The Singularity is Coming: Review of Digital Rapture

The title of this post, “The Singularity is Coming,” is actually something of a lie.  After reading some of the stories in the anthology Digital Rapture, I seriously found myself questioning whether or not the singularity was already here.

What is the singularity?  According to the wikitionary, this is “a predicted future event in human history caused by the ever-increasing ability of new technology to speed up the rate at which new technology is developed.”  Editors James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel do an excellent job of discussing what is a very difficult (and all-embracing, at times) concept in their introduction.  They travel between the stories of H.G. Wells to medieval ascetics to intellectuals of today, all while asking questions of the reader and inviting them to form their own judgments.  Rather than feeling extraneous as many editorial narratives do, this story is fascinating and the threads of the discussion carry on even in introductions of the pieces presented here.

A standout piece in Digital Rapture was “Hive Mind Man” by Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn.  In an age where human beings are increasingly encouraged to share more and more of their personal lives and thoughts in the global blogosphere, this story does not feel as far-future as it should.  The protagonist struggles with a boyfriend who is asked to effectively give his life to the pursuit of constant data-mining and promotion.  I found this a great cautionary tale–at what point does spewing out our thoughts and ideas into the ether turn us away from being individuals and instead, becoming part of a national, or worldwide, consciousness?

Another piece particularly compelling to me was “Crystal Nights” by Greg Egan.  In “Nights,” Egan examines the question of building a race from scratch.  The process of evolution as seen through the eyes of one who wants to control it is fascinating to observe, moreso when things begin to go awry.  I hadn’t thought of this particular theme as being an aspect of singularity and yet it is, beautifully done here.

There are many other stories by those that I’d regard as the greats in this field–Asimov, Stapledon, Sterling, etc–and I would recommend taking the time to sit down and read this particular anthology not in one sitting, but in several.  The questions that it raises are relevant and topical.  I think that careful consideration of Digital Rapture will reveal more about ourselves and our time than the casual reader suspects.


Chick lit is NOT dead! It’s evolved.

Chick lit is NOT dead!
It’s evolved.

by Louise Wise

As a reader, there are heaps of chick lit books to choose from. You have your Sophie Kinsella to Jane Porter, Matt Dunn to Nick Hornby—all light and fluffy. Usually. Chick lit evolves, and that’s the one thing that makes it so popular and able to hold its own among your thrillers, historicals and the like.

Nowadays, you’ll find ‘cross-over’ chick lit—chick lit that has a mixture of other genres in them: paranormal chick lit, suspense chick lit. I’ve yet to see a horror or a science-fiction chick lit. Probably out there though, and it’s just that I haven’t looked hard enough. But no matter the sub-genre, they are always upbeat, fun and modern.

Chick lit doesn’t even have to be about romance. In fact, it’s more about relationships, emotions and current life. It’s not all about shopping and shoes, as some literary snobs like to point out (and probably helped give it the ‘chick lit’ title!). It’s contemporary, cheeky, funny and real.

That’s what I like about the genre the most. Keeping it real. I’ve always liked a dose of reality in my writing. Even my sci-fi (Eden) was ‘real-life’ as one reviewer put it. My latest book’s title is quite a mouthful: The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am and I’ve incorporated my usual ‘real life’ theme and, this time, it’s depression. The main character, Valerie Anthrope is suffering with the disorder, only she’s burying her head in the sand, or in her case, work. She knows she’s ill, yet her way of dealing with it is to ignore it. It takes a nosey stranger to make her see that she needs help.

But how far should you go in making a ‘sensitive’ subject funny? Life, in general, is funny and tragic. And to help deal with these heartrending events, we joke about them. That’s why we laugh hysterically at the comic with his ‘close to the knuckle’ joke. Misanthrope isn’t a book taking the micky out of depression, neither does my character have a miraculous cure. By the end of the book, she still has depression, but it leaves the reading satisfied that she’ll work through her demons.

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am asks the questions: nurture or nature? What makes us us? It’s available to buy now as a Kindle download from Amazon (free for this weekend (21st – 24th October) . The paperback will be released in October.
If you want to discuss this subject on Twitter use the hashtag #wwbb

Chick lit on FB
Twitter: @louise_wise

HUMAN: Behind the scenes with Gabe Smith

I’m happy and excited that Gabe Smith has stopped by my blog today.  I met Gabe through discovering his amazing project on KickstarterHuman.  This graphic novel is compelling, filled with incredible imagery and action.  With only 7 days and counting to reach funding, I asked Gabe if he’d join me to answer a few short questions about the project and share a sample with us.  I hope everyone checks it out-I love it when the speculative fiction community comes together to make projects like this happen.

On to the interview!
Gwen: Tell us a little about the mechanics of your project–what inspired you to use such a visual medium? Why did you select this genre?

Gabe: I didn’t select this genre, cyberpunk selected me. I had visions of this story for years before I had written anything down. After i had finished writing a couple of issues, I realized it would be way too expensive for an unknown screenwriter to do animated or live-action filming, but I really believed that I had made something good. I decided to start smaller and try to gain a following for my story through comic books. This is my debut.

Gwen: Why have you chosen to do Kickstarter as opposed to looking at more traditional means of funding?

Gabe: Because it is important to me create this story while still maintaining ownership of my work.

Gwen: Let’s get into the story… do you mind sharing a little of the storyline behind Human?

Gabe: Without revealing too much, the story takes place in the future in an age where people are installing illegal biotech weaponry and upgrades into their bodies. Cezra is a bounty hunter tracking down these criminals and bringing them to justice. The first issue is an action packed issue, that serves as an introduction to thes story, this world, and its characters. Society is facing tough times as difficult political decisions are being made regarding these new technologies. In addition, a viral outbreak known as the nano-virus has occurred and is worsening without the proper medical knowledge or treatments to combat it.

Gwen: You’ve got a colorful cast of characters. Tell us, who’s your favorite and why? What makes him/her different from others in comics?

Gabe: I like Drolo. He’s this big ugly scary misunderstood guy that just demands freedom at all costs. I feel like i can relate to that. Except the ugly part. Cezra probably has the most dramatic story of the cast though. She took forever for me to figure out. Drolo came easy.

Gwen: How did you and Ryan [Ryan Merrill, artist] connect? Any tips for those of us seeking to be successful in artistic collaborations?

Gabe:  Craigslist. My tip: search hard and don’t stop until you found what you are looking for.


Now I’d like to share a page with you from the comic.  To order a copy and support the project, visit the Kickstarter.  Time is running out!


Haunted House Virtual Tour: V.R. Christensen & B. Lloyd

Here we are on our next stop on the Haunted House Virtual Tour (by kind permisson of Gwen Perkins), to promote our ghost novellas Blind and Ungentle Sleep (by V.R.Christensen and B.Lloyd respectively), where we ‘visit’ one of the famous houses in ‘mock’ gothic literature: this time, you can try guessing the place from the anagram at the beginning, or wait until you have read to the end …

The Anagram: Cats rant foot to heel


ImageGrunt, umph, ouch.


Scritch, scratch, rumph,umph.


‘Right lads,’ said Geremia, standing back and wiping the sweat from his brow, ‘I think that will do. The Master didn’t specify exactly which way it should be facing.’

‘Hideous great thing it is, too,’ puffed one of the workmen, bending over with hands on hips.

‘Ay, it is – what passes for taste among the gentry, so keep a civil tongue in your head and there’ll be food and drink in the kitchen for you.’

Geremia turned and led the way to well-earned refreshments, and they left the giant suit of armour in the hall. It squeaked a little as its components settled back into position …

Hooves clattered across cobbles, wheels squealed and coachmen cursed – guests had arrived at the castle and there was a deal of running about, shouting and expletives before normality was in any way regained. Late morning and half the rooms not made ready yet: servants rushed about with coal scuttles, jugs and brooms, colliding into the furniture while the new arrivals struggled up and downstairs in search of their allotted chambers.

Geremia had thought it prudent to stand on the upper landing with notice boards indicating the directions to be followed:

‘Lord Fontana, straight ahead, turn left at end of corridor’

‘Sir Montague and Lady Montague, turn right at top of stairs and proceed to the third door on the left’

‘Duke Saltimbocca, other wing, directly over the kitchens for your olefactory delight’

and so forth – yet despite this attention to detail, the guests still managed to lose their way and generally ended up wandering disconsolately along the winding corridors, coming upon each other in alcoves and balconies and apologising at the same time.

‘After you,’

‘No,no, pray, after you,’

‘Not at all – after you …’

Come afternoon and confusion had given way to chaos as preparations were made for the dinner: ‘Who is the dinner for, again?’ asked Lady Montague of her spouse. ‘Blessed if I can remember,’ he replied, and hallooed Lord Fontana. ‘Any idea what the do is for?’

‘I believe there is a wedding in the offing,’ replied that gentleman, taking a pinch of snuff.

‘Ah of course it is – old whathisname’s daughter – or niece, was it? No, daughter, I think – to er, that, er, . . .thingummy . .’

‘I believe you are correct,’ replied the Lord, before sneezing into a huge handkerchief.

A gong was sounded as a reminder for the dinner and there was a general hasty rush to find best seats at table; after some scrambling and contesting over napkins and goblets, guests were seated, Duke Saltimbocca nearest to the roast beef, cutlery at the ready.

‘A toast ! A toast to the happy couple!’ cried out the host, raising a glass when he was interrupted by his butler, footmen and maids, who came running into the hall in a state of wild disarray.Image

‘Why, what has happened? Has there been an accident? Is the kitchen?’

‘Miscreants! Have you burned the dinner?!’ exclaimed Saltimbocca, much disturbed at the thought.

‘Nay, ‘tis a great deal worse –’

‘Worse?’ remonstrated Saltrimbocca.

‘Come, come,’ said their host, ‘explain please –’

‘Why sir,’ said the butler, ‘there is a mighty monstrous creature a clanging and a banging about the castle hall – we none of us dare approach it for fear it should crush us – look – and listen – it approacheth!’

Indeed, as everyone stopped to listen, there was an eery, metallic, rasping sound in the distance, magnified and distorted by the stone walls of the ancient castle, accompanied by mournful cries of an inhuman quality most chilling to the blood.

Closer and closer came the steps –

‘Mercy me, are we to be murdered as we eat?’ gasped Lady Montague.

There was a great din, a shouting and screaming and a knocking over of dishes and glasses – as all ran pell-mell from the hall to stand quavering in the courtyard, gasping and muffling their cries as the sound of the footsteps approached, nearer and nearer . . .

On and on they came, clamp, clump, clamp, accompanied by a mild squeaking of rusty metal; the armour had not been oiled these many years and added a certain tortured element to the general atmosphere of horror.

‘Oh my dear, I shall faint…’ murmured Lady Montague, and prepared to fall.

‘Eh?’ replied her Lord, and failed quite completely to catch her, for which she duly reprimanded him afterwards.

‘Hush! It will hear us!’

‘Too late!’

‘It’s coming! It’s coming!’

A monstrous suit of armour clanked on into the courtyard, waving its arms in a most threatening manner, emitting awful, chilling moans and groans, barely audible under the wave of terrified cries emitted by the crowd.

‘Pshaw!’ finally said Duke Saltimbocca, who had only consumed barely half his dinner and was still peckish – he stood forward and drew his sword.

‘Speak, phantom!’ he addressed the suit of armour. ‘Tell us your business with us mortals!’

The suit of armour stood still, and waved its arms weakly about, letting out another foreboding ululation.

‘Speak the language of mortals, dammit!’ shouted the choleric Saltimbocca, impatient to return indoors to finish his dinner; he stamped forward and brandished his sword at the monstrous apparition – which appeared to be taken somewhat aback, indeed, staggered a little, then pointed upwards – to its own helmeted head.

‘Muffuffle whuffle phummple,’ came the dolorous tones.

‘Incoherent apparition – what would you have of us?’

‘Whiumple grumble flooble,’ continued the apparition, still moving its arms in windmill action.

‘Hah!’ responded the Duke, now thoroughly incandescent, and swiped at the creature’s helmet with his sword, admidst shrieks and shouts from the rest of the gathering. He managed only to topple the helmet from its moorings atop the breastplate, revealing . . . revealing . . .

‘Oh my dear sir, I am much obliged.’ A longish, pale, narrowish face, with wavy hair somewhat untidily held by a black ribbon, managed barely to peer out from the depths of the armour. ‘And now, if you will assist me with the removal of these gauntlets – and the greaves – most kind …’

‘But – but – but – ’ Lord Montague began.

‘You sir! Who are you ?’ demanded the Duke,

‘And how did you come to be inside that wretched thing?’

‘Ah, now, as to that . . . curiosity must take the blame – curiosity in the name of research; I have often wondered how the knights of old managed to move in combat in these harnesses, and on espying the prime example placed on display in the hall, I endeavoured to try it on; only, once tested, I found it less easy to divest, and my valet, less studied in these matters than even I, was unable to let me out again – so I have been obliged to wander these walls in search of someone to assist me.’

‘Pah!’ went the Duke, and stormed off in direction of the dining hall – ‘the roast beef will be cold by now!’ and he growled as he went.

‘Dear, dear,’ said the gentleman, now half out of the armour, ‘I fear I may have interrupted your dinner – my apologies.’

‘Not at all – it is, after all, in the name of scientific research: but might we have the pleasure of your acquaintance?’ Once the initial shock had dispersed, Lord Fontana regained his normal aplomb and was intrigued to know more.

‘Ah – my pardon, sir; -’ The gentleman whisked out a card and presented it to the Lord. Across it was emblazoned the name: Walpole, H. 4th Earl of Orford.

‘Ah – the man of letters – and on the Tour?’

‘Indeed yes, so my curiosity is even more boundless. This castle, for instance – such a very magnificent building – so very atmospheric – it has quite taken my fancy… I think I might write of my experiences about it . .  although not, perhaps in such an undignified manner as being stuck in a suit of armour . .  let me see . . .’

‘What shall you call it, dear sir?’

‘Why, I might as well call it after the name of this place . . .where are we, by the by?’

‘Allow me to call my servant – Grenouille? Grenouille!’


‘Where are we? ‘


‘Zis place – vot name?’



‘Allow me, I shall call mine – Mitraille!’

‘At once, milord!’

‘What is the name of this chateau, Mitraille?’

‘This chateau, milord? Why, it is the chateau d’Otranto, milord.’

‘Capital! That will do! I shall call it The Castle of Otranto . . .’

They continued to chatter amiably as they wandered indoors to the tune of forks and knives already being plied on well-laden plates as the dinner, finally, and to the Duke Saltimbocca’s delight, continued.

Out in the courtyard, the helmet lay in the moonlight, its visor open, for all the world like a monstrous mouth laughing at the night sky. It rolled a little from side to side, caught in a whisper of wind that scurried around, chasing the odd leaf out of corners.


This was one ‘visit’ to a gothic place from literature; we hope you enjoyed it – and that you will think about your favourite gothic place in literature; what it would be like to visit, meeting the inhabitants …

And now, two new places on the gothic lit scene await you in Ungentle Sleep by B.Lloyd and Blind by V.R. Christensen –

Links :

Blind : US

Blind : UK

Ungentle Sleep UK

Ungentle Sleep US

Introducing Kassandra Heglund

I’d like to welcome Kassandra Heglund to the blog today. Kassandra’s a new writer who’d just like to say hello and share her books with you. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost a year since I signed my own first novel contract–I’ve learned a lot since then and it’s great to have the chance to support other new authors.

Hello, everyone! My name is Kassandra Heglund, and I am a relatively new author, so obviously I need all the exposure I can get. Therefore I was ecstatic when Gwen said that I could do this! So, Gwen, thank you!!!

I’ve been writing since high school, the first story having been a two-page short story which I typed up on my father’s old Underwood manual typewriter. That story later became my first published work! To date, I have two published works, both of which are science fiction. One is a novella (76 pages — and the published version of that original short story!), and the other is a full-length novel (301 pages).

Holding Sequence: Cycles of Fate, the novella, is a story about cruel fate, survival, and poetic justice. Two scientists, told they were undertaking a breakthrough project that would benefit their people find themselves caught in a web of lies and betrayal. When they do extricate themselves from the Project from Hell, they turn the tables on those who betrayed them. This is the first in a short series called The Machinations of Fate.

Long Dark Night, the novel, is the story of a boy whose whole world is lost. He finds refuge with a great power… or does he? As it turns out, they are just the first in a pair of powers who dominate his life, and his will. But his is a story of survival and hope, for one day, he will be free of these powers! One day, he will be the power. But first come the trials and torments of a lifetime in service… and the guilt that comes with the actions he is forced to take.

I hope all of you will go and look at these books and consider purchasing them. Again, thank you, Gwen, for this opportunity to share my works with your audience!

Art Spotlight: Dianne Gardner and Ian’s Realm

I guess the whole Ian’s Realm Saga started from my secret desire to paint a dragon.

If I wrote a book about dragons, then I’d be forced to paint one eventually, wouldn’t I?

I threw the idea out to some of my grandchildren. They were immediately inspired!

So I thought I had better get busy before they get too far ahead of me. This is, after all, a story for them…from me.

So I went to the art supplier in Port Townsend. Our local suppliers don’t carry large canvas and I knew the dragon in this story was going to be big. I mean really big! Well, at least as big as my little Honda Fit can carry. Which turned out to be 36 X 48.

I’ve never painted a dragon before. I knew what I wanted him to look like, kind of. I bought a little plastic dragon sculpture thinking I could study how light might shine on a dragon…but it dropped off my table and the wings fell off before I had a chance to study the lights.

So I scrambled together some sketches, some photos of horses, a rhinoceros and any kind of wicked reptile I could find…lizards, gila monsters…and some excerpts from my story that describe the dragon. Slowly he emerged from the stormy skies.

Continue reading

Stranger than Fiction: the Story Behind Virginia Creeper

A rare treat today–I interview Blaine Lee Pardoe, the author of Virginia Creeper. Blaine’s a fellow historian but I asked him here to talk about something a little different–crime.  Specifically the Route 211 Murders, a story that as a Northwesterner, I hadn’t heard much about prior to this discussion.  Sit back and enjoy the story behind this recent publication.  Then, when you’ve finished, check out the book to see what he hasn’t told us.

Gwen:  Virginia Creeper.  Wow.  I don’t know where to begin here, Blaine.  I can honestly say that this is one of the more shocking stories I’ve heard in a while.  It just amazes me that it didn’t hit CNN or one of those nightly news broadcasts.  So I guess, let’s start there.

I think maybe a few readers will have heard of the Route 211 Killings but what with so much in the news lately, I hate to say it, but it can get overwhelming.  Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the murders?  What local folks knew about them?

Blaine:  Well, the murders dropped off the radar pretty quickly with the death and the presumed killer – Andrew Fitzwater. Also the investigators did not go public with all of the details of what occurred – and with good reason.  Also, the murders also were not your typical serial killing.  These victims, once it was all pieced together, were spread out over 150 years or so.  Drew pled guilty to three of the murders – but died under questionable circumstances, before he could be sentenced.  From the police perspective, it was best to let the case slip into obscurity.

Gwen:  As I recall, it was your friend–well, at least acquaintance–Pepper who suggested you look into this.  Now I know that you’re a military historian, a Civil War buff, and a science fiction writer…how did you feel when he made that request?  Did you instantly think it was a natural fit or was there some hesitation there?

Blaine:  At the time I was working on a non-fiction book, but I have to admit this didn’t seem to me to be a good fit for me to stick my nose in the case.  One of the victims mothers was fairly convincing.  There was some distrust in the police, she seemed to think that as an armchair historian I might come it at with a different perspective.  She was right about that!

Gwen:  So, Blaine, I can’t help but think your background as a historian ended up as an real advantage for you in digging into the mystery of these deaths.  Do you agree with that?

Blaine:  Police tend to look at facts and evidence related to crimes.  I wasn’t bound by that covenant as a historian.  I wasn’t limited in my thinking by what common sense would have said was impossible.  In the end it helped the authorities, albeit in a minor way.  What we uncovered was so heinous and incredible, I wonder if they would have gone down some of the trails I was willing to explore.

Gwen: Can you share one detail with us that you think was particularly compelling about your experience?  I’ll understand if you need to keep this off the record, as it were.

Blaine:  This became personal.  The killer – the REAL killer, came after some of us associated with the case.  When you read the book you’ll understand.  When someone goes after your wife and kids, it makes it very personal.  I remember, when I wrote about that night, how it would feel to have someone attack your home – that gut wrenching feeling.  As a man, my instinct was to protect my family.  As a military historian, I knew we had to go on the offense.  Those two things coming together were a powerful combination.  In the end, it helped us find out the real truth about the murders.

Gwen:  What happened was pretty incredible…I don’t want to give out too many details but how hard was it for you to get anyone to listen to you?  Did you have any hesitation about writing the book?  Trouble selling the story?

Blaine:  I had to change a lot of the names – but not the places.  For some people that has been hard to swallow.  My hesitation is that people would not fully understand or comprehend how all of this unfolded.  It was hard enough for those of us that were a part of it.  A few publishers expressed interest in the book over the years but the content was fairly disturbing.  They were worried that people would start wandering the countryside looking for the locales mentioned in the book.  Hydra Publications recognized the story for what it was and accepted that risk.

Gwen:  Are there any last words that you’d like to leave us readers with?  How can we find out more about Virginia Creeper or your other works?

Blaine: Well, what I can tell you is that Virginia Creeper is a very scary book.  I don’t like violent images, but in light of that, this has some images that are disturbing.  A friend of mine said she couldn’t read the book at night because it gave her nightmares.  I guess that’s a compliment.

In terms of my other books – go ahead and check out or my web site, I tend to keep my blog updated every week with a little bit of everything, including what I’m currently working on: Of course you can always follow me on Facebook as well.


Excerpt: Empyreal Fate

I’m very pleased to have an excerpt today from Rachel Hunter’s Empyreal Fate, a fantasy novel that is sure to appeal to those who love the epic works of writers like J.R.R. Tolkien and T.H. White.  This tale of love, hatred, and war begins with a forbidden romance and ends… well, I’ll leave you to explore for yourself.

From the Novel:

Darrion stared, dazed, into Amarya’s face as she loomed above him, concern defining her frame. Lifting himself, he sat, uncertain how he had come to lie upon the ground. He did not remember falling; he had no recollection.

“You did well,” the elf congratulated, extending a slender hand.

Darrion rubbed his head, feeling a tenderness that had not been there before. “What happened?” he asked, taking her hand and rising.

“I saw not of your mind, but from what I could figure, you gained entrance to the thoughts of a rambling oak. I know this to be true, for I could see your eyes swimming beneath the lids. Such does not occur unless a connection is made.” Amarya beamed, eyes sparkling with pride despite her pupil’s faint. With eager strides, she began smoothing the creases of his tunic. “You drifted too far, however – missing the mark. Your focus broke upon more than a single entity; your mind roamed in places it was not meant. As a result, your consciousness receded, and your celestial bond forged hollow spaces to compensate. Once that barrier snapped, the voices of many within the Illex, not merely the trees, poured through you. It was an overload of understanding – most mortals cannot handle such. But no need to fret; you’ve far surpassed the most capable of beginners. I am simply surprised you made contact at all.”

Darrion stepped back, feeling the lightness of his chest. With clouded thoughts, he speculated the feat he had barely attained. Few words could describe his awe – the confusion – that enveloped him. Dizziness clothed him as a tumbled reed.

Resting one palm against the bark of an oak, he listened – intent – as though searching for a beating heart against the trunk. Despite his wavering state, he was glad for Amarya’s tutelage. This feeling… it was almost surreal.

“To my knowledge, never has a human discerned as much as you.” Amarya’s pale hand sought Darrion’s shoulder, and he melted at her touch. “I’m uncertain what it means – for indeed, your ability comes as no coincidence… But the mortal mind proves oft unable to comprehend the spiritual realm. Not that it’s impossible, but man forgets his possession. He knows not of the awareness beyond material senses. You, Darrion, are not like other men. You – you’re different.” She shifted her jaw, examining him as if for answers.

“It’s true… I never knew the depths to which magic strayed,” Darrion murmured, almost trembling from his ethereal venture. “I used to think it all frivolous tricks of the tongue.”

“Not quite,” Amarya offered. “Those who perform incantations, as you suggest, are sorcerers – mere magicians who rely on handholds and false words to create masked illusions. In some cases – nigh, but rare – such illusions become reality. Regardless, the art lacks in form. Words are the derivation of mortals – a human contrivance, unnecessary for understanding. They are not real, as nature is real. Nay, words are but crude concepts – trivial in the matter of divine understanding. What is meant in one tongue may be opposite in another. How can a concept so unsure create something so pure? The answer is simple: it cannot.”

About the Author:
Rachel Hunter has always been fascinated with words and the intricate way in which they combine. Since a child, she has been an avid writer, winding vibrant tales and elaborate stanzas on folded bits of paper. As the years passed, her love of words never died; her adoration for reading fared no equal. Always with her nose in a book, Rachel took fondly to works spanning all genres. Yet it was the compelling grasp of fantasy and science fiction that wrenched her fascination above all.

Find Out More About Rachel and Her Novels:







Guest Post: It Comes in Slices! (Serial Fiction)

It Comes In Slices!

A Word on Serial Fiction

by Michael Shean, author of Bone Wires

Since Scheherazade held back Shahriyar’s axe, the art of serial fiction has been one of suspense and anticipation.  Through the separation of a larger work into smaller, regular sections, the serial can allow an author to introduce his readers to a smaller story alongside the development of other works – and, if he or she is good at it, can ensure that their tales are never out of the minds of readers.  That, as you can imagine, can be a very important thing.

Serialized fiction can be traced back to One Thousand and One Nights, which in itself consisted of a string of serialized novellas.  Wrapped up in the frame of Queen Scheherazade’s attempt to stave off death at the hands of her bloodthirsty husband, the collection of tales contains some of the most memorable works of short fiction in history – Sinbad the Sailor and Aladdin being some of the most prominent examples.  With the development of movable type in the 1600s, episodic narratives became more and more available; given the expense of books at the time, publishers were very interested in expanding the market while keeping prices down.  In the 19th century, popularity exploded during the Victorian Age when growing literacy, advances in technology, and the expansion of distribution pooled together to make serialized fiction a powerful force in getting literature of all kinds in the hands of as many people as could afford it.  Henry James, Herman Melville, Gustave Flaubert, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and of course the inestimable Charles Dickens all found great success using the serial model.  In modern times, the rise of the Internet and the Web allows everyday people to write serialized fiction and post it on their own websites as they desire; all that’s required is an audience, something which grows easier to secure through every day through social media and the like.

The serial structure can be very challenging.  When I wrote my second novel, Bone Wires, it was released as a serial on the website of my publisher, Curiosity Quills.  Being a detective story, it was relatively simple to set up through a series of episodes – I eschewed writing a chapter at a time, mostly because my schedule wouldn’t allow it and also because the flow of the work was better without attempting to expand things in a synthetic way.  Aside from ensuring that episodes are released on a consistent schedule, this is the major secret behind serialized fiction: ensuring that episodes are relatively short, exciting, and always contribute to the greater whole.  There should be no such thing as a ‘filler’ episode; with a serial work, when deadlines are absolutely vital, there is always the temptation to try and pack a story in with material that may be ‘soft’, or does not strictly further the flow of the story or develops the characters.  But consider something: most of you reading this have favorite television shows.  How do you like it when the flow of the story gets broken by a random filler episode?  The same applies with fiction – anything necessary is annoying, breaks the flow of the work, and generally makes your audience unhappy.  Nobody likes it when a writer’s work feels lazy.

Putting the tyranny of deadlines and the perils of ‘fatty’ writing aside, however, the serial can be a major boon for an author’s career.  Consider: you might be working on a larger or more complex work, but that keeps you out of the proverbial game for four to six months.  Your readers might be panting after your next work, but in the absence of an alternative there’s room for someone else in their proverbial heart of hearts.  Writing a serial alongside that ensures that readers have something to enjoy – remember that writing has its business side, and ensuring that you’re forefront in the mind of your readers is absolutely necessary for when that next big novel drops.  Not only that, serial fiction gives an author the ability to stretch their creative wings, to reach out and try new things and keep their minds fresh while still meditating on their primary work in progress.  I’ve found that being able to work on another work to break up the occasional slog is also very effective at staving off writer’s block.

Since the completion of Bone Wires in its serial form, it has been released as a complete novel.  I don’t have current plans to start a new one, but that’s not because this wasn’t rewarding; my schedule just doesn’t allow for it.  You can be sure that when it does, however, you’ll see another serial tale with my name on it out there for all to see.

Writing a work of serial fiction can be very difficult, but don’t let the potential obstacles keep you from working that magic; as long as you can keep things regular and don’t veer into the land of filler, serials can be among the most rewarding methods of writing for any author, veteran or newly-established.  You don’t have to take my word from it, though.  One need only to consider the role of those mentioned above to see the power that the serial can bring.



About Bone Wires:
In the wasteland of commercial culture that is future America, police are operated not by government but by private companies.

In Seattle, that role is filled by Civil Protection, and Daniel Gray is a detective in Homicide Solutions. What used to be considered an important – even glamorous – department for public police is very different for the corporate species, and Gray finds himself stuck in a dead end job. That is, until the Spine Thief arrives.

When a serial killer begins harvesting the spinal tissue of corporate employees all over the city, Detective Gray finds himself plunged into the first truly major case of his career. Caught in a dangerous mix of murder, betrayal and conflicting corporate interest, Gray will find himself not only matching wits with a diabolical murderer but grapple with his growing doubt toward his employers in the dawning months of the American tricentennial.

A thrilling mystery set in the same world as the Wonderland Cycle, Bone Wires is a grim trip into the streets of the empty future.


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