The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Steve Vernon

June 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm (horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I have a few reviews a long time owing for Nova Scotian writer, Steve Vernon. I’ve reviewed his YA Sci-fi (Flash Virus) in the past, but I especially like Steve’s folksy storyteller approach to tales of murder and horror, and I’ve read several of his short story collections, and a novel, I have yet to review. I thought it was about time.

If you’ve ever witnessed Steve give a “reading”, you’d understand where his particular flavour comes from. He’s the guy you want adding his two cents to stories around the campfire or when you’re huddled by a candle during a power outage on a storm day. His stories, like him, are very animated, hooking your attention and drawing you further in.

His stories are often based on material close to home. Three of his collections I’ve had a chance to read and very much enjoy include Halifax Haunts, local ghost tales retold with Steve’s particular type of flare, Maritime Murder, true crime stories from the past revisited, and
The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural, exploring some local legends that were in many cases new to me.

The research required to bring these tales to light is quite obvious, with dates and details that give them substance above and beyond Steve’s enjoyable characteristic style. Most of the stories are dark, some are more playful and some are downright chilling, but they are all entertaining and seem real enough to suggest plausability.

Steve’s books stand on my bookshelves among my favourites. If you’ve never had the opportunity to read his books, I’d recommend doing so.

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Guest Blogger: Adrienne Garvin Dellwo

May 8, 2018 at 2:39 am (Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

I”m happy to host a fellow writer who delves into the realm of the superhero story.  She has a few things to share about character development:

Some characters come to life in just a few words while others remain as thin as the paper they’re printed on. What makes the difference?

You can analyze the writing and learn a lot about description, dialogue, etc., but a key element of creating great characters is something you don’t see on the page. It has to do with how well the author knows the character.

In my upcoming superhero novel, The Hero Academy, I had to create a lot of characters and find effective and efficient ways to communicate them to the reader. Going over notes from someone who read an early draft for me, I noticed she kept commenting on a particular character. She loved the way he talked, his mannerisms, his attitude. He wasn’t even one of the primary characters, just a classmate of the protagonist. I knew right away why he seemed so vivid to her—he’s based on my son. I’ve known that guy for 16 years.

That proves a point you hear authors make a lot: you have to know far more about what you’re writing than ends up in the book. Building a world? You may never talk about the economy, the history of a region, or the particular lilt of the local dialect, but if you don’t know those things yourself, the world will be less believable. The reader feels a writer’s lack of knowledge and enjoys the story less because of it.

No matter your approach to creating characters, before the manuscript is anywhere near ready for an audience, you’ve got to know who those people are. Some writers get in-depth with their main characters before they start writing, creating character profiles, building backstory, even creating inspiration boards. I don’t do any of that. It’s not wrong, it’s just not what works for me. I prefer to start out with a rough idea and then let the characters take shape as I write.

My method does lead to more work in the second draft, but it also gives me some flexibility. Some of my best characters start out incidental, such as Misty Michaels, an intern in The Hero Academy. I needed someone for the brilliant neuropsychologist to bounce ideas off of, and at the beginning, I believed the doctor was the important character.

Before long, though, I found Misty more interesting and realized she could play a significant role in the story’s climax. As important as she became, though, she’s still in relatively few scenes and I knew she was underdeveloped.

Then came a call for stories. A group I’m part of, the Pen & Cape Society, was putting out its fourth themed superhero anthology, The Good Fight 4: The Homefront. It didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted to write Misty’s backstory. I had a vague idea about some deep, dark secret in her past, and I wanted to know more about it and see how it played into who she became later on.

I wrote Misty’s story, “Impulses,” and it made it to publication before the book. Homefront, which explores the day-to-day life of superheroes, came out May 1. (It’s full of great stories—you want to read it!)

After “Impulses,” when I revisited Misty’s scenes in The Hero Academy, I found it easy to add all kinds of new depth to her character because I know her better. I know why she hid her powers. I know why she went into medicine. I know the struggles that shaped her. I even know why she always carries too much stuff, which leads to lots of jostling medical charts and spilling coffee. It’s not all in the book. It’s not all in “Impulses,” either, and it doesn’t need to be. I know her better, so the reader will understand and, I hope, relate to her better.

A full 90 percent of an iceberg is under water, and you don’t need to go scuba diving to appreciate the beauty of what you see above the surface. So when creating characters (or worlds, or whatever), remember that what you put on the page is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Much more is beneath the surface, and that’s the foundation. Without all that down there as support, nothing floats.

Many thanks to Adrienne for sharing her wisdom.  You can find out more about Adrienne and her books at her website.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Kat and More

May 7, 2018 at 2:24 am (dark fantasy, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

I recently completed 6th Turn: Kat, my latest read in Ren Garcia’s League of Elder series. I’m a big fan of his writing, and I enjoyed this book because it was a particularly dark story line but followed the action with a consistent thread of hope (I felt the same way Mentralysis, my previous read.)

This was another world-building win from Ren, and was definitely a favourite so far. The story ventures into the realm of the Black Hats – we get to see their creation process with all of its cruelty and suffering, and then follow four shadowtech females sent out on their first mission where success will mean new status. One stands out amongst the others, and when things take a turn for the worse, she manages to overcome adversity with the help of her “angels”. Her quest takes its own turn and she abandons her original mission for a completely new goal.

I loved following her transformation, the budding romance that matures into something stronger and how she deals with all of the obstacles she must face while trying to achieve her higher purpose as the Covus. She’s no fragile flower, fighting, even killing when necessary to protect the ones she cares about.

I liked some of the scenes so much I went back and reread them after I finished the book. I especially enjoyed their startling trip to Vain (with its air of a post-apocalyptic dystopia) and their encounters at Xandarr that ventured into the surreal.

This one was a big thumbs up for me. More like this one please.

I was happy to hear that Ren has now released an Omnibus collection. This is a great way of getting three of his books in one: The Dead Held Hands, The Machine, and The Temple of the Exploding Head, books that follow the adventures of Lord Kabyl, the lovely Sam and their companions.

His space operas, with their mixture of sci-fi, steampunk and strange, dark magic, maintain the high adventure flavour of old cliffhangers.  When you read them, you can count on masterful world-building, diverse characters and moving story lines. I enjoyed these books immensely individually, so its a great opportunity to be able to get them as a set.

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March News – Chillers and More

March 19, 2018 at 3:42 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

February was a busy month, and I’ve been tackling some short story and editing deadlines.  Normally I try to offer up something for Women in Horror month, but it got away from me.  I’m hoping to make up for that a little in March – not that things look like they’ll be any less busy.

I’m happy to announce the upcoming release of my horror tale “Territory” in the Engen anthology Chillers from the Rock. The contributing authors hail from Atlantic Canada and the cover showcases some eerie artwork.  It is currently available for pre-order (links posted below) and actually made it to bestselling status in a few categories before release!

I’ll be back at prepping a couple of items for submission (and then I have to work on my taxes) and I have a couple of reviews to write up, but I hope to get at least one more post in before month’s end.

Here are those links:

Canada

Kindle

US

Kindle

Paperback

 

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Getting a Good Start

January 2, 2018 at 3:00 am (Fervor, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

I gave my writing a bit of a rest last year – limited editing efforts, only a few short stories completed and a half-hearted commitment to submitting at least 100 times during the year.  I had some success, but my work life intruded upon my home life and I used that as an excuse to let things slide a little.

Thankfully, a Facebook writers group I belong to  has introduced a monthly writing goal thread that will help us all keep on track and I find it motivating.  I’m off to a good start, with some heavy duty editing and three short story submissions today to begin my January submission blitz.  Tomorrow I’ll get some more writing and editing in as well as more submissions.  I’ve also  come across a publisher looking to reprint or republish novels that offers some real potential for my now out-of-print series.  I’d love to see Fervor and Masters & Renegades in print again, and maybe I’ll get to publish the unpublished books in both series.

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate my newest release.  “Fish Story” makes an appearance in Issue #6 of the Gathering Storm Magazine available online here, or in print here.  Once again, they have fabulous cover art, formatting and interior illustrations.  The are a top-notch publication specializing in dark, quirky fiction and poetry.  I’m working on another short for their next call for submissions.

I’ll try to follow-up on my progress over the next few weeks.  Wish me luck.

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No NaNo for Me, but Other News

November 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm (fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

My day job still has my life a chaotic mess right now, so NaNo was a “no go” this year. I’m in denial that the holidays are rapidly approaching and trying to stay somewhat healthy despite massive amounts of stress and no real vacation time to be had. I haven’t stopped writing altogether, but I have slowed down.

My latest completed project (I have three others in the works) was a children’s story – written for a friend.  I rarely write children’s stories, a few YA and the majority adult, but it so happened that this project wrapped up just as another of my children’s stories is being released.

I have a story, “Braving the Fire,” in the recently released C is for Cabbage anthology.  The anthology is a charity anthology, organized and edited by Emma Ennis, with proceeds going to the Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, a children’s cancer charity.  It’s a great cause, dear to Emma, and the anthology has received testimonials from Vikings’ Travis Fimmel and author of Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer.  She put a lot of work and heart into this anthology and I hope it proves to be an extraordinary success.

I’ll have more news in December, once I catch my breath from the chaos.

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October Blitz and New Releases

November 8, 2017 at 12:40 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

Sometimes life sucks all the creative energy out of you.  Lately, changes at my workplace have placed additional demands on my time and my mental resources so I’ve found myself with nothing much left to invest in producing or promoting my writing.  I did actively try to complete my usual October submission blitz, but I fell about 10 submissions short.  I will be working to make those up before year’s end, so I still get in my 100 submissions for the year.  I am also currently working on a drawing project and two short stories, but progress has been slim.

I managed to gather up enough initiative for a long needed blog to announce some of my recent releases, but I’m hoping by the time November ends and things slow down a little at work, I’ll get a little more of my mojo back.  I can usually manage family, gardening, jugger and my creative endeavors along with work, and I’d like to get back to that happy balance.  Considering gardening is winding down for the year and jugger is now only once a week, the main trade off is day job versus my artistic side.

Anyway – here are some of my recent releases along with links where you can find them (three are reprints but the fourth is new.)  I’ve still been busy, but just not my usual prolific self.  I’m fortunate to have made it into some pretty impressive publications:

Killing It Softly 2 (Octavia)

Allegory: Volume 32/59 (The Lure)

Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 (Wrigglers)

Gathering Storm Magazine: Year 1, Issue 5 (Foil-Hat Crazy)

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that December will bring a little more sanity and time for writing, but I’m not holding my breath.  I’ll at least try to get back on my weekly blog schedule, including a couple of reviews I need to post.

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Anthology News

September 27, 2017 at 3:10 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

I’m waiting on a few stories coming out shortly, but I do have a couple of things to note for September.

The first is that The Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology (pictured left), which contains my short story, “Wrigglers,” is now available for pre-order.

The second item of note is that Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty, containing my short story ,”Better,” is now available in paperback format.

I also have three submitted story “maybe”s awaiting final judgement.  Fingers crossed for me there. I’ve had acceptances with both publishers involved in the past, so there’s hope for me yet.

More to come, very soon…

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Summer’s End

September 26, 2017 at 2:32 am (Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

It’s about time I end my summer “blog hiatus”, and what time better to do it with some thoughts on this year’s Hal-Con.

I decided to make the most of the writing options of my one day there by scheduling as much in as possible. I started things up with a meet-up with a few local writers (which was a fun time) and I followed that up with a Tanya Huff presentation on adapting novels to TV. I made friends with a playwright from California and chatted with an old friend while in line. Tanya had some great stories to share.

The next panel I attended was on women in media – some great questions for the panel and thought-provoking conversation. It convinced me to buy one of the books written by one of the panel members, Tim Hanley (cover at left).

I ended up skipping the next panel I was half interested in attending so I could have some snacks and play a couple of rounds of Munchkin Deluxe. Then it was off to a reading by Tamora Pierce.

The last presentation I attended that day was on writing style. While I agreed with much of the content, there were some minor issues. I’m not sure if the presenter had the credentials to offer themselves up as a “writing expert,” especially considering a lack of publishing experience and some of the technical issues with their slides. There was one notable typo, problems with punctuation in their dialogue examples, referring to something that was clearly a simile as a metaphor and repetition in some samples that wasn’t being used to reinforce a point. All that aside, the presentation was a good one overall and a few rounds with a good editor may help the presenter refine their technical skills.

Supper with a friend followed and then I ended the night by attending the Aurora Awards (congrats to all the nominees and winners.) As I waited for my drive with my daughter and her friend we tried out Chupacabra.

The only hiccups I ran into at the con was an obstacle while trying to pre-register, so that didn’t happen, and a lack of healthy gluten-free snacks/food available at the con. You had to go off site to get that, but it wasn’t terribly far.

My latest writing news will follow tomorrow and my October submission blitz is rapidly approaching. More soon!

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June News

June 27, 2017 at 12:39 am (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

June has been busy for me with new acceptances, contracts, cover reveals and releases. Add into the mix outdoor jugger and gardening and blogging gets reduced to one or two postings a month.

I’m happy to say that the e-book version of Tesseracts 20: Compostela is now available with the print version to follow in September (it contans my short story “Better” – I mentioned the pre-order last post) This one’s a thrill for me, due in part to the fact that Spider Robinson is one of the editors. I grew up reading his books (Night of Power was my favourite as a teen but I’m not sure which I’d give top place now,) and he actually lived in Nova Scotia for a time, so I hold him in high esteem.

Another new release is in Gathering Storm Issue #3. “Counting Crows” is my second appearance in this beautiful venue (their format is formidable and their artwork breathtaking, like the cover artwork here.) I’m submitted something for issue #4, so fingers crossed.

My story “Wrigglers” will make a reprint appearance in Gehenna and Hinnom’s Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology . You can find the ToC announcement here.

And to top it off, I just receive an acceptance and contract for an all Canadian horror anthology in the works. More news on that later.

I have a couple more things brewing but I can’t include them just yet. I’ll share when I can

As crazy as it may sound, I have decided to do Camp Nanowrimo this July. This will be my first time participating as part of a group (our cabin) but it should help me stay focused. I skipped the last couple of Nanowrimos because I haven’t felt all that motivated when it comes to novel writing (especially when the 20+ novels I already have completed could probably use another round of edits and then maybe a new shopping run.) But I’ve promising my hubby the one I have planned for camp for some time now, so it’s time to buckle down and get started. I just have to get a little research in before July 1 and work my writing in around overtime and family day trips.

See you in July!

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