
I’ve begun with blue since it’s so ubiquitous because of sky and water, but quickly realized that I love all color in its many manifestations—although the predominant colors of the natural world, the blues and the greens, are probably my favorites. Nonetheless I do find it difficult to pass by any vibrant display of color, whether in nature or art, in a book on the subject, or a fabric display—not unlike Garfield encountering a patch of sunshine, although generally I remain awake. :D

A vibrant display of color
From the colors of the natural world to the natural world itself: it’s not just the blues and the greens, but the sounds of water flowing and the crash of ocean waves, a dolphin in the sea or bird cleaving the sky, the sound of bees in lavender and the spiky flowers themselves, with their dusty scent of summer.
Bumblebee on hebe
From a thunderstorm rumbling across land or ocean, to the acrid scent of earth when the first raindrops fall after a long dry spell, to dew glittering on a spider’s web, the natural world is full of a beauty that provokes delight and brings joy. I know I am not alone in feeling this, because Gerard Manley Hopkins is another poet whose work speaks to these emotions:

“Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow
For rose moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’wings”
~ Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844 – 1889 …”

To read the post in full click on: Helen Lowe's Month Of Joy

I’ll be doing another Month of Joy post for 2019, so if you enjoyed this post, keep a lookout here on Supernatural Underground, on Skiffy and Fanty, or on my own blog, for when that goes live. 

Just by the way, though, something else that’s on the positives side of the ledger will always be “all of you” in the Supernatural Underground community: the authors, for sure, but definitely the readers and blog followers. Y’all rock: but then again, I’m sure you already know that.  J

Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her 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 writing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we.