Category Archives: Book News

Book Giveaway: Frost

Courtesy of Scholastic, I have a copy of Frost by M. P. Kozlowsky for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 14. I’ll draw a name on October 15, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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Author Guest Post: Alex Bledsoe on World Building!

Bledsoe

SOME THOUGHTS ON WORLD BUILDING
by Alex Bledsoe

World-building is a cornerstone (heh; building pun) of fantasy. Starting with the assumption that something unreal exists—vampires, dragons, elves, whatever—we then expand into the ways it influences the world in which the story happens. I’ve done it in three different ways.

The most obvious way, in my Eddie LaCrosse novels and stories, is to create an entirely new world from scratch, one that has no connection with our own, either in history, culture or religion. It’s called a “secondary world” in fantasy-speak, a term coined by Tolkein to differentiate a setting from the real, or primary, world. I’ve always disliked that term, because it implies a diminution, as if the fantasy world was somehow less than the real world. Granted many times it is, but when it works, it’s as real, as primary, as the one I’m sitting in as I type this.

When I created the world of Eddie LaCrosse, I made a couple of decisions up front. People would have regular names (i.e., Eddie), they would not speak in either faux Shakespeare or cod-Bilbical (“Behold, he is the Chosen One, who will fulfill yon Prophecy!”), and that the characters would all have identifiable jobs. I chose all this because I wanted to write the series in a voice similar to the great noir writers (Chandler, Parker, Vachss). It’s hard to do that seriously with Tolkein-ish names (“Eowyn walked into my office with a stride like a prize Rohan filly”—see?).

My Tufa novels take place ostensibly in the “primary” world, but deal with a unique fictional culture that exists within it. To make that work requires a balancing act between things the reader knows (cars, farms, families, et al.) and things they likely don’t (fairies, dream time, etc.). There’s no guide for this sort of thing; it either feels right, or it doesn’t. Sometimes it feels right at first, then goes wrong as you develop it further.

This is very close to the concept of “magical realism,” a term often used by literary writers who don’t want to be classified within a genre (i.e., “speculative fiction” instead of “science fiction” [I’m looking at you, Cormac McCarthy]). It was first used to describe the work of Latin American authors such as Isabel Allende, and has an appropriately nebulous definition. But I read a great description once (don’t ask me where) that said, in paraphrase, “It takes the world as everyone knows it, except for one aspect that’s slightly askew.” Think the magical cooking in Like Water for Chocolate, or the clairvoyance of The House of the Spirits.

This approach has the beauty of maintaining the sense of wonder that sometimes get lost when “paranormal” elements are accepted as part of the world, as in much of urban fantasy. The lack of overt explanation for either the reader or the characters means that they share the surprise at any “magical” occurrences.

I wrote two vampire novels set in 1975 Memphis, and that presented a challenge not unlike building a fantasy world. Although I lived through that period as a child, I wasn’t attuned to the subtleties of it; my memories are mostly of pop culture references. I had to research events, attitudes, even Seventies clothing (AGHHH!) in order to create—or in this case, recreate—the world. And as Michael Cimino said about Heaven’s Gate, “One uses history in a very free way,” so there is one glaring (to me, at least) anachronism that so far no reader has mentioned.

I’ve written about other “worlds” in various short stories, including westerns, horror, and of course, fantasy. Through all this, I’ve learned one thing: you can’t take the world for granted. Even in an entirely contemporary, entirely mundane story, you may be creating a world that a potential reader has never seen. It’s your job to figure out the details that will conjure that world in the reader’s mind so that they can inhabit it as fully as your characters. If you achieve that, then you have built a world.

Received in August

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in August for review and/or giveaways:

Mystery Box:
The Bam Box
TeeBlox

Ace:
Into the Guns by William C. Dietz

Archaia:
Lantern City Vol. 2 by Matthew Daley

Arc Manor / Phoenix Pick:
Soulmates by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn

Disney Hyperion:
Star Wars: Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Lockwood & Co., Book Four: The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Eden’s Escape by M. Tara Crowl
The Shadow Guard by J. D. Vaughn
Cupcake Cousins, Book 3: Winter Wonders by Kate Hannigan

Little, Brown:
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Penguin / Blue Rider Press:
The Watchers by Jon Steele
Angel City by Jon Steele
The Way of Sorrows by Jon Steele

Penguin Young Readers / Putnam / Razorbill:
Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham
The Last Star by Rick Yancey
Iceling by Sasha Stephenson
The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

Random House Kids / Crown:
100 Dresses: If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid
Thrones and Bones: Skyborn by Lou Anders

Roc:
Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

Scholastic:
Bionic by Suzanne Weyn
Key Hunters #3: The Haunted Howl by Eric Luper
Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

Shadow Mountain:
Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

Simon and Schuster / Saga:
The Cold Eye by Laura Anne Gilman

Simon and Schuster Children’s / Aladdin / Simon Pulse:
The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner
Swarm by Scott Westerfeld

Subterranean Press:
Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi
Coco Butternut by Joe R Lansdale

Tor:
Navigators of Dune by Brian Herbert

Tor Teen / Starscape:
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians: The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

Book Giveaway: Black Rain

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Courtesy of 47North, I have a copy of Black Rain by Matthew B.J. Delaney for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends September 23. I’ll draw a name on September 24, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Black Rain

Blog Tour: Book Giveaway: THIS GULF OF TIME AND STARS and GATES TO FUTURES PAST

Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of This Gulf of Time and Stars and The Gate To Futures Past by Julie E. Czerneda for two (2) lucky winners!

Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends September 16. I’ll draw names on September 17, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Blog Tour: Book Giveaway: THIS GULF OF TIME AND STARS and GATES TO FUTURES PAST

Author Interview: Barry Lyga / The Secret Sea

Secret Sea Banner

Author Barry Lyga joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about his latest release: The Secret Sea!

1. Can you tell us a bit about The Secret Sea in your own words?

The Secret Sea is the kind of book I imagined myself writing when I was a kid: crazy science, super-powers, alternate universes, a real mash-up of genres, but with a core of strong characters at its heart. It’s about family and friendship and what survives death and how far you’d be willing to go to save someone you love…and what could make you not save them.

2. Who is Zach Killian?

Zak is the book’s main characters, a 12-year-old New Yorker with a heart condition and a voice he hears that sometimes warns him of danger. He totally trusts it…which may or may not be a good idea!

3. Is your alternate reality universe more science fiction-based or fantasy?

It’s definitely science fiction, but so advanced that it seems like magic. The kinds of things we think of as supernatural in our world — voodoo, ghosts, etc. — are just highly evolved sciences over there.

4. What are some books/authors you enjoy?

Oh, so many! In comics, there’s Alan Moore and Paul Levitz. In classic literature, there’s John Milton and Edgar Allan Poe. More recently, there’s Libba Bray, Paul Griffin, and Emma Donaghoe.

5. What inspires you?

So much! I always say that inspiration is like carrying around a magic blender into which falls all sorts of random things: snippets of overheard conversations, the sound of a bird, a mural on a wall, a thought, a notion. And then the blender goes off and what comes out is a story, whether you’re ready for it or not!

6. What has your publishing journey been like?

As with so much of life, it’s been a bizarre and unpredictable series of ups and downs. I’ve been fortunate enough to publish for a full decade now, with something like 16 books out there in the world. Some of them were longshots, but someone believed in them (and in me!) and they got to find their audience. Some took off; some didn’t. And in both cases, I have no idea why! I’ve given up trying to figure out how this business or this journey works — I’m just holding onto the roller coaster for dear life!


Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Zak Killian is hearing a voice. Could it be a guardian angel? A ghost? No, that’s crazy. But sometimes the voice is so real. . . . It warns him of danger.

One day Zak is standing on the subway platform when the tunnel starts to fill with water. He sees it before anyone else. The voice warns him to run. His friends Moira and Khalid believe this is more than a premonition, and soon all three find themselves in an alternate universe that is both familiar and seriously strange. As Zak unravels the mystery behind the voice, he faces decisions that may mean the end of their world at home―if they can even get home!

In his most propulsive and heartfelt book yet, acclaimed author Barry Lyga explores the depths of friendship, the bonds of family, and the nature of the universe itself.

Book Giveaway: Gods of Nabban

Courtesy of Pyr, I have a copy of Gods of Nabban by K. V. Johansen for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 19. I’ll draw a name on August 20, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Gods of Nabban

Coloring Book Giveaway: Zombies!: A Creepy Coloring Book for the Coming Global Apocalypse

Courtesy of Gallery Books, I have a copy of Zombies!: A Creepy Coloring Book for the Coming Global Apocalypse by Juscelino Neco for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 19. I’ll draw a name on August 20, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Coloring Book Giveaway: Zombies!: A Creepy Coloring Book for the Coming Global Apocalypse