Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Introducing The Necromancer's Return

Hey, kids, guess what's coming out soon! That's right, the sequel to The Graveyard Girl! I'm pleased to announce the impending release of The Necromancer's Return, not only because it continues Rose's story, but because it was immensely fun to write, and I think it's my best book yet. I can't wait to share it with everybody! Here's the blurb:

Rose has sworn off necromancy until a college statistics assignment sends her to a graveyard. Her entire grade depends on the assignment, so she uses her magic to convince the slackers in her group to help. When her powers don't work like they should, Rose discovers that there's another necromancer in Albuquerque whose inexperienced magic is affecting hers. Worse, she discovers there's a being called the Phantom who is devouring spirits and gunning for her and her powers. As if statistics isn't hard enough already, Rose has to track down this other necromancer and keep herself and her family safe from the Phantom.

Stay tuned for news on the release!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Introducing "Blood Chimera" by Jenn Lyons

I catch myself gushing often about my publisher, World Weaver Press, because they put out some really wonderful books. Their latest release is Blood Chimera by Jenn Lyons. The cover is just spot-on, and the blurb leaves me dying to read it. Speaking of blurbs...

Some ransoms aren’t meant to be paid. Kidnap and Ransom negotiation used to be straightforward. The bad guys kidnap someone, and K&R expert Jackson Pastor negotiates their release, skillfully traversing a maze of bloodthirsty monsters: criminals, terrorists, police, and especially the FBI. But that was before he met real bloodthirsty monsters.

When Jackson Pastor arrives in Los Angeles to help a new client recover his kidnapped wife, he finds himself dropped in the middle of a 500-year-old war between rival European and Mexican vampire clans, a conflict that threatens to escalate into a full-on public gang war. Worse, Jackson hasn’t been brought to Los Angeles to be a negotiator. His new boss wants to turn him into an assassin. With Jackson about to be caught in the middle of a clan war, his only hope of escape may lie with a secret FBI monster-hunting task-force led by a very dangerous, eccentric wizard. Which could be a problem, since Jackson’s a monster himself.

And here's a sample from Blood Chimera:

“How are you feeling, Mr. Pastor?”

I looked down at myself. I seemed to be hale and hearty enough, with all the right number of limbs in all the right places. My ribs didn’t ache when I breathed and my arm wasn’t swollen. I felt great, but I looked ready to play one of the walking dead. “Like I need a bath,” I told him. “And clothes would be nice.” There’s nothing quite like being naked and filthy in front of a lot of people who aren’t, to make you all self-conscious about it.

He nodded. “You’ve looked better.”

“Why do you have me in a cage?” I shook my head. “What happened?”

“I would think the reasons for the cage would be obvious. You don’t remember?”

“No, of course I don’t remember. I was Tez’s prisoner and then--” I looked over at the carcass in the corner. I swallowed. “Who did that?”

“You did.” Darius said as he took a swig of his beer. “You also wrecked one of my vans.” He pointed to an unmarked black van over in the garage area. The back doors were hanging awkwardly and the metal was twisted. Great gouges had been raked into the door and sides as if something had tried to smash its way out with some kind of very sharp ram.

I blinked at that. “That--that couldn’t have been me. I didn’t--”

“Oh, you very much did. We had a hell of a time getting you back here. We were lucky you were stunned by the explosions, and even luckier that we had tranq darts. That--” he pointed to the rotting, fly-infested pile of flesh using the long black feather. “--used to be a pair of goats. Juan thought you might revert if we fed you something. As it happens, he was right.”

I felt sick to my stomach, and, although I certainly wasn’t going to mention it to Darius, a bit peckish.

Goat wasn’t as filling as human.

***

Blood Chimera is available in trade paperback and ebook via Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo.com, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram. You can also find Blood Chimera on Goodreads.

***

Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats and a lot of opinions on anything from Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be found debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bubonicon 2014 Report

Another Bubonicon has come and gone. This year the con was relatively quiet, probably mostly due to George R. R. Martin not being there. Since he's a local author, he's usually in attendance. Last year, the line for his signing was as long as the line for every other author combined. He might kind of be a big deal.

At any rate, I found some lovely artwork from Elizabeth Legget. Her work is fantastic, and I feel very fortunate to have picked up the piece I did. Her work has appeared in Lightspeed and in Women Destroy Science Fiction.

I went to a few good panels, including one given by Connie Willis on where she gets her ideas. It's a question every writer gets (and often) and it's actually one of the hardest questions for a writer to answer. Ideas come from everywhere, and they get all mashed up in our brains, and they eventually come out in a story filled with characters, plot, conflict, etc. It's a mysterious process (cue eerie music). She talked about one of her stories, "Even the Queen," and how multiple ideas converged into its creation.

I went to another panel in which the SFWA president, Steven Gould, gave a demonstration of Japanese swords. All I can say is… don't mess with the guy if there's a sharp object around.

Another panel, given primarily by Robert Vardeman, offered a lot of great information on self publishing. This link essentially has all the same information he gave at the panel.

I went to a couple of other panels, one on horror and one on YA dystopias. At the horror panel I discovered that an inordinately large number of people fear centipedes. The YA panel presented some good theories as to why there are so many YA dystopias right now, and why the pendulum might eventually swing back the other way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guest Post From The Contributors of Fae

I have some lovely guests on the blog today. I'd like to welcome several of the contributors to the anthology Fae, recently put out by World Weaver Press. Without further ado….

Laura VanArendonk Baugh author of “And Only the Eyes of Children”

Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)

Ooh, a fun question! I’m not sure I can say she’s my favorite, because I don’t think I like her, but I’m fascinated by Jim Butcher’s take on Queen Mab in The Dresden Files. And of course I’m not alone in thinking of Disney’s Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty as an iconic and delightfully scary fairy.

What is your favourite type of fairy, and why?

If I may go back to the Japanese youkai, Eastern fae, there are a lot of fun creatures from which to choose, and most are so very different from our own fairies. (An enormous disembodied foot which falls through your ceiling in the middle of the night and demands to be washed? A friendly household spirit made entirely of cast-off kitchen utensils?) But one of the most popular, and a personal favorite as well, is the kitsune, a shape-shifting fox.

In western lore, the Other is usually easy to identify. But kitsune can take the form of a human, or even of a particular human you know well. And they may be benevolent or quite malicious, while they appear to be like us. So many possibilities!

Kristina Wojtaszek author of “Solomon’s Friend”

Outside of your own writing, who is your favorite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)

Tom Thumb, if he can be counted as such, is my favorite fairy character.  Who doesn't love a little sprite-sized superhero who defeats giants and never waivers in his bravery?  He rivals Peter Pan with his forever youth, and he's even got an in with King Arthur and owes his very existence to Merlin-- doesn't get much cooler than that!

Do you believe in fairies?

In some ways, it's hard not to.  I'm a woman of science, eternally fascinated by biology and the natural world, and any scientist knows that every fact you uncover leads to a hundred more questions.  I can't imagine a time when we know everything there is to know about the natural world, let alone other dimensions or other universes.  Could there be another life form a dimension away that has tapped into our world and made an invisible presence we haven't yet discovered, but that people have noticed now and again from odd appearances throughout the centuries?  Could there be a species of insect left undiscovered in a remote patch of rainforest with unheard of intelligence, or some other striking resemblance to mankind?  I'm not one to say anything's impossible.

Kari Castor author of “The Price”

Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)  What is it about them that makes them special?

I've always had a particular soft spot for Ariel from Shakespeare's The Tempest.  I actually auditioned for a role in The Tempest using Ariel's "All hail, great master! grave sir, hail!" entrance (reworked to be a monologue) during my freshman year of college.  (I did get cast, but as a general ensemble member, not as Ariel.)

I suppose I like Ariel because he is both so human and so inhuman.  He's clearly a powerful creature, yet he's bound to the service of human Prospero, and he chafes against the confinement.  He's capricious, tempestuous (ha!), at one moment recounting with glee how he burned the king's ship and terrified the sailors and at the next bemoaning the further work he is being commanded to do.
Largely unlike the fairies of legend, Ariel's motivations are eminently clear -- he wants to earn his freedom from Prospero.  And I've always felt that it is through the scenes with Ariel (along with Caliban) that we see the darker side of Prospero most clearly: his manipulativeness, his thoughtless cruelty, how the power he wields has perhaps corrupted him.

And yet Ariel is one of the primary driving forces behind the action in the play.  We're told that Prospero is a powerful magician, but it seems that often the magic we see or hear about is really Ariel's, not Prospero's.

Do you believe in fairies?


No, I don't believe in literal fairies.  I do believe, though, that it's important to keep an open mind and a sense of wonder about the world, and I think one way we do that in the modern world is by telling ourselves stories about magic and magical creatures.

***


 Meet Robin Goodfellow as you've never seen him before, watch damsels in distress rescue themselves, get swept away with the selkies and enjoy tales of hobs, green men, pixies and phookas. One thing is for certain, these are not your grandmother’s fairy tales. Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant creatures throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. FAE is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies to modern midwifing, the Old World to Indianapolis. FAE bridges traditional and modern styles, from the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale to urban fantasy and horror with a fae twist. This anthology covers a vast swath of the fairy story spectrum, making the old new and exploring lush settings with beautiful prose and complex characters.

With an introduction by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, and new stories from Sidney Blaylock Jr., Amanda Block, Kari Castor, Beth Cato, Liz Colter, Rhonda Eikamp, Lor Graham, Alexis A. Hunter, L.S. Johnson, Jon Arthur Kitson, Adria Laycraft, Lauren Liebowitz, Christine Morgan, Shannon Phillips, Sara Puls, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.

FAE is available in trade paperback and ebook via Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo.com, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram. You can also find Fae on Goodreads.

Anthologist Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for over five years now (which is like 25 years in internet time) and is the editor of the benefit anthology, Metastasis. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.

World Weaver Press is a publisher of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction, dedicated to producing quality works. We believe in great storytelling.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seven Ways Running is Like Writing

At the beginning of July, I joined the gym. I was woefully out of shape, so much so that thirty minutes of walking on the treadmill felt like an accomplishment. But after a couple of weeks, I couldn't get my heart rate up as high as I wanted it. So I sort of glanced around at the other people on the treadmills near me, all of us going nowhere fast (or in my case, slowish), and I started to lumber along in an ugly, slow jog. But hey, my heart rate went up to where I wanted it. This lasted about a minute, followed by walking to recover. Lather, rinse, repeat.

"Well," I thought to myself afterwards. "I might have to keep running in order to keep reaching my target heart rate. Maybe I should train for something so I'm not aimlessly running here and there with no end goal. Hey, look, there's a 5K in October. I think I can do that without dying."

Lo and behold, the running had begun.

That led me to a program called Couch to 5K, a training program designed to get even the most avid couch potato in shape to run 3.1 miles in nine weeks. I downloaded it to my phone, and I started this past week. Somehow I'm going to be ready to run about three miles in the month before my fortieth birthday. I feel a little insane. I've never run a race before.

But then again, at one point I'd never written a novel before either. Which brings me to the tie-in. There's nothing to do while running other than think (unless you obsessively watch the clock, waiting for the moment when DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, YOU MAY WALK NOW AND CATCH YOUR BREATH BEFORE YOU PASS OUT. HEY, THE DEFIBRILLATOR IS THAT WAY, TRY TO GO IN THAT DIRECTION WHILE GASPING TO OTHERS THAT YOU NEED HELP. Ahem. As I was saying, there are several ways in which running and writing are the same.

1. Both activities produce a lot of sweat and get my heart rate up. There might be some whimpering involved, too.

2. When I first start a running/writing session for the day, I tend to wonder why I want to torture myself so much. Am I really that much of a masochist? I must be.

3. About halfway through the running/writing session, I think, "This is the most brilliant idea I've had in a long time. This is why I do this on a regular basis!" It's either endorphins talking, or the headiness from being on the verge of passing out.

4. When I'm done, I feel accomplished and immediately want to reward myself with chocolate or a huge order of fries. You know, something to completely outdo all the good I just did.

5. Sometimes I accidentally hurt myself while running. This is no surprise, given how much of a klutz I am. But sometimes I hurt myself while writing. Sometimes I act out a fight scene with the furniture in my house. Sometimes the furniture wins.

6. I enjoy telling people I'm a writer/runner. But then I immediately panic that they're going to read my stuff/watch me shuffle down the street, and then they'll know that I should never quit my day job.

7. Prepping for a race is like writing a novel. You plan, you execute the plan, you put weeks or months of work into it. Then the Big Day comes and you wave your arms and tell people you did it, you finished, and all you get for your trouble is a breakfast burrito and a pat on the back. On second thought, breakfast burritos are pretty awesome.

The nice thing about running is that I've brought my resting heart rate down. This is quite useful for the days when the writing raises my blood pressure.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Time Off Means Things Are Back on Track

The Stanley Hotel, where stressed writers makes deals with the devil.
I haven't posted an update in a while. Life has been a little nuts, and I felt like I was floundering for a while and unable to organize my thoughts. I was in a funk, and I was trying to start a new project, but it wasn't going well. See, the last novel I wrote just flowed. I finished it in a little over a month. It was the easiest time writing I'd ever had. But this time, it was hard. I couldn't get the beginning quite right. The tone and voice were off. It was way too serious, and even though this is, at heart, a dark story, I wanted a lighter beginning. I wanted something mundane to balance out the darkness to come. And so I finally latched onto it, and I got to 20,000 words this week. Hurrah!

I've also been taking a class called Writing From the Heart. It's pushed me to delve into the things I hate, fear, love. Really, anything that makes me feel deeply. I've been wanting to take a course like this for some time. I feel like I hold back way too often when I write, and if I could just push through, I could create some really amazing stuff. This week I came up with an idea that excited me, and also scared the poop out of me. Horror story, here I come!

And as if that wasn't enough, I've begun final preparations for publishing the sequel to The Graveyard Girl. I'm looking forward to getting this story into the world. With all of this going on, is it any wonder that I had a hard time focusing? I guess not.

Run, little steer!
Sometimes the best thing to do when you're stuck is to take a break. So I went out of town with the family this weekend for Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's a huge rodeo, or as they like to call it, "The Daddy of Them All." Being from Texas, I enjoy a good rodeo, and Frontier Days didn't let me down. I watched bull riding, bronc riding, roping. There were horses and steer, and cowboys and cowgirls everywhere. The one odd thing was, there was also a drone at the rodeo. It hovered over the field like a giant mosquito. I'm not sure what exactly it was doing, but it was creepy.


Cowboys prepare for competition
So this week I will slowly get back into the usual frantic pace. It's back to writing my latest novel, working on another to prep it for publication, and finishing up my class. It's back to work, and laundry, and errands, and preparing the kiddo for school. But I feel energized by my break and ready to tackle it all like a cowgirl bulldogging a steer.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Visit to Tinkertown

The outside was fascinating in and of itself
I've talked before about Artist's Dates, and this past week I had the chance to go to a new and quirky place with my son on what amounted to a combined Artist Date and nice afternoon with him.

We visited Tinkertown in Sandia Crest, which is located on the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains, about 20 minutes outside Albuquerque. It's a museum filled with carvings by Ross Ward, collectibles from all over the world, and even a boat that's travelled around the world. The museum is surrounded by pine trees, and when we got out of the car, I could smell horses along with the forest's scent. Sure enough, there was a small paddock nearby where a couple of horses watched over us.
A wee little burial

There is a lot to see in every single bit of space in the museum. It's made of a couple dozen rooms linked by some crazy wooden walkways that were pretty steep in some areas, with old license plates and horseshoes embedded here and there and glass bottles in the walls.

There was an Old West village in miniature, and an entire circus in miniature. In the glass case called Boot Hill, you could watch God and the devil battle it out over one man's soul while skeletons danced at the top of a hill overlooking a tiny cemetery.
The art car

One of the things that touched me most, though, was when we stumbled across an art car. Ross Ward was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and eventually he got to the point where he figured he shouldn't drive his car anymore, but he didn't know what to do with it. A friend suggested he turn it into a piece of art. And so he did. He wasn't tempted to drive it anymore since it was a piece of art and no longer just his car. I found it an interesting and insightful solution into the problem of giving up one's car when the time as appropriate.

I find it remarkable that one person's passion grew so much and became popular enough to draw in thousands of visitors every year.