Category Archives: Fantasy

Days of the Dead Blog Tour: Gail Z. Martin Guest Post

Swords & Shotguns: Epic and Urban Fantasy
By Gail Z. Martin

What’s the difference between epic fantasy and urban fantasy?

Generally speaking, epic fantasy happened long ago, often in a medieval time period, with swords and castles. The stakes are big, often the fate of a kingdom or dynasty at risk. Urban fantasy usually means books set in present-day or at least Twentieth or Twenty-First Century, where it’s our world but with magic and the supernatural.

I think the lines are blurrier than that. I could envision a story in a medieval setting that deals with supernatural goings-on within a city that saves the world but never has the epic Lord of the Rings-style big battles. And I’ve written stories set in a modern city where the fate of the world hangs in the balance because of paranormal problems.

I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. (And as far as I’m concerned, Steampunk is often Victorian urban fantasy with cool gadgets.) So while the sub-genre categories are handy on Amazon and to tell booksellers where to shelve novels, they matter less to me as an author, because I come up with the story first, and then figure out which bucket it best fits.

Epic fantasy is fun because I get to put my degree in medieval history to use and research fun things like trebuchets and garderobes, and what kind of explosives were available in the 1400s. Oh, and I’m gaining the ability to swear with words no one’s bandied around since before Shakespeare.

Urban fantasy means I can use pop culture references and modern slang, and I have to research the history of the cities in which I base stories, because people live there and can catch me if I’m wrong about something. I look up stuff on guns and modern explosives and probably have a file at the FBI for questionable internet searches.

I think the hardest thing about writing in both epic and urban fantasy is switching mindsets. My urban fantasy characters have largely experienced the same world I live in, with some paranormal twists. But the epic fantasy characters are going to see the world differently because of how people back then understood science, medicine, rank and class. They’ll pay no attention to things like abysmal sanitation or take for granted the pecking order of a hereditary nobility, but fail to understand disease transmission or infection. Not only is the wording different, the world view is different. This is important, because if you don’t write about characters who are products of their times, then you’ve just got modern people dressed up in costumes.

So the trick with urban fantasy is to make people believe that there are ghosts in Charleston, SC, vampires in Central Park, or fae riding motorcycles through West Virginia. You’ve got to get readers to suspend what they know about the world and make room for magic and the supernatural, which suddenly makes the familiar into new territory.

And the difficulty with epic fantasy is creating characters who are true to their world and the limitations of the knowledge and cultural failings of their time and make them sympathetic and relatable to modern readers. To be realistic, they’re going to have some of the biases and blinders common to their era, and that becomes a growth opportunity for them to overcome. They’re going to view the world through scientific fallacies and since-disproven theories. Yet for the reader, those assumptions and the actions that follow have to make sense and not get in the way of the story. They may be progressive or enlightened in some ways, and very much a product of their times in other ways.

Believe it or not, this is the fun stuff for an author. People in the past had incredibly clever ways of dealing with the world around them in lieu of the technology we take for granted, and ferreting those details out makes the world come alive. Likewise, when I can find a bit of history or a detail about a modern city that supports the case I’m building for a supernatural threat, I celebrate, because the plot then becomes even more tangled up with the setting.

I’ve written three epic fantasy series so far, including the new Darkhurst series (Scourge) and the upcoming Assassins of Landria series. I’ve also written or co-written two urban fantasy series (Deadly Curiosities, Spells Salt & Steel) with three more new series forthcoming. There’s lots of territory left to explore!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/2017/10/25/its-my-days-of-the-dead-blog-a-palooza/

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight 2017, back for more with new authors and fantastic new posts! 130+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! All of my guest blog posts have links to free excerpts—grab them all!

Rafflecopter giveaway—enter for a chance to win a copy of Spells, Salt and Steel! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9751c0426/?

An excerpt from our new Spells, Salt, and Steel: A New Templars Novel— http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/short-stories-and-more/spells-salt-steel/spells-salt-steel/excerpt-spells-salt-steel/

And an excerpt from my friend Jean Marie Ward’s ‘Fixed’ from The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity: http://jeanmarieward.com/books/excerpt-fixed/

About the Author:
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. Vengeance: A Darkhurst novel, is the second in a new epic fantasy series for Solaris (coming April, 2018). Her Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC has a new novel, Vendetta, and a new collection, Trifles and Folly. Spells, Salt, and Steel is the first in another new urban fantasy series set in upstate Pennsylvania.

Other work includes the Chronicles Of The Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms series, the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, and Iron & Blood (co-authored with Larry N. Martin)

Find her at www.GailZMartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin.

Graphic Novel Review: Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman

Wonder Woman 77 Meets The Bionic Woman

Synopsis:
Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, the most beloved female icons of 1970s television, come together for globe-trotting action against their worst enemies! Diana Prince and Jaime Sommers team up to fight a rogue cabal bent on wreaking havoc and stealing deadly weapons. Can CASTRA be stopped before their real targets are revealed and lives are lost? And what three familiar villains threaten the unbeatable combination of bracelets and bionics?

Review:
Two of my favorite super heroes from the 70s make a fantastic team-up in this graphic novel. These 3 strong female leads show true girl power as they battle mysterious fembots and a mysterious foe.

Fans of both shows will get to see several familiar faces. And their adventures even take them to Paradise Island. My favorite aspect of these stories is the incredible artwork. Diana and Jaime look just like Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner. And the secondary characters are easy to distinguish as well. The story is well-paced with plenty of action and intrigue. I will definitely be reading the rest of these homages to 70s series.

Book Giveaway: Moon Chosen

Courtesy of Wednesday Books, I have a copy of Moon Chosen by PC Cast 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 November 17. I’ll draw a name on November 18, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Moon Chosen

Fantasy Book Review: Sorcery for Beginners

Sorcery for Beginners by Matt Harry (Author) and Juliane Crump (Illustrator)

Synopsis:
Five-hundred years ago, sorcery began to fade from the world. As technology prevailed, combustion engines and computers replaced enchanted plows and spell books. Real magicians were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten. That is … until now.

Sorcery for Beginners is no fantasy or fairy tale. Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), this book is a how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It’s also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long war when he uses sorcery to take on a school bully. Owen’s spell casting attracts the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, all of whom wish to use Sorcery for Beginners to alter the course of world history forever.

Review:
Owen is dealing with his parent’s divorce and his mother’s absence. He’d do anything to turn back time and fix things. So, when he is presented with Sorcery for Beginners, he sees it as a chance. But when a secret group finds Owen, they’ll stop at nothing to get the book from him.

Sorcery for Beginners is the first in a new fantasy series for young teens. There is plenty of danger, suspense, magic, and humor. I would like to see more character development with Owen’s friends in future installments. The strength of the story is definitely the pacing and intense suspense. And the accompanying illustrations add to the story, making it feel like you’re reading the book of magic along with the students. The engaging world-building will definitely keep me reading future installments.

Box Review: Bam Box – September 2017

Bam Box

The Bam Box was founded in 2015 by Bloof, the same team of geeks, comic book lovers and pop culture collectors that started ComiconAuction.com. We love collecting. We love the thrill of it, the mystery of it and especially that feeling you get when you have a collectible in your hands that you are really excited about. So we set out to bring something different to everyone.

There are some great subscription boxes on the market, but we felt there was still something missing. We went to the drawing board with the goal of creating the box we would want to show up on our doorstep. After a lot of ideas and prototypes we arrived at the Bam Box. From the design of the box to the items inside to the instant winners we send out, we accomplished what we wanted to do: give you the subscription box we would be jealous of.”

Cost: 1 month plan starts at $24.99 plus $7.99 s/h

*SciFiChick.com received a box for review purposes.

Bam Box

The box comes with a nice mini mag, describing all of the included items.

Bam Box

Space Ghost Pin and Watchmen Patch

Bam Box

Signed BB-8 Photo – These are signed by actor Brian Herring who worked as the droid performer in the recent film. It’s a very cool image that I’ll probably keep and display.

Bam Box

Goonies Doubloon – I wonder if One-Eyed Willy cursed this?

Bam Box

Defenders Art Print – I’m a fan of the Netflix show and love these characters. I received a rare, 1-up version in black and white. But it’s a shame as the color version looked cooler.

Bam Box Bam Box

Deadpool Replica Mask – Just in time for Halloween! Fans of the wise-cracking anti-hero will love this spot-on Deadpool mask.

Summary:
Besides the pin and patch filler, I think I’m keeping all the items in this box – which rarely happens! I really like both of the prints – especially BB-8. And the Goonies Doubloon and Deadpool mask replicas were the highlights for sure. This was probably one of my favorite boxes from Bam Box so far!

Fantasy Book Review: Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Clagi Gallicano

Synopsis:
Haunted by a dream of a mythical gryphon, Sam London uncovers an ancient secret that will change the way he sees the world forever. Recruited by Dr. Vance Vantana, an eccentric zoologist and park ranger sent by the government, Sam is whisked away on an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the globe. Along this journey, Sam learns an incredible truth: mythical creatures are real and living among us in our national parks. A special department in the U.S. government ensures that their existence remains hidden.

But Sam’s dream is an omen that the secret may now be in danger. Someone seeks the power to expose these creatures and overthrow humankind—and that power can only be found in a magical talisman known as the gryphon’s claw.

Review:
Sam has vivid dreams. And his latest has him obsessed with finding more answers about the mythical gryphon he keeps seeing. When he hunts down the place from his dreams, Sam’s life will never be the same.

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw is the first in an exciting fantasy series for middle grade readers. Sam is an average boy who doesn’t feel exceptional at anything. But he has a gift that sets him on a course for adventure. There are loads of fun and vibrant characters and mythological creatures. And the hunt for the powerful grypho’s claw builds to an exciting and surprising ending. I look forward to the next in this promising series.

Received in September

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

Blu-Rays:
Wonder Woman Blu-ray Edition
Wonder Woman 3D Blu-ray Edition

Mystery Boxes:
TeeBlox

Baen:
Chain of Command by Frank Chadwick
The Spark by David Drake

Daw:
To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda

Del Rey / Bantam:
Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
The Core by Peter V. Brett
Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View by Renée Ahdieh
The Book of Swords by George R. R. Martin
A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Disney Hyperion:
Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon: A Tangled Novel by Leila Howland
Star Wars: Join the Resistance Escape from Vodran: (Book 2) by Ben Acker
The Percy Jackson Coloring Book by Rick Riordan
Tales from Adventureland The Keymaster’s Quest by Jason Lethcoe
Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy by Serena Valentino
Lockwood & Co., Book Five The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

DK:
Star Wars Made Easy by Christian Blauvelt

Gallery Books:
Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack

HMH / Mariner:
The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp
Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay
Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories by Hugh Howey

Little, Brown:
Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Macmillan Teen / Feiwel and Friends / Imprint / Swoon:
The Greed by Scott Bergstrom
Losing Leah by Tiffany King
Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

Pocket Books:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Original Sin by David R. George Iii

Pyr:
The Genius Plague by David Walton

Random Houses Children’s / Schwartz and Wade / Knopf / Delacorte Press:
Ben Franklin’s in My Bathroom! by Candace Fleming
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones
Everything You Need to Know About NIGHTMARES! and How to Defeat Them by Jason Segel

Scholastic:
The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury
Don’t Cosplay With My Heart by Cecil Castellucci
Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix

Simon Teen / McElderry Books / Simon Pulse:
Freefall by Joshua David Bellin
Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

St Martin’s Press:
Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Subterranean Press:
Penric’s Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold

ThinkGeek:
Star Wars Necklace

Titan Comics:
Assassin’s Creed Uprising Volume 1: Common Ground by Alex Paknadel

Tor:
Horizon by Fran Wilde
The Midnight Front by David Mack
The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera
Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card
Deadlands: Boneyard by Seanan McGuire
The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear