Reven Archer Black: Author of Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ten books that have stayed with me in some way

Attack of the Facebook game.

So I was tagged by a friend of mine in the latest round of the “10 books that have stayed with me in some way” game. While his version seems to be a bit different (mentioned below), this is the general premise of said game from other sources and FB patrons:

In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends including me so I can see your list.

Although now, certain versions also include a “gender diversity rating” (the number of books by women in your list).

So I went and participated and thought it was well worth sharing via blog, where I can share a little more about each. 😉

 

Note: Not all of those listed below are books I *enjoy* as the game did not specify a rule as being “you must actually like said books”.

 

1o books that have stayed with me in some way

1. Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling
A collection of fables that has stuck with me since my childhood. Partially because they’re fun stories (with animals, no less) but probably mostly because my dad read these to me as bedtime stories. I was so thrilled to get a copy with other books for my Children’s Lit class. Nostalgia wrapped up in a tiny package.

 

2. Master of Murder – Christopher Pike
I LOVE this book. I love it so bad, my copy is falling apart after all the times I’ve read it. I enjoy Pike’s work as a whole (including the Remember Me series) but this book is my ultimate favourite. The main character is a writer who’s also an underdog in high school, but no one knows he’s a best-selling author of a series girls swoon over. It’s a funny, dark book I find terribly entertaining. Marvin’s family isn’t perfect and he gets wrapped up in something he probably shouldn’t, but he really goes for it and meets a little of the dark side himself. Love, love, love.

 

3. Faith of the Fallen – Terry Goodkind
Book 6 of the Sword of Truth series. I enjoy the series as a whole … well, except for maybe The Pillars of Creation, which was actually the first book I read of his. However, this book is my favourite of them all. It’s hard for me to put my finger on exactly why that is, but I keep pulling it out. Maybe it’s the dark and creepy Nicci. Or how Richard puts up with the situation she puts him in. There’s other stuff, too, but these things stick out to me.

 

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
42. Bowl of petunias. Marvin the Robot. Vogon poetry. Towels. Enough said.

 

5. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
I don’t enjoy WWI or WWII lit but this book gets by. I’ll never, ever forget Major Major Major Major or the overall insane chaos of this book. It’s dark and hilarious in such a morbid way. I’ve also seen the movie though I could’ve done without the guts spilling out. Yup, could’ve definitely done without that visual.

 

6. The Devil Earl – Deborah Simmons
This one’s for the romance lovers – a period Harlequin romance. It has its swooning moments which make me giggle, but it sticks with me because of the main characters. The main female character is a writer of more gothic fiction and that’s a big to-do in society. She’s in love with a guy who’s dark, misunderstood, and generally grr. Put them together and I find it hilarious. Although her sister makes me want to slap her. Everything else just makes me laugh. Call it a guilty pleasure kind of read.

 

7. The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Emma Orczy
I’m watching the A&E movie while I write this post. It’s one of my favourite classic lit pieces. The humour and wit of Percy. Liberation and freedoms at a rather volatile time in history. The fact that Marguerite and Percy’s marriage isn’t fantastic because of certain issues and misunderstandings, but add some honesty and poof! New perspectives. I was inspired and wrote something along similar lines in high school but with a female aristocrat instead. Plus, written by a Baroness which I find cool.

 

8. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
This is a book that’s stuck with me but not because I like it. I really didn’t enjoy it but had to go in-depth with it for class. Huxley’s writing is fine, and so is the genre to which it belongs. I just couldn’t into the story and especially some of the details, which jarred me in a not-so-agreeable way. It’s on my list of “don’t read again” but still hangs around in my head.

 

9. Crash – JG Ballard
Funny that this sticks with me – I barely got past page 5. I then threw it across the room with an “ugh!” Sure, I enjoy warped ideas and strange stories. This one, though, I just couldn’t go along with it. But I will always remember it because I was so icked out. My, how a book can fly.

 

10. Icons of Evolution – Jonathan Wells
This is the only non-fiction on the list. I read it as a student during my Biology undergrad after receiving it as a gift to “broaden my horizons and thoughts” as it were. Yeah, about that … my copy of this book is FULL of Post-its with my thoughts on how lacking it is and off-base. I remember this book because I found it to be so questionable. Then I read up on the author and his attitudes towards evolution and, well, there’s a reason why the book is the way it is.  I don’t agree with it in the least but it sticks with me because it did what was intended by the person who gave it to me: made me think critically, made me consider what it said and decide what I actually thought. It also made my love for the study of evolution stronger … not really the intent of this book or the author, I’m absolutely certain.

 

Gender diversity score: 2/10
Yeah, I know. It supports the stereotyping of the fantasy/SF and science worlds. It bugs me. I honestly couldn’t think of many individual books by women without really, really digging deep. It’s not like I haven’t read dozens of books by women. What gives, brain?!
Feel free to post your own in the comments!

What I’ve Been Working On: July-August 2014 Edition

So I’ve been out of the blog-sphere for a few weeks, a bit of a habit for me with just about everything I do. In this case, it’s a matter of balancing social media use and interaction with the time it takes to plot, scheme, and write. Sometimes keeping up with social media is easy and a great way to unwind. Other times, it’s the first thing to go when I need to really focus.

This would be one of those times.

I’ve been rolling from one project to the next and staring down the deadlines for submission calls. Now that I’ve broken through the glass door of the Debut Publication’s Office for the New Author, I really want to make something of it. And I’ve been trying to get the Twitter thing going, too. Late, as usual, but at least I’ve made it to the party, right?

In any event, I know I’m behind on things, including my Inspiring the Author Within Blog Series. Which I’ll get done. One post at a time. It’s another one of those projects!

So what have I been doing?

Writing. More writing. Fussing with technology. Editing. More editing. Submitting and biting my nails. Just a normal time in the literary neighbourhood, except for the leisure vacation somewhere in between.

Here’s a bit of a glimpse.

 

Sundae

Another short story for another anthology. This time, for the submission call from Belladonna Publishing. They wanted stories about Strange Little Girls (which, of course, makes me sing the song, “Strange Little Girl”, by the brilliant and awesome Tori Amos).

So “strange”, huh? I gave this one some thought. The character needed a quirk. Something special. Then it hit me: Synesthesia. It’s a condition some people have where their senses are mixed up. For instance, some might see colours when they read certain words or letters or numbers. Or they might hear something, triggered by something else that’s visual or by touch. I find it awe-inspiring though I can imagine how frustrating it is for the folks who experience it.

Originally the idea I had was a futuristic story paired with law enforcement and some genetics. Then I was reading an article about how common all of that is, especially with female characters. So I scrapped it. Went back to the drawing board.

Hark! I came up with what stuck.

It turned into an urban fantasy. Synesthesia remained but the rest of the story became more twisted. And thus, Dale Greere was born, and her two sisters. And Chad Rohmer. One of Dale’s quirks is that she suffers from a strange version of Synesthesia: she tastes auras. In this case, Chad tastes like a scrumptious sundae.

And then it all hits the fan.

I have to wait a few months to find out what will happen, although I read earlier tonight that Belladonna received 656 submissions for the anthology so … yeah. :O

 

Ascension

I am determined to get this book done! It’s been a project for over 10 years and I’m getting oh-so-close to its end. It’s been sitting for a few months while I worked on short stories and novellas, but there’s a chance to submit it to a publisher I enjoy for consideration in the 2015 publication lineup. It’s my baby. My precious. My pretty little “Terry Goodkind meets GRRM meets Marion Zimmer Bradley” situation.

In July, I pulled it out and dragged it into reformatting so I can give it the last big edit before prepping it for submission. The files I had were messed up in the typical MS Word way, with the font/text code being confused. That, and I thought that putting it back to the original formatting would help me write the additions and extensions more easily. TNR annoys me to no end. So I submit in TNR 12, double-spaced, but I write in Arial 11 with spaces between the paragraphs.

Then I went through and figured out what needs to happen. I’ve put in probably about 365 days worth of edits into this thing and people have commented on how clean it is. Of course, I think I’ve over-edited in a few spots and missed some things, not to mention that there are some holes I’d like to fill.

To be honest, my previous editing attempts were trying to satisfy a 120,000 word limit with certain small publishers in mind as potentials should the agent search go poorly. Since I found out said publishers are maybe not-so-good – and found other publishers I like, who, incidentally, don’t have a 120k limit – I’ve decided to screw that and edit until it’s a damn good story. For now, I’ve raised the bar to a 150k cap. Anything more is a for-sure brick and I don’t want it going there if I can help it. But there are just some holes that have to be filled; otherwise, there are a lot of questions and gaps that will need answers way after the fact.

So here I am, adding things, removing things, replacing, extending. Whatever is necessary to tell the story proper. Working through the list of agents is on hold for now while the manuscript looks towards going the more adventurous route. With more hard work and luck, it’ll be done in a few weeks and I can get it off my desk. The hole it’s been burning is starting to smell up this place.

 

For What Is Taken & One Must Be Given

Two more short stories I started recently and they’re only partially done. They began shortly after encountering World Weaver Press on Twitter: their account followed mine, so I checked them out and followed back. I discovered they’re right up my alley on the speculative fiction road. Not only that, they have open calls for anthologies. I didn’t think I’d come up with anything so soon. In fact, I’d reserved myself to working on them later since the deadline is in October.

Yeah, I was wrong.

Thanks to another one of those good, warm showers, I came up with ideas that further blossomed overnight – literally. They go together, thanks to the nature of the submission call. For What Is Taken is inspired by the Corvidae anthology (crows, ravens, jays – that whole taxonomic group of birds) and One Must Be Given is for the Scarecrow antho. They will connect to each other, within each story and betwixt. They’re fantasy with some bits of horror by the looks of it, and first person … again. That’s okay, though. There’s a reason for that and it’s got something to do with the two narrators and where they intersect.

They’re unexpected but I’m still pretty excited about where they’re going. Twisted, as usual, and it’s making me giddy!

 

Twisted Tales and Other Submission Calls

And then there was the other stuff. I keep a folder with all of the submission calls I’m interested in for this year and I’m working on exhausting it. There are a few more short stories. And then there’s a novella for Pagan Writers Press, for their Twisted Tales series.

Now that’s one that’s going to take awhile.

The premise is to write a twist on myths, legends, and fables. I thought a fable would be fun but they’re all so happy and not as twisted as I like to put out. But myths … well, there’s a few of those to work with. At first I thought the story of Celtic Goddess, Rhiannon, would be fun. And then I considered something about the Morrigan. Now, my head’s stuck on Egypt and the Osiris Myth. If you want twisted, that’s one of the good ones!

Of course, it’s going to take more research. Not just into the story but the Gods, and even some Mary Shelley given the direction it seems to be heading. And some Star Trek. Maybe even the TV show, Almost Human (Karl Urban, I love you).

Yes, it’s going sci-fi. I don’t usually go there but I won’t ever count it out.

 

And there we are, caught up. It’s been a busy half year and the rest of the year isn’t slowing down if I can help it. Have to keep telling the stories and keep getting out there. Exposure through the work is just as important as direct marketing!

So here’s to all of us who work our hands until they cramp and our eyeballs until they’re dry as heck. /cue toast

 

(And just because I think I’m funny … some music while we have that toast, thanks to Heywood Banks.)

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