Dystopia from the Rock – A “Rock”ing Success!

February 21, 2019 at 2:57 pm (Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

 

The latest anthology offering from Engen Books, Dystopia from the Rock, is now available.  You can find it on Amazon (Amazon.ca here in Canada) and it has already achieved best-selling status in sci-fi rankings. My story in this anthology, “Cash Grab,” is my second appearance in a “…from the Rock” anthology – I also have a story in Chillers from the Rock, “Territory” – and I have submitted to their latest call (fingers crossed.)  Engen has been a strong supporter of genre writers in Atlantic Canada and their anthologies feature a variety of authors, both new and established.  I highly recommend checking out this book, with all its local charm and flare, and their other offerings as well.

But don’t just take my word (I’m biased, of course.)  Here’s an objective review that also supports what I’ve been saying: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrSwIjnJLFI&t=9s

 

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Come See Me at Hal-Con!

October 24, 2018 at 9:36 pm (Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Although I won’t be attending the full weekend at Hal-Con, I will be making a couple of appearances on Sunday,  I will be offering up a solo presentation on alternate histories Sunday morning, and participating in the world-building panel put together by the Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada group Sunday afternoon.   Here is a schedule of Jules Verne Phantastical Society-themed and -sponsored presentations and workshops at Hal-Con:

Friday 26 Oct

1:00 p.m. room 501
Flash Fiction Workshop with Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada

2:00 p.m. room 103
Practical costuming with NERO

3:30 p.m. room 501
Tying History to your novel with Grossman and Wendig

[4:00 p.m. room 502
Librarians: the myth, the mystery]

6:00 p.m. room 106
Representation in SF and Fantasy, with Beiko and Little

6:30 p.m. room 501
Frankenstein at 200, with UKC and SMU professors! Happy birthday to the Modern Prometheus.

8:00 p.m. Grand Parade Square
Gothic Halifax Ghost ‘tour’ with Aulenback

Saturday 27 October

12:15 p.m. room 103
Cosplay and Diversity with Akakioga and Knightmage and Hamm

4:15 p.m. room 501
Ask a Linguist with Gardner

5:15 p.m. room 504
Tea Dueling Workshop with Aulenback

6:30 p.m. room 504
Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World and the beginning of science fiction with Morris

7:00 p.m. room 103
Adding lighting and electronics to cosplay with Clarke and Hirtle

8:00 p.m. level 5 ballroom demo space
Mylar’s Old Time Fashioned Radio Program Showe

Sunday 28 October

10:45 a.m. room 506
Pasts That Never Were with Boudreau

1:00 p.m. room 502
Steampunk and Alternate History with Thompson

2:00 p.m. room 504
Fictional World-building with Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada

4:45 p.m. room 106
Gothic Monsters: Then and Now with DU

If you can be there Friday, as a writer, I highly recommend the GWOAC flash fiction workshop (I helped with one of the handouts) and Tying History to your novel with Grossman and Wendig (I so wish I could attend that one.)

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you there!

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Review – The Green and the Black by William Meikle

October 19, 2018 at 10:26 pm (dark fantasy, horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

When I was growing up, I owned an encyclopedia of fairies that I loved to revisit on a regular basis. My favourites were some of the darker tales from the mines, such as those of the knockers and redcaps. I also had a fascination for rocks – I even joined the Dawson Geology Club in university and ended up a member of the Science Society despite the fact that I was an arts student at the time. For these reasons, and others, this book really spoke to me.

I could relate to the characters in the story, their excitement about the historic site (providing the setting for the story) and being from Atlantic Canada, I could appreciate how well the author described their surroundings. It was almost like venturing out on another geological field trip, abandoning civilization for the deep woods. Along with well-executed scene-setting and atmosphere, I also enjoyed the author’s method of tension-building. In my opinion, there aren’t enough horror stories anymore that do that as well as this one does. There’s too much focus on an intro “hook”, on gore, and on spectacle and not enough on the development of the psychological elements of horror. I prefer the slow build that establishes and then grows a sense of the eerie, so that the reader is given a chance to become invested in both the characters and the story-line before things go terribly wrong.

The only two very minor complaints I have about the book is that I would have preferred more character development for Bill and Doug, who felt a little two-dimensional, and I would have preferred to see at least one female character with a role other than just supporting ones … girlfriend and mother. I can understand the reasoning behind not including women in the field group because there are fewer women studying in those fields, but I can attest to the fact that they do exist and are becoming more common. I have female friends who are geologists, engineers, archeologists and botanists and they have done fieldwork. I think the added diversity would have been nice (but this is strictly a personal preference.)

This book was a quick, chilling, and entertaining read with an intriguing combination of the historic and the supernatural. Definitely worth my time and highly enjoyable. I would recommend it to horror and dark fantasy fans alike.

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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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