Archive for the ‘Writers’ Category

Review: HELLMAW: Of the Essence, by Gabrielle Harbowy

May 3, 2016

A debut novel from a respected editor, publisher, and author, Gabrielle Harbowy that takes us into the fascinating world of Hellmaw.  The main character, Quills, is a delight, wonderfully cynical, self-sufficient, tattoo artist, exile, and powerful daemen. of the essence

Harbowy slips easily into the world of novelist with her debut, Of The Essence. Quills may not be human, but she has no love for the politics of the other exiles from her homeworld of Arnaut. But taking advantage of the daemons seeking her services as a tattooist for whom daemons can get far more than ink, Quills has put herself on the radar of the powerful Araunt war exiles. It turns out, keeping to yourself is much more complicated than it seems. The fact that you have no use for the schemes of others, doesn’t mean they have no use for you.

The novel is set in a new shared world, Hellmaw, from The Ed Greenwood Group, (Ed Greenwood of Dungeons and Dragons fame, creator of The Forgotten Realms.) The main character, Quills, brings us a beautiful commentary on human behavior…from a daemon. As a character, Quills is sharp, smart, cynical, and self-sufficient. The beauty of this character isn’t that she’s a “strong female lead,” in the stereotypical way, but she’s independent in a sensible way. Rather than simply throwing off the limitations of her sex when she first arrives on Earth in Medieval Europe by shapeshifting into a man, Quills makes her own place, one that isn’t historically implausible or simply silly in the context of the history of the region. Harbowy doesn’t throw away tradition and convention to make a point, she makes her point by fitting her female lead into a strongly patriarchal society without compromising either the character or plausibility.

In the present day, Quills has made for herself a life in an exile she doesn’t regret. Living among the humans of London Soho, Quills is a tattooist, inking mundane art onto humans, and not-at-all mundane work on her fellow daemon exiles. For payment, each daemon gives Quills a sample of their essence, which carries the power of their individual magic. Quills is able to ink these magical essences into both her own skin, and for other daemons who come to her specifically to purchase powers they would not have otherwise. Considering the vast array of both secrets and magic Quills has been accumulating as insurance for centuries, she would seem to be in a safe position, especially for one determined to stay safely out of everyone else’s scheming. She soon finds that the power-hungry among the exiles have plans for her.

When she’s set up to take the fall for the murder of one of the exiled warlords, Quills finds herself in a desperate race across her adopted country of England, tracking down and solving the clues that will lead her to the real killer, before the warlord’s allies come for their revenge. Gabrielle Harbowy

Though Quills has never been averse to enthralling and using humans to her ends, she finds herself relying on a human whose strength of character and determination are the perfect foil for Quills’ strengths, and weaknesses. The evolution of their relationship is a lovely and natural progression that becomes something close to magical for Quills when she needs it most. Alongside this are set the varied relationships Quills has developed with her fellow exiles, the sort of many layered, complex constructions that can only develop over centuries.

Harbowy writes with the precision of an editor, and the sensibility and passion of a writer. Quills brings us into a fascinating new world as a character you’ll want to follow through until the end. I hope very much that Quills will appear again in this shared world setting. Of The Essence is the seventh book in the Hellmaw universe, a great place to start or as the next one to pick up. A highly recommended work from a talented and promising author.

Quick and Fun! Blog Hop!

May 6, 2014

So, once again, the enabler of this blog tour thing…ahem, I meant, the person who invited me to participate in this blog hop is the lovely and talented J.M. Frey, Lambda Literary Award nominated author of Triptych. Check her out here.

Now that the introductions have been made, the way this works is that I answer a few questions about myself. These are short and fun. Hope you enjoy! And make sure to check out the amazing authors linked at the end of the post.

1 – If you could time travel and steal somebody else’s novel/short story/film for yourself, what would it be?

The first book in Anne McCaffrey‘s Pern series, Dragonflight. It’s not currently my favorite book of all time, but it certainly was at one point, and it–and the following series–affected my life profoundly, and my writing. To have been able to start in that world and take it through the worldbuilding she did, would have been an amazing experience, I think.

2 – What writing sin do you actively have to struggle against in your own work?

In first drafts, I tend to use too many adverbs, echo the same reactions over and over (shrug, smile, etc.), and fail to indicate who is speaking in long passages of dialogue. Thankfully, those are pretty easy to spot in editing.

3 – Pick three writers, past or present, that you would want to have dinner with. Why those writers?

IV CoverMary Shelley, Brandon Sanderson, Carol Berg. Thankfully, two of those are still alive, and I might just get lucky enough one day…

As for why, Mary Shelley not only wrote the original science fiction novel, Frankenstein, but she was a woman writing something completely original–and heaven knows how that might have been received, woman or no–more than a hundred years ago. Anyone close to the industry knows that women writing science fiction and fantasy are STILL fighting for acceptance and equal standing among our peers. What must it have been like for her?

Brandon Sanderson is a name everyone reading this probably already knows. He’s an amazing fantasy writer and he doesn’t need me to sing his praises. But what fascinates me about him and what I’d love to talk to him about is his worldbuilding. He writes the most original worlds I’ve ever read, barring perhaps Elizabeth Bear. It’s not that they’re so mindboggling foreign that we can’t even relate, it’s that they take a world like ours, and they make something about it amazingly different, in a way that’s mindboggling and changes everything. To be able to invent worlds like that…

Carol Berg writes the most amazing characters I’ve ever read. And then she combines them into situations and relationships that could just tear your heart out or make you dance in the streets, depending on what page you’re on. I’m a character-centric writer, so for me, that’s magic.

So, quick and painless, more or less. 😉 Be sure to check out these other authors, and their amazing writing.

Marie Bilodeau: Aurora nominated author of science fiction and fantasy. Destiny’s War, the final book in the Destiny Series, is available now!

Erik Buchanan: Fantasy writer, author of Small Magics, Cold Magics, and the upcoming third in that trilogy, True Magics.

K.T. Bryski: Fantasy author of Hapax, and something Victorian and creepy and awesome sounding coming soon.

Gabrielle Harbowy: Editor and author extraordinaire. Co-editor with Ed Greenwood of the When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2. Also my co-author in a short story in Carbide Tipped Pens, coming soon from Tor.

And the talented authors in the anthologies When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2.

Tag! You’re It! Blog Tour

April 28, 2014

So, I’ve been just dreadful about blog writing, updating, all that nonsense lately. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been doing nothing but writing, but that would be a lie. I HAVE been busy though, with about a bazillion different things. Some of those things have more merit than others.

IV CoverBut Impact Velocity‘s just come out, so that’s cool, right? Have you checked it out yet?

Jake has finally found peace and a family with the man he loves. But when the unimaginable happens, Jake finds himself on the run with his greatest enemy and the man who betrayed them both.

If he can’t find a way to bring down the man who now wields the power of an emperor, he’ll lose not just his own life, but his daughter’s as well.

So, the lovely and talented J.M. Frey, Lambda Literary Award nominated author of Triptych, has tagged me in this blog hop thing. Looks like fun. Check her out and her post here.

Now for my part in this party. I get to interview myself. Here goes:

1) What am I working on?

Not going crazy? Oh, you meant writing? Well, I’m working right now on a YA scifi. It has no title yet so right now I’m calling it Snow White and the Seven Genetically Engineered Teenagers. It’s fun. 🙂 I have a YA fantasy I’ve completed but it’s being shopped right now and doesn’t have a home yet. Soon, I hope.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think a lot of that depends on how you’re defining genre? Broadly? Well, in both fantasy and scifi I try to always write characters that aren’t straight, white, whatever, in worlds that look disturbingly like our own. The Physics of Falling took that farther than I had in the past, which is to say, not terribly far because I’d never really considered gender issues in my writing before. So simply writing a gay or bi character was a new thing for me. These days I find myself writing characters in a lot more interesting places on the gender scale. And the fun thing about that when it comes to scifi and fantasy, is that you can make it something that is integral to your world for all kinds of interesting reasons.

Other than that, I have always written character based stories, even when it’s hard scifi.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s fascinating. Because anything’s possible. Because I live in the real world all day long and find the process of seeing how far from it I can get with my character and worlds to be something that is very satisfying to do. And when it comes to queer characters, because I know what it’s like to be different, or to be perceived as “wrong” or “flawed” by the “normal” people. I want to write about and for people like us.

4) How does my writing process work?

I wouldn’t say it works… Ah, the question that drives all my stress. How I got to be a person who works a nine to five, freelancing on the side, AND writing novels, I’ll never know. I don’t do organization and I don’t handle stress well. WTF, right? Somehow it happens anyway. I’ve learned about myself that I don’t accomplish much just sitting down to write because it’s “time.” So I don’t have a schedule. When I’m seriously in a writing-the-novel phase, I will set myself daily goals, but I’ve discovered about myself that I need to write in my head before I write anywhere else. So I’ll spend at least as much time writing in my head as I do sitting at the keyboard. Once I sit down to actually “write,” I’m really just transcribing. Oh, new and unexpected things can come out at the keys, but that’s only when I’ve brought something with me to the table.

Once I’m really down and dirty, ready to tackle that novel, I make up for weeks or months of not writing by writing a LOT all at once. For every novel, I take at least one “writingcation” in which I go out of town and just write all weekend. My record is just north of 30,000 in three days. And for that one there was fourteen hours of driving to account for. Still, it’s what works for me. Some good stuff has come out of such panic-writing. It’s definitely gotten the novels written.

Well, folks, there it is. Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about me. 😉 Here’s where I’m supposed to tag two other authors, but, since I managed to flub this up and get the dates all wrong, everyone else is taken. Instead, I’m going to link you to the amazing Dragon Moon Press authors. I first met most of them three years ago when I went to Toronto for the launch of Fighting Gravity. They’re talented, fun, and just some really good people. You should check them out. Fair warning, you may find yourself buying books. But, that’s why we’re all here, right? Enjoy!

Marie Bilodeau: Aurora nominated author of science fiction and fantasy. Destiny’s War, the final book in the Destiny Series, is available now!

Erik Buchanan: Fantasy writer, author of Small Magics, Cold Magics, and the upcoming third in that trilogy, True Magics.

K.T. Bryski: Fantasy author of Hapax, and something Victorian and creepy and awesome sounding coming soon.

Gabrielle Harbowy: Editor and author extraordinaire. Co-editor with Ed Greenwood of the When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2. Also my co-author in a short story in Carbide Tipped Pens, coming soon from Tor.

And the talented authors in the anthologies When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2.

Amazon Giftcard & a Book to Give Away and Some Interviews!

April 10, 2013

The lovely, talented, and award-nominated J.M. Frey interviewed me before the release of Cascade Effect. Check it out here. You can also enter the giveaway through the link at the bottom of the post, or here:

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And today I was interviewed by Peter Salomon, author of the fantastic and very popular YA Horror novel, Henry Franks. There’s a giveaway over there, too, for a copy of Fighting Gravity. Because you’ll want to read that before you get to Cascade Effect.  

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5MinuteInterview with Nicole Wolverton!

March 13, 2013

Welcome, Nicole!

If you’ve been around here very long, you’ll already know Nicole. She was an early and frequent participant in 5MinuteFiction, back when it lived here. But life got busy for me with the release of Fighting Gravity, and I asked for someone to take care of and look after my baby, 5MinuteFiction, and love it like it deserved. Well, Nicole has been doing that for over a year now. In fact, with the release of her new novel, The Trajectory of Dreams, she’s passing the baton as well. But more on that later.

Because now we’ve got a 5MinuteInterview with Nicole, and at the end, there are PRIZES!!

You’ve got a novel out now, The Trajectory of Dreams, give us your novel pitch in 140 characters.

Mentally disordered woman stalks astronauts to keep shuttle safe; when a Russian cosmonaut on loan to NASA invades her space, no one is safe

The Trajectory of Dreams is billed as a psychological thriller. Where do you think your interest in things creepy or frightening started?

Rumor has it that my father forced my mother (and me, of course) to see The Exorcist at a drive-in movie theatre when I was about a year old. I don’t remember the experience, but I think it sort of set me up for a lifetime of being warped. I also grew up in a very rural area–it’s just way too quiet, and there’s a cornfield next to the house where I grew up. Bad things happen in quiet cornfields . . . or at least I always imagined it that way. So I guess I blame my hometown (Berwick, PA) for making me the twisted woman I am today.

One of your non-writing related pursuits is promoting locally grown foods and sustainable living. Tell us a little bit about this.

My grandparents were dairy farmers for a lot of years, so I grew up hearing about how hard it is to farm. A lot of people, and I was one of them, never think about the difference between small farmers and commercial growing operations, and we really never think about the chemicals commercial food producers use or about they way they treat their animals. After I moved away from my hometown and finally learned to cook, I started reading about commercial food production, and it wasn’t comforting. It’s more than just food miles or supporting your local economy or keeping smaller farmers afloat–it’s really an issue of biodiversity and food safety on a mass scale. I started gardening (in the heart of South Philly, no less), growing a small portion of my food, and trying to find a greater portion of my food grown by small producers from the immediate area. At the time, it wasn’t easy, so I founded Farm to Philly in 2007, a website devoted to locally grown foods and sustainable living. There are about half a dozen writers or so, and we write about everything from federal and local food policies to local farm markets. It’s been a real thrill to see Philadelphia become a food town devoted to keeping our local artisan food producers afloat and be a part of all that’s happened.

For a year or so, you’ve hosted 5MinuteFiction. How was that experience and what do you think you, and the participants, got out of it?

When I inherited 5 Minute Fiction from you, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d been submitting entries while it was hosted here, and I think I guest-hosted once or twice, but you never really know what it’s going to be like to take over something so established. It’s been really great to host–I’ve met some amazing people and had fantastic opportunities because of it. I will say that I missed participating, though, which never feels possible–I’m such a worrywart, I’m always camped out over my email in case anyone has trouble submitting! When I was a participant when you hosted, though, and I assume this is true of all participants, it was a rare chance to think fast and make snap decisions without any consequences. There’s a freedom to being forced to just blurt things onto the page without obsessing about it. My writing got sharper, or at least I’d like to think so! Now that the care and feeding of 5 Minute Fiction has passed to Wendy Strain, I hope I have some time to play again!

Many thanks for the interview, Leah!

And now, Prizes! Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. So get on that!

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