Category Archives: Giveaways

Book Giveaway: The Originals: The Resurrection

Courtesy of the Harlequin Teen, I have a copy of The Originals: The Resurrection by Julie Plec 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 June 12. I’ll draw a name on June 13, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

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The Girl at Midnight Blog Tour

Echo’s Top Five Heroines
by Melissa Grey

In The Girl at Midnight, my seventeen-year-old protagonist, Echo, lives in the New York Public Library and has since she was seven years old. Naturally, she’s spent a good chunk of her wild and reckless youth reading. Here’s a list of Echo’s favorite heroines from fictional worlds, in no particular order.

1. Claudia, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – Echo’s original role model. She came across this book in her elementary school library and she loved it so much she may have “forgotten” to return it (every thief starts somewhere). Claudia runs away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which inspires Echo to take off on her own and set up camp in the gorgeous main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

2. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter – Sometimes, brute force isn’t the best way through a problem. Sometimes, the best solution is a combination of books and cleverness. Like Hermione, Echo enjoys devouring knowledge from all across the spectrum, because hey, you never know when you might need to whip up a Polyjuice Potion to save the day.

3. Éowyn, The Lord of the Rings – A woman born into a world of suffocating expectations who defies convention to become a warrior so fearsome not even the Witch King stands a chance? What’s not to love?

4. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games – The benefit of living in a library is that you get to read all the best books before they’re checked out forever (seriously, try borrowing The Hunger Games these days, you’ll be on the wait list for ages). Katniss scrabbles together a meager survival and goes to the ends of the earth to protect the people she loves, something Echo knows a thing or two about.

5. Morgaine, The Mists of Avalon – This Marion Zimmer Bradley classic has it all: action, adventure, romance, heartbreak, and of course, complex, nuanced female characters. Morgaine, also known as Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend, is a powerful priestess fighting to preserve’s her people’s place in the world against the overwhelming tide of patriarchy. And that’s something Echo can get behind.

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Courtesy of Random House Children’s Books, I have a copy of The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey 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 June 5. I’ll draw a name on June 6, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading The Girl at Midnight Blog Tour

Josh Vogt Guest Post and Giveaway!

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Not the Face! – Making Fight Scenes Mean Something
by Josh Vogt

Confession time: I love writing fight scenes. Why is that something necessitating a confession? Well, I guess I’m saying it in a “sorry, but not really sorry” manner, but there are both readers and writers out there who tend to see fight scenes as little more than fluff—non-essential or cheap ways to add tension and conflict to the tale. They’re the skimmable portions of the prose, and you might as well just flip to the end to see who survives and move on to the actual important parts.

Are there books where the fight scenes are nothing more ways to pad the novel or bridge the gap between Point A and Point B? Sure. But they don’t have to be that way, nor does a fight scene have to be the answer to [INSERT CONFLICT HERE]. So how does one keep a fight scene from being nothing more than page and plot filler?

Make it About More than the Violence
Violence for violence’s sake gets boring fast. It becomes mere spectacle, like the endless explosions and pointless clashes in the Transformers movies. You have to answer the question, “Why are they fighting? What’s the point?” If you can’t answer that, even on a base level, your scene may be in trouble. Give the fight a purpose and, when possible, make it more than just simple survival. Yes, living is a good thing, but at least look at what instigates the conflict in the first place and have it hold substance.

Give it Real Stakes
If your characters get tossed into fight after fight without any real consequences—physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise—then your readers are going to quickly learn that the fight scenes don’t actually matter. Everything will return to the status quo as soon as the last enemy is laid low. I’m not saying you have to go to G.R.R. Martin lengths and slaughter half your cast in the first chapter, but at least consider what the cost of those fights is going to be in both the short and long-term.

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Use it to Spur Change
What changes about your character in the midst of a fight or in the aftermath? What realizations do they have about themselves or others when in the heat of a battle? Are they aware of what they’re truly fighting for? Are they using the physical outlet as a way to vent or process inner pain? Is winning (or losing) the fight going to give them the chance to grow or overcome a personal failing? Fights are dynamic events, and so can inspire new perspectives and attitudes in participants.

Know When to Skip the Action
Wait, if we’re talking about writing fight scenes, why am I suggesting we jump past them? Because sometimes the action doesn’t have to be directly shown. Fight scenes can be too heavily choreographed, denoting every twitch and touch back and forth. Yet this can bog down story pacing and become more about the author showing off than actually moving the plot forward. A fight might be conveyed in a mere line or two, or the scene can jump directly to the fallout without running the risk of getting lost in unnecessary details. Start asking yourself if seeing the whole fight is actually essential or if anything would be lost if most or all of it was cut.

And yes, I will argue that fight scenes can be worth writing purely for the fun of it! Just like we can sit back and enjoy a good action sequence in a movie, there are those who enjoy well-crafted fights in books. However, if the story relies on little more than constant fighting to keep things moving, then it may be time to reconsider what missing elements those scenes are trying to compensate for or distract from.

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About the Author:
Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

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Courtesy of the author, I have a copy of Enter the Janitor 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 June 5. I’ll draw a name on June 6, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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The Novice Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

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Creating Fantasy Worlds
by Taran Matharu

Writing in a fantasy world is no easy task. World building is tricky – too much too soon and you’re info dumping. Too little too late and the reader will have very little idea of what the world is like.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about creating the world in the first place, before you write it all down. In fantasy, the world is often the first thing readers look at when deciding if it’s a book they would like to read, so it’s important to make it a good one.

So here goes. My five stages of creating a new world:

Step 1: The Premise

Very often, you will know what the premise is already; otherwise you would not be writing a book. Maybe you want to write about dragon riders vs. necromancers. So drill down into these things first. Is there a military element to the dragon riders and if so, what’s it like? How many types of dragon are there? Are necromancers born with the ability, or is it taught?

Step 2: The Wider World

Once you have the main stage set, ask yourself, how does this affect the day to day of the wider world? Are there dragon transports, carrying goods back and forth? Do people no longer fear death, knowing they can return as the undead? Is this a medieval fantasy, or are there gunpowder weapons powerful enough to take down a dragon? These are the things you need to explore before you begin writing. It will add detail and colour to the world you build, and the story will be all the richer for it.

Step 3: The People

Quite simply, a world is only as good as the people in it. It is somewhat an extension of Step 2, with more focus on the different groups of people who populate the world. Using the same example, you might ask yourself, are there undead slaves and manservants doing all the work? Perhaps there are activists, campaigning for undead rights. What are dragon riders like? What weapons do they use? Do auxiliary troops support them, or do they fight alone? Again, these questions will not only allow you to build a more coherent world, but also allow you to develop the characters that will feature in your book.

Step 4: The Geography

The fantasy map is always fun to design. But it also serves as an important backdrop for your world. Is it a tropical paradise, full of mountains for dragons to roost in? Or is it a flat wasteland, perfect for roving hordes of zombies.
The landscape the world takes place in is important. Although great swathes of purple prose describing the landscape can be irritating. Find the right balance and your work takes on a cinematic quality. Laying this all out early will help you when developing your world and the plot itself. Do the distances involved have an impact? Are some places impassable, requiring the hero to take a certain route?

Again, Step 2 comes into play here. With zombies everywhere, you might have enormous walled cities, the last bastions for humanity’s survival. Or maybe it is the dragons that are the real threat, scaring people into living in underground cities.

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Step 5: Choosing What Belongs and What Doesn’t.

Be ambitious, but realistic. At the same time, try to stay flexible.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have more ideas than you can count. Keep them all in the back of your mind as you write, but always be aware of one thing:

Sometimes, a world can be too complex and creative. You’ll find yourself bogged down in lengthy explanations, or exploring some aspect of the world’s intricacies that throws the plot off course. Be wary of your book becoming an encyclopaedic exploration of a world, rather than a story.

Finally, don’t be afraid to adapt as you write. Maybe some aspect of the world doesn’t fit, or you can’t do it justice in the text you can spare to feature it in. Perhaps it has no relevance to the story, serving as a distraction rather than a backdrop. When writing, it’s important to keep to the core of the world first and filter in the rest when it feels natural. Your writer instincts might warn you that something isn’t quite working. Listen to them if they do.

I hope these tips help you when you set out on your own writing journeys. Does a world full of orcs, elves and dwarves with an academy for summoning demons tickle your fancy? If so, feel free to check out my debut novel, Summoner: The Novice. Thanks for reading!

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Courtesy of Macmillan, I have a copy of Summoner: The Novice 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 May 29. I’ll draw a name on May 30, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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Book Giveaway: Gathering Prey

Courtesy of Putnam, I have a copy of Gathering Prey by John Sandford 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 May 14. I’ll draw a name on May 15, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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Book Giveaway: The Machine Awakes

Courtesy of Tor Books, I have a copy of The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher 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 May 15. I’ll draw a name on May 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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Becoming Jinn Blog Tour: Giveaways and List of 10 Things Every Jinn Girl Needs

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Author Lori Goldstein joins SciFiChick.com today to give us the Top Ten Things Every Jinn Girl Needs and offer a special giveaway (details below)! < em>Becoming Jinn releases April 21st from Feiwel & Friends.

Ten Things Every Jinn Girl Needs
by Lori Goldstein

1. Sweets. All Jinn have a sweet tooth, but not every Jinn is talented enough to conjure food. Kitchens need to be stocked with chocolate, ice cream, and a host of sugary treats.

2. A space heater. Jinn love the heat and hate the cold. Space heaters, fireplaces, outdoor firepits, and the like are a requirement.

3. Family cantamen. Part rulebook, part spell book, part history book, part memoir, part diary, a Jinn cantamen helps guide new Jinn as they hone their magic. Each family maintains its own, adding to it over the centuries.

4. A large house. With a Zar sisterhood made up of six Jinn, Zar gatherings require a home with enough room to accommodate big groups. Two Zars together equal twelve Jinn, three pump it up to eighteen…you get the idea.

5. A laptop and an Internet connection. Granting wishes for humans requires research on the wish candidate to ensure whatever actions taken to accomplish the wish won’t raise any suspicions. The more a Jinn knows about their wishee, the less risky granting wishes is…something Azra must learn the hard way.

6. A tagine. To make dishes like Azra’s favorite, chicken tagine with tomatoes and sweet caramelized onions, a traditional tagine with its round dish and conical lid is required.

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The Water and the Wild Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

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Spaceship in My Basement: How My Trekkie Dad Inspired My Writing
by K.E. Ormsbee

K. E. OrmsbeeThere is a spaceship in the basement of my childhood home. My dad, a civil engineer and hardcore scifi nerd, built the aforementioned ship when I was a toddler. It’s a glorious amalgamation of 2x4s, dental chairs, slide projectors, and dozens of lite-brite pieces. From the pilot’s seat, you can click through various lunar phases, watch the IMAX classic The Dream Is Alive, and command the ship using an MS-DOS shuttle launch program. In this ship, you can pay a visit to the moon, Jupiter, or the farthest reaches of deep space. And believe me, as a kid, I did all of the above.

I can’t remember a house party at my place that didn’t involve a quick trip to the moon. The spaceship was a magical experience, a talking piece, and the obsession of every childhood friend my sister and I brought home. Later, it became my go-to fun fact so often required by summer camp icebreakers. It’s saved me from many a conversational rut and even found its way into my official author biography. But only recently have I begun to contemplate the long-term effect that spaceship and my dad’s general love of scifi had on me and, by extension, my writing.

My personality is a carbon copy of my dad’s. I inherited his melancholic disposition and his obsession with all things theoretical. Growing up, he and I debated everything from Plato to predestination to the legalization of pot. He taught me the fundamentals of calculus, logic, and rhetoric. And he instilled in me an abiding love for Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost In Space, Battlestar Galactica, and The Twilight Zone. Looking back, I realize that those philosophical debates, differential equation lessons, and Friday night family movie dates all shared a common theme. They were all about asking big questions and looking for answers. (It’s just, the questions The Twilight Zone asked were way more fun to answer than the questions found in my Calc 101 textbook.)

My dad and I didn’t watch all those scifi shows and films for the special effects. (I mean, have you seen tribbles?) We watched them because their screenwriters weren’t afraid to explore difficult issues in unique ways. I remember staying awake in bed after our movie nights, brain whirring through questions about mortality, mob mentality, eugenics, treatment of “lesser” sentient beings, addictive behavior, vigilante justice, justice versus revenge, and harmful measures taken in the name of “the greater good.”

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