I met Lorina Stephens a few years ago, back when she was the driving force behind Five River’s Publishing, one of the most dynamic of the Canadian small presses. On top of that, she’s a freelance journalist for national and regional print media, been a festival organizer, publicist, lecturer on many historical topics from textiles to domestic technologies, teaches, and and artist. I’ve always been impressed by her razor sharp mind, her sharp wit, keen judgment and the fundamental human decency which has shaped her outlook. So of course, I was thrilled to discover that she’s a talented and delightful writer of books and stories as well. Her novels include Shadow Song (2008), From Mountains of Ice (2009), Caliban (2018) and The Rose Guardian (2019). I am honoured and thrilled to be able to have her as a guest on my blog to celebrate her second collection of short stories, Dreams of the Moon.
The last collection of short stories I published was in 2008. It’s an eclectic mix which I entitled And the Angels Sang, named for the lead story. To my delight, it’s met with quite a bit of positive reaction from both readers and reviewers.
In the ensuing years, I’ve crafted a number of other short stories in between operating a publishing house and all the demands of being an administrator in our other business, one which pays the bills. A lot has happened during that time: our son married his life-buddy, three major surgeries, a failed attempt at elder care, renovating this old stone house which was built c1847, and as I write this, into the second year of a global pandemic.
And somewhere in all that still writing, still exploring ideas and what-ifs. I do have to admit a reluctance to writing short fiction. The literary form seems so restrictive to me, perhaps more having to do with the fact I have too much to say and want to make an epic out of everything. But short story writing is good discipline.
Having said that, I’m giving you 10 short works of fiction in this collection, spanning the boundaries of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magic realism and absurd fantastica. Apparently, I don’t much like writing in just one genre, either. Creative fences drive me batshit crazy, although I do very much appreciate fences around this sanctuary we are privileged to call home. But there is a theme to this collection, a common thread I think you will find through all the stories. What it is, I will leave up to you to decipher, and thus we will have a silent communication.
Mostly this is a writing blog. But occasionally I write about other things. It seems to me that if I’ve got this plaform and I’m paying for it, I should get to have a few opinions. Today’s opinion is about John Carpay, a disgrace to the practice of law.
Why do I feel the need to call out a second rate Alberta lawyer who I’ve never met?
Well, I’ll tell you. Every writer needs a day job. I’m a lawyer. And I’m not going to be flippant here. I believe in it. I believe in something called Justice. In law school, my fellow students laughed at me, but I was a believe. I believed in the social contract, I believed in our innate duty to be decent, to be moral to each other. I believed that the practice of lawyer was to implement and negotiate that social contract, to help people in need, to help build a better world. It mattered to me. When I became a lawyer, I wore the robes, and I signed my name into the rolls. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, I became an officer of the court. And I believed that this was a noble and honourable calling, that carried with it a duty of integrity and ethics. It has been touchstone of my life.
Every now and then, I run across lawyers who basically wipe their ass on the profession, Dangerfield, a prosecutor who abused his power, Shead a commercial lawyer who helped swindle innocent people. These people offend me. They’re not just bad, they’ve sodomized the integrity of a calling, a cause, a profession I’ve given my life to. They’re abominations to me.
So what did John Carpay do?
Hi, just a quick note, I will be program participant, panelists, something at the Alberta Writers and Readers Festival, When Words Collide.
I’m doing Writing Alternate Histories, with Celeste Peters, R.J.M. Dawson and M.E. Powell, at 3:00 pm, on Friday, August 13, 2021. This year the Festival is a free online event.
The Festival is huge running from Thursday, August 12 through to Sunday, August 15, 2021. It’s an annual thing. Usually its held live in person, and it gets pretty booked up. Having it online and free means it’s open to everyone.
This is amazing. 12 tracks of programming going on each hour. That’s 240 programming events, plus interactive stuff, pitch sessions, blue pencil sessions, workshops, you name it. And it’s FREE. So register and join.
And in the future, if you’re a writer or reader that plans to find themselves in Calgary in August… make plans to check it out.
And if you’re already attending, check out my panel! As to Alternate History, I figure I’m qualified, between Axis of Andes, Bear Cavalry, Dawn of Cthulhu, The New Doctor and the Fall of Atlantis.
Well, my two book series, Axis of Andes and New World War is out in the world, and astonishingly, it’s selling like hotcakes. And I’m getting reviews. So in the vein of shameless self promotion, I just want to share some of them, starting with this gem:
Wow. Been a while since I posted. Luckily no one is reading, so the heat is off. It’s been a busy month.
First up – I’ve completed two writing workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild. The first one was Writing Compelling Characters in June. That was a tough one, I’d done a version of this workshop for Keycon but it had gone fairly disastrously. This really did feel like working without a net, but it went really well. Subsequently, in July, I did a three hour special – Copyright/Publishng Contracts Feedback was extremely positive. I donated my fees for these workshops back to the Manitoba Writers Guild, and the workshops have been recorded for future use.
Currently, I’ve jumped head first into the search for a Literary Agent. This took a week of preparation, working on query letters, synopsis of different lengths, getting the writing samples together. This weekend, I took the plunge. Let’s see how it works out this time.
The big news is NEW WORLD WAR sequel to AXIS OF ANDES! Yes, we have the continuation and conclusion of the epic saga of WW2 in South America. The multi-front war between Ecuador, Chile and Peru, slowly but relentlessly spills over into almost every country in South America. The jungle war rages and turns into Indian Revolts, Bolivia falls into Civil war. Argentina and Colombia meddle and waiting in the wings a hidden power waits to make itself known
I’m thrilled with the way it’s all turned out and come together…
Onto the next project. I’ve got a couple of novels to finish writing, a bunch of short stories to write, two more collections of stories to upload, a vampire novel to release, and a third Who-book. And I’m sure I’m missing a few things… Oh yeah, seriously update the website.
Hey everyone! Axis of Andes made the list. We’re on “Hot New Releases in Alternate History Science Fiction”
More seriously? Yeah, #55 on the second page. Big whoop. Also note the rather narrow subject matter – a subgenre of a subgenre of speculative fiction
I promise you, it’s not going to my head.
On the other hand, I’ve actually sold a few books, and I’ve got a really good review. And filling out the list are powerhouse writers like Charles Stross, William Deitz, Ken Follet, S.M. Stirling. And most of the books on the list are from the big six majors, or the medium level second tier publishers. And the list goes to a hundred books and I’m nowhere near the bottom. So, it’s not bad..
So in the big scheme of things, maybe it’s not much ado. But it’s something, and it’s kind of nice. So I’m happy.
This is what being a writer is – mostly, you get rejected, or simply ignored, your effort to make a mark goes unremarked. And every now and then, you get a few crumbs like that. You learn to appreciate them. And maybe make them last.
Well, there it went. The first and hopefully the last Online Keycon was held over the May long weekend. How was it? A bit wobbly here and there, but on the whole, it worked out just fine.
I think people don’t really realize how demanding a Convention is, and how much work and dedication goes into running it. The people who work on and volunteer for these conventions are really a breed apart, they put a lot of time and energy into it. You have to acknowledge that.
This was a pretty unusual Keycon, due to the Coronaclypse. Last year, Keycon cancelled entirely, hit full bore only two months into the Coronaclypse, and amid a provincial shutdown. There was no way it could go on.
As people adapted to the Coronaclypse, we saw the rise of online Cons, E-Cons including When Words Collide in July, and World Fantasy Convention in October. Unfortunately, Keycon was too early into the pandemic to make that jump. There just wasn’t enough time to revamp and reformat the entire Con, and the list of precedents and innovations that allowed for E-Cons wasn’t there yet. Still, the Keycon organizers set about planning for the next convention in 2021, and they kept their eyes and ears open, learning the ins and outs of E-cons, just in case.
I think by March or April, they’d figured out that things weren’t going to be opening up, and they were able to switch gears and reformat their convention. The revamped online Keycon E-con, or as I like to call it kEycon would be free to anyone who signed up, and considerable thought and effort went into adapting the normal activities of a convention – panels, hospitality rooms, social events, etc., into an online format.
Just a quick update on the writing front.
Last Saturday, I did a World Building Workshop for the Manitoba Writers Guild. Thousands of words of sample world building, tons of reference materials, books, youtube videos, TV-tropes, etc. We got a half dozen attendees, and it went really well, a hard core, pedal to the metal introduction to an interesting area of writing.
This Weekend, I’m doing panels at Keycon. This year, due to the Coronaclypse, Keycon is an online convention. I’m not sure about my panels. So far, I think I’m on, or going to be on….
- Pantsing, Plotting and Quilting – different approaches to writing a novel. There’s a whole bunch of us – Chadwick Gunther, Ron Hore, Susan Forest, Reed Alexander, going an hour and a half from 5:30 to 7:00 on Saturday.
- Creating Deep Characters – pretty self explanatory, I hope. Me and Casia Schreyer so far, one hour, 11:00 to 12:00 on Sunday.
- Worldbuilding – again, with Catherine Fitzimmons, I’m going to sneak onto that one. One hour, 7:00 to 8:00 on Sunday
By the way, go see Keycon’s Website at …. http://www.keycon.org/38/#sched They’d love to have you drop by. Membership is free!
One of the nice things about doing convention panels is the chance to meet and kick back with other writers, talk about writing and share the space. Less pressure, more engagement. And if you’ve got someone on a panel with you, that guarantees there will be at least one other person attending. 😉
Apart from that, following up on the book covers for Aliens and Elves and Axis of Andes. I’ve submitted a raft of short stories to Analog, Asimov’s and Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.
And I’m working on a query letter and synopsis for my next stab to searching for an Agent. Last year, I sent out 30 queries for one book, and 10 for second. No joy in mudville. This year, I’m going to try and break 100 and 50.
And geez, I need to sign up for When Words Collide, and maybe try and get on some panels. Get ready for the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal in August. Oh and there’s more workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild. Apart from that, I still have to work on learning marketing and promotions, there’s books to edit and release.
I dunno. Shouldn’t being a writer involve actually writing something. All this other stuff is starting to feel like work. 😉
Axis of Andes, an alternative history of World War II in South America will be released in May, 2021
And I have a book cover! Check it out. Nifty, eh. It’s a little busy, but it’s patterned on the style of history texts. So there’s a dominant image of South America at War, with Soldiers trudging along the bottom, and a collage of war images in right and left hand columns. I’m pretty happy with it. I might ask for a tweak here and there.
In other news, Axis of Andes has been broken into two books – Part 1 and Part 2. Simple reason, it was simply too massive for one volume.
The book opens in 1937, as a delegation from Peru meets with Hitler and his cabinet in Berlin, looking for his assistance. From there, the narrative winds back and forth through the history of the region, through the societies and economies of the various nations, as events set nations on a path to war.
Inspired by an actual war between Peru and Ecuador that lasted less than a month in the 1940’s, this new version of history has this war gaining momentum and force, until literally every country in South America is dragged into the conflict and a continent is in flames.
Part One features the origins and early phases of the conflict to the point where the three countries of the Andes – Ecuador, Peru and Chile are locked in a ferocious death struggle.
Part Two sees the conflict escalate steadily engulfing one country after the other, extending from Bolivia and Argentina, to Colombia and the rain forests of Brazil.