Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Release: Death Comes in Bone by C.M. Simpson

Death Comes in Bone has just been released to Amazon, Smashwords, OmniLit, Kobo and Drivethrufiction. Of these, Smashwords and OmniLit are now live; the others will follow over the next few days.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Carlie Simonsen on Writing for the Youngers

Carlie Simonsen originally wrote this piece for the Dark Side Down Under website, six months ago, and we’ve asked her to repeat it here. Carlie writes mostly speculative and paranormal fiction for Younger readers, and very rarely hint at romance. She also writes science fiction (Dear Tiger, Rocky to the Rescue), fantasy (Assassin, Not), contemporary ‘reality’ with a twist (Long Hair, Tag Man One, The Dog’s Way), science-fiction-fantasy blends (Spit), and contemporary reality with no twist (Legacy of Dreams, All Alone).

Take it away, Carlie:


Thank you, Publisher dear. Well, people ask me why I write for a younger audience, and what they need to do in order to write successfully for that age group. Over the years, I’ve come up with the following tips, or rules:

The first rule is DON’T WRITE DOWN: No one likes being talked down to, or having it all explained as if they are too stupid to work it out for themselves. Just write the story. Write to entertain. Youngers are *young*; they’re not morons, and they’re far from stupid. Don’t treat them as either.

Secondly: LEAVE OUT THE LECTURE: A story should never be a lecture. Sure, you might have some points you want to get across, but you’re a story teller first, and, for that, the story MUST come first. You’re not there to preach, or ram a few good points down anyone’s throat. You’re there to tell a story. The hardest hurdle to get over when I started in this genre was to get my head around this simple point. Editors wanted stories ‘with meaning’, stories that ‘had a moral’ or ‘a point’, or they wanted it to be wrapped in humour, or ‘e: all of the above’. Forget that. Write the story. If Youngers are your audience, then write a story they’ll enjoy, just the same as you would, if you were writing a story for an adult audience.

Third: FORGET THE MARKET: Think of the story you want to write and the audience you want to write it for. Some might think that a story that doesn’t ‘fit’ a market isn’t worth writing, or that the audience *is* the market, but this isn’t the case. What a publisher asks for isn’t necessarily what the audience wants to read. The story is king, and, as with every other genre, you can stifle it by trying to make it fit into a box (or set of guidelines) it was never made to go in. Worse, it can make it very difficult to write anything. Remember, you can independently publish. If a publisher doesn’t want to take a chance on your work because the content doesn’t match their perception of the market OR because your work simply doesn’t suit the style and flavour of the lines they have established, don’t try to jam your story into a shape it was never meant to be. Chances are it won’t be worth reading, or it will come across as forced.

Fourth: KEEP IT SIMPLE: And I don’t mean the story; I mean the sentence structure and words. Remember, Youngers don’t have the word experience of an adult (although a few would give the “grown-ups” a run for their money). In terms of writing for Youngers this means keeping the following in mind:

  • The nuts and bolts of your work need to have a simple but clear structure.
  • Shorter sentences work best, but varying the length of sentences is still important for a smooth flow.
  • Use words that don’t require a PhD to understand (another good rule that applies to books for Olders).

·         Use words Youngers are likely to encounter in everyday life, over words they’re going to need a dictionary or an Older for. Every time your reader has to stop and check something out, they are pulled out of your story. You don’t want this, no matter what age you write for.

Fifth: SUBJECT SUITABILITY: Yes, I know I said the story is king, but you are writing for Youngers. Some stories are best told to an older age group. If you wouldn’t talk about it to your own children, or you wouldn’t feel comfortable reading it out loud to a Younger audience with an adult (teacher, parent, person off the street) looking over your shoulder, then you might want to re-think who you are writing for: perhaps, that story is not a Younger tale, but something for the Olders. Having said all that, you can see that some of the subjects I write about touch on “issues” such as being in a wheelchair and losing your original hopes and dreams (Legacy of Dreams), being away from your parents and not fitting in (Dear Tiger), and some are mostly story with only a little bit of controversy, such as law enforcement and gun control in a semi-war setting (Spit), or facing down fear to save your family and move house (Rocky to the Rescue).

Sixth: RELINQUISH REALITY: Okay, not all of reality, just a little bit—just enough for your story to live and breathe. It’s like writing a story where the world isn’t quite what it seems, where the unlikely *can* reasonably happen. For instance, where you can use your hair as an effective weapon in karate (Long Hair), or a Younger can climb into the cockpit of the latest fighter jet and fly it away from a bunch of bad guys trying to steal it (TagMan One). You’re telling a story. Always remember that.


Now get out there and write.

And all the best of luck

  More About Carlie Simonsen:

Carlie Simonsen has independently published twelve chapter books for Youngers, and is working on her thirteenth. She started writing in the genre in response to a number of publisher calls for submissions. Unfortunately, she soon learned she couldn’t write ‘funny’ to save herself, and took the hint from a few good-hearted editors that her work just wasn’t going to ‘fit’ an established market, although they encouraged her to keep trying. The result is a number of quirky stories that entertain while touching on issues such as children left alone after a supermarket bombing (AllAlone), bullying in—and out of—the playground (The Dog’s Way and Yard Boss—both soon to be released), pursuing the most unlikely dreams through hard work and effort (Long Hair), and doing the right thing even when it means change (Assassin, Not).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Pages: The Reptiles' Blade by C.M. Simpson

The Reptiles’ Blade is a science fiction novella about a retired military member, a lizardine warrior-come-“diplomat” and some high-level negotiation that very nearly goes astray before it even gets started.

When Felicity Shannara Jones is ordered by her command to infiltrate a criminal organization using humanitarian aid as a front, she isn’t sure she’s the right girl for the job, but then she finds Mika, second planetary adviser to humanity’s current foe, and she knows things just got serious. When Mika escapes custody, things go from serious to dire in one jet-propelled moment and Felicity, with her history in the lizardine war, finds herself in the firing line once more.

The Reptiles’ Blade is available from Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Omnilit, DriveThruFiction and iTunes.

First Page: The Reptiles' Blade

Felicity Shannara Jones, Captain Jones to most who knew her, Felix to her friends, Jay to Manx Carlisle who followed her up the steps from the car.
“You could drop the uniform, you know,” he said. “After all, you don’t wear one anymore.”
“Can it, Carlisle.”
“And I know you’re pissed when you go formal on me.”
“You have no idea.”
Carlisle placed a hand on her forearm. It was just a touch, firm, a warning. Felix stopped half way up the stairs, let him partially block her path and catch her eye.
“Take a breath, Jay. They are the dumbest damned civilians we’ve yet come across, but they are holding all the cards.”
It took an effort, but Felix managed to halt the epithet before it crossed her tongue. This was what they paid him for. This was why she had kept him around, long after she had given most of her other PAs the can. Carlisle knew the playing field, and knew her well enough to warn her when she was letting too much of her inner self show—and, tonight, she had to present a cool, collected fa├žade. The institute they were visiting was holding someone she dearly wanted to meet. If they caught a whiff of who she really was and what she was doing here, she’d be out on her ear before she could see him.
She laid a hand over the top of Carlisle’s fingers, acknowledging his assistance. Turning her head so she could meet his eyes, she took two deep breaths, careful to stay aware of her surroundings even as she lost herself in the color of his eyes. Blue and green swirled together to remind her of the oceans of Aquapearl.
Aquapearl. Not all of her memories of that distant world were so peaceful. In fact, most of them were highly disturbing. She had been a killer then, worn a uniform, led a squad against one of the most cunning and adept enemies humanity had ever had the misfortune of irritating. Attempting to claim someone else’s planet tended to have that effect on the inhabitants. The oceans, though.
She had been given time to heal beside one, and had learned to associate the uniquely colored water with security—and then they had whisked her out of the war zone and slotted her with an advisory position. It was too dangerous to send her back to fight; she’d draw too much attention to any unit to which she was attached.
Felix had learned a lot about the politics behind the conflict, since then, was active in trying to find a way to peace that would let both sides retire with grace. Or, at least, with their economies intact. The lizardine warrior being held was probably the emissary they had been waiting for, and that was going to put a big hole in their hopes for an equitable ending.


If you would like to read more, The Reptiles’ Blade is available from Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Omnilit, DriveThruFiction and iTunes.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New Cover: Death comes in Bone by C.M. Simpson

Today we received the cover design for Death Comes in Bone. Here's how it turned out:

We'll release this short story about a skeletal assassin within the next couple of weeks.