Wednesday, May 16, 2018

People of the Sea

Salila, a Mar of uncanny beauty and brutality - image: pen and collage by Anna Campbel
When Helen Lowe blogged this month on Supernatural Beings in Fantasy: The Fey, I thought, what a wonderful idea. Inspired by her exploration of the Fey, this post focuses on another class of supernatural beings - The Merpeople, or people of the sea.

Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann's havfruen has much in common with the likes of Salila, the race of sea people appearing in my current novels.

Known through history as mermaids or mermen, melusines, sirens, Ved-Ava, water nymphs, nereids, these creatures are half human-half fish or dolphin/whale and live in the oceans, rivers, lakes and waterways. The symbolism is rich and fantastic, the subject of art, film and literature.

One of the earliest images of the merpeople is Ea, the Babylonian god of the sea. From him came the Greek god Posiden and later the Roman god Neptune, all male, powerful and half man-half fish or sea serpent. The first female image is the Syrian goddess Atargatis whose temple had large pools full of sacred fish. These ancient deities are linked to fertility, upheaval, the wealth of the Sea.


But Hans Christian Andersen brought the merpeople to the modern world with his tragic book about the young mermaid who falls for the human lad. It doesn't end well for either of them, though the Disney interpretation would have us think so.

Contemporary books featuring people of the sea, mermaid or otherwise, weigh in strong with hundreds of reads to choose from. Here are a few that I've enjoyed.



The 2017 film adapted from the novel by the same name - provocative, violent, horrific and alluring, a fitting interpretation of this being of land and water.


This book is a YA fantasy, powerfully written with provocative themes.


DS Murphy's enchanting story is the beginning of a series and probably could have been a longer more comprehensive read, but it's wonderful YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy none the less.




Urban Fantasy terrain both above and below the surface of the sea, my Ava Sykes series features Mar and human relationships, including the vivacious and hungry Salila and her unsuspecting love interests. The first book follows Ava's journey to discover the secrets of her past and the nature of the mysterious men in her life.

In my upcoming series, The Bone Throwers, the Mar play a vital role in the survival of the planet, on the brink of the next Great Dying. 

Here is a brief conversation between Ash, a young wordsmith and Kaylin, the sailor taking her to the Isle of Aku:

“What of your people, Ash? What stories do they tell in Baiseen?” 
I take a breath. “There is the idea that the Mar catch the sacrificed babies and free them from their chains. There have been sightings.”
“I’ve heard that too.” His fingers lift to play across my hand. 
I follow the movement, trying unsuccessfully to swallow a lump in my throat. 
“And what would a Mar do with the child?” Kaylin asks. “Once freed?”
“Some stories say they eat them.”

Do you have a favorite 'merpeople' story? I'd love to hear it in the comments!

***

Kim Falconer's latest release comes out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers, book one in the Amassia series, writing as A K Wilder. Find her new page on Facebook - AKWilder Author and on Twitter as AKWilder.

Her latest novel 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 visitAKWilder on FB and website.

Kim also runs GoodVibeAstrology.com 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, May 12, 2018

"Thornspell" Giveaway Result

.
The giveaway for a copy of Thornspell — offered as part of my post on Supernatural Beings In Fantasy: The Fey — has now been drawn and the winner is:

Chris Besier

Congratulations, Chris!

Thanks for entering the competition. I shall be emailing you directly. :-)

And thanks as always to all our wonderful Supernatural Underground readers and followers!

ALSO:

ICYMI, Merrie De Stefano's wonderful giveaway is still open — click Here to Read All About It and get the details.

Otherwise, until next month: read on!

~~~
.
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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Why Making An Outline Creeps Me Out

My latest release, SHADE: A RE-IMAGINING OF MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN

Some people do a great job using outlines to create masterful books. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. There’s something about making an outline that gives me the creeps. Seriously. I’ll actually get a panic attack when I attempt to outline. I’ll beg my friends to help me plot. I’ll clean the house. I’ll take my library books back. I’ll do anything else on my to-do list, except work on my outline.

Sometimes, if I absolutely have to, I can put together an outline. But then, when I sit down to write the book, I rarely follow the outline that took three panic attacks, four sleepless nights, and five phone calls to my closest writer friends to create.

On the other hand, I’m really good at doing character sketches. And figuring out my theme. And I almost always know both the beginning and the ending of my story. It took me a really long time to figure out that I’m more of a discovery writer or an intuitive writer than a writer who focuses on plot. When I’m in the midst of writing, I feel like I’m following a two-lane road through the wilderness, wearing a blindfold, and one of my hands is trailing along the raised pavement markers like braille, like they’ll tell me where I’m going. I’m a little bit lost, but I know I’ll get where I’m going. Eventually.


If I outline a story, I don’t want to write it. I already know all the secrets.

I like to write for the same reason I like to read—to learn new things about myself and the world around me. It might sound crazy (okay, it definitely sounds crazy!), but that’s what I love about writing. It can take me anywhere. It surprises me. It astonishes me. It scares me, it breaks my heart, it makes me cry. If I actually experience fear, sorrow, love, anguish and betrayal when I’m writing, then I know I’ve hit the heart of my story. I know I’m writing something that other people are going to like too.

Writing the first draft is how I find the heart of my story. Editing that draft is how I find the music. Sentence structure, paragraph structure, word choice and the rhythm of the words all work together to make a story that sings. I’m not happy with my work until it resonates, both emotionally and rhythmically.

There are a lot of people who use outlines and I secretly wish I were one of them. But if you’re a discovery writer, like me, then I hope you find a system that works for you and, please, don’t let other people tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Your way is the best way. And don’t stop writing, no matter how many drafts it takes, until your story resonates with you.

Also...I have a new book out. (YAY!) Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein released a couple of days ago.


It's the sort of book you should read in the daylight, since it's a bit scary. Here's a short blurb:

To the rest of the world, 1816 would be remembered as the summer when snow replaced rain and crops refused to grow and thousands died in their beds, hungry and cold.

To me, it would forever be remembered as the summer when our curse took shape and came down from the mountains, ready to devour us all.


Here's my latest 5-star review for this book: "This retelling is amazing and I couldn't hardly put it down. Beautifully written. Can't wait for the next installment."—Maria on Amazon.

SHADE is only .99 and you can purchase it here. Or you can purchase the entire series for only $3.97 here.



And stay tuned! The next installment in this series, DUSK, releases on May 30th! (The story gets even scarier in book 2!)

Also, I have a cool giveaway for you! Two winners will receive a $100 Amazon giftcards! (Imagine all the cool books you could buy!) The link to enter is here and all the info about the contest is there too. May the odds be in your favor and thanks for stopping by!




Novelist and magazine editor, Merrie Destefano writes dark stories with a thread of hope. She’s the editor of Victorian Homes magazine, Zombies magazine, and Haunted: Mysteries and Legends magazine. Her novels include Afterlife, Feast, Lost Girls, and Fathom and she’s been published by HarperCollins and Entangled Teen. Her latest release, Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, released on May 1st, and her next novel, Valiant, is scheduled to release in December, 2018. For more information, visit her website at www.merriedestefano.com.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pin all the motivational quotes!

2018 Year of the New: Accountabili-buddy



So last month in the Year of the New, I started a new way of plotting while in the brainstorming phase of a book with fancy post-its and file folders and I loved it. LOVE IT!

After my Write Better Faster class,  I found this to be a great way to get my squirrelly brain to focus on multiple plots lines at once so I wouldn't have to revise so much. I can still have a clear story in mind without plotting it to death and losing the excitement of letting the characters take me on their journey.

Turns out, when you see everything together, it all gels together. And the pacing, so much much better. I can see the soggy middle!

Now all I have to go is sit down and finish a book.
Easy-Peasy, right?


Ha. Ha. No.

Writing is really hard.

Its like having a hyperactive hamster on a wheel in your  brain that just had a Red Bull. So imagine having two of them: one that writes women's fiction and the other that writes paranormal mystery.

As I'm waiting on a revision letter from my agent, I'm in Women's Fiction mode and its hard because I just want to smite everyone with a spell and chop off their heads Queen of Hearts Style.





So I need some focus. I'd been hearing writers talk about accountability groups and how much they helped just knowing that someone was at a finish line with a bright yellow sign rooting for you. That you are also responsible for rooting on that other person as well. 

Turned out, a friend reached out to me and asked if I'd be willing to be her Accountabili-buddy.

So May will be the month of Accountability. And lets hope that the random factoid here is correct.

Here are my goals for May:

  • 20,000 additional words to this partially complete manuscript
  • Complete a synopsis with scene breakdown as I go (a great tool for AFTER the book is written)
  • First 50 pages ready to go to my beta readers. 


The plan is to check in with my Buddy at least once a week and to work on one of the above named things every day. If I run into a challenge, call/text her. If I fail miserably, have a convo about why I failed miserably and what I am going to do differently tomorrow.

So here I go, off into the Year of the New.

Wish me luck!

Amanda

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther Series
www.amandarista.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Supernatural Beings in Fantasy: The Fey

.
The Sleeping Beauty by John Collier
From fairytale, through folklore, to myth, supernatural beings are a cornerstone of Fantasy storytelling and the fey have always been one of favorites. As a very small child, I loved listening to a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that featured on a local radio station — and subsequently read all the fairytales I could find, particularly those with actual fairies or fey in them.
Some of the qualities associated with the fey that appealed to me included magic, otherness, mystery, power, and delight but also danger. These qualities are among those that also characterize the fey in Fantasy storytelling, such as Diana Wynne Jones' children's book Power of Three. Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pooks Hill and Rewards And Fairies are another, though older example — to a decidedly adult version featuring some of the same characters, in Raymond E Feist's dark-edged Faerie Tale.
The fey unquestionably have their place in adult storytelling. Author CJ Cherryh has a series of Fantasy novels centered on the Fey and folklore, some in analogs of this world, such as Rusalka and Chernevog, while the Ealdwold books are set in an essentially "other" world where the fey are closer in kind to Tokien's elves. The fey appear in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and Charles De Lint's Newford novels. In Stina Leicht's The Fey & the Fallen series, a darker and more brutal version of the fey are entwined with the Northern Irish Troubles.
.

Readers who are fans of fairytale retellings and YA lit. will know this is home turf for encountering the fey. Some examples I have enjoyed include Charles De Lint's The Blue Girl, Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Godmother books, which take a series of diverse fairytales and weave them into a contemporary story.

The fey take many forms, however, and Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races centers on the capall uisce, the vicious and maniacal water horses of Celtic legend.
All these stories are either urban fantasy or overlap our everyday world, but fey-centric tales and fairytale retellings can also take place in historical settings, such as Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing (the twelve Dancing Princesses retold in a Transylvanian setting.) Recently, Katherine Arden's The Bear and The Nightingale returns readers to the Russian setting of Rusalka and Chernevog, but with a  distinct historical cast.

My own Thornspell also has an historical setting in the early to mid-Renaissance period, with the events taking place in  a realm that is almost-but-not-quite the Holy Roman Empire. And Thornspell, of course, brings us full circle because it's a retelling of Sleeping Beauty: in this case, from the perspective of the prince who breaks the spell cast by the wicked fairy — who also features in the story. :-)
.

The giveaway has now closed. The result is posted Here

Giveaway!

 I've enjoyed reading all the books mentioned, but if you would like to check out Thornspell I have a copy to give away. To enter, leave a comment below the post with your contact details (so I can get in touch with the winner.) 

I'll make the draw on Saturday 12 May (using RANDOM) and will post the result here and in a fresh post at the top of the masthead, also on Saturday 12. 

(If the winner doesn't get in touch by Thursday 17, I'll redraw and again post the result here.)

Note: Neither I nor the Supernatural Underground will use your contact for any purpose except drawing this giveaway, unless your further permission is sought.

 ~~~
.
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, April 16, 2018

Nom de Plume

From the book by Lemony Snicket, nom de plume of Daniel Handler.
A nom de plume, Webster's dictionary tells us, is French for “pen name”; an invented name under which the author writes. They cite Mark Twain as the nom de plume of Samuel L. Clemens.

It's a good example, but I can think of others that make me smile. Lemony Snicket, for one. I mean, what a delightful name for a children's author.

Why use a nom de plume?

Reasons for a nom de plume very, but basically, it is to hide the identity of the author. Here's why: 

1. Parents

Dr. Seuss, born Theodore Geisel, chose Seuss (pronounced Zoice) as it was his mother's maiden name. He added the 'Dr.' because his father was so disappointed in him for dropping out of an Oxford PhD program in favor of writing children's books. 

1.  Gender bias

Being female had, and still can have, its limitations in the publishing industry. The solution is to adopt a male or androgynous pen name in the hopes of being successful. 

We see this in some of our most cherished SF/F books. Alice Mary Norton wrote under Andre Norton, Andrew North and Allen Weston. Alice Sheldon wrote under James Tiptree, Jr

Of course, one of the most celebrated authors in the world, Jane Austen, published anonymously all her life. Her name didn't appear on a single book until after she died.

2. Distinguishing genres

A name change can help distinguish writers who publish in different genres. Kim Wilkins, the wonderful Fantasy writer, publishes her historical fiction under Kimberly Freeman. Our own Nicole Murphy also writes romance under Elizebeth Dunk. 

2.  Humor

It seems some authors over the ages have enjoyed ridiculousness pen names for no other reason than humor. A fun example is William Makepeace Thackeray who wrote satire such as Vanity Fair. He chose hilarious nom de plumes like George Savage Fitz-Boodle, Théophile Wagstaff, and C.J. Yellowplush. 

4. Collaboration

When authors collaborate, they may choose a nom de plume as in the case of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. This is the pen name of Ilona and Andrew Gordon, a successful husband-and-wife team writing urban fantasy and romance.

5. $$$

The reasons to go with a pen name can be financial/sales. One of my publishers told me about a fantastic writer, Margaret Lindholm, whose books just weren't selling. They worked out a nom de plume -- Robin Hobb -- and her next series sold over a million copies. 


With a new YA Fantasy series coming out next year, I have chosen the nom de plume, AK Wilder
If I check my list above, reasons include #1 Parents - Wilder is a family name. #2, Genre distinction - even though all my books are SF/F, I feel good keeping the YA and Adult Fantasy separate. #3 Collaboration - the new series is co-written with my son. His first initial is A, I'm the K and well, we are both Wilders by blood. 

Have you any nom de plumes to share? I'd love to hear them.

***

Kim Falconer's latest release comes out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers, book one in the Amassia series, writing as A K Wilder. Find her new page on Facebook - AKWilder Author and on Twitter as AKWilder.

Her latest novel 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 visitAKWilder on FB and website.

Kim also runs GoodVibeAstrology.com 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. 




Monday, April 2, 2018

Leading Ladies: Seven Awesome & Epic Heroines

.
Epic Fantasy is often touted as the genre of world-saving-or-falling stories, grand campaigns, and larger-than-life adventures, where the leading character is the hero, whether farmboy or paladin, with a sword and a destiny.

But today I'm starring a few of the fabulous heroines that are not only leading ladies but also their story's lead protagonist, all of whom have rocked my reading world  – as well as giving a nod to a leading lady and central protagonist of my own. :)

A is for Aerin in Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown (YA)
Aerin is a classic epic heroine, an isolated and disregarded princess who teaches herself to slay dragons and master the magic of her people, and who is eventually called upon to save both people and kingdom from a demonic horde. And you can't get more epic than that!

A is also for Aidris in Cherry Wilder's A Princess of the Chameln (YA)
Aidris is also a princess, one who must flee for her life from her home and Chameln peoples and survive until she can return and reclaim her kingdom's double throne. A fascinating exploration of kingdoms, cultures, and with intriguing and mysterious magic. 

B is for Breyd in Roberta Gray's The Sword and The Lion
Some of you may better recall Roberta Gray as author Ru Emerson, but if you like your fantasy with overtones of Greek myth and legendary history then you'll enjoy this tale of Breyd, a commoner chosen by lot to bear the magic that may save her city from a ruthless invader (think Alexander the Great.) Breyd and her tale have never gotten the attention they probably deserve, but this is still a grand epic with some romance woven in.

G is for Gill in Katherine Kerr's Daggerspell
Gill is the only daughter of the famous mercenary warrior ('silver dagger') Cullen of Cerrmorr and grows up to carry the silver dagger herself as well as discovering that her destiny is to become a master of the magical dweomer. If you like your fantasy with a strong Celtic element, including time slip and multiple lives aspects, as well as adventure and romance thrown in, then you'll love Daggerspell and its sequels.

L is for Liath in Kate Elliot's The King's Dragon
Although there are other leading characters, Liath is still arguably the central protagonist in Kate Elliott's The King's Dragon, or sufficiently so, at any rate, to have  a place on this list. The orphaned daughter of a scholar, cast adrift in a dangerous and changing world, Liath must chart a course between war, politics, and magic to assert her place in the world. Plus her relationship with Sanglant adds romantic interest to a many-layered tale.

M is for Mara in Janny Wurts & Raymond E Feist's Daughter of the Empire
Orphaned in a single battle through an enemy House's treachery, Mara must assume leadership of her House and save it from annihilation through political and strategic acumen, personal self sacrifice and courage. If you like a young woman succeeding by her wits against almost overwhelming odds, in a fascinating and colorful world, then you'll love Mara.


M is also for Malian in The Heir of Night
In creating my own leading lady and lead protagonist in The Wall Of Night series, I feel honored to be adding to such a great tradition of clever, courageous, and resourceful heroines. Malian is also a leader who cuts a swathe through her world's grand campaigns and masters both magic and weapons' skills as well as knowing how to form alliances with others to achieve her ends. Nor is Malian alone: her tale includes a cast of supporting heroines, as well as heroes, all playing vital parts in the story.

Nor is this by any means all: names such as Tamora Pierce's Alanna (Junior), Marion Zimmer Bradley's Morgan, CJ Cherryh's Morgaine, and Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion also spring to mind not to mention other heroines penned by these authors.

But if you have other heroines that are lead protagonists to suggest, then please leave your recommendation in the comments. Because here on Supernatural Underground there's always room for MOAR! :)

~~~


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