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  1. “Ideas changed the world. Thoughts changed the world – and thoughts could be written down. I had forgotten that writing could have such urgency, that writing could matter to history, that literature might have consequence. Strangely, tragically, I’d forgotten that such things were even possible.” “Turin, the Esoteric City, was saturated with magic both black and white. Every brick and baroque cornice in the city was shot through with the supernatural.” Bruce Sterling’s new short story collection Robot Artists & Black Swans (2021), collects stories written as by Bruno Argento, Bruce Sterl
  2. Is It Just a ‘Token’ Effort? So there we were on Wednesday this week, duly reporting on the dash to digital by the spring/summer international book trade shows. (London Book Fair, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the US Book Show, and more, all must again be digitally mounted again this year as coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic conditions remain unpredictable in early summer.) And then something else happened: Amazon announced the creation and activation of Kindle Vella, a platform for serialized writing. The significance of this played out in two perfectly positioned messages to the news media. (
  3. Photo: Matt Gush Tim Powers is a unique voice in Fantasy. He specialises in rigorously researched secret histories, in which gaps in the historical record are explained by the fantastical or the supernatural. But this description hardly does justice to his incredible novels, which are among the most inventive and joyous I have ever read. His Philip K. Dick Award winning novel The Anubis Gates (1983) is a delirious time travel tale involving body-hopping werewolves and Egyptian mythology. The Drawing Of The Dark (1979) imagines the Siege of Vienna as a magical battleground involving the reinca
  4. Fallible Justice is, at its core, a detective novel. Yannia Wilde is a PI who must prove a man’s innocence before he is sentenced to death for a high-profile murder. But Yannia’s London is one where magical beings co-exist with humans, and justice is meted out by the all-knowing, infallible beings called Heralds. They’re never wrong. So how can they be wrong in this case? I loved Yannia. She’s a smart woman who is struggling to come to terms with her past, and she seems utterly realistic in her thoughts and feelings. She was raised in a commune of Wild Folk, which was idyllic in some ways but
  5. Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page. Here’s the question: Would you pay good money to read the rest of the chapter? With 50 chapters in a book that costs $15, each chapter would be “worth” 30 cents. So, before you read the excerpt, take 30 cents from your pocket or purse. When you’re done, decide what to do with those
  6. Phase 2 of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off is drawing to a close at the end of this month! Keep track of the finalists’ scoreboard here. If you’re following SPFBO 6, let us know about any entries that have caught your fancy! Join the discussion on social media (there’s a Facebook group here) and weigh in on Twitter using the hashtag #SPFBO. Introduction to Round 1 | Meet the Judges As you will see from the discussions within our Hive reads reviews, and indeed by comparing what the different blogs have said, reviewing books can generate a vibrant diversity of opinion. But SPFBO is, I
  7. We’re delighted to be back at Fantasy Hive to reveal the fantastic cover for our upcoming novel Gigantic, by Ashley Stokes. “I wasn’t sure you would get this far, so thanks a million already. You opened the mystery bag… Inside the bag, along with this letter, is a dossier that describes the whole story.” Kevin Stubbs is a Knower. He knows life hasn’t always treated him fairly. He knows he wants to be allowed access to his son again. But most of all, he knows that the London Borough of Sutton is being stalked by a nine-foot-tall, red-eyed, hairy relict hominid – the North Surrey Gigantopith
  8. Flickr Creative Commons: Thomas Hawk So let’s talk about regret. I know, it’s a terrible topic that immediately gives you that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach (or maybe that’s just me). But regret is something that every human who’s ever lived has experienced at one time or another, from small regrets (why did I order this salad instead of that juicy burger?) to the big ones that can loom over your life (why didn’t I say “yes” to that man with the green eyes?) Regret is one of the keys to understanding and creating character. I’m currently reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library (Vik
  9. Today, we’re bringing you something a little different. We’re thrilled to host the cover reveal for SPFBO 6 author Stas Borodin’s graphic novel NUMA THE HUNTER. Here’s the blurb: Under the shuttered moon, on an alien world populated by giant insects and bizarre beasts, a young hunter embarks on a perilous journey to find his lost kin and save his race from extinction. In vein of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert Howard, inspired by Frank Frazetta and Moebius we present you a vast new world to explore and a set of unique characters to love and hate. Sound intriguing? Check out the cover!
  10. “You haven’t been here that long. Just wait. I don’t go for it either, but who’s in charge of Stormland, really? The perpetual storm system is! We crawl around under it hoping it doesn’t stomp us. These people feel like they’ve got to appease it. Easy to get superstitious in all that. Desperate people can go for magical thinking pretty easily, Webb… A lot of folks around here believe that one day the storms will pass. From what I’ve heard, it might take a century for the cycle to finally stop. The storm system is – it’s like the red spot on Jupiter, with what we’ve done to the planet. The big
  11. http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Fiction-Therapy-WU-header-525x295.jpgAs an author, you want your novel to be the best it can be. A top quality product means good reviews, word of mouth recommendations, which lead to increased sales. But just a few typos and grammatical errors will put readers off. Before they’ve even fallen over your plot holes, they’re filling message boards with mocking remarks about a couple of innocently misplaced hyphens or an occasional dangling modifier. Most writers know this, and they diligently take time to search for editors who can check their
  12. Phase 2 of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off is drawing to a close at the end of this month! Keep track of the finalists’ scoreboard here. If you’re following SPFBO 6, let us know about any entries that have caught your fancy! Join the discussion on social media (there’s a Facebook group here) and weigh in on Twitter using the hashtag #SPFBO. Introduction to Round 1 | Meet the Judges Before we plunge into the review proper, a quick thank you to SPFBO contestants and and spectators for your forbearance as the Fantasy Hive has gone through its finalist process. Part of our approach for ea
  13. Oliver K. Langmead is an author and poet based in Glasgow. His long-form poem, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015. Oliver is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, where he is researching terraforming and ecological philosophy, and in late 2018 he undertook a writing residency at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, writing about astronauts and people who work with astronauts. He tweets @oliverklangmead. Welcome to the Hive, Oliver. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out
  14. http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Untitled-design-2021-02-07T134207.261-525x295.png This past Friday, I co-moderated a Clubhouse chat with novelist and creative coach Nicole Meier and marketing pro Sarah Bean of Booklaunchers on “How to plan your path to publication.” This is maybe the third or fourth chat the three of us have had about publishing and marketing a book, and with each, I always find new inspiration and feel greater confidence in my own work. One of my favorite takeaways from Friday’s chat was Sarah’s advice to authors on marking and PR: check your ego at the d
  15. This review contains spoilers. Cara is based on Earth Zero but travels to other worlds in the multiverse to gather information about planetary resources that might be exploitable by the company she works for. Her boss is Adam Bosch – think Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos mixed into one – director of the Eldridge Institute and the developer of the technology for travel across the multiverse. As the method only works with worlds similar to Earth Zero, most people there have living doppelgängers (dops) on other worlds and this poses a problem –if a pair encounter one another it is us
  16. Hey, everyone! One of the upcoming games I’m most excited about in 2021 is Baldur’s Gate 3 by Larian Studios, the long-awaited entry in one of the most influential fantasy RPG series out there. Baldur’s Gate might also be a familiar name to those of you who have spent time in the Forgotten Realms, either through the books of R. A. Salvatore or through countless hours spent playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends and enemies. BG3 is currently in Early Access, meaning that the game’s first act is playable but actively being worked on. As a result, it’s got bugs, lots and lots of bugs – funny
  17. http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/BOOK-COVER-518x800.jpeg Congratulations to Writer Unboxed contributor Barbara Linn Probst on the publication of her 2nd novel, THE SONG BETWEEN THE NOTES, which was released this past week. Described as “a tour de force steeped in suspense…a sensitive, astute exploration of artistic passion, family, and perseverance” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “a tale of passion, identity, and art … a breathtaking emotional journey that was hard to put down” (Readers Favorite Reviews), The Sound Between the Notes explores timeless questions of iden
  18. Welcome to our third edition of Desmond’s Drops! This month, enjoy three drops about: Your story’s midpoint The inciting incident Establishing an image system Email subscribers, please click through to view. Look for more of Desmond’s Drops in May. Have your own bit of wisdom to share? Drop it in comments. About Desmond HallDesmond Hall, author of YOUR CORNER DARK, was born in Jamaica, West Indies, and them moved to Jamaica, Queens. He’s worked as both a high school biology teacher and English teacher, counseled at-risk teens, and served as Spike Lee’s creative director at Sp
  19. One goal of Worldbuilding for Fantasy Fans and Authors was compiling and synthesizing all the varying worldbuilding theories and best practices gleaned from fantasy authors and the worldbuilding communities. And along the way, I realized that, outside of the gaming and RPG community, very few worldbuilders take the audience’s experience into account, which was why I included several surveys in my book. Unlike authors, who have to sometimes wait years for feedback of their worlds in the form of reviews, gamers get instant feedback from the players, which helps shape the world in turn. So with t
  20. Content warnings: Gore/blood/eating of human body parts (not overly graphic); some violence; coming to terms with new disability; recovery from trauma. When I first took a look at this book, I was prepared for a swashbuckling tale full of adventure on the high seas, and while there is plenty of piratical action and bloodthirsty merpeople, I was happily surprised to find that at its heart, this book is super soft and sweet. We follow Perle, a siren who has been captured by a pirate, Kian; when Kian’s ship is boarded by another pirate crew, Perle is rescued by the new captain, Dejean, who seems
  21. http://writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/35509428610_3a6f23de6d_c-525x292.jpgeast of noir — Elisha Cook, Jr., and Marie Windsor in The Killing (1956), directed by Stanley Kubrick, dialogue by Jim Thompson — photo by Robert Couse-Baker Although this post deals specifically with the crime fiction genre, it might prove informative for any of you working on stories with a main character who stands up against an oppressive or corrupt authority, crosses moral boundaries, or for any other reason challenges readers to think outside the comfort of standard ethical conventions. An entire sub
  22. On the face of it, Andrea Stewart’s debut novel The Bone Shard Daughter is an escapist’s dream. We’re transported to an Earthsea-like archipelago of shifting islands, where an Empire demands a tithe of children’s bones for the Emperor’s magic which, supposedly, in turn protects the people. There are secrets and mysteries galore in this South-East Asian-inspired world. And quite possibly the cutest animal companion ever. I’m sure everyone’s heard of Mephi by now, right? But beneath all the epic-fantasy fun run themes of colonialism and control; “Who controls the past controls the future: who
  23. “The books are a perfect example, Adam thinks, of reading to confirm one’s own beliefs: they are all theological in nature, and of a very particular slant. They speak to the superiority of man, and his God-given right to possess and exploit the world for his betterment. They give the reader permission to plunder all that is not man, interpreting ancient words for profit. Adam pulls books from shelves, spilling sheaves of notes, flicking through them and discarding them into the waters. Let the floods wash away those words, he thinks. Let those books become pulp. Let them remember that they wer
  24. photo adapted / Horia Varlan Establishing “agency”—proving to your reader that your protagonist is equal to the journey ahead—is a craft element worthy of fresh consideration each time you begin a new project. This is especially true if you spend a good deal of your initial word count probing the protagonist’s memories and thoughts so you’ll understand the inner conflict that will drive their story. That’s called “starting to write,” not “opening a novel”—but writers often conflate the two. Reality is, you-as-author are the one who needs early access to that interiority. Your reader might no
  25. Hi! My name is Mark Cushen, and I’m a 33-year-old soon-to-be self-published writer from Scotland. I’ve been writing in some capacity since I was I was ten-years-old, when I wrote my very own Goosebumps stories, which I was obsessed with as a child. Nowadays, though, I write my own original tales. I have loved the fantasy genre in particular since I accidentally stumbled onto Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion masterpiece, “Jason and the Argonauts”, while channel-hopping one Christmas-time Saturday afternoon, somewhere between the ages of 5 and 8. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with stories
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