Monday, October 16, 2017

Five Reasons Why YA

Mermaid's Secret by Michael Parkes
Show of hands, how many of you adult readers enjoy YA (Young Adult) books?


It surprised me to learn that over 55% of YA readers are over eighteen. Of that 55%, most are actually over thirty. There are good reasons for this, which I'll get to in a moment, but to start, you might like to watch a brief history of how the YA genre got started.

Epic Reads - A Brief History of Young Adult Books

Why Adults Love YA

#1 Rapid Pace

YA books are page turners. The genre is know for high readability, the unputdownable quality that keeps readers engaged, pages flying.

#2 Quality Control

YA books tend to have rigorous editing. Most published are immersive stories with powerful characters and plots. The personal, and global stakes are high, themes deep and complex.

#3 Addressing  Issues

No matter if the YA is contemporary, fiction, Dystopia, SF, Fantasy or Romance, you can bet the author won't shy away from issues of life, death, sex, drugs, gender, bullying, self-worth, suicide, rape, physical and mental health. For the most part, these topics are handled honestly, without judgment or ulterior motives (preaching).

#4 Emotions switched on

Most YA have some elements of romance, or awareness of feelings. The language tends to be visceral, allowing readers to feel what the characters are experiencing. Less "He felt scared," and more, "His heart pounded ..." Frequently, YA is written in the first person making the connection to the main character more intimate.

#5 Pushing the Edge

YA books can bend the rules of genre, formatting and POV (point of view). We see them embracing genre-crossovers like contemporary fantasy, SF thrillers, SF Fantasy, LGBT Historical, you name it. There are also YA books coming out in verse, diaries, social media instant messaging. I'm reading a YA series right now with multiple point of view characters. The main protagonist is in the first person: "I woke up with a knife to my throat." All other POVs are in the third person: "He waited for the right moment to speak."

There are other perks to YA, including the price. Most YA books are priced below their Adult fiction cousins.

How about you? Are you reading YA for any of the above reasons, or perhaps ones outside the box.

Is it something you feel a little awkward about in public, or is that stigma finally dead? With the number of adults reading YA, I certainly hope so!


Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel.

Learn more about Kim on Facebook and chat with her on Twitter. Check out her pen name, @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visit AKWilder on FB and website.

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

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month, hosts Save the Day Writer's Community on FB and posts a daily astrology weather report on Facebook. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

And We Have A Winner — for Julie E Czerneda's #AgainstTheDark Giveaway (#1)

Today is the day we announce the winner of the Supernatural Underground giveaway for Julie E Czerneda's blog tour — whom we've just loved having as our guest here on the SU!

And thank you all for joining in the fun with a comment. :-)

To remind you, the giveaway (#1) is:

(i)  a hardcover copy of Julie's new-out To Guard Against The Dark and
(ii) a mass-market paperback of This Gulf of Time and Stars.

And now, as promised, we have the draw result — and the winner is [pauses to blow vuvuzela]:


Congratulations Jueles!

We’ll be emailing you directly, too, but at need you can also get in contact via Helen Lowe on her webmail: contact[at]helenlowe[dot]info


For the tour-wide giveaway for all nine “Clan Chronicles” novels(!), click on the following link to check for a result:

Thanks again for participating!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cover Reveal ~ FIRE & BONE

There's nothing quite as exciting (and nerve-wracking) for an author, once your book is in the hands of a publisher, than waiting to see the shiny artwork going on your baby book. I'm not quite sure I'll ever get used to the feeling!

Today, I get to show the world the face of my next adventure...

In just a sec...that's not it.

This new series I've been embarking on is full of magic and mayhem of the Celtic variety. It takes place in the past and the present, and has a strong theme of forbidden faerie tale romance with an urban setting. I wasn't sure how this book was going to turn out—let alone the cover.

Here's the basics from the back cover...

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.
Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.
As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing's for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.

You can even read the first two chapters if that sounds interesting! ;)




And at last . . .

The full pretty-pretty...

There's a giveaway to win a $20 Amazon GC and a paperback ARC or FIRE & BONE. You can throw your hat in the ring for that here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


And for an extra exciting treat, just in time for Halloween, I MUST share these new releases from Merrie Destefano, a fellow SU author (And can I just say, they are soooooo yummy!):



And for a little more fun...


Friday, October 6, 2017

"So, When’s the Movie?" A Guest Post from Julie E. Czerneda — Plus Two Giveways!

Photo Credit— Roger Czerneda Photography
Giveaway Result! The draw for giveaway #1 has now been made and the result posted. Click on the following link for all details:

And We Have a Winner — for Julie Czerneda's #AgainstTheDark Giveaway #1

Thank you to everyone who participated.


Today, we're thrilled to welcome award-winning Canadian author, Julie E. Czerneda, to the Supernatural Underground.

Guest Post Goodness:
Julie is currently on a Blog Tour to celebrate publication of To Guard Against The Dark, the ninth and final novel in her very successful the Clan Chronicles series. Naturally we're delighted she's made the SU a stop in what is a very busy schedule.

Two Giveaways of Awesome!
Nine books is quite an achievement—plus promising hours of reading pleasure!—so Julie and her publisher, DAW, are celebrating with not one but TWO awesome giveaways. Details for both are following the post—and there's also more great information on Julie herself, and the series.

Right now, though, let's read-on because if you love insights into the writing life, you'll love this post!

So, When’s the Movie?

Yup. The go-to question from those who sincerely want to know if you’re any good.

Clan Chronicles #1
I think it’s safe to say few other professions face that one. Authors? We hear it regularly. At gatherings of family or friends. The dentist. In the grocery store. I’d go on, but you get my drift. It’s a question posed by those who don’t know the business of writing, but who do know where science fiction and fantasy goes to be successful. On screen.

Which brings up a more—useful—question.

How do we know if we’re any good? Movie deals aside.*

Creative people are like that, you realize. Prone to wondering. Doubt. We can, of course, think we’re pretty good, which, if you’re Canadian too, comes wrapped up in our national twitch of: don’t tell anyone! But then the whisper in the mind starts…are we…really?

Meaning, like anyone else, we look outside ourselves. Fortunately, society does provide one easily understood mark of success: being paid for what you do, so you can do what you do without starving.

Most of the time. Talk to me about the 101 ways to prepare zucchini. Better yet, buy me lunch—not zucchini, however. (Honestly, authors/artists. We do appreciate food. It’s primal.)

Clan Chronicles #6
For those of us who write books, having people buy those books pays for meals, children’s footwear, hockey equipment, a roof (Canadian, that’s my list). It also, incestuously, lets us buy other authors’ books. There are so many GOOD authors out there! We know what’s good when we read it, in others, and willingly admit it. Remember that for later. 

Whether published traditionally or via self-publishing, the number of books sold is the bottom-line. There’s more. Bestseller lists. Is your book in stores and warehouses? Airports? In catalogues. Other languages. Are you pirated online—which is a bizarre compliment until you start doing more math about starving. There’s as many ways to check your numbers as there are stars above, and, to be frank, to obsess over them is as helpful as arguing with our star as winter approaches your hemisphere.

Clan Chronicles #3

Nor, for me, are number of readers a useful measure of “am I any good.” The reasons a book may or may not catch these readers’ eyes and hearts and not those are beyond my control. We—my publisher, booksellers, and I—do our best, including tours like this, to put my books out there. (Though if you buy me a beer with that lunch, I’ll tell you my Walmart story of marketing woe.)

Don’t get me wrong. Sending my manuscript out into the world provided immense validation. I’d finished something, for starters. And finally someone read my stuff! Go ahead and gasp. I didn’t know any better. My first readers were the people, editors, who could decide to buy it or not.

To decide, if for their purposes, it was any good.

The emphasis is important because I’d one advantage. I was an editor myself and knew my story being bought, or not, wasn’t All About Me. (Except for the wee whine inside my head, but I ignored it, most of the time.)

My first book, A Thousand Words for Stranger, spend a few years with a trio of editors who did like it, very much, but their publisher didn’t. It whooshed in a day across the desk of another editor, at another publisher, who quite loved it, but had bought something similar that very day. See? For their purpose. Timing is all.

I was told, repeatedly, DAW was where I belonged.

Now the problem with not knowing if you are any good (at this writing thing) is that self-doubt—even rational-seeming caution—can deflect you into wasting time and effort. DAW published the authors I loved. Why would I try there? I wasn’t yet worthy! (Something I mentioned in an earlier post, so lesson maybe learned?)

Which in hindsight cost a decade of my time, since DAW, in the person of Hugo award-winning editor Sheila E. Gilbert, indeed thought I was good and why hadn’t I come to them first? Surely I’d noticed they liked what I liked.

It never ends, by the way. In moments of personal doubt I’ll email Sheila to ask is she SURE my latest book is good? and she provides a virtual pat on my head—or thump—because why wouldn’t it be? That’s our relationship.

While vastly reassuring before a book launch, this isn’t, however, how I answer the real question: am I any good?

No, this isn’t how my yard
looks at present. Still fall

Awards? Are very nice, believe me. (THE PRECIOUS!) As marks of achievement, they’re damned fine proof a story worked for a sufficient number of wonderfully motivated-to-vote individuals to be noticed. Thanks!

The problem with awards as a measure is they come after the work. After the hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years of work—work you do alone. You bake muffins, you know in under 30 minutes if they’re edible. See what I mean? Writers and other artists face an inescapable period of time during which only they can judge if they’re getting it right, or not, while they start “baking” the next long before they do.

What comes very close to a useful measure of “am I any good” are those readers who contact me, privately and while I’m mid-book, to tell me how much my writing has meant to them. Thank you. That’s—that’s remarkable and a treasure and yes, that’s almost all I need.


As in not quite. To accomplish a steady word count, to stay deeply focused on the plot as I must be, to keep doing this? I can’t pause to seek external reassurance. There’s no time. No head space. And, to be frank, no point. I must have confidence in my abilities. In what I do.

Clan Chronicles #8
So here’s the thing. What lets me jump into the next project, and plan for the next, and keep the buzz of excited hope I’ll be doing this for years to come—right, Sheila? It’s what I’ve done from the start. From the very start. From the first time I put words to paper at ten years of age, right through to now and tomorrow.

It’s an intimate, hard to share, even harder to admit to you feeling. (Remember, Canadian.)

A feeling. That’s all.

At some unpredictable moment I’ll be writing and it happens.

I’ll read over what I just wrote, sometimes through tears.

Because it’s good enough, for me.

~ Julie E. Czerneda


*The movie? As of now, I’ve no idea if or when any of my works will appear on screen, but I’d love to see it too. Thanks for asking.


About Julie E. Czerneda

For twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s also written fantasy, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, two Aurora winners, the latest being SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Next out will be an anthology of original stories set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis, out in 2018. Her new SF novel, finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, lands in stores October 2017. When not jumping between wonderful blogs, Julie’s at work on something very special: her highly anticipated new Esen novel, Search Image (Fall 2018). Visit for more.

Cover art by Matthew Stawicki

About the "Clan Chronicles" Series

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future where a mutual Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, himself a talented telepath, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification concludes the series, answering these question at last. Who are the Clan?

And what will be the fate of all?


Be In To Win with Two x #AgainstTheDark Giveaways!

Giveaway #1: (US & Canada Readers Only)

Win Julie's latest book, To Guard Against the Dark, in hardcover,  plus a mass market of This Gulf of Time and Stars. 

i) How to Enter: Leave a comment with your details below. Entries will close at midnight on Friday 13 October (EST.)

ii) Notification: The draw will be made and the result posted here on Saturday 14 October.  if the prize is not claimed by midnight Tuesday 17
October,  it will be redrawn and renotified on Wednesday 18 October.

Note: All times are US EST.

iii) Terms:  The books will be supplied by DAW.

Giveaway #2

This is a fabulous tour-wide opportunity to win all nine “Clan Chronicles” novels!

To enter, click on the following link and follow the entry instructions there:


Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

EDC- Every Day Carry: Writerly Addition

Every Day Carry- The Writers addition

The Things I Carry.

So I went to New Orleans recently and visited The National WWII Museum. You have to go. I have never been to a museum that was so geared toward storytelling and it gave me goosebumps. Go visit. You'll thank me later.

As standard museums do, there was a lot of mention of daily carry: usual mess kits, guns, ammunition, cribbage sets, and papers for letters to sweethearts (seriously- those guys knew how to say I love it and it was swoon-worthy).

My Hubby joked that my writer tote probably weight as much as their ruck sacks. So we weight it. And it wasn't quite there, but it was enough to get me thinking- If I mentally carry books and ideas and friends, what do I physically carry with me.

So here is my Every Day Carry as a Writer:

1). Computer- I schlep my Macbook with me everywhere. I might actually die without it, so I'm never going to take that risk. Not pictured here as I am currently writing on it.

2). Notebooks- Even though I take the computer everywhere like a second child
, there are always things that need to be drawn or diagramed. I am very aware that I process different information in different ways through different mediums. Today, its only one notebook. Sometimes, if I'm really getting into it, its three. And a plotting book. And poster board.

3). Post-its- I got this little case from a conference and have never left home without it. Funny thing, the post-its go on my computer and my notebook. And my everyday post-it carry varies from the regular to the 4x3 size in bright pink.

4). Pens- At any given time, I have enough pens to sink a ship. And in varying thickness and styles. You never know when you might need to draw a rainbow or what kind of surface you will need to draw it on.

5). Small first aid kit- I'm super klutzy and always prone to allergy attacks, bug bites and blisters. This is why I don't go outside often.

6). Current book- Right now I'm on a Dresden kick. Next, I'm rereading some Alice Hoffman. I can do e-books, but I still like a paperback to carry around with me.

7). Boring stuff- wallet, keys, TONS of hair ties, my work badge (Doctor Who, of course).

8) Coffee- Probably more vital than the keys. I always have a coffee cup with a few instant coffee bags with me. Sometimes, I even have a creamer and sugar packet just in case I end up someplace shady without coffee accessories. Current favorite- Einstein Bros Bagels. Feel free to send me a few dozen of these!

9). Phone- This I couldn't live without, but it does live in my purse. You never know when you'll need to look up something, or need to take a picture of a cute guy, or need to listen to just the right song to get a scene going again.

So there you have it, the list of my EDC. Yes, I will probably have back problems when I get older, but each piece helps me process my life of being a writer and prepares me, because you really never know when your muse is going to strike!

Until next time, carry on.

Amanda Arista

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eat, Drink, Magic: Fun With Food in Fantasy Fiction

From Persephone's consumption the fatal pomegranate, which meant she had to spend six months of every year in the Underworld, to Snow White and the poisoned apple, or Hansel and Gretel and the Gingerbread House, food plays a vital part in myth, folklore, and fairytales – just as it does in real life.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, food also has its part of play in the Fantasy novel, covering the whole gamut from temptation, celebration, and simple sustenance.

The White Witch tempts Edmund with Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. And the Elvish waybread (lembas) in The Lord of the Rings is essential for sustenance on the great quest-journey to destroy the ring. The return of students to Hogwarts in Harry Potter is always marked by a feast, while the Honeydukes sweet shop in Hogsmeade is an essential destination for the aspiring students of wizardry...

Food can also play an important part in Fantasy worldbuilding. For example, the unwholesomeness of the Turkish Delight, which makes Edmund feel sick even as he longs for more, is contrasted with the hearty fare of the beavers' house – fresh-caught trout with potatoes and butter, followed by a "great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll." Hungry yet?

In my own The Gathering of The Lost (The Wall of Night #2), seasonality is an important part of the worldbuilding and food one of the contributing elements, from the "spice bread and sweet pastries" made for Summer's Eve, through to the fresh cherries associated with the Midsummer Festival.
Food can ground the action, too, like the pie a ravenous character (Carick) eats after having been on the run for days on end:

"The pastry was stale, but he devoured it in ravenous mouthfuls and wondered if he would ever again, in the life that had been returned to him, eat anything that tasted even half as good."

Sometimes, though, food is not just a supporting element for worldbuilding or to ground the story: sometimes it takes center stage, as in Robin McKinley's Sunshine.
The main character, Rae (aka Sunshine), is a baker and her baker's routine, including the early hours, and the food she cooks are essential to the story. Muffins definitely star! Similarly, in Joanne Harris's magic-realism novel, Chocolat, the chocolate and its magic are the heart of the tale.

And everyone who deals with the fairies and the fay knows one must not eat or drink anything offered in a fairy hill, lest one suffers the fate of Persephone or Tam Lin. 
This prohibition comes up in Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels when Mercy is required to enter Fairyland; similarly in Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May when Gwalchmai (Gawain) enters the realm of the Fey.  And it's definitely a theme of Raymond E Feist's classic Faerie Tale.
These are just a few examples that spring to my mind – but how about you? Got any favorite foodie reads in your Fantasy lineup?

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) is her most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we

Monday, September 25, 2017

Happening Soon: A Guest Post From Julie Czerneda — Plus Two Giveways!

Julie Czerneda; Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography
On October 6, the Supernatural Underground is delighted to be welcoming award-winning speculative fiction author, Julie Czerneda, with a guest post and giveaway.

Julie is touring to celebrate the publication of To Guard Against The Dark (DAW), the final novel in her acclaimed The Clan series — and to add to the blog tour fun there will be not just ONE, but TWO giveaways!

Giveaway #1 will comprise 1 x set (only) of Julie’s preceding The Clan novel, This Gulf of Time and Stars (mass market edition) together with To Guard Against The Dark (newly out in hard cover.)

Giveaway #2 will give Supernatural Underground followers the opportunity to win the entire nine-book The Clan series!

We think that's giveaway goodness galore — so save the date for October 6 to check out Julie's guest post and enter the giveaways.

See y'all on the 6th!

About Julie Czerneda:

For twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. With seventeen (and counting) novels and numerous short stories in print, she’s also written acclaimed fantasy. Her Night’s Edge series (DAW) began with A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel. A Play of Shadow followed, winning the 2015 Aurora. Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, including the Aurora-winning Space Inc. and Under Cover of Darkness. Her most recent anthology is the 2017 Nebula Award Showcase, to be published May 2017. 2017 will also see the completion of Julie’s Clan Chronicles, with the conclusion, To Guard Against the Dark, in stores October 2017. To find out more about Julie and her writing, please visit

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Editing - AKA Putting Out

Inara Serra from Joss Whedon's Fierfly - Cosplay 

Yep, I'm putting out.

No, it's not quite as much fun as it sounds.

In this case, putting out is Latin for the word editing. If you don't believe me, here it is from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

edit (v.) 
    ...  from Latin editus, past participle of edere "give out, put out, publish". Meaning "to supervise for publication" is from 1793. Meaning "make revisions to a manuscript, etc.," is from 1885. Related: Edited; editing. As a noun, by 1960, "an act of editing."

What is it like for an author and editor as they whip a manuscript into shape? Start with working 24/7 to meet a crazy-ass publication deadline that gets closer every day. Think LONG hours, but that's okay due to the insomnia, challenged ego, insane research for justifications and/or corrections, cancelled dates, meetings, hook-ups, anything that requires cooking, dishes or the care and feeding of pets and children.

My editor Tera Cuskaden from Entangled Teen
Time off? Forget about it! Not until the deadline is met.

You're life goes on hold. Your day job stops dead. You might as well have been abducted by aliens for the duration, as far as connecting outside your mind is concerned.

Except for your editor.

They become the only other human on the planet that matters.

The process is so unnatural, there are special workshops and therapy available to help recover from it. A quick google will also produce lists of ways to cope while 'it's happening.'

You might ask, if it's so arduous, and the book's already written, why even bother to have an editor?

Let me pop that quiff right now.

No book will ever be as strong, clean, professional, emotive, driving and awe inspiring as it could be, if you don't have a good editor. They not only help with continuity of characters an plot, they eliminate repetition and increase edge, banish confusion and amp up heart. In other words, they make the book, and the writer, the best they can possibly be.

To prove it, here is a note from my editor Tera Cuskaden that will help avoid confusion, right fromd Chapter 1 of Ascension - the Amassia Series.

Click to expand
One down; 100,000 words to go. Deadline: October 1, 2017.

Oh, and FIY, this new series is YA Fantasy, distinct from my SFF,  Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, so I'm writing under the nom de plum A K Wilder.

I can't wait to show you more.


Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

Learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter. Check @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visit where she teaches law of attraction and astrology.

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astrology Weather Report on Facebook.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Supernatural Underground News

It's almost the equinox, so that seems like a great time to catch up on Supernatural Underground news!

The Heir Of Night is Just .99c Now (USA Only)

First off the blocks, Helen Lowe's multi-award-winning The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night, Book One) is a Kindle Monthly Deal all September!

This is a book recommended by Juliet Marillier, Robin Hobb, and Nebula Award-winner, Catherine Asaro  so if you haven't read it already, now could be your chance. And if you have, The Heir of Night could make a great gift for the Fantasy lover in your life!

You can check it out right here:

E-book of The Heir of Night — 0.99c on Amazon for September

It's not alone either, some other great 0.99c specials include Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, Kelley Armstrong's The Gathering, and Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Cover Art Lead-In For Kim Falconer's New Series  Ascension (Working Title)

Kim tells us   

"Even though my release date for the new, Young Adult Fantasy series, Ascension (working title), is 12 months off, my publisher at Entangled Teen has sent me the ‘cover art’ form. 

It’s extensive, asking about the mood, themes and sub-sub-sub genres the book might be linked to, all the way to character studies and specific references. There’s a section to put links to cover art mood boards, like the one I’ve been making on Pinterest -

And, I’m asked to include an extensive list of covers I like and why, what elements grab me. What don’t.

Also, they ask what I don’t want on the cover. I said, “No unicorns or pole dancers.”

We should be safe, given there are neither unicorns or pole dancers in the story, but believe it or not, this happened to Karen Miller, an author friend of mine. She sold rights to her fantasy series (I think it was The Riven Kingdom) to Russia and, you guessed it, they put both a unicorn AND a pole dancer on the cover. No, the story wasn’t remotely about either...

Which leads to the purpose of the cover  to intrigue the shopper to pick up the book, read the blurb and buy it! 

Meanwhile, I am immersed in cover art, and loving it. There are so many beautiful books out there!"

Great news, Kim. Here at Supernatural Underground HQ we're looking forward to the Ascension series  and we're sure the cover will rock!

Stina Leicht's Blackthorne (The Malorum Gates) Is Out!

Stina Leicht's Blackthorne  a Flintlock Fantasy   was published on 8 August and already has a fab review from reviewer Kelly Anderson on B&N's SciFi & Fantasy Blog:

"...nail-biting thrills of the hunt—when the prey is human lives, and the stakes are extinction... I definitely want to find out what happens next, and you will too."
It sounds like a great read so if you want to to curl up with some Flintlock Fantasy, Stina's series could be just what you're looking for  although the first in the series is Cold Iron.

You can read the full review here:

Blackthorne Deepens A Fascinating Flintlock Fantasy World 


And that's our Supernatural Underground round-up for now, but we'll be back with moar as it comes to hand!

Friday, September 1, 2017

"In Appreciation: Building on the Past and Helen Lowe’s The Wall of Night Series" — A Guest Post By Paul Weimer

"Helen Lowe’s The Wall of Night series stands as a formidable entry in the realm of epic fantasy

At three volumes in (The Heir of Night, The Gathering of the Lost, and Daughter of Blood with the fourth and final novel currently in progress) the series epitomizes what I think of as part of a Fourth Era of Epic Fantasy. 

Like geologic layers, the eras of Epic Fantasy build and layer on each other: sometimes new works in the older traditions coming to the surface; other times, the weight and pressure of newer iterations of fantasy pressing down on those layers and letting them be seen in new contexts. There are many ways to order something as unclear as the history of an entire literary subgenre. However, if you will indulge me, I will use a geologic template to break the history of epic fantasy into five periods.

The First Era of Epic Fantasy

The pre-geologic era, our first era, is the period before there was a defined class of literature called epic fantasy. That is to say that there was no defined subgenre of fantasy and science fiction that one could point to, or ask for, that was called epic fantasy. A time traveler to that era, going to the bookstore or a library or even a SF convention would just confuse people by asking for "epic fantasy. 

This is not to say that there weren’t the progenitors of epic fantasy being written. Yes, this is the era of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Those works would help set the stage for the later ages of Epic Fantasy and provide models for The First Era. 

Besides Tolkien, however, there were plenty of other novels reaching toward Epic Fantasy. Fletcher Pratt’s The Well of the Unicorn and Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions, among others, were singular voices reaching toward a subgenre we might consider epic. The stories of C.L. Moore, and Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser, although more properly classified as Sword and Sorcery, still had an enormous influence on later writers and books. By the 1970’s the stage was set for a subgenre to emerge, once writers could take this critical mass of pre-geologic work and use it as a foundation. 

The First Era of Epic Fantasy, then, starts in the 1970’s with Terry Brook’s Shannara novels, Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant, and the other novels of that first wave of works inspired by Tolkien. This era was an era of codification of the protocols, as they saw them, and established many of the things taken for granted in later eras as absolutely fundamental to Epic Fantasy. Worlds of various nonhuman races.  The idea of a company of companions fighting a dark evil. Various archetypes of those companions the elderly wizard, the young protege, the farmboy who finds out that he has secret power. (You may notice that Star Wars took this template, too, and ran with it in an Outer Space direction). The idea of having a map in the front of the book. The trilogy format, since Lord of the Rings was a trilogy.  

In some cases, these novels were direct pastiches of Tolkiens’ plot and ideas, or first-order reactions to it. However, the idea of a subgenre of novels that filled an epic fantasy space was established. 

The Second Era
The Second Era came in the later 1980’s. The first layers of Epic Fantasy had been laid down, and now two forces came to play for the first time. The first is the influence of the role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. In this era, it was Dungeons and Dragons itself that produced the fiction, in tie-in works such as The Dragonlance Chronicles that used the fantasy worlds of the game to tell epic fantasy stories. 
It would be Dungeons and Dragons, too, that would nurture Sword and Sorcery as Epic Fantasy continued its ascent only to unleash it back onto the world in the next era as players, such as Scott Lynch and Jen Williams, became authors themselves.
The other major development in the Second Era was a sociological one. Women authors started to become prominent in writing Epic Fantasy. There had been forebears for women writing in the space all the way back to C.L. Moore with Jirel of Joiry, but now, authors like Judith Tarr, Robin Hobb, Jennifer Roberson, Mercedes Lackey and Margaret Weis, among many others, really had their voices enter the community. The Six Duchies, the Cheysuli, Valdemar, and many more took their place in the Epic Fantasy canon.

In a very real way, too, this explosion of Epic Fantasy began shifting the longtime balance of speculative fiction away from Science Fiction and toward Fantasy for the first time.

The Third Era 

The Third Era, the Grimdark era, begins in the later 1990’s with A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, and King’s Dragon, by Kate Elliott. The mood in fantasy had changed from the bright colors of the epic fantasy of Good and Evil that was a strong note in the first three eras. Now, more complicated characters, situations, and morally ambiguous situations were the rule of the day. 

Worlds where there were fewer heroes gave the palette of Epic Fantasy a grimmer feel. While Thomas Covenant had been a singleton of the unlikeable protagonist back in the '70’s, now, novels with anti-heroes or at best, grey people forced into fighting greater evils were the dominant narratives on bookstore shelves. 

At the same time, Grimdark caused a questioning of some of the narratives of epic fantasy, and also provided space and opportunity for stories of ordinary people caught up in epic events people as messy and complicated as the ones who walk around the world today. 

The Fourth Era and Helen Lowe's The Wall Of Night

The Fourth Era, the Cenozoic of my epic fantasy geologic timeline
the era we are currently in is the era in which The Wall of Night series is a leading light.

The relentless grimness of the Grimdark movement has receded, although many books continue to be written in that tradition. The Wall of Night series embodies what is to be found in this new era, as well as what has been brought forward from previous periods.

The basic epic fantasy chassis developed over the previous eras is here: A young protagonist, a woman, the heir to power, but with real doubts and real growing up to do. A quest to stop a previously thought-to-be-contained evil from overwhelming the world – and the "thin red line" of the people known as the Derai. A complicated, complex and richly drawn fantasy world that rewards a deep dive. A strong inner life for the characters. 

And with all that, Lowe brings forward the concerns and richness of this new era. Even stronger roles and positions for female characters, reflecting both the real history of our world, and providing role models and characters for readers of all types to admire. A reaching out beyond The Great Wall of Europe for ideas and models for cultures, characters and worlds. Diversity, not for the sake of diversity, but for the richness of escaping the monoculture too frequently found in earlier eras of Epic Fantasy. 

The Wall of Night series by Helen Lowe does all of this, carrying the banner and helping lead the way into this new era of Epic Fantasy. It never forgets where it came from, but it also strides forward. 

As a representation of the current trends of Epic Fantasy alone, then, The Wall of Night series by Helen Lowe is well worth your time. Anyone vaguely interested in the history and trends of Epic Fantasy should read it. 

As an experience of reading however, it is far more than just an intellectual exercise. Instead, The Wall Of Night comprises a deep and rich vein of fantasy fiction that rewards its readers with the egalitarian characterization, in particular, that brings the Epic Fantasy template to modern sensibilities, without sacrificing the underlying strengths of previous eras."

by Paul Weimer


Paul Weimer is a writer, gamer, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and ubiquitous genre enthusiast. Paul was a regular contributor to the former (and much missed) SF Signal and is currently part of the Skiffy and Fanty Show team. Recently, his articles have also appeared on and the B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog.

To find out more, check out Paul's Blog, Jvstin Style or follow him on Twitter: @princejvstin

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