My Superpower: Heather Rose Jones (The Mystic Marriage)

18 May The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Heather Rose Jones to talk about how the power of root cause analysis relates to The Mystic Marriage.

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You might not think that the same superpower would come in handy both as a fantasy novelist and as an industrial root cause investigator. But I have a preternatural ability to maintain multiple competing unfinished causal structures in my mind, feeding facts into them bit by bit until a pattern emerges from the swirling chaos, the contradictions fall away, and what remains is—if not the only truth—then at least one possible truth that is consistent with the facts. Continue reading

Quick Update on the RSS Feed and iTunes (Check Your Feeds)

17 May

Folks following us on Twitter may have noticed some concern regarding our two RSS feeds:  the full feed to the blog/podcast and the podcast only feed for iTunes (or folks just trying to snatch the podcasts, not the blog).  This is what happened:

We use Feedburner to funnel the podcast to iTunes and podcast directories, and we keep a dedicated podcast feed so these directories only get pinged for media files and not for blog posts (which limits how many eps show up at a time).  A few days ago, I went into Feedburner to update both feeds to make sure the information was up-to-date.  For the podcast, that included an updated description, updated cast list, and so on.  In the course of doing this, Feedburner started renaming both feeds to the same address.  I don’t know why, but it happened so many times in a row that I actually got confused which feed was supposed to have which address.

Eventually, I got the feeds corrected, but by then, iTunes and iTunes derivative programs were registering a problem with the feed; at least two people reported that they could download episodes, but could not properly subscribe.  Since iTunes can take up to a week to register changes to a feed, I have no idea if this is a permanent error or if the changes to the feed confused iTunes enough that it’s locked onto a feed that doesn’t exist or isn’t the correct feed.  On top of that, Feedburner now registers a massive drop in subs to both feeds, which may or may not be relevant depending on when it did its last subscriber “catch” and depending on how many people checked their feeds on Friday (the last day Feedburner would have grabbed subscriber numbers).  Either way, it’s weird.

I don’t currently have a solution for iTunes or iTunes derivative users.  It may be weeks before I can fix whatever is wrong with our iTunes page (a week to find out if the feed corrected itself and possibly another week to correct any errors that might exist).  It may turn out that all of this is worrying for nothing; the feed could correct itself on iTunes and everything could work out just fine.

For everyone else, the feeds should work just fine, though you should probably update your RSS reader or podcast catcher so it grabs the appropriate feed.  If you want the full blog, use this feed; if you want the podcast ONLY, use this feed.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Download the audio version here.

Book Review: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

14 May the-copper-promise

Sebastian and Wydrin are mercenaries and adventurers, longtime friends and partners, doing jobs for coin in a way and manner familiar to a lot of sword and sorcery fiction. Sebastian is the big guy, a defrocked paladin of a mountain god. Wydrin is an infamous rogue of the port city of Crosshaven known as the Copper Cat, deadly with two blades. The opening of the book starts off straightforwardly enough, with the pair hired by a deposed noble to break into a magical vault. A magical vault that contains a long imprisoned scaly God and followers that the pair inadvertently free.

Oops. Continue reading

“On Game of Thrones and Gritty Fantasy: Why does it sell?” by Clifton Hill (Veil of a Warrior)

13 May Boromir and the Ring

Visceral, terrible, gut wrenching, laden with death and loss. Why does it sell? And why in the genre of luminescent fairy wings, immortal wizards, and chivalrous knights that cannot die? Why do we want to bring in the grime, the stink of malice and the cut of despair?

In an industry dominated by the One Ring and a boy wizard — where there was death and violence, but only to an extent — it seemed that Fantasy was a soft genre. There was the thrill of discovery, strange wondrous new lands…and magic! So what made The Game of Thrones rise so high?

Perhaps because it was more real. The setting is not one of wonder; it is one terrible and dirty — where people die. A world where a single man rules with the authority to kill on a word, where political factions scheme for power and survival:  the landscape of influence can change in a heartbeat. Continue reading

Interview w/ Jennifer Ellis (Author of A Quill Ladder)

13 May A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis

For this feature interview, I contacted Jennifer Ellis by email with some questions pertaining both to A Quill Ladder and the Derivatives of Displacement series in general, on writing YA, and on her perspectives as a successful indie author. Here, then, are those questions and her wonderful responses, including information on what she has in store for the future:

DPH: The YA category has changed a lot since either of us was younger, and the SciFi/Fantasy offerings have exploded. In what ways did you try to make these middle grade novels balance between the classic and modern worlds? How do you balance between revealing things to the readers (and characters) and holding things back for maintaining the drive of the series? Continue reading

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