Friday, September 16, 2016

Giveaway at Blood Rose Books

Crispin Korchen
Hi Sup readers!

Over at Blood Rose Books, they are giving away copies of The Blood in the Beginning with my recent interview. I thought I would give you all the highlights, and the chance to grab an ebook (for Aussies) or physical book (for Aussies AND/or international peeps).

To enter, go to Blood Rose Books Interview with Kim Falconer.

Below are highlights of the interview (with my comments on the questions).

BRB: If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who
would you choose and why?

KIM: They opened with this. Very challenging. I thought of 20, then 20 more ... then thought of how to explain ... I spent all day pondering it! You can see where I settled, after thinking of Homer to Jane Austen, all my Supernatural buddies to several best friends.

BRB: ...why did you decide to create the Mar?

KIM: More hours of contemplation. Did I create them? They already exist, right, as mythological creatures appearing for thousands of years in all cultures, in all places, in all times. They well up from memory, for all of us ... a loaded question, I thought!

BRB: ...What about Astrology appeals to you?

KIM: For me, this question is like asking, 'What is it about the English language that appeals to you? Here is my answer in full: My first six novels, the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, have themes of astrology and astronomy relevant to the plot. Some of the characters are expert stargazers and rely on the symbol system to solve mysteries and make critical choices. Being an astrologer for over 40+ years, my father an astrologer before me, means it’s part of the way I perceive the world. It naturally seeps into the writing, unless I make an effort to keep it out. I’m sure we’ll have more astro-relevance in the future. It would be weird without it.

BRB: What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?

KIM: I liked this question, and had an answer immediately - narrative non-fiction  - a novel-like story about real-life people and events. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is the classic example; Into the Wild is a more contemporary one. The research and ethical issues alone would be daunting for me, maybe even stifling, especially with a still-living subject. I have a lot of respect for authors who tackle this genre.

BRB: ... how much research did you do in order to make the information in these parts of the book sound extremely real?


Will Smith and his 24/7 work ethic
KIM: Another immediate answer. To quote Will Smith: "Sicking amounts of work." But I loved every minute of it. One of my fav aspects of writing is discovering new things. 

BRB: ... what appeals to you of the darker side of our culture?

KIM: Hours of contemplation went into finding this answer, starting with 'I'm attracted to the dark side?' Really good question!

BRB: Holy Crap is Ava an amazing character, she basically has the perfect balance of badassness, smarts but also self-aware (plus she lacks the whiny or smugness that many female characters have in this genre), what went in to her creation? Was important to you to make sure she was balanced character? Do you train in MMA to help Ava learn all her skills?

KIM: My answer in full, because what author doesn't like chatting about their main characters? 

I’m syked you think Ava is amazing. A lot went into her creation. 
She evolved organically, but I think, for one, the environment has shaped her. She develops what it takes to survive the Big One, CHI-Tech, being raised in the system … survive and thrive. If she was whiny, I don’t think she would have made it through her teens, living under the radar, in the streets. Ava’s character grows from the unseen past that moulded her to the current challenges she faces. It’s sink or swim. (LOL the pun)

I also wanted to balance Ava’s badassness with heart. She’s defensive, at times. Cautious. Brutal. But she will do anything for those she loves, as we find out.

Training on the beach

To help write ‘real’ characters, I give them astrological charts, a horoscope just like anyone born in the future might have, only I get to pick the day, month and year to fit. It ends up being a character reference guide. If I am not sure how she might respond to a certain situation, I refer to her chart and ask, “What would a Virgo with Pluto rising and Moon in Gemini do?” Gets me unstuck every time.

I’ve trained in martial arts and Iaido, (Japanese Sword) and I do pull on those experiences to choreograph fight scenes, but in this series, I collaborated with a Jujitsu and MMA fighter as well, to give that extra level of authenticity.


To see the full interview and put your name in the rafflecopter for a free paperback or ebook of The Blood in the Beginning, hop over to Blood Rose Books. Great reviews there too!

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and onFaceBook 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. All Welcome.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Writers Helping Writers

I'm very fortunate to be in a great writing group, but I know it's not always easy to find someone to help you. Sometimes you need assistance with a query letter or a synopsis or the opening pages of your manuscript. So my writing group and I want to help.

GIVING BACK

On September 20, we're going to be accepting pitches. We'll each select one pitch and work with that person to get their first 5 pages or synopsis or query letter ready to send out to agents and editors.



WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR

Merrie Destefano: I write for the General Market, YA, Adult, SciFi, Fantasy, Contemporary, Gothic Romance
What I’m looking for: General market, YA or adult, SciFi, Fantasy, Contemporary, or Literary, Mystery.
What I’m NOT looking for: Romance, Dark Horror, Non-Fiction

Rachel Marks: I write for the YA market, urban and high fantasy.
What I’m looking for: Anything YA, Fantasy, Light Horror, Romance. A mystery element is a plus.
What I’m NOT looking for: Non-fiction, Straight Horror

Mike Duran: I write in the General Market and CBA, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Horror
What I’m looking for: Adult Urban Fantasy, Horror, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal
What I’m NOT looking for: Romance

Rebecca Luella Miller: I write in the General Market
What I’m looking for: Any Genre, Any Market, Any Age
Accepting the first 5 pages only, not a synopsis or a query letter.

Paul Regnier: I write in the CBA market, SciFi, Fantasy
What I’m looking for: Speculative Fiction, SciFi, Paranormal
What I’m NOT looking for: Romance, Horror



WRITERS HELPING WRITERS

We’re going to be hosting a Facebook event on Sept. 20, where writers can pitch their ideas to us. Here’s a link to the event, which already has some discussion going on: FACEBOOK EVENT.

SAMPLE PITCH:
FIGHT CLUB meets BLACK SWAN in LOST GIRLS: 17-year-old girl rediscovers her dark identity in a dangerous rave-like club where teens fight to near death. YA, General Market, Dark Contemporary #WHW16

More details will be posted on the FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE as the event draws nearer.

Meanwhile….






Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pound it! and other strange phrases now in my life

Year of the Like: Not brain-numbing kid shows

So, if I haven't made it clear, I've got a kid. And along with kids come kid television. Its unavoidable, and for those of you who have avoided it, awesome. 

Me, I love TV. BB (Before the Bean), I probably watched fifteen hours of scripted TV a week. I had my entire life based around what was on TV and what I could record and watch later. Supernatural, Lucifer, Sleepy Hollow, Criminal Minds, Big Bang Theory, Eureka, Defiance, Castle, Walking Dead. 

Now AB (After the Bean), I only watch Supernatural. So you can bet how excited I was to find out there was going to be a 12th season. I have one constant in my life. and one hour a week that I get to hide in a corner and watch TV. 

Now that doesn't mean that I'm not watching TV. It is still on in my house, but the programming is drastically different. The Bean likes Disney over NICK and we can agree that Caillou isn't terrible, but that Sesame Street just isn't what it used to be and I didn't remember Power Puff Girls being so violent. 

As a writer with a sense of story, I am constantly watching these things for the lesson. What are these things teaching my child. What is there survival lesson. Some are pretty transparent. Some are more subtle. Some I have no idea what is going on. 

There are two shows that I want to Thumbs-up this month for not being boring or overly brow-beating. 

Miraculous : This was a show that NICKELODEON bought from France (a new source of kids programming). It is translated into a million languages. We started watching it in Spanish, but found the English translations. 

Its about Marinette who has a miraculous (spirit alien) that changes her into Ladybug, a superhero with Spiderman-like agility and a yo-yo that is pretty amazing. Yes, a yo-yo.  Each episode she takes on a normal person who has been 'evil-ized' into a villain because of a negative feeling or attitude. She has to figure out what happened and 'de-evil-ize' them. Its parts Sailor Moon and Saved by the Bell and there is an appropriate amount of teenage romance (Chat Noir).

As a writer, I find these 20 minute shows really satisfying. They are funny and really deal with issues that kids deal with (bullies, crushes, mistakes, parental pressures). And its wrapped up nicely with a turning point and resolution. I keep watching them and I'm really getting a sense of what you need to tell, and what you don't need to to get a good structure for a short story. 

And its in Paris- accurately depicted Paris. With Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower and the river. Its awesome. 

Miraculous can be purchased on Amazon. 

Beat Bugs: This is a Netflix original show based on one man's love of The Beatles. It is a show about a group of bug who live in a little girls back year in their little big town and when they are having a bad day, or need some words of encouragement, they break out into Beatles's songs, minus the drug references. 

Their adventures somehow mimic the song lyrics (Lucy in the Sky is awesome) and they have a small cast of characters and the stories roll into each other. 

As a writer, I find this interesting because of the limitations that the lyrics put on what stories they can tell and emotions they can deal with. That limitation has really blossomed into a really cute show with some really creative solutions to the limitations. It is a really fun way to see what creative limitation does to a project in 15-minute segments. 

So this month's Thumbs Up goes to children's programming that tells good stories in innovative ways that don't baby me or my kid. 

---------------------------------------------

Amanda Arista
www.amandaarista.com


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Reads That Delight -- A Few Recent Highlights

.
Firstly, I'd like you to know that you have fellow Supernatural Undergrounder, Merrie Destefano, to thank for this post. "Hmm," I mused on Twitter, "today is my Supernatural Underground day. But what shall I post?"

"The best book you've read recently that surprised you, and why?" Merrie replied -- and the ideas were promptly flowing!

I couldn't think of a book that outright surprised me (because I am a pretty hard sell in that respect), but delight is a form of surprise, so I'm going to tell you what delighted me about some of my recent reads. Do feel free to chip in with some of your own "surprised" or "surprised by delights" in the comments, too. :)

And just so you know I'm not playing favorites, this list is in alphabetical order, yo! ;-)
.

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Post apocalyptic, near future Science Fiction (Reading copy loaned by a friend.)

I love the main character of Lauren Olamina: her youth, determination, courage, cussedness, and devotion to her family and friends. I love that in the midst of surviving her post climate change world, Lauren is also founding her own religion, Earthseed. To find out all the ins and outs of that, though, you’ll have to read the book—I’m not even going to attempt to explain it to you beyond the central tenet: "God is Change."
.

 A Turn Of Light by Julie Czerneda

Fantasy (Reading copy supplied by the author.)

I was delighted by A Turn Of Light's historically informed worldbuilding, with the settlement of Marrowdell capturing a real flavor of pioneering Canada, complete to the technological realities of mills -- but also by the way the author weaves that together with a fantastical folklore that, while drawing on real-life sources, manages to be unique to the fantastic world of not only Marrowdell, but also the Verge...
.

The Blood In the Beginning by Kim Falconer*

Urban Fantasy (Reading copy supplied by the publisher.)

I believe I've made no secret about what I love most about The Blood In The Beginning -- it's the feisty, take-no-prisoners, and literally kickass heroine, Ava Sykes.

Ava has what we writers refer to as a great "voice", which instantly drew me in through her authenticity and realism. From the get-go, Ava and I connected, always a delight when you open up a new book.
.

The Los Nefilim Trilogy by Teresa Frohock*

Historical Urban Fantasy (Reading copy purchased.)

.
Urban, because this cycle of linked novellas is set in Barcelona; historical because it's the Barcelona of the immediately pre-Spanish Civil war period -- with angels and demons at war, and the nefilim as their foot soldiers. 

So if you like urban fantasy’s juxtaposition of the real and the supernatural, or the interweaving of real history with a parallel fantastic story, then I suspect you will share my delight in Los Nefilim.
.

Hild by Nicola Griffiths

Historical Fiction (Reading copy purchased.)

When I finished reading Hild, I decided just about everything about it is fabulous: a great historical sense of seventh century, Anglo-Saxon Britain, excellent characterization—especially of Hild herself; another awesome "voice."

But there’s a whole raft of other great characters, and just a wonderful richness of storytelling overall. 'nuff said?
.
.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Post-apocalyptic, near future Science Fiction  (Reading copy supplied by the publisher.)

For me, Station Eleven was another exceptional read—but I loved most about the book was its exploration of a variety of different people, what makes us tick as human beings, and how we respond to life and circumstances (often very differently, obviously), at a range of different levels, from the personal to the societal.

I also really liked that this was, despite the post-apocalyptic premise, a hopeful book.
.

The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer

Epic Fantasy (Reading copy supplied by the author.)

I have just finished The Labyrinth of Flame, the third and final novel in The Shattered Sigil series -- but the reason I'm citing The Whitefire Crossing, the opening book in the trilogy, is because it encapsulates what delights me most about the series: this is adventurous fantasy par excellence, with the author's love of mountain climbing integral to the story.

If worldbuilding infused with American West landscapes, juxtaposed with a very well thought out magic system, appeals -- I rest my case.

Happy—book-reading—September!
.

* a fellow Supernatural Undergound author

---

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 and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Not a Superhero

Image by Igor Morski

I didn’t start out some kind of superhero, bent on protecting New LA. My relationship with this city is love/hate. I’m definitely not her minder. But I do look after my friends. That’s what kick-fired this whole damn story. One night. A new job. And, looking after Cate.

The Blood in the Beginning - An Ava Sykes Novel

. . . by the time I was working on round two of the best mushroom pesto linguine in the universe, Cate, my newly single BFF,  had purged. She even moved from victim mode to outrage, (all directed at the ass hat Joey) and that was a step up on the emotional scale, in my book anyway. I took a third serving and smiled. With a lifestyle like mine, which included martial arts training on my nights off, I loaded up on carbs when I could. Yum!
After doing the dishes – Cate wasn’t one to leave a spoon out of place – I had a quick shower, leaving enough hot water for her. While she dressed in her ‘uniform,’ which consisted of very little other than glitter and coconut shells, I opened the gun safe and slipped my Ruger .9 mm into my calf holster and smoothed down my jeans. I was licensed to carry, and I always did at work, more for the trip there and back, than anything else. New LA wasn’t really a city of angels, not good ones anyway. Cate threw on a light coat and we headed for the bus. I looked up and down the street, frowning. Something prickled my skin. 
            ‘Joey won’t come here, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’s scared of you,’ Cate said.
            'Good. The dirtbag should be afraid.' I was going for reassurance. 
            She changed the subject. 'Any news on Daina?’ 

Speaking of scared. Daina was our mutual acquaintance, the most recent missing coeds in a wave of unexplained murders, at least that’s what the press called them. Not all the bodies had been found.
            Cate sighed. ‘Nothing.’ The bus pulled up as we arrived at the stop. ‘Do you think she’s still alive?’
            I shrugged. ‘Can’t see how, but we can hope.’
Yeah, that’s how the night began. Off to work at Club Poseidon.

Innocent enough . . . but by midnight, not so much. I was in the elevator, on my way up, I thought, ready to take over the door, but that’s not what happened.

… In the elevator, my fingers hovered over the console. There was a dark smudge on the button below UP that hadn’t been there before. Without thinking, I swiped it, bringing my finger to my nose. Blood? As I did, the elevator kicked in. It took me a second to realise it was heading down. What the hell? I hadn’t even pressed the damn thing. I hit the UP button several times, but nothing happened. I was definitely going down.

The lights went from white to deep-green as the elevator descended. A moment later, it stopped. The bell dinged and the doors slid open. Noise hit like a tidal wave. The visuals were a blur, my senses bombarded. I stood, stock-still, as the undeniable smell of blood, laced with fear and aggression rushed up my nose. A gasp forced its way out of my throat and I slammed my hand over the UP button, hard enough to crack the console.
The doors remained open. I flattened myself against the side of the wall, unable to blink, or tear my eyes away. It was a ghoul’s carnival, a page right out of Hieronymus Bosch. Run! The command coursed through my body, but there was nowhere to go. I jabbed the UP button again. Nothing.
The music bounced off the walls. Amid blue lights and flashing strobes, naked bodies danced, gyrating to the rhythmic beats, but that’s where any similarity with upstairs ended. People’s faces were streaked, dark liquid dripping down their chins, and throats. Around the walls, victims hung from chains. People? Mannequins? I saw some move, struggling against the restraint. The far wall was taken up entirely with the floor to ceiling aquarium. It must run right up to the club level, but ... this was different. The unearthly waters teemed with sharks, in a wild frenzy as they fed on chunks of flesh and bone. What were they feeding them? The bodies on the wall? Some of the chained victims looked dead, some not; all dripped blood. It flowed down their limbs into crystal goblets.

My heart pounded, a sledgehammer in
my chest. As the doors slowly closed enough to block most of my view, I thought I would escape unnoticed. Then a man’s head turned, eyes looking straight at mine …


Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim atAvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and onFaceBook 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. All Welcome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The "Once upon a time" Weapon

Year of the Like: Neuroscience and Anthropology!

 I know, what does science have to do with story telling. Turns out, a whole bunch.

The hubster and I had a discussion about six months ago about why we tell stories. I knew it had to be more than just entertainment. So I read a lot of books and, turns out, it is very important.



Storytelling might have been one of the skills successful tribes used to survive. I know it sounds far fetched, but these ancient societies might have used the brains own need for pattern and meaning as a way to teach lessons like WOLVES EAT PEOPLE and DON'T GO OUT AT NIGHT.

The brain processes so much information in a minute, that it would make your head spin if you actually had to remember everything. So instead, it filters out all the information that is not relevant to the moment or meaningful based on a previously determined pattern.

As I have gone over with my language from the hero's journey and others have discussed with three-act structures and five-beat story parts, there is a pattern to storytelling that we are ALL innately familiar with. When we see something start with a girl faced with a decision, we automatically see the beginning of a story. And our brains are focused on this because for eons, these stories have been teaching us to survive. We listened to our grandmothers tell us scary stories of gluttonous children and disobedient girls with red hoods.

Our ability to pass along information in meaningful ways that stuck with generation after generation is a weapon against a very cruel and predatory world, but also allows the future to adapt faster because they have a baseline knowledge of how the world works and can become better, faster, and stronger because of it.

Even now when the world is more social predators than scary things that go bump in the night, story becomes our way of learning how to adapt and overcome. Our children are stronger for the stories that we tell them.


So after all this research, I am really focused on teaching a survival skill with my story. What lesson or skill can I pass along to my readers that will help them survive. Can I help with empathy or understanding or justice so that they make it through the world with a little less heartache and a little more empathy. 

So Thumbs up to Neuroscience and understanding the survival skills of the human race. I really recommend a little look inside the human brain (and body) every now and then to remind us how awesome humans have the potential to be. 


----------------------------------
Amanda Arista
Author
www.amandaarista.com
@pantherista

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why hello, August... A brief reflection on kindness, laughter, & cake

.
This time last month I was eagerly awaiting the release of Kim Falconer's new book The Blood in the Beginning -- and particularly looking forward to my Twitter interview with Kim re the book and her heroine-of-awesome, Ava Sykes.

Together, we had some fun with that and I hope you did, too. If you missed the event, you can still check it out via the Twitter hashtag #thebloodinthebeginning Since we also shared in the big cover reveal for Merrie Destefano's forthcoming book, Lost Girls, that makes July a pretty tough Supernatural Underground act to follow -- so I decided I wouldn't even try. ;-)

Coffee cake
Instead, I thought I'd like to share this fun and cool thought from one of my favourite calendars: Leigh Standley's The World According To Curly Girl (they're great, so do check them out!):

"A great many things can be resolved with kindness (hear, hear!)
even more with laughter (true dat)
but there are some things that just require cake."


Lemon cake
Ah, now you're talking my language...so here are a few of my favorite cake pics to make the point, even if no further emphasis is really required.

You could, dear Supernatural Undergrounders, just enjoy some virtual cake via the images. :)

Or you could, if you feel so inclined, let me know (via the comments) some of the circumstances that you feel "just require cake"...
.

Date & walnut torte
 
Chocolate (Intense) cake
And last but never least...

Orange cake.

Mmmmm, delicious...