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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Launch Day! THE ORPHEUS FACTOR: 6 Dark #ScienceFiction Stories #Scifi


More than half of what I write is for kids, but sometimes I take great delight in writing stories just for grown-ups. Welcome to my newest collection:




THE ORPHEUS FACTOR

Maybe the aliens are already here.

These six works of short science fiction by award-winning author Anne E. Johnson range from Earth-bound cyberpunk to a space-opera retelling of an ancient Greek myth. All-in-all, the collection will leave you ... unsettled.


Purchase THE ORPHEUS FACTOR as an ebook at major online retailers:




Thursday, December 3, 2015

The intensive research behind J.S. Dunn's BENDING THE BOYNE

May I just say how much I love the term "archaeofiction," which I learned from this essay by J.S. Dunn? This author is all about research and historical fiction, two other things I love.

*   *   *

Bending The Boyne, set in ancient Eire at 2200 BCE, emulates Jean Auel’s carefully researched series 21st century archaeology and reveals a compelling story of change. Bending The Boyne is the first novel of Bronze Age Ireland to explore what might well have happened underlying the mythology. It can be read as archaeofiction, a tale of a largely forgotten culture.
in 'prehistory'. This work has no druid/esses, no time travel, no leprechauns; in short, no fantasy elements. What could possibly inspire a first-time author to spend ten years researching and writing such a work? The answer lies in western Europe’s oldest mythology and its largest concentration of prehistoric rock art. The Boyne mounds, older than the pyramids and Stonehenge, fell out of use around the end of the third millennium BCE as did megaliths along much of the north Atlantic coasts, from the Pyrenees in northern Spain, to Brittany, and into the Isles. The great passage mounds and their carved rocks are now acknowledged to be intricately engineered observatories for movements of sun, moon, and constellations. So what happened?
            To show the cultural clash between astronomy-loving natives and the metal-using newcomers proved no small task. Academics don't agree on all issues but gradually the pattern emerged, that the Beaker People of ca. 2200 BCE disrupted the native culture wherever they arrived. Fortunately, the author enjoyed reading numerous archaeology, archaeogenetics, and astonomy volumes and journals. RyanAir's cheap fares facilitated travel from Ireland, where the author had a country stone house, to the coasts of Wales, Orkney, Brittany, and Spain. 
            Boann’s impassioned struggle to hold on to her people’s astronomy and their values forms the central conflict, when marauders with long bronze knives seek to plunder the Boyne for gold. Boann is associated with the river Boyne and with the white river in the sky, the Milky Way. She appears briefly in the earliest myths and then she literally disappears. Her son Aengus is strongly associated with the passage mound now called Newgrange, his origin a prehistoric version of Who’s Your Daddy? The myths are not clear on just who is his father. It is clear that Boann is the mother of Aengus. In this novel, she is also an apprentice learning her people’s astronomy.
            She faces the choice of duty as against personal desires. Boann’s lover Cian, another sketchy figure from the earliest mythology, is banished overseas. From there he figures out how to help Boann and his people survive the incoming warriors in a profound way.
            The discord surrounding Aengus’ paternity haunts him into adulthood and leads to the shocking result when Aengus finally confronts Elcmar, the invader who married Boann for his own purposes.
            Aengus knows that “all of time is made up of night and day.” He intends to hold onto the Boyne forever, newcomers or not. Truth is stranger than fiction. Even today, winter solstice sunrise warms the inner chamber after more than 4,000 years. So it is that Aengus, the young son of Boann, returns at solstice to shine upon Eire. The Bru na Boinn complex in Ireland is now a UN World Heritage site that has tens of thousands of visitors annually. Perhaps the builders knew this structure could last forever.
            The hidden gold of Eire is not metal, it is the myths themselves and the rich heritage of Irish literature from the likes of Yeats, Synge, Joyce, Flann O’Brien, and others. The astute reader will catch echoes of these in Bending The Boyne.
            One last thing, about the precise location of gold in Ireland: that is still a secret.

More about Bending the Boyne:

Circa 2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age when marauders invade seeking copper and gold. The astronomer Boann and her lover the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, as long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Banished to far coasts, Cian discovers how to outwit the invaders at their own game. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland’s beginnings in a totally new light.

This story appeals to fans of solid historical fiction, myth and fantasy, archaeo-astronomy, and Bronze Age Europe. Bending The Boyne received first place, historical fiction, 2011 Next Generation Awards.

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Purchase Bending the Boyne on Amazon.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Launch Day for YOUNG ADVENTURERS #YAlit Anthology


You know what makes a great holiday gift for a teen?

A book!

(I bet you already knew that.)

Here's a nice new one to consider:

Intrigue Publishing presents YOUNG ADVENTURERS: Heroes, Explorers & Swashbucklers, a collection of exciting YA stories in a variety of genres.

I'm delighted to say that my science fiction story, "Toori's Constellation," is included in these pages.

Find it on Amazon, BN, and other major online retailers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My reading and panel schedule for #PhilCon2015


Next stop Cherry Hill, NJ! If you're going to PhilCon on Nov. 20-22, you'll probably run into me at some point. Please do say hello. Here's my schedule of appearances:

Friday, Nov. 20

5:00 pm
Plaza III (1 hour)
THAT'S NOT A STORY; WHAT IS IT? (2125)

    [Panelists: Diane Weinstein (mod), Darrell Schweitzer, Anne E.
    Johnson, Bernie Mojzes]

    Rachel Swirsky's Nebula-winning and Hugo-nominated “If You Were a
    Dinosaur, My Love” caused considerable controversy because some
    people thought it wasn't a story. What do we mean by a “story”
    anyway


8:00 pm
Plaza V (1 hour)
EXPLORING THE YA LANDSCAPE (2159)

    [Panelists: Christine Norris (mod), Anne E. Johnson, Aaron
    Rosenberg, Jack Hillman, Ty Drago]

    Far more than just dystopian dictatorships and magical boarding
    schools, young adult literature has a lot to offer. Let's take a
    look at some of the less-visible categories in the field


Saturday, Nov. 21

1:00 pm
Room TBA
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading

2:00 pm
Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)
YA READINGS WITH ANNE E. JOHNSON AND ROBERT C. ROMAN [FAMILY FRIENDLY]
(2080)

    [Panelists: Anne E. Johnson (mod), Robert C Roman]

    Join author Anne E. Johnson as she reads from her new collection of
    short stories, "Things From Other Worlds," and Robert C. Roman with
    a reading from his novel, the space opera "Blank."
 

5:00 pm
Plaza IV (1 hour)
GETTING THEM WHILE THEY ARE YOUNG (2135)

    [Panelists: Jim Stratton (mod), D.H. Aire, Christine Norris, Anne E.
    Johnson, Dina Leacock, Gary Feldbaum]

    Creating SF&F aimed at kids and teens presents a different set of
    problems from writing for adults. The majority of science fiction is
    serious and brainy, and much of it is quite complex. Children
    respond better to simpler ideas presented with a sense of fun, while
    teens are easily bored, overcome by hormones, and desperate to fit
    in with their peers. This panel explores tricks to writing SF&F that
    appeals to kids and teens, as well as analyzing outstanding examples
    of books, films, and TV shows that draw in younger generations


Sunday, Nov. 22

2:00 pm
Plaza V (1 hour)
WHY WRITE HORROR FOR CHILDREN? [FAMILY FRIENDLY] (2225)

    [Panelists: Diane Weinstein (mod), Anne E. Johnson, Barbara A.
    Barnett]

    A panel discussing the value of scary stories and how reading about
    fighting monsters can prepare young minds for facing conflicts in
    the real world

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Launch Day for #midgrade #ebook #fairy story single THE CLAY WAR


I've been working on this fun middle-grade fairy story, and I decided to release it on its own, just to
see what happens.

THE CLAY WAR is sort of a twist on the concept of urban fantasy. One minute, a girl named Shelly is replanting her father's flowers on her fire escape at home in Detroit. The next minute, she's in a strange land, with two rival fairy battalions charging toward her, wings buzzing and weapons raised.

You can buy THE CLAY WAR at all the major ebook vendors, including

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

I hope you enjoy it.

And don't forget: the ebook version of my collection of 15 kids' stories, THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS, is on sale for 99 cents for all of November. Now that's an otherworldy deal!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Want great #scifi and #fantasy for cheap? Check out #99centNovember


Happy Fall! You know what's falling besides leaves? The price of some great speculative fiction during a special promotion called #99centNovember.

It's Cyber Monday all month long! 

Such an honor that all the e-book formats of Things From Other Worlds are part of this celebration. I'm in very distinguished company, including Milo James Fowler, Daniel AusemaJames Garcia Jr., Simon KewinMichelle Ann KingTB MarkinsonTyrean MartinsonRhonda Parrish, and Loni Townsend.

Get all the juicy details here.



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gail Z. Martin talks Alternative History in her Day of the Dead blog tour.


Please welcome Gail Z. Martin, whose novels with Solaris Books include the upcoming Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC, and The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series co-authored with Larry N. Martin. I asked Gail to tell us a bit about what it means to write "alternative history."
*   *   *

What Flavor is your Alternative History?
By Gail Z. Martin

What do you think of when the term ‘alternative history’ comes up?

Some people think of pivotal battles or moments in history. What if Hitler had won World War II? What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War? What if Lincoln had stayed home instead of going to Ford’s Theater? From that altered battle or event, the new timeline moves forward, and the author imagines a world different from our own.

Sometimes, the change is more subtle. What if an invention had come along earlier, later, or not at all? What if an influential philosopher or politician who is credited with setting a movement or ideology into motion never lived? That begs the question of whether or not an idea or invention would have come along eventually, if not by the person in our timeline who developed it, then by someone else. But what difference would a delay (or advance) in timing make?

Imagine the different route history might take if a natural disaster (like Hurricane Katrina or the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius that buried Pompeii) never happened. Or if a narrowly-averted natural disaster (the many hurricanes that veered away from making landfall on the East Coast at Category 5 status, for example) did happen? In a nod to the famed ‘butterfly effect’, that a tiny, random change that seems insignificant (like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings) can cause a huge difference when the ramifications play out. Many stories have been written about the difference one ‘average’ life makes (think “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which is really alternate history).

In Iron and Blood, the steampunk series co-authored with my husband, Larry N. Martin, we take a look at a Victorian Pittsburgh with crucial differences. In the real world, inventor George Washington worked briefly with genius Nikola Tesla, and then they went their separate ways. In our world, they found Tesla-Westinghouse Corporation, a nexus for steam-powered inventions. A disastrous flood, fire and earthquake that didn’t happen in real life occurs in our steampunk world, leading to the rise of the shadowy Oligarchy who stepped in to impose order after the catastrophes. That same Oligarchy sabotaged the nascent oil industry at Drake Well, so that steam power remained ascendant over petroleum.
Those are just a few of the altered details, but the ripple effect on history becomes larger and larger as time goes on, and it affects everything about the story and the characters, making the book a tale that could only happen in that alternative timeline.
One of the coolest things about alternative history is how it gives us a different lens to look at actions and consequences, to trace back how we got to where we are now and what might have changed that, and where we could have ended up. So whether you like your alternative history as steampunk, military adventure, sci-fi or fantasy, there are plenty of flavors to choose from!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! For details, click here.

About Iron & Blood
Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company, travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake's cousin, Veronique 'Nicki' LeClercq . Smuggling a small package as a favor for a Polish witch should have been easy. But when hired killers come after Jake and a Ripper-style killer leaves the city awash in blood, Jake, Rick and Nicki realize that dark magic, vampire power struggles and industrial sabotage are just a prelude to a bigger plot that threatens New Pittsburgh and the world. Stopping that plot will require every ounce of Jake's courage, every bit of Rick's cunning, every scintilla of Nicki's bravura and all the steampowered innovation imaginable.
Extra Days of the Dead Trick or Treat Freebies!

*   *   *
You can read an excerpt from the upcoming Vendetta here.
Purchase Iron & Blood on Amazon.
Get yourself some book swag here (before Nov. 1).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS Goodreads #giveaway and tons of other news!


So much going on this October!


My book launched. You probably know that, but just in case, you can check it out on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Kobo, iBooks, and so on.

My YA urban fantasy story "Compound Spelling" was published in Vitality Magazine.

I published a ton of writing advice:
- In my Kid Lit Insider column on EatSleepWrite
- On Drunk Monkeys
- On Rate Your Story

I set up a Goodreads giveaway. Enter for a chance to win one of three copies. This is open until Nov. 15 to fans in the US, Canada, and UK. (You're welcome!)

Let's see...what's coming up? Here are the highlights so far:

November:

There's a month-long event called #99centNovember I'll be part of. Details soon!

Sunday, Nov. 15, 11:00 am (Eastern), I'll hold my official launch party for THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS. Everyone of all ages is invited! Details on the Facebook Event Page.

Monday, Nov. 16, 7:00 pm (Eastern), I'll read a story from THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS as part of the Rough & Ready reading series in Manhattan. I'll post more details as they're available.

Fri, Nov. 20- Sun., Nov. 22, at PhilCon in Cherry Hill, NJ, I'll do a reading and be on some panels. I'll post my entire schedule once I know it.

December:

My YA story "Toori's Constellation" will be published in Young Adventurers: Heroes, Explorers, and Swashbucklers from Intrigue Publishing.

A Peek at 2016:
My story for adults "Proof of Reincar(bo)nation" will be published in Alternate Hilarities 5: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife from Strange Musings Press. If you like my Webrid novels, you'll enjoy the style of humor in this.

My children's story "Organized in the Nick of Time" will be published on the Rainbow Rumpus website.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Krysten Lindsay Hager: #YAlit NEXT DOOR TO A STAR and writing all the time


Please welcome Krysten Lindsay Hager, whose new YA book is called Next Door to a Star. She admits how thoughts of writing pervade her every waking moment. Boy, can I relate to that!

*   *   *
Writing: The Job You Never Turn Off 
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
               
People think being a writer must mean that I play make believe all day and spend long hours on the couch watching bad daytime TV. In reality, writing isn’t a job you fit in when you have time to pick up a pen or get to a computer—it’s a job you never walk away from. If you’ve seen most writers’ computers you’ll notice several tabs open at all times. Now imagine what our minds are like! It’s like a million ideas swirling at all times—new plots, themes, how to rework the ones we already have churning in their minds, and then rewriting something we’ve already sent to the editor. Even going out for the night doesn’t take us away from the work.

Before I wrote my latest young adult novel, Next Door to a Star, I went to the beach towns I write about several times. I scouted out Grand Haven, Michigan (the main setting for the book) to check out the beach, shops, pier, and downtown where my character, Hadley, and her friends hang out. I also went to Saugatuck, Michigan where the Hadley and Asia go on a day trip and run into the rock star Hadley has a crush on. When I was in Grand Haven, my friend was looking forward to spending some time in the sun. So while she was catching some rays, I had mapped out where my characters would be going so I could see if how I planned a scene for the book would actually work in reality…right down to the actual steps the characters (Simone and Hadley) would take on the pier. 

On another visit, while my husband was taking in the sun, I was taking in the sites and jotting down notes and taking pictures with my phone so I could capture the scene exactly from every single angle. To look at my phone gallery you’d think I took a million pictures of the same scenery to get one decent picture, but nope. I needed to see that scene from every possible angle so I could go back to my laptop and recreate the setting in the book. It helps me to go in person to see the downtown where Simone (the former teen TV star) would go to get her hair down with Hadley and where they’d run into her ex getting pizza with a new girl—an older high school girl. Then, I take all my pictures so I can plot out where the girls go and make sure I have the landmarks in the right order for anyone who reads the book who is familiar with the area.

Later, I went to shops my characters would visit and imagined where their conversations would take place—like when Charlotte and Hadley are invited out with the popular girls and feel out of their element. I sat on a bench to emails notes to myself so I didn’t forget anything all while Instagraming shots to my followers of places they could expect to see in my next novel.  

When we made a snack stop, I saw an ice cream place across from the beach that I needed to go into. My husband said, “You want ice cream?” And I replied no, I didn’t, but my Hadley and Simone might want some and I needed to see the setup of the store. So he got some ice cream to give me an excuse to scout out the place and jot down details.

People don’t always realize all the details that go into creating a scene, but I like to take the reader right into the world that I am creating. I’m always on the lookout for something that will add to the story, make it richer, and bring you into my character’s world. Sure it means I can’t turn my brain off from writing, but I assure you, I had just as much fun that day researching and scouting out places for my book as someone who sat in the sun enjoying the beach.

Watch the Next Door to a Star Book Trailer:



*   *   * 
Learn more about Krysten Lindsay Hager on her website and on Instagram.

Buy Next Door to a Star on Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere.





Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's Launch Day for #kidlit #scifi #stories THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS


Hey, Hey and Happy Day!

Today I am pleased as pink bubbly to announce the launch of my book

THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS
15 Alien and Fantasy Stories for Kids

"Enchanting!" -Ellie Ann, New York Times bestseller

Many strange things wait inside these pages. There's a fuzzy ball of kindness, camped out on a grumpy man's porch. A chewed piece of gum with a mind of its own. A smart Alec who actually stands in line twice when they're handing out brains. A girl who isn't afraid when all the plants in her neighborhood come to life.


This collection of 15 science fiction and fantasy stories for kids by award-winning author Anne E. Johnson is perfect for ages 8-12, or anyone with a child's heart.


Things from Other Worlds is available as both print and ebook. Here are some of the places you can find it:







If you'd like a signed copy, here's what you do:

1. Attend one of my live events (details to be posted soon here, on my website, and on Goodreads).
2. Email me at Contact@AnneEJohnson.com to ask about buying the print book directly from me or requesting a signed book plate.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Left My Brains in San Francisco by Karina Fabian, now an audiobook!


Got Zombies? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Author Karina Fabian created this fearless and hilarious character. Now you can get the Neeta Lyffe tale I Left My Brains in San Francisco fed directly into your brains through your ears. And Karina has a few things to say about using funny Zombies for a serious purpose.

*   *   *

Why Zombies?  
Using the absurd in fiction to show the absurd in life
by Karina Fabian

Acura reached into the box of "Rename Tenderloin!" flyers for her notebook.  "I can appeal in two weeks, but I need a new strategy."  Her voice grew bitter.  "Apparently, the idea of renaming an important sector of our city for a cruelless, savory treat instead of the barbaric meal of abused animals is just too philosophical for our city government.  I was thinking that maybe we could point out the damage to the psychological attitudes of children growing up in an area named for a fat-laced meat?  Or how about promoting diversity by recognizing vegetarian Americans?"

"Lard, please!"

"Beets!  You know I hate that phrase!"  Acura followed her friend's gaze.  Her nose curled with distaste.

A disheveled guy wandered around the paved path, passing out flyers.  Pale skin, ratty clothes, hair falling out in clumps...

"Can you believe the nerve of those Global Fattening people?  Taking advantage of that zombie exterminator convention to promote their cause."

"Yeah!  And do you hear him?  Groaning, 'Faaat.'  You just know he's having fun at the expense of the expansively bodied."  Beetle, never one to stand by while a woman was emotionally abused, stood and shouted across the table.  "You!  Ugly protestor guy!"

He turned and shambled their way.  Acura wrinkled her nose.  He even smelled disgusting.  He stopped at the table and glared at them.  "Faaat!"

"Oh, don't give me that 'Global Fattening' crap.  You're just playing at a useless unfounded cause to give yourself an inflated sense of importance.  Shame on you!  If you want to hawk your inconsequential ideas, go do it on your side of the park."  With an outstretched arm, she pointed to a less populated area.

The guy stared at her for a moment, as if it was taking longer than normal to process her words.

"Go on!" Beetle yelled.

That apparently got through.  He slammed a flyer on their table.  "Faaat!" he groaned and shambled off toward the duck pond, leaving the flyer behind.

Along with one of his fingers.
---From I Left My Brains in San Francisco, by Karina Fabian

It's an age-old science fiction writers' trick--use the future to discuss an issue of today. So when I was asked to write zombie novels, I decided to give the old trick a new twist. 

I started with a simple premise:

In the 2040s, zombies have become a reality.  They rise from the grave, intent on eating brains or on completing something that they didn't finish in life - even if it's a beer and a TV show.  And, true to so many phenomena in life, people react differently:
·         Some people want to treat them like an emerging species in need of protecting.
·         Some want to profit over speculating why they came to be.
·         Some people want to believe they are still people – capable of love, rehabilitation, and voting in the next election.
·         Some want to exploit them for their own causes (which is the plot for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, which comes out in audiobook this month.)

All of this made a delightful mishmash of insanity into which to drop one woman who just wants to protect people by rekilling the undead, making a little money and having some kind of social life while she's at it. Neeta Lyffe is a zombie exterminator. She’ll spray your house for ants and take out the shambling undead. All part of the job.

I enjoy writing the Neeta Lyffe novels because they aren’t so much about surviving the brainless undead as they are dealing with life that can be just as mindless and crazy, and often in a very comic way.

Anxious for some zombie humor? So are we, but I Left My Brains in San Francisco still isn’t up on Audible. BUT you can get the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go to http://karinafabian.com/freezombiefiction. Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

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Learn more about Karina Fabian and her books and audiobooks on her website.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Barbara Gaskell Denvil introduces the world to her medieval historical fiction


Always happy to have a writer of historical fiction as my guest. This week we have the talented and prolific Barbara Gaskell Denvil, who talks with such enthusiasm about writing her medieval English novels that you can't help but want to read them!

*   *   *
INTRIGUING TALES OF ORDINARY PEOPLE
By Barbara Gaskell Denvil


Echoes in the night, running footsteps on the cobbles, the flicker of a candle flame at a window, distorted behind thick green-tinged glass. Outside in London’s alleyways the darkness is intense as the moon is hidden behind the rooftops with their soaring chimneys. But suddenly there’s the flare of a torch and its sizzle of fire. The Watch is coming – following – calling!  But the light is then extinguished, in the wind. Panting, losing breath, whispers. The lanes are narrow and the central gutters are thick with rubbish. The footsteps continue,  though now fainter in the distance. He is getting away.

Dreams. Visions. Inspiration. Hauntings.

I write historical fiction, and my books are set in late medieval England around the latter half of the 15th century. There’s a reason for this, for I have dreamed of such things all my life and the episode above is a typical night’s journey into the past. Even while living a highly romantic life for some years on a yacht sailing the sunny Mediterranean, I slipped into those medieval paths of my dreams.

When I started, many, many years ago, to seriously research the period that I already visited once asleep, I found an absorbing fascination in such details. This has never abated. I love to study the principal characters of the era, such as Richard III, Edward IV, Henry VII and all their amazing lords, ladies, courtiers and followers. But it is the ordinary people who inspire me most of all, along with their intriguing lives, limitations, desperate struggles and beliefs .

I have always been an author of sorts, an editor, critic, journalist, short story writer, screenwriter, and most of all a reader. And so it came naturally for me to write about the experiences which were already nightly dramas. I have now written several historical novels based around this late medieval period, and although my plots are centred around genuine historical characters and events, it is my own multi-layered storylines inhabited by beggars and soldiers, prostitutes and butchers, thieves and orphaned children, which interest me the most. My books are long – sorry – but with a huge cast of characters and depth of plot, a short book would be inadequate. After all, it takes a long book to relate all the interweaving mystery, adventure, crime and romance that my books involve. I am fussy about historical accuracy, but it is bringing my individual characters to life which I particularly love, since they all quickly become my great friends – even the villains – and I continue caring for them long after the book is finished.

Two of my historical novels have been on sale for some time in Australia where I now live – but I have recently made them available worldwide and now have great pleasure in announcing that SATIN CINNABAR, SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN and BLESSOP’S WIFE are all available worldwide on Amazon.

BLESSOP’S WIFE (published as The King’s Shadow in Australia) is a tale of crime, mystery and espionage set against the turbulent times when Edward IV died, and events led to Richard III accepting the throne. SATIN CINNABAR actually starts on the battlefield of Bosworth as Henry Tudor claims the crown of England from Richard III. SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN takes place during the first years of the dawning Tudor dynasty when the pretender known as Perkin Warbeck appears in England, claiming to be the rightful king. These books do not lead on one from the other, and each has its individual story and characters. But the dark and troublesome background of late medieval England persists – on the page just as it does in my head.

I continue to write of course, every day at my computer with the glorious Australian scenery and wildlife outside my window for inspiration. Rather a contrast to dark medieval alleys, but the peace and beauty are great for concentrating the mind. All I hear is wind in the trees and birdsong – then the click, click of my keyboard. So there are many more books to come -----



Blurb for BLESSOP’S WIFE

1483 and Edward IV wears England’s crown, but no king rules unchallenged. Often it is those closest to him who are the unexpected danger. When the king dies suddenly, rumour replaces fact – and Andrew Cobham is already working behind the scenes.
Tyballis was forced into marriage and when she escapes, she meets Andrew and an uneasy alliance forms. Their friendship will take them in unusual directions as Tyballis becomes embroiled in Andrew’s work and the danger which surrounds him. A motley gathering of thieves, informers, prostitutes and children eventually joins the game, helping to uncover the underlying treason, as the country is brought to the brink of war.

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Learn more about Barbara Gaskell Denvil on her blog. Follow her on Facebook.



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Never Throw a Story Away! Great Advice from THE CANDLE MAKER Author Laura Thomas


We all have them: drafts and fragments of stories we tuck away in (real or digital) drawers, assuming we'll never look at them again. Today's guest, Laura Thomas, makes a great case for the importance of hanging onto those old stories.

*   *   *
Returning to The Candle Maker
by Laura Thomas

I can honestly say that my latest book, The Candle Maker, was an absolute joy to write—possibly due to writing in the era of “A Christmas Carol”, which always warms the cockles of my English heart. I’m a multi-genre author, and sometimes I get a little turned around writing about a cute, displaced Octopus one day and an angsty, teenaged ballerina the next, but The Candle Maker was one of those stories that comes without the losing of hair or sanity. Bonus! 

It began its life several years ago, with the single word “candle” in a writing assignment with The Institute of Children’s Literature. I brainstormed “candle” in good old clustering fashion and created a Dickensian tale of a misunderstood candle maker. I needed a child to be the protagonist, so ten-year-old Benjamin evolved, making the story suitable for middle graders. Although it was merely a short story at this stage, I suspected there would be a deeper version to unravel one day…

Fast forward a few years and a few published books later, and I stumbled across my old Candle Maker friend in a file. NOTE TO ALL: Never throw a story away, even if you think it’s a painful reminder of how chronic you were as a writing babe. If nothing else, it will serve as a glorious reminder of how far you have come in your writing journey! I re-read the little tale and got to work fleshing out characters and improving the original storyline.

With a tad more wisdom under my writing belt, I added a little brother (I have two boys who give me ample fodder for sibling interaction) and an English bulldog (I have one of those, too, so it was an obvious choice—she would have been highly insulted had I used the Red Setter from the original manuscript.) The storyline already implied the ramifications of listening to rumors, and so I built upon that particular moral and added in some neighborhood bullying, a touch of poverty, and the issue of courage. 

I have to point out that my teenaged sons were flabbergasted that I finally wrote a “dude book” (my previous titles: Tears to Dancing, Tears of a Princess, Fairy Wings, and Pearls for the Bride… say no more!) even though they are significantly beyond its reading target age of 8—11 years. Better late than never. This is my first boy book and I’m delighted with the mix of mystery, history, family values, and the facing of fears. My “little guy”, The Candle Maker, was published by Dancing With Bear Publishing in July 2015.

BLURB:
“Every village has a mysterious character— someone to tell tales about, someone to fear. Meet The Candle Maker. One Christmas Eve in Victorian England, ten-year-old Benjamin Walker is forced to face the fabled old candle maker and see for himself if the ghastly rumors are true. Challenged by neighborhood bullies, lessons and lies, and an English bulldog along the way, Benjamin confronts his fears on a quest to discover the truth. But will this ragamuffin lad find the courage he needs in time to save a life?”

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You can purchase The Candle Maker on Amazon.
Learn more about Laura Thomas on her website; follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

#Coupon Code: MuseItUp Publishing Back-to-School Kids' Book Sale!


Fun books for your school-aged bookworms (including my own Ebenezer's Locker).

Redeem code MUSEITYOUNG2015 at MuseItUp Publishing through Sept. 30, 2015.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cover reveal: THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS


Coming soon: Things from Other Worlds: 15 Alien and Fantasy Stories for Kids.

Target launch date for this collection of lower-middle grade tales is October 6. It will be available everywhere ebooks are sold, and I plan a print edition, too.

This will replace my Aliens & Weird Stuff series, which I'll pull from Amazon. I've learned a lot since releasing those.

 Isn't this alien silhouette a great combo of friendly and spooky? I'm tempted to name him. The cover is by James at GoOnWrite.com. Great, fast work that includes image licensing.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

When Fiction Is Reality: Kevin Hopson on Loss, #Writing, and DELIVERING JACOB


Please welcome my fellow MuseItUp author, Kevin Hopson, who wrote his new novelette, Delivering Jacob, on a painfully personal topic. I invited Kevin to talk about the transfer of real life into fiction.

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When Fiction is Reality
By Kevin Hopson
 

If you’re a fiction writer, you know that writing often portrays some aspects of our real life. Whether these depictions are in the form of names, character traits, settings, themes or whatever, they all come from a universal comfort in finding something we can relate to. As a result, we can’t help but include reality in fiction. However, what happens when an event, especially a devastating one, has impacted your life so much that it inspires you to write a story about it?

My cross-genre novelette, Delivering Jacob, is a perfect example of this. It deals with the loss of a child, which is something I experienced back in August 2010 when my son, Aydin, was stillborn at 36 weeks. Numb and in shock, I couldn’t imagine ever writing again, yet it crept back into my life only a few months later as I attempted to grieve and cope with the loss. My writing wasn’t the same, though. It turned more laborious, and the quality I had come to expect with my work was lacking. While writing provided a means of release for me, I had to come to terms with the loss before taking it seriously again.

It took nearly eighteen months for this to occur. After the birth of my second son, Skyler, I was motivated to pick up where I left off. That was three-and-a-half years ago, and I have published nearly a dozen stories/books since then. Even though I integrated some aspect of my loss into several of those works, none of them dealt directly with the death of a child, which is why I felt the need to write Delivering Jacob.

The idea hit me out of the blue, and everything fell into place almost immediately. In fact, the topic felt so natural to me that I managed to write the story in a few days. In addition to the theme, there are many ways I paid tribute to my experience. For example, the main character’s son, Ken, was named after my father who passed away in December 2011. I include other names of family members and even set the story in the Pacific Northwest, which is my favorite part of the country.

I’ve been told that Delivering Jacob is my best work to date. I’m not sure if I agree, but it’s definitely the most personal piece I’ve written, so maybe it hits the reader in a way that my other stories don’t. Regardless, it’s a diverse story that has a little bit of something for everyone … mystery, romance, crime, thrills, and even a hint of the supernatural. The subject matter is important to me, as well as the characters, which is why I have already written follow-up stories revolving around the life of Jacob.

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Here is the book trailer for Delivering Jacob:


Learn more about Kevin Hopson on his blog

Purchase Delivering Jacob as well as Kevin Hopson's other books on Amazon.