Thursday, July 22, 2021

Win $50 Amazon Gift Card

The Full Moon is nigh upon us, and up next from me is a full lunar exploration into divining, storytelling and affirming our place in the world, but for now...

Preorder Curse of Shadows
I wanted to let you know that EntangledTeen is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card to a lucky winner who streams with us live tomorrow at 4pm EST. 

You can join us on Youtube, Facebook or Twitch. All you have to do is comment or question one of us during the live stream author Chat. 

I'll be there with Alyson Noel and Tina Warner.

Preorder The Helheim
And what will we be talking about? 

Our upcoming books! 

Tiana Warner is an LGBTQ+ author from British Columbia, Canada. Her Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy and graphic novel adaptation have won multiple awards and hit #1 on Amazon bestseller lists. 

She has a forthcoming valkyrie series with Entangled Teen and many other stories in progress.

Preorder Stealing Infinity

Alyson Noël is the #1 NYT best-selling author of many award-winning and critically acclaimed novels for readers of all ages. 

She is best known for THE IMMORTALS series, THE RILEY BLOOM series, and SAVING ZOË, which was adapted into a movie now available on Amazon.

We are all looking forward to her next release, Stealing Infinity, the first in the Stolen Beauty series.

Hope to see you all live on the 23rd at 4pm EST!

xxKim (aka A K Wilder)

* * * 

Kim Falconer, writing YA Fantasy as A K Wilder, is the author of Crown of Bonesbook #1 in the Amassia Series. The sequel, Curse of Shadows, is due for release in June 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

You can Throw the Bones, read your monthly horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site or just drop a comment to chat. See you there!

* * *

Friday, July 16, 2021

Remnants of a Serial Experiment

It's crazy how much 2020 changed my perspective on so many things. Family priorities and flexibility. Time management and health management. But one big thing that happened was, my creative life completely shifted. 

Writing wasn't possible in the madness that was the Year-of-Years. And Even as we began 2021 and things seemed to settle, my writing life consisted mostly of me sitting with my laptop and staring out the window. Not much got accomplished. Anything begun was left unfinished. Everything spilling from my fingers was stiff and stilted. Nothing felt right.

This went on for so long I was beginning to wonder if I was even capable of writing anymore. 

Until about three months ago when I had a friend mention something about a new platform popping up through Amazon Kindle. It's called Vella and the focus is on feeding serials into your Kindle apps and devices. 

Many serial apps have become very popular of late; Radish, Wattpad, Kiss, and Galatea, just to name a couple. And I could go on. There are quite a few. However, most are already saturated with content and packed with established writers. This makes it difficult to rise to the top of the pack at this point. Not to mention the content on the majority of these apps seems to focus 95% on romance, with very little else in the sea of "seasons". Which keeps an author limited. 

But now, with Amazon joining in the mix, it has the potential to bring the serialization market into the mainstream of fiction once more.

And I just happened to have a novel sitting in my drawer that had garnished huge buzz a decade ago, but life and illness had gotten in the way.

I decided to try my hat at reworking the manuscript into a serial. 

Needless to say, it has been intriguing. And soaking in knowledge, learning this new (to me, old as Dickens to others) way of presenting a story, has invigorated my writing.

I am, once more, alive! I'm excited about a project!

This week Kindle Vella opened its digital "doors" to the larger reading community of Kindle. 

It's still getting the engines revving but now the first ten "episodes" of my ancient drawer novel (which twelve years ago had won two novel contests, gotten three competing agent offers, and had editors asking if they could call me to talk) is now clawing its way out of the grave, into the light. It will be in the hands of readers. At long last. For better or worse.

And this form of storytelling has given me something else; a fresh way of looking at my creative life.

For the first time in a long while I feel the spark.

If you're in the US, and interested in delving into serial reading, you can check out the first three episodes of REMNANTS OF THE FALL for FREE on Amazon online or on your Kindle app.

For those without the ability to use Vella, you can read my serial, REMNANTS, on my brand new PATREON ACCOUNT. I love this option because it'll allow readers to participate more in the process and give creative feedback, if they'd like. Plus, the reader saves money in the end.

All-in-all, I'm really excited to begin this adventure into the world of creating episodic fiction. 

I hope more creators and readers join me!


You can read more about Rachel A. Marks and her work on her website

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Sensational Fantasy Sidekicks Giveaway

Concept Art of Piper from Crown of Bones

 Hey Everyone,

I'm excited to say that Crown of Bones is on a BookBub special and going for $0 for the next seven days. Jump on over to  Bookbub and select your favourite eBook formate. I so appreciate the support.

And meanwhile, to launch my series of posts for the rest of the year, I'm letting Piper - orange-robe of Baiseen, lead the way. 

Piper is an orange-robe (high level) healer savant who raises a phantom in the form of a two-headed snake. Her job in the company is to heal, boost strength and endurance and restore the other party members. She is also trained in hand-to-hand and stands as a strong ally in any fight.

In some ways, Piper is the heart of the company, giving of herself to sustain and care for everyone else. As a healer, she makes no distinction between savant, non-savant, friend, foe, animal, plant or even coral reef when asked for help. She’s ready to do what she can.

With her passionate relationship to the caller/alter savant, Samen, another member of the company, and her enormous store of medicinal knowledge and lore, Piper is always a joy to write. 

She’s the moral compass of the group (along with Ash) and represents a powerful female character who, though kickass in her combat skills, doesn’t leverage stereotypical masculine traits to get the job done. Her power comes from belief in herself, something she doesn’t have to prove to anyone, ever. It is always within.

Let me know what you think of her when you read Crown of Bones, and tell me about your favourite sidekick characters.

Comments always welcome.


* * * 

Kim Falconer, writing YA Fantasy as A K Wilder, is the author of Crown of Bones, book #1 in the Amassia Series. The sequel, Curse of Shadows, is due for release in June 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

You can Throw the Bones, read your monthly horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site or just drop a comment to chat. See you there!

* * *

Saturday, July 3, 2021

SISYPHEAN (mostly titled this because I love the word)

2021: Forced Introspection

So, if y'all have been following along, it's been a year of figuring things out. You'd think in my 40th year of life with 7 books under my belt, I'd had found a rhythm of how to do this whole book thing. 






It's a cycle that used to work well, but with the changing market and new online retailers and, frankly a younger generation to engage with (because I've been writing over 10 years), there is always writing, always editing, always promotion to be done. It's like trying to wrangle four spinning plates. 

And for a long time, I did it that way. The same slog over and over and over. Book tours. Blog posts. post cards and author events. 

 Thanks to the 2021: Year of introspection and reading and watching and generally avoiding the writing game all together, I did finally realize that when playing with time loops, change and growth is inevitable. 

From this week's episode of Loki  to the infamous time loop of Dr Strange, time loops in entertainment have become the ultimate obstacle for any potential hero,  used as both a prison cell and a classroom. 

You either learn, or you perish. 

For example,  Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. Her protagonist Ursula dies a billion ways over and over and over again, but every time she dies, she gets the chance to learn about herself and her troubles. In Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl, the characters aren't in a time loop, but they have to keep going through the same actions to learn more about themselves in order to move on. 

In Russian Doll on Netflix, the main character Nadia has to repeat her birthday over and over again. No matter how she tries to change the events, she still ends up dying again. 

But in my FAVORITE example of time loops, Groundhogs Day,  the main character Phil has to relive the day over and over until he actually becomes a better person. 

So like these other protagonists, I've grown in my game. Last month I told you what I had learned about the writing loop, and what needed to change. This month, I can tell you what has changed in my promo loop. 

1. You got to do it all the time. People are finding new-to-them authors ALL THE TIME. I've come to accept that its okay to be proud of my books. Even the ones with flip phones in them. It is okay to pimp yourself everyone once in a while. 

2. You have to change. You've got to learn new ways of doing things, even though they might seem scary. Get on Instagram, do an interview (me with Romancing the Story), try just a twitter chat with the lovely ladies over at #momswritersclub. 

So this month, I did a little promo with the KISS App. You can find me reading the first few pages of THE TRUTH ABOUT NIGHT on my Facebook page!

Talk about something slightly scary!

3. Always help friends promote. Good will is good will. So check out the fun stuff the Kim Falconer has going on this month with her book!

Turns out, Those time loops are not as scary as you might think. Not evolving is scary. Getting stuck is scarier. 

And, honestly, there is a YouTube video for EVERYTHING. 

Until next time, gentle readers. 

Amanda Arista

Author and Human


Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Magic of Magic in Fantasy – & A Solstice Shift


A Solstice Shift

Wow, who can believe it’s 1 July, with the year half gone already and the mid-year solstice just behind us? “I know”, rhetorical question, but I can assure you my head is spinning around, trying to figure out where that first half of the year has gone!


I shall hope you’re all in better case, but I suspect quite a few folk ‘oot thar’ are feeling the same. J

Solstice, as Kim reminded us in her recent post, is traditionally a time for reflection and renewal, as well as for ringing in the changes. Getting into the solstice spirit, I reflected on the
Magic Systems In Fantasy series to date. I have really enjoyed doing the six author interviews, but I also realised that I haven’t really got to grips with the series’ parallel focus:

“…the magic systems that have wowed me, spinning my fantasy-reading wheels.”


So I’ve decided to dedicate the half year through to the next solstice to looking at some of the works that fit the “wowed me” bill – so let’s get those wheels spinning.

The Magic of Magic in Fantasy

Awa’ back on 1 January, I kicked off the series with a few thoughts on the role magic plays in fantasy, including the observation that:

“From magic realism to the highest of high epic fantasy, the magic – and by extension the magic system – is the leaven in the mix.”

Today I’m going to focus on three works that (between them) span the fantasy spectrum and where magic is a distinctive element – and one that wowed me.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Chocolat sits at the magic realism end of the fantasy genre, i.e. it’s essentially a contemporary story but with a thread of magic running through it. In the case of Chocolat, I would say it’s a strong thread, with the magic of folklore and folk charms and carnival, and most particularly magic associated with chocolate and food, infusing the narrative. Most importantly (in terms of qualifying as fantasy), the magic is real, however subtly woven into the everyday.

And yes, through many rereadings the magic of Chocolat is one that’s continued to wow me, in part because I’m a foodie, of course, but mostly because of the way its presence in the story delivers delight, mystery, and wonder.

A Shadow In Summer (The Long Price #1) by Daniel Abraham

A Shadow In Summer is one of those fantasies that almost defies categorization, although it’s clearly within the genre, i.e. the story is set in a secondary (alternate) world and magic is an important component of that world. The nature of the magic and how it is employed is also central to the series and each book, although on the surface, the stories may appear to be more about politics and intrigue, personalities and trade.

But then, so is the magic, which is essentially transactional in nature, but the transaction is not consensual. The transactional mechanism is poetry, i.e. in order to control and work the magic, one must have considerable poetic ability. Finally, the magic is dangerous: that’s because it essentially involves enslaving and manipulating beings from another realm, and if the poet loses control for an instant, all can—and does—go badly awry.

In my view, the
A Shadow In Summer magic system is original, it’s intriguing – and yes, it definitely spun my fantasy-reading wheels.


The "The Wheel Of Time" Series by Robert Jordan

And so we come to epic fantasy – and at fourteen volumes, A Wheel Of Time definitely qualifies. From the series outset, which began with The Eye Of The World, the magic system was the aspect of the story that really wowed me. The system is so complex that I’m not even going to try and describe it comprehensively, but it’s definitely integral to the world and the story. The core of this system is the One Power, which women and men channel separately through saidar and saidin respectively (although saidin has become corrupted, nearly destroying the world), basically by manipulating the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and spirit.

There is also a parallel reality called Ter’aran’rhiod, the Unseen World  but the aspect of the magic system that I love the most are the artefacts of power called angreal, sa’angreal, and ter’angreal. Each performs different functions, but broadly speaking they enhance a magic user’s power, in some cases greatly. I have always found the way they work as artefacts in their own right, as part of the overall magic system, and within the mechanics of the story, both fascinating and impressive in terms of both magic systems and fantasy world building.


So there you are, three very different stories and fantasy subgenres, and three equally amazing magic systems – which I reckon is, well, sheer magic.

See you again next month!


Previous Posts In The "Magic In Fantasy" Series: 

January 1: Happy New Year – Ushering In A Year of Friends, Fellow Authors, & Magic Systems

January 5: 
An Interview with AK Wilder – Talking Magic In Her New-Out Crown Of Bones (AMASSIA #1) 

February 1: An Interview with T Frohock 
– Talking Magic In A Song With Teeth & The LOS NEFILIM Series

March 1:  An Interview with Courtney Schafer – Talking Magic In The "Shattered Sigil" Series

April 1:  An Interview with Kristin Cashore –Talking Magic In Winterkeep & The "Graceling Realm" Series


May 1: An Interview With Lee Murray – Talking Magic, the Supernatural & Horror

June 1: An Interview With Amanda Arista  Talking Magic In the MERCI LANARD & DIARIES OF AN URBAN PANTHER Series


About The Author:

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

Monday, June 21, 2021

Midsummer - Winter Solstice is Nigh

Art by Stephani Pui-Mun Law

Hey Everyone,

I invite you all to welcome the midwinter/summer Solstice! This marks when we have either the longest day of the year (N Hemisphere) or the shortest (S Hemisphere).  Here are the exact times for 2021.

LA - June 20 - 8:32 pm
NY - June 20 - 11:32 pm
LON - June 21 - 4:32 am
SYD - June 21 - 1:32 am

Ancient History

Since neolithic times, we as a people have celebrated the midsummer and midwinter solstices. It still means different things to different cultures but I like to think of it as a time of renewal. A time to fuel hope for the harvest to come (summer), or for the thaw and return of spring (winter). 

What Exactly is the Solstice?

Solstice literally means 'sun at a standstill' as the Latin name describes the sun reaching its maximum or minimum declination in the sky (from a geocentric standpoint). Hence we have a marker for the longest and the shortest day of the year. That alone is something to celebrate!

Ancient Stonehenge and the Solstice

And we do. Take Stonehenge for example, a literal touchstone and host to solstice rituals for the last 5000 years. And still today, modern druids gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun's first rays shine above the ‘hele stone.’ Summer Solstice - Alban Hefin

The Solstice in Fiction

Fiction also connects us to the midsummer/midwinter Solstices, giving us a chance, at least unconsciously, to align with the power of restoration and renewal.

Plenty of films and novels offer up their interpretations of the Solstice, for example, the 'starts out sweet and turns to horror' film called Midsommar written and directed by Ari Aster. But be careful. It might put you off the whole idea of May Poles and other festivities this time of year.

Another psychological thriller, Solstice, by Joyce Carol Oates, explores an intense-turned-obsessive relationship between two women. In this case, the opportunity for renewal at the solstice is more metaphorical.

The Solstice in Fantasy World-building

Using lunar and solar events like eclipses, Equinox/Solstice, ingresses of planets and other celestial movements can ground a reader in the story. It offers a reason to celebrate or be afraid, or hopeful but no matter what, it gives cultural credibility to the story, deepening the world-building and making the work richer in scope.

In the Fantasy genre, we might see the Solstices mark times of initiation, seasons or events, as in my second Earth - Gaia series (under Kim Falconer) The Path of the Stray. Quantum Encryption Book 1. 

In this book, I used the midsummer Solstice to signify the time of year in a journal entry made by one of the main character's ancestors. The discovery of the journal leads the story back to that era. In essence, I had an element of world-building as well as an event to transition the reader back to the prequel.

Also marking a significant time, the Solstice is mentioned in  Hugo Award-winning writer, M. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season - Broken Earth Book 1. 

In Traci Harding's Ancient Future Series, Stonehenge literally teleports the main character (and readers) to a distant past.

In this way, Traci's wildly successful series literally uses the summer solstice as a time machine, of sorts, to incredible effect. It all begins with car trouble, putting the main character, Tory, at just the right place and time.

...As she reached the perimeter of the circle a strong presence came over her and she stopped in her tracks. How strange that I should find myself here tonight. She was a little scared by this thought, for tonight was the summer solstice. When Tory recalled tales of Wiccan and Druidic practices traditionally held on this night a shiver ran over her...

In my newest work, Curse of Shadows, the second book in the Amassia Series, the Solstice becomes the hands on a ticking clock. The Bone Thrower insists that our company of main characters begin a quest on the midwinter solstice and complete it successfully by the midsummer solstice. The consequences of failing are dire and we only hope they can do the impossible in time to save the world.

How about you? Do you have any solstice traditions? Books that mark this longstanding human propensity to connect with the cycles of sun, moon and stars? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

xxKim (aka A K Wilder)

* * * 

Kim Falconer, writing YA Fantasy as A K Wilder, has just released Crown of Bones and soon to announce the date for the sequel, Curse of Shadows.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Throw the bones, read your horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site or have a listen to the audio version on the right.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

2021: The year of forced introspection.

Y’all it has been a doozie of a year here. Freezes, flooding, work from home. 2021 has been pretty much as eventful as 2020. 

I eventually found an interesting balance. It takes lots of work and fails half the time. Not sure we need to get into how many times I forgot to click send on the grocery order or how many times I had to re-wash a load of laundry, but food was provided, and everyone has clean clothes. 

There is nothing like having a group of women surrounding you, poking you with emails and tweets from across the world, to keep you taking those deeps breaths so you can get back to something that you love- stories. To remind you that while you have put some things on the back-burner, like my monthly blogs, they are still there, my writing is still valid, and patience with the process is a virtue.

With the forced introspection that the past two years has brought, it was fun to learn some things about my writing process. Even though I teach writing (or taught writing in the BEFORE). Even though I have been a working author for over ten years now. I’ve spent the past two months creating the Author’s Preferred Editions to The Diaries Series to bring Violet Jordan back into the world. YAY!! But in going through that process, I saw just how baby of a writer I was when it was first written. 

Prologues everywhere, Epilogues galore. You want dream sequences, I’ve got twenty!

Flip phones. Need I say more.

So here a little appreciation post for my moments of Writing Growth for 2021.

First up, I need an outline, but not too outlining of an outline. I need milestones, but not a road map. I’ll eventually get there. These mini-synopsis have been a blessing in the two books that I was able to write in the past year. Two books! It took me three years to get Diaries #1 out the door, and two years to get TRUTH #1 out into the world. Now, I’m not saying these books were good, and my editors have ripped them to shreds, but they were written, word by word, page by page, chapter by chapter at a pace that felt like scaling a mountain. But as all those people on the internets say, “you can’t edit a blank page.”

Secondly, I default to dialogue without emotional beats. Just the words and none of the feelings or the texture of the scene, especially during a super intense scenes or info dumps (think the scenes where everyone is around a table talking about the baddie). It looks like reading a script instead of a book. But I developed something called a “Dialogue Sequel” that I can pull from when I feel that its getting a bit too wordy without any introspection. I’ll post about that next month. 

Thirdly, I really can’t read or watch TV when I am trying to create. I end up mimicking the tones and even sometimes the dialogue of characters. It’s so weird. I’m like a warped sponge. So in between projects, I have to take time to refill the Muse. I’ve binged The Great (Hulu), Bridgerton (Netflix), All the Marvel movies (MCU), and let myself dive off the deep end into Criminal Minds for about 6 seasons before I start editing again. 

Fourth, I binge books too, but rarely finish. I’m going to confess this because I think someone out there will need to hear it. I start probably 10 books a month, using the KISS App or Kindle, and I rarely find a book that grabs me enough to read it all the way through. I think I’m too picky? Or perhaps I just like really weird stuff. I usually go back to read authors that I know I love, like Hoffman and Gaiman and of course my ladies on the blog! (also you can now find the Merci Lanard series on the KISS app).  

So there you have it, a few things I’ve finally come to terms with in the past year. 

Oh wait, you want more. How about the exclusive cover reveal for all three Diaries!  You saw a sneak peak of it in Helen's post on Monday.  

Yeah. I know. so pretty.

Until next month, Happy Reading!

Amanda Arista