Friday, November 11, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Release Nugget: WAKING ANASTASIA by Tim Reynolds

 A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Today I welcome Calgary fantasy author Tim Reynolds. He's been called Canada's modern-day Aesop by Barbara Budd on CBC's 'As It Happens'. He's a finalist for the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. He has a twisted way with a keyboard and a knack for yarn-spinning. WAKING ANASTASIA is his third book, following on the urban fantasy BROKEN SHIELD and the collection THE DEATH OF GOD AND OTHER STORIES.

Here's his nugget of wisdom:

My latest novel, WAKING ANASTASIA, had a unique inception. First it was a dream, then a screenplay, and finally, the novel.

Trust me when I say that this isn’t the usual route to publication. 99% of writers skip at least the screenplay part of the process, and here’s why…

Think of a finished novel like Michelangelo’s David. Your first draft is akin to Mike going to the Carrara marble quarries and selecting the perfect block of marble, looking for density, purity, and colour. You, the writer, select your words with the same care, and when the first draft is done it’s a weighty, unwieldy thing, hardly art, more like a block of words full of potential.

But as you edit, tweak, and refine your story, it’s like chipping away at the block of marble, taking what’s not necessary to leave behind the perfectly paced, brilliantly envisioned story, polished to a sheen and ready for the world to see.
Now, imagine if you will, starting with a skeleton instead of a block. Compared to a novel, that’s what a screenplay is. The skeleton contains the dialogue, and the locations, but none of the details. What a screenplay describes as “EXT. DAY. SUNNY. URBAN PARK” could take two pages of a novel to describe the sounds and scents, and maybe the colour of the Frisbee that lands at the heroine’s feet. I found that to flesh out “EXT. DAY…” to become “scuffed neon orange disc” throughout the entire manuscript is as tedious as adding marble to the skeleton would be to create David by gluing on instead of chipping away. I’d love to say I’ll never do it again, but I still have five more terrific screenplays begging to become novels. Kill me now.


Why should being murdered keep a girl from living it up a little?

When Jerry Powell inherits a torn, bloodstained book of poetry he has no idea that it contains the soul of Anastasia Romanova; but when he accidentally awakens her ghost, he discovers that death hasn’t dulled her sense of mischief and joy for life.

Between driving across the continent to start a new job in a new city, fending off a shady Russian antiquities collector, and ignoring his worsening migraines, Jerry doesn’t have time to cope with his undead royal houseguest.

Unfortunately for him, time isn’t on Jerry’s side.

 WAKING ANASTASIA officially launches November 8th at Owls Nest Books (815A 49th Avenue SW)

Edited to add this message I just saw from Tim:  Just got word that my story "Tamarack & the Stone", which was a finalist for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, got an Honourable Mention in the 4th Quarter of 2016!  Congratulations, Tim!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Release Nugget: TOUR DE MORT by Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock

A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Since their retirement from the University of Alberta, Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock have collaborated on three prior Danutia Dranchuk mystery novels, each of which touches on some aspect of the social conscience that is a vital part of both these BC writers. Their fourth book, TOUR DE MORT, comes out November 4th, 2017.

Publishing the Hard Way
As someone whose first three novels were traditionally published, I had a lot to learn when circumstances nudged co-author Chris Bullock and me into self-publishing TOUR DE MORT.
We are not technically adept enough to do everything for ourselves, so we chose a hybrid self-publishing service that conducts almost all transactions electronically. This system created poor communication with those involved in production, especially in design.
TOUR DE MORT is a fictional version of the first Cops for Cancer ride down Vancouver Island. So I searched stock images until I found a suitable cycling photo. Then came the five-month design process.
* I submit author photo and bios, blurb, reviewer comments and cover image electronically to our Account Manager, having noted on a form that the cover should seem ominous, foreboding.

* First proofs: Cyclist appears in full on the front; the cropped image on the back looks more menacing. Yes! I say in a sticky note on the PDF (my only means of communicating with the Designer). Put that on the front.

* Second proofs: Cropped image on the front, but still not menacing enough. Add red streaks leading towards a puddle of blood, I suggest.

* Third (and supposedly last) proofs: Red streaks have no relation to the bike’s path; a red blob looks like it’s been slapped against a wall. Our Account Manager at first ignores my complaint. We pay extra for a fourth round.

* Fourth proofs: The cover image as you see it. Hurray!

* Our softcover copies arrive. About the Authors (on the hardcover dust flap) has disappeared. Our new Account Manager investigates. The Designer’s email about possible ways of accommodating this material hadn’t been passed on to us.

Missing in this process is an experienced, knowledgeable publisher keeping an eye out. Long live traditional publishing!

About the book:

Sinister "accidents" threaten the Tour de Rock, a thousand-kilometre cycle ride to raise money for children's cancer. Spurred on by her young nephew's leukemia, RCMP Corporal Danutia Dranchuk has signed up as a rider but soon finds herself investigating. Events take a startling turn when people close to Danutia become caught up in a web of speculation and murder that she seems powerless to untangle.

Learn more about Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tyche Books Halloween Triple Launch

On October 27th, Tyche Books held a combined Halloween and launch party at Owls Nest Books, featuring three of its authors who have appeared on this blog in the past week: Eileen Bell, Kevin Cockle, and Axel Howerton. 

Here are are some quick shots of the doings, courtesy of Kevin Jepson.

THE JOKER wasn't laughing during Axel Howerton's reading

Owls Nest Events Coordinator Sarah was busy as a bee all night.

Me practicing my ferocious glare

Voodoo priest guards Princess Leia from Han Solo, who is babysitting Chewie's youngest but on Endor. I'm not sure whose side the gypsy was on, or the witch.
All the crazies in costume. Thanks, Tyche Books and Owls Nest Books, for a great evening, and good luck to the three featured authors: Axel Howerton, Kevin Cockle, and Eileen Bell.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Release Nugget: Kevin Cockle's SPAWNING GROUND

A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Today's new release is a debut novel, Spawning Ground by Kevin Cockle. He's got seventeen short stories out there, a screenplay, and an Aurora nomination. Spawning Ground is his first novel, and here's one thing he learned during the writing:

“Spawning Ground” being my first novel, the list of things I learned in the process of writing it is pretty long.  That I could write long-form narrative at all.  That you need to trust your writing: can’t be second-guessing every sentence and word choice if you’re going to finish.  But technically, if there’s one tangible step I took that I’d do again - and that might be of use to others - it’s the fact that I wrote SG as a screenplay first.

Movies are external and visual - novels are about the interior lives of characters - but still: a screenplay is basically a structured outline.  “Spawning Ground” started out as a short story (very interior; no act structure) which I wound up optioning to a local film company.  Adapting a short story for a feature film was a really useful exercise in terms of structure and narrative, which was important, since I was trying to create a compact genre thriller.  Characters and neat speculative ideas weren’t going to be enough: the thing had to have momentum; readers needed to have reasons to turn pages.  Plus it’s a lot easier to tweak and re-write a screenplay than it is a novel.  The logistics just made sense.

Having the screenplay in front of me made the writing of the novel a matter of disciplined execution.  No staring at a blank page and trying to think of something: the actual creative work had all been done.  I knew where I was going, which made getting there a lot easier.  The whole process made me more professional in approach than I otherwise would have been.  And it worked, which is the main thing.

About Spawning Ground

Genetic perfection has a price: a brutal Darwinian contest of strength and cunning to determine which bloodlines will continue, and dominate.

When Sarah Wheeler’s Spawning Contest is rigged, her breeding and training will be put to the ultimate test.

 Find out more about Kevin

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tiara Tuesday: I see STARS!

#1 The Diadem of the Stars (Diadema das Estrelas), in the Portuguese Crown Jewels

Originally commissioned by Queen Consort Maria Pia of Savoy in 1863 from the workshop of  Estêvão de Sousa - and taking a full 3 years to complete - it is made of gold, silver, and colourless and pink diamonds.  

Its companion necklace of stars, seen here, is missing the silver but beautiful nonetheless. 

#2  A 21st-century Tiara of Stars

This tiara was worn in 2002 by Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti from Argentina, when she married Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. He's now King, as his mother, Queen Beatrice, abdicated in his favour in 2013, making the wearer Queen Maxima.

The tiara is a combination piece: the base belongs to the Netherlands' Pearl Button Tiara, and the diamond stars belonged to Queen Emma, given to her as brooches when she married King Willem III in 1879.

Find me on Facebook

New Release Nugget: FURR by Axel Howerton

A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Calgary author Axel Howerton first came to my attention when his gritty PI caper, HOT SINATRA, appeared on the shortlist for the Arthur Ellis Award in the Best First Crime Novel category

I'm a sucker for a caper so there I was, nose-down in the misadventures of Moss Cole, PI. And thus was my admiration for Axel born. Not only is his writing quirky, atmospheric, and subtly hilarious, he's risen from his meek and retiring beginnings to the shady power behind Noir-Bar-YYC. Now that he's the Prairie VP for Crime Writers of Canada, he's also a big step closer to his not-so-secret plan for world domination
Here he is reflecting on what he learned while writing his newest, FURR, which bursts snarling onto the world this Thursday, October 27th at Owls Nest Books in Calgary.
Research. The bane of a lot of authors, and the downfall of many others. 
I tend to do a lot of research, get lost in it even. But sometimes it pays off in ways you can't possibly expect. In starting my new book Furr, I read a lot of werewolf fiction, from Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris to short stories by George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman. I did research on the Rocky Mountains, the Kootenay Indians, ancient Irish mythology, Chinese symbolism, the American pioneer plains, voodoo, 14th century witchcraft, and the 2014 Dodge Challenger. Usually, I cram all of this stuff into my brain at the beginning of a project, let it stew and simmer for a while, then let it seep into the cracks and corners of the work. Sure, I have to refer back to things, double-check my facts, but once I'm rolling, I'm rolling.
This time, having initially written the book in such a short time frame (the first draft was six or seven weeks in the fall of 2015) I had to kind of cram the research in as I went, and I discovered that it helped, rather than hindered, to be doing it while I was writing. Specifically, one little fact about wolves gave me a whole added layer of meaning. There's a repeated phrase: A strong wolf leads from behind. 
It's probably obvious what the meaning is, but the genesis of it was something I stumbled on in the 6th or 7th nature documentary I'd watched on wolves, not even really taking in information, so much as trying to saturate myself with the feeling of wolves, how they move, how they look... when something that had never been mentioned in my other research caught my attention.
When we think of the Alpha Wolf, we think of a tough, powerful and vicious animal, stronger than the rest, leading by example at the front of the pack.
What I learned, quite unexpectedly, was that the Alpha rings up the rear of the pack formation, in part to protect the stragglers - the weak and the young - and protect the pack from behind. He doesn't just lead the family into battle or on the hunt, he protects them from the darkness they might not see. That was a profound discovery for me, and fit so perfectly into my narrative that it became the shiny red cherry on top. 
So keep researching, keep immersing yourself in your subject matter. You never know what might find you at just the right time.
About FURR:  

From the South three sisters fair ran athwart the gloom… Dressed of fur and fierce of tooth, The maidens of the Moon.

Jimmy Finn is having a real bad day. He woke up drunk and on the wrong end of a nightstick. He lost his job, and had to see his shrink. Now the cops are after him, he’s falling apart, and his only friend is a volatile drug lord. How could it get any worse?

As smoke envelopes the city, he finds himself on the run, and out of time. He’s either losing his mind, or becoming a monster. Or maybe it’s both. Jimmy Finn has one last hope. A long-buried family secret, lost above a mysterious town in the mountains, full of bizarre shadows and a strange girl that haunts his memories.
Axel will be celebrating and signing in Calgary on October 27th, at Owls Nest Books (815A 49th Avenue SW) during the Tyche Books Halloween Triple Launch