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!


* * * 

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 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


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!


Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther Series
The Merci Lanard Files

Sunday, November 1, 2020

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

#YoW Year of Worldbuilding
#WiF Worldbuilding in Fantasy


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.

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.

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.

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.


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…


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


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