Sunday, December 16, 2018

Fantasy Festivals

Snoggletog in the fictional world of How to Train Your  Dragon
looks a lot like Christmas.
There are a number of ways an author draws the reader into their story. They can use pace, suspense, fear, excitement, but behind the page-turning tools is a little something called atmosphere, the nuance that creates immersion.

The character of Buffy Anne Summers  - DOB January 19th.

In this way, the readers and audience are captivated by the story, not just because it excites them, but because it feels 'real'.

Ways to create an atmosphere stem from language, word choice, dialogue, character and worldbuilding - the sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes and history of the story-world. Included in the art of worldbuilding is the power of celebration.

Harry Potter's first festival feast not only helps create an atmosphere at Hogwarts,
  it shows a contrast to his austere upbringing.

Fantasy festival like birthdays, weddings, seasonal celebrations, government holidays and religious ceremonies show the reader what the story-world is like. They can reveal a character's beliefs, family relationships and outlook without having to tell the reader through dense descriptions and narrative.

There's nothing like a royal wedding to make the heart sing.

These fantasy festivals might match ones the reader is already familiar with like the mid-winter solstice, Chrismas, birthdays, weddings, independence days, or they might be unique to the story. In any case, they have the power to convince us that the book we're immersed in is as real as everyday life.

Do you have a favourite fictional celebration? I'd love to hear it.

Happy Holidays, everyone. See you next year!

* * *

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. Also check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment SeriesYou can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Truth Behind The Title

I have all the butterflies in the world in my stomach right now. Valiant released last week. This YA Sci-Fi is a book that I love so much, because it's about an average girl who's been given an impossible task—she must save the world. Despite the fact that it's impossible, she's continues to try because she's doing it out of love—the love for her younger brother. 

So, average girl + impossible odds + a motive of love = anything can happen. 

I think this is how we all succeed in life. Yes, we have impossible tasks and, yes, we must do our best to try and succeed. But the success comes when our motive is born out of love.

Love conquers all. 

It chases away the shadows. It heals the sick. It gives hope when there is no hope. 

In Valiant, love is that 'extra' characteristic Sara has. It gives her the ability to lead a group of teenagers in a war against invading aliens. She isn't the strongest girl, or the smartest girl, or the prettiest girl. 

Still, she's the girl who's going to win because she'll never give up. She loves her brother and she'll do whatever it takes for him to survive. 

Yes, this is an action-packed apocalyptic tale, yes, there is fighting, and yes, it is heart-breaking at times. But in the midst of it all, there is hope and there is love. 

This is life. 

In the midst of the chaos and the darkness, there is a single candle that can guide you to safety. I hope you get a chance to read this story and I hope that you see Sara the way I do—and I hope you enjoy the story. 💖💖💖

Also, I have something extra for those of you interested in this book. Click on this link for a free short story prequel to Valiant.

Also, if you're in Southern California, I'd love to have you join me and three other authors for A DARK HOLIDAY GATHERING at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Join JONATHAN MABERRY (Broken Lands, Rot & Ruin), SARA WOLF (Bring Me Their Hearts, Leave Me Never), RACHEL MARKS (Darkness Brutal, Fire & Bone), and me (Valiant, Shade) for A DARK HOLIDAY GATHERING at MYSTERIOUS GALAXY BOOKSTORE.

DATE & TIME: 2 p.m., Saturday Dec. 15th.
LOCATION: Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, 5943 Balboa Ave., Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92111

This event is free and seating is first come, first serve. To get a book signed during this event, a copy of the event book must be purchased through Mysterious Galaxy.

And last but not least, I'm taking part in an Instagram event, Dec. 10 - 21. 18 YA Entangled Teen authors are giving away 18 books. Follow me on Instagram for details!

Monday, December 3, 2018

2018 was the Year of the New

Hello my Supes!

2018 was the year of a lot of new things. Mostly stressful. We got up early, we wrote out goals, we made lists, we watched new stuff to feed our muse. Some worked. Some didn't. Some messed me up for an entire month! (looking at you August).

Last month I missed my post because every word I wrote, I wanted to count towards my NaNoWriMo goals. I didn't make 50K, but I did something else that I haven't done in a while- WRITE.

See all of these new things, new practises, new philosophies finally kicked me into gear to write a NEW BOOK! After a year of editing and batting around a manuscript like a cat with a ball of yarn, I have finally cleared off my desk and de-cluttered my brain enough to start on another book.

From scratch.

Blank pages.

Beginning again.

And I'm not panicking because this 2018 Year of the New actually taught me a lot about my process, what I can keep and what I can't. What I can really do with out and what REALLY distracts me from writing.

One of the things I learned this year is that I still love learning and I have lots of things to learn about my craft and my process and the world. I'll be taking more classes to hone in on what I need to work on or just to stir the cobwebs off. I know I don't know it all, but I do know enough to be dangerous.

One of the other things I learned was that I am a hybrid author- both a plotter and a panster. I need to know where I'm going, but I don't want to know how to get there before I sit down to write. I still need the journeying. AND THE POST-ITS!!!

One of the things that I didn't love was getting up early. Yeah. Not happening. I am a devoted night owl so lets make #10pmwriteclub a thing.

I didn't get a chance to dress my muse or do some of the other stuff that Elizabeth Gilbert said to do in Big Magic, but I'm still writing, so I've got some time to keep exploring

And I hope you will keep exploring the paranormal writing life with me.

Carry Onward, dear readers,

Amanda Arista
Author and Night Owl

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Color Blue – And All Of You!

Recently, Thanksgiving was celebrated, and although it’s not a festival “where I come from”, I think we can all benefit from pressing pause from time to time, in order to take stock and reflect upon what we can point to on the “giving thanks” side of our personal ledger.

Last year, the Skiffy and Fanty blog did this in another way by designating January as their Month of Joy. In it, they asked authors and others in the speculative fiction community to aspects of life (the universe and everything that bring them joy.)

When reflecting on Thanksgiving and looking ahead to this coming year’s Month of Joy (yes, Skiffy & Fanty are doing it again, and again I hope to take part) I thought Supernatural Undergrounders might be interested on what I had to say last year.

I haven’t posted it in full, but there’s a link to the compleat post at the end. If you do check it out, say “hi” to the Skiffy and Fanty crew why you’re over there — I’m “pretty sure” they’d love to hear from you. ;-)


“Helen Lowe’s Month Of Joy: From The Color Blue To “The End”

“These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood…”

 ~ from The Great Lover, Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915

This excerpt from Rupert Brooke’s poem,The Great Lover, captures how seemingly small things can encompass joy. I recognize many if not all of the items contained in The Great Lover—from “the cool kindliness of sheets” to “blue-massing clouds”—but of course I have a list of my own…

River, Ocean, Sky…
The color blue informs it, because I love the changeable blues of ocean, rivers, and sky, a love that spills over into the blue dart of a dragonfly and the flash of a kingfisher by a summer river. The blues of lapis lazuli, turquoise, and sapphire also beguile, just as the contrast of blue-and-white—whether white caps on the ocean, or a Hokusai print, or Cornish kitchenware—is an enduring delight.

Blue on blue; blue-and-white
I’ve begun with blue since it’s so ubiquitous because of sky and water, but quickly realized that I love all color in its many manifestations—although the predominant colors of the natural world, the blues and the greens, are probably my favorites. Nonetheless I do find it difficult to pass by any vibrant display of color, whether in nature or art, in a book on the subject, or a fabric display—not unlike Garfield encountering a patch of sunshine, although generally I remain awake. :D

A vibrant display of color
From the colors of the natural world to the natural world itself: it’s not just the blues and the greens, but the sounds of water flowing and the crash of ocean waves, a dolphin in the sea or bird cleaving the sky, the sound of bees in lavender and the spiky flowers themselves, with their dusty scent of summer.
Bumblebee on hebe
From a thunderstorm rumbling across land or ocean, to the acrid scent of earth when the first raindrops fall after a long dry spell, to dew glittering on a spider’s web, the natural world is full of a beauty that provokes delight and brings joy. I know I am not alone in feeling this, because Gerard Manley Hopkins is another poet whose work speaks to these emotions:

“Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow
For rose moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’wings”
~ Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844 – 1889 …”

To read the post in full click on: Helen Lowe's Month Of Joy

I’ll be doing another Month of Joy post for 2019, so if you enjoyed this post, keep a lookout here on Supernatural Underground, on Skiffy and Fanty, or on my own blog, for when that goes live. 

Just by the way, though, something else that’s on the positives side of the ledger will always be “all of you” in the Supernatural Underground community: the authors, for sure, but definitely the readers and blog followers. Y’all rock: but then again, I’m sure you already know that.  J

Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her 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 writing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we.