“So, What’s Your Book About?” | House Blog

I went to a party a few weeks ago. It was a surprise party for someone’s birthday, but it was three weeks after their actual birthday, which meant it was really a surprise. It was also the type of party where I knew most, but not all of the people there, so throughout the night many an introduction was made.

I’m generally awkward when meeting new people (I’m terrible with faces and names), but for some reason the thing that threw me the most was being introduced as “This is Ali, she’s got a novel coming out.” Why would that throw me? Well, after someone says a thing like that, a polite response would be: “So, what’s your book about?”


Well… it’s a continuation of my first book, which is set in a future where the Earth’s been mostly destroyed – oh, and all the humans are dead, but there are humanoid beings called Elementals who can have power over one of six elements due to their EDNA make-up…”

Well… it’s a continuation of my first book, but you don’t necessarily have to read the first one – but you can if you want to…”

Well… I don’t want to call it a ‘Chosen One’ narrative…, but it’s kind of that, but times two, ’cause there are these two characters…”

Well… it’s about Kendra, who finds out that she’s got a great destiny, but then there’s another person, Kit, who’s also got a destiny, but her story was the plot of book one…”

So, yeah. That was the night I realized that I wasn’t very good at describing my own book. Sure, I’d written a blurb for the back of the book, I’d managed to write a few lines for a teaser, and yet when asked to tell someone about the story face-to-face, my mind went urgleblargh

Thinking back, it makes sense to me that my brain would suddenly glitch, considering how much of that world resides inside it. When asked about my novel, I find it difficult to focus – do I set up the world? Do I set up the mythology? What about the 99 years of unrest? How much information did I need to give to properly explain the story? I was so preoccupied by the forest that I couldn’t see the trees.

After that party, I made it my goal – nay, my MISSION – to learn how to talk about my books without getting tripped over my own thoughts. It was time to stop being bogged down by details! All I needed to do was hook them with the plot – the actual book would fill in the rest! I merely needed to speak such eloquent and enticing words that anyone who heard them would rush out and buy a copy immediately! (Or, at least they’d hopefully be interested.)

And even if I didn’t come up with a speech of impressive grandeur, it would at least be leaps and bounds better than ‘urgleblargh‘.



What did I finally come up with?:  “Well, it’s sci-fi/fantasy, set in the distant future, and it’s about a young woman, Kendra, who learns that she has a notorious lineage. She’s expected to keep up the family ambitions, but as she learns more about her world she comes to realize that in order to succeed sometimes you have to walk your own path.”

(and if that got you interested, you can buy the ebook HERE!)

Heartstrings | Kit Sora’s Storytime

STORYTIME!! This particular shoot I actually managed to plan this one in advance!

We were inside of Montana’s having a lovely feed with our darling Louisa, watching the daylight fade away. The plan was to wait until the sun was close to setting, but food was too good to pass up! We all rushed home with out bellies full, and dove into photo mode!

This shot was actually taken in our tiny downtown back yard, in front of our 3+ story high tree! I’m sat on an old pair of pants because night ground can be scary, and holding a heart covered in flowers, attached to a green vine which was super glued to a scar that was spirit gummed to by chest, the process began. Continue reading Heartstrings | Kit Sora’s Storytime

Watch Your Reviews | Writing & Publishing Advice with Engen Founder Matthew LeDrew

It’s been a long time since I wrote an ongoing series of articles on this, or any other, website. That’s weighed on me. Since graduating I miss the exercise of penning essays. I’ve even encouraged my fellow Engen authors to write ongoing writing blogs (namely Ali House, Brad Dunne, Kit Sora, and Jon Dobbin, all of whom you should check out). But I never have myself. Writing advice is one thing, all our authors can offer that… but publishing advice? Marketing advice? Social Media advice… that comes with a different set of expectations, and a lot of hurt feelings.

Part of my anxiety around this has become the subject of today’s piece, because I want to address the evident hypocrisy in it right off the bat.

Today’s advice is: don’t post negative reviews, especially of authors at (or near) your current level of notoriety. Continue reading Watch Your Reviews | Writing & Publishing Advice with Engen Founder Matthew LeDrew

Winner: “Sent by the WiseWoman” by Lynne Sargent | Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest

After much deliberation, Engen Books is proud to announce the winner of the January 31 2019 Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest: Lynne Sargent with her story, Sent by the WiseWoman!

Lynne Sargent was born in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. She has previously published works in venues such as Strange Horizons, Wild Musette, and Truancy. She was a 2018 Rhysling and 2018 Aurora Award Nominee. A complete list of publications can be found at this link: https://scribbledshadows.wordpress.com/ Continue reading Winner: “Sent by the WiseWoman” by Lynne Sargent | Kit Sora Flash Fiction Photography Contest

What If? Do the Mash, do the Genre Mash | Jon Dobbin’s Blog

Listen, okay, writing isn’t easy. Right now, I’m sitting in an uncomfortable chair, balancing a laptop and generous sized tea all the while trying to churn out words that make some semblance of sense. Not easy. Sometimes I feel like Tobey Maguire in that scene from Spider-Man when he grabbed all of MJ’s lunch on the tray before it splattered to the cafeteria floor (not CGI or special effects by the way. Tobey Maguire is just really method). As I was saying, writing isn’t easy. Perhaps the hardest part of writing, besides balancing laptops and hot beverages, is coming up with original ideas, because… there are none. Not really, not anymore. Don’t lose hope though, you’re ideas are still valid, they still work. You are still a writer. It just takes a little tweaking. Every writer has their own way of doing this, and I’m going to tell you about mine.

Ask yourself: What if? That’s it. Simple. Continue reading What If? Do the Mash, do the Genre Mash | Jon Dobbin’s Blog

Write What You Know: A case study of Tom Clancy | Dunne Blog

One of the most confounding pieces of writing advice that gets thrown around haphazardly is “write what you know.” On the surface it makes sense: draw from personal experience so that your familiarity with the material lends a sense of authenticity and verisimilitude. However, when you think about it a little, it would seem to preclude a vast amount of possible stories. If you’re supposed to “write what you know” then how are you supposed to write fantasy, sci-fi, or even historical fiction. Moreover, many of those genre writers seem to do just fine without having personally experienced their own settings; Tolkien never set foot in Middle Earth.

I still think that “write what you know” has some currency, but we’ll have to dig into it a little bit to unpack its value. Continue reading Write What You Know: A case study of Tom Clancy | Dunne Blog

The Stories That Didn’t Make It | House Blog

Whenever a submission call crosses my path, I usually end up with multiple story ideas. This is a good thing, because while some of these ideas work out and get developed into fully-written short stories, others aren’t so lucky.

For Chillers From the Rock, I was about ¾ of the way through a story about a writer selling their soul to the devil, when I realized that I didn’t like it very much and abandoned it. Shortly after that, I had the ideas for The Taste of Copper, based on a story my grandmother told me about living in a remote town in Northern Newfoundland, and The Deal, which came about because I was trying to think of scary concepts and came up with ‘trees’ (so spoooooky!).

My first idea for Flights From the Rock fizzled out after 1.5 pages. I put a lot of work into those pages, but I just wasn’t getting the story I wanted. Even after spending months thinking about it, it wasn’t clear enough. So, I decided to give up and concentrate on a different story.

There are a lot of unfinished stories on my hard-drive. And I mean, A LOT. Continue reading The Stories That Didn’t Make It | House Blog