Monday, August 10, 2020

When good characters turn rebellious

Whether we read or write, we all have favorite passages. This is one of mine, from a young adult book I wrote titled, Fathom. This is that part of the story where the main character, Kira, who has always been quiet and well-behaved begins to get rebellious. She stands up to a girl who has bullied her for years, but then Kira has to face the consequences for her actions. If you like mythical sea creatures—who aren't always well-behaved—and a dark brooding story filled with mystery, clean YA romance, and Celtic legends, then this story is for you!


FATHOM: CHAPTER 15 EXCERPT:

There should be some sort of handbook for what to do when you almost get suspended from school in Crescent Moon Bay. Something like, “The minute you get out of your last class, don’t pass GO and don’t collect two hundred dollars. Just run all the way home and see if you can beat the gossip.”

Because that’s what I had to do. Run. All the way home.

I flew up the driveway, glad when I saw Gram working in the garden—something she rarely does—her gloves covered in dirt and a tall stack of weeds at her side. That meant she had been outside for at least an hour or two. I dashed in the back door and checked the phone for messages.

Two were blinking.

I was trying to catch my breath and it felt like my chest was going to explode.

I turned down the volume on the phone and listened to the messages.

I heard the principal’s voice and automatically hit the DELETE button. A quick glance out the window told me that Gram was still pulling weeds. I listened to the second message—from the school guidance counselor—and erased it too.

The pressure continued to build, but I didn’t have time to think about it.

A poem started to blossom inside me, a thick pool of words pressing against my skin, making me want to grab a pen and let it all out. Metaphors and similes tumbled around inside my head, all in a rugged fast meter where nothing rhymed, the words flowing like river water over my tongue. It was all about danger and missed chances and lips that would never be kissed. But I didn’t have time to stop and write. Instead I spread my books on the kitchen table—usually I do my homework in my bedroom, but today I had to be front and center. I had to be as perfect as all the Paper Dolls. The words settled on the kitchen floor; there they continued rising like a gentle tide as I started dinner. They tickled my ankles, then my hips. By the time Gram came up the steps, they had filled the room and were just about to sweep me out one of the windows.

I couldn’t make sense of them anymore, still they kept coming, words of desire and rebellion. They were about to cover my head.

Then Gram opened the door and they all rushed outside, leaving me behind.

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

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. Also, please follow her on BookBub here to learn about her new releases and to read her book reviews.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Oops, I did it again?


Year of Genesis: The Truth About Blood.


So I did it again. I published another book in 2020. The second in The Merci Lanard Files, The Truth about Blood.

Talk about a year of genesis. In keeping with the theme of this year, I thought I might tell you why I love this sequel as much as I loved the first one. Why creating this one really was special. 

The Truth about Night (available everywhere!) was my heart baby. I worked my tail off to get that book done. And I love it. I love the main character. I love the slow burn romance. I love the tightly plotted murder mystery. I love being back in the Wanderer universe. 

I always knew there was going to be a sequel. 

But when we didn't find a publisher for the first book, I thought I was done. Until I realized that not having a publishing brand to uphold, I could do whatever I wanted with the series. Without being bound to a contract that would just want the same type of book over and over and over, I could tell the story that I really wanted to tell with Merci.

And then the promise of book two got so much better. 

TheTruth about Night was a classic paranormal mystery with a big city, big murders, and a big world to build. The Truth about Blood is more of a cozy mystery with lots of Women's fiction but still with the dead bodies and werewolves. Its genre-blending at it best.

Now in saying that, it still had the rough edges of Merci Lanard, the smart and strong Rafe MacCallan. We still have dead bodies. We still have kissing. We still have her demonic Charm that spins her around in all directions.  There are still whiskeys and full moons. 

But not having the expectations of a publisher allowed me to write the book that I wanted to read, and that was different from the first adventure. I needed something that hit on all aspects of being Merci Lanard. She is more than a journalist and trouble magnet. She is a girlfriend, a daughter, a grieving friend, and she is also a Lilin, a demon-blooded Wanderer. I wanted a book that needed her to be evolving in all aspects of her life to be able to solve this super wonderfully horrific crime. 

Oh yeah. I could have gore in it too!

This book makes me laugh, cry, and cringe. And I wrote it!

So I hope that you will check out the second installment in the Merci Lanard Files. Because there is going to be a third book, The Truth about Shadows, and its even another twist on the paranormal mystery genre as well.

Until next month, Keep Reading, Creating, Caring. 

Amanda Arista

Author
The Merci Lanard Files
Diaries of an Urban Panther series (new editions coming 2021)
Twitter/insta- @pantherista





Saturday, August 1, 2020

Year of Worldbuilding in Fantasy #7: "Tymon's Flight" by Mary Victoria

.
#YoW Year of Worldbuilding
#WiF Worldbuilding in Fantasy
.

Introduction:

My blogging theme for 2020 is Worldbuilding in Fantasy, chiefly because it's one of the vital elements that holds all the different strands of the genre together. Plus it's always been one of the aspects of the genre that spins my reading and writing world.

As promised from the outset, I'm trying to look at Fantasy worldbuilding over time and across a range of subgenres. Last month I checked out Tamsyn Muir's recent space fantasy, Gideon the Ninth. This month I'm going back a decade to 2010 and the publication of a book that I consider a tour-de-force in the worldbuilding stakes Mary Victoria's Tymon's Flight.

---

Tymon's Flight
by Mary Victoria

When I first began reading Tymon's Flight, I caught my reader's breath, captivated by the opening concept of the world as a vast Tree:

A magnificent vista opened before them. The dirigible greatship with its teeming mass of sails and ether sacks was a tiny dot against the western marches of the Tree trunk, a mote on the vertical face of the world. 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. ...

The great ship had spent the better part of its recent journey in warmer latitudes, skimming in a wide arc about the southern marches of the Tree, just above the leaf-tips. But now as it made its approach to Argos city it sank beneath the green billows--slipped between mottled twig shafts and towers of alternating leaves, taking several minutes to pass each burnished blade. The dramatic Treescapes of Argos were said to be among the loveliest in the world.”

Tymon's Flight is a coming-of-age, epic fantasy, but from the outset both story and storytelling are dominated by the Tree. Its structure comprises the equivalent of continents, e.g. the Central and Eastern canopies, with cities constructed among the branches, and every aspect of society, including culture, religion, and economics, deriving from the structure and fabric of the Tree. The societies of the Tree know of no worlds beyond their own. Beyond trunk, branches and canopies, there is only the void, and hell is believed to lie below the stormclouds that shroud the Tree's base.

On first reading, I felt that I had never encountered a world quite like the Tree within the annals of fantasy, and ten years later I am still of the same opinion. The worldbuilding also contains steampunk elements, with travel between the canopies being by means of the dirigible greatships, mentioned in the quote. The main character, Tymon, and his mentor are also working on a vessel with steam-driven mechanistic elements, although this is forbidden by the religious authorities that dominate the society of the Tree...

The world of the Tree; art by Frank Victoria
The world of the Tree;
art by Frank Victoria
I believe it is testament to the power of Mary Victoria's worldbuilding that the Tree has inspired some powerful and compelling visual art, by artists associated with the film industry and Weta Workshops, in particular. To check out more, click on:
To give you an idea of the story itself, the societies of Tymon's Flight (and its sequels, Samiha's Song and Oracle's Fire) are dominated by a reactionary religious hierarchy that adheres to a Natural Order and (ostensibly) shuns science and technology, except within very narrow parameters. For example, the dirigibles must be wind-driven, rather than utilizing steam-driven propellors. And although the Central Canopy is still green and flourishing, the Eastern Canopy is blighted and its people correspondingly impoverished. The Argosian society in which Tymon grows up attributes the blight to heresy, and it is only when he is sent to a religious order within the Eastern Canopy that he begins to learn that the world of the Tree is wider, and its issues more complex, than he has previously imagined.

If you're a fan of Fantasy worldbuilding, then the Tree of Tymon's Flight will repay your reading. If you enjoy coming-of-age stories with adventure and dirigibles, intrigue and rebellion, and the fate of a world at stake, then I suspect you will find much more to enjoy within the leaves of both book and Tree.

---

Previous Months:

February: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe 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
---

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