Category Archives: Sci-Fi from the Rock

The End is Near! Sort-Of…

At one of the panels for Avalon Expo, someone asked “How do you know when to end a story?”

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I’ve had time to think about it and I thought I’d share some of my current musings. This is especially relevant since the big project I’m working on has spun so far out of control that I have no idea how it’s going to end…  Or if

Honestly, this advice is for me as much as you.

*

So, how do I know when to end a story?

Short answer: Mostly intuition.

Long answer: There are a few ways…

  1. I’ve written the ending first.

Usually I know the end before I even start writing. Most of my short stories start out with that final moment, and then I just have to figure out what happens to bring me to that point.  It happened with The Gemini ProjectThe Invisible Boy; and the two horror stories I’m currently working on.

There were a few times where, when I got to the end of a longer story, I realized that the original idea no longer fit and it was going towards a new ending. But that’s not a bad thing – stories change, it happens. Sometimes you plan on killing all of your characters but a few of them end up surviving somehow. But then you write the final line (for the new ending) and you think to yourself “Yeah, that’s a fantastic ending line”. And all is right with the world again.

  1. I’ve written a really good end-line.

I love a good ending line as much as I love a good opening line. In fact, if I write a so-so ending line it bothers me to no end, because I know it can be better. It’s like looking at a row of pencils that aren’t quite perfectly in line….

Some examples are: Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse: “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” And George Orwell’s 1984:He loved Big Brother.” There’s something about those lines that are so final and yet mean so much more.

  1. The story I wanted to tell is over.

Once I wanted a project to have 25 chapters (for symbolic purposes), but when I reached the end of chapter 22 I realized that I was done. My character’s journey had ended. I’d said all I wanted to say about this particular story, and to write any more would do a disservice to the fantastic ending scene I’d just written. Yes, I wanted to continue with these characters, but I knew that it would be best to start a new plot, with new themes and ideas, instead of dragging this one out.

The Hobbit ends when Bilbo returns home; The Fellowship of the Rings ends with the breaking of the fellowship; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ends when Harry’s school term ends.  Even though their stories continue, their current task has ended and it’s time to take a breather before the next adventure.

*

Typically, when I plan my ending, I try to resolve matters – either for better or worse. I don’t like leaving huge plot holes or dangling plot threads. It’s fun to have hints and intrigue and something to look forward to, but I’m not happy when the ending to a book is more like the ending to a chapter (yes, there’s a difference – As Fierce As Steel left me wanting more, while Mindspeak made me regret the time I’d spent reading it).

When in doubt, I think of who’s journey this is. Then I try to find a way to bring them to the end point – to let the character finally achieve their goal, or fail horribly, or realize that they need to change their way of thinking.

Originally, I had no idea how to end The Six Elemental. I tried to resolve what I could, while leaving certain things unsaid, but the end just didn’t feel end-y enough.  Finally I thought about Kit’s journey and how she had changed over the course of the story.  I thought about what I was trying to say with this story and made that the ending, so when people close the book that’s the impression they’re left with.

*

And with that, I return once more into the void from which I came…

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…

Matt Daniels returns in Fantasy from the Rock!

IMG_6198
Matt Daniels (left) at the launch of Sci-Fi from the Rock

Returning to the From the Rock team is the incredibly talented Matthew Daniels, whose story Healer’s Hoards was one of the many fantasy entries in last year’s Sci-Fi from the Rock that inspired this year’s volume and alerted Engen Books to the talent for fantasy writing in this province!

“The treatment of the classic “dragon with a horde” is cool, and I enjoyed the writing style thoroughly. I hope to read more by Mr. Daniels in the future.” — Sam Bauer, author of ‘The Locket.’

Matt Daniels first caught the attention of Engen Books at the open-source book launch for Scott Bartlett’s Finished with Life But Unable to Die, where his work was noticed by senior partners Matthew LeDrew and Ellen Curtis for its vivid imagery and exceptional execution. He was asked to pen for the 2016 Sci-Fi from the Rock collection on the spot. Continue reading Matt Daniels returns in Fantasy from the Rock!

Engen Books available at Broken Books!

Sci-Fi from the Rock 2016
Sci-Fi from the Rock 2016

As a part of our buy local / support downtown initiative, Engen Books will now be available at Broken Books, the trendy coffee bar and bookshop of downtown St. John’s! Broken Books is a bookstore that offers up hand-brewed coffees and teas, baked goods, and quality books and magazines from some of the finest publishers around! Located at 183A Duckworth Street, right next to the War Memorial, it’s a perfect place downtown to chill out, grab a coffee and a snack at Fixed Coffee, and start your next favorite book. it’s open from 11am-7pm daily.

Because of limited space, Engen will be rotating the titles in stock. This month it’s this year’s surprise classic Sci-Fi from the Rock, featuring the prequel to The Six Elemental by Ali House, as well stories by Sam Bauer, Gold and Steel‘s Chris Walsh, Matthew LeDrew, Erin Vance, Jennifer Combden, renowned Canadian sci-fi legend Kenneth Tam, award-winning author Scott Bartlett, Tara Murphy, Jay Paulin, Melanie Collins, and the premiere story by both Matthew Daniels and Peter J. Foote, and much more! Not to be missed!

The collection is on sale at Broken Books now for $20, the same price as here on the Engen website and at our table! With the same amount of money you can support two great local businesses, have a great collection of new fiction, and feel good about your purchase! Pick one up today, and stay tuned to Engen Books as we announce future titles coming to Broken Books!

Just read ‘Flight from Dodge’… now what?

Sci-Fi from the Rock 2016
Sci-Fi from the Rock 2016

So you’re reading Sci-Fi from the Rock you just read Flight from Dodge, the preview to the first book in the cyberpunk satire series Out of Dodge by Scott Bartlett, and you’re wondering: what happens to Carl next? Where does the story go from here? Where can I get the rest of the series?

Fear not, “Flight from Dodge” was merely the first small snippet of a multi-volume work that will keep you interested for the foreseeable future. The first two novels in the series, Flight or Fight and Craven New World, are both available now, with more on the way!

Continue reading Just read ‘Flight from Dodge’… now what?

“‘The Six Elemental’: a compelling page-turner!” | Amanda Labonté

“In a grim future where peace can never be taken for granted, we are introduced to Kit Tyler, an ordinary young woman who receives extraordinary powers. As the possibility of war looms with ever increasing certainty, we follow Kit as she questions her new abilities and her role in the coming conflict.

Blending the worlds of science and mythology, The Six Elemental is a compelling page-turner with a heroine we can all relate to.”

Amanda Labonté, author of Call of the Sea.

Titles by Ali House

Ali House is the author of 5 works published through Engen Books.

Novels


the-six-elemental_fireworksThe Six Elemental by Ali House
Series: The Six Elemental, #1

The Pitch: In a world that has become accustomed to natural laws surrounding youths receiving power on their twenty-first birthday, Kit Tyler shatters those conventions by receiving the power of all six Elements. kit struggles to keep the nature of her newfound abilities secret as she tries to uncover the myth — and truth — behind The Six Elemental.


Short Fiction

acceptanceUnexpected Stories by Ali House & Amanda Labonté

Series: Call of the Sea #0.5, The Segment Delta Archives, #0.5

The Pitch: Five amazing short stories from the talented minds of both Amanda Labonté and Ali House, featuring daring new YA fantasy fiction, links to The Segment Delta Archives, and the enchanting world of Call of the Sea!


Sci-Fi from the Rock (2016)Sci-Fi from the Rock by Ellen Louise Curtis and Erin Vance
Series: From the Rock, #2016

The Pitch: Nineteen short stories written by an eclectic mix of some of the best science-fiction and fantasy authors in Atlantic Canada, some of them award-winning veterans and some of them new to the craft for the first time. Edited by Erin Vance and veteran science-fiction author Ellen Louise Curtis, this collection features the heartfelt, creatively charged, astonishing fiction that showcases the talent and charm Atlantic Canada has to offer. Featuring the work of Kenneth Tam, Scott Bartlett, Jay Paulin, Ali House, & many more!

Click for more information and purchase options


promo_cover7_webFantasy from the Rock by Erin Vance & Ellen Curtis
Series: From the Rock, #2017

The Pitch: Twenty-One short stories written by an eclectic mix of some of the best fantasy authors in Atlantic Canada, some of them award-winning veterans of their field and some of them new to the craft! Edited by Erin Vance and veteran science-fiction author Ellen Louise Curtis, this collection features the heartfelt, creatively charged, astonishing fiction that showcases the talent and charm Atlantic Canada has to offer. Featuring the work of Nick Morine, Christopher Walsh, Shannon Green, Heather Reilly, Ali House, Amanda Labonté, Paul Carberry & many more!

Click for more information and purchase options