Category Archives: Ali House

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I didn’t write The Six Elemental with any sequels in mind. It sounds crazy to me now – that I put all this effort into creating a future world with a detailed history and never thought of another story for it (“Twenty-One”, in Sci-Fi From the Rock, was adapted from a scene that got cut early on). But, to be fair, I had doubts that I would ever finish this novel – I mean, I’d worked on it for over a decade – so the thought of writing a second was crazy.

But, on the other hand, I’d created an entire future world! Was I ready to just let it go? Surely there’s at least one more tale in there that wants to be told…

For a while I wondered if there was another story to tell… Was there something I had missed?

Then I realized that there was a secret I’d placed in The Six Elemental that I never told the reader. It’s not an obvious secret – it’s more of a secret in the personal history of one character, which explains some of their actions – but it’s there. Continue reading Press ‘Enter’ to Continue…

Gettin’ in the Mood (for Writing)

I find it easiest to write when I’m inspired or when I’m bored. If I’ve thought of a really cool/interesting scene, then I have to write it as soon as possible or I risk forgetting about it. If I’m bored, then my brain goes into thought-overdrive and comes up with a bunch of scenes and ideas, and since I have nothing better to do, I might as well write them down.

But what about when I’m not inspired or bored? What about when I need to write something, but the words just aren’t coming? How do I make myself write? What’s my secret?

Most of the time: music. Continue reading Gettin’ in the Mood (for Writing)

‘The Six Elemental’ author Ali House returns for Fantasy from the Rock!

the-six-elemental_fireworksAli House, whose first novel The Six Elemental started Engen’s spectacular tenth year anniversary in October 2016, is returning to the From the Rock collection series in Fantasy from the Rock with two all-new short stories, “The Invisible Boy” and “Honor.”

Ali’s 2016 collection entry, “Twenty-One” was heralded as one of the gems of the collection and led to a novel based on the concept and characters later that same year.

“Some good Young Adult fiction is set up here, with something that pulls at my personal heartstrings. [The Six Elemental] is another book I must pick up when it comes out.” — Sam Bauer, author of ‘The Locket.’ Continue reading ‘The Six Elemental’ author Ali House returns for Fantasy from the Rock!

One Draft, Two Draft, Red Draft, Blue Draft

Sometimes you’re going to write something and right from the start it’s going to be amazing!  Other times you’re going to write something which will require a surprising amount of time and effort in order to make it readable.

Life is about balance, I guess.

My first draft for The Six Elemental clocked in at 118,000 words.  For someone who used to have trouble writing anything longer than 5,000 words, that’s a BIG accomplishment and well worth a pat on the back. Unfortunately, it still needed work.

The second draft was about the same length.  I added a few things, but I also got rid of these made-up quotes I’d put before each chapter.  The quote idea fizzled out two-thirds of the way through the novel anyway, and since I couldn’t keep it going I figured that I might as well get rid of it.

The third draft was when I decided to create a major secret, which would only be revealed when it was most shocking!

The fourth draft was where I got rid of the major secret idea, because it wasn’t working out AT ALL*.

Advice from a beta-reader led to the fifth draft, which is when things really started working out.  The story got more focused and the pacing picked up.  I also cut a lot of stuff.  Two main characters got cut entirely, and at least two minor characters.  Another minor character turned into to a one-line mention.  I lost some stuff that I liked, but as William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

I must have taken that advice to heart, because The Six Elemental currently clocks in at approximately 78,000 words – 40,000 words fewer than the first draft.

Sometimes, though, when you’re making a lot of cuts, it can be hard to know when to stop.  At one point I was ready to cut an entire page worth of stuff, but when I ran the idea past my editor she told me that I should leave it in, and gave me a bunch of reasons why it worked (thanks again, Erin!).

Never underestimate the value of an opinion from someone who doesn’t reside inside your brain.

Another difficult part of editing is accepting the changes to your story.  In the original there was a character who died half-way through the novel, but during the re-writes that character ended up living. I literally spent a week trying to figure out if there was some new way to kill them so that I could bring balance between the two drafts. However, I didn’t want to go all Joss Whedon on the character, so when I couldn’t make the death work I had to accept that the world had changed and abandon the idea.

But just you wait until next time, character.

Just you wait…

___

*Sometimes you’ve got to write a lot of wrong to figure out what’s right.

Engen asks: What bookish things would you like left under the tree this year? | Top Ten Tuesday


Ali House: A native Newfoundlander, Alison is a graduate of the Fine Arts program at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College currently residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her first novel, The Six Elemental, was released in October 2016. She has also written for the anthology collections Bluenose Paradox and Sci-Fi from the Rock.

Whitecoat: The Champions of 1940 by Kenneth Tam. I read the Prologue in Sci-Fi from the Rock in 2016 & have wanted to read this book since then.”

Continue reading Engen asks: What bookish things would you like left under the tree this year? | Top Ten Tuesday

WorldBuilding Step #2: Create Life!

For some stories you’re going to spend a TON of time doing research and answering questions that seem less important than your plot: and sometimes not a single bit of that information is going to make it into the final draft. But doing the research is helpful. It can ground your idea, make you sure of your choices, and give you confidence to move forward with a strange concept.

Or, if you’re like me, you find research fun, and eventually have to remind yourself that you need to stop researching and actually write the story.

For my characters’ powers, I’d originally planned on five Elements : Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spark (later renamed Electricity). I wanted the first four because I’m super original, and also because they’re literally the four elements of western culture. I included Spark because – if Dr. Frankenstein taught me anything – it’s that you need a ‘spark’ to create life.

Then I started wondering how my characters would get these powers. Mutation? Gamma radiation? Mutant insect bite? Could there be a mutant beaver* biting people, giving them the power of water? And if so, what kind of animal would give fire? Fire ants? Fireflies? Dragons?

Continue reading WorldBuilding Step #2: Create Life!

Engen asks: What books are you most looking forward to in the first half of 2017? | Top Ten Tuesday


Ali House The Six Elemental authorAli House: A native Newfoundlander, Alison is a graduate of the Fine Arts program at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College currently residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her first novel, The Six Elemental, was released in October 2016.

Fantasy from the Rock, of course. Also, The Wicked + The Divine: Volume 5 by Kieron Gillen.  This series has a terrific concept, & I never know what they’re going to do.


Amanda LabonteAmanda Labonté: As the co-owner of an educational business and mother of two she spends much of her day with kids of all ages. They give her some of the best reading recommendations. Her first novel, Call of the Sea, was published in 2015 with sequels scheduled for 2018 and 2019 through Engen Books.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. The next book in the Dark Artifices series. What can I say? It’s addictive.”


Ellen CurtisEllen Curtis: a writer and web TV personality born and raised in St. Johns, Newfoundland; whose aptitude for the written word began at a young age, when she began writing short stories, poetry, lyrics and novellas. She writes the Infinity series and edits the From the Rock series for Engen Books.

Fantasy from the Rock. I love working with all these different authors and everything coming together in such a special way. We’ve got some great stuff lined up this year.”


Matthew LeDrewMatthew LeDrew: Matthew holds an Honours Degree in English from the Memorial University of Newfoundland with a minor in Anthropology and studied Journalism at College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville, Newfoundland. He has written sixteen novels for Engen Books.

“I’m looking forward to King’s Cage from Victoria Aveyard, the newest in her Red Queen series. The End of Oz by Danielle Paige also looks interesting, and the next volume of The Vision by Tom King. If you aren’t reading Vision, you’re missing out on something really special.”


paul-pic

Paul Carberry: currently works as a pharmacy assistant and will soon be enrolled in the Reserves with the Canadian Armed Forces. He is currently living in his hometown of Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, with his wife, Leah. His first novel, Zombies on the Rock, was released in 2015.

I know they’re not novels but the next 12 Walking Dead comics! The comics are better than the show

That’s okay Paul! Half the Engen Authors picked comics! 🙂