Decisions Are Made By Those Who Show Up

Harry S. Truman Quote

“This administration is going to be cussed and discussed for years to come.” – Harry S. Truman

Tomorrow is Election Day.  It is finally here.  After months of primaries, debates, and impassioned rhetoric, tomorrow is the day when America pauses at the crossroads and decides which path to follow.  We won’t try to sway you for one candidate or another today – the country has spoken of little else for quite some time now.  Many of you voted early, more of you than in any election in history, but we will give one last plea for those of you who haven’t to cast your ballot tomorrow.

Aaron Sorkin Quote

“Decisions are made by those who show up.” – Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing

In our political process, this constitutional federal republic, ultimate power lies with the people and their ability to elect local, state, and federal representatives and task them with leading our country.  This is the most important duty of every American.  This Great Experiment only works when the people make their voices heard and choose the men and women they feel will safely shape our future.  Those who choose not to vote, whether because they don’t feel their voice is important or they choose to abstain in protest over a choice they would prefer was not before them, forfeit their say in that future.  The time for complaints and concerns is not once those who showed up have made the decision.  The time is tomorrow.

Abraham Lincoln Quote

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the people and burn their behinds, then they will have to sit on their blisters.” – Abraham Lincoln

The United States is a big place and we have room for many different viewpoints.  We are a country filled with passionate people and reasoned debate is healthy for us.  It helps us shape who we are and who we want to be.  No matter what your personal political philosophy, in this country, you have the right to put your vision of our future forward and have it discussed and considered.  The election of 2016 is a pivotal election.  This year, we have discovered that the country is balanced on a tipping point.  Whichever side of the scale you favor, tomorrow is the day to throw your weight behind whatever future you believe in.  After tomorrow, the die will be cast and you won’t have another opportunity to lend your voice to this decision.  Every election is important, but some come at more crucial points in history than others.  2016 is one of those years.  Tomorrow the country will decide who we want to be.  Make sure that you show up to be part of that decision.

George L Bell Quote

“You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to show up.” – George L. Bell, Civic Leader

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Welcome to the Grand Reopening

Welcome to the new and improved A. E. Lowan. We have been on hiatus, rebuilding and reinventing. Please come in, excuse our renovation mess, and get to know the new team.

Kristin Vinck, One Third of A. E. Lowan

Kristin Vinck

Raised as a Navy brat, Kristin Vinck began writing as a child on the West Coast, learning her love of words at her mother’s knee. Her first story, composed at five-years-old, was an instant classic in her house. “Ghostie-Ghost” was a harrowing tale of the adventures of, well, a ghost, and her friends. Kristin won her first writing award for urban fantasy in Seattle at eight-years-old for a story about a city on a boat, pulled by dinosaurs. In her teens, Kristin moved from learning at home from her satirist mother to formal writing education at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. After careening from career to career, or as she finds it more comforting to call it, sampling the human experience widely, she settled into the life of a full-time writer in the Missouri Ozarks where she is assisted by three narcoleptic dogs and three enthusiastically obnoxious cats.

Jennifer Vinck, One Third of A. E. Lowan

Jennifer Vinck

Raised among musicians in Kansas City, Missouri, Jennifer Vinck came to writing from another direction – poetry and song. She won her first writing award in the second grade, for a poem ironically also about a ghost. Poetry was her primary creative endeavor throughout childhood and when Jennifer was twelve-years-old she was asked to write the lyrics for a song used for All Species Day (a precursor of Earth Day) in Kansas City. She auditioned for the creative writing department at the Kansas City Middle School of the Arts and there discovered a new passion, speculative fiction. Jennifer met Kristin Vinck on the first day of school at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts and they were instantly inseparable. They began creating epic and urban fantasy worlds within minutes of meeting and have been collaborating in fiction and in life ever since.

Jessica Smith, One Third of A. E. Lowan

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith found her passion for fantastical storytelling where so many young writers do – through the masterpieces of fantasy’s renowned matriarchs. As the pile of worlds inhabited by dragonriders, wizards, and fair folk caused her bookshelves to plea for mercy, the constellation of worlds inside her waiting for their story to be told grew and grew. With enough ideas to fill the state of Texas where she was raised, Jessica first took pencil to paper before she hit double digits with a story about reincarnation and memory. Jessica’s love of how the universe functions and the intricacies of the human mind led the way into deep scientific study, and from there into the field of medicine. It was her passion for writing that took her to the internet in search of fellow creators, of people who kept whole worlds in their minds. Jessica has been a staple of many online writing communities over the years, but it was on a fantasy-specific site, Mythic Scribes, where Jessica met Kristin and Jennifer. Her worlds and theirs collided as a whirlwind of collaboration began. Jessica writes with the assistance of a furry, opinionated office minion by the name of Sugar-Bear.

Together we comprise A. E. Lowan, the author of the dark urban fantasy series, The Books of Binding. We’re proud to announce that Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding will be released in the spring of 2017. In the meantime, we will be introducing you to some of the characters from our world here and at our website, aelowan.com. Please follow us there to our new blog where we will be posting pieces of original fiction. Ranging from snapshot vignettes to longer glances through the curtain, we will be showing you early glimpses into the lives of our cast.

Thank you for sticking by us during our renovation. The paint is still fresh, the carpet just went in yesterday, and some of the fixtures are still on back order, but the doors are officially opening this spring. We hope that you all enjoy these sneak peeks into the world we have built. We are excited to begin this journey with all of you.

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A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

After a long absence, we’re back!  Now, without further ado, here’s a snippet from Faerie Rising

Guitar music filtered through the foot traffic, and Etienne looked around, finally finding a young man with an instrument that saw more love and attention than his clothing, sitting on the sidewalk between two storefront windows.  His head was lowered over his guitar, eyes closed and long brown curls hiding much of his face as he gave himself over to his music.  Etienne tapped Kian on the elbow to keep him from wandering on ahead without him and made his way toward the street musician, feeling the music pulling at him like a gentle hand.  It was beautiful, even more beautiful than the music played in his mother’s court.  The boy was better than Kian, who Etienne loved to listen to play.
His music reminded him – Etienne stopped short, eyes wide – reminded him of his father.  Chretien de Aquitaine had been a magnificent musician.  His music and his beauty had drawn Etienne’s mother’s attention, much to the troubadour’s misfortune.
The street musician’s hands stilled on his strings, stroked the wood of the guitar, and finally looked up at Etienne through his long curls.  A small smile brushed over his lips.
Etienne was frozen, still struck by his memories.  “Who…?”
The young man shook his head.  “The question you need to ask is ‘Where?’”
Etienne’s brows drew in.
The street musician stretched his thin arm and pointed down the block, deeper into the Historical District.  “What you want is that way.  Across the street and next door to the cupcake place.  Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe.”
Etienne craned his neck to look down the sidewalk, and then snapped back to look down at the boy.  “Did you say ‘Curiosity’s’?”  Arthur’s wife had been named Curiosity!  He remembered!
The boy’s gentle smile widened, and he nodded once.  “Now you understand me.”
Etienne dug into his jeans pocket and dropped the last of his change into the boy’s guitar case.  He turned, eager to pursue this new lead, and then turned back to thank him.  But what came out of his mouth was, “Who are you?”
The boy swung his long hair back behind his shoulder, revealing more of his face.  Pretty, but well within human normal.  “I’m just Stephen.  Welcome to Seahaven.”
Etienne looked more closely at Stephen, and he was indeed as he appeared.  Simply human.  Clearing his throat to cover his confusion he said, “Well, thank you, Stephen.”
The boy smiled and inclined his head with grace.  “Anytime.”  He then set to playing again.

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The Opening Lines of Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Our friend over at https://writingouttakes.wordpress.com/ showed up their fantastic first lines today, and after totally geeking out about them we thought that looked like a lot of fun.  So we have the first few (current) paragraphs of Faerie Rising.

The little bell above the shop door preceded the desperate cry of, “Winter, we need you!”  The urgency in her friend’s voice tore the wizard’s attention from her task.  She dropped the open box of sterile surgical instruments on the long counter and rushed across the back room clinic, passing the city map of Seahaven that took up one entire wall.  On the map were neat red dots and a note for every violent incident this year.  It was the end of October and the map was so covered in red that it looked like it was inflicted with a virulent rash.  Winter pushed her way through the thickly beaded curtain into the still-darkened storefront.

It was hours before the rest of the shops in the Historical District would open, the sun was just trembling on the mountain’s lips and the deep shadows cast by the century-old buildings left the streetlights still lit.  Through the doorway walked Giovanni and Katherine, though “walk” might have been too casual a description.  He leaned heavily on her smaller frame, but she bore his weight easily with her right arm about his slender waist, holding both his and her jackets in place against his back.  Katherine kicked the door closed behind her and showed Winter her face, pale beneath the thick spray of blood that glittered on her skin and hair.

Winter swallowed down the rising bile of panic as the meat smell of heavy bleeding reached her.  In her experience, that was the smell of a loved one’s violent death.

She had seen a great deal of death.

“What happened?” she asked even as she quelled her trembling belly with a wash of icy professionalism and shoved a half-empty box aside with her foot to make a clear path.  The shop was a disaster, thick with dust, boxes everywhere and the shelves half empty.  And there was precious little she could do about it anytime soon.

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A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Scrambling, Winter gave up a few more feet to the goblin’s slashing claws and used the precious seconds she bought to rummage frantically in her massive canvas bag, murmuring the charm to bring a small parchment envelope to her hand while watching carefully for its next move.  She should have had it out before.  She knew that, now.

She had started with a rake to defend herself, but then found out how well the nasty little thing could climb, as the continuous throbbing on the back of her right hand attested to.  She had never actually been trained for this, unlike her cousins and two older sisters.  She was supposed to be a teacher, a healer and a Potion Master.  She should be home, tucked away in her family’s kitchen teaching a handful of little cousins to brew simple decoctions, not doing battle with a pseudo-demon the size of a throw pillow in Karen’s backyard.

And losing.

“Blast!”  It darted to one side, trying to get past Winter and out into the night.  She had to keep it boxed in, just for a few more moments.  If it got loose into the neighborhood, she would be days finding it again, and by then it might have graduated to attacking children.  Only luck, a couple hours of stressful patience and a trail of about two pounds of fresh chopped beef had gotten it into the shed.  She kicked out, taking it in what passed for a midsection, and it bounced against the back of the shed like a large hairy soccer ball.  Tools popped from their perches, and a pot was knocked off its shelf, all raining down on the neatly swept concrete floor.  A burning sensation flared up her right calf, and Winter knew the little monster had scored, too.

Keeping her eyes fixed on the ugly little hair ball, Winter tore the top off the envelope.  The goblin crouched just out of reach, panting in a wheezy sort of way, slime dripping from its broken bottle teeth, all its eyes glittering back and forth desperately searching for a way past her.  Fear seemed to roll off it like a dark fog.  Wherever it came from, it probably had no idea where it was now.  It may have even seen what happened to its little friend.  Winter knew how it felt, trapped and desperate to find a way out, bloody images of her loved ones tearing at her memories.  For just a moment, she felt sorry for the evil little thing.  No one would be coming to rescue the goblin, either…

Then again, she wasn’t the one eating the neighborhood cats.  She raised the envelope…

With blinding speed nearly twenty pounds of goblin impacted with her upper chest.  Winter did not realize she was falling until the autumn-wet lawn struck her in the back, and she grabbed a fistful of greasy, matted fur with her left hand as it made to leap over her head to freedom.

It retaliated by sinking jagged teeth into her pale wrist, right through the sturdy fabric of her uncle’s old Army jacket.

Winter let out a yelp of startled pain, but did not release the frantically scratching beast.  It flailed about, claws raking her chest, her neck, her face, digging bloody furrows into her skin wherever it could find purchase.  She beat against its thick body in panic, the envelope almost forgotten in her clenched fist, and it worried at her wrist like a dog, the teeth digging deeper and deeper into flesh towards bone.

Rolling to her side, she released her grip on the envelope a little, half dumping, half pounding the goblin with red, glittering dust, drew the magic from within herself and through gritted teeth released it in a resonating word of command.  “Bind!”  It was not needed, the spell in the powder was already primed, but she was in pain and wanted to be sure it worked.

The creature froze in place, her wrist still clamped between its jaws.  Discolored teeth remained imbedded in fabric and flesh, but at least it had stopped chewing at the wound.  Winter tried in vain to breathe without smelling.  Wherever the little goblin had come from, it stank, and fear mixed with exertion did not help with the odor.  Her own pain and adrenaline were not helping, and she fought down a wave of nausea.  Grunting with hurt at the jostling, Winter jerked her bag out from beneath her hip and with one hand and her teeth uncorked a small blue bottle.  The acrid smell made her nostrils sting.  The goblin apparently smelled it, too, because it began to drool heavily in fear on Winter’s hand and arm.  She upended the bottle, the thick liquid soaking into the beast’s matted fur, and again produced a voice resonant with magical command.  “Banish!”  Again, the magic in the potion was already primed, but sometimes a little overkill did not hurt.

With a shrill keen and a cloud of noxious smoke the goblin vanished, the release of its weight and jaws painful in itself.  Winter rolled carefully up onto her knees, ignoring with limited success the way her torn stockings neatly wicked up the freezing moisture from the plush lawn to chill her skin.  Without teeth to block up the wound, blood welled up from the torn flesh, black in the suburban twilight, and began to run in rivulets down her hand.

She knelt there quietly, watching the first glittering drop fall silently onto the grass, and sluggishly fought back the roaring rush of exhaustion in her ears.  Darkness crept along the edges of her vision, and she shrugged her injured arm carefully out of her coat sleeve and knelt in the chill in just her long dress and her sweater, which she slipped off to bind about her hurt wrist.  It felt so good, just being still.  Just for a few more minutes.  She remained kneeling in the street-lit yard, watching the weave soak up blood and slime, and found herself fighting back sudden frustrated tears as the pain wound its way to her brain past the kinder adrenaline.  Her older sisters Sorcha and Mirilyn – even her younger cousins – they were so much better at this than she was.  They were stronger, faster, less scatterbrained…  Her wrist throbbed with her pulse, still fast, and the smaller stinging scratches echoing across her face, chest, and arms made her wish she could kick the evil little thing just a few more times.  Sorcha had once taken on an entire pack of hell-hounds that threatened her day-camp, for heaven’s sake.  Granted, Grandfather and Mirilyn had had to rescue her, but they had all three come home in triumph.  A single nasty little goblin would have been no match.  What was she doing wrong?

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The Characters of Faerie Rising – Jessie St. James

When Jessie St. James was twelve years-old she stumbled into Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe, a little family-owned store full of herbal products. After taking a light-fingered look around she attempted to leave with some of the smaller merchandize and came face to face with one of the proprietors, the wizard Winter Mulcahy.  Winter had noticed that the girl was using magic to aid her shoplifting – but put a broom in her hand and had her do chores in the shop rather than calling the police.  At the end of the afternoon Winter rewarded Jessie’s good work with the items she had tried to steal.  Jessie has been Winter’s shadow ever since.

Jessie began training her magic with Winter’s twin cousins, Kelley and Martina, whose offensive abilities were more in keeping with Jessie’s flamboyant style than Winter’s tamer potion making. But that came to an end six months ago, when the twins were killed – the latest in the long line of Mulcahy wizards to die.  Winter has been forced to continue Jessie’s magical education as best she can, but with the crushing weight of her responsibilities Jessie is often left training on her own.  Most days she can be found at Curiosity’s after or, much to Winter’s eternal consternation, during school hours.

Sixteen year-old Jessie’s home life is a mess. Her parents, Joanie and Darryl St. James, are career alcoholics, controlling and verbally abusive towards their daughter and each other, and resent Jessie’s involvement with the Mulcahy family.  Not possessing any magic themselves, they are unaware of the preternatural world their daughter has whole heartedly joined and see Winter as a busybody.  Jessie in return does everything in her power to avoid her parents, taking advantage of their drunken forgetfulness to spend nights sleeping anywhere but at home.

Quick of wit, artistic, and unabashedly outspoken, Jessie has quickly made friends throughout the preternatural community, especially among the vampires of Seahaven. Many nights she can be found couch surfing at their Theatre in the Historical District when she isn’t hiding from her parents in the tiny apartment above Curiosity’s.

Winter is sick, falling apart from the strain of holding Seahaven together alone. Everyone in the preternatural community can see it, and they all talk to Jessie about it.  Jessie is desperate to help her friend and mentor, but Winter won’t let her.

But being told “no” won’t deter a young wizard like Jessie…

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WordCon 2016 – MidAmeriCon II

A little update…

 

MidAmeriCon II now has a website –

http://midamericon2.org/

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WorldCon 2016

A HUGE shout out and welcome to our friends in Kansas City. You did it! You really did it! The voting was tallied late last night in London, our time, and it’s official – WorldCon will be in Kansas City in 2016!!!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/MidAm…07454699343006

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Writing Diversity in Speculative Fiction

“Why is diversity important in speculative fiction?”  There are a few different answers to this, because it is not only important, it’s becoming increasingly important every year.

1) Diversity really is good.  I know this answer gets blown off, but it’s true.  However, it’s also a fast and easy answer, and doesn’t really get to the heart of the “why.”

2) Because readers want to see characters who reflect themselves and their lives.  This is the money answer, and readers vote with their entertainment dollars.  Readers, more and more, really are showing increasing interest in seeing a more diverse reflection of life in genre fiction – they want to see MC’s who are the single mother, the black dragon slayer, the space waitress, the gay squire.  The world, and the reading public, is not made up of straight white farm boys and princes, and they’re getting bored with reading about them.  So why not add richness, depth, and realism to our fiction while attracting readers who are clamoring for just such diversity, because they want to see characters they can identify with?

3) Because these are the stories that don’t get told. And here is the social justice answer – to be honest, it’s our answer.  Media has traditionally “white-washed” out most of the rest of society in favor of the perspective of the Straight White Male default.  Things are getting better, slowly, as eyes open and we realize a more inclusive media is a good thing, but the fact that we still wrangle in discussions like this shows that we are, indeed, still far off from where we need to be as a genre as far as recognition of social issues goes.  Within the umbrella terms of “diversity” and “equality” lie stories that until recently were only told in dark corners.  We, as writers, have the opportunity to bring them into the light.  Just think, we who so often bemoan the dearth of new stories, how many stories wait unheard?  Dark stories, many of them, but also stories of hope, perseverance, and determination.  And we don’t even need to make blatant social statements out of our plots or characters to tell them – in fact, it’s really better if we don’t.  All we need is for our characters to say, “Here I am.  I am a person, for better or worse.”  I think this is especially true for those who write YA, when young readers are desperately searching for characters who look like them, struggle like them, hurt like them.  They don’t need yet another heroic farm boy, they need an MC like them – be they awkward or brown or gay or gender-questioning.

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New Release Today!!!

Announcement Day!!! Some of you may remember the side project we were working on back in March. Well, now we get to talk about it! Today saw the release of the anthology, Songs of The Great Cycle, and one of the seven collected stories is our own “A Cycle of Her Own.” It is the first published story to be set in The Books of Binding universe.

Today’s release is on Amazon, but Songs of the Great Cycle will be also be available on Barnes and Noble and Kobo within the next few days. We’ll make those links available when they do.

 

 

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