Sharing friends with my friends

I thought, today, instead of an author interview, I would share the sites of some of my blogging friends:

For all of you who might be thinking of taking the challenge of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), wantoncreation has some advice for you.

If you prefer a site where you can read an interesting story, Diane Dickson has written many short stories and serials, so pop over here. Soon she will be offering one of her novels for free, too!

C.B. Wentworth has a lovely variety of posts; lovely poetry, gorgeous photography, fantastic travel tales, and her beautiful knitted creations. You can find her latest poetry and photo of a Roman bridge here.

On the site, Speculating Canada, Derek Newman-Stille discusses Canadian speculative fiction, interviews writers of the genre and writes reviews. Considering the month, I recommend you head over there and read his list of ‘Canadian Must-reads-For-Halloween‘.

I enjoy reading what Elizabeth Creith has to say on her website. She discusses her writing and gives pointers to upcoming authors. For example, in her latest post, she discusses writing style.

If you want to read a charming Halloween-themed story, pop over to roughwighting and immerse yourself in ‘Witchy Woman’.

Jenny Keller Ford is a lovely woman who is working hard to get her first YA novel published. In the meantime, she has had several short stories published in anthologies put out by J. Taylor Publishers. She interviews other writers, like Terri Rochenski in her latest guest post ‘Balancing Family With Writing, and she reviews books as well as giving tips on writing.

Another writerly blogger is Jennifer M. Eaton. She’s been advising her readers with ‘… Simple Rules To Writing The Best Novel Ever‘, based on the article, ‘Hunting Down the Pleonasm’ by Allen Guthrie. She also has been providing us with book reviews and author interviews. She began the multi-author story ‘Write A Story With Me’, which has a new episode each Monday.

I think that’s enough sharing, for today, although there are many more exciting bloggers out there, writing wonderful blog posts, which I hope to share another time. I hope you will take the time, on this leisurely Sunday, to peruse the links provided.

Happy Sunday, Everyone! 🙂

Friday Reviews

While I do have several books I want to personally review, I am waiting on the interviews that go along with them, so I hope you will be patient until I get everything sorted out. In the meantime, there are others who have been reviewing books so I thought I’d share their links. You might want to add some of them to your summer reading list. 🙂

The first is Jennifer M. Eaton’s review of Surrender by Aimee Lane. I love her cookie ratings.

The second, if you have a passion for zombies, is a review by Derek Newman-Stilles (Speculating Canada) of Zombie Versus Fairy Featuring Albinos by James Marshall. He speculates that the story shows how “our society [has] become like zombies, not questioning, not changing, following outdated patterns, and mindlessly destroying”.

If you like poetry, here are a couple of links to sites where new works of poetry are being discussed:

Julie Catherine has a poetry collection, Poems of Living, Loving & Lore and a few more poems to share.

Christy Burmingham has just produced her collection of inspiring poems, Pathways to Illumination.

To round out the selections, Cheri Champagne has just published, Love and Deceit, the third of the Mason Sibling series of Regency Romances. These aren’t your usual period romances, with simpering leads fawning over men they can’t possess. Cheri has strong female characters who are embroiled in mystery, intrigue and high adventure, as well as antics in the bedroom!

If you’ve ever contemplated life, death and its mysteries, Evelyn Woodward’s story I Am the Gatekeeper presents a different perspective on the world around us. Evelyn also has a chilling mystery, Caught In The Web.

Finally, Cas Courcelle has her engrossing adventure, Down Dark Deep, on Kindle. It draws you in and captures you with suspense!

Do YOU have any good books you’d like to share? 🙂

Sunday Interview – Julie Czerneda

Julie Czerneda author photo credit Roger Czerneda Photography

Hello, my faithful readers and anyone else who may have popped in today to join us!

I am pleased to be involved in another blog tour. Many of you may know Canadian author, Julie E. Czerneda, as the former biologist turned science fiction novelist published by DAW Books, NY. You may have read her Clan Chronicles series or you’re a fan of Mac or Esen from her other work. Maybe you’ve heard she’s an editor. Also, true. This spring, however, prepare to meet the Julie you don’t know. After three years of work, she’s letting out her whimsical side with the release of her first fantasy novel, A Turn of Light, also from DAW.

Hi, Julie! I know you don’t have a lot of time these days as you launch your latest book, so I would like to jump right in and talk about it.

What inspired you to write, ‘A Turn of Light’? 

I was hungry for the kind of fantasy I remembered and loved, but couldn’t seem to find any more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s likely out there on someone’s shelf, just not mine. As a writer, I tend to write for myself anyway, and I have specific tastes in dragons I wanted to indulge. Add that to my distaste for the fairytale about the princess and the frog prince? The whole thing became irresistible and I succumbed, gladly.

Did you notice, my dear readers, she mentioned DRAGONS (among other things)! Sorry for the aside, Julie, but I have a few very loyal readers who absolutely LOVE dragons – and so do I! 🙂

A Turn of Light Cover

I also love history and was excited to learn your story is set in pioneer times. What kind of research did you need to do for it?

Thanks! Once I’d chosen that time and place as the foundation for my world-building, I discovered a love of history too. While I’m curious about everything, I hadn’t ever scoured the history section of used bookstores, or gone to museums with writing about a place in mind. (Biologist, you see.) I started with the physical details. Structures, technology, what would be deemed worth carrying to a new home in the wilderness and what wouldn’t. That took me to pioneer villages and old barns. I needed to understand the daily life and occupations, which led me to the books the settlers themselves would have used as references (so cool!). At that point, I spent a few weeks pondering what would or could take place in a community the size of Marrowdell, and what they’d need to obtain from larger settlements. Hinges became a brief obsession.

Then there was the mill. My photographer-spouse and I toured every abandoned mill in reach, taking all manner of reference photos. We did the bulk of that at a working mill, Watson’s Mill in Manotick.

Aside from this kind of research, I became something of a voyeur, diving into the actual accounts by those settlers. The letters home, the dreams and plans they had, even the birth of Canadian publishing. I’ve written about this in an essay at the end of TURN. It definitely informed the characters as well as the world. 

You’re a girl after my own heart! I did a lot of the same things when I researched my own books. 🙂

Would you please introduce us to your main characters?

There are three: Jenn Nalynn, the miller’s youngest daughter; Wisp, the disgraced dragon who’s been her invisible friend since birth; and the stranger who arrives in Marrowdell, Bannan Larmensu.

Innocent and good-hearted, as the story begins Jenn is about to turn nineteen, her adult birthday, and wants more than anything to leave the valley of her birth and see the wonders of the wider world for herself. 

A former soldier, Bannan longs for a simple life, to be a farmer. Having inherited his family’s gift, he’s a truthseer, able to know if someone is lying or telling the truth. When he arrives in Marrowdell, he finds far more, for here his ability lets him glimpse the magical realm of the Verge and to see the true nature of Jenn Nalynn, for she was born by the light of both worlds and carries a growing power as her birthright. 

(I should mention that Bannan has also inherited the family warhorse, Scourge, who isn’t like other horses. For one thing, he eats rabbits.)

Wisp comes from the Verge, the magical realm tied to Marrowdell by some cataclysm years ago. He’s perilous yet plays with thistledown. Old, yet able to learn. Having learned to love Jenn Nalynn, he nonetheless understands his duty may mean killing her. For if she ever steps beyond Marrowdell, his world and hers will be torn apart.

Which is why it’s really not a good thing, when Jenn Nalynn does her very first magic and turns Wisp into a man.

You’ve got me hooked!

I’m always curious about magic in fiction. How does the magic work in your story?

It’s elemental. Primal. Wild. Part of the landscape and inherent in certain beings or forms of life. I don’t have magic users in TURN as such. There are those who know very well where not to go, or who’ve learned good manners. Marrowdell sits along an edge, connected to the Verge, where magic is everywhere.

That said, at the turn of light, sunset, what lives in Marrowdell that came from the Verge can be seen, if the watcher knows where to look. I love that part.

Without spoiling the story, I can say that there are beings of magic who use their power with great deliberation and impact. Choosing to do so, however, is something fraught with risk and consequence. I love that part too.

In your promotional photo, I noticed you had a statue of a frog (or is it a toad?) on your lap. What is the significance of that?

Ah, the house toad. I wanted something ordinary in the village that would, if you looked closely, be rather odd. Toads fit the bill. Harmless and small, yet so much more in Marrowdell. They’ve become iconic, really. I take one to each of my events to leave behind. Every one should have a house toad, believe me.

The one on my lap was a gift from our daughter, Jennifer Lynn. If you notice something familiar in the name, yes, it’s true. This is Jennifer’s first “tuckerization” and I’m very proud.

Very cool! I’m sure she’s thrilled. 🙂

frog1

I’m partial to frogs and toads, myself. Here’s one that I put out in my garden, each summer:

Are there are any other links you would like me to share with my readers?

My event calendar can be found at http://www.czerneda.com/events/events.html. Another link of possible interest is http://www.watsonsmill.com

I’m happy to connect with readers via twitter @julieczerneda, facebook (look for the Marrowdell page), and goodreads.

Thank you, Julie, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.

My pleasure. Great questions!

If you want to learn more about Julie and her writing, Derek at Speculating Canada did a really in-depth interview of Julie, which you can find here.
And now, I have some exciting news! You may have a chance to WIN one of six copies of A Turn of Light donated by Penguin Canada for Julie’s contest, “Awesome Turn Blog Tour Scavenger Hunt”! Doesn’t that sound like FUN?
I hope you will check out her events calendar (link above) which will send you to the other blogs who interviewed her in order to find the answers to her questions, which you can answer on her website: www.czerneda.com or specifically, here. Sorry, but I’m afraid those who live somewhere other than Canada or the United States are beyond the limits of the shippers.
Good luck! 🙂

Sunday Interview # 19

Hi, all!

I wasn’t sure I’d have an interview for you today, but Derek Newman-Stille stepped up to the plate. Thanks so much, Derek! I’m so glad you got back to me so quickly. 🙂

I recently started following his blog because I love reading (and watching) fantasy and science fiction. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce him to you.

Welcome to my blog, Derek! Please begin by telling my readers a bit about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me. I am a PhD student in the Frost Centre for Canadian and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. My research is focused on the representation of disability in Canadian speculative fiction, particularly looking at the way monstrous protagonists (heroic werewolves, vampires, zombies, and other ghoulish creatures) are used to symbolise the issues that come up for people with disabilities like inaccessible space (there are just certain places a werewolf can’t go… and don’t even get me started about light-unsafe spaces for vampires…), being treated as social outsiders, being treated as medical curiosities and subject to the medical idea of a “proper body type”.

As a person with disabilities, I have often found myself identifying with the outsider experience that many monstrous protagonists encounter in Canadian Speculative Fiction, so I thought this would be a great meshing of my diverse interests.

I live in Peterborough, Ontario with my partner and our rabbit. Along with my scholarly research, I also paint and work on a blog about Canadian speculative fiction called Speculating Canada  that conducts interviews with Canadian speculative fiction authors, reviews Canadian speculative works… and adds on a little bit of lit crit just for fun.

I have taught courses at Trent university on the literary history of the werewolf and also about witches in the Greek and Roman world… really fun stuff. And I have to say, I love teaching things like this because one gets the most interesting students and the most fascinating conversations arise.

Your blog is called Speculating Canada: Canadian Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy. Why did you decide to create a blog about Canadian Speculative Fiction? How does it vary to SF in other countries?

I decided to create a blog about Canadian SF for a few reasons that sort of came together at the time. I have always thought that it is important to recognise authors and give them feedback and I wanted a way to show authors that their work really excites readers and does more than just entertain readers. That is why I include some analysis in my reviews rather than just discussing how much I enjoyed the work. Authors know that their work is liked by the number of sales it gets, but I like to also show them that their work is received as more than just fun – it is a thought-provoking venture that really gets the audience thinking and changes their perspective.

At the same time I was thinking about ways to show authors the incredible impact of their work, I was also struggling with some health issues and loss of memory. I found that writing small blurbs on the works I was reading helped me to remember them so that I could use them for my research. It occurred to me that I could publish those blurbs with some tweaking for a public audience and accomplish both.

Regarding the Canadian-ness of Canadian SF, it is very tough to create a set definition of the differences. I don’t think I could define a specific aspect of Canadian SF that differentiates it from other nations, but there is some undefinable aesthetic, a feel about it that is different from other types of SF. There are definitely some themes that surface such as the fascination with the idea of “the Other” and the outsider. Canadian SF authors also show an interest in a certain moral greyness, a complexity of morality. There are generally no easy heroes or villains, but rather complex characters that have to battle with their moral questions. Canadian SF also shows a fascination with the idea of home and the way that home can draw one back when one tries to escape from it. Memory is another feature of Canadian SF and, particularly, the way that memory haunts us… or sometimes the way that a lack of memory haunts us. Canadian SF generally exhibits a suspicion about easy answers and about optimism and the notion that “things will work out for the best”. Mix this general pessimism with a healthy dose of humour and you get a really complex narrative.

Do you write speculative fiction yourself? If so, what types of things do you like to write about?

I am not a speculative fiction author myself, but I am a speculative artist, of sorts. My art is heavily influenced by a speculative element and engages with speculative subjects. If you are interested, you can check out some of my paintings at http://www.dereknewmanstille.ca/works.php . I really enjoy the fantastic and I think that comes through in my work, particularly with its engagement with surreal landscapes and a flavour of the magical and mythic.

What is it about speculative fiction that most fascinates you?

I think the thing that most interests me about SF is the question that it embodies – the fact that it lives in a realm of ideas and ponderings. I am a person who loves to ask questions and loves to learn. Speculative Fiction brings me into the world of inquiry where everything is unfamiliar and new. 

I find that often the best way to find out about ourselves is to venture into an unfamiliar and new territory, so whenever I read about the alien or the monstrous or the fantastic experience, I find out more about what it means to be human.

I enjoy that SF tries to see possibilities and perhaps offers some cautions about the way things are going, or proposes a new possibility for the way things COULD go.

What is your favourite type of SF to read for recreation? Are there any authors that you read consistently or do you like to sample from a variety of authors?

I am not sure that I have a favourite type of SF. I like to read a wide variety of SF and I find that my tastes vary from day to day. I love to be exposed to new authors and see the incredible variety of work that is available. I just wish there was more time to read even more work… too many books, too little time.

Writing the Speculating Canada site has actually exposed me to an even wider variety of authors, so it has been an amazing and incredible project.

I have read some of your interviews of SF writers on your blog. They have been fascinating and you love to delve into why they wrote what they did – the motives behind the words. Who are some of your most memorable interviewees?

I find every interview has its new excitement. Every time I speak to a new author, I get a new level of insight and new ideas about their work. Authors have incredible insights. Being able to see into worlds of possibility, they often have incredible self-awareness and insights into the human experience. I love to ask authors questions that give them the chance to provide deeper insights into their thought processes, and their insights about the world around them.

When reviewing SF books, what are some of the criteria that you use to help you provide such an in-depth analysis of them?

Oddly enough, I mostly let the book lead me. I try to go in to every new book with a very open mind and general curiosity and then get pulled in by the author’s whisperings between the lines. I feel that there is something new and exciting to learn from everyone and that each new encounter with literature is an educational experience that will open my mind to new ideas and perspectives that I hadn’t dreamed of. 

In addition to your blog, you are also on Facebook. Are there any other social media sites where we can find you?

I only really use Facebook and my blog for social networking. Originally I was only using my blog, but I wanted an opportunity to engage with readers a bit more, have a chance to talk to them and get their insights and ideas. There are so many brilliant people out there with a passion for Speculative Fiction, and it is great to have the opportunity to engage with that excitement.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?

I just wanted to add that it has been a really interesting experience to be interviewed. Thank you. I have gotten so accustomed to being the interviewer and reviewer and it is great to be able to change roles. I like being the figure who asks questions, so it is nice to be brought out of my comfort zone and cast into the light. 

I hope it wasn’t too uncomfortable for you, Derek. Thanks for joining us today! 🙂