Friday, September 25, 2015

Fantastic Fantasy Finds: The Books of Morgaine by C.J. Cherryh

Gate of Ivrel (1976)
Well of Shiuan (1978)
Fires of Azeroth (1979)
Exile's Gate (1988)

This series is technically SF but reads like fantasy. It takes place mostly in a feudal world, where the qhal, an elfin race, have created multi-dimensional gates to conquer other worlds.

Morgaine is the last of them. She's an immortal warrior, cold-hearted and alien, appearing as a white-haired young woman in armor. Vanye, an exiled young warrior, becomes her comrade out of desperation. Vulnerable and wounded, Vanye is the heart of the series, and things do not go well when Morgaine displays any fragility herself.

As it turns out, there are still qhal remaining, and one of the worst of them has come to Vanye's world wearing a familiar face. (The qhal can also steal bodies and use them as their own.)

What I loved about this series is the complicated characters (even the villains have some good in them) and the relationship between Morgaine and Vanye, which is organic and not contrived. The world is a fascinating mix of cultures. The mysterious and otherworldly qhal are fascinating.

I think this series is now available as a reprinted omnibus and I highly recommend it to anyone who loved A Game of Thrones or anything with elves.

(Looking for the Briar Queen ARC giveaway? Next post down)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Briar Queen ARC giveaway

So, I was cleaning up my office and I found 3 advanced readers copies of Briar Queen, the second in The Children of Night and Nothing series. I thought, 'Why don't I just give them away?'

There will be three signed copies of Briar Queen ARCS  for the giveaway, and three winners. The contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and runs from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30. The winners will be selected at random and notified by email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SIBA Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

I'll be appearing at SIBA's 'The First 180 Days' meet and greet for the writers coming out with books in the first half of 2016, for the third installment in the Children of Night and Nothing series, Nettle King.

                                                                    Raleigh, NC
                                                                       6:00 PM
                                                       Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Awesomeness of Chivalry

CHIVALRY: The combination of qualities ideally expected of a knight, including courage, generosity, and courtesy.

Whenever I think of chivalry, I picture images of pretty knights in shining armor. In the recent Mission Impossible movie, there's a scene where Ethan Hunter is attempting to save a damsel in distress who has just betrayed him. She's being chased by bad guys on motorcycles. He goes after them to save her even though she doesn't want to be saved. To keep Ethan from chasing her, she suddenly steps into the road--he skids away and crashes. She's used his gallantry against him. Sometimes, chivalry sucks for guys.

Chivalry, rumor has it, began in the medieval era, when bored ladies decided to pretend that knights actually were gentlemen in shining armor--not murderous thugs, tucked into battered pieces of metal, who terrorized the countryside. Even if some of the ladies were wed, the knights were allowed to court them, receiving garters and such as party favors at tournaments or in exchange for a ballad/poem written to the object of their desire.  Yes. These brutes would have to recite a poem or sing something and not expect anything in return. The younger, idealistic men were supposed to not expect anything either, but I bet they did it just to get that little piece of lingerie to wear on their arm.

As the centuries passed, chivalry began to resemble something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon, and it was spiced with a just a pinch of chauvinism. It was fine when men opened doors, paid the entire dinner check, or flung their coats over puddles so a lady's shoes weren't ruined. But chivalry began to offend some women who decided it was quite demeaning when presented with an attitude of 'You poor, helpless thing.' Still, it was kind of nice.

Most writers, if they want to sketch a likable character, male or female, love the idea of chivalry, of courtesy and self-sacrifice. So, chivalry is not dead. At least it lives on in fiction.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pinkie's Picks: The Sleeping Beauty by Mercer Mayer



The fairy tale of the princess cursed to prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep by a fairy insulted by her parents is given Mercer Mayer's beautiful watercolor illustrations on nearly every page. The prince's journey is featured as he makes his way past mermaids and monsters to find the princess and wake her with a kiss. Especially gorgeous in hardcover, this is definitely something to add to a fairy tale collection, and a romantic and story for kids. I loved the blue fairy and the prince and the Celtic costumes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lexie Dunne, author of Superheroes Anonymous

Welcome, Lexie Dunne, author of Superheroes Anonymous (Harper Voyager) to It's all About Story.

Available at Amazon:

1) Describe Superheroes Anonymous in one paragraph.

Lois Lane becomes Supergirl.

...oh, you needed more than that? Superheroes Anonymous is the story of a Lois Lane type (Gail Godwin) who has no idea why villains always target her, but she suspects it may have something to do with the 6'4 green-eyed superhero that rescues her. Who is totally not her 6'4 green-eyed boyfriend, so stop asking. When both boyfriend and superhero leave town, she's convinced she's doomed, but everything goes okay...until she's kidnapped again and this time with lasting consequences. The book explores what happens to her after she becomes a superhero herself, and what it means to be able to hit back after years of being nothing but the hostage. It is, I am told, my mother's favorite book.

2) What inspired Superheroes Anonymous?

Traffic on I-27. I worked out in the Hamptons for a year and some change, which mainly involved watching Martha Stewart fix the layout of her display at the local K-Mart and sitting in traffic. All the traffic. So much traffic. It gave me a lot of time to think about random things. One day it was "Why doesn't Lois Lane ever pick up on the fact that she's always at the epicenter of every crisis?" and from there, the idea evolved until I was writing it for my Nanowrimo novel. I wanted a more "on the ground" look at superheroes. We get to see them fighting in the sky in movies all the time, but what's that look like to the average citizen? So Gail was born.

3) Is this your first work of fiction?

My first traditionally published work of fiction. I've been writing since I was 11. I think it's my sixth or seventh finished novel. The rest are going to stay in the drawer forever and ever, amen. (Though I think my best friend is bribe-able if you want to read some of my terrible high school fiction.)

4) What song or music piece would you put on a soundtrack for Superheroes Anonymous?

Hilariously enough, I did create an 8tracks playlist [] for this story. But I adore Janelle Monae's cover of Heroes. And God Help the Girl because Gail's nickname is Girl and God knows she needs help.

5) Which character was easy to write? Which was the most difficult?

Angelica Rocha, Gail's trainer, was the easiest character to write because she operates on two levels. She's honest and she puts her feelings right there on the table. But she's also shrewd and has a wicked sense of humor. She was inspired by somebody I knew that had the greatest, most evil smile, so that always kind of carried me through her scenes.

Most difficult character to write was Jeremy. I love him, but he did not get a good reception in this book. I think he turned things around in Supervillains Anonymous.

6) What is your writing space like? Or can you write anywhere?

For this book, I wrote in a freezing bedroom I rented for an obscene amount of money in the Springs, which is the neighborhood where Jackson Pollock lived and worked. I had this great antique desk that I picked up for 30 bucks that was battered and always covered in pieces of paper. Nowadays, I usually write at my desk with a Boston Terrier pawing at my shin or in a Starbucks armed with a flat white loaded with far too much sugar.

7) Any odd writing habits?

The weirdest one is definitely that I tilt my head. If I'm really into a scene, I'll come out of my writing trance and find that my ear is resting on my shoulder. I have no idea why.

8) Do you outline?

Sort of. I'm not a pantser by any means. I do something that I like to call tentpole outlines, where I write down the major beats that I know need to happen. And the rest of the book is a mystery of how I get from Point A to Point B. Usually when I get there, I discover Point B was missing a lot and I change everything. But there is a general structure.

9) Who are some of your favorite superheroes? Why?

Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers! Everybody go read Kelly Sue DeConnick's trades about her. I'll wait! Carol is smart and damaged, a recovering alcoholic and colonel in the military. She comes prepackaged with a best friend who will move the world for her--Jessica Drew (who is probably my favorite) aka Spider-Woman. I enjoy her wisecracking humor and the fact that she leads with her fists, chin raised the whole time, and that she's impulsive and gets into trouble all the time, but has a great support network to bail her out.

Movie-wise, I adore Natasha Romanoff and am known to bounce in my chair whenever she's on screen. And I'm learning to love the Black Canary, and of course Artemis Crock from Young Justice. Are you sensing a theme?

10) What is your favorite fictional world, one you'd want to visit?

Pern. Always Pern. Always and forever Pern. I want my own dragon, okay. I want to go Between just once to see if it's as awful as they say. I want to drink klah and don flying leathers and just DRAGONS.

11)  What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Henry Miller's 11 Commandments of Writing are all pretty great ( ) but the one that always, always, always sticks for me is this: Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is at hand. The idea of working joyously and recklessly is just so appealing to me. Anxiety over writing is something I've struggled with, especially since being offered a professional contract. So the days when I can follow this advice and just sit down, calm, reckless, joyous? Those are the days that make me love writing.

12) In Superheroes Anonymous, are there any hidden acknowledgements to friends, places you've lived, favorite writers etc;

A few! Gail is from Muncie, Indiana, where my best friend went to grad school. Her middle name comes from the best TV character to ever exist. Jess Davenport's name was originally Carol Davenport, but I changed that because of Carol Danvers. And I sneaked a line from Felicity Smoak on Arrow into the book (altered a little, of course).

13) Can you tell us what we have to look forward to after Superheroes Anonymous?

The long descent into the mental anguish of knowing you will never experience reading Superheroes Anonymous for the first time ever again, mostly.

Available on Amazon:

...or perhaps the sequel? Supervillains Anonymous, available online now! You can read the first three chapters at my blog ( ) After that, well, I'm working on some stuff that I'm really excited about, but I'm keeping mum.

Thank you!

No, thank YOU. It was a pleasure to come to your blog and talk about my favorite subject: meeeeeee. ;)