Monday, October 16, 2023

Get a Spectacular Mar Fix While You Wait


Ava Sykes - before she discovers what she is

For those of you waiting for book three of the Amassia Series, but still want an instant Mar fix, I thought to bump this post so you could take a look at another kind of Mar...


:) Kim

aka AKWWilder

Excerpt from the novel, The Blood in the Beginning.

Public speaking sucks. It's mandatory for final year medical science, so I put up with it. Still ...

    Ten a.m. came with the expected physical signs: burning eyes, stiff neck, headache. Oh, boy. My palms were sweat­ing as I walked to the podium, footsteps echoing through the virtually empty UCLA lecture hall. That was a plus. It lessened the potential for public humiliation. The only seats occupied were the front two rows. I squeezed my eyes shut a few times, trying to alleviate the sting ... eye drops might have helped, along with fresh contacts. They were prescrip­tion, for my mixed astigmatism, a near-far sighted combo, and tinted to keep down the glare. I had partial colour blindness too, but that’s another story. The bottom line, sleep deprivation wasn’t a good look. Hopefully, the examiners would be glued to the screen, and my riveting presentation, not my tired face.

It took a minute to password my way through security, log into my CloudBox — and bring up the visuals. I synched with the screen behind me and cleared my throat. ‘Good morning, faculty.’ My voice broke and I tried to humph without sounding like a cat coughing up a fur ball. This was not my favourite part of being fourth year: standing in front of a critical audience, my knowledge and abilities in question. Who in their right mind would want to try and explain auto-immune disorders to a group of scientists who knew hundreds of times more about the subject than any­one alive?

The mic gave an ear-piercing screech as I adjusted it, which didn’t help to calm me down. The lights dimmed and the large screen illuminated. The glare was so strong, I couldn’t read the notes on my tablet. Perfect. I sucked in a deep breath, and ploughed on.

‘Since the first wave of the Aftermath, auto-immune disorders have escalated, not just here in LA, but globally. These diseases cross all borders, cultures and peoples, tar­geting young and old alike. The epidemiology is hard to trace, but at its core is a potentially fatal flaw ...’ I choked on that. This topic got under my skin because I had one of those pesky flaws myself. At times like these, I could almost hear the clock ticking. I cleared my throat. ‘ … a potentially fatal flaw in the evolution of the human genome. Constant bombardment from microwaves, radiation and carcinogenic substances has caused an abnormal gene expression, includ­ing the conditional deletion of the Bcl-x gene from red blood cells, which becomes apparent when the body loses its abil­ity to tell the difference between self and non-self.’

I swiped the small screen on the podium, bringing up the next visual behind me. It showed a clip of a blood clot forming at 500x magnification, courtesy of APS — an­tiphospholipid antibody syndrome — in action. As I talked about causes and potential cures, moving on to my per­sonal favourite, hemolytic anemia and its variants under the umbrella of AADD — Aftermath associated degenerative diseases — my eyes came back to one of the examiners. 


I’d never seen him before, which wasn’t uncommon. UCLA hosted the largest science campus in the western US, and specialists in the field were invited in to evaluate fourth year students, especially ones like me who hoped to land an internship with the LA branch of the CDC, the Centre for Disease Control. This guy looked too young though. Maybe an intern auditing my talk? Who are you?

The thought floated through my head. Not a welcome distraction. Every time I looked, he was staring at me, his expression a cross between curious and accusatory. It raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Oh, hell! I had the freak­ing wrong slide up. I pulled my focus back to the presenta­tion and kept my gaze well away from handsome mystery man in seat A15. Sure, it registered. Handsome. 

Not helping.

Twenty minutes later, the lights went up and there was a brief, but slightly more than perfunctory, applause. On a scale of one to ten, for senior lecturers that was at least a nine, nearly a standing ovation. It made me smile, and in a momentary lapse, my eyes drifted back to seat A15. Big mistake. The floor was open to questions, and he took it as a personal invitation.

‘You mention the fatigue associated with auto-immune hepatitis. What test would differentiate auto-immune liver disease from other hepatic disorders?’

I swallowed hard, not because I didn’t have a damn good answer, but because his eyes were boring into me. Almond-shaped dark eyes. They had a wild look, or was that the unruly hair? It was like being on a witness stand, which I guess was the point of the exercise. He wasn’t coming across as an intern. His voice was too confident. I reviewed the role of typical histological findings in both AILD and other chronic liver diseases, finishing with a discussion of immu­noglobulins and various
triggers for immune response. He questioned again, and for a while, we had our own private ping-pong match going on. Then others had comments and questions for me and, while I engaged, out of the corner of my eye I saw him check his phone. He nodded vaguely in my direction and left. As he walked out of the hall, a linger­ing thought again floated through my head.

Who are you?

From #TheBoodInTheBeginning An #AvaSykes #Novel
Read more ...

I'd love to hear who your fav characters are that DON'T enjoy public speaking! --Kim

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing urban fantasy, paranormal romance, YA and epic science fantasy novels. You can find out more about Kim at, and on FaceBook and Twitter.

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month .

Kim also writes as AK Wilder, releasing Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy with Curse of Shadows as book 2 in the series. Currently, she is working on the third book, out in 2024. Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Throw the bones, read your horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site

Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Band of Brothers in "The Heir of Night"



2023 has been my Year of the "Band of Brothers" in fiction, and the Fantasy genre in particular. 

The Crows
From King Arthur and Robin Hood, to The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, or Leigh Bardugo's Crows and The Them in Good Omens, I could -- and do ;-) -- say that the "band of brothers" is to fantasy what flowers are to spring. :D

The Them

In addition to the band or company, there's also the more informal "scooby gang", both of which can can accommodate the "bro" or "sister"-mance. Over the next few posts, I'll be taking a closer a look at how this classic trope features in my own epic tale -- starting with The Heir of Night, Book One in The Wall Of Night series.

The Band of Brothers in "The Heir of Night"

My initial reflection, when thinking about this post, was that both "bands" and "scooby gangs" are in short supply in The Heir of Night.

But then I got to thinking how it's the set-up book for the series, as well as telling a story in its own right, and how that setup includes some of the brotherhood elements that are more prominent in books #2 and #3. (The Gathering of The Lost and Daughter of Blood respectively.) So I'm talking proto-bands and bro/sister/comrade-mance here. :-)

Right from the get-go, though, I can assure you there are no scooby gangs in The Heir of Night (Heir). The two main protagonists, Malian and Kalan, are both solitary characters until fate throws them together. Their subsequent friendship is the core of the Heir story, but it's too early to tell whether this is a budding romance, or alternatively a bromance. But the seeds are sown.

In the first part of the book, a company drawn from two divided sectors of society (the Derai) are obliged to embark on a joint rescue mission into dangerous territory. This is classic band-of-brothers stuff, where the dangers faced overcome the original divisions. That doesn't happen in the Heir situation, in part because the divisions are so deeply entrenched, but also because the mission is of short duration.

The implication being that it takes time, as well as adverse circumstances, to bridge division and create bonds of brotherhood. So there is no 'shining company' forged in Heir. But as with Malian and Kalan, there is a glimmering of future potential, particularly with a very slight softening of some divisions -- if only between a number of individuals.

And no bromances either. Although there is an instance where two individuals from either side of the divide fight side by side to stem an attack, with a greater sense of fellowship thereafter...

Having said "no shining company", I must immediately qualify because there is a small "band" that forms in the last part of the book. Although it does not bridge the same societal divide as the larger company, this smaller band is pitched into unforeseen danger and survival necessitates working closely together, and relying on each other to survive.

Whether they do or not is another question, but this is epic storytelling, where the stakes and dangers are equally high. The perfect conditions for forging bonds of brotherhood -- but only if the ongoing story allows the seeds sown in The Heir of Night to flourish. :-)


Previous Posts:

February: Honing in on 2021Celebrating the "Band of Brothers"
March: Celebrating the "Band of Brothers" in Fantasy #2
April: Celebrating the "Scooby Gang" #3
May: Celebrating the "Band of Sisters"
June: From Band of Brothers To Bromance!
July: Sister Acts: from the "Band of Sisters" to True Sisterhood
August: When Brotherhoods -- and Bros -- Go Bad!
September: "The Band of Brothers" -- A Few More Fantasy Favorites


About the Author

Helen Lowe is an award-winning novelist, poet, and lover of story. With four books published to date, she is currently completing the final instalment in The Wall Of Night series.

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we.