Guest Post

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.

This post originally appeared over at the now-deceased Snobbery blog. Figured I’d repost here, as folks seemed to like it, back when it went up on January 20, 2014. Continue reading

Categories: Books/Authors, Fangirling, Guest Post | Tags: , , ,

Monstrous Noir – A Guest Post by AJ Sikes

It’s guest post time! Aaron (AJ) Sikes has a new book coming out and I offered him space on the blog to write about it. Haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but you all know how I feel about monsters and noir. Gods of Chicago looks like it’s right up my alley.

Take it away, Aaron! Continue reading

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The Daughter Star – Guest Post

daughter star

Today I have the pleasure of turning over the mic to Susan Jane Bigelow so she can share her thoughts about her new book, THE DAUGHTER STAR. Published by Candlemark & Gleam, it’s out today!

I first discovered Bigelow and her writing when I read BROKEN (Extrahumans #1), her debut novel from 2011. It’s a wonderful tale about superheroes. THE DAUGHTER STAR is the first book in Bigelow’s Grayline Sisters series. I was curious about Susan’s process in writing the book, and here she is to tell us all about it.


Sometimes, stories really don’t end up where you thought they would, and sometimes stories change so utterly in tone that they don’t seem like the same thing anymore. THE DAUGHTER STAR was like that.

This book started out in a rather unusual way; I wrote it as a “pace book” when I was working on THE SPARK (Extrahumans #3). What that means is that I’d work on it when THE SPARK had worn me out, or I was interested in doing something else. I’d never written two books at the same time before, and it seemed like a fun challenge. So what I came up with originally was a much lighter book, because that was what I needed to counterbalance the melancholy, tense and serious nature of Dee’s story in THE SPARK. The first draft started out being a fun, silly kind of space adventure, and I didn’t take it entirely seriously. I remember writing at the time that I was writing a Jenny Starpepper Mystery (or a kind of pulp adventure novel. It makes sense if you’ve seen the movie Paul. Why haven’t you seen this movie? Go see this movie! It’s like a love letter to SFF fandom, and it has Sigourney Weaver).

However, as I explored the world and the characters more deeply, I felt that this lighter approach wasn’t working. There were all these massive issues of an alien species basically taking advantage of humanity, two sisters who run away to war together, and Marta Grayline’s whole process of growing up, and I felt like I was dancing around them instead of tackling them head on.

I’m not saying lighter books can’t deal with these sorts of issues, they totally can and do! I am probably not the author to write books like that, though, and as I went through rewrites it seemed like the book had a split personality. Parts of it were silly or nonsensical, while other parts were haunting or sad, and it just didn’t work together in a way that made sense to me. Also, pieces of the world felt one-dimensional, and I really wanted this universe to be as real-seeming as possible. I decided to remake the book.

What I eventually came up with after numerous rewrites and revisions is a book that is a lot darker than the original drafts. The stakes feel higher, Marta’s development is clearer, and Beth’s decisions feel a lot more frightening. I also changed what I wanted to do with this series; instead of a serial of adventure stories featuring Marta, I decided to explore the defining story of each of the three Grayline sisters in three separate books. This means that the next book will be about Violet, and the third will center on Beth. This allowed me to wrap up Marta’s story in a way that felt satisfying, instead of leaving her unfinished. I finished the first draft of Violet’s book, THE SEEKER STAR, between when I turned DAUGHTER STAR in to my editor and got her revisions back. That experience really helped me sharpen DAUGHTER STAR’s focus a lot more, and pieces of the world made a lot more sense to me as well. The final book is darker and more serious, but it’s also a way better book. It didn’t feel to me like something I’d written until the final version, if that makes any sense at all.

I… suspect that this piece makes it sound like my creative process is nothing but pure chaos. This is often true—at least with the rough drafts. I will often have no idea how a book will end when I begin writing it. The real work, and the place where I become a lot more methodical, is in the reimagining and reworking. THE DAUGHTER STAR changed more than many books over time, but every book I write goes through that dramatic refining process.

I hope people will check out THE DAUGHTER STAR, which releases today. Thank you all for reading, and for M. Fenn for having me!

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Pushing Against Uncreation

I have a guest post to share with you today! My friend Steph over at Visible and Real opened up her blog to guest posts recently, and I jumped in with one that you can read here, if you like. Of course, it’s only fair that I now get to post one of hers. I’ve known Steph for several years and have always admired her curiosity and enthusiasm in regards to, well, just about everything. Her joy is infectious. She asked me what I was looking for in a guest post, and I suggested she tell me about a book/movie/music that has influenced her. Given that we first got to know each other through discussing Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, it didn’t surprise me that she chose to write something about it and the stories we’re all entrusted to tell. I hope you find what she has to say thoughtful and interesting, too.


I think telling stories is like pushing something. Pushing against uncreation itself, maybe.
Stephen King, Song of Susannah

As M. Fenn will you tell you, I’ve been courting this one character for the past few years. I work ferociously on the project, then back off. I write write write, and then stop. Months go by and I don’t talk or write about the character or her world.

Novel in progress

Novel in progress

Yet, this character keeps nagging at me. I often feel guilty for not doing more writing, even as the to-do lists I have grow. She pops up as I listen to songs on random on my commute, and I think about her story. She keeps showing up when I have no pen and paper, just my mind and some time for silence.

Inevitably, when I start to think about storytelling and my characters, I think about Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. King started publishing the first Dark Tower short stories (which later became The Gunslinger) in 1978. He completed the series in 2004. (A new novel was added as book 4.5 in 2012.) While this wasn’t the only thing he worked on, it’s amazing to me to have characters stay with you for so long and want to be acknowledged.

I sometimes wonder if that’s what’s going to happen for me – that this character will not leave me alone until I do something about it. (M. Fenn keeps telling me the only way to get rid of the character is to kill her. Not sure I’m willing to do that.)

By the way, if you’ve never read The Dark Tower series, I highly recommend it. I realize that most people think that King’s work is all horror and gore, but it’s not so! I recommend this series so highly because it has something for everyone – adventure, quest, love, a touch of horror, and really good storytelling. (I’d tell you to go read and I’ll wait for you, but it is a little bit of a commitment, but worth it. But, this to say:

Potential spoilers ahead!

If you haven’t read it and plan on it, book mark this and come back. I won’t be mad. Promise.)

In books six and seven of the series, King becomes a character in the story, clearly marking his role in its creation. There is a responsibility that he has for his characters which he shirks, for many years. It comes to a bad end.

And while I don’t think that this story is about saving the world, I also wonder about my responsibility to my characters… and what happens when I don’t take the stories I’ve been trusted with seriously. There’s a lot of responsibility in that, and sometimes, I don’t know if I have it in me. I don’t know if I can do it justice, or if I want to be trusted with that responsibility. I firmly believe in the power of storytelling, and I wonder – daily – what it means when I strip that away, when I don’t listen to and tell the stories I’ve been entrusted with. What happens to the characters, but what also happens to me? When I don’t listen to the push to create – when instead, I allow the push for uncreation to win – what happens? Do I really want to know?

Sometimes I think that I think too much about this stuff. That I just need to let it go. But other times, I think about the seriousness of storytelling, how our lives are shaped and influenced by the stories and what it means to the world. King backs me up on this… that it’s not overthinking it at all.

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page. ~ Stephen King, On Writing

The blank page. The story. The tales we have been entrusted to tell. It doesn’t matter how I come to it – I just have to come to the act of writing it.

What story is asking you to push against uncreation in order to tell?

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Guest Posting

Steph over at Visible and Real invited me to write a guest post for her last week. It’s up this morning! If you’re interested in some of my thoughts on process, I hope you’ll check it out. I’ll have a guest post from Steph up on later this week. She’ll be writing about The Dark Tower!

 

Random (136)

random sparkly things

 

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The Goatsucker – a Guest Post by Justin Robinson plus Free Books!

As promised, today I’m bringing you a guest post. Justin Robinson, author of the new novel, Mr. Blank, has written a little something based on my personal request for something spooky. The topic is chupacabras, also known as goatsuckers. Those critters creep me out either way. Continue reading

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Guest Post – Richard Long

 

For our last day of special whirlwind tour programming, I have a guest post from The Book of Paul author, Richard Long, to share with you (with pictures of some Crowley tarot cards–cool stuff!). Also, read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by Richard. I hope you’ll tune in again tomorrow for my own review of The Book of Paul.

Continue reading

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Guest Post – Phil Jourdan

Continuing the Novel Publicity blog tour for Phil Jourdan’s memoir, Praise of Motherhood, today my blog is going to have a guest post from the author himself. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Let me know what you think of these blog tour posts, too. Do they add to the M. Fenn blog? I’m curious what you think. While you consider that, here’s Phil. Continue reading

Categories: Blog Tour, Books/Authors, Guest Post | Tags: , , ,

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