Tuesday, April 23, 2024

From the Backlist - eBooks in a Changing World

Amazon Kindles

Hello Everyone!

It's time to check in on the #backlist at the Supernatural Underground! 

Today we are highlighting a post made in April 2011 on a topic as relevant as it was over a decade ago.

So dive right in to Joss Ware's, (one of the pen names of Colleen Gleason) the international best-selling author), post on eBooks. Don't skip the comments either! So intriguing.

* * *

A Rapidly Changing World

eBooks, hypertext links, SMS - What's Next?

... eBook sales and popularity are exploding, heralds are crying that "print is dead!" and we authors are wondering if we'll ever have reason to do a booksigning again!

We're spending a lot of time as authors thinking about the future, but I'd like to get some perspective from those of you who enjoy our books, but who aren't in the thick of the industry.

So, today, I'm hoping our readers here on Supernatural Underground will weigh in on the following questions for us. We'd love to know what's going on in your mind!

1. Do you have an ereader or do you read ebooks?
2. What percentage of print books versus ebooks are you currently buying?
3. If you have an ereader and only or mostly download books to read, would you find a booksigning worth attending? If so, why?
4. Do you have any suggestions for us authors as far as how to sign/promote books for those of you who buy them electronically? (I've been asked to sign a Kindle and a nook more than once...the actual devices!)

...and any other thoughts or observations you might have!

Thanks so much for being our readers and let us know what you think. 

To explore the many comments already made, continue reading here... and visit Joss (Colleen Gleason) on her spectacular website.

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Where fiction makes the heart beat faster...

Monday, April 15, 2024

Choose Your Weapon - The Sword

The Netflix Witcher based on novels by Andrezej Sapkowski

Welcome to the third instalment in the series Choose Your Weapon. Today we are talking about the mighty sword, an implement used in human history for thousands of years. But no matter how long the blade has been with us, it can't compare to the glorification it receives in novels, films, graphics and the gaming industry. 

There is nothing like it in real life!

From the mythos of Excaliber to the wonders of Sting, Glamdring and even the Witcher's Zireael,  Fantasy swords are often written with an elaborate history and purpose. They are literally characters themselves. 

Consider Andúril, the Flame of the West. This is the broken sword that Aragorn carries, the very one that is eventually reforged from the shards of Narsil in Rivendell. Andúril, even when broken, is the mark of the heir of Isildur, but isn't it interesting we know more about it than the history of hobbits?

Why the Popularity in Fantasy?

The Fantasy genre, especially the subclass of Swords and Sorcery, initially derived from life in the Middle Ages, a time when carrying a sword was a sign of power and command. This holds true in Eastern stories of the samurai, depicted in Anime for their prowess, skill, grace and mastery in sword fighting.

Jin and Mugen from Samurai Champloo - CBR 2022

We can say that writers like David Eddings, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Anne McCaffery, C L Moore, Tanith Lee, Terry Goodkind, Marsaru Gotsubo, Kazuo Koike and our own Helen Lowe and yours truly, helped to and continue to help fix this weapon firmly in the Fantasy genre. But why this weapon in particular?

The Archetype of Truth

As said, the sword symbolizes power, protection, authority, strength, and courage. The connection is obvious, but metaphysically, it also represents truth, discrimination and the penetrating power of the intellect. Take the Suit of Swords in the Tarot (Tarocchi) deck, a metaphorical card 'game' with us since the 15th century.

Keywords for the suit of swords from http://learntarot.com/less3.htm -  

The Swords are the suit of intellect, thought and reason. They are concerned with justice, truth and ethical principles. Swords are associated with the element Air. A cloudless sky, open and light-filled, is a symbol of the mental clarity that is the sword's ideal. This suit is also associated with states that lead to disharmony and unhappiness. Our intellect is a valuable asset, but as an agent of ego, it can lead us astray if it is not infused with the wisdom of our Inner Guide...

Writing Sword Scenes Successfully

I've shared my struggles with sword fighting scenes early on in my career, but will summarize again here, especially for writers just starting out.

From The Way of the Sword – Voyager Blog.

... (twenty-five) years ago, I showed my first manuscript (The Spell of Rosette), to an author friend who was also a weapons black belt. She came back a week later saying Brilliant story Kim but you don’t know shit about the sword.

Oh boy... as if form-rejection letters weren't demoralizing enough.

But hang on! I thought I knew plenty about the sword. I’d watched ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ at least ten times and saw Kill Bill on the big screen twice. Could my sword scenes really be that bad? 

She assured me they were. She also invited me to join her Iaido (ee-eye-doh) classes and learn the ancient Japanese art of the samurai. 

Over years of training, I became fluent with techniques against single and multiple attackers, against spears and armour, and horsed riders. Sure enough, my fight scenes improved as I choreographed each one from scratch and when I finally found a publisher for the series (Stephnie Smith as HarperCollins Voyager), her first comment was "Great sword fighting scenes, Kim."

Truth is, it's one thing to slip poison into a cup, or even brew a magical spell to control the weather, but you just can't fake a sword fight.

Do you have a favorite Fantasy story that includes a swordfight or two? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Happy reading and writing!


Choose Your Weapon Series


The Perfect Storm

The Sword



About Kim Falconer

Kim Falconer, currently writing as AK Wilder, has released 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 AKWilder.com site


Friday, April 12, 2024


 I'm honored to be part of this StoryBundle and excited that bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Girls Write Now!

The Fantastic Fae Bundle - Curated by Anthea Sharp

Top fantasy authors bring you a dozen books, each one filled with otherwordly magic. Which portal will you open first? They all lead to adventure, but beware the bargains of the fae…

The bestselling authors in this StoryBundle are known for their deft use of traditional faerie lore. Don't expect twinkles and sweetness here! Instead, you'll encounter the treacherous and lovely denizens of the Realm of Faerie, in all their guises. Whether it's a mortal stolen into the Faerie courts, or a half-blood changeling struggling to live in the human world, fae magic imbues each of these books with perilous magic.

Prepare for:

• Dark Unseelie Enchantments
• Portals to Magical Lands
• Historical Fantasy
• Stolen Away by the Fae
• Celtic Myths and Legends
• Urban Fantasy
• Traditional Faerie Folklore
• Twisted Retellings
• Necromancy
• Treacherous Seelie Bargains
• Half-human/Half-faerie Protagonists
• An Abundance of MAGIC

Grab this bundle and be swept up on a thrilling and dangerous ride with the Wild Hunt. Track down fearsome darkling fae in an enchanted forest. Walk the streets of New Orleans searching for magic, or step through a portal of standing stones and be transported to the enchanted land of your dreams (or nightmares).

You'll encounter all kinds of fae within the pages of these books – but one thing is certain. They are all fantastical!

A note on the charity donation aspect of StoryBundle:

When you support this bundle, you're also supporting Girls Write Now! Stories are important, and this great organization mentors young women writers to become the next generation of storytellers. Help keep the world full of the magic of words with your pledge! – Anthea Sharp

* * *

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you're feeling generous), you'll get the basic bundle of four books in .epub format—WORLDWIDE.

•         Faerie Hearts by Anthea Sharp

•         The Wraith and the Rose by C. J. Brightley

•         Irresistible Magic by Deanna Chase

•         Thread of a Spider by D.L. Gardner


If you pay at least the bonus price of just $20, you get all four of the regular books, plus 8 more books, for a total of 12!

•         Blood So Red (Includes Book 1!) by C. Gockel

•         Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody

•         Heart of Briar by Laura Anne Gilman

•         The Fanged & the Fae by Melissa Marr

•         A Place of Magic by Merrie Destefano

•         From Storm and Shadow by Rachel Morgan

•         Fae Away by Rose Garcia

•         The Silver Stag by Yasmine Galenorn


This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get a DRM-free .epub for all books!

It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

•          Get quality reads: We've chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.

•          Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that's fine! You'll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.

•          Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there's nothing wrong with ditching DRM.

•          Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Girls Write Now!

•          Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you'll get the bonus books!


StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

From The Backlist: “Inspired by Evil” by Amanda Arista

It’s backlist time – and what better feature, since Helen Lowe’s post theme for 2024 is the Year of the Villain, than the great Amanda Arista’s “Inspired by Evil”, in which she lists some of her favorite villains!

Amanda Arista

Not all are drawn from the ranks of Fantasy, but they’re all suitably evile and/or villainous – so rock on up, folks, and read on!

Inspired by Evil

by Amanda Arista

...I have to admit. Im pro-villain. My favorite characters in literature seem to the antagonists, because they usually get the best lines. Good villains are strong, driven, have their own moral codes and usually more motivated than the heroes at the beginning of the stories. They are on their own journeys and, frankly, sometimes Im routing for them because the heroes just cant seem to get their acts together faster enough.

So some of my favorites are:

1. Maleficent. Probably the first villain to really institute the adage If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Powerful woman and sexy as hell. She is the reigning queen of villains in my book, because she almost got exactly what she wanted. In the end, remember, she was just out-manned, not out smarted (those three meddling fairies). Really looking forward to Angelina Jolies portrayal of her next summer.
2. Hannibal Lector- I dont know if you guys have been watching NBCs Hannibal, but there is something both eerie and alluring about Mads Mikkelsens portrayal of the psychiatrist. You know that hes eating people, but somehow, youre a little okay with that because you just want to know what hes going to say next.  
3. The Nothing from The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Though the Nothing is really a phenomenon that is happening to Fantastica, is still was a powerful source of fear for the main characters, Atreyu and Bastian. And it was creepy, because there was no getting away from it and it drove creatures insane by just looking into it. And, it had the best emissary in the world!

4. Tyler Durden from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Now, technically I dont know if you can count Tyler Durden as a villain, but I was routing for Project Mayhem the entire time. And I tote a lot of Tyler-isms in my life. There was a surprising amount of truth spoken by that character and yet, he is still the antagonistic force for the narrator.

5. The Joker, all his incarnations ever. Probably the best villain and hero relationship that has ever hit the page or the screen. The perfect juxtaposition of Jokers love of chaos and Batmans need for logic defines how heroes and villains are supposed to work together, their harmony are what make the stories good and tension-filled and keep us watching and turning the page.

There are so many more..."


To read the full post and the comments, click here.

And to discover more about Amanda and her writing, visit her on: AmandaArista

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Year of the Villain #3: “Tigana” & Brandin of Ygrath


Tis April 1 – but rather than April foolery, I shall continue the Year of the Villain with a closer look at the far-from black-and white narrative of Brandin of Ygrath, the primary antagonist in Guy Gravriel Kay’s Tigana.


To recap on the series-to-date, I kicked off with the pantheon of villains in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, then moved on to the first Earthsea trilogy of Ursula Le Guin.

In The Lord of the Rings, we largely encounter villains as an external force, with the fate of the world at stake. By contrast, the villainy of Earthsea frequently arises out of natural forces and works its will through the human frailties (i.e. internal forces) of the characters. 

Which brings us to post #3 and Returning to Tigana – where the keen-eyed among you may have noted that I introduced Brandin of Ygrath as an “antagonist” rather than villain. The distinction is deliberate, and also the reason why he, and Tigana, are the third case study (if you will) in this year’s exploration of villains in Fantasy fiction. (Although only some of them, I hasten to add!)

I don’t believe it’s a spoiler to outline why Brandin is the prime antagonist, since it’s set out early in the book. He is both the expansionist emperor of Ygrath and possibly the world’s most powerful wizard. Yet his armies suffer an unexpected defeat in Tigana, one that also results in the death of their commander, Brandin’s favourite son.

In revenge for his son’s death, Brandin sets out to annihilate Tigana completely, not only by defeating its armies and putting the populace to the sword, but by stripping all knowledge of the country’s name, culture, and history from everyone not born to Tigana. And even those born to Tigana that still live, cannot say their country’s name aloud or speak of it to others.

If the spell cannot be lifted before everyone born before Tigana’s defeat has died, then the last memory of their country will die with them. This obliteration is the vengeance that Brandin is determined to bring about, and which the story’s heroes are equally committed to undoing. 

So to the band of heroes (yes, they are a “band of brothers” in the spirit of last year’s post series J ) Brandin is the archvillain whose evil spell must be undone. What makes Tigana and Brandin interesting, is that Guy Gavriel Kay does not tell the story solely from the band-of-heroes’ perspective. Instead, he makes the antagonist real for us by means of another Tiganan, Dianora, who is a concubine in Brandin’s seraglio.

Dianora’s intention, in engineering her way into the seraglio, is to find a way to end Brandin and undo the spell. Instead, she falls in love with him and he with her, enabling readers to perceive Brandin as a person, as well as the story’s prime antagonist. Throughout, he remains deeply committed to the annihilation of Tigana in revenge for his son’s death. Nothing, including his deep love for Dianora, can sway him.

As readers, we understand Brandin’s s motivation and even feel empathy for it – but he and his obliteration spell remain the evil that must be overcome in order to restore Tigana and ensure its survival. 

This nuanced treatment raises the question as to whether Brandin’s an antihero, rather than a villain – but antiheroes, however flawed, save the day in the end. Whereas Brandin remains committed to his vengeance throughout, which means that for the story’s heroes, he remains the primary antagonist to be overcome.

The power of the storytelling, though, is that as readers, we find ourselves wanting the heroes to succeed, but also wanting Brandin (and Dianora) to somehow find a way through. Nothing, as I said at the outset, is black and white – but to find out what actually happens, and experience the nuances to all of that, you really must read the book. J

© Helen Lowe


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.



Previous “Year of the Villain” Posts:

January:      Ushering in 2024 -- & the Year of the Villain

February:    The Year of the Villain #1: The Lord of The Rings Pantheon

March: The Year of the Villain #2: Ursula Le Guin & “Earthsea”