Friday, July 25, 2014

RWA National Conference

What is RWA?  It stands for Romance Writers of America, even though there are members from all over the world.  And once a year, some of those members come to a national conference.  The location changes each year, so a different area of the country can have access to the events that are open to the public.  Last year, it was in Atlanta, Georgia.  This year, it's in San Antonio, Texas. Next year, it's New
York City. And every year, the conference kicks off with a giant book signing that is open to the public. Over 500 authors sign their books in a giant ballroom, and the proceeds from the book sales go to local adult literacy programs.

How can you have a giant book signing without the most famous romance author?  You can't, so here is Nora Roberts, sitting at her table before the doors open and her mob of fans pour in. Her line was huge!! And here is Christie Craig (aka C.C. Hunter) right after she'd learned that she'd hit the New York Times bestseller list!

I was thrilled to be able to meet some of my readers! Thank you for coming!  Since I know many of you were unable to come, I have a consolation prize for you.  One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire and The Undead Next Door.  That's Roman and Jean-Luc-- two very sexy vampire heroes who want to spend some time with you! To enter, just leave a comment. International entries are welcome. If you don't leave your email address in your comment, please remember to check back here in a few days to see if you've won. Good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living and loving science fiction

So here we are, one month into the second half of the year. Here in Canberra, that means we're into the depths of winter. To give you an idea - last night, the temperature dipped to -2 degrees C (28.4 degrees F) and the top during the day was 15 degrees C (59 degrees F). A glorious winter's day, the sun was shining, no wind, and I went for my first ever Segway ride!

There's something about a Segway, despite the fact the technology is really quite simple, that is very science fictional to me. So it was fitting that I lived out my own little bit of science fiction, because on August 1 my first science fiction novel comes out!

While fantasy and romance have been the genres I've done most of my writing in, science fiction is the genre I was brought up in, thanks to my dad. My earliest television memories are of hiding behind Dad's beanbag, peering over his shoulder at which ever monster was the feature of that week's episodes of Dr Who. Movie wise, my most important moment at a movie ever was when I was seven and Dad took me and my younger brother to see Star Wars. I can still remember vividly walking out and feeling like my brain was somehow bigger than it had every been before. I was too young for Star Trek on the television, but Dad made sure we saw all the movies.

I'll admit, I've not kept up my science fiction cred - I've not watched enough, and I've not read nearly enough. But still, I can safely say that the cancellation of Firefly still upsets me. That I loved both versions of Battlestar Galactica but while I think Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck was inspired, Richard Hatch will ALWAYS be Apollo to me. Red Dwarf still makes me laugh and Inception fricken blew my mind.

But really, in my heart and soul, it's Star Wars - beating out the Doctor by a sonic screwdriver. And so, when I was 14 and it came into my mind that I wanted to write an epic, what I wrote was a homage to the greatest space princess who ever lived - Leia Organa.

Of course, one's childhood scribblings generally don't go any further than that, right? And the space princess I developed as a 14-year-old really didn't deserve to go any further than that. Princess Cassandra of Rica was so idealised, and perfect, and really was just me pretending I could be as kick arse as Leia.

Except for some reason - maybe because she came from a place of such pure love - Cassandra never left me. From time to time, I'd pull her out and have another go at writing her story. She developed, her world developed, but I could never find the perfect story.

Until last year. Last year, I got it. And thankfully, my publisher loved it and now, on August 1, Cassandra will finally live!

From Escape’s fresh, exhilarating science fiction romance catalogue comes a story of corporate espionage, betrayal, sex, and bodyguards. Just another day in the colonies.
Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. The company has made her family wealthy beyond imagination, but that kind of power needs careful control, and Cassandra is just the Wiltmore to control it.
When a new bid for the mining license is announced, Cassandra is determined to squash it. Then the thefts and threats begin, and every step she takes seems to be wrong. Taking on a new protector seems like an indulgence Cass can’t afford, but she equally cannot afford to be caught off-guard. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen.
Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach all his long-held goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think of only pleasure. With the company, the heir and the family under attack, the last thing anyone needs is a distraction. But once everything is safe again, Kernan is developing new ambitions — ones that involve a lot of very personal time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.

You can pre-order the book now from all good electronic bookstores. And it's just the beginning - Loving the Prince is one of three set on the planet Jorda. The second book, Winning the King will be out in December and the third, Saving Her Heart, will be out next year.

Want to win a copy of Loving the Prince? Tell me your favourite science fiction hero or heroine. I'll give five copies at random to those who comment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Know the Unknowable

Man or Mar?
The adage write what you know works well for how-to manuals, cookbooks, auto repair guides or medical text. With such topics, writers need a certain level of expertise. When it comes to speculative fiction, however, it’s another story.

No one on Earth can know what a newly risen Mar, a Silver Metal Lover, a sympathetic, crazy hot zombi or a post apocalyptic witch is really like until the author creates them, from scratch.

Sometimes that process can be a challenge so I’ve put together some thoughts for writing what you don’t know.

Stefan, Elena, Damon

Tip #1: Research

This is totally fun. If you have a world that is primarily desert, you don’t have to live in the Sahara to write it convincingly. You do have to ‘know’ what it is like to have half and inch of rain a year and dust storms so blinding you can get lost between your camel and your tent. In other words, research the ecology of desert life.

You can’t have bright green grass and furry platypuses, unless you explain a turf that goes eleven and a half months without water and a river mammal that swims in sand. And what about that supernatural man or woman? How to characterize them?


Suggested research includes: Buffy, Angel, Spike, Drusilla, Eric, Sookie, Damon, Stefan, Elena, Klaus, Caroline . . . who else?

Tip #2: Savvy proofreaders

Klaus & Caroline
Research can take the place of direct experience, especially in world building, but there are exceptions. Horses are one. If you don’t know horses, you can learn about them, but if they are going to do more than graze in the paddock, you’ll need a proof-reader with horse sense to check your work. Readers who are also riders will spot ineptitude a mile away. Jolt! If it’s going to be a feature in your novel, get an expert to proof and/or offer technical advice. Same goes for quantum computers, wolves and witches.

Tip #3: Hands on

If you’re going to give a piece of art, animal, dance, ritual, music or machine a big role in your script, immerse in it, fully. As a bonus, your life will become richer for the experience. In my first two series, I researched quantum computing, physics theory, geo-engineering, bio-engineering and were-animal mythologies. I joined a local dojo and learned to wield a samurai sword. I can't tell you how much 'hands on' enhances the writing experience. :)


Tip #4: Start with a grain of truth

No matter how wild and farfetched your story becomes, that grain of truth (from history, mythology and lore) is what you build on and what will give your prose more weight. In my Quantum Encryption series, a main character takes my love of the Gray Wolf, an endangered species, and comes up with a solution to their looming extinction. I also look at possible results from geo-engineering projects that might do more harm than good (solar shields anyone?). It’s all about the speculation, but begin with something real. A truth.
Sookie & Eric

Add these tips together and you'll find your story not only rings true, it becomes a contribution to the future, what is possibly, probably or only ever to be imagined.

Happy reading, writing, dreaming and storytelling, everyone and let me know who your favorite original supernatural character is, from book or film. Right now, I'm leaning toward Orphan Black's Sarah Manning.  Yep, clone club. :)

xxKim

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, YA and epic science fantasy novels.

You can find out more about Kim at kimfalconer.com or on the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter. She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month. Her latest release is"Blood and Water" in Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Save the Beast

Fairy tales were created, I think, to teach us.  They teach us lessons.  We learn that we shouldn't wander in the woods alone. We shouldn't eat someone else's house.  We learn not to lie.  We learn not to judge a person by their exterior.

Fairy tales were also created to show us how to dream.  In fairy tales, we learn to dream about love and success and family.

I've been a lover of fairy tales since I was very young.  I love magic, wishes coming true, hidden treasure, secrets, long walks through dark forests, evil queens, and so much more.  Choosing a favorite fairy tale is nearly impossible, but there is one that seems to resonate no matter how much time passes or what happens in my life.

Beauty and the Beast

It's one of my favorites tales of deep love and sacrifice.  What would you do for your family to protect them and see that they have a long, healthy life?  Would you give your own life, your freedom, your hopes and dreams?

It's also a tale of looking beneath the surface to find the true beauty within.  It's a matter of falling in love with a person's soul and the true wealth of their heart.  A vain man is turned into a monster and is dependent upon winning the love of another if he is to ever return to his true form.

I've read the old stories, but I think I truly fell in love with the tale when I ran across a copy of Robin McKinley's retelling of the fairy tale entitled Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  Of course, when Disney's tale of Beauty and the Beast, I fell in love.  A couple more retellings with a unique spin include Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan and As the Last Petal Falls by Jessica Woodard.


Speaking of unique spins on an old tale, my favorite of late has been the romance of Belle and Rumple in the TV show Once Upon a Time.  Those gifted writers have jumped out on a limb and decided to make the Beast a monster more on the inside, while still keeping his mostly human exterior.  There's something wonderfully mischievous and manic in Rumple, but the man wins your heart as he steadily falls in love with his Belle.  Rumple continues to make mistakes and hurts Belle time and again, but he's trying to be a better man for her.  He wants to protect her, but you're left wondering if Belle needs to be protected from him.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Year of Living Heroically #6: Approaching the Cave

So, I have to admit, this stage in the hero's journey is a little hard to pin down. It seems like everyone has
their opinion about what is supposed to happen to the Hero in this part of the novel.

As the title suggests, this part of the journey is the hero heading toward the Ordeal, the first big nasty event that is going to shape our hero and test her in this Special World. She not quite there yet, but there is no avoiding it now.

I think the best definition is the moment that the hero makes the choice to go toward the Cave. Which is a pretty stupid idea, right? There's a cave with a dragon in it- YOU DON'T GO IN THE CAVE. No matter how much gold/magic/true love is in the cave.

Well, the hero in this point in the story might be feeling pretty good about herself. She's past a bunch of little tests that have helped her learn about the world. She's gotten a few allies along the way to help her out. So she might be getting a little cocky and think she knows a few things about things.

Which is really annoying and she might even have all of her allies saying NO! around her, but she is bound and determined to make this choice, because she is the hero and she knows best. Think about it as a fork in the road: which way do you go?

So she makes a choice that will bottleneck her into heading towards an event that is going to almost tear her apart and build her a new. Sometimes, this fork in the road can't been seen except in hindsight or was so tiny that it could be glanced over, like one of those little shell fish forks.

I'm going to break from the norm here and use an example from The Matrix. I think the Approach to Innermost Cave for Neo is when he decides to rescue Morpheus. Think "Guns, Lots of guns." He makes the choice to to into a situation where there are Agents, who he really hasn't faced before one on one. Everyone tells him that he is crazy and one Ally, Trinity, goes with him. He willing goes into a situation that is going to change him. Or just really piss off Hugo Weaving.

In live, I think the hindsight portion of this step really jumps out. We can all look back with a wince and say "I really shouldn't have done that" but it is undoubtedly an experience that has changed us. And remember, it doesn't have to be for the better. It could have been before an epic fail.

But that is a blog post for another time, my friends.

So this month as you live heroically, try to listen to your allies when you make decisions and try not to get eaten by a dragon.

-------

Amanda Arista
Diaries of an Urban Panther
www.amandaarista.com


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Solstice Favorites

.
Tis the deep midwinter here on the far side of the world – which is absolutely the best time to pull up a chair by the fire and indulge in some solstice reading.

And of course I want the kind of books that fit the season, all about secrets, mystery, adventure  – and cookies, which absolutely brings me to the first read on the fireside table: Robin McKinley's Sunshine.

Sunshine, given the heroine, Sunny, is a baker, delivers cookies a-plenty, as well as vampires, demons, and mystery in an adventure where Sunny herself may be the biggest secret... A great read for when the evenings start closing in.

Another pick, on the basis of name alone, has to be Patricia McKillip's Solstice Wood, which explores the boundary between the real world and the faerie realm.
There's a quilting circle that is more than what it seems, living on the verge of an "other" world,
which delivers up sufficient changelings, undines, and witches to populate any respectable set of fireside shadows, plus forbidden love and misunderstood duty to keep things interesting.

For secrets, adventure, and the exploration of consequences, I definitely can't go past Kristin Cashore's Bitterblue. The cyphers and mysteries Bitterblue must unravel make great winternight reading, as does the heroine's first foray into the ups and downs of romantic love...

Of course, if you're on the balmy, midsummer side of the world, you'll still enjoy these reads – but what others would you put on your summer or winter reading table?

 
 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meeting Readers!


Congratulations to Juanita of Massachusetts for winning this month's contest! Thank you all for the great comments! Please come back next month on the 25th when I'll be giving away two more books! (Love at Stake 4 and 5). See you then!

I love meeting readers!  Recently, I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Europe, and I was fortunate enough to meet some of my readers. They all drove several hours to see me, and I really appreciate that! I gave each of them a signed copy of my latest release, How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying). In Nantes, France, Aurore took me to lunch at a creperie. So yummy!! We had a great talk, then walked about the center of town. When we went inside St. Nicolas church, we were in for a treat, since someone was playing the giant pipe organ.  A fabulous afternoon! Thank you, Aurore!

In Breda, Netherlands, I saw more readers. Valerie and her sister, Fabienne, drove in from Belgium, bearing gifts of Belgian beer and chocolate! We had a great lunch together in the town square. This was my second time to see them, and it's always a great pleasure!  The next day, Jolanda and Monique drove to Breda to see me. We ate giant slices of apple pie in the town square and toured the old cathedral.  And they brought more gifts!!  I have the sweetest readers in the world!

Now I'm back in Texas, and I hope to meet more readers soon.  I'll be at a cool event July 20-21 at the Lake Austin Spa. They even plan to have me do a Zumba class with some readers!  That should be interesting!  Here's the link, if you're interested in coming.
http://lakeaustin.com/spa-resort/special-programs-events/for-the-love-of-books-author-series/readers-love-romance
And don't forget the giant book signing at the RWA conference in San Antonio!! It's open to the public!  July 23rd, there will be over four hundred romance authors signing in one huge ballroom! Here's the link-- http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=564

For this month's contest, I'm giving away signed copies of books 2 and 3 of the Love at Stake series-- Vamps and the City and Be Still My Vampire Heart. That's two books for one winner, who will be chosen at random. International entries are welcome.  To enter, simply leave a comment below. If you don't include your email address, please remember to check back here in a few days to see if I have posted your name as the winner. Good luck!!