Monday, September 1, 2014

"Supernaturally" Tips For Aspiring Writers

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Over the weekend, I had the very great pleasure to chair the "Supernaturally" event with YA authors Laini Taylor and Elizabeth Knox at the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers' Festival.


L-R: Laini, Elizabeth, moi.
(My thanks to HachetteNZ & The Realm for the photo.)

With authors of Laini and Elizabeth's calibre speaking it's not surprising that the question time included a request for "tips for aspiring writers."

So I thought I'd share something from their replies and add a few "extry" tips of my own today.

Laini Taylor
The remark Laini made that really resonated with me was (& I paraphrase):

Tip 1:
"Writing takes at least 100% of what you have to give so it's important to make other life choices that support your ability to give that 100%+, for example choosing an undemanding part-time or day job."

While Elizabeth Knox made an equally important observation (and again I paraphrase):

Elizabeth Knox
Tip2:
 "No matter how demanding the writing life we need to make sure we keep having fun with our writing."

Yes indeed to both these points. I'd also add the following from my own experience:

Tip 3:
Write, not necessarily what you know (in which case no Fantasy would ever be written—a point both Laini and Elizabeth also made!) but what you love because that is the creative touchstone from which almost everything else follows.

Helen Lowe (that's me again!)
Tip 4:
"Life," to quote Hippocrates, "is short but the art long." So don't wait. Start now!

Tip 5:
The writing flows easily—keep going; the writing comes hard—keep going. Keep going!

Everything else is up to the writer, because every creative voice is unique and must find its own 'right path."

Write on—and may the muses be with us all.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scotland!!

Congratulations to Bella Boo, who won this month's contest! Thank you all for the lovely comments! Please come back next month--I'll have some photos of Scotland!! And I'll be giving away signed copies of The Vampire and the Virgin and Eat Prey Love! Meanwhile, you can follow the Scottish adventures on Facebook and Twitter.  See you next month!

Have any of you been watching the new television series, Outlander?  Jamie Frasier captured my heart years ago when I first read Outlander, back in 1991. But then you know that I have a thing for valiant young men in kilts (or valiant old vampires in kilts!).  One of the things I love most about the TV show is that we get to see Scotland. I've been fascinated with that country ever since I was a kid reading
Nancy Drew books and she traveled to Scotland (and solved a mystery, of course.) And I have Scottish ancestors, so I can't help but feel drawn there.

In September, I'll be traveling to Scotland with a group of writers.  You may know of a few of them-- Cathy Maxwell, Lorraine Heath, Elizabeth Essex.  We'll fly in together to Glasgow, and then take off to an old hunting lodge for a week. Of course, the only thing we'll be hunting is countryside, castles, and men in kilts! When we come back to Glasgow on Sept. 14, I hope to meet some of my readers. If you are able to attend our get-together, please let me know! I want to bring a signed book for everyone.

And since sadly, you can't all make it, I'll give away two signed books today.  One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Secret Life of a Vampire and Forbidden Nights with a Vampire! Just leave a comment to enter. International entries are welcome. Good luck!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Loving the rogue



Each month, the fabulous Helen Lowe sends us ideas for posts - because sometimes, you get so caught up in your world (both the real one and the one in your head) that you just can't conceive of what to blog about.

I don't know if Helen was inspired by one of the comments on my last post, but one of her prompts about swashbucking rogues mentioned the one, the only, Han Solo. So, let's get our Solo love on.

What was it about Solo that attracted us (apart from the fact he was played by Harrison Ford - seriously, just look at that face!)? Why was it the bad boy, who wasn't supposed to be much more than a foil to show up how heroic Luke was, who became the star of the trilogy?

I've always kinda felt sorry for Mark Hamill. He should have been the one to come out of those movies a megastar. Instead, we've been gifted with decades of Harrison Ford.

I don't think it's just about the actors. I don't think it's about the fact Hamill had that accident and it changed his face. I think it was about the characters.

While Luke had the real hero storyline, he started off selfish and a whiner and I don't think any of us ever got over that. Whereas the first time we see Han he's poised, in control, and you bet your sweet patootie that he shot first! Not likeable, but still you see in the relationship with Chewbacca that there's something to him. Han knew who he was, and he wasn't apologising for it. Luke knew what he wanted to be, and did nothing to get himself there until circumstances allowed it.

In the end, I think that's the attraction of the rogue - it's his confidence. He don't care what people think, and we'd all like to be like that.

So let's drink a toast to Han Solo and his ilk - may we never lack for a good rogue!

What do you love most about Han Solo in particular, but rogues in general? I'd love to know. Help inspire me to write my own lovable rogue!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Masquerade of Fiction

Zorro the Mask
Name your favorite masked character and win a free kindle book.

The winner is - Diane Scicluna! Please send me your email address  (to enchantmentATkimfalconerDOTcom) and I'll send you your copy of Tatsania's gift, or Vampires Gone Wild, if you prefer. Congratulations! 

Since the beginning of time, masks have had a powerful influence on human evolution. From preliterate societies to the ancient Greeks and on to present times, the mask represents a part of our multiplicity, the many ‘selves’ that reside within.

Greek Masks of Comedy and Tragedy
In the Greek amphitheater, masks were performance props that helped bring out a ‘persona,’ a word that originally meant ‘to sound through’. The mask actually amplified the voice of the actor on stage, a wonderful metaphor for the expression of character.

Joseph Campbell explores this deeply in The Masks of God, delving into philosophical views of supreme beings in preliterate, Eastern, and Western cultures. He shows how, through story and ritual, we meet the divine, and sometimes demonic (dynamic), within - via our masks.

Batman the Game

In modern times, the mask (metaphorical or real) can be a way of allowing a particular aspect of our personality its day in the sun. We put on the mask and become something  else, something more than . . .
  
This ‘primitive’ practice of donning a mask to express a repressed aspect of the Self is common. We do it all the time when we:

Put on our happy face.

Find our serious look.

Give others our kick-ass stare.

Go all gooey or seductive . . .

Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz in The Mask

We still use masks in fiction to embellish (hide, punish, trick, curse, bless, amplify) a character. It may seem like the mask makes them more archetypal, as in the evil of Darth Vader, the trickster Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask, or Batman and Zorro’s dark hero, but the story always reveals its deeper meaning when the characters finally take off the mask. Then we see what lies beneath.


William Butler Yeats suggests we sometimes prefer the masks stay on!


The Mask

"PUT off that mask of burning gold
With emerald eyes."
"O no, my dear, you make so bold
To find if hearts be wild and wise,
And yet not cold."
"I would but find what's there to find,
Love or deceit."
"It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what's behind."
"But lest you are my enemy,
I must enquire.”
"O no, my dear, let all that be;
What matter, so there is but fire
In you, in me?"

What’s your favorite mask in film or literature? Lord Vader? Scream? Dread Pirate Roberts? Zorro? Predator? Stanley Ipkiss? Stanley Ipkiss’s dog? I’d love to hear.

Name your favorite, most scary/awesome/sexy mask in the comments and receive a Kindle copy of Tatsania’s Gift, a YA dystopia novella, lead in to the Quantum Encryption series.

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

You can find out more about Kim at kimfalconer.com or on the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter. She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month. Her latest release is"Blood and Water" in Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Creating Characters

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A question I'm often asked is how I go about creating characters—and it's certainly a huge part of the writing process.
Malian of Night
Usually, my characters either 'spring forth' in an instant, fully formed Athena style, or they evolve over time a long time before I begin writing. Yet even with the evolving characters, there’s often a flashpoint moment – usually an image of the character in a place or situation where their identity becomes ‘concrete.’ Sometimes it can be the ‘voice’ of the character I hear first. The flashpoint also comes with with far more backstory around what the character’s life is, and the challenges ahead—which is when the writing begins.

In the case of Malian, in the The Wall Of Night series, the flashpoint was an image of her scaling the interior wall of an ancient, ruined castle that was imbued with shadows and a bloody history. She had already been with me a long time at that point, but that was the moment in which her character and journey really became clear. As the series has developed, Malian's character has continued to evolve in relation to events, as well as to changes in the characters around her.

I feel it's important that happen, since it’s a vital part of making characters real. I also believe that character continuity is vital to the authenticity of a story—which means that a character cannot just go and do something against her or his nature, as established in the story thus far, simply to advance the next element in the plot. Not if I’m “keeping it real” as a writer.

Malian is a major character and so obviously gets a lot of attention. But for me, a yardstick of writing quality is whether the minor characters, for whatever brief time they are on the stage of the story, are equally real. One way I like to think about this in my own writing is that even if a character is not important to the story being told, he or she (or "it", since I do write fantasy!) will be important to him or herself. Even the most minor character will have a history and a life that matters to them—and as the writer I have to convey a sense of that.

When an author does this successfully, I believe it adds depth and texture, as well as conviction, to the story. I know it adds greatly to my enjoyment of a book when I don my reader’s hat.

Friday, July 25, 2014

RWA National Conference

Congratulations to Abbie of New Jersey, who won this month's contest! Thank you all for the great comments!  Please come back August 25th, when I'll do another contest and give away two more Love at Stake books!

What is RWA?  It stands for Romance Writers of America, even though there are members from all over the world.  And once a year, some of those members come to a national conference.  The location changes each year, so a different area of the country can have access to the events that are open to the public.  Last year, it was in Atlanta, Georgia.  This year, it's in San Antonio, Texas. Next year, it's New
York City. And every year, the conference kicks off with a giant book signing that is open to the public. Over 500 authors sign their books in a giant ballroom, and the proceeds from the book sales go to local adult literacy programs.

How can you have a giant book signing without the most famous romance author?  You can't, so here is Nora Roberts, sitting at her table before the doors open and her mob of fans pour in. Her line was huge!! And here is Christie Craig (aka C.C. Hunter) right after she'd learned that she'd hit the New York Times bestseller list!

I was thrilled to be able to meet some of my readers! Thank you for coming!  Since I know many of you were unable to come, I have a consolation prize for you.  One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire and The Undead Next Door.  That's Roman and Jean-Luc-- two very sexy vampire heroes who want to spend some time with you! To enter, just leave a comment. International entries are welcome. If you don't leave your email address in your comment, please remember to check back here in a few days to see if you've won. Good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living and loving science fiction

So here we are, one month into the second half of the year. Here in Canberra, that means we're into the depths of winter. To give you an idea - last night, the temperature dipped to -2 degrees C (28.4 degrees F) and the top during the day was 15 degrees C (59 degrees F). A glorious winter's day, the sun was shining, no wind, and I went for my first ever Segway ride!

There's something about a Segway, despite the fact the technology is really quite simple, that is very science fictional to me. So it was fitting that I lived out my own little bit of science fiction, because on August 1 my first science fiction novel comes out!

While fantasy and romance have been the genres I've done most of my writing in, science fiction is the genre I was brought up in, thanks to my dad. My earliest television memories are of hiding behind Dad's beanbag, peering over his shoulder at which ever monster was the feature of that week's episodes of Dr Who. Movie wise, my most important moment at a movie ever was when I was seven and Dad took me and my younger brother to see Star Wars. I can still remember vividly walking out and feeling like my brain was somehow bigger than it had every been before. I was too young for Star Trek on the television, but Dad made sure we saw all the movies.

I'll admit, I've not kept up my science fiction cred - I've not watched enough, and I've not read nearly enough. But still, I can safely say that the cancellation of Firefly still upsets me. That I loved both versions of Battlestar Galactica but while I think Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck was inspired, Richard Hatch will ALWAYS be Apollo to me. Red Dwarf still makes me laugh and Inception fricken blew my mind.

But really, in my heart and soul, it's Star Wars - beating out the Doctor by a sonic screwdriver. And so, when I was 14 and it came into my mind that I wanted to write an epic, what I wrote was a homage to the greatest space princess who ever lived - Leia Organa.

Of course, one's childhood scribblings generally don't go any further than that, right? And the space princess I developed as a 14-year-old really didn't deserve to go any further than that. Princess Cassandra of Rica was so idealised, and perfect, and really was just me pretending I could be as kick arse as Leia.

Except for some reason - maybe because she came from a place of such pure love - Cassandra never left me. From time to time, I'd pull her out and have another go at writing her story. She developed, her world developed, but I could never find the perfect story.

Until last year. Last year, I got it. And thankfully, my publisher loved it and now, on August 1, Cassandra will finally live!

From Escape’s fresh, exhilarating science fiction romance catalogue comes a story of corporate espionage, betrayal, sex, and bodyguards. Just another day in the colonies.
Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. The company has made her family wealthy beyond imagination, but that kind of power needs careful control, and Cassandra is just the Wiltmore to control it.
When a new bid for the mining license is announced, Cassandra is determined to squash it. Then the thefts and threats begin, and every step she takes seems to be wrong. Taking on a new protector seems like an indulgence Cass can’t afford, but she equally cannot afford to be caught off-guard. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen.
Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach all his long-held goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think of only pleasure. With the company, the heir and the family under attack, the last thing anyone needs is a distraction. But once everything is safe again, Kernan is developing new ambitions — ones that involve a lot of very personal time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.

You can pre-order the book now from all good electronic bookstores. And it's just the beginning - Loving the Prince is one of three set on the planet Jorda. The second book, Winning the King will be out in December and the third, Saving Her Heart, will be out next year.

Want to win a copy of Loving the Prince? Tell me your favourite science fiction hero or heroine. I'll give five copies at random to those who comment.