Saturday, May 23, 2015

Romanian Anthology: Argos Doi - released at Bookfest

The Romanian anthology Argos Doi. Proza Science-Fiction & Fantasy, edited by Michael Haulica, is released at Bookfest book fair in Bucharest this weekend.

The book launch will take place today at 13:30 in pavilion C1, at Paladin-Art book stand.

Argos Doi includes my short story Un zambet de milioane. The story was first published in the first issue of Argos Magazine, April, 2013, and it won the AtelierKult writing contest in 2012.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the book launch, but I invite you all to go and check out all the great books available at Bookfest.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Indie Friday: The Anniversary


Guest post by Avery K. Tingle

The Anniversary is a story about true love. Not the type of true love one finds in fairy tales or romance movies, but the type of true love that has to survive hell and high water to be discovered. It is about two people who have already endured much to get to where they are in life. They’re not rich, they don’t live in the best neighborhood, but they have each other and that’s all they’ve really needed. So after thirty years together, they almost believe there’s nothing they can’t survive together. This raises the question; what if one of them was gone?

This is a science-fiction story so a radical question is posed, and this is the heart of the story. Can people be replaced? What does it mean to truly be human? Can love simply be transplanted from one person to another? What does it mean to truly love someone; not just the body but the facets that make the person who they are? 

Most importantly, if you could stave off the death of someone you loved, would you do it, and how far would you be willing to go to save them? Would you grant their dying request even if it meant sacrificing something vital to you?

The idea for this story came from many different sources; I’ve been blessed enough to watch couples work through struggles to find their happily-ever-after, that thirty-year lifelong bond that so many of us hope for (even if we don’t want to admit it). I’ve also seen what happens when someone in a relationship is struck with a terminal illness. Some say both pass on at the end. I lost someone I loved to violence once, and I know how the sting of that never, ever goes away. I wanted to present a controversial option to the notion of true love; what if you could be with someone forever...even if it wasn’t completely them? Would you settle for half? Two-thirds? What if it was what the person wanted for you? Could you set aside your own desires for theirs? 

Isn’t that what love is?

This is science-fiction, not just romance. While I’m not sure if it’s particularly groundbreaking, I wonder if it’s ever been explored, the idea that a life partner could be “replaced” in case of illness. This raises so many questions, none of them with easy answers.

I usually write fantasy and that’s fun. The Anniversary was not fun. Quite the contrary, the Anniversary was an extremely difficult and painful journey to take. Writing this story meant confronting some issues I’d dealt with long ago. There were plenty of moments when writing this novel felt like pulling a knife out of my chest.

Easily the most satisfying moment was completing the book, and watching all of these characters come full-circle. I felt as though I could finally close the door on some personal issues, and I felt that all of the characters had reached the appropriate conclusion. The story felt right when I wrote those last two words.

In the end, I want people to come away with a deeper appreciation for the people in their lives. We fight over so many trivial things on a daily basis. Some of them blow up way beyond what we intended. I wonder how we might change our tone if we knew that this was the last day we’d ever spend with them. I want people to think about how they treat others, and I want people to wonder; are things in this story possible and if they were, would we take advantage of them?

Should we?

~~~~~

The Anniversary by Avery K. Tingle

Available on: Amazon

Official website: http://averyktingle.blogspot.com

Follow the author on Twitter: @IronMan1176

Friday, May 15, 2015

Indie Friday: The Black Swans


Guest post by N.W. Moors 


The Black Swans is a fantasy romance book that retells the old Irish tale of the Children of Lir in a contemporary story. The original story is about the four children of King Lir who are cursed by an evil stepmother. The children are two sets of twins; the oldest are Finola and Aodh (girl and boy) and the younger are Finacra and Conn.  The curse is that they must live nine hundred years as swans. In some versions at the end of that time they meet St Patrick who baptizes them and then they die, buried in one grave with Finola holding the boys.  In other versions they are transformed back to human shape and die.

I hated that the endings were all so sad. The children had miserable lives as swans, living in the cold North Sea, and then to just die seemed very wrong to me. One day I started to think about how I could rewrite this story with a happy ending and that’s how The Black Swans was born.

I loved writing this story. By setting it in the small fictional town of Antrim in Maine I was able to add the Irish elements of music and magic while retaining the modern-day aspect of everyday life in a rural town in New England, something that I know about. I set Antrim in the Oxford Hills in the western part of Maine and many of the scenes are actual places (some are renamed) that I know and have visited. I’ve been to the locales in Northern Ireland that I describe. As a writer I find it easier when I can visualize what I’m writing about.

The same applies to the people in the book. The hero and heroine, Conn and Taisie, have always looked like Michael Praed and Judi Trott in the old BBC show Robin of Sherwood, if you remember that TV series. I kept a picture of them posted to remind me of details for the book. Many of the people are composites of real friends and family and I used old family names for the people of Antrim, both from Maine and from Ireland. It’s a technique that I use as a writer to become totally immersed in the story.

Taisie is a strong heroine. She is determined to break the curse, but does so in her own special way, using the grit and talent she has cultivated growing up in a small town. I’m currently working on the next book in the series and have at least four more planned; they are all stand alone, but take place at least partly in Antrim and some of the same characters appear from book to book. I love to hear from my readers so please stay in touch.

~~~

The Black Swans by N.W. Moors

Available on: Amazon

Website: http://antrimcycle.blogspot.com

Twitter: @AntrimCycle

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blackswansantrim

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cover Reveal: Argos Doi


Argos Doi.
Proza Science-Fiction & Fantasy

Edited by Michael Haulica

Collaborators:
Lucian Dragos Bogdan, Liviu Braicu, Aurel Carasel, Ioan Alexandru Despina, 
Mihai Alexandru Dinca, Alexandru Lamba, Lucian Merisca, Andrei Pantu, 
Florin Purluca, Liviu Radu, Felix Tzele, Ioana Visan

Release Date: May, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

Indie Friday: I'm Here


Guest post by Michelle Gordon

I'm Here is a story about a girl who is haunted by a boy that she had a crush on in school. After he passes away, he comes to visit her, and then finds ways to communicate with her. We get to see both sides of the story, from her point of view and from his, and he does everything he can from the dimension where he resides, to protect her from potentially dangerous situations. As their connection strengthens, they realise they are falling in love with each other. The story explores the idea of a relationship that others cannot see, with the sacrifices we make for the ones we love, and with the idea of what is fated and destined - can we really choose the reality we wish to experience?

The story is based on my own real-life experiences with a spirit who looks after me. It was his 'nudges' that I received through meditations and messages from mediums that encouraged me to write the story, but I found it quite difficult to do. From the first message I received to write the story, to the actual publication, was probably a timespan of about 3 years. I started writing the story several times, and I really struggled with the idea of writing it in the first person, as I generally write everything in the third person. But when I tried to change it to third person, it just didn't read very well. In the end, my spirit friend was visiting my editor in her dreams, to get her to push me into finishing it! The relief of actually finishing the book was immense, as at one point I just didn't think it would happen.

It's a book that fits into a few different genres; it's a paranormal romance, it's visionary fiction, and it's also what I call spiritual fiction. (I would love for the term spi-fi to take off!) Ultimately, at heart, it's about love. And about what we would or wouldn't do in the pursuit of that.

To get the book out into the world, I created the 'I'm Here Book Tour', and I (and many lovely fans) distributed cards bearing a code where you could download a PDF copy of the book for free. I also shared the link online, and then created a map with pins in all the places it has been downloaded. From that marketing experiment, I have made some beautiful friends and now have some very enthusiastic fans, so it was worthwhile doing it! I've also had some wonderful feedback from people who have been inspired and helped by the story, and it's feedback like that which reminds me why I continue to write and to bare my soul to the world. You can still download the book for free here.

You can also get it in paperback format and on Kindle from Amazon. The cover of the paperback is rather lovely!

~~~~

I'm Here by Michelle Gordon

Available on: Amazon

Website: michellegordon.co.uk

Blog: twinflameblog.com

Twitter: @themiraclemuse

Facebook: facebook.com/authormichellegordon

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Short Update (2)

I'm happy to let you all know the first draft of Broken People book 2 is done. I started it on February 2nd and finished it on May 2nd. That's three months -- the exact time I had planned for it. It would have been ready sooner, but two weeks led to zero writing on account on being sick, and then another week was busy with Easter and the release of The Weight of a Wing. Since I met my deadline, it's all good.

Next, I have to get the second draft done, run it by my critique partners, finish a new draft, send it to my editor, and then complete the final draft. It's a long process, so expect to get your hands on the book sometimes in the fall. I will release the title, synopsis, and book cover as soon as the illustrator finishes the cover art.

Of course, the rest of the year won't be spent only polishing Broken People #2. Since I just completed a novel, I'll work on shorter pieces for a while: one short story for a Romanian magazine and two short (longish) stories for Romanian anthologies -- one of them will be another installment in my upcoming space opera saga while the other might or might not feature The Nightingale Circus; I haven't decided yet.

In English, the piece de resistance will be book 2 in The Stolen Wings series. The first book was well received so there definitely has to be a second book. I have the first 15,000 words already written, so the rest will only take another three months. Then, I have to translate the prequel of the soap opera saga and write/translate the above mentioned circus story. Aside from that, I have to write an angel and demon short story and, if there's still time left, either the first novella in the space opera saga or an angel and demon novella from the same series.

That's a lot of writing so we'll see how much of it I can actually get done before the end of the year.

As far as releases go, there will be an angel and demon short story released in June (not entirely something new as some of you might be familiar with it), Broken People #2 in the fall, and the circus story or the space opera prequel for Christmas. If anything gets ready in time, there might be more, but I make no guarantees.

So, this is all from me for now. Back to writing.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Indie Friday: Fractured Immortal


Guest post by E.L. Wicker

Beginning a new book is hard. Figuring out where to begin can be one of the most difficult parts of the process. For me, it all began when I listened to a song and my head conjured up a scene deep in the forest of two people meeting for the first time. The idea intrigued me, more so than others that I had, and though I ignored it at first, it stewed away in my brain, growing to become something that I just needed to write down. Months passed, but eventually I put pen to paper and Fractured Immortal was born. I wanted to weave a tale of love, layer it with a heavy dose of vengeance and pain, add a dash of jealousy and a whole heap of secrecy, that was my recipe. It slow baked for a long, long time, but with each passing day it rose higher, nearing completion until finally, it was done.

This brings me to my struggles while writing. It is in no way an easy process. So often when people ask me what I do and I reply that I’m an author, I’m met with—I should write a book. Have at it. I guarantee, it’s not as easy as people think. There are so many bumps along the way, too many to fit into one guest post, but suffice to say, writers block, manuscript loathing and itty bitty torn up pieces of paper hampered my journey. Yeah, I struggled. All writers do. But it was worth every bead of sweat and every salty tear, because the most satisfying moment for me, was when it had been through its final editing stage and it was complete.

On my laptop, I had a final version of Fractured Immortal, a story about a female vampire, Ilia Rose, hell bent on revenge who becomes slowly unraveled by another vampire—one who should be her enemy, but really doesn’t behave like it. As the two begin to know each other better, his secrets explode in Ilia’s face, pitting her against a force she’s unequipped to deal with. The story focuses a lot on enduring friendships. Ilia’s friends come together to fight alongside her. Strength in numbers!

There are so many vampire books out there, that bringing something new to the genre was always going to be difficult. Recently I had a conversation with my critique partners where we discussed my characters. Each vampire in my book maintains a strong hold on their humanity. There are as close to human as they can bring themselves. They worry about each other’s feelings, fall in love, fall apart and forgive when the need arises. The book is in no way flowery though, there’s violence and death, but there’s also a strong sense of love from all of the characters. What they all mean to each other, everything they’ve endured, served to eventually make them stronger. Telling that tale is what I wanted to accomplish, and I think I did. 

No writer should go into the business thinking they’re going to become a gazillionaire. It’s unlikely, and if that’s the attitude going in, failure will burn them. The vast majority of writers love the craft, for many it’s a compulsion. So all I wanted to accomplish was to get the story written and I won’t deny that I hoped with all my heart, that at least one person would love it as much as I do.

That’s pretty much the low down on my process. Looking back, it was a lot of fun. I did have bad days, but hey—pushing on through is what makes us writers.

~~~~

Fractured Immortal
by E.L. Wicker

Available on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Official website: http://elwicker.com

Follow the author on Twitter: @elwicker 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 April Reading List

Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson – It didn’t work for me. I felt no connection to the characters and I didn’t see what the end game was for such a world. It felt like a small part of a bigger story. 3/5 stars Amazon

It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long – I’m beginning to see a pattern here. JAL introduces a secondary character and makes him/her fit for the current plot. Then in the book in which he/she becomes the hero/heroine, she changes him/her to make him/her appropriate for the new plot. It worked for Jonathan but not so much here. I prefer the Laval from the earl’s book. And after all this teasing, Lion better be bloody awesome when he finally shows up! 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

The Silkworm by Robert Galbrith – It flew better than the first book in the series, and despite the overload of details, it was a fast read. A bit gory and I was disappointed by the killer reveal, rather smart though, but other than that it was fine. So I guess now we have to wait until season fifth finale for a real kiss, eh? 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – With a decent editor who didn’t do only line editing (that could have been better too) but also development editing, this could have been a great book. I was 14% into the book and, other than world building, nothing had happened. I’m sorry, but I need to have a plot in my books. This felt like a series of separate events the author threw together just because the author thought it would be fun to have them happen. And in a way it was, but it made the book terribly slow and disjointed, and that’s too bad. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig – A good motivational speech for the beginning writers, only entertaining for the rest. 4/5 stars Amazon

The Explorer by James Smythe – As a writer, I thought this was an interesting exercise. As a reader, I strongly believe writers shouldn’t subject their readers to their exercises. I found the book to have similar issues and patterns to Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation: MC obsessed with his ex, showing less than normal interest in what’s going in around him, secondary characters remain strangers right until the end, zero explanation, and zero plot. And the overly long paragraphs didn’t help the reading experience at all. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – Amusing, a bit cliché, real, sad, distant, but fun. You can hardly go wrong when you write about books. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

Warm Up by V. E. Schwab – This short story needs to be read after you read the novel. Otherwise it feel like too much is missing. 3/5 stars Amazon 

Vicious by V. E. Schwab – Two broken boys who become even more broken, only one doesn’t realize it and the other one is past the point of caring. Or is he? I fell in love with the book after the first few pages, which hasn’t happened to me in a while. Without the flashbacks repeated from a second perspective, this would be close to a 5 star book. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

Friday, April 24, 2015

Indie Friday: The Duchess of the Shallows


Guest post by Neil McGarry and Daniel Ravipinto

As the author Charlie Stross once noted fantasy, and particularly high fantasy, is a conservative genre:

"And to make matters worse, the traditional format of a high fantasy novel is that some source of disruption threatens to destabilize the land; it is up to the hero (usually it is a 'he') to set things right and restore the order of benign tyranny to the world." 

As Stross points out, most of the population of fantasy worlds who are not a) the hero of the story; or b) royal (or at least noble) and male have lives that are simply awful. But most fantasy doesn't dwell on these conditions, and there is an inherent idea that the status quo that must be maintained is, inherently, a Good Thing. Combined with the idea that the past was better than the present, that our forefathers were greater than we, you have the basis for a good deal of modern fantasy.

We came by our love of the genre honestly, both of us growing up reading The lord of the Rings and playing Dungeons and Dragons – the former being the archetype of High Fantasy, the latter very much wearing its influences on its sleeve (Tolkienesque elves and dwarves, Vancian magic). We unapologetically enjoyed big, thick books with maps at the front and appendices at the back filled with nonsense words full of apostrophes.

As geeks and as gay men we were both outsiders in our way and, in hindsight, always nascent storytellers. We played games that told stories, wrote stories on our own. So when we sat down, as adults, to play a role-playing game together, perhaps it was inevitable that the tale we told would be one of outsiders in a high fantasy world. And perhaps it was inevitable that it would become much more than just a game.

As we played, we built the Imperial City of Rodaas, the fog-shrouded, rumor-haunted capital, built on the crumbling remains of a former civilization that one day simply left behind the safety of their walls and the comforts of their civilization and never returned. There we met Marina Kell, known to all and sundry as Duchess, once a member of the nobility and now a bread girl of the lower city.

Even as a noble Duchess' choices would have been limited. Her father was widely respected as a scholar, and Duchess would have gladly followed in his footsteps, but such things do not happen in Rodaas. She would most likely have been married off as soon as she reached the age of majority, a pawn in the game of the great noble Houses to cement an alliance with another family. A pretty bird in a gilded cage.

But then even that small hope was taken from her. Her home burned, her family dead or vanished, she found herself living with people who were not her parents, sleeping in a room with two girls who were not her sisters. And here, with Duchess having fallen through the cracks of Rodaasi society, we found our story.

There among the city's forgotten we found Lysander, a ganymede who, along with his fellows, sells his body for coin, who captured Duchess' heart when she was still a girl and to this day remains her best friend. We found Minette, an obsessive collector of secrets who puts each one towards her own inscrutable ends. We found the wretched poor of the Deeps, the working underclass of the Shallows, and the beggars who cry for alms along the Godswalk. And there also we found the Grey: a secret society of thieves, spies and rumormongers, who stand supreme in a city where corruption and lies are common coin. They are as unremembered and invisible as the rest, but lay claim to a subtle power that could shift the fortunes of high and low alike.

And slowly, inevitably, the game and its story became The Duchess of the Shallows, and then its sequel, The Fall of Ventaris. (A third is on its way!) Through these novels, we've explored a world where the status quo is, perhaps, not a Good Thing, where those in power do not share it lightly, and the slightest threat of change can bring terrible retribution. Where the past is a storm of secrets and horrors that make the troubles of the present pale in comparison.

We came by our love of fantasy honestly. But through our work we hope to show that fantasy can be more than just a romantic wish for days gone by, or the restoration of, as Stross puts it, a benign tyranny who might rule wisely and well. We hope to find in the cracks and amongst the forgotten, hope for a different and, perhaps, better way.

~~~~

The Duchess of the Shallows
by Neil McGarry and Daniel Ravipinto

Available on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Official website: http://peccable.com/duchess/

Follow the author on Twitter: @peccable

Monday, April 20, 2015

Twitter follower increase mini-guide

Everyone and their grandmother seems to be on Twitter these days. It's fun and easy to use, and it can be even useful at time. If you use it also for marketing purposes, it makes sense to aim for a big following.

During the past year, I increased my Twitter follower number from 5,000 to +20,000, all real followers interested in my line of work. I did it by investing a few minutes in the morning and another few in the evening, and not by buying bulk offers.

How did I do it? It's pretty simple:

- Each morning, I used whounfollowed.me to unfollow those accounts that had unfollowed me and check the new followers and follow those that interested me. The service is free.

- Then I went to my following list and picked one account. Before doing this, I would make sure to tweet something related to one of my books to get people interested.

- I checked his or her following list and followed the accounts whose description included the words sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, YA, steampunk, vampires, writer, author, book lover, reader, book blogger, booktube, etc. (you get the gist).

- If I had to scroll down too many times and found suitable users only here and there, I would pick another of the people I followed and repeat the procedure until I added 200 more people to my following list.

- In the evening, I used ManageFlitter to unfollow 200 people who didn't follow back. I first ordered them by following date, so I'd unfollow those who I had followed the longest and had plenty of time to follow back. This service is also free.

- At the end of the month, I used ManageFlitter to unfollow inactive accounts, more exactly those who hadn't tweeted in the month before last. There's no point in following dead accounts.

And that's about it!

Tip 1: Don't autofollow. Check your followers daily and follow back only those who seem interesting, not all of them.

Tip 2: Don't send welcoming DMs, automatically or not. There's little more annoying than messages saying "Thanks for following me!" or "Buy my book!"

Tip 3: Don't use truetwit validation. If people are interested enough to follow you, don't ask them to jump through hoops to do so. Most of them won't bother to click on the link. I don't.

And most important, do reply to tweets and, from time to time, do RT the tweets from your timeline that you find interesting. Your followers will appreciate it. Happy tweeting!