Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Congratulations to Nancy of Missouri for winning this month's contest! Thank you all for your wonderful comments!  Please come back Dec. 25th for the next contest, when I'll be giving away Love at Stake books 14 & 15 (Dougal and Zoltan).  Happy Holidays!

I'll make this quick since I bet you are as busy as I am as the holiday season begins. So much to do! And so much to be thankful for!  I hope you all know how grateful I am for my readers.  The Love at Stake series was originally contracted for only two books, but thanks to you and your enthusiastic support, the series will soon be celebrating its sixteenth book!  Crouching Tiger Forbidden Vampire releases Dec. 30th.

There's a contest to enter and an excerpt from Crouching Tiger Forbidden Vampire on my website at www.kerrelynsparks.com. If you haven't liked my author page yet on Facebook, please do, so you can catch the occasional random contest there. On my website and the About page of my Facebook author page, you will find info on how to get the latest Love at Stake bookmarks and postcards.  I will be posting future appearances (both online and live) on my Facebook author page and website, so please check those pages in the next few weeks as I get them updated.  Most of my online appearances will have a chance for you to win a signed book.

Launch party for Crouching Tiger Forbidden Vampire will happen Dec. 30 at Katy Budget Books.  If you're not in the Houston TX area, you can always contact Katy Budget Books to purchase a book (any of my books) signed by me that night.  I'll be in the Seattle area the first weekend in December, dropping by several bookstores to sign books. If you want to meet up with me, just email me to let me know!  In January, I'll be in Dallas the weekend of the 24th, and then in Sarasota, Florida, Jan. 31 for a KissCon event.

For today's contest, I'll be giving away a signed copy of Wanted: Undead or Alive and Wild About You.  To enter, just leave a comment here. International entries are welcome. Winner will be selected at random. If you leave your email address, it makes it much easier for me to contact you.  If you're not comfortable doing that, no problem, just remember to check back here in a few days to see if I'm looking for you.  Good luck and wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!

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 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, 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:

"...it 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. :)