Available Today! Permanence & Choice, a Speculative Fantasy Novelette Trio


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Permanence & Choice, The Scent of Yellow Flowers, The Day The Cows Came Home, Twilight in the Firmament, fantasy, novelette, magical realism, paranormal, fiction, ya paranormalIt’s launch day for Permanence & Choice, a trio of speculative fantasy novelettes about the nature of choice and permanence in the universe and what it is to be lost and found. This one is available not only in Kindle and paperback on Amazon and through bookstores but also on Nook and through Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. You can use the coupon code BC75P on Smashwords to get the book for just 99 cents now through July 5th. I hope you enjoy it! Here’s the full description.

Permanence & Choice: 3 Fantasy Novelettes

A young girl chases down clues in a dream maze, shrunk to a tiny size and running for her life from burning dollhouses and flying projectiles at night, while evading the mob’s watchful eye by day. Some most unexpected family friends help her and her mother finally make a break for freedom. Short, sweet, and unbelievably imaginative, The Scent of Yellow Flowers is a story for anyone who has ever been lost and needed to be found.

In the animal fable The Day The Cows Came Home, the farmer’s wife has died, the farmer sells the farm, and the world falls into war. At the abandoned farmhouse, deep in the Finnish wintertime when nothing ever seems to change, the animals are on a quest to understand if time is at an end and they with it–only to discover time itself is not what they assumed.

The Man in the Moon holds on while the grumpy moon tries to shake him off. His friends the stars urge him to jump, but something holds The Man in the Moon in the Twilight in the Firmament. But soon, the universe begins to change, and The Man in the Moon is off on a fabulous adventure to discover the beauty of the existence around him, and how his choices and those of other beings shape space and time.

Permanence & Choice is a collection of contemplative fantasy stories all about what it is to be lost and found again, and how our own choices shape the world.

Millennials Leaving The Church: The Story of The Child of Evangelicals (Guest Post for Bruce Hennigan)


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Music of Sacred Lakes Book Cover, free books, free, discount books, literary, supernatural, spiritual, magical realism, ghost story

The heretic book. If you’re evangelical, you’ll think it’s syncretic. If you’re progressive, you’ll think it’s obvious. If you’re atheist, you’ll realize it’s a freaking work of fiction.

My millennial friends ask me all the time: why don’t Christians speak out against the crazies like Westboro Baptist Church, or evangelicals who strong-arm a Christian institution that feeds hungry children into continuing to discriminate against gays in their employment process at penalty of un-adopting children? Even writing that sentence makes my heart hurt. This is not the religion of my youth, and yet it is. Controlling, abusive, narcissistic, bullying. It was all there from the beginning, and now it’s raging full-blaze. Writing Music of Sacred Lakes was not just a novel for me: it encapsulated a major change in my worldview, in which I finally discovered how to reconcile my Christian faith with the mystical, creation-loving sides of myself I had always known were okay but didn’t fit Christianity, according to everyone I grew up with. But that’s not where most of my peers, whom I serve with my writing, end up. So, a friend of mine asked me to write up a guest post on this topic to complement the perspective of a millennial atheist on his blog, which is also focused on speculative fiction and spirituality, like mine. Because I honestly have had my life so torn up by this dynamic, the evangelical craziness, I have had my fill of the conversations of why millennials are leaving the Church, why gays are right/wrong/loved/hated, and so this will be my only full post on this subject, laying out from beginning to end what happened to me and what I think is happening to the corner of Christianity where I grew up. And how it affects us all. I’ve already been called just about every name I can think of, and I trust my own audience will largely be more respectful than the average in discussing these sensitive topics, but if you must send me hate mail for this, please know I’ve already heard it, so make it tell-Oprah creative. I grew up being treated that way. I’m a professional-grade bullied millennial Christian. Give it your best shot because the opportunity won’t come again. :) Thanks. Here it is.

Millennials Leaving The Church: The Story of the Child of Evangelicals

Amazon vs Hachette: Like Most Wars, They’re Not Fighting Over What They Say They Are


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Permanence & Choice, The Scent of Yellow Flowers, The Day The Cows Came Home, Twilight in the Firmament, fantasy, novelette, magical realism, paranormal, fiction, ya paranormal

My next book, out June 26, will be available from multiple retailers like Amazon, bookstores (if you order it), B&N, iBooks, and Kobo via Smashwords. As an independent author, I can test different bookselling options at will instead of spending years suing my way out of abusive contracts if I want to change how my book is sold, though nearly all retailers will refuse to stock my paperback books, even on their websites, regardless of the thousands of downloads and rave reviews. Lucky for me it’s those retailers about to go out of business for their lack of stock, not me for refusing to play ball with a coercive industry. Amazon is not the bully in this fight. Could they turn around and abuse this or turn this into a race to the bottom so that no one makes any money out of books anymore like Walmart does to small town economies? Yes, but that’s not what’s happening now. What’s happening now is publishing asking you to prop up their abuse in the present market to prevent Amazon from abusing you or authors in the future, and ignoring the fact that the lowering of book prices is a natural evolution resulting from technological advances such as e-books and print-on-demand paperback publishing. In short, publishers want you to pay more for books so they can make money, not because books should cost that much anymore.

This is a long post. I’m going to say what I have to say about the war between Amazon and Hachette, and only say it once, but there is a lot to say that isn’t being said in the mainstream media. So here goes, largely addressed to the buyer of books.

Has someone told you to boycott Amazon recently? Don’t swallow that so easily. Like most stories in the news that are really a PR war, it’s much more complicated than that, more analogous to auto unions walking off the job during negotiations than anything it’s been compared to in the mainstream media (most particularly you should ignore The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and similar New York-publishing friendly operations that aren’t even attempting to report on the story in a balanced way). Eisler is spot on in this Guardian article about what’s not being said in the mainstream media on this fight over control of bookselling and pricing, mainly that this is big publishing’s 1% moment, totally ignoring their own bullying business tactics and disregard for the small presses and independent authors in the industry and insisting that they’re being persecuted, when they operate like a corrupt cartel (no really, they do: the U.S. government slapped them down for colluding to artificially raise e-book prices just last year), forcing out anyone who won’t play the game by their rules, in which they keep most of the profits for very little work these days.

Here are some questions Eisler raises in his article:

  • “If it’s evil, malignant and bullying for Amazon not to stock Hachette’s books (assuming this is even what’s happening; common sense suggests the truth is otherwise), why is it OK for Barnes & Noble and various independent booksellers (which are are actually thriving) to refuse to stock Amazon-published and self-published books?
  • Why was there so little outcry a little over a year ago regarding a similar dispute between Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster?
  • No other bookstore on earth offers Amazon’s selection. So isn’t every other bookstore by definition refusing to stock more books than Amazon does? Why is this OK?
  • Why was it OK a few years ago when the Big Five all threatened to pull their books from Amazon (collusively, as it turned out) if Amazon didn’t agree to raise its prices? Amazon is evil for refusing to buy some books from publishers, but it’s still OK for publishers to refuse to sell Amazon any books at all?”

I’ve noticed a lot of high-profile established authors acting really crazy lately, flailing around and not making any sense, mostly because they have been ignoring how publishing is changing related to technology and don’t know how to adapt, by their own admission. I agree with everything but the last sentence of Eisler’s article. For once, it’s big publishing’s authors that are being hurt by this, and that’s something they’ve never had to deal with before (hence the despair from the less established ones and the entitled tantrums from the high-profile ones). But is that grossly unfair to them? In some ways yes, and some of my own friends are affected, and I sympathize with them and hope their careers aren’t too heavily dragged down by these wars. The signs of this coming fight have been there to see for years now, so if someone signs a contract with a big publisher knowing they behave like a greedy abusive corporation that is failing to innovate and adapt to technology, there is some responsibility that falls with authors for signing those contracts and ending up caught in this long-brewing war between publishing and Amazon, though most of the responsibility still falls on the publishers for forcing them into a bad choice between going it alone in a hostile environment that threatens to ruin them if they don’t play ball or sign a contract with poor terms that in most cases won’t allow them to make a living from their writing. Nope, basically we’re back to this being the fault of the heads of big publishing houses, who have already been penalized by the U.S. government for conspiring to keep book prices artificially high, and who were recently found out knowingly taking the profits off the thicker margins of e-book sales and not passing along the profits to authors (e-books make more profits even at lower prices because they cost less to produce and distribute, and instead of celebrating this as the new glory days of publishing having some margins again, publishers have hidden their margins and paid even lower royalties relative to profit margins to authors, telling them to be happy that it’s a higher percentage royalty overall). This isn’t a new fight, at all, in fact. It’s just round two of the same war publishers lost last time, not because they’re being persecuted but because they’re finally being called to the mat for illegal practices.

Getting back to Eisler’s final statement, I’m not sure indie authors are being harmed by this. It’s everything up to this point, led by traditional publishing conspiring to keep indies out of the marketplace to stifle the competition and keep contract terms exploitative so authors have to put up with poor terms, that has been abusive and damaging to all authors, indies in particular. (Everything from booksellers refusing to stock indie titles to review institutions refusing to review indie books or charging exorbitantly for something that is supposed to be a free or near-free service, to Bowker charging indie authors something like 100 times more for ISBNs in the U.S. when publishers can buy them on the cheap and authors in other countries pay nothing at all, to awards refusing to allow indie authors to compete and book bloggers largely ignoring indie titles–all under the guise of protecting quality, even while traditional publishers have started publishing mostly books that make money, regardless of quality [Snookie’s memoirs, anyone?], and don’t even offer most of their authors any marketing support like they used to.) Publishing considers itself the gatekeepers of quality, when they actually function more like a dam, pulling all the energy out of the industry and keeping it for themselves while only letting a few authors through to viable careers. This is in some ways how they have functioned all along (I just read last week about how Agatha Christie got taken for a ride on her first publishing contract nearly a century ago, and thereafter was very shrewd in dealing with publishers), but it has become much much worse in the last decade, as the changes in technology prompted publishers to condense into mega corporations to compete against the new opportunities of technological innovation rather than flowing with them. Think it’s just competition in a tough business? Then why are big publishers pulling in something like $10bn a year, while only a very tiny percent of authors can making a living from their writing? That’s exploitative.

If publishers take their marbles and go home, possibly propping up Barnes & Noble from bankruptcy or trying again to build their own online bookselling portal or turning this into an indie bookseller vs. indie author PR war, we might be facing either fewer buyers finding us authors on Amazon (or more, if there’s less competition where people already like to shop?) or a more diverse bookselling market, but I’m pretty sure indie authors for once aren’t the losers in this war. Not yet anyway. And if they are squeezed out or taken advantage of in some way, Amazon knows they will jump ship at a moment’s notice. There will be no years of suing their way out of contracts. Indie authors are the gypsies of the publishing world. You give them a bait and switch, they pull up stakes and move on, and if it was your circus they were working in, your circus is looking a little empty now. They’re running their own circus now, and it’s a doozie, because they’re free to run things as creatively as they like. Have we forgotten that it’s authors who create the content that drives this industry? Why is it acceptable to treat them like dirt? (Don’t believe the industry looks down on authors? Hang out around the industry water cooler of #queryfail on Twitter for a while and tell me what you think of literary agents’ attitudes toward the clients they serve. Or check out the lists online of offensive rejection letters to famous authors by dismissive publishing houses. The arrogance is stifling.) They don’t have the uniform clout of big publishing, yet–author collectives are forming and growing–but they do have collective clout, and it’s growing. More than half of genre fiction published this year was indie published. These are not the old vanity-published authors of yore with terrible covers and bad writing. Well, some of it will still be bad in an open marketplace with no barrier to entry, but increasingly indie authors are hiring their own editors and cover designers so they can keep 5 times the royalties publishers will pay them and act as their own publishers. And traditional authors are jumping ship to become “hybrid” authors that are somewhere in the middle, half traditionally published and half indie. Many of the major breakout hits driven by popular demand in recent years (Bella Andre’s romance, Hugh Howey’s sci-fi hit series WOOL, E.L. James 50 Shades of Grey [forget what I said about quality on that last one for a second]) were indie published titles. You can’t close Pandora’s box. What’s happening here is a fracturing of the control big publishing held over this industry, driven by technology, and it can’t be stopped because it’s the natural flow of things. Indie authors aren’t just authors: they are functioning as their own publishers, offering up new and disturbing competition to the Big 5. Because technology levels the playing field, and that is the war publishers are really fighting. Against technology that’s been around for a couple decades already.

So in this scenario, is Amazon acting like Walmart to drive down prices, or is the Big 5 acting like a cartel-run corrupt industry where it’s pay to play? Amazon can be seen as a Walmart-like figure in reference to driving indie booksellers out of business if you like, but it’s these indie booksellers that literally laugh in the face of indie authors wanting their books stocked or signed in their stores (happened to me, twice) and refuse to carry better stock even on their scalable websites. So… that’s kind of like your grocer laughing in your face for asking if he might consider carrying a bigger selection of food, which drives you down the road to a bigger store. Except grocers don’t laugh at customers, or suppliers, pretty much ever, right? And if Amazon is supposed to be driving publishers out of business so then who is going to create quality books boohoo, then how is it that they give authors their best opportunity to make a living at writing? Indie authors are quitting their day jobs as we speak, profits are up even as prices are down. This is not Amazon vs. publishing. It’s technology vs. a bloated industry that has already hit its natural peak and is now in contraction, and isn’t taking it particularly well. And if Amazon does use its new-found clout to abuse authors and exploit them like traditional publishing already does? Well, then they’ll be the next business in contraction. Because for the first time in publishing’s several-century history, power is shifting in favor of the authors, the creators of content. Even though it’s still really fecking hard to be seen in this industry, because it does not have a functional marketing and distribution system. Except for Amazon, that has been working hard with the flow of technological innovation for nearly 2 decades now to bring you books in a better way.

Is that a bad thing to you that authors are on the rise and that publishing, the middle men, are on the decline? I didn’t think so. You can expect more creativity from this, which is at times messy and hard to sort through, yes, but more art, more books, more diversity without artists forced into pre-existing bestselling super-genres. You can expect to pay less for books and have more direct contact with your favorite artists who now operate largely online through social media. You can expect authors to write more books for you more quickly because they don’t all need day jobs anymore. You can expect more bookselling portals and cross-media formats for storytelling to pop up, and they already are. In short, this is a creativity explosion, because the dam is breaking. My condolences to all the good and hard-working people who work within the publishing machine. In fact I was one of those people early in my career, but couldn’t find much work as an editor because already the layers of editors were being pushed out of the publishing houses to save costs. There are many ways to look at this, all of them incomplete because the situation is so messy, but don’t just boycott Amazon and cut off your own favorite channel for bookselling because someone tells you they’re the bad guy. They’re just a guy. There will be other guys. But this guy is bringing you cheap, plentiful, oftentimes even more high-quality books than you have been getting up till now, and they’re not exploiting authors. Go buy an e-book and hug an author, indie or traditional. We’re all just trying to create art here. This is war, but it’s not your fight, unless you want to get involved and support authors on either and every side of the issue. Because you’re a reader, right? And readers love good books. And good books come from authors, not warring CEOs with an agenda. Just go buy a book, all right? Wherever it makes sense to you to buy it. Because you’re not an idiot who needs to be told how to purchase goods. Because the sweatshops are not at Amazon.com, they’re behind the scenes of publishers taking 90% or more of the sale of each book and leaving the scraps for their beloved authors. And it isn’t natural, and it doesn’t have to be that way, which is why it is changing. But those authors deserve your support, too. So just go buy a book you like! :)

I can see Amazon becoming a portal for indie and genre books and the major seller of e-books, which everybody has now stopped laughing about now that they prop up everyone’s bottom line, big publishers included. This could easily turn into a paperback vs. e-book war instead of just trad pub vs. Amazon, but… young people are the next generation of book buyers, and they don’t care to purchase overpriced hard copies of books. And they don’t have any long-standing associations with traditional publishing and quality, because that quality has been on the decline in their lifetime: they vote for the content they like wherever it comes from. So, basically, you can’t fight technological evolution, and you can’t trick people forever into being loyal to a corporate machine that has turned into an empty profit machine. You’d be much better off learning how to make a better automobile (or e-book, or quality title) than throwing your life’s energy into propping up coach makers. Coach makers whose union behaves like a cartel. So, my condolences again to the good hard-working editors, agents, authors, and other pieces of the publishing machine that are collateral in this war. They are the real victims of contraction and technological change, just as the skilled craftspeople of the coach-building era were out of work when the assembly line and the automobile came along. Maybe hug them too.

That is all. :)

P.S. This kind of post could actually keep me from getting a traditional publishing contract, because that’s how this industry works, based on loyalty instead of level-headed business decisions. And do you see how I’m not caring? That’s not because I want anyone to fail or because I’m happy things are in upheaval. This is a big messy challenge for all authors to navigate. It’s simply because 1) I was raised by and worked for people in the past who bullied me and wouldn’t let me flinch, and I won’t have any more of it in my life for any cost, 2) any publisher I work with in the future will not be a bully, and will bring something to the table other than bully clout to help me get great books out into the world. I believe that could happen, once this contraction of the industry is complete. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a breath of fresh air to be able to focus on great books instead of defending against abuse. And 3) there is already a publisher/platform offering me unprecedented opportunity and great distribution options and fair royalties. I have a way around abusive contracts and being someone’s collateral damage now. It’s called Amazon.

Extra Goodreads Giveaway for Music of Sacred Lakes


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Music of Sacred Lakes Book Cover, free books, free, discount books, literary, supernatural, spiritual, magical realism, ghost storyDue to the popularity of Music of Sacred Lakes during its two Goodreads giveaways and free promotion on Kindle, with 600 entries in each giveaway and over 9,000 copies downloaded during launch to make it a top 50 Kindle free bestseller on all of Amazon during launch, I’m offering a bonus giveaway of Music of Sacred Lakes for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

magical realism, laura k cowan

This is for a signed paperback, and will run the next 3 weeks. Share it with your friends and if it’s popular too, I might offer one more. This book has proven to be extremely popular among people who like mystical or metaphysical novels, with its blend of spirituality and fantasy. I hope you like it too.

Enter The Music of Sacred Lakes Giveaway

music of sacred lakes, laura k cowan, book reviews

Mystical Fiction and Social Justice


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Stranger Things, Erin Healy, Christian fiction, supernatural fiction, social justice, sex traffickingI’ve got a novel Lone Cypress coming out in July that is a unique blend of supernatural fiction–mystical visions and nightmares woven through a story of an abused young woman seeking healing and truth for her life. There’s a lot about the story that is hard to pin down. How much of these events could be purely psychological, how much of it is a spiritual theme running through the story, and how literal are the magical events that finally lead her to a new home and love?

I thought this book was so hard to categorize it stood alone, but recently two acquaintances of mine published books that seem to follow a similar trend: mystical fiction + social justice. I am loving this trend, seemingly more popular today with the increased interest in the supernatural and more consciousness of global social issues. Here are the books by my friends Jane Davis and Erin Healy, plus my novel out in July, in case you also are interested in this blend of social and spiritual issues, but let me know in comments and on Facebook if you know of other books like this. I would love to compile a Goodreads list along these lines if this really is a growing trend.

Stranger Things by Bestselling Author Erin Healy

Stranger Things by bestselling Christian suspense author Erin Healy is a story in which different characters see different things when viewing the same place with a past. It’s definitely mystical, a type of allegory for the sacrificial death of Christ, but it’s also a social justice piece on sex trafficking. I’m just loving that unique books like this are being published today, and believe it or not this was published by a traditional publisher, and a Christian one at that. This gives me hope that unique and spiritual books can make it in today’s publishing marketplace. If this is your sort of thing (like Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti with an updated awareness of social issues) I hope you enjoy this one. It’s got a genre thriller feel to the language. Here’s the blurb.

In the burnt-out hollow, a house of dark secrets and an eerie beauty beckon.

Serena Diaz’s life is imploding. A troubled student has accused the young biology teacher of sexual misconduct, cutting off her promising career just as it was starting to blossom. But that’s just the beginning of Serena’s problems.

When a therapeutic walk in the woods leads her to a ruined house overtaken by criminals, Serena is assaulted and finds herself witness to the senseless murder of the one man who tries to help her.

Hurled into a world of false accusations and hounded by the press, Serena must confront evil itself to unravel the mysterious visions—and terrifying danger—that pursue her. But she can’t ignore the most haunting question: Why would a mysterious stranger give his life to save hers?

The answer, if she can find it, will point the way to her freedom from evil men in a lascivious trade.

“With her typical flair and eloquence, Healy takes readers through an incredible journey that will leave you thinking long after the last page closes.” —Lifeisstory.com

“Healy’s latest is thought-provoking and engaging, and becomes even more so as the story progresses. The author uses courageous characters to address the sex trade crisis. Themes of hope and redemption are seamlessly woven with spiritual elements and a touch of the supernatural.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

Stranger Things is available on Amazon or wherever books are sold. I did receive a free review copy of this book in order to review it here.

An Unchoreographed Life, Jane Davis, sex trafficking, ballerina, fiction, book reviewAn Unchoreographed Life by Jane Davis

In An Unchoreographed Life by award-winning author Jane Davis, a girl investigates her mother’s profession to unravel the mystery of who she is. This story is a little lighter on the mystical side and is more a story with, as it says in the blurb “a deeply flawed and inimitably human cast,” but still involves a blind clairvoyant with mystical visions, which gives it a sort of Oracle at Delphi feel. It kind of speaks for itself, so here’s the blurb.

At six years old, Belinda Brabbage has amassed a wealth of wisdom and secret worries. She knows all the best hiding places in her Worlds End flat, how to zap monsters with her pig-shaped torch and that strangers will tempt you into their cars with offers of Fizzy Fish. Even so, it’s impossible to know how to behave when you don’t really understand who you are. Mummy doesn’t like to be plagued with questions about her family but, when she isn’t concentrating, she lets small nuggets slip, and Belinda collects them all, knowing they are pieces of a complicated jigsaw.

Exhausted single mother Alison hasn’t been able to picture the future for some time. Struggling from day to day, the ultimatums she sets herself for turning her life around slip by. But there is one clock she cannot simply re-set. Deny it though she may, Belinda is growing up. Having stumbled across Alison’s portfolio that mapped her life as a prima ballerina, her daughter already has a clearer idea of who she once was. Soon she’ll be able to work out for herself who she is – and what she does for a living.

With options running out, Alison travels to London’s suburbs to consult a blind clairvoyant, who transports her to a past she feels exiled from. However unlikely they sound, his visions of pelicans and bookshelves appear to herald change. A chance meeting with an affluent couple affords a glimpse of the life Alison desperately wants for her daughter. But can their offer of friendship be trusted?

More ‘What Maisie Knew’ than ‘Belle de Jour’, Davis’s unflinching new novel of a mother who turns to prostitution is populated with a deeply flawed and inimitably human cast, whose tumultuous lives are shored up by carefully-guarded secrets.

An Unchoreographed Life is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Lone Cypress, ballerina, abuse recovery, psychological thriller, magical realism, contemporary romantic fantasy

Lone Cypress by Laura K. Cowan

Lone Cypress is actually a love story, a contemporary fantasy romance about a former ballerina trying to figure out if she’s possessed or insane, but while following the story of this young woman the book also dives deep into issues of abuse recovery. In the end, the reader can decide just how much they can suspend their disbelief to follow the story through its psychological storyline, or its magical events, or all the way into the spiritual unknown. Again, let me know if you know of more books along these lines and I’ll put together a Goodreads reading list. Hope you like these!

What does it mean to be possessed? By a person, by a dream, and by your demons? Shana knows. Shana was a ballerina. At least that was what her mother told her when she moved them to New York so she could pursue the dream. But after Shana was kicked out of school for experimenting with new dance forms and escaped her stage mom only to fall into a dangerous marriage, all she has left is a list of things she thought she was. The only thing still alive in her spirit is the ballet she wanted to choreograph, and suddenly it has taken on a life of its own. Shana runs, from her husband, from her life, and from the terrifying dreams that insist she make a change–until she runs out of time and must face not only her husband’s hired gun but the monster in her mind.

Magical realism, supernatural, psychological, spiritual contemporary fantasy romance. Lone Cypress is all of these things, at once a love story and a story of emotional healing, though it won’t ever let you rest on one conclusion for too long. Just how literal are the events of this story–possession, mental illness, symbolic nightmares, visions, mystical voices and magical objects that guide a young woman to a new love and community–and what is their source? Lone Cypress invites the reader to decide for him or herself how deep the rabbit hole goes, because all events point in the same direction, but just how far you suspend your disbelief will determine where the story ends for you.

Lone Cypress will be available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback on July 26, 2014. Stay tuned for a Goodreads giveaway and more info.

Next Up: Dimension-Shifting Mice, Farm Animals on the Edge of Time, & An Adventure With the Man in the Moon


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Permanence and Choice, fantasy, novelette, novella, short stories, fable, speculative, spiritual, portal fantasy, literaryWell The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen has been pushed out of the nest, so it’s on to the next book launch, Permanence & Choice! I’ve got a final Goodreads giveaway starting in a week for this, and the launch will be June 26, in just a few weeks. Stay tuned on social media.

This one is a little different, a trio of fantasy novelettes that are all imaginative, but are also on the speculative side. Here’s the scoop.

Permanence & Choice: 3 Fantasy Novelettes

A young girl chases down clues in a dream maze, shrunk to a tiny size and running for her life from burning dollhouses and flying projectiles at night, while evading the mob’s watchful eye by day. Some most unexpected family friends help her and her mother finally make a break for freedom. Short, sweet, and unbelievably imaginative, The Scent of Yellow Flowers is a story for anyone who has ever been lost and needed to be found.

Permanence and Choice, Permanence & Choice, fantasy, novelettes, contemplative, spiritual, magical realism, Sarah Lowry, book review

In the animal fable The Day The Cows Came Home, the farmer’s wife has died, the farmer sells the farm, and the world falls into war. At the abandoned farmhouse, deep in the Finnish wintertime when nothing ever seems to change, the animals are on a quest to understand if time is at an end and they with it–only to discover time itself is not what they assumed.

The Man in the Moon holds on while the grumpy moon tries to shake him off. His friends the stars urge him to jump, but something holds The Man in the Moon in the Twilight in the Firmament. But soon, the universe begins to change, and The Man in the Moon is off on a fabulous adventure to discover the beauty of the existence around him, and how his choices and those of other beings shape space and time.

Permanence & Choice is a collection of contemplative fantasy stories all about what it is to be lost and found again, and how our own choices shape the world.

Coming June 26 in paperback and e-book.

Congratulations To The Winner of the Thin Places Goodreads Giveaway!


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The Thin Places, Laura K. Cowan, fairytales, mythic fiction, book cover, supernatural fictionCongratulations to the winner of the Goodreads giveaway for The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, Maryssa S.! Maryssa your signed paperback copy of the book is in the mail as soon as I go find a burger somewhere on this fine Memorial Day. :) Thank you for entering, everyone! We had almost 500 entries for this one, which is way more than I expected on a holiday weekend for a supernatural short story collection. Thanks!

the thin places review a real page turnerRemember The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen is FREE for 5 days on Kindle, and I’m hoping you will push it to the tops of the Kindle free bestseller lists again like you did last month with Music of Sacred Lakes, which had 9,000 downloads and hit the top 50 of Amazon’s free Kindle downloads during its launch. Your support and help spreading the word is one of the best ways for people to find this weird fiction I write, so thank you so much! It means a lot to me and to other people who wouldn’t find the book otherwise. Every book launch so far I’ve had people say my books changed their lives, and that’s so incredible knowing that it’s just people loving these spiritual supernatural fantasy books and passing them along. Thanks! (Oh, I already said that, didn’t I?) :)

The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen Is Out & FREE for 5 Days!


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The Thin Places, Laura K. Cowan, fairytales, mythic fiction, book cover, supernatural fiction

I’m so excited to announce that my second book in two months, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, is now available in paperback and Kindle and the Kindle edition is FREE for 5 days. It’s a collection of mythic and supernatural short stories all about portals between worlds, a combination of new fairy tales and speculative stories about connections between the spiritual and natural worlds, in a style similar to literary/fantasy writers Ursula Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, or Neil Gaiman.

the thin places review a real page turner

The prayer poems of a bullied girl come to life when read in front of her class as a cruel joke. A young boy asks his mother why she ignores the customers in a mountain town shop, but she sees no one but him. A boy’s faith literally moves mountains, which destroys the life of the Sunday school teacher who doubted him.

Reality doesn’t behave quite as expected in The Thin Places a collection of short stories that explore the thin places between the physical and spiritual worlds, portals, time juxtapositions, dreams, and other possibilities of the might-be-real.


Thank you so much to everyone who has made this rapid release of titles possible this year. I’ve got another fantasy collection, Permanence & Choice, ready to publish in June, and Lone Cypress, a supernatural novel about a ballerina running from an abusive husband while trying to figure out if she’s possessed or insane, out in July.

The Thin Places, book reviewRight now I’m off to write five more novels before going back to publishing tasks. It’s possible I’ll have even more books for you next year at this rate. Thanks as always for your support! The best thing you can do to help me keep this up is to tell your friends about your favorite book of mine. I don’t make any money on the thousands of downloads during my free book promotions, so I really appreciate your help spreading the word so people continue to find my books and support my work after the promotions are over. Thank you so much!


Verisimilitude: A Guest Post By Pete Sutton


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Today we have a guest post from my friend Pete Sutton, a speculative author and organizer of the Bristol Festival of Literature, on a hot topic in the fantasy sci-fi world: consistent rules within a novel or a fantasy world. Thanks for being here, Pete!

Airship 300Verisimiltude: The art of truth and truth in art.
verisimilitude  (ˌvɛrɪsɪˈmɪlɪˌtjuːd) — n.
The appearance or semblance of truth or reality; quality of seeming true.

All fiction is fantasy to some extent. No book is a direct, truthful representation of place, of people, of dialogue. It is all smoke and mirrors. A piece of writing is the semi-permeable membrane between the writer’s brain and the reader’s brain. The writer’s imagined world seeps slowly (at variable reading speeds) into the reader’s imagination. Creating a jointly constructed story. For, to be certain, the reader is doing a lot of the heavy lifting with their imagination. You as a writer may say – “The church was tall, casting chilly shadows across the cobbled square, its spire like a hand reaching out to try and touch God” but rest assured that the reader will fill this in with their idea of what such a church looks like and their idea of what such a cobbled square would look like.

This is why Verisimilitude is a tricky beast. Your concept of what is plausible, may not be the same as the readers. Your mental construct of the world may be different to theirs. One thing that should be easy though is internal consistency, believability within the framework of the story. You can set up a world where school children ride broom sticks and throw spells about but as long as the world appears to have rules that are consistently adhered to then actions within those rules become plausible.

An example – in Star Trek: Into Darkness (spoilers) Khan teleports from Earth to the Klingon planet in one scene. In a later scene the transporter will not transport men from one spaceship to another which is within sight because “there is too much debris in the way”. There is a fundamental inconsistency here that is not addressed. You, as the viewer are left with forming an opinion why it would work in one situation but not another, ignore the inconsistency or be annoyed that the scriptwriters were too lazy to create plausibility within the rules of their created world.

Readers will swallow implausible things  e.g.  in this world magic exists. But not a whole slew of them, not if the world of the book doesn’t seem to have rules. “That makes no sense” is not a reaction you want from your readers!

Description isPete Sutton Author not the truth, but a representation of a true or imaginary place. Dialogue is not the truth, but a semblance of how real people speak. Plot is not truth, but an approximation of how one thing followed another. And yet, stories have a deeper truth to tell us.

Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot. Neil Gaiman – The Sandman Volume 3: The Dream Country.

I write stories that I usually describe as “the present, but with a speculative twist.” I seldom write second world stuff, or historical, or flat out futuristic. Although there are some of my stories that would fit that mould. I try to stay internally consistent (and hope for some success in that endeavour) and a couple of my stories scratch at the deeper truth (when I’m not trying to be creepy, or funny, or both).  I am at the beginning of my journey to find that deeper truth but it is one that I feel all storytellers should strive for.

Pete Sutton is one of the organisers of Bristol Festival of Literature and community engagement manager for Vala coop.
He has stories published online at 1000 words, Hodderscape, Visual Verse & elsewhere and on paper in Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion,  which you can hear dramatized here. He is editor of Far Horizon Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @Suttope and read his blog.

My Writing Process: The Lowdown


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Music of Sacred Lakes Book SigningIt is by now a pretty popularly agreed-upon fact that I’m crazy. At least in my writing process (the rest I contest! ;)). So I’ve agreed to be a part of the #mywritingprocess blog tour today to give you the lowdown on how bad it is.

I was tagged by the lovely Christina Anne Hawthorne of Ontyre Passages. You can check out her blog and serialized fiction as well, while you’re at it.
Okay, you really want to know? Here goes.


What Am I Working On?

I’m working to put out 6 books of fiction this year: my second metaphysical novel Music of Sacred Lakes (just published), my first short story collection The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen about portals between worlds (out in 3 weeks–doing publicity for that), my first contemplative fantasy novelette trio Permanence & Choice (publicity soon), a paranormal suspense novel about a possibly possessed ballerina Lone Cypress (editing that now), a psychological murder mystery Sonata & Fugue (editing soon), and a YA fantasy novel Face The Falling (also editing that soon). I have discovered in the last year that since I laid a good foundation for creative growth, through giving myself lots of time to be a beginner and learning everything I could from the process of writing and editing each book over the past 6 years, I am now working much more quickly than I could before. All these books mentioned above were written in the last year and a half. So, I am editing and publishing 6 books, I just wrote 2 more books last month, I just made the book covers for 3 books beyond that (guess I should write them then, huh?), and I have about 4 novels chomping at the bit in my head that I won’t think about yet because then I’d have to start writing them down. I’m hoping to finish editing novel #3 of the year in the next week, write 6 guest posts for other blogs, run the publicity for the two books I’m putting out this month and next, and then give myself August off (maybe) and free up the later part of the year to write 4 more books. So, yeah. It’s not one particular project so much anymore. It’s a bit of a free-for-all. But you’d be surprised how organized I am about it. Goal lists, to-do lists, spreadsheets. I was a copy editor and copy chief and professional blogger and journalist before becoming a writer, so I’ve got this whole thing color-coded. :) My right hand actually does know what my left hand is doing (clicking obsessively on the Kindle bestseller lists to check for my book, of course).

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?

My work straddles the line between fantasy and literary fiction, so it’s different from most literary fiction in that it’s highly imaginative and spiritual. And it’s different from most fantasy in that it’s very speculative and high-concept. I’m always thinking about the ways the world is knit together, and this comes through strongly in my stories.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Because this is how I see the world. I used to think that I was crazy, but now I know that many people have predictive dreams and spiritual visions like I always have had–that this is simply a mystical way of experiencing life, and it’s more common among people who are highly sensitive. Moi. So, I can’t really help but write this stuff. Other people write about the surface experience of life, or the underbelly of life, or the human condition as it threads its way through life. I write about all the layers of life overlaid on one another. It’s the easiest way for me to write, because it’s honestly exactly the way I perceive things. When I tell you a story, it’s often exactly how it appeared in my mind, no noodling about to make it as weird as it is.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I love Robert Olen Butler’s book From Where You Dream, which taught me how to relax into a dream-like state in order to place myself in the landscape of my story and let it unfold from my subconscious. It’s what makes my best stories so well tied together and resonant. I also put story ideas on 3×5 cards and keep them in a (growing) file, and when I’m beginning to work on a story, I pull out that card and then add cards for every scene or idea I have, until the stack seems pretty complete. It’s easy from there to just work on one card at a time and rearrange them as I go so the book flows without losing any details. I can add in cards or throw them out as I go, too. This technique I also picked up from Butler, no invention of mine. But I’ve found that some books need more detailed planning, while others I hardly look at the cards and just use them as a rough guide to keep me from losing the thread. For example, I just wrote another short story collection with 25 stories about all kinds of dreams. Thirty story cards were written while I took a (long) bubble bath, chucking them out on the rug as I went. Then I piled them up and wrote my way through them, discarding the ones I didn’t really love. Done.

I also often figure out what I need to figure out next for a project, like the background of a character, and then go to sleep or go about other tasks in my day. My subconscious is a better writer than my conscious mind, for sure. Trust it, and it comes up with incredible ideas. Force it, and the whole thing crumbles in my hands. This is a very efficient way of working, too, so it may in part explain how I’m able to layer my work up and use my time I’m not working to also do writing work. I will wake up, write or edit if I have time before my daughter wakes up, get her ready for the day, set myself a task or question in my mind if necessary, and take her to the lake, whispering to myself like a madwoman. She finds this entertaining for now. I slip administrative tasks into all the cracks, and whenever I have a chunk of time to work, I try to be ready to go and really get something down. I do have to balance this all with resting a bit, though, since I do have a habit of burning myself out. Surprise surprise.

Up Next… (Posting The Week of May 19)

Erin Sweet El-Mehairi Oh For The Hook of a Book

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has a Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has been writing essays, stories, and poetry since she was a teen and has always been an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, and other various writing and journalistic pieces, and has won awards for her essays and poetry. As a journalist and a writer, she’s written for various newspapers, magazines, online news sources, and websites. Erin owns Addison’s Compass Public Relations, with a subsidiary of Hook of a Book Media. She has over 18 years of writing, communications, public relations, marketing, editing, fund-raising, event planning, blogging, social media, and copywriting experience and offers services in all of the above mentioned areas. She is delighted to be the mother of three children, Nassem Al-Mehairi, Emma Al-Mehairi, and Addison Busbey, and lives in Ohio, where she reads, writes, cooks, bakes, and probably has a million other things going on at once.

Jason Derr

Jason Derr studied Creative Writing at Eastern Washington University and has his Masters from the Vancouver School of Theology. His short fiction has appeared in The Midnight Diner, Relief, Green Briar Review and Literary Orphans. He is the author of THE BOSTON 395 and THE LIFE AND REMEMBRANCES OF MARTHA TOOLE.

Andrea Van der Wilt

Andrea’s writing journey has been quite an unusual one. Born in the Netherlands, she went from studying biology to studying theology to becoming a teacher, until she moved to Spain to be with the love of her life. In Spain she finally started to listen to her muse and take her writing seriously. Andrea is now trying to get her first fantasy novel published while working on her second. Her native language is Dutch, but she writes in English only, although it’s her dream to become fluent in Irish Gaelic one day and write Irish poetry.



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