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Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 08:00

One of the things that struck me when I was reading through lists of November 2016 books was the number written by obviously prolific authors (based on series number) that somehow never get mentioned in the SFF blogs, or featured on SFF podcasts, or discussed in the social media spaces where I hang out. It makes me feel...well, not any less hungry for my work to be talked about, but at least a little bit less alone. I'm sure I've heard Nalini Singh's name before, but I was a bit startled to discover how prolific she is: Goodreads lists 164 distinct works! Archangel's Heart is the ninth book in her Guild Hunter series and that is far from the only extensive series she has written in the genres of SFF and paranormal romance.

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory. Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is. Nothing will ever be the same again.


I have no aspirations to write over 100 novels! But I love the sense of an expanding story, like a highway that will take me through mountains and over plains and into unexplored cities. Mother of Souls is another step on that road for my characters, opening them up to the larger world of mysticism and peril that was only hinted at in the earlier books.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 11:00

One of the most exciting developments in the speculative fiction field is the growing visibility and recognition of stories rooted deeply in cultures other than the default western European/American ones. I don't say "growing presence" because it is only the wider recognition that is new. Karen Lord has assembled this anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean to showcase some of the excellent SFF being produced in her home region.

Do not be misled by the “speculative” in the title. Although there may be robots and fantastical creatures, these common symbols are tools to frame the familiar from fresh perspectives. Here you will find the recent past and ongoing present of government and society with curfews, crime, and corruption; the universal themes of family, growth and death, love and hate; the struggle to thrive when power is capricious and revenge too bittersweet. Here too is the passage of everything—old ways, places, peoples, and ourselves—leaving nothing behind but memories, histories, and stories. This anthology speaks to the fragility of our Caribbean home, but reminds the reader that although home may be vulnerable, it is also beautifully resilient. The voice of our literature declares that in spite of disasters, this people and this place shall not be wholly destroyed. Read for delight, then read for depth, and you will not be disappointed. Includes brand-new stories by Tammi Browne-Bannister, Summer Edward, Portia Subran, Brandon O’Brien, Kevin Jared Hosein, Richard B. Lynch, Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brian Franklin, Ararimeh Aiyejina, and H.K. Williams.


A solid "sense of place" can be a challenge to develop when creating your own countries or worlds. Even more of a challenge when creating a culture very different from the one I live in. I will make no claims regarding how well I have succeeded. But one of the things that warms my heart in reader comments on the series, is when they say that books like Mother of Souls make them feel like Alpennia is a real location--just one that somehow got left off the maps and out of the history books. If you enjoy that experience, then seek out fiction by writers like Karen Lord that really is about places and cultures that tend to get left off the literary maps and out of the genre history books.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 07:00

We're back to the last couple of November releases that I'm including in this blog series. Rachel Neumeier's The Mountain of Kept Memory takes us to a fantastic secondary world where the gods take seriously their responsibility to protect--or their right to abandon--the realms they watch over.

Long ago the Kieba, last goddess in the world, raised up her mountain in the drylands of Carastind. Gulien Madalin, heir to the throne of Carastind, suspects that his father has offended the Kieba so seriously that she has withdrawn her protection from the kingdom. Worse, he fears that Carastind’s enemies suspect this as well. Then he learns that he is right. And invasion is imminent. Meanwhile Gulien’s sister Oressa has focused on what’s important: avoiding the attention of her royal father while keeping track of all the secrets at court. But when she overhears news about the threatened invasion, she’s shocked to discover what her father plans to give away in order to buy peace. But Carastind’s enemies will not agree to peace at any price. They intend to not only conquer the kingdom, but also cast down the Kieba and steal her power. Now, Gulien and Oressa must decide where their most important loyalties lie, and what price they are willing to pay to protect the Kieba, their home, and the world.


In many fantasy settings, one of the things that transports us away from there here and now is the overt presence of magic and the tangible presence of the divine. I always feel strange putting it that way, because many of my readers will assure me that the "tangible presence of the divine" as portrayed in the Alpennia books reflects their own real-life experiences. That can be a little unsettling for this atheist author! In Mother of Souls Margerit Sovitre finds her understanding of the divine nature of mysteries to be challenged by Luzie Valorin's music--a force with undeniable mystic power that seems to draw on a sources entirely unrelated to God and the saints.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion
Monday, May 29, 2017 - 08:00

Of the four encyclopedia-type texts I’m covering this month, this is the one I consider most useful and most academically sound. “Usefulness” is a matter of  what you’re looking for, of course. Someone who is browsing for random story inspiration will have a broader definition. But given that the core purpose of this project is to identify accurate and analytic information about desire between women in history, I consider it essential to make recommendations on that basis.

Major category: 
LHMP
Full citation: 

Zimmerman, Bonnie (ed). 2000. Lesbian Histories and Cultures. Garland, New York. ISBN 0-8153-1920-7

Publication summary: 

An extensive and well-sourced encyclopedia of persons, organizations, concepts, and topics relevant to lesbian history.

This work and it’s companion volume on gay (male) histories and cultures are a massive project drawing on respected scholars across a wide variety of fields. The articles are detailed and each cites multiple sources. Although the organization is strictly alphabetical, there is a topical index at the beginning that lays out the structure of the coverage and provides the headings for specific entries. To give some idea of the coverage, the top-level index under which specific articles are organized include: anthorpology, art, associations and organizations, biography, cultural identities, economics, geography (i.e., the state of lesbian culture in specific countries and regions), education, health, history, language, law, lesbian movement, literature, media and popular culture, music and dance, politics, psychology, relationships, religion, science, sexuality, sociology, sport, theater and film, and theory and philosophy.

The coverage is overwhelmingly modern in focus. By a very rough estimate, of the biographical entries fewer than 20% are for women dating earlier than the 20th century. The articles on specific national histories focus narrowly on a self-conscious “labeled” lesbian identity rather than tracing evidence of female homoeroticism in general. Awareness of pre-modern data is sometimes lacking (for example, the article on the term “lesbian” repeats the erroneous notion that the word was not used in the specific sense of “a woman whose sexual desire is directed toward women” until its adoption by psychologists in the late 19th century). Some of this can be attributed to the vast growth in the field since the year 2000 when it was published (and knowing volumes of this type, the contents no doubt lag the state of the field  at that time by several years). I say all this, not as a significant criticism of the work (which is generally excellent) but to note that those who are looking specifically for pre-20th century material should follow up with other sources as well. Fortunately, there are ample citations given to these more specific sources.

Sunday, May 28, 2017 - 08:00

I'm including a few Bella Books releases from October because a couple of my fellow Bella authors asked me to. And guess what? Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17. In A Woman of Strong Purpose, S. M. Harding has written a heart-pounding sequel to her romantic thriller I Will Meet You There.

Welcome to McCrumb County, Indiana, where retired Marine Corps Colonel Win Kirkland and Sheriff Sarah Pitt had hoped that their deepening relationship might bring some peace and order to their complicated lives. 

Freed from the closeted life after 25 years in the military, Win is fiercely out and proud—and ready for Sarah to move in. But the newly out Sarah has serious doubts about living as an open lesbian among her county’s conservative population. She longs to overcome her fear of exposure, especially since several gorgeous and exotic women seem intent on seducing Win—and she knows she could lose Win to them or to a bullet. 

Win and Sarah’s personal struggles are soon overshadowed by a series of local and international crimes that will blur the lines between hostility and horror, friend and foe, sacrifice and survival. 


How often have you read a book and thought, "But I want to know what these characters do next!" Authors can have that same impulse, leading to a series that moves beyond the first book's premise. When I finished writing Daughter of Mystery, my immediate thought was, "But what about Antuniet? What happens to her?" and hence The Mystic Marriage was inspired. Mother of Souls takes us further, not simply asking "what happens to these characters next?" but following the consequences of seemingly minor events in the previous books and tracing them down surprising new roads. Look for both A Woman of Strong Purpose and Mother of Souls (as well as many other books) on sale this weekend at Bella Books!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion
Saturday, May 27, 2017 - 08:00

I'm including a few Bella Books releases from October because a couple of my fellow Bella authors asked me to. And guess what? Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17Vortex of Crimson is the final book in Lise MacTague's Deception's Edge SF romance trilogy.

All Torrin Ivanov wanted was to get Jak Stowell back, that was supposed to be the hard part. In a cruel twist, Jak is hers again, but her girlfriend is literally losing her mind. The only help can be found on the last planet in the universe to which Torrin would like to return…To cure Jak, they must return to her war-ravaged home planet, Haefen. 

For Jak, returning to her home planet gives her the chance to make good on a promise too long deferred. But will she be able to finally take out her brother’s killer? Or will she be pulled into the dark undertow of local politics… 

The two women soon find that politics pale next to the threat of the one who still hunts Jak. This time he has bait—Torrin’s sister, Nat Ivanov. As their search intensifies, Torrin and Jak realize that despite all of the obstacles in their way, one thing is clear—they can at least depend on each other. But will that be enough?


Like Vortex of CrimsonMother of Souls is a third book, though the Alpennia series is both longer-reaching and less of a single story than the traditional trilogy format. The two books have one more thing in common, though: they're both on sale this weekend at Bella Books!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion
Friday, May 26, 2017 - 08:24

I made a few teensy exceptions to my rules that books for this promotion had to be November releases. One friend had a re-release, one November release was short fiction that I used to bump mention of the related book, and when I mentioned the project on the Bella Books facebook group, a couple of my fellow Bella authors with October releases asked it I could include them too--which I did when I found I had some space open at the end of the month. (Ordinarily, I try to avoid scope creep because it hits my anxiety buttons.) I'm re-arranging the planned schedule a bit to move those Bella books into the next few days because...Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17.

Tempered Steele: Hard Edges by M. E. Logan is a follow-up to the post-apocalyptic dystopian  romantic adventure Tempered Steele: Stoking the Fire.

After a nearly apocalyptic earthquake engendered a societal breakdown, visionary Deborah Steele returned to her isolated family farm and turned it into a safe haven for women to escape from the increasingly misogynistic and dystopian world around them. Her fair and open system of contracting labor for food, shelter and security has bound them together and ensured their survival. So far… 

Outside the farm, however, others are using a contract system as a form of human trafficking. And Deborah’s attempts to protect her estranged love, Joanna Davis, will soon bring the women’s community unwanted visibility, putting them all in danger and forcing Deborah to choose between the sanctuary she has built and the woman she still loves. 


It doesn't take a dystopia for women to need to struggle against misogyny and a society that exploits their labor and denies them a full life. Challenging those forces will always put them in danger, whether of overt violence or the no less hazardous rejection of society. In Mother of Souls, Luzie Valorin faces the choice between acceding to those who think her musical skills are only suitable for domestic amusements--or to support a man's career--and reaching out to sieze the chance for greatness. Perhaps even to change the fate of Europe with her compositions!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events. And at the moment, some of those books are on sale!

Major category: 
Promotion
Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 07:00

I confess to an occasional bewilderment at the sub-genre of "shifter" fantasy that seems to have sprung up almost overnight. (Ok, ok, I'm showing my age, right? But I swear, it wasn't there the last time I turned around.) Cathy Clamp's Illicit uses shapeshifter communities to explore motifs of social conflict and hidden identities.

When a border dispute between two bear clans destabilizes shapeshifter relations throughout Europe and threatens to reveal their existence to humans, the Sazi High Council orders both sides to the negotiation table. The peace talks take place in Luna Lake, the American community where all shifter species—wolf, cat, bird, bear, and more—live in harmony. Diplomats, their families, and security personnel stream into town, among them Dalvin Adway, a Wolven agent. Dalvin is startled to find Rachel Washington in Luna Lake. The last time he saw her, they were children in Detroit. Then she was kidnapped and, he thought, murdered. But Rachel became an owl-shifter as a result of the attack and has avoided family and old friends ever since, knowing they would not understand her. She’s stunned to see Dalvin and learn that he, too, is an owl-shifter. Their wary friendship is on the brink of becoming something more when conspiracy and betrayal cause the peace talks to break down. The fight between the bear clans will be settled through a form of traditional challenge—a risky tactic that might lead to full-blown war. Rachel is determined to prevent that, even if it means taking up the challenge herself!


I confess I've been having fun finding ways to tie each book in this series into some aspect of my own November 2016 release, Mother of Souls. I suppose I should take satisfaction in how many times I could manage it naturally! A pity that, in this case, I'm not promoting my (not yet scheduled for publication) Skinsinger collection which has a rather different take on shapeshifting. So you'll have settle for this not-a-connection connection to my book.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 13:45

Except for the book release re-boot series, I haven't been blogging as regularly as I like to. May has been a bit crazy in terms of travel/conventions and work pressures (you know, the job that pays my bills). I've had enough LHMP posts in the can to carry my through (though I need to record a podcast tonight that I haven't finished writing yet! The Civil War diaries have been a dropped ball for the last couple weeks. But I keep plugging away at the first draft of Floodtide, day by day. I think the Scrivener file is up to around 80k words or so, but this draft is so messy that I have no idea how that's going to settle out. This morning's session brought me up to the moment in time when Mother of Souls ends: the Feast of Saint Mauriz when they perform the quadruple mystery and break the curse and...well, but that's the question isn't it? The question that Floodtide answers, in part.

I'm up to the point when Floodtide moves beyond the fields the readers know, and when our protagonist Rozild finds herself having to make choices not only about her own future, but that may in some small way affect everyone around her. It's exciting and it's daunting. Daunting, in part, because one of the major things to tackle in revisions is to make sure that we have enough through-lines of conflict and action and agency through all the previous chapters of the book that the climax doesn't explode in my face.

Roz has so many conflicts to negotiate and so little power to face them down. All of them need to be braided together into a smooth and even cord. A lot of her experiences are superficially about survival and alliance rather than about growth. She has to survive the unfortunate discovery by her employer of her sexual orientation. She has to find a middle path between repression and candor in securing her future. She has to come up with the courage to love again...and then find a way to recover both the friendship and the security that she came close to destroying by acting on it. She has to learn how to be kind to people whose lives she doesn't understand. And she is about to face the need to sacrifice her own future for the greater good, and then to find it again in a second act of self-sacrifice.

Because love isn't just about having someone to hold you close in the dark. Sometimes love really is like the fanciful stories that Iulien Fulpi writes in her notebooks: the ones where you pledge your life and your sacred honor for another's sake, simply because that person is worthy of the sacrifice.

Major category: 
Writing Process
Publications: 
Floodtide
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 07:00

This book really needs to go on my To Be Read list! Gail Garriger has several intertwined paranormal/steampunky series. Romancing the Inventor tosses in a lesbian romance as well as a mad scientist. Oh, and vampires. Mustn't forget the vampires.

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed. Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and the lady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcome all odds and win Genevieve’s heart, or will the vampires suck both of them dry?


It can be hard to find mainstream SFF books with "incidental lesbians" -- lesbian characters in stories that aren't "about" sexuality. Books like Romancing the Inventor give me how that some day publishing will be a place where books like the Alpennia series could have found a home in mainstream SFF. In the mean time, if you love mainstream SFF but wish it had more queer women in it, check out Mother of Souls.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

Major category: 
Promotion

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