31 December 2011

2011: Achievements

Way back at the beginning of the year, I wrote a post boldly proclaiming my goals. I'm pretty sure I didn't hit any of them. But let's look back:

  • I will write one new short story a month
  • I will write fiction for at least an hour, 5 times a week.
  • I will blog at least once a week, but aim for three times.
Yep, I failed on them all. Except "failed" is not really the right word. No, I didn't meet any of the three goals, but if you look at the intent behind all of those goals, it was primarily to get me writing regularly again. And at that, I was actually very successful. It just took a lot longer to get back in the habit than I had thought.

At the bottom of that same post, I also mentioned some immediate goals:
  • put together a simple but eye-catching cover for short story #1: "Come-From-Away," either photo-based (it's set in St John's, NL) or something I drew.
  • Get the story formatted properly for e-pub.
  • Get myself registered on the appropriate sites and publish away.

Not only did I get that done, I did it over and over for 12 short stories, two mini-collections (one of two and one of three stories), three YA/middle-grade novels, and a collection of eleven stories. And that's only what I did under my own name. Under two pen names, I also got five serial novel chapters done, published, and published again in a magazine (well, three of them so far in the magazine), finished a novel, and wrote substantial parts of two novellas.

In another post a couple of weeks later, I added another goal to stop sending out the same short stories over and over and e-publish them instead, clearing the decks, so to speak, for new work. And that I did.

So I actually got a lot done this year, especially if you add in that I taught several letterpress and books arts extended studies courses, did a whole lot of letterpress printing and even (finally) got some of it into shops in Halifax and Mahone Bay, had some litho and intaglio prints in a group show in New York (okay, Brooklyn, but still), did a lot of freelance writing and little bit of freelance editing, and got considerably more comfortable using Adobe Illustrator.

There are still a few things I'd have liked to have accomplished, like getting the second issue of Fey into print form, and doing the same for the novels, but those are now at the top of my list for next year.


The last class I taught this year for NSCAD Extended Studies was a pop-up holiday card workshop over a whole weekend. I ended up with only three students (though four registered), so it was an intimate class, but it meant I was able to give each student more one-on-one time if they wanted it. I'm notoriously bad at taking photographs of my classes, but I did take some pictures of a prototype I started during the class--at first to demonstrate the process and then for something to do when the students reached the point where they didn't need my immediate help (I love that, but it does make me feel a little useless).

Because I wanted this card to be the sort of thing that the recipient could use as a holiday decoration year after year, I needed it to be able to lay flat and stay flat when opened. So instead of cardstock covers, I built it like a book. That also allowed it to be a more substantial-seeming gift, and meant it didn't even need wrapping.

I was cutting this quite quickly from a very rough sketch (so I didn't bore the students while they watched the process), so a lot of the final shape is more-or-less freehand. So the deer are a proportioned a little oddly. You can also probably tell that my knife was not quite as sharp as it should have been.

I really like, though, how the simple white shapes layer on each other to create something with depth. You can, of course, use coloured paper, or draw or paint on the shapes, but I wanted something simple and elegant. White-on-white is simple and elegant, right?

28 December 2011

More New Books, Plus a Kickstarter Campaign Worth Supporting

New Book: Frisland Stories: Eleven Tales of Folk Magic

Frisland is--or was once--an island in the North Atlantic, created by the gods of the sun and moon on a whim, and full of subtle magic. Now and then, there are dragons, but more likely you'll encounter magical foxes who are really fairy folk, people who can turn into reindeer, or a woman who built her beloved a pair of wings so he could fly.

Frisland Stories: Eleven Tales of Folk Magic includes all eleven Frisland short stories, including the two previously published in Two Tales of Frisland:

  • Hollow Bones
  • Remembering to Fly
  • Sealskin
  • Sharper and More Fragrant
  • Cobbleshore Knit
  • Daughters of the Sea King
  • Fox Point Dragon
  • Perilous Child
  • Raven's Wing
  • White Foxes, Full Moon
  • Great Skerry
Buy from Smashwords
Buy e-book from Amazon
Coming soon in paperback from White Raven Press.

New Book: Vixen

Su just wants to sit in a dark corner for a quiet drink when she spots a newborn vampire across the bar. He's confused, and he's starting to draw attention to himself. And he's hot.

So Su decides to give him a few pointers. Then she realizes that the reason this baby vamp is wandering around without a protective escort is that she killed his parent vamp earlier that night.

Now Su feels responsible. A newborn vampire is helpless until he regains his memories and learns how to act like a vampire. Su knows enough about vamps to be able to teach him that. But Su has her own problems. She doesn't have much of a memory, either, and while she's not a vampire, she's not exactly human.

Su doesn't know what she is, and she doesn't have a kindly stranger in a bar to tell her.

Buy from Amazon
Coming soon in paperback from White Raven Press.

Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders Kickstarter Campaign

Doc F's is the magazine that publishes my (as Calliope Strange) serial novel Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective. They're trying to raised enough cash to have the first issue of 2012 offset printed, to avoid the enormous cover price the POD magazine costs. There's lots of great fiction in here besides mine, plus articles, reviews, and more on steampunk-related topics.

Support Doc F's Kickstarter

27 December 2011

Book Review: Unexpected Destiny by Ariana N. Dickey

I meant to have this posted ages ago. My, how time flies. Anyway, here's my first (and so far only) review for Self-Publishing Review, which describes itself thusly:

Self-Publishing Review is a central site devoted to self-publishing news and reviews. It is also a social network where writers, readers, and everyone can join and connect. . . . The aim of the site is to improve the attitude toward self-publishing and help authors find readers.

Book Review: Unexpected Destiny by Ariana N. Dickey

First impressions are vital with self-published books, especially first novels with few user reviews. Unexpected Destiny has a fairly bland cover, rendered unfortunately dark and murky by Lulu's printing process. The interior layout is mostly professional-looking, with a few odd formatting choices (most notably in the way non-human dialogue is set, which is not only strange, but inconsistent). Typos are mercifully few, and though I did notice a slight increase the farther I got into the book, I've seen much worse in mass-market paperbacks from top publishers.

But I don't expect you really care that much about the physical book, as long as it's not distractingly badly done. You probably really want to know about the story, the characters, the writing. Curiously, those things, the things that make you want to read a book or not, mirror the book's physicality. By which I mean, there's a lot of heart in Unexpected Destiny, but it's very apparent that this is a first novel.

Ms Dickey has no lack of imagination. The pages of this book are bursting with colorful characters, made-up fantasy species (and some that are more obviously based on myth or folklore or previous authors of high fantasy), and lovingly-imagined locales. The plot proceeds at a breakneck pace, sending the three main characters off on a quest and putting them in harm's way immediately--a different sort of harm on every page, it sometimes seems.

Our three heroes, Ely, Colin, and Faythe, are the latest reincarnation of the Blessed Ones (yes, in caps every time). It is their destiny to free their world from its tyrannical king and the depredations of some nasty gods and their even nastier minions, or to die in the attempt. Which makes me wonder exactly how their destiny is unexpected, since we (and they) know about it in the first chapter. The heroes have a magical map they must follow in order to meet said destiny, and it takes them from place to place where they save people, get attacked by people, kill a lot of people (both on purpose and by virtue of others trying to help them and dying), and learn how to harness their Blessed powers. It often feels like the writer also had a map, or a plot outline, that she followed from incident to incident, in as much of a hurry to get to the next plot point as her characters are to get to the next location on their map. Quite often, I wished she would just slow down, breathe and enjoy the journey.

Unexpected Destiny certainly isn't a bad book, but I can't quite say it's a great one, either. I give it 3 out 5 stars because though there's a lot of promise here, it's promise a good editor could have gone a long way towards bringing out. The writing is grammatically competent, but there are too many stock phrases and clich├ęs, too much telling and not enough showing, for it to ever become truly absorbing. And though the story does reach a sort of resting place, it's not over, as this is the first in a series. To get the whole story, you have to read the rest of the series, which isn't out yet. I certainly wish Ms Dickey the best with her writing, as I think she could produce some fine stories if she's willing to put the work into developing her craft.

14 December 2011

New Book: A Madness of Kentaurs

A Madness of Kentaurs

Octavian wants two things: to see the kentaur herd pass by on the plains, and to have a horse of his own. Ixion is a kentaur shaman-in-training, considered special by his people, but also set apart from them. During the season of madness a runaway horse brings the two together, where they learn that humans and kentaurs have more in common than they thought, and that their nightmares are connected.

It is the time of year when once wild things become wild again, still wild things become wilder, and civilized things shut their doors and pretend they had never been wild.

During the season of madness, the kentaurs of the Pelion foothills—those half-horse, half-human creatures that humans call “centaurs”—journey from their home villages to the sacred lands across the Acheron River. Horses find the kentaur herd irresistible and often run away from their human masters to join the herd. One day, Octavian, stable-boy and floor cleaner at the local inn, gets carried off by the innkeeper’s horse, and ends up trapped in the kentaur herd. He is placed under the charge of Ixion, a young kentaur shaman-in-training, who begins to teach him that kentaurs are not the barbaric, half-sentient beasts he had thought they were.

And then the dreams begin. Dreams in which ancient, cold things with too many teeth steal the boys’ tongues and threaten to steal their sanity. Now Octavian and Ixion both have to learn enough about the otherworld to make it though a grueling initiation ceremony across the Acheron, River of Woe. But first, Octavian has to gain acceptance from the kentaur herd.

Coming soon in paperback

13 December 2011

December Giveaway

I still seem to be trying to catch up with life post-craft-fair (how do people do multiple fairs several times a year?), and can't think of a good giveway for this month, so, in the spirit of the biggest commercial holiday of the year, and the tradition of leaving offerings for the fairies (or something), I've decided to give everyone something this month. Happy Holidays (or insert preferred greeting here)!

So from now until the end of the year, both my short YA fantasy novels are free to anyone who uses the appropriate code on Smashwords (you'll find formats for all e-readers and computers). So download one, the other, or both, and if you like it how about leaving a review? (but don't feel obligated to leave a review--please download and read anyway).

The Coming of the Fairies

Click here and enter coupon code CK38P at checkout for 100% off the cover price. Coupon will expire on January 1, 2012.

Milk Sister

Click here and enter coupon code YK42K at checkout for 100% off the cover price. Coupon will expire on January 1, 2012.

06 December 2011

November Winner

And the winner of November's giveaway is (according to Random.org):



I'll send you an email shortly, and if I forget you can send your choice of eBook and your mailing address to me at anagramforink at gmail dot com.

(Sorry Jade, I know you wanted this one . . .)

A new giveaway will be up soonish.