… and it is awesome!
Many thanks to Kevin Madison for taking the time to make this (and for chauffeuring me around Calgary while I was on tour)!
It’s my great pleasure to host a guest blog from Adventure Romance writer, Sarah Kades today! Sarah and I used to work together at the bookstore, where (if memory serves) we were both just starting to get serious about our writing.
With the holiday season about to hit us all like a Mack truck, enjoy a post about trying to find quiet time and a short sample from one of Sarah’s stories.
Holiday Hideout, Elbowing in Quiet Time
by Sarah Kades
I want to thank Chadwick for having me as a guest on his blog, it is great to be here!
Happy Thanksgiving to our southern neighbors today. I have found a lot to support the notion that people are people wherever you go. Sure, there are cultural accents, some pretty freaking huge, but I have lived in a few different countries and there are a lot of universal experiences. The Holiday Hideout is one of them. You know what I’m talking about, it’s the holidays and you are in a house full of your relatives, maybe you have even travelled far from your home and your normal to get there. Sure you love them, they are your family, but there is a reason everyone moved out of the house. And it wasn’t just to lose the curfew, have coed sleepovers, sleep until noon, and eat Ramen noodles three times a day. Okay, the last one was more a financial decision at the time, but you get my point. We move out for freedom, to spread our wings, to fly or crash and burn. Whatever happens, we’re unfolding into who we are, which might not be the same as the family slot we’ve been assigned to. People change, we grow up, change our minds and sometimes even our ideologies or world views.
Enter a holiday. Adults with backstory congregating under one roof? Oh dear, did I pack booze? Chocolate or a good coffee works wonders for me, as well. Holidays bring out joy, but also a lot of family baggage we’ve been hanging onto for years. Did I mention the booze? I’m already into the wine. But seriously, I am excited. Maybe not for the fireworks, but in hanging out with the people I grew up with. There is a poignant soul searching that happens every time I go back home. Sitting around the table or living room and laughing so hard you think you are going to pee your pants as all the old stories come out is good, too.
In my case I tack on the added charge of marrying a dude from another country, having immigrated to said country that happens to be more liberal than the U.S. This has spurred all sorts of fantastic dinner table . . . conversations . . . heated discussions. . . ‘er, debates?
We all need down time, time to regroup, recharge, refresh before we go back at it again with more holiday visiting. We need the Holiday Hideout. How do we hang out with the family over any length of time and keep our sanity? There are the old standbys, a thwack of football games and parades today to tune out in front of the TV or attend, card games, video games and of course the movies. There is a reason the holiday season kicks out blockbusters; we can be entertained and technically hanging out with our family, but not talking to each other for a couple hours.
One of my favorite Holiday Hideouts is nature, I find my best solace and recharge when I am outside. When I am home with my in-laws, who I adore, but still need my hideout time, I escape to Lake Ontario. It’s a big lake full of peace to share for those sitting at her shores. All the swirling energy of the day or season can be grounded by taking the time to just be outside and present at the shore. A hike or a simple walk outside help, too. Notice the smell of the trees, the crisp air, or just look up. How often do we take the time to stop and look up at the sky? I’ve also been known to run outside to savor a storm and the cleansing energy they bring, much to the confusion of my relatives.
Holidays are charged, go ground.
How about a literary ground? Curling up with a good book and exploring an engaging story can give us a welcome respite. Check out Chadwick’s book, Thunder Road, or my novella Claiming Love and discuss. Riveting dinner conversation, I promise! Who brings Norse mythology or paranormal romance to the holiday dinner table? Maybe you this year. Way to rock it! I’m posting an excerpt from my short story, Duke Out at the Diner below, to stoke the literary fires.
You have to wait a bit longer for my story The Cop Can Cook, and Other Christmas Miracles. I am elbowing in Holiday Hideout time to work on that this week. Fun!!
So to my fellow Americans, Canadians, and all the citizens of the world, Happy Thanksgiving. Today is a great day to reflect on all that I have to be thankful for. The list is long and fruitful with a lot of incredible people, but let me simply raise a glass in toast and say thank you to the wondrous adventure that is life, to all the amazing people I get to experience it with, and thank you to Chadwick for letting me sit around his blog hearth on this day of thanks and gratitude.
Sláinte and Happy Thanksgiving,
Adventure Romance Writer of the great outdoors, characters you want to have a beer with and usually a helicopter.
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From the short story Duke Out at the Diner
It’s a terrible thing to realize you have food stuck in your teeth. Even more terrible when the shiny napkin dispenser you’re slyly using to check, points it out.
“I’m not a napkin dispenser, I’m in the thing. There’s a difference.”
“Ahhh.” Shay shrieked. “Who said that?”
Cautiously she peered around the deserted cafe. The waitress and cook had disappeared out the side door, giggling and mooning over each other. No way were they back yet.
“I have got to get more sleep.” Shay ran her tongue over her teeth in front of the dispenser’s mirrored surface, wondering if she could imagine voices because of lack of sleep.
“Your teeth are fine. Now get me out of here.”
Shay dropped the chatty dispenser onto the table and looked around in panic. I can’t be imagining that.
“I’m stuck in here, now get me out.”
Shay stared at the unassuming chrome napkin dispenser talking to her.
“I. Am. Not. A. Napkin. Dispenser.” The voice started in the tone used in talking to someone dimwitted, but ended in an enraged growl, “I just need you to get me the hell out of here.”
Shay jumped in her seat at having her mind read, but the boorish attitude and unwarranted snapping spurred her to action. Shay was sick of men treating her like an idiot. With a new-found smile, she swatted the offending chrome piece, launching it into the air. It landed with a thud on the floor and skidded a few feet.
For a mind reader, he should have seen that one coming, she thought smugly.
In that brief moment, Shay had unleashed on all the men who had hurt her in the past. A paltry thing, throwing around diner-ware, but it had felt darn good. Shay’s manners returned, though, and she couldn’t stop herself from getting up and retrieving the fallen canister. It now had a dinged corner and dirt on it from skidding across the uncleaned-floor.
With a sigh and feeling a bit self-conscious, Shay grabbed one of the napkins held within and started to rub clean the unobtrusive object. She must have been imagining the darn thing talking to her. She needed to get more sleep, work less, and regroup more. That’s what coming to this town was supposed to be about anyway. And getting away from Jerrod.
Rubbing the dirt off, Shay looked at her reflection in the chrome, remembering when her life had been normal, with nothing scarier than the calorie count on her favorite ice cream. And even that wasn’t scary, it was delicious. Life had been simple, wonderful, and then the rug had been pulled out from underneath her. Almost in a trance she rubbed the napkin holder, thinking, dreaming of how she was getting her life back on track.
“Stop that. . . quit rubbing, that’s enough, I’m already coming-” The voice was back.
A swooshing sound rang through the empty room. She still held the chrome piece, but now an irate looking man had materialized and now lumbered over her. Broad shoulders crowded near Shay’s face. Okay, so definitely not a napkin holder. The man was gorgeous. Cranky, but undeniably gorgeous. Why had the most interesting man she’d ever seen materialize from an inanimate object? In so many ways, life was not fair. And why did he look so grumpy? He was probably an ass, like all the other men in her life.
“Out.“ Eric finished his sentence. Dusting off his jeans and running his large hands through longish dark blond hair, he glared at his rescuer.
“Nice rub-down.” He knew he spat the angry words, but he couldn’t seem to help it.
The woman had been so spunky, then caring, and then so lost. Not to mention she was clean-spun gorgeous. Eric could deal with the fairer sex, no problem. But not knock-out wholesome beauties with backstory. God help him.
The woman’s vibrant green eyes narrowed at his comment. Eric couldn’t wait to find out what she would do. This was madness, he needed to get out of here, find out how to break the curse so wouldn’t be stuck back in that damn dispenser again. But the woman before him was making it impossible to move. Eric was mesmerized and wanted to see what she would do next.
She did the unthinkable. Eyes still narrowed, she drew her leg back. Eric’s brain was registering what she was doing, but his arrogance couldn’t believe it. People gave him a wide berth, he knew it was because he looked so intimidating. But the fiery minx thrust her knee up and made direct contact where Eric was most vulnerable.
I’m back from the western leg of the joint Thunder Road/Food for the Gods tour. Short story, I had a blast. Long story, a roundup blog is on the way. In the meantime, enjoy a pic from my reading at Calgary’s Sentry Box (and check out Darth Vader lurking in the background). Photo courtesy of Kevin Madison.
Tomorrow I’m hosting a guest blog from Sarah Kades, adventure-romance writer extraordinaire.
Only two stops left on the joint Thunder Road/Food for the Gods book tour! Posting on the blog has been a bit sporadic of late, but never fear, there’s more to come. Thursday I am hosting a guest post by Calgary adventure-romance author Sarah Kades and shortly after my (triumphant?) return to Winnipeg, I’ll have my tour roundup post.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy a brief taste of Thunder Road…
When the Levee Breaks
There was no warning. But then, there never is.
His world exploded.
The site was a spiderweb of pipes and steel, sprawling over the earth like the screensaver on his computer. There had been a pinprick of light, maybe a welder’s torch, maybe a cigarette lighter had flashed, and then everything had gone white.
An acrid cloud rushed past Ted, carrying gravel and bits of shale that stung like hornets. Within the cordon of string surrounding the bench where employees were allowed to smoke, the ground trembled beneath his feet. Ted didn’t fall. If you were close enough to get knocked down, you weren’t ever getting up again. The site was designed to funnel explosions upward; to keep destruction of company property to a minimum. Small comfort to those who might be stuck in the flames.
Men he’d known for years; shared beers or fistfights with—sometimes both. Friends
A high-pitched whine filled his ears, but Ted had to imagine the sirens and screams shooting through the crackle of flames and the smaller, secondary blasts. He squinted, trying to get a better look.
It was all he saw. Hell, they’d see the flames from Edmonton. His cigarette fell from his lip. He’d promised Susanna he’d quit. We promised each other a lot of things when we got married. Ted fumbled for his cell, his fingers numb. The emergency response numbers were programmed into the phone, and he scrolled down, frantically looking for the water-bomber team. Site fire response wouldn’t be able to handle this—if they were even still alive.
The metal left standing in the wake of the blast started to twist and crumble inward. Greasy black clouds flared and plumed, filling the air with the stink of burning oil and melting PVC. He could see more explosions. One following another like footsteps marching in time.
And then something stepped from the fire.
It was too big to be real. Shaped like a man, but the height of a building, it stepped out of the inferno grinning like the devil himself. Ted dropped his phone as the creature tore a length of metal from the ground and held it aloft, brandishing it like a club. The challenge the creature bellowed at the sky somehow cut through Ted’s deafness, reaching some primal part of him. Louder and more terrifying than anything he’d ever experienced. He wanted to scream, but no human cry could scare away what towered over the wreckage.
The creature’s hair and beard were made of the same flames it had stepped from. Smaller tendrils danced along its bare arms and chest, where a man’s body hair would be. Its every breath came out in gouts of smoke, quickly welcomed by the burning work site. Its coal-black skin cracked and broke, the molten lines leaking lava. Its eyes were the blue of an acetylene torch, and it grinned with broken teeth of white metal.
Smaller forms followed the thing out of the fire. They could have been man-shaped, but they were oddly hunched, dragging themselves over the rough ground like wounded dogs. They screeched and pawed at the earth, rubbing up against the legs of the giant. It patted their heads with rough familiarity, before allowing them to retreat into the flames.
Rattling its rough sabre in the air, the giant opened its mouth to roar the deep belly-laugh of a Bond villain. Through the screaming in his ears, Ted heard a sound like lock, lock, lock. The creature turned to join its servants in the blaze, but as it strode away, explosions flaring with each step, it paused and looked back over its shoulder.
Their eyes locked. In the intensity of the creature’s gaze, Ted felt he could’ve caught fire. He looked away as the creature spoke in no language heard on Earth. And yet deep in the core of his being Ted understood what the words meant.
“I will burn the world.”
Ted sank to his knees and stared at the fire.
It was over an hour before a rescue worker found him. His phone remained on the ground, unused. He hadn’t even called Susanna to tell her he was alive. That he still loved her.
That it was the end of the world.
Welcome to the last stop on The Violet Fox Blog Tour! As I talk about mythology with some regularity around these parts, when I agreed to host a blog by YA author Clare C. Marshall, I asked her to talk about the mythological inspirations for her novel, and here’s what she had to say:
The creation of Marlenia, the world of The Violet Fox, boils down to one element:
I’m particularly fond of names, especially unusual ones. My protagonist’s name is Kiera (alternate spelling: Ciara) and it’s an Irish name meaning “dark one.” Kiera isn’t particularly dark but she does have a temper. Her love interest’s name is Keegan, which is an Irish surname. I chose these names back when The Violet Fox was about twenty pages of loose leaf in a writing binder in elementary school.
When I revisited the manuscript and expanded the story, I realized that I really liked these names and there was no way I was going to change them. Meaning, I would grow the world and its mythology from the names. But because the land of Marlenia has four provinces, I wanted to give them each a distinct culture. The events in The Violet Fox are set in Western Marlenia, where Keegan and Kiera are from, and thus that province is Irish/Scottish/English inspired.
Not only did I grow the culture from the names, but also the religion. The people of Marlenia live under what I like to call a “lapsed theocracy.” Their main ruler is the Holy One, and he presides over all four provinces of Marlenia from his seat in Western Marlenia. “The Holy One” was another artifact from my elementary school manuscript. I didn’t write it with the intention of having a religious monarchy–it just sounded cool to my nine- or ten-year-old self and was different than “king” or “queen” or any of your other standard ruler monikers. But again, I realized that if I wanted to keep the Holy One as a title, I had to work it into the culture.
So, under the intense focus of many energy drinks, I drew up a document that contains a basic history of the religion and culture of Marlenia. Marlenians worship a man-god named Dashiell, who supposedly lived and ruled thousands of years ago, and affected the lives of everyone with his god-like powers. Once, religion was strong in the land of Marlenia, but over the past couple of generations, the Marlenians have become more distant from their faith. The Holy One supposedly speaks the will of Dashiell, but because the people of Marlenia don’t care as much about Dashiell anymore, this lessens the influence of the monarchy. This ties in with the unrest created by the Freetors (the people who are forced to live underground).
The Freetors, originally, didn’t have any religion, or idols. But as I completed the second draft of the manuscript, I realized that they needed something, someone to look up to, someone that inspires them to continue fighting for freedom on the surface. So, Alastar the Hero was born. Two hundred years before the events in The Violet Fox, a man with magical powers beyond human comprehension sparked a rebellion against the monarchy. The Holy One saw this as a threat to Dashiell and the religion created around him, and fought back.
It was actually a lot of fun to create Alastar the Hero. While the Freetors look up to him as a inspiration, he’s become a legend in the mythology of the world. Like most legends, he has some bizarre stories that may or may not be true. One of these such stories has become the basis for The Silver Spear, the sequel to The Violet Fox. It just goes to show that a story mechanic doesn’t have to be mechanical–it can bring new life to your manuscript in ways you never thought possible.
Drawing mythology and culture from names is not the normal way to do things: it’s just a challenge I put upon myself because I wanted to salvage what details I could from the original manuscript. When creating mythology or culture for your own world, you can draw it from all kinds of sources, from existing ancient mythology, to a story that resonates with you, to an event that happened just yesterday. You just have to go with what feels right.
If you’d liked to be entered in a draw to win a copy of The Violet Fox or other Faery Ink Press swag, click here: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Clare Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a freelance editor, designer and website manager, and enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.
Here’s where you can find Clare online:
McNally Robinson Buy Link: http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/9780987779441/clare-c-marshall/violet-fox#.UKCNBYf_l8F
The Western leg of the joint Thunder Road/Food for the Gods tour begins on Wednesday! I have a guest post lined up for the blog tomorrow, so that I can spend that time packing for my trip and obsessing over what passages I’ll read, and what stories I’ll tell at each event. In the meantime, if you live in Saskatoon, Edmonton, or Calgary, here’s where you can find me.
Reading and signing at McNally Robinson Booksellers (Saskatoon location) November 14, 7 pm.
Reading and signing at Audrey’s Books (Edmonton) November 15, 7 pm.
Pure Speculation (Edmonton) November 16-18 .
Reading and signing at The Sentry Box (Calgary) November 19, 7pm.
Reading and Q&A at the Louise Riley Branch of the Calgary Public Library November 20, 7 pm.
Unfortunately, the Vancouver stop on the tour didn’t quite come together. To my B.C. friends, family, and (dare I say it?) fans, I’m sorry I won’t get to see you this time around. Hopefully I’ll get to the coast next fall when Tombstone Blues is released. If you’re looking for Thunder Road on bookstore shelves in the meantime, I know that White Dwarf Books will be stocking it.
Another World Fantasy Convention has come and gone, and as my blog readers seem to enjoy these reports (if my site stats are to be believed) here’s the WFC2012 report.
Better late than never, right?
World Fantasy is my favourite convention, hands down. Maybe I imprinted on it somehow, World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary was the first away from home conference I ever attended. I talked comic books with Tad Williams, football with George R.R. Martin and Hemingway with Joe Haldeman. I met tons of people who became good friends. That is bound to make an impression on a guy.
This year’s convention was also held in Canada, so I knew I’d also have a lot of friends to meet up with. It was an early start for me, as I flew off Thursday morning with friend and fellow Turnstone Press author, Karen Dudley. We’d hoped to meet up with another Manitoba writer, Shen Braun, who was arriving at the same time as us, but on a different flight, and split a cab from Pearson airport to the conference hotel (it was quite the jaunt as World Fantasy Toronto was actually in Richmond Hill, or so I kept being told). Unfortunately, Shen didn’t get in on time, but Karen and I did share the plane with Winnipeg writer Gerald Brandt. Even more luck, our mutual friends Eileen Bell and Ryan McFadden were on route to the conference and near the airport, so they swung by to pick us all up. It was a tight squeeze with five writers and their luggage in a Toyota Corolla, but we made it work.
Arriving at the hotel was a homecoming of sorts. Every time I turned around, there was someone else I knew. A great feeling. Over the weekend, I not only connected with friends who are scattered across the continent, but met many new friends.
After ditching our bags, we had to hustle to get through registration and grab our swag bags (the swag at WFC is truly epic, this is only what I could fit in my luggage, I left at least this much behind on the trade table.)
We had to hustle because Thursday night, Turnstone was sponsoring the Ravenstone Books Launch Party for Thunder Road and Food for the Gods. I’m glad the party was Thursday, it meant I didn’t have it hanging over my head for the entire weekend. I know the way I roll, and there was no way I’d have been able to relax and enjoy the convention until the launch was over. Marie Bilodeau from Ottawa served as our host and Bakka Phoenix was there to sell copies of our novels. We managed to get the room set up, and just finish having a bite to eat before it was time to open the doors and the worrying began. What if no one shows up? What if everyone shows up? Fortunately, we had just the right mix, the room was full, but not so packed that we couldn’t move about and mingle. I had a great time, signed a bunch of books, and met a few people I’d only know through Twitter or Facebook. It was over too soon, but it did teach me how stressful organizing an event can be. My hats off to people who do it all the time.
I took in Julie Czerneda’s reading from her forthcoming fantasy novel, A Turn of Light. I’ve been curious about this one for a long time, as I’ve always had my feet deeper in fantasy than in science fiction, looking forward to reading the whole book. The samples Julie read were enough to entice me to read the book when it releases.
At my very first World Fantasy Con, I met Chandra Rooney. She was on a panel about writing tie-in fiction. I read her Tarot Cafe novel, The Wild Hunt, and interviewed her here. It was great to be able to chat for a bit after her reading. The samples Chandra read are unpublished right now, but you’re in for a treat when they do see the inside of bookstores.
I think the only panel I took in this year was Sandra Kasturi’s interviewing World Fantasy special guest, Tanya Huff. Sandra’s a riot and Tanya is also funny as hell, and a consummate pro to boot. She shared some great stories from her career with a packed and eager room. Good times.
Every World Fantasy Convention also includes a mass signing, putting every author in one big banquet room for two hours, and lets the signature hounds go wild. It was a better experience than I was expecting. I did actually sign some copies of Thunder Road, despite Fantasy giants like Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss being in the same room. I handed out a bunch of my temporary tattoos and had fun chatting with Neil Godbout from Prince George (who’s debut YA novel, Disintegrate, is well worth checking out) and Robert Sawyer.
After the signing had concluded I made my way up to the hospitality suites and flitted between the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Fall launch, the Tor Books party and the Con Suite. I happened to be around when it was announced that James A. Moore had wrote a story about Dr. Doom and Barbie. There was a bet of some kind involved, I never did suss out all the details, something about 55$ and popcorn. James joked it was the best per word rate he’d received to date. Christopher Golden read the story aloud to a dozen or more listeners. The story, about 1200 words, complete with a beginning, middle, and end, was evidently written in about 45 minutes. It was amazing. James promised to put it up on his blog at some point. As soon as it surfaces, I’ll link to it, because it’s too good not to read.
I picked up a copy of Shanghai Steam (complete with an awesome story by my bud, Shen) and read the first five minutes of “Back in Black” from Tesseracts 16, joined by fellow contributors Michael Kelly, Sandra Kasturi, Adria Laycraft and Randy McCharles.
Saturday was mostly spent taking in readings:
James L. Sutter, author of Death’s Heretic and fiction editor at Paizo did a short reading, and then led a fun Q&A about writing and gaming with his audience. I’m still holding out hope that Paizo will let him write a novel set in his Distant Worlds Pathfinder Campaign setting. It’s may be a bit of a fringe product, but it was one of the coolest game accessories I’ve seen in years, and it was obvious James had a real passion for it.
Another Paizo author, Dave Gross, had the room next. Dave read from Queen of Thorns. It was a saucy reading for 9:30 in the morning. Man, I love the character of Radovan! I picked up Dave’s previous book, Master of Devils after Dave’s reading at When Words Collide 2011 in Calgary, and have been looking forward to his next book ever since.
Suzanne Church won the Aurora Award for her short story “The Needle’s Eye” so I wanted to check out her reading (also, she promised candy). Suzanne read snippets from a few different stories (bought her issue of Clarkesworld while I was picking up my “rejected by Clarkesworld card), all very different, but all excellent.
I had to run to make Helen Marshall’s reading from her new collection, Hair Side, Flesh Side, but it was worth it. A very intriguing story, and perfect delivery in the reading.
I made it back from supper in time for the epic ChiZine party. I’ve met so many of the ChiZine authors, and they’re all awesome people in addition to being great writers, but the gravitational pull of that much awesome in one room made for a very crowded party. So I wandered the halls roaming between the consuite party, ChiZine party, and the hotel bar.
It sounds bad, but I mostly behaved (mostly). I had to be up at 5 to get ready for my flight home.
I survived the weekend on two hours of sleep a night and managed not to pick up any con crud despite seemingly being surrounded by coughers and flu carriers (Looking at you, Mrs. Dudley). It was also quite the change of gears to go from drinking bourbon with friends for four days and being on no one’s schedule but my own to plunging back to the incessant ringing of telephones and vague requests for “that blue book, you know the one.”
Next week the western leg of the tour starts! Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, I am coming for you…