Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Holmes, You Pre-date Me OR Kaye George Does Neanderthals #BookReview

DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE by Kaye George is the first in her People of the Wind series. She places various hominid peoples in North America, including this tribe of Neanderthals. Using the most current research findings (at the time of writing) and what I can only call a stunning imagination, she creates a culture specific to one particular group of people.

I read and loved Steven Mithen's AFTER THE ICE, and there was nothing in George's book that made me go, "Naw. Uh-uh. Got that WRONG." I could absolutely believe that these people behaved and thought in these ways. I say "these ways", plural, because George writes about individuals.

Okay, the death. Somebody kills the Hama, or Most High Female. The tribe wants to blame it on an outsider -- any outsider. One woman, though, believes the culprit is one of the tribe. Not a popular opinion.

There are sub-plots galore, none of which get in the way of the main storyline. There is a wealth of detail about building techniques, burial practices, climate change, and so on, none of which bogs down the flow with info-dump.

The only drawback I can find is a tendency to repeat questions and musings a little too exactly and a little too close together.

"You call that a drawback?"

Hey, if I said it was perfect, I would draw the attention of the gods to the book. You don't wanna draw the attention of the gods, amIright?

I've bought and read the sequel, DEATH ON THE TREK, and the sequel holds up. If there's another in the series, Imma buy that, too.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Write This Way Indie Author Fest #Dallas

Shondra Quarles emailed me with news of this free event in Dallas, Texas. Alas, that I live nowhere near Dallas, Texas, 'cause this sounds like fun:
Write This Way: Indie Author Fest is hosting our 2018 Authors of the Future Contest. This is an opportunity for new and amateur writers of poetry, novelettes, children’s books or short stories of any genre . No entry fee is required. Contest is open to writers 12 and older. Entrants retain all publication rights. Finalists MUST be present at our 2018 Write This Way: Indie Author Fest in order to win prizes. The 2nd Annual Write This Way: Indie Author Fest is a FREE EVENT & will be held March 24th 12 noon -4pm at Ponchaveli Studios. All awards are adjudicated by professional writers only. Top Prize: Ponchaveli Studios will design a book cover, $600.00 - $1600.00 value. 2nd & 3rd Winners will receive gift cards to help with publication expenses.


Ponchaveli Studios 914 West Commerce Street Dallas, TX 75208 The organizers are Shondra M. Quarles and Latrenda Chirell Bailey-Rush To register, go to their Write This Way Eventbrite page.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Life Outside the Storyline

I'm currently reading BEATRIX POTTER'S GARDENING LIFE: THE PLANTS AND PLACES THAT INSPIRED THE CLASSIC CHILDREN'S TALES. In it, author Marta McDowell first outlines the life of "Miss Potter" and then goes through a year of plants and flowers. She illustrates both sections with photographs of the actual gardens and "Miss Potter"'s art, and with quotations from her letters.

I say "Miss Potter" in quotation marks, because Beatrix preferred her married name, Mrs. Heelis. The book leaves the impression that Beatrix Potter, author, was much more Beatrix Heelis, gardener. 

When my grandfather went into the hospital and then into a nursing home, I found that his treatment shifted slightly but discernibly when I brought in a picture of him as a young man. Life outside the storyline of "an elderly man needing care" changed him into "THIS man who is now elderly."

And that made me think about genre v literary writing. Everybody says, "Know your characters inside and out -- and then leave most of it out of the book." I think that's more true of genre writing than literary. I think genre books focus nearly exclusively on the storyline, with peripherals coming in as subplots. I think literary books focus on life outside the storyline, with the storyline simply being the thread through the beads.

What do you think?

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Publication: SWORD & SORCERESS 32

I'm pleased as punch to announce that Marion Zimmer Bradley's SWORD & SORCERESS 32 is now available for purchase. The reason I'm so pleased is that I have a story in it!

I'm even more pleased by the company I'm keeping:
Sword & Sorceress 32, edited by Elisabeth Waters, was published November 2, 2017 and is entirely suitable as a gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Twelfth Night, Winter Solstice, Yule, etc.
It is available in trade paperback, and for iBook, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.
Women's WorkPauline J. Alama
Hostages of HoneycombMarian Allen
The Sound of the MoonRobin Wayne Bailey
Finding TruthLorie Calkins
Wight NightsSteve Chapman
Royal DaughtersElaine Cunningham
UnexpectedSuzan Harden
Save a PrayerMercedes Lackey
Sky, Clouds, and SonamCatherine Mintz
Shaman's QuestKevin L. O'Brien
Authority FiguresMichael H. Payne
The Girl from Black Point RockDeborah J. Ross
Till the Cows Come HomeL.S. Patton
Deadly QuestionsJonathan Shipley
The Nature of WraithsDave Smeds
Add a Cup of TerrorMichael Spence & Elisabeth Waters
A Librarian in DistressRose Strickman
Expiration DateJulia H. West

Grab a copy for yourself! Makes a great gift, too! No, really.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NaNo Pep Talk

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, but I have friends who are, and I have friends who would like to, so I'm doing my annual NaNo pep talk.

NaNo Pep Talk 2017

by Marian Allen

You cannot "lose" at NaNo
however few your words.
The "word count" is a goal, you know,
and "winning"'s for the birds.
The point is not to "make it";
the point is just to think --
to think about your writing goals
or just step off the brink.
With NaNo, you just concentrate
and concretize your goals.
It's possible you'll write a lot
of plot, including holes;
but maybe you'll just realize
that you don't write this way.
It may be you're a slowby
not a sprinter. That's okay!
Relax! Enjoy! Just savor
the pleasure of immersion
in writing -- your own flavor --
your NaNo -- your own version.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Saturday, October 21, 2017

But How Long Is A Piece Of String? reblogged from

The Reedsy folks have put together a post on novel lengths. Yes, that's supposed to be plural. If you don't already know, lemme tell ya: Different genres generally have different ranges of word count. Books for different ages have different ranges of word count. Even different publishers can have different ranges of word count they prefer to see.
As always, you need to check a publisher's or agent's guidelines before submitting the book. Better yet, have a word count range in mind -- not before you write or as you write, but certainly as you edit.

This Reedsy post covers most, if not all, of the bases, including the fact that there will always be exceptions. Also including the fact that you're heading for heartbreak if you count on being one of those exceptions.

As for my title, I asked an agent once how long my fantasy novel needed to be, and he said, "How long is a piece of string?" The answer supposedly being, "How long does it need to be?" The appropriate answers, though, might have been, "How long does a publisher want it before they'll look at it?" or "How long does a reader looking for your sort of book expect?"

'Cause, look: Maybe you write for your own pleasure or artistic expression, but once you step into the marketplace, you're in somebody else's sandbox. You write for you; you sell for the buyer. If that irritates or sullies you, I'm sorry. Either accept and deal with that or you might as well go all Emily Dickinson and fill a desk drawer with with your work. Even if you self-publish, if you want to sell your self-published book, you need for somebody to buy it, amIright?

Think of word count within or just outside expectations as a tool in your grasp, rather than as an imposition. If you choose to (or feel you must) ignore what the marketplace advises, try to realize you choose to put that tool aside and to work without it. Maybe that will alleviate some of your frustration, if you don't sell as quickly or in as much volume as you expected.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes