Saturday, November 15, 2014

Giving it Voice

Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany
With #NaNoWriMo in full swing, I’ve seen more than a few questions pop up in the social buzz about #VOICE. For example, a post yesterday questioned writing multiple characters. It had everyone talking.

The smartest answer?

Make it sound real.

This reminds me of ​Tatiana Maslany's incredible delivery of - what is it now, twelve -  cloned versions of herself? The writers give each character a different personality, back-story and voice, and Tatiana delivers in a way that feels authentic. Not forced.

And those accents!

Editor Ariel Hahn says voice is the absence of artifice. It’s what comes out when you have just yourself. She says not to worry though; it will develop on its own if you keep writing!

China Mieville
China Mieville puts it like this: Every book I write, the first thing I have to do is get into the voice, and the voice varies from book to book - that's part of what's interesting to me . . . Of course, who you're writing for is part of the decision about the voice of the book . . . but the person you're writing for is (sorry to repeat what is a cliche, but it's true) yourself - though yourself at different times and in different moods. So when I wrote Railsea, I was very much wanting to write a story for myself at a certain age. I tried to inhabit the voice that would excite and win over and appeal to and interest that me, rather than thinking "now to write to appeal to children". I wouldn't know how - but I do know how to tell younger-me a story he would like, I think and hope.

It takes self-reflection for a writer to pull this off. Les Edgerton suggests that the best way to find your voice is to write autobiographically. "Writers will never find a powerful, evocative voice until they learn to be bone-deep honest with themselves, open and vulnerable”.

As the saying goes, if you’re a writer, who needs therapy?

Here are examples of voice in two different projects I’m currently working on:

Black Tuesday (w/t) - NY, 1926 Paranormal Romance

The secretaries were like birds on a hot wire, all a chatty flap. Hammond’s door was open, the man shouting on the phone.
    “What happened?” Charlotte asked the receptionist.
    “He was actually here!”
    “Who?” Charlotte knew perfectly well who. It was all she could do to keep from running after him.
    “Leon Marcottie!” the office girls said in unison.
    “Him?” Charlotte managed to shrug one shoulder. “I hear he’s a real cake eater . . .”

The Blood in the Beginning (w/t) - 2020, LA Urban Fantasy

The detective and I went way back, not in a cozy, family friendship way, hell no. He’d set me straight when I went a little wayward.
    Okay. A lot wayward . . .
    Rourke kept me out of juvie, for the most part, and though there’d been no luck finding decent foster care, he started me in the LA-MMA junior circuit, and that saved my life.
    “You want to fight, you might as well learn how not to get killed.”    
    When I showed up for my first class, he was leading it. Yeah, we went way back.

VOICE is like a fingerprint - if you listen closely, you’ll find the writer’s unique signature. Do you have a favorite voice in film, TV or novels? I’d love to hear more! Comments welcome. :)

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 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, November 3, 2014

The Difference between survival and living

Year of Living Heroically: the Road Back.

So you are all rested up after your Supreme Ordeal, you've got a nice shiny object to covet lovingly, you're a hero now, right? You survived your deepest fear and got something amazing as a reward. This is the end of the road, right?
This post got a bit heavy on me-- here's a cute squirrel!

WRONG! Did you think it was going to be that easy? That's not heroic, just giving up in the middle of the journey.

The Road Back is the moment in the journey when the hero hikes up her pants and gets back on with the Journey. She makes a choice to head back to her ordinary world as this new changed person (surviving the SO changes all heroes, for better or worse). Well, it might look like less of a choice and more of a chase from the antagonistic forces that she pissed off in the Supreme Ordeal-- think dragon wanting its gold back. But she makes the choice to go home, to be with her people again.

She has survived; now she wants to live.

For me, this really hits home that our hero is really a hero. Instead of just enjoying the relaxation that comes with the Reward, she gets back on her feet and keeps going. After the Ordeal, she sees the bigger picture of what is really going on in the world and she wants to make it right. She's got this special accessory, or talent, or insight, and she wants to give back.  That for me is a hero. Heroes keep fighting even though they know its not going to get easier.

Helen Lowe in her last post mentioned fashion as an important part of a characters experience, and it is totally true and especially hits home in the road back. The reward was the accessory that you get to take with you that proves you did something amazing.

In the wake of October's Breast Cancer Awareness month, I don't think I need to explain the scars that people carry with them after a major life ordeal. In the light of our veteran's coming home, I don't think I need to mention that all scars aren't on the outside. In the road back, a hero will take those scars and carry them forward as a survivor.

Heroes will make the choice to live and share that life with others.

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther series

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Supernatural Couture

Gorgeous "Da Vinci" couture
Recently I've been thinking about supernatural couture, which is one of those "background but essential" aspects to Fantasy.

In part, the thinking was sparked by Rebecca Fisher's column, Big Worlds On Small Screens, in which she looks at SFF TV shows and films---most recently, Da Vinci's Demons, in which she wrote:

"...there’s also very little attempt to adhere to history accuracy — although you only need to glimpse the astounding outfits of the women to realize that."

As the pic shows---very outstanding and drop-dead gorgeous!

In books, too, attention to couture detail is often part of the background fabric (he-he) of the storytelling.

In Laini Taylor's fabulous Daughter of Smoke and Bone, for example, Madrigal goes to a ball, and the ball feels so much more real because she is wearing this:

" was midnight-blue shot silk. a form-skimming sheath so fine it felt like a touch could dissolve it. It was arrayed with tiny crystals that caught the light and beamed it back like stars, and the whole back was open, revealing the long white channel of Madrigal's spine all the way to her tailbone. It was alarming..."
When Blue goes on her first date with Adam, in Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys, she dresses a little differently:

"She wore heavy boots she'd found at the Goodwill (she'd attacked them with embroidery thread and a very sturdy needle) and a dress she'd made a few months earlier, constructed from several different layers of green fabric. Some of them striped. Some of them crochet. Some of them transparent."

Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson is a motor mechanic, so overalls and a monkey wrench are part of her essential everyday attire and off-duty she's more of a a cropped T and jeans kinda gal. 

In Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series, noble women like Sharran always go out in public with one handthe "safehand"—covered by a special sleeve or glove.

In The Heir Of Night, a young Malian attends a feast in "an elaborate black velvet dress" with her hair "bound into a net of smoky pearls." 

When the Prince first meets the newly woken princess at the end of Thornspell (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the prince's perspective), she is also "richly dressed": 

"Her gown was velvet over silk, and there was a golden fillet around her brow, a net of jewels and gold wire lying across her hair."

From the sumptuous, to the zany, to the practical—supernatural couture is an essential part of the Fantasy milieu.

But perhaps you have a favorite outfit associated with a book or character? Feel free to share here if you do. :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bring on the Kilts!

Congratulations to Kathie from Texas for winning this month's contest! Thank you all for leaving comments and making me smile!  Please come back next month, Nov. 25th, when I'll be giving away Wanted: Undead or Alive and Wild About You!

Last month I wrote that I would give away a copy of Vampire Mine and Sexiest Vampire Alive, but when I checked my bookcase, I was shocked to find out I don't have a copy of Sexiest Vampire Alive!  They've all been given away.  So I asked Connor whom he would like to share the spotlight with, and his answer was his Scottish buddy, Dougal. I agreed, of course. Who would want to disappoint a handsome Scotsman in a kilt?

To the left is a photo of a lone piper in the hauntingly beautiful valley of Glencoe.  Wouldn't you love to hear Dougal play the pipes? And to the right is a photo of the ruins of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. (No, I didn't see Nessie! I was too busy looking at men in kilts!)

Speaking of gorgeous men in kilts, we mustn't forget Jamie Fraser from the books and television series, Outlander.  While I was in Scotland, I bought a pin for Jamie, then tried to travel back through the stones to give it to him. Obviously, it didn't work and I'm still here. To the right, you'll see Cathy Maxwell making her attempt at time travel. (That also didn't work).

I bought two scarves for Connor Buchanan.  The bright one shows off the plaid he wears in his kilt.  The one in shades of brown is the hunting or natural Buchanan tartan that he would wear when he wants to blend into the landscape.  Connor is the hero of Vampire Mine, and Dougal Kincaid is the hero of The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo.  I'm giving away a
signed copy of each book to one lucky winner.  International entries are welcome.  To enter, simply leave a comment and tell me who is your favorite Scottish hero. If you choose not to leave your email address in the comment, that's all right, but please remember to check back here in a few days in case you've won and I'm looking for you. Good luck to you all!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Desire and Destiny

Life's Desires by Florian Geiss
Happy New Moon Eclipse, Everyone. Thank you for your comments. The name that came out of the hat was Alina P!

Alina, email me - enchantment AT kimfalconer DOT COM and I'll send you your gift voucher.

Namaste, Kim 

Desire . . . a verb that means "wish, or long for," from the Latin desiderare. The original sense of the word may be, "await what the stars will bring," from the phrase de sidere (from the stars).

I love this connection to 'the stars.' It brings to mind a sense of destiny, spoken of in a beautiful quote from the Upanishad:

You are your deepest driving desire. 

As is your desire, so is your will. 

As is your will, so is your deed. 

As is your deed, so is your destiny. 

You are your deepest, driving desire . . . 

― Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Some believe that desire is our undoing. They might even quote various teachings to support the thought, but are we really translating correctly?

According Mark Epstein in his book, Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life: to Buddhism, “tanha” creates suffering. This Pali term has often been translated as desire, but “craving” is more accurate. That's craving as in addiction.

Pure desire can be a positive, creative energy, a lust for life. It gets us out of bed in the morning, fuels our inspirations and dreams and leads us toward our highest expression of Self. As implied in the Upanishad, and the link to the origin de sidere, our desires become our destiny. They defines us.

What do you think? Is desire leading us to our greatest potential, or biggest bungle? Have you been inspired by a story of great desire? I'd love to hear about it.

Drop a short comment below and be in the running to win an gift voucher for your most desired books.

The winner will be drawn on the Eclipse, October 23rd at 5:45 PM. Check back here for the results!

Thanks for being part of our Supernatural Underground!

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 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.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Time for a Birthday Book Giveaway

[UPDATE: Winners are Melissa and Infinitieh. Please email me at JocelynnDOTdrakeATgmailDOTcom your address so I can ship your books to you!]

October is my favorite month of the year.  It's a time of cooler weather, colored leaves, Halloween costumes, and my birthday! Yes, today is my birthday, but I'm the one who's going to be giving away the presents.

I would like you to help me celebrate my birthday.  And the timing is particularly perfect since I've got a new book that is coming out next week!  The Final Asylum Tales book is being released in three parts starting on October 14 for e-book.  Demon's Fury will be released on October 14. Demon's Vow will be released on October 21. And Inner Demon will be out on October 28.  (If you're not a fan of e-books, the final story will be released as a single book later this year.)

But maybe you're not acquainted with warlock-turned-tattoo artist Gage Powell, his elf girlfriend Trixie, or his best friend, a troll named Bronx.  That's okay because I'm giving away two sets of the first two books -- Angel's Ink and Dead Man's Deal -- to celebrate my birthday!

The Asylum Tales follows the adventures of tattoo artist Gage as he tries to balance having a girlfriend who's hiding from the Summer Court while he's trying to escape the warlocks of the Ivory Towers.  Not an easy task when the poor man finds trouble as easily as he does.  His escapades has seen him dealing with vampires, shifters, ogres, elves, sirens, pixies, hobgoblins, minotaurs, incubi, and even the Grim Reaper.

For more information and the reading order of the series, click here.

If you would like to win one of the two prize packs (a signed Angel's Ink and a signed Dead Man's Deal), leave me a comment telling me what you would like to be for Halloween if you could dress up as anything in the whole wide word.  The contest is open to both domestic and international readers.  Please come back on Saturday, October 11 when I will announce my two winners.

Also, I've got another giveaway running on my website through this week. Don't forget to stop by and enter my different contest there. To see my other birthday giveaway, please click here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The M&M at the end of this sentence

Thanks for my TWO WINNERS! Ash Wolf and Cheesecake- Email me to get your prizes!

Year of Living Heroically #8: The Reward.

I love it when great minds think alike. A few days ago, Helen Lowe was talking about rewards and how writing a book is hard work and the  completion of a novel is its own reward. Some days, writing is not about  focusing on commercial success but for the pure art of the novel itself. And on some not as inspired days, writing is just about getting to the end of the sentence so you can treat yourself with an M&M or similarly candy-coated goodness.

This month, our step in the hero's journey is exactly that: The Reward. Our heroine has just confronted a dragon or some other hideous thing and survived. And she's better for the experience. She has gone through the fire of her ordeal and come out a stronger, better version of herself.

Don't you think she deserves something all sparkly and wonderful and preferably made of chocolate or gold? I know I do.

Dwayne Johnson in costume playing with a visitor on set. 
Many of us are tested on a daily basis, and every now and then we experience something that really changes who we are or how we look at life. The reward is not only the betterment of yourself, what you learned from the experience, but also a moment to appreciate that you survived. You are still here to fight another day.

It reminds us that even Hercules got a few moments to stop and play patty cake for a while (The sheer size of Dwayne Johnson's thighs in the most recent version of Hercules is probably a whole other blog post).

I think its something that this fast paced culture doesn't appreciate enough. Stop. Enjoy. Relax for two seconds. Appreciate where you've been and where you might be going. You are not history yet, your story is still being written.

So to help you take a moment to relax, to reflect on the awesomeness that is you, I'd like to give you a small reward. Post in the comments below something that helps you relax, so we all can learn your secrets, and I'll give one lucky comment a gift box of things that help me relax (and maybe a few of your ideas tossed in there too for good measure).

So until next month, don't forget that you are AWESOME!

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther Series