Sunday, April 14, 2019

SPFBO 2018 Highlights

Some of you have already been following along, but JUST IN CASE, a quick recap:

The SPFBO is a contest founded by Mark Lawrence. 300 authors submit their indie fantasy novel(s); those 300 are divided between 10 highly respected fantasy review bloggers. Each blog chooses ONE finalist from their batch to rule the others, and in the darkness bind them...

Kidding. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. :P

Anyway, the winner receives... well, the inherent publicity of being reviewed by these amazing bloggers, and! The Selfie Stick Award. (Click HERE for Mark's official contest link.)

SPFBO 2016 winner Jonathan French
Photo courtesy Mark Lawrence

This entire SPFBO experience has been such a gift. I've met so many wonderful writers and readers and bloggers - the real prize, in my opinion! I've been writing for a long time, but this is the first time I've truly felt part of a writing community. SO thankful to Mark Lawrence for fostering community in an industry that can feel very... well, isolating. 

Which brings me to the reason for this post and last week's letter.

Because of Mark's efforts, and those of the readers and bloggers, I/we - the ten finalists - also wanted to contribute by highlighting some of the worthy books entered into this year's SPFBO, but were dropped along the way, as is the nature of a contest that narrows 300 spots to only 10.

Without further adieu, here are a few titles you should definitely check out!

I loved this one! (You can find my official amazon review for it here.) It was such a delightful play on classic fairy tale themes. We have Tomkin, who IS NOT a hero, and "The Dragon" maiden, who is definitely NOT in distress. There's a REAL dragon, who wants to be left alone to lounge in his great hall, and a kobold, who seems to be around just for castle renovations. All of these are thrown together to make for a funny, light-hearted, and charming tale about bravery, honor, and unexpected friendships. People of all ages will find something to love here.

This book is also "related" to her Keeper Chronicles series, and I have on good authority that a boxed set version should be coming out soon... so definitely be on the lookout. JA Andrews is a fantastic storyteller!

"BANEBRINGERS. Source of the bloodbane who stalk the land. Cause of a thousand wrongs. Despised. Cast out. Hunted."

If you're looking for something a bit darker - but not necessarily grimdark - check out BANEBRINGER in Carol A. Park's Heretic Gods trilogy. This one is currently sitting on my kindle. When reviewers throw out warm, buttery crumbs like "strong female lead" and "slow-burn romance" and "well-drawn characters" and "great world building"...I AM SOLD. There's also ancient gods and a hard magic system. 

"The King is Dead. Long Live the People!"

KINGSHOLD tells the story of a society transitioning from monarchy to something more democratic, while they hold their first election. I kept seeing this gorgeous cover around the social media-verse, the premise intrigued me, and DP Woolliscroft is also a delightful person. And then Wol (a brilliant reviewer over at The Fantasy Inn) heaped glittering praises upon it, saying, "This is a cleverly plotted multi-PoV tale, and it’s told with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and wit. The characters are all deeply thought out and utterly charming, to the point where I had to remind myself that this is a debut novel." Soooo, yeah. All story boxes ticked, DONE.

Hopefully, one (or all) of them checks some of YOUR story boxes. Also, be sure to check out Angie Grigaliunas's picks from yesterday, and stay tuned for Devin Madson's picks tomorrow!


Monday, April 8, 2019

An Open Letter to Fantasy Fans Everywhere

We are the finalists of the 2018 Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, also known as SPFBO 2018. The contest has brought us together from across the globe and the far-flung corners of our favorite genre to celebrate speculative fiction and the possibilities of self-publishing.

We believe that independent publishing is a force for good in our industry. The direct connection between authors and their fans yields greater choice for readers, drives new business models for writers, and helps create new audiences for books. That’s especially true in fantasy, where new subgenres and tropes are rising up thanks to self-published authors and their fans. Independent authors are working alongside traditional publishers and authors to create a bigger, better, and more inclusive fantasy community.

If you’re looking for evidence of the quality and creativity available from independent authors, look no further than our fellow contestants in SPFBO 2018. Many of the judges this year have remarked on the great quality of books they’ve encountered, and the challenge of whittling down their entries to one finalist. Whether you want something epic or intimate, funny or frightening, grim or uplifting, there’s a fantasy book for you among this year’s SPFBO. We encourage you to find it.

To that end, we will take this time to draw attention to some fantastic books cut from this year’s competition. Over the next week, many of us will highlight some of the deserving fantasy novels of SPFBO 2018. It’s a chance to salute other indie authors who could have easily been signing this letter had the die been cast differently. Please consider giving them a shot, or any other entry that caught your eye. When the genre grows, we all win.

In closing, we’d like to thank the indomitable Mark Lawrence for founding this amazing competition and for his continued efforts to highlight independent fantasy authors. We’d also like to thank the contest organizers and judges for their hard work, thoughtful reviews, and consummate professionalism. And finally, we’d like to thank fantasy readers everywhere, without whom we could not pursue our shared passion. This wonderful community makes it all possible, and for that we are forever grateful.


Barbara Kloss

Sunday, January 6, 2019

THE GODS OF MEN Audiobook is Available!... and a giveaway!

Yooohooo, and a Happy New Year!

The audiobook version of THE GODS OF MEN is available! I'm STOKED. Emma Lysy, the narrator, did a FANTASTIC job, so enjoy! 

You can find the audiobook in one of three places:

I'll be giving away a select number of free Audible download codes early this week, so if you'd like the chance at one, make sure you've signed up for my newsletter: HERE. (I promise I don't spam!)

ALSO. If any of you would like the opportunity to read some great YA books in exchange for reviews, stop by the Young Adult Book Stop, run by Jessica Pierce. It's a great author/reader community, and authors frequently offer free ARCs (advanced reader copies) for reviews... so check it out! 

Hope you guys are settling into the New Year! I am... tired. :D The past month with Baby Girl has
been a bit of a blur.
Image result for boo sleepy animated gif

It's a phase - I know! - and a short one. Meanwhile... 

Image result for guzzling coffee gif

But! Despite the fatigue, I can actually look at words again (oh happy day!). So I'm back to working on GODS #2, and chipping away at my TBR pile (which turned into a monster this past year). So send your favorite book recommendations my way, please! ...because let's keep that TBR pile monstrous, shall we?? :P


Monday, July 9, 2018

A book!!... and a baby... :P

HI, GUYS!! *waves*

Hope you're having a great summer!

Just in case you missed it, THE GODS OF MEN is available!! WOOT WOOT!! It went out into the big, wide world just last week. It's always scary when books do that. But. It's also so very exciting watching it carve its own path!

With this story, I stretched my brain (and my fingers) into the world of high (and darker) fantasy. Which is *kinda* what took me so long. As it turns out, or at least in my case, writing multiple POVs and tying them all together can be a bit of a juggle and a challenge. But I always love a good challenge, and I'm stoked with the way it eventually turned out.

If you're into reading that sort of thing (ie higher fantasy in the vein of Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, Sarah J. Maas) - check it out! It's available in both ebook and paperback... and audiobook is currently in production!

And, as life would have it, we're having another baby! I know. It's like I can't have one without having the other. Kloss Baby #3 is due in December, so I'm working my hardest to get as much done with GODS #2 before baby arrives. I'm a little slower at the writing than I'd like, because I don't "pregnant" well, but alas! We've been here before, and it WILL! GET! DONE! In the meantime, patience, please! (...and prayers...) Also. Feel free to send chocolate.

You guys are amazing! Thanks so much to those of you who've already read and reviewed and emailed me personally... it's such a gift to know that my imaginary friends can impact others the way they've impacted me. 

And if you're not already, make sure to sign up for my newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest:

Have a GREAT week! My kiddos are at camp for the week, and I'm *hoping* to knock out some more chapters...


p.s. Has anyone played God of War? Holy moly... It's amazing!

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Gods of Men is available for PRE-ORDER!!


It's ready! After almost three years of rewrites and edits (and stress), I can finally hand her over to YOU. And here she is, in all her finished glory. Book 1 in my new epic fantasy series, THE GODS OF MEN.


Sable hated the gods. She hated what men did in their name.

Magic is forbidden throughout the Five Provinces; those born with it are hunted and killed. Sable doesn’t know her music holds power over souls—not until, at age nine, she plays her flute before the desert court and accidentally stops her baby sister’s heart, killing her. Horrified by what she’s done and fearing for her life, she flees north, out of Provincial jurisdiction and into the frigid land of exiles and thieves, known as The Wilds. There, Sable lives in hiding, burdened by guilt, and survives as a healer. But now, ten years later, someone—or something—is hunting her.

On the run again, Sable’s best chance for survival is Jos, a lethal man from the Five Provinces, who claims to need her skills as a healer to save his dying father, and she needs the large sum of money he’s offered. There’s something about him Sable doesn’t trust, but she doesn’t have many options. A spirit of the dead is hunting her, summoned by a mysterious necromancer, and it’s getting closer. 

Sable soon discovers she’s just the start of the necromancer’s plan to take over the Five Provinces, and she’s the only one with the power to stop it. But harnessing her forbidden power means revealing it to the world, and the dangerous Provincial, Jos, she’s beginning to fall for.

I can't begin to tell you what a journey this book has been. I mean, every book is a journey, but this one has been... a very defining one for me, as a writer. On so many levels. Especially spiritually, hence the major religious and spiritual themes of this new fantasy book/series. And I'm excited to share that journey with YOU.

So... thanks SO MUCH for your patience. This one took me a little longer than I'd anticipated, but I refuse to push something out before it's in full bloom. You deserve the very best I can give you.

Thanks for being the best readers a gal could ask for!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Back to square... 6.

Book #6 ... you'd think this part would get easier, but it ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT. It doesn't matter that I already have the world, the characters, the cultures. I still stare at that blank page and have a mini panic attack. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Because. It is HARD going from a tight plot and polished manuscript to vague ideas and scribbles. REALLY hard. For me, anyway. I've just conquered Everest, and now I have to climb it again. Immediately.

And yet.

I keep coming back. It's like some form of Stockholm Syndrome. 

And then I remember Dory.

Image result for just keep swimming animated gif

... except I look more like Marlin, presently. On my couch. With a pen, a notebook. Music and Pinterest. And loads of coffee. 

And see...?? I'm procrastinating!! I should be brainstorming an outline, and here I am. 

Anyway! Since I'm here, I'll update you guys on the writings. My head's been buried in rewrites (THANK YOU VERY MUCH, you relentless brilliant alphas and betas). I was in Gaia for SO LONG; it's taken a lot of tweaking to get this new world JUST RIGHT.  It's very different than Gaia. So. It's taken time to write Gaia OUT of it, and let it stand on its own two feet.

I'm happy to report that it's finally standing tall. In the shadows. Like an assassin.

I don't have an exact timeline for you at the moment, HOWEVER. Know that I'm still working diligently forward and pressing on to the sequel! I'd love to hear how some of you go about the creative process and defeat the giants of self-doubt that love to squash us before we begin. I fight mine by sheer determination. And coffee. But mostly, it's YOUR belief in my stories that keeps me going-- especially when my inner critic starts yelling. 



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Camping with Toddlers: A How-Not-To Guide.


I hath forsaken this blog for quite some time, and all I can say for myself is #life. My hope is to slowly revive it from its state of withering frailty into something a bit more colorful. Unlike the flowers NOT blooming in my yard because of the week of 110' heat we just endured.

Seriously. That was just mean.

I know it's normal for the desert, BUT WE DON'T LIVE IN THE DESERT. We moved OUT of it for this very reason!

Anyway. Back to the topic at hand: Camping.

(No cringing!! Camping is not a four letter word!!)

I happen to love camping.

I mean, would you look at that campsite view!

I love being outside in general, really. Particularly in the mountains. The woodsmoke and pine. Poking at glowing embers. The dark sky and the countless stars. Shutting off the world, and just... being.

Ben and I used to camp a lot, but, well, the addition of children stifled that a bit. Plus, living in the desert for four years, camping just didn't have the same lure for me. I like to camp near (1) trees and (2) streams and (3) mountains.


I'm a spoiled California girl, what can I say?

So, now that we're back by the good ol' Sierras, and the boys are a little bit more... independent (i.e. I was PRETTY sure Brennan wouldn't spend the entire time eating dirt, which, thankfully, he didn't), we thought we'd give it a go. We went with some good friends of ours, with a big group from church. It was awesome for all sorts of reasons, but one of those reasons, which happens to be more important to me NOW than it ever was before, is food prep. A few in our church DID IT ALL! (they should be sainted.)

Cooking is the only snag for me with camping, because #dishes. I HATE DOING THEM. And who wants to deal with cooking and dishes after a day of wrestling with dirty toddlers, who are whiny and overtired because they're too excited to fall asleep at night, and then the dang crows laugh you awake at 5 AM?

Yeah, not feeling the cooking, people... (side note: a prime example on importance of commas.)

Having the cooking handled made ALLLLLLL the difference. We were able to just... enjoy the day, drink the coffee, see the sights. And in Yosemite, there are PLENTY.

We took the boys on a few hikes. I tried to keep my expectations realistic (No, Barbara, your boys are *still* probably too young to hike Half Dome... No, you can't do Cloud's Rest, either... Yes, sixteen miles is too much for a three and four year old). But three miles? WE CAN DO THREE MILES.

I bribed them with Werther's and Skittles and Twizzlers to keep them moving when ALL! THEY! WANTED! TO! DO! WAS! STOP!

It was really important to me that we hiked the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall (read: THEY WERE GOING TO DO IT EVEN IF I HAD TO DRAG THEM BY THEIR EARS). I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Mist Trail, because you're hiking up steps carved directly into the rock, right alongside a waterfall, whilst getting HOSED. It is SO COOL and SO HUGE and SO POWERFUL (like everything in Yosemite). Really, I think that's part of the reason I love being in the mountains. Nothing makes me appreciate God's power more than seeing the magnificent landscape He's created. Yosemite is awe-inspiring.

The drought has kept Vernal Fall to a sad trickle for too many years, and there was nothing remotely misty about the Mist Trail. The name was almost a mockery. But this year - a year of 170% snowpack - it MORE than earned its name. Ben ended up having to carry Brennan on the uphills, but I'm happy to report that the boys made it - 3+ miles! - and we were all properly soaked by the end!

VERNAL FALL: It's hard to see just how WET everything is, but that is all spray! If you look closely, you can see people in ponchos, upper right.

Another side trip I've always wanted to do, but we've never before stayed in Yosemite long enough to do it, was Glacier Point. It's got incredible views of Half Dome and the Valley. I mean, it's kind of impossible to appreciate the sight of Half Dome when you're STANDING ON TOP OF IT. (There's a metaphor in there somewhere...)

Someone told us to try Sentinel Dome, which is a "short" hike off the road to Glacier Point, so we did that instead.

I have learned that words like "short" have a different meaning when you have toddlers.

The boys weren't enthused about a second day in a row of hiking. (No one wanted to hold my hand by the end of it. I can't blame them. I only walk at one pace. It's hereditary.)

Me and Brennan

My boys shed their share of tears, and I ran out of candy too soon, but they made it. THE VIEWS, though! So worth it! Hopefully, when they're older, they'll agree with me...

There ARE showers in the Valley, for those of you who MUST. SHOWER. At $5 per person, they're pretty pricey. The Yosemite Lodge pool was offering a free swim, so we opted for that instead. Plus! Views of Yosemite Falls while you're swimming! ...Except right before we left, someone pooped in the pool (eeeeeeeeeeeewwww), so we ended up having to shower anyway.

Like I said: I LOVE camping, and camping with the kiddos is a completely new experience. Before, when Ben and I would camp, it was more for the purpose of hiking. Pushing ourselves physically, conquering some new height, reaching a vantage we had to earn.

That's changed, obviously. It's HAD to, but I find myself loving the other parts. The simpler parts. Just getting the boys outside, letting them play in a stream for hours, helping them explore the incredible world God's made, and teaching them things like how to roast a marshmallow (and try not to get stressed by all the STICKY.) Being together WITHOUT the daily chaos and noise. WITHOUT all the things that demand our attention. Remembering what's important. (like sleep, haha)

Inside our ten-person tent, aka The Taj.

Speaking of important, when I asked Brahm what his favorite part about the trip was, he quickly replied with, "Wyatt and Everett!" (his friends)

Sometimes I feel like my four year old has a better grasp on priorities than I do.

Where the Wild Things are...
Briana, and a cup of liquid sanity.

I'll end with this: After four days and three nights of camping, I tucked Brahm into his own bed and asked:

Me: Did you like sleeping in the sleeping bag in the tent?
Brahm: *thinking* *nods* Yeah, but... *hesitates* There are so many people in the tent. I like sleeping in my bed. There are not so many people in my bed.

I hear ya, kid. No matter where you go or what you do, it's ALWAYS good to be home.

I'd LOVE to hear YOUR camping stories!!

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