Changing Course~A Must Read!

ChangingCourse

 

Another hit outta the park!

No matter what genre Brey Willows turns her hand to we can count on meeting incredible characters, falling into a mind-blowing world and being swept away by a wonderful story. To say I loved this one is a bit of an understatement. I consumed it. I couldn’t put it down and I will read it again.
The characters (except for the walk-ons) are all well-drawn and memorable. Even the bad guy. Even the bad guy that was supposed to be the bad guy, but really wasn’t. (Read it, you’ll see what I mean)
The landscape was so real I could feel sand and grit and desperation.
The ending made perfect sense and was not contrived in any way. It was a great wrap-up. And would you look at that cover! Gorgeous! The romance worked perfectly too!
Loved it…loved it…loved it!

You can get a copy on November 1, 2019 at BoldStrokes Books

Thank you to NetGalley, and Bold Strokes Books for the opportunity to read the ARC, and to Brey Willows for sharing her gift once again.

What Can Anthropology Teach Authors?

tourist attraction of a place

Photo by Kong Ruksiam on Pexels.com

Cultural Anthropology is the study of human cultures, beliefs, practices, values, ideas, technologies, economies and other domains of social and cognitive organization, and it has a lot to teach authors. This occurred to me the other day while I was knitting. To understand, you need a little background.

I, along with a friend, manage a group of crafters that have wonderful imaginations. We imagine that we are all students at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, a la Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Hogwarts creator, J.K Rowling, invented Ilvermorny, but she’s never said much about it, leaving us free to take our version of the school in wonderful new directions. On Ravelry (an enormous crafting-oriented website), there are other “schools” that are magic and crafting related, but we’ve taken our Ilvermorny in a direction that none of them have. We’re injecting a lot of realist education theories and practises into Ilvermorny. The one that concerns us today is the concept of “Majors”.

For those who may not know, a Major is simply a specific subject that students can specialize in while aspiring to a degree. At Ilvermorny, one of the five degrees that our students can pursue is a ‘Cultural Anthropologist Specialty’. The Majors program is a pet project of mine, so I’ve spent a lot of time putting it together. As I worked, anthropology began to look more and more interesting. So naturally, I fell down the internet rabbit hole, as we sometimes do. When I came up for air and coffee, I was struck with the realization that this field was what I could see myself doing in an alternate universe, you know if family dynamics, money, education and all kinds of other barriers weren’t in play. Friends, I honestly got chills.

So what does this have to do with my opening statement? I’m a writer, one stuck in countless edits and rewrites, but a writer all the same. So after I emerged from that rabbit hole, I got to wondering…what does the field have to offer writers? Further, can one study anthropology without the cost? The answer to my first question is easier than to the second. Writers, most especially in speculative fiction, create entire cultures. Those that are more easily visualized are the ones more developed in the writer’s mind, the ones with an economy, religion, social structure, and so on. Instead of relying on twenty or a hundred questions, we writers could learn a lot from anthropological studies already done. In my case, that means that my characters on New Olympus are currently in need of some more culture. Like, a lot more. It’s not really fair to compare a culture only developed within a few hundred years to an indigenous culture thousands of years in the making, but in a side by side comparison, I can see where my New Olympians are lacking. So I begin to get an idea of what I need to study in anthropology to bring my New Olympians more fully to life. To begin to bring them to the level of Tolkien’s ancient races of Elves and Hobbits. And isn’t that what many speculative fiction writers quest for? To create characters that will be remembered a hundred years from now alongside Tolkien’s? Well…it is for me.

 

Next time, what can I learn from comparison? Quite a lot apparently!

Dark Matter That Won’t Let Go

DarkMatter

 

I’ve had this book for some time now but for some reason, never read it. I started it last night and finished it this afternoon.
Well, holy hell was this good!

Not just good. Mind-bendingly cranial. Awesome. Brilliant. Mind-blowing. All of these and more that I don’t even have the words for. This is the first speculative fiction novel that I had to put down for a minute every other chapter (or so) and stop and absorb what I’d just read. The basic concepts weren’t new to me, although the fish and pond analogy was new. Personally, I like the premise that each time we make a choice, a new world is created, a slightly different world. Who among us has not wondered, “What if I had done X instead of Y?”

This book is one man’s answer, and dilemma, and horror.
This book asks us what makes us unique? What makes us better than the next person in line, or more moral?
I love it when a story makes me think. This one will stay with me for a long time. Heck, it might never leave, just sit in the back of my mind poking me every now and then and say
‘hey, what if…?’
And that will be just fine with me.

A Return…With Friends!

planet earth

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been away this past week due to two failures.

A hardware failure, and a failure to communicate.

The first was a stuttering failure of the household router. In an effort to fix it, a tech that shall remain nameless failed to communicate correctly and we had to go nearly a week without the internet. It was getting pretty nerve-jangling by the time a knowledgable tech showed up to configure a newer router. You’ve never seen an entire household go from stressed out to happy in so short a time!

Last night, I had a dream. No, nothing of Martin Luther King importance, but for me, it was fairly significant. I don’t normally remember my dreams, but this one concerned my novel-in-progress, ‘Infinite Worlds’. You might remember that IW is set on an Earth-like parallel world, New Olympus. Devi Aradesta and Coriander Wolf have to find a way to get to New Olympus and retrieve a missing team of Earth scientists. Last night, I dreamed of a side-story to ‘Infinite Worlds’, and this morning I started writing.

Friends, I can’t properly express how excited I am about this tale, which as yet has no name. Here’s the plot in a nutshell…

In a parallel universe, there is a world very much like Earth. New Olympus is ruled by a strong-willed woman who has a plan for her world’s future. That future includes the immigration of potentially thousands of Earthers. But there are some in her government who would rather see her dead than share New Olympus with off-worlders.

Despite the best warriors protecting her, and a watchful and dedicated bodyguard at her side, the Chancellor of New Olympus, Bia Andosian is growing increasingly ill. With no heir named to follow in her footsteps, and no second in command, a corrupt Minister plots to take her place as Ruler. And his plan for New Olympus includes death for all Earthers. Even the ones already on New Olympus.

Emery Mai’s day to day job is to keep Chancellor Andosian safe. While she struggles to learn why the Chancellor is growing increasingly ill, she must also discover who is behind a newly created faction of anti-Earthers. She has to find a way to save her friend’s life, as well as the future of her world. Two worlds, and their inhabitants, stand to lose everything if Emery fails.

Does this sound like something you might be interested in reading? Have any suggestions for a title? Let me know in the comments section below!

Concerning A Grimoire…

grimoire-of-kensington-market-davis

I don’t normally read paranormal tales of Shifters and Elves and assorted folk who populate some Other-World. The story has to have a promising premise for me to even read a few pages. There have been a few that I couldn’t possibly turn away from. My last piece is evidence of that. But now, another novel filled with Other-Worlds has crossed my path and I wanted to tell you about it.

“The Grimoire of Kensington Market” by Lauren B. Davis lauren-b-davis

It tells the story of an otherworldly drug crisis wherein the city becomes consumed by demand for elysium, a new drug that lets users literally transport to another world. 

Bookstore owner Maggie is one of the few holdouts to the drug, which has a nasty tendency to turn deadly. Unfortunately, her brother Kyle isn’t so lucky and Maggie finds herself on a dangerous mission to rescue him from the so-called Silver World. A dark fairy tale for Toronto (based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”)

I’m a sucker for tales set in Toronto, having spent a good deal of my formative youth there. Throw in damaged and all-too-human characters and I’m willing to give it another look. And for that book’s author to have such a seemingly keen understanding of the timelessness of fairy tales to include this comment by C.S. Lewis, “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again”, promises me something a little different. A glimpse at the author’s blog gives me a good idea of the woman behind the novel, and that just set the hook, so to speak.

So I’m in. I’ll be picking up this book just as soon as I can.

 

What are you reading these days? You are reading, right?

When Cori and Devi First Met

 

Once upon a time, there were two women who were tasked with retrieving a party of scientists who had travelled through a stable wormhole to another world. Those women, Coriander Wolf and Devi Aradesta, already had quite a history, and although they didn’t yet know it, they would enjoy a remarkable future. I’m still working hard to finish Infinite Worlds, and my editor assures me that every bit of dialogue that is tweaked and every scene that I modify, only makes the novel stronger and more vivid. So while I’m still plugging away on that, I’d like to remind you how Coriander and Devi first met back in ‘If It’s Easy’ (which happens to be for sale at your favourite book retailer).

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Here’s an excerpt;

Coriander stepped away from the community bonfire when a small twinkle of light caught her eye. As she moved toward the lake, she noticed the sky was filled with the brief blue-white flashes. They rose from the grass, blinked over the water and danced with an otherworldly lustre.

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” A voice to her left said.

She turned and tried to see who’d spoken, but the fire was behind them and all she saw of the other person was a silhouette.

“I’ve always loved them,” she replied. “Full of immediacy and living in the moment.”

“And hope,” her companion in the dark replied. “The males flash to females to signal their availability. It’s a firefly singles bar!”

They both laughed briefly.

“I remember catching them when I was a little kid and keeping them in a jar so they could light up my room,” Coriander said quietly.

“Did you know they aren’t really flies at all, but beetles?”

“Really?”

“Once they reproduce and the eggs are laid, the adults die,” The dark form stuck her hand out. “I should introduce myself; my name’s Devi…Devi Aradesta.”

“Coriander Wolf, but everyone calls me Cori,” She returned the handshake, and they turned back toward the lake to watch the fireflies again.


I invite you to check out your favourite online ebook retailer and pick up a copy of If It’s Easy while it’s still cheaper than a cup of coffee!

Infinite Worlds – An Excerpt

infiniteworlds

Today I wanted to share with you an exclusive sneak peek at a bit of ‘Infinite Worlds’.  In this bit, Coriander and Devi are having a conversation with the Chancellor of New Olympus. No sooner had they adjusted to finding an entire population and culture that they didn’t know existed, that planet’s ruler lays this on them…

“Among our Archives are documents that direct us to prepare our world for visitors from Earth,” Reatha said as she filled their cups with wine from her personal stock. “When I was declared Chancellor, I was shown these documents. Our ancestors have left instructions to encourage friendships with those from Earth, but also clear the way for people from your world to settle here on New Olympus if they choose to do so.” She settled on her lounge and regarded her guests seriously. “Dr. Baffin tells me that in your written history on Earth, there is a tradition of sharing a place with others through the written word?”
Coriander nodded. “Many years ago, when travel was more challenging, explorers would travel to different parts of the world and write about their adventures. The literature, what we call books, would describe far-off places and the people that lived there, as well as their culture. This encouraged others to travel and explore.”
“Exactly what our endeavor will require!” The Chancellor smiled.
“Which endeavor would that be, exactly?” Coriander asked with a furrow between her eyes.
“You will write such a book describing New Olympus and our customs for the people of Earth who might wish to know more about us. Then we will not be strangers to them, and when a way between our worlds is found, perhaps some of those Earthers will wish to come here.” Reatha said, matter-of-factly.
“Why do you want people from Earth to come here?” Devi asked.
“Dr. Baffin has told you that our Archive explains how New Olympus came to be populated, and named, correct?”
Devi and Coriander nodded silently.
“Then if our world was first inhabited by Earthers, it is reasonable to encourage such a thing once again. But consider this, when I was a child, I was taught that the beasts of New Olympus do not mate for life, but take many partners in order to increase the diversity of the species. I imagine this may be what the First Ones had in mind when they encouraged us to welcome Earthers to New Olympus.”
“So you want to increase the diversity of your people?” Coriander asked slowly.
“Indeed,” Reatha agreed, nodding. “I believe it would bring about growth, a widening of perspective and broaden our horizons in ways we cannot yet imagine! Think of the things we could all learn from one another, the possibilities are endless.”

 

Exciting stuff! Can you imagine the possibilities of finding another culture on a planet other than our own? How alien do you think they would be, or do you think they would be like us? Let me know in the comments section!