Category Archives: Ali House

Cupcakes and Weaponry

A couple of days ago was my “Meet Your Fantasy From the Rock” entry.  It included some answers that I didn’t bother to elaborate on – although do you really need me to tell you why ‘defenestrate’ is such an awesome word?  (Matthew Daniels knows what I’m talking about.)

There are another couple other things about me that I’ll share today: I like weapons and I like baking.

Swords are my favourite, and I actually have a few of my own.  Vaughn uses a sword in The Six Elemental, and there’s a sword-wielding character in Honour (found in Fantasy From the Rock).  I like swords so much that while writing a story about modern-day assassins I decided to have a character who uses a sword (even though it’s not practical at all).  Honestly, I’d find a way to put swords into a romance novel if I could. Continue reading Cupcakes and Weaponry

Meet your Fantasy from the Rock team: Ali House

promo_cover7_webWe spent most of January announcing our Fantasy from the Rock all-star lineup, but without actually reading the stories (and you can’t, not until April 27th!) it’s hard to get to know the authors that are helping make up this epic collection. With that in mind, here’s a little bit about Ali House, who first penned for Sci-Fi from the Rock and has proven herself a formidable force in the indie short fiction scene.  She returns this year with her short story: Honour and The Invisible Boy.

A native Newfoundlander, Alison is a graduate of the Fine Arts program at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College (MUN). She currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she works in arts administration and spends more time than a person should in and around theaters. Continue reading Meet your Fantasy from the Rock team: Ali House

Press ‘Enter’ to Continue…

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


Whitecoat, Kenneth Tam, Other IndieAli 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