Monday, December 4, 2017

Release Day Hijinks

Hello, lovely blog readers! I'm so excited to share my brand new release with you!

Fairytale Christmas by Merrie Destefano



FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS is currently available on Kindle, in paperback, and will soon be released as an audio book on Audible.

And the digital version is only .99!

What some readers have to say about it:

"The writing reads like a dream."--Kimberly, Amazon review

"I absolutely loved this story!"--Shyra, Amazon review

"Love, action, adventure and magic. I devoured this book..."--Maria, Amazon review

"A vivid tale of Celtic legend and fantasy."--Wendy, Amazon review

"And this is YA appropriate for those checking with the romance."--Kelsay, Amazon review

OUTLANDER MEETS SLEEPING BEAUTY.
Three thousand years ago, a war began between the immortals and the mortals. It's a war that continues to this day...

Before history began, a legendary queen battled a foreign army, braved the death of her husband, and faced betrayal at the hand of someone she trusted. This is the story of Eire, Queen of the Faeries, the Immortal One, and the leader of the Tuatha de Danann.

To this day, her homeland, Ireland, bears her name, and this is the story of the war that drove the Immortal Ones into exile. It's also the tale of how she found help from an unexpected place, leading her to a love like she had never known before.

Fairytale Christmas is a story that spans thousands of years. It's also the beginning of all of our fairytales and legends; it's where mortals and immortals survive because they love one another, proving that love is the greatest gift of all.

This is the first installment in the Saga of the Fair Folk, a journey that lasts until the end of time.

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

You can read a first chapter excerpt HERE.

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

I hope you all get a chance to read my new release and I really hope you enjoy it!
Also, to celebrate the Release Day of FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS, I'm hosting a giveaway. I'm giving away a KINDLE FIRE and a digital copy of FAIRTALE CHRISTMAS.

PLEASE JUST CLICK THIS LINK TO ENTER.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Is Coming...


"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
(Little Women,
Louisa May Alcott.)

This opening line from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is not only among the more famous in English-language literature, but also takes us straight to the Christmas of books and storytelling and at the best possible time, with 25 December just a few weeks away. (And coming far too quickly, I suspect, for many of us!)

One of the earliest, Christmas-themed books I can recall reading –and also one of the first I chose for myself as a very young reader indeed – was Clement C Moore's classic The Night Before Christmas:

"Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..."


Only a few years later, I was enjoying The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe, which also features Christmas themes, most notably when Father Christmas gives Peter, Susan and Lucy their gifts of sword and shield, bow and horn, healing cordial and dagger:

"It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness ... And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man in a bright red robe (bright as holly berries) and a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest..."

So far, my early literary encounters with Christmas were very much the Northern Hemisphere festival which takes place amid darkness, winter, and snow. So it was fun to read the NZ children's classic, Drover's Road, with its description of a Southern Hemisphere and in this case, rural, Christmas:

Drover's Road series, Bk 2
"All Christmas days at Drover's Road seem to get mixed up in a sort of special excitement : the early mornings and stockings hanging at the foot of the bed ... the long day getting hotter, and lamb for dinner, with mint sauce and peas and new potatoes ... lying out under the cherry tree on the lawn with our new presents, and having afternoon tea there with iced biscuits and Christmas cake. Then dusk coming at the end of the long lovely day..."

(I've featured the cover for the second "Drover's Road" book because it looks like the NZ summer. :-) )

One of the most famous stories with a Christmas setting is, of course, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in which the now legendary Ebenezer Scrooge must rediscover his humanity with the help of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

The quote that stays with me from that is not a happy one, but then, I don't believe Dickens intended it to be: 

"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Another book that was hugely successful in its time (1947) was US writer, Russell Janney's The Miracle of the Bells, which has a famous Christmas scene, in which two of the protagonists, Bill Dunnigan and Olga Treskovna, re-meet by chance in a town that is completely closed down on Christmas Eve. The only restaurant they eventually find open, is Ming Gow's Chinese Restaurant, where the proprietor, Ming Gow, "...refused, obdurately refused, to accept payment for his fare."

But the quote I've never forgotten since first reading the book is this:

"This place boasted that it was a "city of homes." ... No one but a homeless man can understand the utter loneliness of a stranger on Christmas Eve in a "city of homes."

This post isn't intended to be an exhaustive list, so I'm sure – and hope, too – that you'll have other titles to add, but since the Supernatural Underground is a speculative fiction community, I'm going to end with a Fantasy classic, Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising.

Quite aside from being a contest between Light and Dark, the protagonist, Will, must find six "Signs of the Light" before Twelfth Night – so this is definitely a Christmas-centered book.

I won't be back here again until New Year's Day, 1 January 2018, so to those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas – and otherwise I hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday break.

---

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) is her 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, November 15, 2017

Seers in Storytelling



Seers, psychics, oracles, mediums, prophets, diviners, astrologers, tarot readers, or even those with a smoking hot intuition, can play a powerful roles in speculative fiction. Our genre is rich with it, and has been for thousands of years.

From Homer's Pythia, priestess of Apollo, to Tolkien's Galadriel and her mirror, the Oracle in the Matrix to Whedon's River Tam in Firefly, the seer can move the story forward in tantalising ways. But writing a prognostic character has it's problems. All that foresight may just as easily ruin a plot as empower it.

If your protagonist can see into the future, the surprise is gone. 

The easy way to remedy this is to place limits, making the seer unreliable. They might be a novice, out of control, or their skill could require a ritual, tools or equipment they don't always have time for. Like the Greek sphinx, they might speak in riddles so ambiguous that no one can understand, save in hindsight

With the Oracle of Delphi, often the  urge to avoid the fate was exactly what fulfilled it. When King Laius and Queen Epicaste of Thebes had a baby boy, they asked Pythia his future. When the Priestess replied that the boy, Oedipus, would  kill his father and marry his mother, they abandoned the baby, but we know how that went...

In LOTR, Galadriel's mirror shows past, present and future events, from near or far, but is never clear on which is which. Both Sam and Frodo are invited to look, Sam seeing the destruction of the Shire and Frodo nearly touching the water with the ring (which would reveal his whereabouts to Sauron). In these cases, interpretation of what is foretold is critical to what comes next. Sam choses to stay with Frodo, even though he longs to rush back to the Shire. Frodo, on the brink of losing heart, soldiers on. Regardless of 'fate,' they make a choice, one of the key ingredients to plot propulsion.

From the Matrix, the Oracle's ability to "predict" the future is based on recognising choices before they are made. Yet telling Neo he is NOT the one is precisely what makes him begin to believe he is. In this way, the writers have created a character who can see the future but in doing so, creates a third choice that changes everything. 

In Cassandra Clare's City of Bones, if the tarot reader was on the ball, Clary's mother wouldn't have been kidnapped and the Mortal Cup never lost. Story over in chapter one. But instead, we get glimpses, hints and more mystery. Dorthea's seeing ability moves the story forward , without giving away the plot.

In Helen Lowe's The Wall of Night Series, the Derai prophecy says "If Night falls, all fall", which instead of foreshadowing future events, becomes a rally cry, or goad, to both sides, those who want Night to fall and those who don't. It's also a touchstone for Malian and Tarathan who have seer qualities of there own.

In the Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, Jarrod's ability to extrapolate a likely outcome is based on infinite possibilities calculated outside of matter, and Kreshkali's understanding of astrology and synchronicity all play a part. But, like the Oracle of Delphi, Derai, and the Matrix, all seers perhaps, it is the free will of the characters that tips the scale. And we need it that way.

Otherwise, what would have us on the edge of the seat, wondering what will happen next? 

We'd love to hear about your favourite prophesies and diviners in books, film and TV. Drop a comment, and we'll see you there.

xxKim

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel.

Learn more about Kim on Facebook and chat with her on Twitter. Check out her pen name, @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visitAKWilder on FB and website.

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

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month, hosts Save the Day Writer's Community on FB and posts a daily astrology weather report on Facebook. 



Friday, November 3, 2017

Not your mother's Meat Loaf

The Things I Carry: Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell & Back into Hell


My first exposure to Meat Loaf was in 1993 when "I'd Do Anything for Love" hit the radios. I was 13 and painfully weird and my father was dying of cancer. It was a rough year.



I was immediately in love. So I did what any fan girl did and bought everything I could find at the local Half Price Books (because I was poor). I had all his cassette tapes (because I wasn't cool enough for a CD player) and I ran them ragged. My mom remembers when he was touring college towns in the seventies and my parents didn't understand why I would want to listen to it at all. It only added to the appeal.

Just like Melissa Etheridge had reached into me and sang my painful outsider heartstrings, so too did Meat Loaf's voice and Jim Steinman's songs reflect an escapism that I desperately.

Now granted, I didn't ride motorcycles and I was far from experiencing "paradise by the dashboard light," there was a grand, fantastical element, an angsty hormonally driven truth, that resonated with the future storyteller within me. There was an S.E. Hinton vibe (also a personal favorite) about the true nature of being oppressed and teen-aged. Of being able to smash things or just fly away. It was my audible equivalent to Piers Anthony and Dean Koontz, and Orson Scott Card. Only with death and motorcycles and sex (gasp).

And there should be no surprise there is even a werewolf element.

Bat Out of Hell just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Its my age. Even after all these years,  on my really bad days when I just need to shove the world away for a while, you will find me blasting it as I drive my mild-mannered, four-door, charcoal gray sedan around town. You'll see me nodding my head to it as I roam around the grocery store to pick up a gallon of chocolate milk.  From the first chords overlaid with a revving motorcycle, I am on a highway and free.

As with most things that I carry with me, the meaning has changed over the years. Sometime it was about rebellion. Sometimes it was all about sex. And sometimes it was just about owning the demon that you carry around with you.

I have never been ashamed to say that I Love Meat Loaf.

And maybe some day I"ll get around to actually riding a motorcycle.

As always, Carry on,

Amanda Arista
Author
www.amandaarista.com

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Magic & Wonder of Trees in Fantasy

.
"Enter these enchanted woods, you who dare..." 
- George Meredith, 1828-1909

Today I'm taking a look at the part trees play in Fantasy literature and whether authors in the genre have taken the Victorian poet's advice to heart. :)

Overall, it appears we have.

Ents, of course, are probably the most famous “trees”, or in their case, treelike beings, in Fantasy literature. They feature in the second and third books of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and played a major part in The Two Towers film, with the attack on, and destruction of Isengard:

“Pippin looked behind. The number of Ents had grown — or what was happening? Where the dim bare slopes that they had crossed should lie, he thought he saw groves of trees. But they were moving! Could it be that the trees of Fangorn were awake, and the forest was rising, marching over the hills to war? He rubbed his eyes wondering if sleep and shadow had deceived him; but the great grey shapes moved steadily onward.”

Sentient trees also feature in CS Lewis’s Narnia series and I’ve always loved the scene in Prince Caspian where Aslan reawakens the trees that have slept as a result of the Telmarine invasion:

“What Lucy and Susan saw was a dark something coming to them from almost every direction across the hills. It looked first like a black mist creeping on the ground, then like the stormy waves of a black sea rising higher and higher as it came on, and then, at last, like what it was — woods on the move. All the trees of the world appeared to be rushing towards Aslan.”

Sometimes, however, it is not a forest but a single tree that features — like the world tree in Mary Victoria’s Chronicles of the Tree series, which is first encountered in Tymon’s Flight:

“To starboard of the vessel…stretched a vast and furrowed mountain of bark, so wide that it’s curvature was almost invisible and so high that both its summit and its base were lost to view. The immensity of the wall was broken by a profusion of spoke-like limbs, the largest many miles in length. Several hundred feet above the dirigible the trunk culminated in the gently rising plateau of branches and twigs that made up the Central Canopy’s crown.”

Werewolves and other were-beasts have become very popular in recent years, but Fantasy contains at least one instance of tree-shifting: Danan Isig in Patricia McKillip’s The Riddlemaster of Hed, who teaches the skill to the protagonist, Morgon:

“Was I a tree? Sometimes I stand so long in the snow watching the trees wrapped in their private thoughts that I forget myself, become one of them. They are as old as I am, as old as Isig. . .”

When discussing trees in Fantasy I really can't go past the weirwood that stands at the heart of Winterfell, in George RR Martin’s A Game Of Thrones:

“At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. “The heart tree,” Ned called it. The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful.”

And yep, trees do play a significant part in my own books, too.

Because Thornspell is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty — from the perspective of the prince who breaks the spell — the story needs must dives straight into George Meredith's "enchanted wood" territory:

“The road did not go far, petering out into a bridle path within a few hundred yards of the castle wall, and fading away altogether beneath the forest eave. It was very dark and quiet beneath the canopy, a heavy, listening silence. There was no call of bird or insect, no whisper of falling leaf—not even the wind stirred.”

Probably the most significant way in which trees shape the landscape in The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night, Book One) is through their absence. The Wall of Night is a bleak, wind-blasted and lifeless environment and the contrast to more clement terrain only occurs in the last part of the book, when the protagonists cross into the hills of Jaransor:

“Eventually, Malian began to see the green shimmer of trees growing along small precipitous creeks, and they stopped at last in a narrow ravine where the trees formed a green roof and a stream ran clear over brown pebbles.”

In The Gathering of the Lost (The Wall Of Night, Book Two), trees and woods are a far more significant part of the worldscape:

“Mostly, Malian let the others talk as the miles fell behind them and Maraval forest rose up ahead like a green cloud … as the road took them deeper into the wood … the cavalcade fell silent, and the only sound was the clip of their horses’ hooves, the song of birds, and the deep susurration of the myriad leaves overhead.”

And still have their place in Daughter Of Blood (The Wall Of Night, Book Three):

“Malian let her mind follow the secondary route, leaping over huddled villages with their sheep pens and rocky fields, to settle on a pine grove near the crest of the road’s first long ascent into the foothills. She had camped a night in the dry earthy hollow beneath the trees, which grew so close together that only the very heaviest rain fell between the branches. Now, it was the best shelter she could recall along the route’s wild terrain.”


So the arrows of evidence do seem to be pointing in the same direction: which is that trees play a significant part in Fantasy world-building, including my own work.

Mary Victoria's world tree - art (c) by Frank Victoria
I am pretty sure, too, that readers will encounter them again in The Chaos Gate (The Wall Of Night, Book Four), which is currently in progress.

How about you? Got any favorite trees in Fantasy literature to add to my list? All types of Fantasy welcome, from magic realism, through paranormal urban, to epic. :)

---


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) is her 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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Something borrowed, Something blue, Something scary, Something new...

SOMETHING SCARY, SOMETHING NEW.

SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE...

CONGRATS! THE WINNER IS BOOKBUNNY68!!

[Original Post]
Okay, that sounds like a twisted wedding ceremony, but it's kind of my theme today. I have something SCARY AND NEW to tell you about. Plus something BORROWED (look at the other Halloween themed-books below) and something BLUE—okay, kind of stretching it but maybe some covers are blue? Haha, sorry, I laugh at my own silly jokes all the time.

(Be sure you read all the way to end of this post!)


FIRST, SOMETHING SCARY, SOMETHING NEW...



Oh, my yikes, I love this cover and the story--whoa. Faeries, fighting, shape shifters, betrayal, true love and did I mention faery vampires? And yes, Christmas. This is a tale about the REAL Fair Folk and their exile from Ireland, told by none other than Eire, the Queen of the Faeries herself. The ebook is on pre-order, the print book is available now and ... wait for it ... the Audible version will be ready soon too. The narrator is incredible and has a wonderful, natural Irish accent.

EARLY REVIEWS:

"This story is filled with magic and love which are the hallmarks of the holiday season. The writing reads like a dream."--Kimberly, Amazon review

"Such a great story with a Celtic legends background. Love, action, adventure and magic. I devoured this book..."--Maria, Amazon review

"I absolutely loved this story!"--Shyra, Amazon review

EXCLUSIVE: READ THE FIRST CHAPTER HERE

AND NOW, SOME MORE SCARY STUFF...

FATHOM is now available on Kindle Unlimited, so that means it's a free read for KU members! LINK HERE.



AND I have 2 new short stories, perfect to read on HALLOWEEN. Each one is only .99. You can purchase them HERE.



AND NOW, FOR THE GRAND FINALE...I HOPE YOU READ THIS FAR...

One person will win all 5 books. To enter, post a comment below about your favorite Halloween candy (treat) or your favorite Halloween prank (trick.) Also, you must share this blog online, either on Twitter or FB or Instagram. The winner will be chosen on November 6 and will be posted at the top of this blog post. Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom of the post!!