Thursday, November 19, 2020

inCONceivable Virtual Convention - Behind the Scenes

 

The Mad Writers Tea Party

In the time of social distancing and lockdown, it can be hard to connect in the ways we are used to. But let me just say... it can be done!

I'm just back from the wild and wonderful inCONceivable virtual convention. It was absolutely amazing and I can't wait to share these panels, writers, presenters and pop artists with you.

Highlights from inCONceivable

First there us the Mad Writers Tea Party, a panel with me (as A K Wilder aka Kim Falconer, Isobelle Carmody, Traci Harding, Kylie Chan and Juliette Marillier:


We had at least as much fun as 'The Mad Hatter's Tea Party' by Beyond Cinema










Watch the full two hours, in two parts!

Mad Writers Tea Party Part I


Mad Writers Tea Party Part II


For me, the other panels that were unmissable included:

Diversity in Infinite Worlds hosted by Annie McCann





Aussie Author Horror Show hosted by Alan Baxter



Hollywood Prop Gods hosted by Becosplay Forge










The entire weekend was a blast. I mean, a virtual convention where you can shop all your favourite local artists and pop culture merchandise, listen to authors talk about your favorite genres, writing tips and support, behind the scenes in Hollywood... all without leaving your home?

What's not to love?

I'll be sure to let you know when the next inCONceivable event is on.

What's your favorite way to connect with authors you love? Pop a not in the comments to share with us. :)

Be safe!

xxKim

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Author Kim Falcconer

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy is out January 5, 2020 - Crown of Bones. book #1 in the Amassia Series (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 or Raise your Phantom on the AKWilder.com site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Sound of Magic


I've often been enchanted by the supernatural magic found in movies, how story combines with images and sound. 

Of course, I love books too. I guess because when I'm reading, my mind creates the setting, it fills in the shadowy figures of the characters, and it hears the intonation of the voices. I just never expected audio books to sound so much like a stage play. 

It's almost as if the play is actually taking place, except the stage curtain is drawn. Your mind still fills in all the blank spaces. Except now, it feels like you're inside the story. Really. Inside

I actually got scared when I listened to my narrator reading Shade, Dusk, and Dawn. And they're my stories!

 

Shade: Book 1: The Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein will go up for preorder in two days. Then it will release on December 1. Right now, Dusk is fast behind it, releasing on December 10, if all goes well. We are still fine-tuning the final book in the series, Dawn, but hope we can have it out in time for Christmas.


What audio books have you listened to that you absolutely loved? Darkness Brutal by Rachel A. Mark is amazing! I loved it!


I loved Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Also, Dracula narrated by Tim Curry and Alan Cummings, Jane Eyre narrated by Thandie Newton, and The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. 


I especially enjoy thrillers and mysteries, so those are what I often listen to.

But what about you? What characteristics are you looking for when you choose an Audible book? Are you heading off on a long car ride and want something to keep you focused? Or are you exercising and need to keep your brain active while your muscles work?


Don't forget to read some of my recent posts here:

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR AND ARTIST, Merrie Destefano studied art at Northern Illinois University, met her husband at a kazoo parade, laughs at all jokes, and ugly cries during corny movies. Her books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, Walter Foster, and Ruby Slippers Press, and, most likely, she's writing her next book while you're reading this. Born in the Midwest, she now lives in Southern California, where she runs on caffeine, and shares her home with rescue dogs and cats.

Her writing awards include:
• 2010 Mount Hermon Writer of the Year
• 2019 Realm Award for Supernatural/Horror: Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
• 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Silver Medal Winner: Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
• 2019 YARWA Athena Award, Second Place: YA/NA Speculative Fiction for Valiant.

You can visit her website here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

TOTAL GENESIS MODE: NaNoWriMo!

Year of Genesis: When you just have to create from scratch

Its NANOWRIMO time!!!

National Novel Writing Month is an online effort to increase creativity across the world by sponsoring a challenge to write a 50,000 book in a month. Yep. 50,000 words in 30 days.

That is roughly 1700 words a day.

Depending on writing speed, that is 2-4 hours a day working on a novel. Or 12,000 words a weekend.

If you have been following the whole Year of Genesis, you'll know that this year was primarily dedicated to THE MERCI LANARD FILES and the creation of three books in that series. Two are out, one is still in the works. It got written in 2020 (super surprised myself), but is waiting to be editing. 

Why am I waiting, you ask? Why aren't I working on that sure thing instead of waisting a month writing furiously on a BRAND NEW THING. 

Well, thank you for asking, because I had to convince myself to make that choice.

1). 2020 has been hard on my writing habits. I've been more like a recreational hopscotcher than an athlete. For the last two months, I haven't been writing at all, only piddling around with words, half reading books. So NaNoWriMo will be like writing bootcamp for me. 1700 words a day will get me disciplined to finish 2020 strong. 

2). My brain is a raccoon. It likes new stuff and when faced with rehashing a murder mystery or working on a brand new secret project (WITCHES!) that my agent and I cooked up together, well, I'll take the new and shiny to help attract me to the hard work that NaNoWriMo will be. 

3). I've had this idea brew for a while and found myself really enjoying creating everything from scratch. This one isn't in the THOSE WHO WANDER universe like all my other books. This is a total top-to-tails creation. So instead of working on something without deadline and potentially squandering a year, I'd like to have a deadline to call it... well...dead. If this doesn't work, if the magic doesn't work, if i can't write it, I've given myself one month to either call it a win or timestamp Time of Death on this idea.

Or at least that is what I am telling myself. 

So as far as NaNoWriMo goes, if you haven't heard of it before, click on the link above. If you have heard of it and think that we are crazy, we are. If you've been itching to maybe try your hand at the creative life, please do! Your story is important.

Have to go now: NaNo-ing!

To the Writers Cave-- see you in 30 days to see how this little experiment went!

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Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther Series
The Merci Lanard Files
www.amandaarista.com

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Year Of Worldbuilding in Fantasy # 10: A Wealth Of Fabulous Worlds

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#YoW Year of Worldbuilding
#WiF Worldbuilding in Fantasy

Introduction: 

Well, here we are: already on November 1, with Halloween immediately behind us, and only one more worldbuilding post date to go on December 1. (And I hope to have something special planned for that. J)

Reaching November 1 and #10 in the worldbuilding series, though, made me realize just how many fabulous worlds there are in Fantasy – far too many to encompass in eleven posts, alas. So this penultimate post is going to look at more than one author and world, just to squeeze a few more in under the wire.

Just by way of a reminder, these are worlds that have made an impression on me in their own right, evoking a “wow” response. I started the series with CS Lewis and Narnia, and he is famous for the phrase “surprised by joy” – a term I would paraphrase, in terms of Fantasy worldbuilding, as “surprised by delight.”

So here are a few more examples that have surprised me with delight, evoked moments of wow, and generally spun my fantasy-reading wheels.

The Alvin Maker Series by Orson Scott Card

I have only read the first trilogy of this series: Seventh Son, Red Prophet, and Prentice Alvin, all published in the late 1980s, although I understand there is a second trilogy, and a seventh, concluding novel potentially forthcoming.

The Alvin Maker worldbuilding made a huge impression because it was among the first epic fantasy series I read that wasn’t set in a quasi, medieval Western European milieu. It was also the first Fantasy world I encountered that drew on the folklore and history of colonial North America. 

I loved it: the weaving together of the magic/power of “making”, with “knacks” and “hexes”, together with an alternate historical geography of colonial North America that juxtaposes a Puritan republic in the north, with a Stuart kingdom-in-exile in the south, a still-extant Iroquois Confederation, here a separate republic, and a smaller United States and neighboring Appalachee somewhere in the middle.

As with most alternate histories, there is still enough real history to provide significance and recognition for readers. So this is still the colonial North America of religious difference, wars between Native Americans and white settlers, and of slavery, all of which play a significant part in the evolving story. 

There are also appearances by, or references to, real historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (the “red prophet” of the second book), and Mike Fink. 

As the series evolves, the magic of “making” evolves beyond component knacks and hexes into a symbiosis with the “greensong”, an eco-magic of the land and grounding in / balance with it – in that respect a little like Ursula Le Guin’s “equilibrium”, although otherwise these are very different worlds.

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Staying with fiction published during the 1980s and also set in the (largely) historical United States, but shifting into what is as much magic realism as alternate history, I have always been inspired by Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale.

 The heart of the book is the world, and the world is New York – Manhattan and Brooklyn and Up State – in a variant of Gangs of New York meets Westside Story. A world that is to all intents and purposes “real” – except, that is, for the magic: a white horse that rediscovers flight, a pursuit that traverses a century, a bridge of light to infinity… It’s a rich, mythic, and utterly fabulous world, especially if you like a Victorian Gothic overlay to your historical urban setting.
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Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Leaping onward to the late 1990s, but lingering on the shores of magic realism imbued storytelling, brings me straight to Joanne Harris’s Chocolat. Instead of a mostly historical New York, we have contemporary French village and a tale that hooked me from the very first line:

“We came on the wind of carnival, a warm wind for February, laden with hot greasy scents … the confetti sleeting down … We are a curiosity to them, a part of the carnival, a whiff of the outlands…”

The heart of the world may be food (chiefly chocolate) but the sleepy world of village and river draw us in with their themes of self and other, light and dark, the divine and the mundane, the stranger amid a strange land that may perhaps become known… Not to mention far more than a dash of everyday magic to bring it into my fantasy lineup.
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Northern Lights / The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman:

“Sometimes a book comes along that just seizes your imagination and for me, Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights/ The Golden Compass was one of those books. I just loved it …”

I wrote these words in 2011, but they are still just as true now as they were then – and hard to believe to, that it’s a quarter century since Philip Pullman’s tale of snow and northern lights, panzer bjorn (armor-wearing polar bears) and Finnish witches, “dust”, alethiometers and daemons, was first published. I still love its alternative historical Oxford that opens the book, and the story’s prevailing Victorian sensibility, including an age of exploration and scientific inquiry – not least “trepanning” – but also of exploitation, including of children.
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The City & the City by China Mieville

Published far more recently, in 2009, I experienced a definite moment of worldbuilding “wow” on first encountering the interlocked and overlapping cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma in China Mieville’s The City & The City.

I enjoyed the Eastern European flavor to the divergent cultural characteristics of the two cities in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion, governance, and architecture. The way the citizens are trained from birth to “not see” the overlapping city that is all around them is also fascinating, as is the physical way in which Beszel and Ul Qoma interact, like a series of unfolding puzzle boxes. Definitely an excellent example of a world that is close to a character in its own right.

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So Many Worlds...

Other outstanding worlds of more recent times include the cities of Sky and Shadow in NK Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy – while the graveyard in Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is a world entire of ghosts and magic within the larger, everyday world.

The Damar of Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and Alan Garner’s dark and eerie Elidor from the book of the same name, are also seminal worlds for me.

And to return, in a sense, to my beginning, the world of Courtney Schafer’s Shattered Sigil series is shaped by the mountains and deserts of the American West – although the story and magic are a distinct secondary world, rather than the alternate colonial history of Alvin Maker.

So many fantastic and fabulous worlds, yet so little time to read and discover them all, yet alone post about them – almost an epic journey in itself, one you may be sure I shall keep pursuing in between my own writing. In fact, the pile on the TBR table has decided teeter-tottery characteristics…
J

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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
September: DreamhunterDreamquakeMortal Fire, by Elizabeth Knox
October: The Many Worlds Of Kate Elliott

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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

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Ghostly Giveaway of Over $500 in Prizes

As Halloween approaches, I can think of no better topic than ghosts and ghouls—unless I were to include a giveaway. So, sit back and enjoy my article on historic research of ghosts, below. And then, please enter the giveaway too! Please note: the giveaway is at the very bottom of this post, after my bio. 

You can read Part 1 of this ghostly roundup HERE.

Dont Rest in Peace


Like a page from an Edgar Allan Poe tale, a strange phenomenon began to take place in the 1800s, creating fear and influencing public behavior and beliefs: Catalepsy. A real physical occurrence that modern doctors believe is related to catatonic schizophrenia, this condition causes rigid muscles and gives the victim the appearance of death. In the 19th century, however, this ailment was not properly diagnosed and, as a result, many people were buried alive.


Some of these people managed to find their way out of their earthly tombs, once again giving rise to a belief that the dead can come back, not as wispy spirits but rather as actual physical beings.


One of these survivors was Constance Whitney, a woman who died in the late 1800s. A sexton attempted to remove one of her rings while she lay in her casket, but in the process, his blade slipped and he cut off her finger. Constance sighed, woke up and came back to life, continuing her life above ground for several more years. In Northern Ireland, grave robbers dug up the remains of a rich woman. Again, while trying to take one of the woman’s rings, the supposed dead woman came back from the dead.


For thousands of years, stories have circulated about how the dead are walking among us, sometimes clothed in flesh, sometimes hungry for human flesh and blood, and sometimes merely hungry for another home-cooked meal. The line continues to blur between what we consider life and death. But one thing is for sure. 


The notion that ghosts look like sheets blowing in the wind, with transparent hands and legs and soft voices, is fairly recent. The ghosts that haunted our forefathers also chased them down the street and threw rocks.


. . . . . . . . . . . .

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR AND ARTIST, Merrie Destefano studied art at Northern Illinois University, met her husband at a kazoo parade, laughs at all jokes, and ugly cries during corny movies. Her books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, Walter Foster, and Ruby Slippers Press, and, most likely, she's writing her next book while you're reading this. Born in the Midwest, she now lives in Southern California, where she runs on caffeine, and shares her home with rescue dogs and cats.

Her writing awards include:
• 2010 Mount Hermon Writer of the Year
• 2019 Realm Award for Supernatural/Horror: Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
• 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Silver Medal Winner: Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
• 2019 YARWA Athena Award, Second Place: YA/NA Speculative Fiction for Valiant.

You can visit her website here.


.......................

And now ... the Giveaway. 79 Entangled authors (including me!) joined together to create this. Prizes included are:

$462 in Gift Cards PLUS a wide assortment of our digital books.

Please enter and may the odds ever be in your favor!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Raise. Your. Phantom.

 

Phantom Motion - Ave Fenix – Ascenso 

In the spirit of Halloween and all the great posts this month on ghosts and ghouls, I thought I would offer a little 'phantoms 101' for those intending to read Crown of Bones.

What is a Phantom?

Do not mistake a phantom for a ghost.

Phantoms reside in the depths of a savants’ soul and with training, they can be raised, held to solid form and commanded. Some say they are the shadow side of the savant, but they are also an embodiment of their will. 

Let’s be clear. They have a will of their own! Training does not always come easy, or stick.

How to Raise a Phantom

To raise their phantom, the savant must be touching the earth, usually dropping to one or both knees. The phantom separates from the savant, travels through the ground and then rises in a blast of rock and dirt. Earth is necessary to take material form.

Classes of Phantoms

The 5 Classes of Phantoms - Art by Anna Campbell Art









There are five categories or classes of phantoms one might raise – warrior, healer, ouster, caller, alter -- each offering a unique way to serve the realm. Warriors are for defence and offence, healers care for people, animals and plants alike, callers can draw the winds, rain, crops, weapons. They can find lost kittens or, with High Savants, call blood from the enemies' bones. Ousters have similar abilities but push instead of pull. Alters are shape-shifters with uses from observation, battle, communication and survival. 

Phantoms can also be a combination, for example, Samsen’s caller-alter. When it’s clear which class the savant belongs to, they are thereafter referred to simply as a warrior, or healer etc.

Take the Quiz

Find out what phantom you raise and report back. I'd love to know!

In the meantime, have a happy Halloween. You can read your Bare Bones Scopes HERE.

xxKim

* * * 


Author Kim Falcconer

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy is out January 5, 2020 - Crown of Bones. book #1 in the Amassia Series (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 or Raise your Phantom on the AKWilder.com site.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Ghosts Through The Ages: Part 1

The spirits that tormented our ancestors had a lot more bite than they do in the 21st century. 

 

Think of a ghost and chances are you’re going to think of something ethereal and barely visible, a phantom-like creature that can pass through walls and knock books off shelves. In other words, you’re going to imagine something similar to what you’d see in the movie Paranormal Activity or the television series Ghost Hunters. Shadow-like spirits move through houses when people are sleeping or creep from room to room in uninhabited buildings.

Hence, the title of the television show—Ghost Hunters. It implies we have to hunt the ghosts.

This wasn’t always the case.

This viewpoint of spirits who come back from the dead as insubstantial wisps of smoke didn’t become conventional until the Victorian era. Before that, you didn’t have to go looking for the dead. They came looking for you and usually with a vengeance. They also didn’t come back as transparent pranksters.

They came back in the flesh.


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Go a few centuries back in time, to the country of Romania and you’ll discover these folks had a different way of seeing the dead. They believed there were moroi (benevolent spirits) and stigoi (malevolent spirits). The benign spirits of dead ancestors were often welcomed into homes and offered a meal—something you can’t do unless the spirit has visited you in corporeal form. Over time, this form of wraith evolved into what we now call vampires or zombies.

Meanwhile, in Iceland, the Vikings had their own form of the returning dead—the draugar. With either white or black skin, these spirits often came back from the tomb for vengeance. Read through the Sagas of Icelanders, written from the 9th to the 14th centuries A.D., and you’ll discover a host of tales that depict these vindictive “ghosts” who caused physical harm those who stumbled across their path.


Ghost Stories

During the 12th to the 15th century, the telling of ghost stories was darker and fiercer, with tales of the returning dead sounding like a modern-day script for Friday the 13th. Churchmen, courtiers and monks, from both England and Germany, joined in, writing about local ghosts. A Yorkshire canon named William of Newburgh (1136-1198) penned medieval stories about ghosts who assaulted people in order to drink their blood, and corpses that came back from the tomb. An English courtier of King Henry II, Walter Map (1140-1210) also wrote about physical creatures that came back from the dead to drink blood. Another tale—told by a 14th century monk—tells of James Tankerlay, a renowned spirit who came back from the dead and attacked his former lover, putting out one of her eyes.

At this point in history, our written folklore recounted tales of ghosts with physical bodies. These spirits fought with humans, drank alcohol and ate meals. They refused to stay in their graves, choosing instead to rise up and paint the town red—preferably with the blood of the living. As a result, villagers often dug up rotting bodies, then performed unusual ceremonies on the remains, sometimes beheading bodies, sometimes staking them, burning them or chopping them to bits—all acts we now correlate with vampires.

Note: Written by Merrie Destefano and originally published in Halloween magazine. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

Also, if you'd like to get in the Halloween spirit, check out this sample audio for my upcoming Audible book, SHADE: A RE-IMAGINING OF MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN...

SHADE: Frankenstein meets Dracula in this Gothic retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.
"Beautiful and atmospheric."—5 star review

AND stay up to date with all of my new releases by following me on BOOKBUB.

 ....................

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR AND ARTIST, Merrie Destefano studied art at Northern Illinois University, met her husband at a kazoo parade, laughs at all jokes, and ugly cries during corny movies. Her books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, Walter Foster, and Ruby Slippers Press, and, most likely, she's writing her next book while you're reading this. Born in the Midwest, she now lives in Southern California, where she runs on caffeine, and shares her home with rescue dogs and cats.

Her writing awards include:
• 2010 Mount Hermon Writer of the Year
• 2019 Realm Award for Supernatural/Horror: Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
• 2019 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Silver Medal Winner: Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
• 2019 YARWA Athena Award, Second Place: YA/NA Speculative Fiction for Valiant.

You can visit her website here.