The Hardest Part: F. Hampton Carmine on Abby and the Magic Key

Back in September, Raleigh author F. Hampton Carmine launched his new young reader / young adult novel with a reading at Wake Forest’s Storyteller’s Bookstore. “Abby and the Magic Key is a young adult magical romp through time and space with thirteen year old Abigail Stewart and her royal ancestor, Princess Elizabeth of Scotland. To mend their broken lives, these princesses, one lost to fear and privilege, the other lost to fear and neglect, find each other across time and space by way of a magic key and learn to believe in themselves, and face their fears.” In this guest essay, Carmine — my fellow small-town Hoosier — writes about his point-of-view struggles, the pain of cutting out description, and “the dreaded query letter”.


By F. Hampton Carmine:

I think the hardest thing about writing Abby and the Magic Key was working through the point of view. I wanted to maintain my storytelling style while still presenting a story that would be appealing to upper middle grade and younger young adult readers. I am not fond of first person point of view and actively dislike present tense, both of which are often used in books for these age groups in response to the younger reader’s perceived mindset. I’m sure, however, that the young reader can read and enjoy stories told in a less in-your-face presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Quick Updates: NC Speculative Fiction Night is tomorrow!


Quail Ridge Flyer
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lady-soliloque-new Islands Poster
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That’s all I’ve got. (No, seriously, I went through some previous images and this is what I’ve got handy.)

See you tomorrow at Quail Ridge Books!

The Hardest Part/Coming to Town: Jaym Gates on War Stories

It’s been a long time since we had a true “NC Speculative Fiction Night” and for the return of the reading series this Saturday, November 22 at Quail Ridge Books, you can blame Jaym Gates as instigator. As she has been as long as I’ve known her, she’s been a busy author and editor of late — most recently and notably a story in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters  and co-editing the anthology of which this essay speaks — not to mention her continuing work as the Communications Director for SFWA and several armloads of other projects which she juggles while on horseback, herding rescue dogs away from wildfires. In a pair of badass boots. And probably a corset. Jaym is a force of nature, our very own Kaiju of awesome, and I’m looking forward to settling down with War Stories over the winter months even more after reading her essay. I hope it inspires you to read or write or, as Jaym suggests half-way through, possibly even edit.

warstoriesfront_1024x1024 2012-08-03_14-32-55_832 (451x800) (JaymGates-HP's conflicted copy 2014-02-21)

 By Jaym Gates:

Andrew Liptak and I came up with the idea for War Stories at ReaderCon a couple of years ago, but we’d already been individually noodling on the idea for a while, so once the sparks were struck, the whole thing ran like a freight train. By the time we were done, we’d read over 900,000 words of slush (in other words, about 10 books of short stories), gone through many rounds of wrangling on which ones we were going to accept or reject, an equal number of editorial rounds, lost years off of our lives over the Kickstarter, and were near wrecks with worry over whether or not we’d done good.

See, there’s not really a ‘hardest’ part with a good anthology … there are lots of hardest parts. Read the rest of this entry »

November newsletter: Garth Stein and NC Specualtive Fiction Night, and (in December) Julia Elliott and Fred Chappell

Vol 4. No 11. November 19, 2014: Whew! Already this month has seen William Gibson at Motorco and NC Comicon at the Durham Convention Center, and there’s more yet in store with Garth Stein at Quail Ridge Books (tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 20) and with the return of the NC Speculative Fiction Night reading series this Saturday (Nov. 22) with “From the Trenches to the Stars” featuring military science fiction (War Stories, The Savior) and interstellar fantasy (Enoch the Traveler). Then in December we’ll be treated to visits by Julia Elliott (The Wilds, Friday December 5 at The Regulator) and Fred Chappell (Familiars, at Quail Ridge Books, Flyleaf Books, and The Regulator).

More on these and other events in the listings below, but first, a big pile of news and links to send your way:

 Purgatory Pub (Book 2)'s video poster

  • Stacey Cochran’s novel Eddie & Sunny has been featured in the Kindle Scout program all month, continuing through November 27, with reader votes determining whether it will receive a $1,500 advance and publishing contract: “Eddie and Sunny have never had much of value in life, save for each other’s love. For months they’ve lived in a car with their young son. A tragedy on the road one night turns the couple into fugitives of the law, separates them, and eventually leads each to believe that the other has died and all hope is lost.” The listing has remained marked “hot” and I wish Cochran the best of luck!
  • Speaking of luck, Gabe Dunston (who art designed Bull Spec #7 and #8) might need a little bit, as his Kickstarter campaign for Purgatory Pub Book 2 is about $1200 short of his goal, with 6 days to go. “This project will only be funded if at least$3,500 is pledged by Tue, Nov 25 2014 11:59 PM EST.” Book one is fantastic, which you might have had a chance to hear about if I’d configured my microphone correctly when trying to video review it, and he really does come through for his backers, as this time lapse video demonstrates.
  • M. David Blake has issued a call for submissions to the next Campbellian Anthology, so if your first professional publication was in 2014 or 2013, let him know! Meanwhile, his anthology STRAEON is imminent, and! he’s announced the reprint sale of “Absinthe Fish” (in Bull Spec #5 and on the Locus Award shortlist) to Rose Lemberg for An Alphabet of Embers. Congrats!
  • Speaking of congrats, Cynthia Sheppard (cover illustrator for Bull Spec #8, a Chesley Award finalist) just unveiled her second cover illustration for Tor Books, for Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory, due out in February 2015.
  • Speaking of covers, Gail Z. Martin asks: “Have you seen the new cover for War of Shadows — the 3rd book in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga with Blaine McFadden?”
  • Mur Lafferty announced the completion of Afterlife VI: Stones. Meanwhile, her Ghost Train to New Orleans podcast continues as well.
  • Speaking of Mur, she and I interviewed James Maxey about his new novel Bad Wizard for Carolina Book Beat.
  • Eryk Pruitt announced the publication date and cover art for his next crime novel, Hashtag, due in Spring 2015 from 280 Steps.
  • Speaking of crime novels, Nathan Ballingrud’s The Visible Filth is up for pre-order from This Is Horror.
  • A new local arts website has launched, which asks: “We need to hear from all citizens on how you want to live creatively and how that can shape Raleigh as the Southern Capital of Arts and Culture.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Garth Stein for A Sudden Light at Quail Ridge Books

Bestselling and award-winning author Garth Stein is on tour for his latest novel, A Sudden Light, and that tour brings him to Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books tomorrow, Thursday, November 20th at 7:30 pm. A household name for his best-selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, Stein returns with his first adult novel in six years, a true Pacific Northwest ghost story, turning the haunted manor of a timber magnate into a multi-generational playground and storyboard. Told alternately as a coming-of-age ghost story from the point of view of fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell and through journal excerpts and fragments, it’s a story of familial connection, of debts to the land and to the past. There’s a fantastic website with an interactive map of the grounds, which also links off to a video of Stein describing the book for you, so you don’t have to read it here, though some choice bits include the books’ origins as a play with a house as a character, and the “domino effect” of father-son relationships that we’re dealing with as the book opens. And, in addition to being available in print and ebook formats, the fantastically talented young actor Seth Numrich narrates the audiobook for A Sudden Light.

Here, I talk with Stein about being labeled a magical realist, about developing the multi-generational history of the novel, and a few other things including the absolutely best answer ever given for a question about the Quail Ridge Books bathroom. Stay for the end, it’s worth it.

Q: With A Sudden Light you return both to the Pacific Northwest and the motifs of magical or mystical realism and supernatural fantasy of Raven Stole the Moon. What is it about the timber country that draws out the ghosts?

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so it makes sense that my books are set there.  And it is a place rich with history, and rich with folklore of the Northwest coast natives.  I must be especially attuned to the spiritual nature of the forests due to my Tlingit heritage—my mother is from a small fishing village in Southeast Alaska, and we are a family of Tlingit Indian descent.  I have always been attracted to stories that look beyond the veil of reality for connections that are not obvious, stories in which we try to see the unseen.  So I am proud to call myself a Magical Realist.

Q: This novel is larger in scope than both Raven Stole the Moon – which while it also involved Jenna grappling with her ancestry, it’s primarily her feelings for her son which drive the story — and The Art of Racing in the Rain – which feels like a more personal novel of self-discovery and intimate relationships. A Sudden Light deals with multi-generational issues, with all of these obsessions and concerns of both the young and the old and the middle-aged all interlocking. Did you do a lot of detailed planning for this novel, or did these family histories grow out of the characters or story as you were developing them? Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Lady Soliloque for NC Speculative Fiction Night at Quail Ridge Books

This Saturday evening (November 22, 7 pm) Quail Ridge Books hosts the next reading event in the NC Speculative Fiction Night series, “From the Trenches to the Stars”, which is bringing together a fantastic panel of six authors for an evening of military science fiction and interstellar fantasy. It’s for the latter where my interviewee today comes in. Charlotte author Lady Soliloque is the author of Immortalis Venatio: The Immortal Game and Enoch the Traveler: Tempestas Viator among other books and stories, in addition to being an artist and filmmaker. It was at ConCarolinas this year and for Enoch the Traveler that I personally first started hearing about her work, and I enjoyed the audiobook edition — narrated by Torchwood star Gareth David-Lloyd (“Ianto”) and a full cast — quite a lot. I hope this interview helps you get to know this multi-talented author a bit better, and hope as many of you as can fit into the bookstore come out to meet her on Saturday. Enjoy!

Quail Ridge Flyer lady-soliloque-new

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background in writing and your other creative pursuits, prior to working on Enoch the Traveler?

I began with writing dark fiction and was published early on. I had several short stories in anthologies back in the 80’s and my first published novel came around 1990, The Oubliette. The Immortal Game, also a dark fiction novel, came soon after that and has had a few updated editions released over the years, with the last revision published in 2013 as a prelude to my Enoch series.

Q: Where does the name “Lady Soliloque” come from? Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: John and Carole Barrowman for NC Comicon


Article and Interview by Angela and Gerald Blackwell (The Exploding Spaceship)

This weekend, Nov 15th and 16th, NC Comicon is being held at the Durham Convention Center. Featured guests include John and Carole Barrowman, Tommy Lee Edwards, Neal Adams, and Sean Murphy. See the entire guest list and download a schedule at Some highlights of the schedule include a panel with John and Carole, the US premiere of a new Kung Fu Panda short, a Lego panel with the editor of BrickJournal magazine, artist portfolio reviews and a writing workshop with Carole.

Interview with John and Carole Barrowman

Both you and John have fans in North Carolina and we have wanted for years for you to attend an event here, so we are very happy that you are visiting NC Comicon. Is this your first trip to North Carolina for an author event or convention?

CB: We’re both looking forward to this con! When my children were small, my husband and I did a road trip through the Carolinas and up to Washington DC. It’s beautiful country.

JB: I’ve never been to the Raleigh/Durham area, but I’m looking forward to it, even if only for a quick in and out visit.

Book of Beasts UK cover 21570450

What is the US release date for Book of Beasts?

JB: Simon and Schuster will release the third book in our trilogy next year some time. Perhaps later in the summer. We don’t have an official date yet. The cover is amazing, though. Read the rest of this entry »


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