So thrilled!

I am honored that my short story, Restoration, won first place in the first-ever How to Think Sideways anthology contest, judged by Holly Lisle. It sounds like there were many fine stories to choose from, and I’m excited to read them all when the anthology comes out July 24th.

The Adventure of Creation cover

HTTS Anthology Winner

Here’s my Sentence for Restoration:

“In a world where art and magic are one, an outcast in a decaying city finds inspiration in the works of a long-dead artist for her only act of magic.”

While you’re waiting for the anthology’s release, pop over to Goodreads and add The Adventure of Creation to your to-read shelf!

Cover Reveal: The Adventure of Creation

I’m thrilled to be part of the big cover reveal for The Adventure of Creation, a Think Sideways anthology presented by Holly Lisle. I’m honored to have my short story, Restoration, included in this collection. Here’s what the editors of the anthology have to say about it:

In May, the moderators of Holly’s Forum (that’s us), approached her with the idea of an anthology. With the 5th anniversary of “How to Think Sideways” drawing nearer, it seemed a good idea to match the release date with the anniversary. Holly agreed to the idea and even added a monetary prize for the top stories. After a very, very difficult selection process, we settled on thirty-five stories. It’s a pity that we couldn’t take them all. The scores were so close, we had lengthy discussions and finally went five stories over the 30 story limit we had planned.

With the stories selected and in Holly’s hands to pick a winner, we are proudly presenting to you:

The Adventure of Creation

The Think Sideways Anthology #1 presented by Holly Lisle

 

The Adventure of Creation cover

35 marvelous short stories by gifted new writers

 Follow a girl to the Below-World to slay the Sharkshadow, or help a timid girl to overcome the destructive criticism of her art teacher. Witness a solitary drone on Mars or a naive homunculus struggle to become human. Sew with a mother who lost her daughter in a quilt, defeat super-villains in a bank robbery with an unlikely superhero, or join a great mage in the fire.

In thirty-five imaginative stories, emerging authors present the diversity of their creativity. Each author found a different angle for the unifying theme: The Adventure of Creation. Witness the talent nurtured by writing teacher Holly Lisle. For the 5th anniversary of her first big writing course, How to Think Sideways, this anthology features the best of her talented students in a great variety of genres.

The eBook and print book will be released on the 24th of July. Help us spread the word. If the anthology is successful, we might do another one next year.

proofs! and a release!

My proofs for Rainbird and Mourning Cloak arrived earlier this week.

Aren’t they pretty?

Proofs

They look EVEN BETTER in real life.

There really is nothing like seeing your name on the cover of a physical book. I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face for about an hour after they came.

Right now, David’s checking them for errors (I know, I know, I’m spoiled). They should be ready to go in a week or so. Keep an eye on this space!

***

One Small Step

One Small Step: an anthology of discoveries launched last weekend at Conflux. Jo Anderton and I have a story in there. “Sand and Seawater” has already gotten some nice shout-outs on Goodreads, and the anthology as a whole has been favorably reviewed in places like Publisher’s Weekly.

Next week, I’ll post about our experience collaborating on this story.

***

I’ve been busily working away on some short stories for the past couple of weeks, including some broken fairy tales for a follow-up to Shattered. I’m hoping to get that out in June and then buckle down to Ironhand and release that a couple months later.

What are your writing plans? Do you have any new or upcoming releases? Let us know in the comments!

goodreads giveaway of One Small Step

One of the few rays of light brightening my Week of Gunk was the arrival of One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries and Jo Anderton’s The Bone Chime Song and Other stories. I’m reading One Small Step right now, and I’m so impressed with the caliber of all the stories. I’m honored to be in among such company.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can enter a Goodreads giveaway for One Small Step for a chance to see for yourself!

And while you’re there, you could also enter to win a copy of Jo’s short story collection. She’s a fine writer and I’m looking forward to the stories of hers that I’ve missed!

Siri Paulson recommends children’s historical fiction

Please give a big welcome to fellow WANA blogger Siri Paulson, who’s joining us here today to talk about some of her favorite historical fiction books from her childhood.

Siri Paulson author photo 2011

Thanks for having me, Rabia!

I’m here to talk about books, which thrills me to no end because I’m a book lover from way back. Growing up, I read all sorts of things, but one of my favorite genres was historical fiction. Other times and places held an endless fascination for me. It didn’t really matter when or where a book was set, as long as the setting was as unlike my Canadian suburban existence as possible.

But, of course, I had favorite periods. Here are a few of them, along with the books that inspired me most…

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Another of my preferred genres was fantasy, so anything with castles was automatically a hit. Wandering bards, artists’ guilds, and apprentices? Yes please!

  • Adam of the Road (1943) by Elizabeth Janet Gray. Set in the thirteenth century. A young boy who idolizes his minstrel father is thrilled to have the chance to travel with him. But when he loses his dog and is separated from his father, he ends up crossing England to find them again. Along the way, he meets other traveling performers, makes new friends, and of course, has many adventures.
  • The Door in the Wall (1949) by Marguerite de Angeli. Set in the fourteenth century. An English boy’s dreams of being a knight are dashed when he loses the use of his legs. With the help of a friar and a minstrel, he sets out for the castle where he was originally slated to become a page. There he discovers that one doesn’t have to be a knight to be brave, and sometimes a boy on crutches is the best-suited to save the castle. De Angeli also wrote Black Fox of Lorne, a thrilling tale about a pair of Viking twins in Scotland.
  • Master Cornhill (1987) by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Set in the seventeenth century. A boy orphaned in the Great Plague becomes an apprentice to a Dutch mapmaker living on London Bridge, but his new home is jeopardized in the Great Fire of London. Full of wonderful details about mixing paints in the studio and selling printed songs in the market. I also loved  The Golden Goblet by the same author, about a servant boy in Ancient Egypt.

The Second World War

At some point I developed a strange fascination with the experiences of Jewish children during the war. I read The Diary of Anne Frank, of course, but also…

  • Number the Stars (1989) by Lois Lowry. Lowry is probably more famous for The Giver, but this was how I discovered her. A Danish girl and her family take in her Jewish best friend and try to keep her safe while still working with the Danish Resistance. The girls don’t know everything the adults are doing – secrets are kept from them for safety – but there’s enough for the events to be quite exciting while still realistic.
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (1971) by Judith Kerr. A German Jewish girl and her family become refugees in the early 1930s, living in Switzerland and Paris before finally reaching England. She and her brother are young enough to be a little confused about the whole thing; they think it’s a big adventure, even though they know there’s danger…which keeps the book mostly lighthearted.
  • From Anna (1972) by Jean Little. The family here isn’t Jewish, but they do flee Germany in the 1930s. Anna, the youngest in the family, is klutzy and slow in school, so she’s terrified of moving to a new country where she doesn’t speak the language. But in Canada she discovers she’s not dumb after all, but visually impaired. Getting glasses is easy; learning to come out of her shell is harder. There’s also a sequel, Listen for the Singing.

Honorable mentions: ancient Egypt and Israel, pioneer-era North America, and nineteenth-century Britain. I also have to mention Lucy Fitch Perkins, who wrote a long series of books about twins in various countries and time periods – The Cave Twins, The Spartan Twins, The Puritan Twins, The Dutch Twins, and so on – though I wouldn’t be surprised if they read as very dated now.

Over to you! Which times and places are (or were) your favorite to read about? Any favorite historical novels or authors to share? Let us know in the comments!

 

seasons eternal ebook 200x300Siri Paulson is a science fiction and fantasy writer and an editor of both fiction (at Turtleduck Press) and non-fiction. She recently moved into a big old house in Toronto and is still wondering what she got herself into. In her spare time (when she has any) she dances, knits, and dissects movies.

Her short fiction can be found most recently in the anthology Seasons Eternal: Stories of a World Frozen in Time. You can read more about it at Turtleduck Press. Seasons Eternal is available in print, Kindle, or your ebook format of choice.

5 favorite mystery series

Sometimes I get a hankering to read outside the SF&F sandbox. A couple of weeks ago I picked up Victoria Thompson’s A Murder on Astor Place and go into a mystery kick (I get that way sometimes).

I like mysteries that have something else besides the whodunnit–a historical or exotic setting, for instance, or a touch of romance, or a great character arc. Here, in no particular order, are mystery series I’ve enjoyed.

1. The Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson

The jury’s still out on this one. I like the pairing of tough, lower-class Irish police detective Malloy and upper-class-rebel-turned-midwife Sarah. I love the setting of turn-of-the-century New York, though the tone often feels too contemporary to me. So far, I’ve guessed whodunnit and why in books 1 & 2, so I wish the mysteries were more challening. However, I’m intrigued enough to read book 3.

2. The William Monk series by Anne Perry

The first book, The Face of a Stranger, uses the amnesiac device really well. William Monk’s identity crisis is not so much about who is he, but what he is. A police detective who suffers an accident in the middle of an investigation, Monk must figure out what kind of man he was before he lost his memory and what kind of man he will be after. Many of these mysteries also expose social ills in Victorian England.

3. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith

I love these! I love the Botswana setting, the slower-paced culture, the wisdom and gentleness of Mma Ramotswe. McCall Smith does an awesome job of immersing the reader in the world of his books. Highly recommended.

4.The … In Death series by J. D. Robb

Ah, my guilty pleasure series. I’ve gotten my sister addicted to these as well. I picked this up mid-series, when Roarke and Eve were already married, which might be why I’ve always found the romance part meh. However, I love the futuristic setting and the truly creepy mysteries that I’ve stayed up too late to finish far too often.

5. The Death in… series by M. M. Kaye

These are standalone mysteries, featuring different characters in a variety of locales (Berlin, Zanzibar, Cyprus, etc.). They have a strong romantic element. Kaye does atmosphere really well and has a knack for bringing her settings to life. My favorites are Death in Kashmir (snow and skiing, lakes and houseboats… and murder) and Death in Zanzibar (for that hilarious first part when the slightly inebriated male lead talks the naive protagonist into a crazy scheme).

Do you read mysteries? Which series are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

suited giveaway winner

And the winner of a signed copy of Suited by Jo Anderton is:

Kris!

Congratulations, Kris! Please email Jo at joanne (at) joanneanderton (dot) com to claim your prize. :)

get off the couch: jo anderton on writing middle books

You’re in for a treat today! Jo Anderton is here to talk about how she dealt with the sagging middle problem while writing Suited, book 2 of her Veiled Worlds trilogy. She’s also giving away a signed copy of Suited. Leave a comment to enter the drawing. Contest open till Monday, July 9th, 8pm EST.

Welcome, Jo!

The fact that Suited was a book two was very much a part of my thinking while I was writing it.

The idea of writing a book two terrified me. Book twos have all this extra pressure on them. There’s the fear of ‘middle book syndrome’, where the book feels like little more than filler between the real action of the beginning and the end. There’s living up to any expectations I might have set up in the first book — from the readers who enjoyed it and want to see more, to the readers who have decided to reserve judgement. From a world building and story telling perspective, I knew this book had an important role to fill — there were big events that needed to happen, a couple of twist, some revelations. What if I couldn’t do them justice? All of this weighed upon me. If I wasn’t careful I could end up with something boring, pointless, that made no one happy, not even me.

Cue the hyperventilating.

In order to stop the hyperventilating panic OMG I can’t do this, I did what I always do — I made a list. This wasn’t a list on paper or whiteboard, colour-coded and bullet-pointed, not like my usual lists. (Yes, I do this. Don’t judge me!) This list existed in my head and in my gut, and it was at once simple, and complicated. It went like this:

  • Don’t get comfortable

(Yeah yeah, I know, bullet point. So sue me!)

You might have noticed that a lot of the fears I listed above involve stagnation, and I guess they can be summed up that way rather neatly — I was afraid the book would stagnate. Beginnings are exciting because they are fresh. New worlds to explore, new characters to meet, new challenges to overcome and bad guys to fight. By the time we get to the sequel, we already know these things. We know who the main characters are, we know how the world works, we know the major threats and who’s doing the threatening. So ‘don’t get comfortable’ was my way of injecting some of that excitement back.

Tanyana’s settled into her debris collecting team — let’s take that away from her, shall we? She’s starting to get a handle on her new life — let’s add a massive complication! Maybe the world doesn’t work the way you think it does, and maybe the Puppet Men are even weirder than they seem. And how about we put some major characters in some very real danger, and see who comes out the other end?

‘Don’t get comfortable’ applies to Tanyana and everyone else in her world, but it also applied to me. Any time I started to catch my breath as a writer, any time I caught myself thinking ‘oh well, this is nice’ I knew it was time to shake it up. Keep moving. Something doesn’t feel right, delete and try again. Good enough isn’t good enough. You think that scene’s finished? Think again. Let’s keep the waters flowing. No stagnation here.

Suited was my first book two, with all the pressures that brings with it, and this was how I handled it. With my simple, complicated list.

  • Don’t get comfortable

And, if all else fails, blow everything up.

 

The Veiled Worlds, Vol II

Tanyana has chosen to help the Keeper, to stand against the Puppet Men, who continue to force the Debris into unnatural creations.

And when even her own suit becomes aggressive against her, Tanyana must weigh some very personal issues against her determination to serve the greater good.

 

 

 

About Jo: Jo Anderton lives in Sydney with her husband and too many pets. By day she is a mild-mannered marketing coordinator for an Australian book distributor. By night, weekends and lunchtimes she writes science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her short fiction has most recently appeared in Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear and Epilogue. Her debut novel, Debris (Book One the Veiled Worlds Series) was published by Angry Robot Books in 2011. Book two Suited has just been released. Debris was a finalist for the 2011 Aurealis award for Best Fantasy Novel, and Jo won the 2012 Ditmar for Best New Talent. Visit her online at http://joanneanderton.com and on Twitter @joanneanderton

notable books of 2011

I broke the 75-book barrier this past weekend, but as usual, I didn’t get to all of my TBR pile. I did, however, enjoy a lot of what I read. Without further ado, here are my notable book picks for the year:

Fantasy with the best brooding anti-hero and smart, introverted heroine


The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg

Best epic fantasy

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Best indie published book(s)

The Emperor’s Edge (and sequels) by Lindsay Buroker

Science fiction series I’ve been meaning to read for years and wonder why I waited so long

The Miles Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best YA steampunk/alternate history

The Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Best YA/MG historical (this Vikings-time book reminded me of Rosemary Sutcliff’s fabulous historical fiction)

Icefall by Matthew Kirby

Best adult alternate history/fantasy

Cold Magic (and sequel Cold Fire) by Kate Elliot

Book I didn’t think I’d enjoy (got this from the library, decided I didn’t want to read it, then snagged it on the Kindle for free and read it yesterday during a 12-hr drive–I loved it!)

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

 

I read a lot of good books this year, but I can’t showcase them all, alas. What about you? What were your notable reads of the year?

and we have a winner!

The winner of a signed copy of Jo Anderton‘s book, DEBRIS, is…

Larkk

Congratulations, Larkk, and thanks everyone for participating. It was fun to read about your tourist destinations, both real and imaginary.