Sunday, April 26, 2020

Goodreads Giveaway of Crown of Bones

Goodreads Giveaway of CROWN OF BONES - art by Pin Di Gamer
For all my lovely readers and writers, book divas and divos, it's happening! A Goodreads & Entangled Teen giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder

Crown of Bones

by A.K. Wilder

Giveaway ends May 24, 2020.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Just pop your name in the hat to win. Wishing you the luck of the Bone Throwers!

* * * 

Meet me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or check out my site, where you can read the Bare Bones Scopes, throw the bones and discover the latest news and giveaways.

My alter ego on the Sup is Kim Falconer...

Remember, when in doubt... Throw the Bones!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Hermits as Heroes and Mad Women

Notes on fictional representations of isolation between genders...

The Hermit by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
In the art of Tarot, The Hermit card represents many things: introspection, solitude, seeking and offering guidance and the insights and awareness that come from being alone.

Zerochan » MAGI:
The Labyrinth of Magic » Ja'far
It's the art of shining the lantern inward, not out.

In this way, the Hermit represents an essential step along the path of our own hero's journey, regardless of gender.

It's a psychological experience, helping us become more of who we are.

Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. - Carl Jung

Jung said that the highest and most decisive experience of all is to be alone with one Self, and for many of us worldwide, we are asked to do just that now.

To self-isolate.

To social distance.

Everyone responds in different ways, depending on whether they are extraverts, introverts, creatives, immersive... a combination of all possible elements. The point is, now more than ever, we can turn to our most cherished fictional characters for support and guidance.

At least, that's what I thought when I started this post a few days ago. 

Now, after some hours of research, I have to amend that statement to, "...we can turn to our most cherished MALE fictional characters for support and guidance."

Female fictional characters in isolation, not so much, though of the hundreds and hundreds of tarot deck designs, we are starting to see some female representations of the hermit.

That's something, right?

Gender and the art of Hermiting

Basically, men and women can find the rhythm of isolation in similar ways -  immerse in books and film, do yoga and workouts online, join forums of interest, pursue distance education, even apply for PhDs, cook, clean, meditate, garden, design and build. All these actions help us grow in the time of social isolation and distancing.

And, when I started writing this post, I thought we could add to those activities by honoring the heroes in our favorite stories who are, indeed, isolationists - hermits, recluses and even reluctant warriors, and who, like true hermits, offer guidance in a time of need.

The only problem is, they are virtually always portrayed as men, not women.


Male Hermits as Heroes

For example, we have:

Obi Wan Kanobi 

We meet him in the first of the Star Wars films as a hermit living on the distant planet of Tatooine. From an unassuming introduction, he grows into a character rich with wisdom and fluent in the way of the Force. A true hero, and guide. I love him.

Rick Deckard 

In Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (AKA Blade Runner) Rick Deckard is a dark hero, a bounty hunter responsible for retiring (aka killing) rogue androids that escape from off-world colonies. A loner for sure whose reluctance to connect makes the mysterious ending ever so much richer. Perhaps an anti-hero, but a hero none the less.

And Then There are the Women...

Dickens' vengeful Miss Havishham
In my search for female characters who represent the positive and creative aspects of the Hermit, I'm still looking.

Help me out here, please!

So far, fictional female characters who spend time alone, unlike men, do not become Jedi Masters or alluring dark heroes. Generally, they become cruel, go mad and die alone, without making a single mark.

Take, for example, Miss Havisham in Dickens' Great Expectations. She's driven into isolation and mental instability from romantic heartbreak. Not our favorite role model or bringer of light.

And then there's Emily Grierson in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. She's described as “a small, fat woman” who lives in a town full of people who see her as cold, distant and living in her past. No midi-chlorian running through her veins...

We have powerful works like Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. The main character is isolated but... she also has deep psychological issues rooting from early childhood and struggles with depression, feeling of alienation, inadequacy... We can empathize and relate, but is she our guiding light in the true sense of the Hermit?

No, none of them are.

If you know of an awesome female hermit in fiction who is not portrayed as a soul-sucking maniac, I would love to hear about her. I'll put her up alongside Obi Wan Kenobi and all the other awesome male loners ASAP!

Hope to be inundated. :)


Author Kim Falcconer

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out August 4, 2020 - Crown of Bones. (Writing under A.K. Wilder) 

Also, check her urban fantasy  - 
The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the site.

Contact at

Friday, April 3, 2020

Birthing a Book

Yep- here's the book cover again.
Year of Genesis: Timeline to publishing

I have often compared writing a book to having a baby. There are aches and pains and lets downs and you feel like it just takes forever. But I think that most mothers, like writers, will tell you that once it has been done and you see the fruits of your labor out into the world, you sort of forget how hard it is when you get the notion to have another.

The Truth about Night was one of these stories I couldn't shake and Merci Lanard was one of these characters that just wouldn't go away. I had to get this book out of my head. It just took WAY longer that I wanted it to. Like an elephant's pregnancy, it just went on forever.

As I mentioned in last months post, Merci Lanard came to me fully formed as I was writing CLAWS AND EFFECT, the second book in the DIARIES trilogy. I wrote that book at a breakneck speed on contract in 2010. So Merci and I met in 2010.

In case your life has been as stressful as mine, let me remind you that it is March of 2020.

I've officially known Merci Lanard for ten years.

Ten years.

Just let that sink in really quick.

According to my word document files, the very first Merci narration was around August 2012. I think I remember taking a few of her scenes to a critique group to test it out. It took me a long time to write the first draft of this one. I wasn't sure if it was a romance or a mystery. But I kept hacking away at it on weekends and after work until I had a final draft (saved as TruthAboutNight-FINAL.doc in Sept 2015). I still laugh at how hopeful and naive I was, labeling it FINAL. 

I started submitting versions of The Truth about Night to editors and agents that I met at conferences. And I got some really good feedback on it. Or at least it looks like I got some feedback on it, because I kept producing new versions:
Version 2
Version 3
Version 4
Version 5
Version 6 - Last saved on March 2017.

What is particularly strange about this narrative is that I was also working on a Women's Fiction book at that same time. That WF book got me my agent. The two of us starting working on edits and revisions for The Evil Ex's Bake Club all the way until November of 2018 when we decided to shelve it. Then I wrote another WF and we shelved that. But that is another story that should be told at another time.

My agent asked me if I had anything else that we could work on and I confessed that I had this strange paranormal mystery. She said that she'd like to see it.

I finished our first round of revisions on it in April 2018.
And another in May.
And another in June.

I will always not need a
pic of James Mcavoy
Version Ten is when she felt comfortable shopping it around and the feedback from the industry was split. It was either too mystery and they wanted me to dial back on that and focus on the hot-and-bothery love interest. Or it was too much romance and they wanted me to turn down the sexy and amp up on the mystery and horror aspects. Yep. Welcome to the subjectiveness that is publishing.

And we tried. I kept hacking and switching and baiting and growing, but it never was right. Like trying to put peanut butter on top of your sandwich. The parts were there, but in the wrong order to fit what other people wanted.

After some true soul searching and market research and a bunch of conversations with my agent, she finally asked. "Which one is the story that you want to tell?"

I answered honestly. "The first one that I wrote, back in 2012. The one about the fierce journalist just trying to figure out who killed her partner. The one with the swoon-worthy literature professor. The one with the gore." All three were such strong tenants to the book, that without them, it all fell apart. Without every single one, it wasn't the story I wanted to tell.

So in Oct 2019, we decided to independently publish The Truth About Night. Version Thirteen.

It took ten years to get this book into the world, but I am proud of it, even the few grammatical errors I have found, because it is mine.

She is my baby.


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

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Year of Worldbuilding in Fantasy #3: "Sparrow Hill Road" (Ghost Roads #1) by Seanan McGuire

#YoW Year of Worldbuilding
#WiF Worldbuilding in Fantasy

I chose "worldbuilding" as my Supernatural Underground theme for 2020 because (imho) it's a glue that holds all the different strands of Fantasy out there together.

I kicked off the year with two influential examples from mid-twentieth century children's literature, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by CS Lewis and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. Both are also what is known as "secondary world" fantasies, i.e. they are set in worlds that are clearly not our (primary) world -- although of course Narnia is connected to this world by the wardrobe.

I promised, however, to endeavor to shift between older and newer works and to look at more than one subgenre of fantasy. This month I make both those leaps by featuring Seanan McGuire's Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Roads #1), and its companion The Girl In The Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads #2), which are paranormal fantasy and first published in 2014 and 2018 respectively. They're also very much set in this world, so that's a hat-trick for 'the new' this month. :-)

The Ghost Roads worldbuilding is common to both books but established in Sparrow Hill Road, which is why I'll primarily discuss that today.

To quickly summarize what it's all about, the central character is Rose Marshall, who died on Sparrow Hill Road at sweet sixteen, all dressed up in her green silk gown and driving to the prom.  For the sixty years since she's been a “hitcher ghost” and psychopomp—i.e. a conductor of (other) souls to the afterworld—who travels the highways of America, where she's also known as the Phantom Prom Date.

Rose is simultaneously fleeing her murderer, Bobby Cross—a one-time heartthrob of the silver screen who has made a crossroads bargain for eternal youth, which is fueled by feeding his victims' souls to a vampiric car—and seeking to bring him to justice.

The reason Ghost Roads must be part of this worldbuilding series, though, is because the world is so powerful it's a character in its own right.

This is a world of highways and truck stops woven into the supernatural realms of the dead, from the Twilight down to the Midnight and back again. It's also a world peopled by a diverse range of ghosts, from “hitchers” like Rose to the “crossroads ghosts”—and the crossroads themselves, which are quite something else!—as well as related characters from folklore and myth, such as Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld.

Needless to say you can almost smell the road grease, the beer, and the fat and salt of the fries, as well as feeling the bite of a lonesome wind. Something else that strikes me, quite strongly, is how the world is a celebration of Americana in the context of road culture and associated folklore.

As you can probably tell, I really liked the worldbuilding in Sparrow Hill Road and the Ghost Roads series. So if you love ghost stories and urban fantasy, road trip tales and worlds that you can see and taste and feel as you read, then I suspect you may enjoy Sparrow Hill Road as much as I do.

Previous Months:

February: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
March: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin


Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry. 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 completing 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.