Monday, May 11, 2020

Magic #13


Recently, I hit the mark of having 13 titles in which I been listed as a contributing or sole author and I'm rather proud of this. It's been a lot of work to get to this point, but I don't always have time to promote all my work.

So, here it goes, a little self-promo for this indie author.

I’m going to start with my latest novel. Feathers and Fae

This is a fantasy adventure about friendship, trust, and the lies we think we need to tell. This story is one that came as a surprise for me. I think one of my favourite things is the landscapes that my characters get to go through. Of course, if you ask my readers, their favourite thing is Bob the Yeti.  Read this for Bob the Yeti, if nothing else. Everyone loves Bob.

Being my first (and not last) traditionally published novel, I am exceptionally proud of this book which was picked up by Kyanite Publishing



Going back in time now, the first books I ever published were self-published. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake, but I tend to roll with my mistakes and make the best of things. For now, this series will remain a self-published series from the previous books to the future books that are planned.
The Saints and Sinners Series is an urban paranormal fantasy series that touches on other genres with the first book, Road to Redemption, leaning towards paranormal romance and the second book, Depths of Darkness, being strongly in the category of horror. 

This series and these characters are dear to me since they are what started me down the road with the determination to become an author.

Road to Redemption (https://amazon.com/dp/152015626X)
Depths of Darkness (https://amazon.com/dp/1726830608 )


When it comes to the next book that I want to talk about, it began when I woke up one day and decided to spend the year writing very short stories using the #vss365 tag on Twitter for prompts. This type of story is also known as microfiction. Then I took my best and made a book of them titled, Little Stories in a Big Universe.

I haven't promoted this adorable little book near as much as I should have, but if you want a little bathroom reader or something that is easy to put down and pick up, this is an ideal and reasonably priced little book.


Now, for the longest time, I was terrified of writing short stories. I didn't think I had the capacity for the brevity necessary. After working with the microfiction, I decided I needed to conquer this as well.

Thankfully, I found myself inspired by a shared-world anthology created by a fellow Canadian Author, Stephen Coghlan. This also helped me attack my fear of working in someone else's world. So, enter the Remnants Anthology. Published by Kyanite Publishing, this post-apocalyptic collection of stories is unique and amazing. 

I can honestly say that it's an honour to be able to count myself among the authors of this anthology. 



Throughout all of this, I was writing other things. The aforementioned Stephen Coghlan convinced me to try my hand at drabbles, 100-word stories. Having never heard of such a thing before, I was eager to give it a try. These drabbles are all published with Black Hare Press.

They are fun to write and just as much fun to read. I managed to get 5 stories in all but three books in this series of drabbles. 

It would have been nice to have been able to be in all of them, but I was in the middle of edits and launching Feathers and Fae during much of this time and I am only one person.

You can find those published in these anthologies:









And outside of the drabbles collection, there is one other book in which I have three drabbles with Black Hare Press that you can read along with many other incredible authors.

Of course, we aren't stopping at 13, nor is this where my list will stop this year. We are only halfway through and I have a few other things that I am eager to share with you as well as several stories out on submission. 

Expect to see a lot more from me over the next few months. And, well, the foreseeable future as well. I love what I do. Writing, to me, is as essential as breathing. 

Oh, I do have one more cover that I can show you. Another short story in one of the quarterly issues of the Kyanite Press

I wrote a story that was accepted for the apocalyptic themed issue coming out in late May 2020 (yes, this month). Shattered Worlds. (https://kyanitepublishing.com/home/catalog/kyanite-press-v2i3)


And I would love to share with you the cover for my upcoming novel, Falling Light which will be on preorder later this month, but it that cover hasn't been released yet.

So, any questions?



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Forgotten Storm by A.R. Vagnetti

This is a novel by A. R. Vagnetti and published by Kyanite Publishing. I had the privilege of being able to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this entertaining novel. Find out more about this story and where to purchase it here: https://kyanitepublishing.com/product/forgotten-storm/

So, as usual, I didn't do more than a quick scan of the back cover blurb before reading. One day I should learn to do that so I am not surprised by anything. Right on the Kyanite page for this novel, it says "This title contains graphic sexual content." 


Oh boy, does it ever. For now, we are going to put that aside and I will get to talking about it further down. This is your one warning that I will be talking about some of the sex and related scenes later on. 

Overall, this is a well-written novel with strong characters and good world-building. Nicole, our heroine, is a hell of a woman. She may be falling apart, but she's still ready to kick-ass and take names. I loved her. I was rooting for her. All the characters in this story were dynamic and strong. I had no problem getting a sense of the vast supporting cast in this novel.

You will not find much to disappoint you in the action-packed fantasy portion of the plotline. It flows beautifully and is well supported by the romantic elements. Speaking of which, I want to address that part next. If honest talk about sex or the BDSM community offends you, skip the next two paragraphs. 

One of the things that always annoys me when authors touch on anything to do with BDSM is that they get it wrong. One of the most important things within this community is consent, a close second to that is open communication. I was relieved to see that A.R. did make mention of this fact and is represented in this novel.

As for the sex scenes, well damn. They were high on the steam side and low on the usage of purple prose. It was also nice to see something a little different from what I'm used to seeing when I do venture into erotic romance (as it is not my typical read). So, once again, kudos to A.R. for not keeping it the straightest of vanilla. That was slightly refreshing to read.


While I went into this novel not expecting this amount of sexual content, it was appropriate for the world and society that A.R. created for the paranormal portion of the world. I definitely enjoyed reading this story and I think you might too. She did a great job and I am happy that I got a chance to read this novel.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Guest Post: Bridging the Literary Gap - B.K. Bass

B.K. Bass

I am honoured to be able to share my blog with this incredible author. I have always enjoyed reading his insights about being a writer, an editor, and about the art of our shared craft.

I hope you all enjoy this incredible guest post as much as I do.

***
In the world of literature, there is a line drawn in the sand. Those on either side stare across this no man’s land, eyes filled with anything ranging from curiosity to contempt. Some dare to step across. Some are bold enough to straddle the line. Some of us, probably more than we think, are ready to kick the sand over the line and end the feud once and for all.

So, who are these two divided camps? Genre fiction and literary fiction. But, what’s the difference?

Genre fiction can be defined in several ways, but most sources agree that it is focused on plot and written to appeal to a wide selection of readers. It also follows certain formulas and features certain elements known as tropes so that it falls into one of many categories; such as historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, or fantasy.1

Literary fiction is harder to put such a clear definition on, but the NY Book Editors propose a set of defining characteristics. They posit that literary fiction “doesn’t follow a formula, uses creative storytelling, explores the human condition, may be difficult to read, is character-focused, [and] has an ambiguous ending.”2

If you’re a genre author, you’re probably spitting out your coffee right now and screaming at the screen, “But, my book is genre fiction, and it does everything on that list for literary fiction!”

Congratulations, you’re straddling the line.

If the only thing that defines genre fiction is its formulas and tropes, and these books can readily incorporate the elements of literary fiction, wouldn’t literary fiction simply be non-genre fiction? Why do proponents of literary fiction feel they have a monopoly on character-driven stories, creative storytelling, and deeper themes? Who drew this line in the sand, and why is it there?

Many believe that the only purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, amuse, and provide an escape from reality. They may or may not look down upon literary fiction as trivial or childish; but in all likelihood, they do not pay it the same respect as its counterpart. Those who hold to this belief also view literary fiction as the only avenue to tell compelling stories that delve into the human condition, analyze our world and our place in it, and invoke an emotional reaction in the reader through a “symphony of words.”3

1874 Edition Book Cover
Some disparagingly call these people the literati, a term created by combining literary and illuminati to invoke the image of a clandestine inner circle of the literary elite. The term makes me think of a group of bearded old white men in smoking jackets, sitting in a proper English parlour, groaning over their snifters of brandy as the latest young adult paranormal romance novel climbs to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

The question remains: why is there a distinction? There are many books that have crossed the line and can be considered both genre fiction and literary fiction, not the least among them being Jane Eyre, Crime and Punishment, Dracula, Gulliver’s Travels, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.4 So, if all these great classics—and many more, including contemporary works—are considered both literary and genre fiction, why should there be a difference between the two?

I’m one of those kicking the sand. I don’t think there should be a line at all. I’ll be the first to agree that there’s hacks out there just following the formulas to create marketable genre fiction, but isn’t entertainment itself a noble pursuit? Is not the betterment of another person’s life, if even for a handful of hours escaping our reality, something that should be applauded? And are there not authors writing “literary fiction” whose quality of work and purity of intention equally as questionable? Are there no “hacks” trying to break into the world of literary fiction? You know what I say? Good for them for putting some effort into it. I know people whom I couldn’t get to read a greeting card, so anybody who dedicates themselves to writing a book deserves some praise simply for giving it a go.

I say it’s all simply fiction. Perhaps some of it defies being slotted into a genre definition. What if I told you there was a genre for that? “Contemporary Fiction” or “General Fiction” are genre tags used by book distributors. Guess what, literati: your fiction has a genre too.

Choosing to write in a genre—or discovering your work falls into one—shouldn’t automatically exclude an author from delving into deeper themes, exploring the human soul, and provoking their readers to consider new ideas. In fact, I say many forms of genre fiction are better at this. People are more likely to be receptive to new ideas if they are enjoying the context in which they are presented. If you want to convince somebody to consider a different viewpoint on an issue, lace that into something they will find entertaining. They may or may not change their minds, but at least they’re more likely to read the whole thing. Looking back to the characteristics of literary fiction defined above, I say there’s nothing on that list which genre fiction can’t incorporate.

Releases October 25, 2019
I’d like to stand up and say I straddle the line. I’d love nothing more than to proclaim that I write genre fiction that is also literary fiction. Would that be pretentious? Maybe. So, I’ll let Crystal Kirkham speak for me in an excerpt from her review of my newest book:

“What Once Was Home stunningly combined the incredible speculative elements that I love about science fiction with the engaging personal stories and moving internal struggle that continues to draw me back to contemporary [literary] fiction.” [read full review here]

So, how does one mix the conventions of genre fiction with the characteristics of literary fiction? It’s much simpler than it appears. When you’re developing your story, whether this involves extensive outlining or simply sitting down and seeing what happens, remember that your genre conventions are simply setting the stage for your story. In What Once Was Home, the alien invasion and post-apocalyptic scenarios explored are simply the setting of the story. The plot, from surviving the first wave to the rebuilding of a community, is simply the vehicle that carries the story forward. The real story is in how the characters react to these circumstances. The real question is how one can retain their moral compass in the face of impossible decisions.

Your story and your question will be different, as will your setting and plot. Create a world in which to explore deeper ideas, and develop a situation that propels your characters into facing them.

Or, just write something fun. Fun, for it’s own sake, is a worthwhile endeavor. When I started writing What Once Was Home, that was my primary goal. The book itself surprised me. You may be surprised along the way to find your own “escapists drivel”֫—as those surly old men in that English parlour would call it—evolves into something more.


About the Author

B.K. Bass is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror inspired by the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century and classic speculative fiction. He is a student of history with a particular focus on the ancient, classical, and medieval eras. He has a lifetime of experience with a specialization in business management and human relations and served in the U.S. Army. B.K. is also the Acquisitions Director for Kyanite Publishing, the Editor-in-Chief of the Kyanite Press journal of speculative fiction, and the Writing Department Chair for Worldbuilding Magazine. You can find out more about B.K. at https://bkbass.com.


Works Cited

1. French, Christy Tillery. “Literary Fiction Vs. Genre Fiction.” Author’s Den. http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=18884. July 22, 2005. Accessed October 22, 2019.

2. “What is Literary Fiction?” NY Book Editors. https://nybookeditors.com/2018/07/what-is-literary-fiction/. Accessed October 22, 2019.

3. Petite, Steven. “Literary Fiction Vs. Genre Fiction.” HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/literary-fiction-vs-genre-fiction_b_4859609. February 26, 2014. Accessed October 22, 2019.

4. Rothman, Joshua. “A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate.” The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/books/joshua-rothman/better-way-think-genre-debate. November 6, 2014. Accessed October 22, 2019.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Brutally Honest Author - Part 2

Ready for another session with my foul-mouthed self? God, I hope so because I have some questions that demand to be answered.

Want to know more about where "The Brutally Honest Author" started? Read this post.
Once again, remember, these are my experiences and opinions only. Others may think or feel differently than me because they've experienced things differently. I'd love to hear your opinions as well, so please do respond in the comments! And if you got questions, ask away and I will try to get to them in the next “Brutally Honest Author” post!

@NicoleDCarver asked me a bunch of questions! This post is all for you, Nicole.
1a. "What did you unexpectedly learn about traditional pub?" & "What surprised you?"
Man, where do I even start? I had done a lot of research into traditional publishing before attempting to go that route. I wanted to be prepared so there wasn't a whole lot that surprised me or that I learned unexpectedly.

I did learn a few things second hand in my experience. Some have inspired blog posts like 'Critical Critique Conduct: Handling Feedback like a Pro'. There is a bit in there about arguing over edits with a publisher. Had I written that post the way I really wanted to then it would have been the true first post in the Brutally Honest Author series.

Things that surprised me but should have were the amount of fucking authors that fight over every little error (like, seriously, who the fuck fights over fixing a damned spelling error???).
2. "Do you have an agent and if so how did you decide they were a good fit?"
I do not have an agent and I'm not 100% sure I will go that route since I am rather content with my current situations and contracts, but I did ask a good friend to answer this who does have an agent. When I have an answer from her I will tag you in a revisit of this question!

However, I do have an opinion on one thing. Don't be so desperate for an agent that you say yes to someone that you are not comfortable. Remember you fucking have to work with this person, they are representing you and your novel. Also, do your research, talk to agents when you see the #AskAgent tag pop up.

Hell, be a stalker and learn all about the ones you're interested. Do not be afraid to make sure you like this person.
3. "Why did you do trad pup after self-pub?"
Before I ever did self-publishing, I'd had a dream of being traditionally published.Not going to lie self-publishing is a hard row to hoe, but traditional is no walk through the garden either.

I knew this before I wanted to try and see if I was good enough to find someone who believed in my work too. I want to learn more about the industry as well. I do not regret doing self-publishing first, I regret not doing my research before I did it and being so quick to give up a dream of mine.
4. "How did NaNo help you write?"
NaNo (aka NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month for the unindoctrinated) first taught me to finish a draft. It taught me the art of fast drafting. It gave friends that understand writing to lean on. It allowed me understand the value in a shitastic first draft.

Seriously, so many look down on NaNo because "all you do is produce crap". Well, yeah, that's the fucking point of it. Not to be good, not to worry about if it makes sense but to just write. That seems to be where so many aspiring authors struggle. Not only writing, but writing to completion.

NaNo gives you the freedom to totally suck...and in sucking at writing that first draft, you end up learning HOW to write a first draft. And then after that you learn to edit those drafts.

Everyone who reads this, though, do me a fucking favour. Do NOT think you wrote the great <insert country of origin here> novel in 30 damned days. You didn't. Editing is a thing for a reason.

Join me next time for questions from @BBMorgan_W and @jlperidot

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Feathers and Fae - The World of Mythos

Feathers and Fae is an intrusion fantasy. It's a term I didn't know about until long after writing this story. All I knew was that I'd never written a fantasy at this level before where I had to create a whole new world outside of Earth instead of based on Earth.

Once I had written the first chapter of Feathers and Fae and got my characters to Mythos, I had to decide 'what next?'. I drew my inspiration on what to do from Lord of the Rings and I sent them on a journey.

While the idea came from a well known epic fantasy, I knew that the only way to write this was to draw from my own experiences. I've spent many years hiking, exploring and travelling so I had plenty to draw from. It's these memorable moments and landscapes that I used to paint the descriptive word pictures of the many landscapes of Mythos.

I would like to think this brought a sense of realism to the experiences of my characters and the places that they visited.

With no further ado, I will tell you where the inspiration for each of these incredible landscapes came from.

Tithoriea's forest near Abernath
 
Forest, Nature, Outdoors, Path, Trees, WoodsIn the town where I grew up, there were "forests" that my friends and I played in. These areas weren't heavily forested, but small patches of treed areas. They were large enough that there were multiple paths running through them. Here the dirt trails were worn down to show the roots of the trees. It felt like another world to us kids. Maybe it was.

Small those these patches of forest were, they were full of life. Wild berries, bird song... and a laughing group of teenagers who may or may not have been up to no good.

I am sad to say that those stands of woods where I spent much of my youth are gone now in all but memory.

As a side note, the baseball field described while in Blakely Grove on Earth is an only slightly altered version of one I knew well as a kid. I fell out of a tree there and hit my head pretty hard. I think that may have been the moment I decided to become a writer.

Strophia's Hidden Valley

Waterfalls, Waterfall, Water, Cascade, Nature, RiverThis is one of the few places that is based mostly on imagination. Although I drew inspiration from multiple hiking and sightseeing trips throughout North America as well as a bit of tropical flavour thrown in. I figure a water nymph could coax the water in her home a little more towards the brilliant side.

Waterfalls and the small pools that form along some areas is something I have seen more than once. Beautiful secret valleys that are a little off the beaten path, I've been there too. These are the places that sometimes you only get to see once, but they stick with you forever.

Álfheimr (The elven woods)

Forest, Mist, Nature, Trees, Mystic, Atmosperic, FogI know I mentioned that I grew up in a temperate rainforest area. If you've ever been out hiking in those forests you may understand just how dark they can get when you're not on a well-travelled path. Deep and dark, I took this feeling and intensified it until I get the thick protected woods that make up the land of Álfheimr.

A place where the trees lean towards each other to whisper secrets. Where a squirrel sounds like a bear crashing through the underbrush, but the deer you're hunting moves by without a sound. A place that feels both dangerous and welcoming at the same time. If this is what you imagine when you read it, then I guess I did a good job of describing this place.

Baksüz Bog

Moor, Peat Bog, Venn, High Venn, Nature Conservation
Near where I grew up there is a bog called, Burns Bog. I've driven by it. In fact, I've seen and been to numerous bogs, but for some reason, this big bog that was turned into a protected park was one of those places that I've never actually spent time in. What makes it stand out in my mind (besides that fact that EVERYONE back home knows about Burns Bog) is the summer that Burns Bog was burning.

This, of course, is nothing more than an aside to say that because it is such a well-known area where I grew up, we were taught a lot about peat bogs and other types of wetlands. Growing up in a rainy area, we are pretty familiar with marshes and bogs of various types.

When I was asked to add a bit more adventure to the middle of the story by my good friend and freelance editor, Naomi, it seemed only natural for me want to want to add something that I was familiar with, but with a twist of the fantastical. I made this bog a bit easier to travel through in some ways, if not in others.

I think this may have ended up as one of my favourite places that my poor characters were forced to traverse through.

Verilindore Mountains (hiking through them)

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/11/23/15/51/alpine-1853678_960_720.jpgIf you haven't figured this out yet, I spent a lot of life communing with nature. Summer road trips where we camped and discovered. My parents were always willing to randomly take a detour because it sounded interesting. It was an attitude I took with me into my own travels. It has been the root of many incredible memories.

Living in a place surrounded by mountains led to a natural interesting in hiking. Although hiking is something I can't do with the same passion I once pursued it, I still love being out in nature and up in the mountains. The Verilinidore Mountains are loosely based on the Rocky Mountain Range that separates British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. If you've been to them, you'll understand. If you haven't then you should see them when you get a chance. Go to Banff and Jasper, drive along the highways. Go through Rogers Pass. You'll understand.

The views and experiences along the way are many of the things I've seen or experienced myself as I've hiked through the mountains. Until you get to the part about the snow and the sundogs, those experiences come from my current locale.

High Mountains, Forward, Blizzard, Snow, Snow FlurryWhere I grew up, it rarely ever snowed then I moved to the Canadian Prairies. My first winter was a learning experience where I had to trudge through knee-deep snow in -40C, fearing frostbite because I didn't own long underwear and I had missed the last bus. Thankfully, my friend rescued me after 10 minutes of walking, but I will never forget what those 10 minutes felt like.

And I can tell you about the time my buddy and I went ice fishing and it was snowing so hard we lost sight of the landmark we needed to navigate off the lake and we couldn't stop or slow down for fear we'd get stuck in a drift out on the ice.

These are the things I've based some of the experiences my characters go through while hiking through the mountains. I do fear that I may not have done sundogs on a bitterly cold morning proper justice in my description, but some things are too awesomely beautiful for words to do them justice.

Gigan Moreus Ridge

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/09/02/12/37/mountains-918569_960_720.jpgThere is this one hike that is on my bucket list, but I never did get to it. I fear now that I might never get to go there. I'm supposed to limit my weight-bearing exercise due to an injury. It meant not being to run long distances anymore or go on long hikes. I miss hiking and I still want to do this hike even if it means I will be eating painkillers like candy.

This is Akamina Ridge. I have maps, plans, equipment. I figured if I couldn't traverse this scenic mountain ridge than I can at least have my characters do so for me. And thus, this part, the beautiful panoramic view from here is based on years of research for a hike that I may never get to do.

***

Okay, this isn't an exhaustive list of every incredible landscape that you'll discover in Feathers and Fae, but I sure don't want to bore anyone! I mean I could describe every time I've gone spelunking or exploring the lava tubes in Idaho or visiting ice caves that played into the dwarven caverns. I could describe my trip up to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada, how I fell in love with that rocky landscape.

Maybe I will another time but for now, this is probably enough. I do hope you've enjoyed this bit of insight into what went into these landscapes and things that I described in Feathers and Fae.