I am way too excited about what happened recently to come up with a clever title for this blog post and for that I am sorry.

But I am so, so excited about this.

So, I was having a writing meeting with my wonderful author friend Karen, who’s blog you can find here, and is the author-in-charge of Villainous Vacations, an anthology of eleven crime short stories that I’m being published in. (SQUEE!) And while I was there, right in the middle of our meeting, the first shipment of the physical books arrives.

And yes, I’m still freaking out about it.

I’m still having some trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I’m being published in the first place, let alone when I’m staring at the book that is sitting on my coffee table.

And I’ve even got a picture to prove it:

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Writing and being published is something I’ve always wanted to do and there’s no way for me to properly express how amazing and strange and wonderful it feels to look at the front cover of a book and see my name instead of someone else’s. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this anthology and getting the chance to start proving myself as a writer.

Villainous Vacations, A Collection of Crime Stories

MYSTERY, MURDER AND MAYHEM: Why settle for one nefarious crime when you can have eleven?villainous vacations cover

If you like spine-chilling tales of felony, villainy and scandal, with shocking twists and thrilling turns, then you will love this new collection of edge-of-your-seat crime stories guaranteed to make you flinch.

You will not be able to put “Villainous Vacations” down. Or fall asleep after reading these gripping stories.

Re-connect with familiar authors and find new favorites in this delicious collection.

In my stories:

Last Christmas: At Christmas time, a young boy goes to investigate his brother’s murder and finds things are more sinister than he thought.

What Could Go Wrong?: It was meant to be a coven holiday, a get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, not a trial to prove not all witches are criminals.

Available Soon at your favorite retailer.

The Barghest and Beasts of England’s Shores

Canines and their relatives have long had their place in the folklore of the world; from the classic werewolf to the tanuki of Japanese myth and Celtic mythology is no different. In this case, mythological beasts tend to run in the circles of the faerie or the far beyond as ghosts.

Faerie dogs haunt the crossroads where the barriers between our mortal world and the realms of the faerie are the thinnest and most fragile. They’re said to be bright green and guard their doors quite fiercely. They say that the faerie dog will bark only twice in warning to trespassers; if you hear the their third bark then you’re doomed to die.

The Church Grim was made famous in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as an omen of death in the form of a giant black dog. The original myths of the Grim paint the creatures as a little more friendly; they’re guardian spirits tied to a particular church or graveyard who oversee the welfare of their lands and rather enjoy loudly ringing the church bells. The black dog is the most common form for them but they can take shape of several animals including a ram, horse, or raven.

Perhaps most monstrous of all the Celtic dogs is the Barghest, the legendary spectre that is said to haunt pathways and roads and preys upon those who travel alone. It can also take many forms, from a giant dog with fiery eyes and massive claws to a headless sorcerer who vanishes in a cloak of flames. Like the bean sidhe the Barghest can foretell the death of an important individual and like the traditional vampire cannot cross running water.

Sources: Faerie dog, Church Grim, Barghest

Robots and Artificial Life: Androids vs. Automatons

Now, I love artificial intelligence stories, especially ones where not all the robots are evil, soulless, villains bent on destroying humanity because we’re not ‘perfect’ or something like that.  Not that those aren’t fun of course, but I think the most successful stories like that, at least for me, is when thought the villain may be a computer one of the heroes is as well.  Like Tron and IRobot, or most recently Almost Human and Extant.  Okay, so I’m a big fan of one of the main characters not being human.

I was never a big fan of science fiction growing up, I liked fantasy far more, and my interest in it is more recent.  And I think that when most people, myself included, think about artificial life science fiction comes to mind.  That makes sense, robots tend to be an extension of computer technology which is something we have within the realm of our world that we can understand and interact with without any magical or supernatural influence, the hallmark of sci-fi.  I like the words robot and android, to me they’re specifically sci-fi in nature; an artificial person created through the use of science and technology.  To me ‘android’ suggests some element of ‘looks very human and perhaps can be passed off as a human’ while ‘robot’ tends to be a little less specified.

But there are other words, aren’t there?  Automaton, homunculus, golem.  Now, these are fantasy words.  Automaton makes me think of Ancient Greek myth, great guards created of bronze or copper to protect treasures, sometimes created by the gods themselves.  A homunculus is a person created through alchemy (which is one of those gray area sci-fi or fantasy because yes alchemy is technically a science that was studied similar to chemistry but whenever it’s used in fiction it tends to be a branch of magic).  And a golem is a creature made of stone or clay or metal animated specifically through magic.

Of course, there’s nothing saying one cannot mix concepts or genres in their writing.  I’m planning something with clockwork automatons, steam punk sci-fi influence, in Medieval France, needing some element of magic to it.  Your world, and your characters, are what you make of them; the rules are yours to create.

Diary Entries and Writing in Character

So I’ve been writing for a while, like years a while, and I’ve recently been introduced to the idea of writing diary entries from the point of view of your main character. To get into their head, figure out their motivations, and better understand their voice, things like that. Now I’ve never been one to keep a diary, I’ve tried several times and never really had the discipline to follow through. Maybe it’s because I don’t really like writing about myself or maybe it’s something else. But I’ve been trying for some of my characters, to try and get to know them better.
The interesting thing I’ve been running into is figuring out how they’re going to go about writing that entry. Even taking into account that one of my main character is a sullen, angst-ridden faerie teen and probably wouldn’t even think about writing in a diary but he does at least have access to all the things he’d need to write one: paper and a pen or a computer or even his smart phone. And is most importantly, literate. Now, I’ve got a couple characters who live in medieval era worlds who don’t really have access to paper or the education necessary in order to read and write. But I think they’d still want to get their thoughts out, even if they can’t necessarily write them down. But whether it’s drawing on cave walls with charcoal or ranting at the stars, I think there are still plenty of ways for them to get their feelings out. And it’s important to me, for my way of writing, for it to feel authentic to the character, even if the entry itself isn’t going to end up in the final novel.
All in all, I’m enjoying the exercise.

A Hello and an Introduction to the Blogger

Hello everyone! My name’s Laura, I’m new to WordPress, and there are a couple of getting to know you type questions that were suggested to me to introduce myself and my writing.
1 – What am I working on?
I am currently working on a young adult urban fantasy novel that’s rooted in Arthurian Legend and the British myths about faeries. It centres around a young woman named Lily who slowly discovers that one of her best friends is a little less than human and that she herself is the reincarnation of one of Arthur’s knights. From there, she gets embroiled in the race against time to find and awaken the King himself to fight against one of his greatest adversaries.
2 – How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Faeries, and the idea of going back to the original myths as inspiration for them, are starting to become more common in fiction, especially young adult fiction, but are still relatively unique. What I want to do to differ my work from others is to take inspiration from more obscure myths and legends or taking a different view of them. I also enjoy taking creatures that fiction has taught us are “supposed” to be the villain, like orcs and goblins, and setting them in the position of the hero.
3 – Why do I write what I do?
I write what I do because I’m in love with the idea of there being something in our world beyond what we can see and hear. Fantasy has been a staple of my fiction consumption since before I can remember and nothing makes me happier than contributing to the genre. I also studied history in school and researching into the world of King Arthur and the time around when he was said to have ruled is something that is important to me.
4 – How does my writing process work?
I like outlining, it works for me to know what is going to happen next. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the outline isn’t going to change as I think about the story and when sitting down to write. Though I will admit that the outlining process can bog me down at times, when I’m too worried about following it to let my characters speak for themselves but it is something I’m always working on. I also love to research before and during writing, though I always have to be careful that it doesn’t become a dangerous time trap and suck up all the allotted time I set aside to write.