Yesterday Was Ragnarök, But We’re Still Here. Time For A Contest!

Ragnarok

Surtur did not crack the sky with his flaming sword. The sooty cock of Hel did not crow. And while we here on the Canadian prairies are still stuck in the depths of Fimbulwinter, I’ve been seeing signs of spring elsewhere.

So I guess that means the apocalypse didn’t come.

Time to celebrate!

Drinking Horn

I’m going to give away a couple of autographed books. How do you win them? Simple!

Like the Thunder Road Trilogy Facebook page

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Tumblr

Add Thunder Road or Tombstone Blues to your To-Read Shelf on Goodreads

Do any (or hey, all of them, why not improve your chances?) and you will be entered in a draw for an autographed copy of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues. If you have already done all of those things, and own the books, thank you! There’s also something in this contest for you. If you help promote the contest on your social media feeds, I’ll send you a fun bag of Thunder Road related swag.

Write on!

Contest runs until March 23rd.

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Why I Write Urban Fantasy: A Guest Post by Rhiannon Held

It’s an absolute pleasure to host Rhiannon Held on the blog in celebration of the release of her third novel, Reflected. Today, Rhiannon will tell us why she writes urban fantasy:

I’ve always been drawn to urban fantasy, even back when I was just reading it rather than writing it. When I started my first real novel, I didn’t have to think twice about what genre it would be. There are several reasons for that, but even more interesting to me has been the gradual change in the opinions of the people around me.

Back in grad school when I was still plunking away at short stories, learning my craft, I visited home and my parents gave me an article they’d clipped for me from the local newspaper. It was about the surprising popularity of Twilight, which, while it was news to my parents and the national media, I was already perfectly aware of. I was kind of like yes, and? My mother told me that she and my father had thought maybe my short stories weren’t getting published because they were all weird and about vampires and stuff, but apparently that’s a good thing!

So I remember a time when someone asking why you picked urban fantasy was actually them asking why you’d picked that weird, pocket genre instead of writing a proper fantasy or horror novel. Why would a vampire be a character? Monsters should be scary and rawr, not sexy and emotionally nuanced.

But of course, making scary beasties into characters is part of what I love most about urban fantasy: it allows extraordinarily robust metaphors. And I’m all about metaphor! See, if someone has an opinion about a topic (let’s say drug addiction) and you present them with a character that’s an addict, bing! That previous opinion springs into action. You haven’t really done much to make the person reevaluate it. But if your character is a vampire, you can talk about addiction without it being about addiction, and the previous opinion says quiescent. Maybe you won’t change the person’s mind, but at least you’ve given them a new perspective while their previous opinion slept.

Beasties are great for that, because they can be about a whole range of emotional and physical states, without being about those emotional and physical states. For example, one of the main metaphors of my Silver series is using my werewolves to represent the struggle of immigrants and members of minority cultures to balance the traditions they keep at home with the ones they have to follow every day at work and school. Since my werewolves are born rather than turned, they can be born into a culture they have to keep secret from the humans around them.

There are also a few other reasons I write urban fantasy. It’s a genre that lets you hit the ground running. As a reader, rather than a writer, I love that, so I write what I love. In traditional fantasy, a talented writer can smoothly work in all the many details of the world, but there’s still a whole, entirely new world to take in and understand before you can get to the plot. Some readers like the feeling of being immersed in another place, and want lots of world details. Me, I want to be thrust into the character’s emotional arc and zoom ahead. Having a world that is somewhat similar to ours saves time explaining, and allows zooming.

I also find that urban fantasy can be fundamentally optimistic. It presents a world like ours, with very familiar problems—poverty, corruption, inequality—and then offers the characters a way to address those problems head-on. If the drug kingpin taking over a neighborhood is a vampire, you can stake him! I’ve heard some people present urban fantasy as the exact opposite, pessimistic, because there’s all the grit of the real world plus additional monsters on top. And some can certainly be written that way, but every time one of the additional monsters is excitingly vanquished, it’s giving characters in a world very like ours something concrete to celebrate, to hold them through the tough, incremental battle ahead against a non-fictional problem like poverty.

Of course, now urban fantasy has entered popular consciousness, questions about why I’d want to write in it sometimes trend more toward why I’d write in a genre that’s been tapped out, overrun by sparkling vampires. But no genre is ever completely tapped out, which is why I’ve made my werewolves different, and focused on things like their religion and culture, that most authors haven’t explored before.

But I know I don’t have to convince you guys or Chadwick, who kindly granted me space on this blog, about the fact that there’s plenty to love in urban fantasy. Since we all know it’s a ton of fun, we can turn instead to comparing our specific reasons. Now you know mine!

Reflected cover

Here’s an excerpt from her new book!

An Interview with Rhiannon Held

Creating Mythology: A Guest Post by Rhiannon Held

Rhiannon Held is the author of SILVER, and TARNISHED, the first two novels in an urban fantasy series published by Tor Books. In her day job she works as a professional archaeologist. Unfortunately, given that it’s real rather than fictional archaeology, fedoras, bullwhips, aliens, and dinosaurs are in short supply. Most of her work is done on the computer, using databases to organize data, and graphics programs to illustrate it.

http://rhiannonheld.com/

Interviewed And Profiled On ShawTV!

So this happened:

ShawTV interviewed and profiled me as a part of “I Love to Read Month”.  Cross one more terrifying experience off of the bucket list. Big thanks to everyone at Shaw for supporting Manitoba authors, and thanks to the anonymous bookseller at McNally Robinson who put my name forward as one of their favourite authors.

Write on!

Kaiju Rising (Or: I Now Know How I’m Going To Die)

To say I’m a little excited about this:

KaijuRising-900

might be the understatement of the year.

This is the cover for the Ragnarok Publications anthology, Kaiju Rising (illustrated by Bob Eggleton). Not only are there some authors that I really enjoy reading in this collection, I am in the book too…in a manner of speaking.

How, you ask?

I die in Manchester, in David Annandale’s story, “The Conversion”.

I supported this project on Kickstarter, and a couple of the perks were to be “redshirted” or to have the city of your choice destroyed. My first inclination was to have David destroy Winnipeg. Unfortunately, while I considered the smoking end of the Jubilee Underpass and the train tracks that cut through my bus route, someone beat me to the punch, so it’s Manchester that’s left in ruins, not River City.

Here’s my killer: The Eschaton (Art by the insanely talented Chuck Lukacs).

The Conversion

My backer’s ebook arrived recently, and I naturally had to sate my morbid curiosity about my own end first (delayed gratification is not one of my strong suits). I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but “The Conversion” reads like the bastard love-child of Annandale’s brilliant horror novel, Gethsemane Hall and the nihilistic action of his Warhammer 40000 work. So needless to say, I loved the story!

Thanks for the great story, David! I’ve always wanted to visit England!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more kaiju stories to read…

February Goals

How’d I do last month?

  • Reread the completed Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues novels and make some notes before diving back into Book 3.
  • Reread everything I’ve already written for Book 3.
  • Reorganize my research notes and the scenes that were written while the book was resting, and insert them into the manuscript.
  • Start writing Book 3 again.

Not too bad, I was hoping to have all that reading done, but it’s been a busy month. I’ve started teaching a teen writing workshop for ACI Manitoba, and while I knew it would take more time than I expected, it is taking even more than that. I am enjoying teaching though, and it’s been a good experience so far. Rereading the previous books, while important, wasn’t nearly as vital as getting through all of my notes and rough draft material, because now I can actually start drafting again, and I have written a couple of new scenes I’m pretty happy with (Now if only I could find a title I like…).

So, what are my goals for February?

  • An hour of new words, every day, regardless of what else is going on. My buddy Kevin Madison has been doing an hour of drawing every day since 2013 with some amazing results. Word count isn’t so important to me with this experiment as forcing myself to make the time. I experimented with it during the last weeks of January and managed to draft a short story I’ve been thinking about writing for a while. I’m not setting a hard word count for this goal; 1000 words would be nice, but I’m thinking that I must draft roughly a page, so 250-350 in each sitting. I’m keeping a running total of how many words and which project they belong to). Some of these words will be for Book 3, but I’ve got a few short stories on the go too.
  • Get my short fiction house in order, by which I mean: finally enter the last round of story rejections into my submissions tracker and fire them back into the world again.
  • Reread the completed Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues novels and make notes relevant to Book 3.
  • Turn in my article to Prairie Books Now.

Write on!

Superbowl Sunday!

If you follow me for writing or Norse mythological related updates, fair warning, you’ll probably want to steer clear of my Twitter feed tonight. It will be all #Superbowl, all the time.

(And no, I don’t actually watch for the commercials, besides, we don’t air the really good ones on the Canadian newsfeeds anyway.)

I don’t have a dog in this hunt. Both my AFC and NFC teams were bounced before the big game. But don’t worry, the absence of a New Orleans Saints Baltimore Ravens Superbowl doesn’t fill me with sadness. I’ll actually be able to just relax and enjoy the game. So I hope Denver and Seattle both bring it, and that the Superbowl is exciting this year.

If I had to choose, though, (and I’m going to, because sports are more exciting with emotional investment) I guess I’m going to root for the Seattle Seahawks. They beat New Orleans, sure, but then at least the Black and Gold were beat by the winner, right? I’ve never liked the Broncos, going back to Elway’s days (before he turned his lose the big game legacy around). Explained best (as most things are) by The Simpsons:

I’m also not a fan of Peyton Manning (although I do really enjoy imagining dinner around the Manning family table, what with three quarterbacks in the crew. “Pass the potatoes, and try not to get intercepted again, Eli!”).

In any case, regardless of who you’re cheering for, or whether you like Football or Football, here’s best buds Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan getting ready to enjoy the big game:

Football!

(This photo is from Stewart’s twitter feed, so I’m assuming the copyright is his.)