hrj: (Alpennia w text)
2020-04-12 09:10 pm
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Sticky Post: The Alpennia Blog RSS Feed

 If you'd like to read the full entries from my blog's rss feed, rather than clicking though the links I post in my own account, here's what you need to do:

1. Go to the Dreamwidth feeds page: https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/
2. Where it says "Add Feed" and has a box for "feed url" paste in the following: http://alpennia.com/blog/feed
3. Click the "add feed" button.

Remember that I may not see comments posted on the rss feed entries, because there's no way for me to get notified of them. If you want to comment, please click through to the blog itself.

At some point in the future, I may find a way to export blogs automatically to Dreamwidth like I used to be able to do to Live Journal. But for now, this is the easiest way to read them.

ETA: Hmm, it looks like there should be an easier way to subscribe. If you go to the DW Alpennia feed page (https://alpennia-feed.dreamwidth.org) There should be a place up in the top header display that says "subscribe to this feed". If this works for someone, could you post a note here to confirm?
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2017-06-14 07:12 am
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Reviews and Storybundles

I don't usually highlight reviews in my blog (I have separate pages for that), but I woke up to a really lovely Goodreads review of The Mystic Marriage from fellow Storybundle author K.J. Charles. If you have ever wanted to try some incredibly well-writen historical fantasy featuring gay male protagonists, K.J. Charles is pretty much the ruler of that sub-genre and I'm immensely flattered to be sharing a special LGBT+ SFF Storybundle with them and other equally talented authors. This truly is an unequally chance to think, "If I like the sort of writing and themes I find in the Alpennia books, what other authors are there writing similar work?"

[Amended to pronoun ambiguity until I have a chance to clarify my apparently erroneous assumption about K.J.'s gender!]

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2017-06-02 07:31 pm
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Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 10: Sappho of Lesbos

I'm doing a pair of podcast episodes on both Sappho the historic woman, and Sappho the legend and icon, including a tour through how her poetry was received and translated over time. I'd love for folks to support the existence of this show (part of The Lesbian Talk Show) with downloads and show feedback. Show my podcast host that people are clamoring for more stories of women-loving-women taken from the pages of history books.

Here's the current episode link.


And here's a page with links to all the past shows, so you can catch up.

I don't do the podcast for fame and fortune--I do it for love. It would be cool to get some love back. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast feed (such as iTunes, Podbean, or Stitcher) and it would be fabulous if you left a rating and review specifically mentioning how much you enjoy the history podcast.
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2017-06-01 09:08 pm
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Am I pondering what I'm pondering Pinkie?

 It occurs to me that I would work my way through my current blogging dry spell by reprising a bunch of old LJ posts (now here on DW) that I want to have live on my Alpennia blog. Up until now, the stuff I've been moving over has been assigned its historic date. And I could see doing that with things that have a clear temporality (like in-process writing blogs). But some of the essays and think pieces could just be tagged "originally posted on [date]". I dunno. I don't want to duplicate my entire LJ at Alpennia--a lot of it was ephemera--but especially the writing-related stuff would be nice to have all in one place.

What do you think?
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2017-05-31 07:11 am
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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot: Archangel’s Heart

One of the things that struck me when I was reading through lists of November 2016 books was the number written by obviously prolific authors (based on series number) that somehow never get mentioned in the SFF blogs, or featured on SFF podcasts, or discussed in the social media spaces where I hang out. It makes me feel...well, not any less hungry for my work to be talked about, but at least a little bit less alone. I'm sure I've heard Nalini Singh's name before, but I was a bit startled to discover how prolific she is: Goodreads lists 164 distinct works! Archangel's Heart is the ninth book in her Guild Hunter series and that is far from the only extensive series she has written in the genres of SFF and paranormal romance.

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory. Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is. Nothing will ever be the same again.


I have no aspirations to write over 100 novels! But I love the sense of an expanding story, like a highway that will take me through mountains and over plains and into unexplored cities. Mother of Souls is another step on that road for my characters, opening them up to the larger world of mysticism and peril that was only hinted at in the earlier books.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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2017-05-30 11:31 am
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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot: New Worlds, Old Ways

One of the most exciting developments in the speculative fiction field is the growing visibility and recognition of stories rooted deeply in cultures other than the default western European/American ones. I don't say "growing presence" because it is only the wider recognition that is new. Karen Lord has assembled this anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean to showcase some of the excellent SFF being produced in her home region.

Do not be misled by the “speculative” in the title. Although there may be robots and fantastical creatures, these common symbols are tools to frame the familiar from fresh perspectives. Here you will find the recent past and ongoing present of government and society with curfews, crime, and corruption; the universal themes of family, growth and death, love and hate; the struggle to thrive when power is capricious and revenge too bittersweet. Here too is the passage of everything—old ways, places, peoples, and ourselves—leaving nothing behind but memories, histories, and stories. This anthology speaks to the fragility of our Caribbean home, but reminds the reader that although home may be vulnerable, it is also beautifully resilient. The voice of our literature declares that in spite of disasters, this people and this place shall not be wholly destroyed. Read for delight, then read for depth, and you will not be disappointed. Includes brand-new stories by Tammi Browne-Bannister, Summer Edward, Portia Subran, Brandon O’Brien, Kevin Jared Hosein, Richard B. Lynch, Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brian Franklin, Ararimeh Aiyejina, and H.K. Williams.


A solid "sense of place" can be a challenge to develop when creating your own countries or worlds. Even more of a challenge when creating a culture very different from the one I live in. I will make no claims regarding how well I have succeeded. But one of the things that warms my heart in reader comments on the series, is when they say that books like Mother of Souls make them feel like Alpennia is a real location--just one that somehow got left off the maps and out of the history books. If you enjoy that experience, then seek out fiction by writers like Karen Lord that really is about places and cultures that tend to get left off the literary maps and out of the genre history books.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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2017-05-30 07:22 am
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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot: The Mountain of Kept Memory

We're back to the last couple of November releases that I'm including in this blog series. Rachel Neumeier's The Mountain of Kept Memory takes us to a fantastic secondary world where the gods take seriously their responsibility to protect--or their right to abandon--the realms they watch over.

Long ago the Kieba, last goddess in the world, raised up her mountain in the drylands of Carastind. Gulien Madalin, heir to the throne of Carastind, suspects that his father has offended the Kieba so seriously that she has withdrawn her protection from the kingdom. Worse, he fears that Carastind’s enemies suspect this as well. Then he learns that he is right. And invasion is imminent. Meanwhile Gulien’s sister Oressa has focused on what’s important: avoiding the attention of her royal father while keeping track of all the secrets at court. But when she overhears news about the threatened invasion, she’s shocked to discover what her father plans to give away in order to buy peace. But Carastind’s enemies will not agree to peace at any price. They intend to not only conquer the kingdom, but also cast down the Kieba and steal her power. Now, Gulien and Oressa must decide where their most important loyalties lie, and what price they are willing to pay to protect the Kieba, their home, and the world.


In many fantasy settings, one of the things that transports us away from there here and now is the overt presence of magic and the tangible presence of the divine. I always feel strange putting it that way, because many of my readers will assure me that the "tangible presence of the divine" as portrayed in the Alpennia books reflects their own real-life experiences. That can be a little unsettling for this atheist author! In Mother of Souls Margerit Sovitre finds her understanding of the divine nature of mysteries to be challenged by Luzie Valorin's music--a force with undeniable mystic power that seems to draw on a sources entirely unrelated to God and the saints.

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.


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2017-05-29 09:34 pm
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To-Do List: Worldcon Prep

 I'm sure there are many more practical things that need to go on my to-do list, but the one I'm contemplating at the moment is getting enough Lesbian Historic Motif Project blogs and podcasts in the can to last to the end of August. (I suppose I could consider LaForge diary posts too, but I give myself a bit more slack on those.) The main consideration is that I want things set up for push-button ease of posting. I'm seriously considering not taking my laptop with me to Europe, given all the current US weirdness around international travel. So if I'm working off a phone and an iPad, I'm not going to be writing long articles or recording anything while traveling.
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2017-05-28 09:18 am
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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot: A Woman of Strong Purpose

I'm including a few Bella Books releases from October because a couple of my fellow Bella authors asked me to. And guess what? Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17. In A Woman of Strong Purpose, S. M. Harding has written a heart-pounding sequel to her romantic thriller I Will Meet You There.

Welcome to McCrumb County, Indiana, where retired Marine Corps Colonel Win Kirkland and Sheriff Sarah Pitt had hoped that their deepening relationship might bring some peace and order to their complicated lives. 

Freed from the closeted life after 25 years in the military, Win is fiercely out and proud—and ready for Sarah to move in. But the newly out Sarah has serious doubts about living as an open lesbian among her county’s conservative population. She longs to overcome her fear of exposure, especially since several gorgeous and exotic women seem intent on seducing Win—and she knows she could lose Win to them or to a bullet. 

Win and Sarah’s personal struggles are soon overshadowed by a series of local and international crimes that will blur the lines between hostility and horror, friend and foe, sacrifice and survival. 


How often have you read a book and thought, "But I want to know what these characters do next!" Authors can have that same impulse, leading to a series that moves beyond the first book's premise. When I finished writing Daughter of Mystery, my immediate thought was, "But what about Antuniet? What happens to her?" and hence The Mystic Marriage was inspired. Mother of Souls takes us further, not simply asking "what happens to these characters next?" but following the consequences of seemingly minor events in the previous books and tracing them down surprising new roads. Look for both A Woman of Strong Purpose and Mother of Souls (as well as many other books) on sale this weekend at Bella Books!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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2017-05-27 08:35 am
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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot: Vortex of Crimson

I'm including a few Bella Books releases from October because a couple of my fellow Bella authors asked me to. And guess what? Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17Vortex of Crimson is the final book in Lise MacTague's Deception's Edge SF romance trilogy.

All Torrin Ivanov wanted was to get Jak Stowell back, that was supposed to be the hard part. In a cruel twist, Jak is hers again, but her girlfriend is literally losing her mind. The only help can be found on the last planet in the universe to which Torrin would like to return…To cure Jak, they must return to her war-ravaged home planet, Haefen. 

For Jak, returning to her home planet gives her the chance to make good on a promise too long deferred. But will she be able to finally take out her brother’s killer? Or will she be pulled into the dark undertow of local politics… 

The two women soon find that politics pale next to the threat of the one who still hunts Jak. This time he has bait—Torrin’s sister, Nat Ivanov. As their search intensifies, Torrin and Jak realize that despite all of the obstacles in their way, one thing is clear—they can at least depend on each other. But will that be enough?


Like Vortex of CrimsonMother of Souls is a third book, though the Alpennia series is both longer-reaching and less of a single story than the traditional trilogy format. The two books have one more thing in common, though: they're both on sale this weekend at Bella Books!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.

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2017-05-26 08:23 am
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The Great November Book Release Re-Boot: Tempered Steele: Hard Edges

I made a few teensy exceptions to my rules that books for this promotion had to be November releases. One friend had a re-release, one November release was short fiction that I used to bump mention of the related book, and when I mentioned the project on the Bella Books facebook group, a couple of my fellow Bella authors with October releases asked it I could include them too--which I did when I found I had some space open at the end of the month. (Ordinarily, I try to avoid scope creep because it hits my anxiety buttons.) I'm re-arranging the planned schedule a bit to move those Bella books into the next few days because...Bella Books is having a weekend sale! 17% off all orders over $17.

Tempered Steele: Hard Edges by M. E. Logan is a follow-up to the post-apocalyptic dystopian  romantic adventure Tempered Steele: Stoking the Fire.

After a nearly apocalyptic earthquake engendered a societal breakdown, visionary Deborah Steele returned to her isolated family farm and turned it into a safe haven for women to escape from the increasingly misogynistic and dystopian world around them. Her fair and open system of contracting labor for food, shelter and security has bound them together and ensured their survival. So far… 

Outside the farm, however, others are using a contract system as a form of human trafficking. And Deborah’s attempts to protect her estranged love, Joanna Davis, will soon bring the women’s community unwanted visibility, putting them all in danger and forcing Deborah to choose between the sanctuary she has built and the woman she still loves. 


It doesn't take a dystopia for women to need to struggle against misogyny and a society that exploits their labor and denies them a full life. Challenging those forces will always put them in danger, whether of overt violence or the no less hazardous rejection of society. In Mother of Souls, Luzie Valorin faces the choice between acceding to those who think her musical skills are only suitable for domestic amusements--or to support a man's career--and reaching out to sieze the chance for greatness. Perhaps even to change the fate of Europe with her compositions!

The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events. And at the moment, some of those books are on sale!