Category Archives: Guest Post

Marshall Ryan Maresca Guest Post and Giveaway: THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW!

Guest Post: “Who are your influences?”by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Any artist of any stripe gets asked this question, and I know for me, it’s always challenging to come up with a coherent answer. My influences come from so many places, different mediums. It all filters into my head and percolates in my subconscious to create the sweet, dark brew that I write. It’s not always easy to say, “That, that’s where that comes from.”

Not always.

However, in the case of The Holver Alley Crew, it’s pretty easy. Not the heist-story influences, though many of those are probably pretty evident. No, I’m talking about the influence on the feel of the book; its soul.

“Have you got soul? Then Dublin’s hardest working band is looking for you.”

The Commitments is possibly one of my favorite movies ever. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you stop right now and go find it on Netflix or something and dig in.

I’ll wait.

All right, back?

The Commitments is full of the sense of place that I wanted to capture with The Holver Alley Crew, as well as the sense of desperate people coming together to form a group to achieve something greater as a team than they ever could individually. Of course, in The Holver Alley Crew they’re coming together for crime and revenge, rather than music—but the spirit is the same.

Because they’re people who life has beat down, and in coming together, in doing something, they give themselves hope.

“You’re missin’ the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.”

It’s a movie where the impoverished and rundown Dublin is very much the main character. People know each other, they support each other—unless they’re screaming at each other and trying to crack their skulls open. There’s pride in where they’re from, even if it’s a s***heap, because it’s their s***heap. This is what I tried to invoke in creating the West Maradaine neighborhood of North Seleth.

My Holver Alley characters—the Rynax brothers, the Kesser cousins, Kennith, Mila and Almer—they’ve been discarded and stepped on throughout their lives, especially after the fire that destroys Holver Alley.

And, of course, for them, the heists and thieving is their art. It’s as much what they do and how they express themselves as the music is for the band in The Commitments.

Soul is the music people understand. Sure it’s basic and it’s simple. But it’s something else ’cause, ’cause, ’cause it’s honest, that’s it. It’s honest. There’s no f****’ bull****. It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart. Sure there’s a lot of different music you can get off on but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you … and lifts you above the s****.

And that’s what they’re doing for themselves in Holver Alley Crew—lifting themselves above. But, you know, with knives and crossbows instead of soul and song.

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Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of The Holver Alley Crew by Marshall Ryan Maresca 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 March 24. I’ll draw a name on March 25, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Marshall Ryan Maresca Guest Post and Giveaway: THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW!

MARTIANS ABROAD Blog Tour: Carrie Vaughn Guest Post

Carrie Vaughn joins SciFiChick.com today to promote her new release, Martians Abroad, and talk about the worldbuilding fantasy vs. science fiction!

The Details that Build a World
by Carrie Vaughn

Worldbuilding is the lifeblood of SF&F. We love these genres because we want to travel to other places, see new and amazing worlds, the more fantastical, futuristic, and amazing the better. And the more believable those worlds seem, the more we feel like we could buy a ticket on a starship or simply step through a wardrobe to see it all for ourselves, the happier we are. Build that world, readers will come.

I spent ten years writing an urban fantasy series in which werewolves, vampires, and all sorts of magic exist in our world. My new book, Martians Abroad, is about a third generation Martian colonist visiting Earth for the first time.

Was hard, switching gears? Was it a big leap to go from magic to space ships?

I gotta say, and this may come as a surprise to some people, worldbuilding in the science fiction book might just be little bit easier. Because all the information is right there. If you’re extrapolating from where we are now to where we might be in a couple of hundred years — colonizing the solar system, imagining what the technology might look like, considering what science tells us is possible — the choices are limited. Yes, you have to be accurate. People will fact check every word you write. But for most of the questions an author like me has about this science-fictional world I’m creating, there’s going to be a plausible answer. A more plausible answer, anyway. A scientifically reasonable one. We can make good guesses about the effects of low gravity on human anatomy. I know how to describe the Martian landscape because I can look up hundreds of beautiful pictures, thanks to the rovers Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity. After the last fifty or so years of solar system exploration and discovery, there’s surprisingly little I had to make up. And can I just gush about how utterly cool that is?!

In fantasy, authors often have to build their worlds from the ground up. Yes, I can make it all up by the seat of my pants. It still has to be believable. I still have to make choices that make sense and seem right and fit together to make a great story and a world my readers want to visit. And there are no real right answers. On the one hand, anything goes, right? Well, I’m not sure about that. I think this freedom from real-world data also means I need to be a lot more careful because there’s no good way to double check my work. No way to know if what I’m writing is believable until it ends up in front of a reader. The reader always has the final word on whether the worldbuilding in a book is successful.

In the end, both fantasy and science fiction require thoughtful world building and attention to details. The source material may be different, but the goal is the same: make the reader believe.

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About Martians Abroad:

Teenage Polly Newton has one single-minded dream: to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. But her mother, the director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly’s plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth—the one planet Polly has no desire to visit. Ever.

Homesick and cut off from her desired future, Polly cannot seem to fit into the constraints of life on Earth, unlike Charles, who deftly maneuvers around people and sees through their behavior to their true motives. But when strange, unexplained, and dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.

About the Author:
CARRIE VAUGHN, the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, is also the author of the stand-alone novels After the Golden Age and Discord’s Apple, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel. She holds a Masters in English Literature and collects hobbies—fencing and sewing are currently high on the list. You can visit her online at www.carrievaughn.com.

Author Guest Post: Alex Bledsoe on World Building!

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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.

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier author photo

“Apocalyptic Fantasy”
by Joshua Palmatier
I’ve been reading fantasy for * coughcough * number of years and in a good portion of the novels I’ve read there are hints—or sometimes even blatant references—to “the world before the Cataclysm”! It’s a common theme, one that’s basically a trope now. I think there are many reasons for this, the most obvious being that if the reader thinks this strange new world they’re reading about is connected to their own world in some way, they’re going to connect to the story more as well. But I always wondered about that Cataclysm. What could bring about such significant change? And if the Cataclysm referred to our own world, how did the disaster itself bring us from our current world to this fantasy world I’m now reading about?

This of course got me thinking . . . never a good thing. How DID the apocalypse come about? I’ve always loved reading apocalyptic novels, and yet I’d never seen a fantasy novel where the characters actually live through the apocalypse. They’re always set hundreds of years later, when the world has changed and magic has been activated or reborn somehow. (Not that there aren’t such books out there; I just never ran across them.) So why not write a fantasy novel—not sent in our world, but a true secondary world—and tell the events that led up to the apocalypse and what comes after? This, along with the conjunction of a few other ideas, such as using ley lines as a power source, birthed the “Ley” series.

Also, I really like to blow s#&% up. * grin *

The premise is that, in this secondary world, society has evolved around using the ley lines in a way not unlike how we use electricity. Rather than having the society rooted in some kind of medieval setting, I decided that the world should be more advanced. So, imagine New York City or London, but instead of electricity, everything is being powered by the magic of the ley lines. Light, heat, transportation, etc.—all of it controlled by the Prime Wielders and their closely guarded Nexus. And the Wielders are controlled by the Baron, who’s using the Nexus and the advantages of the ley to rule the Baronial Plains with an iron fist. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, of course. But the main point is that I wanted to write a novel where the reader experiences what the fantasy world was like BEFORE the Cataclysm that changed it. And then I wanted to explore what the world was like afterwards with the survivors. These are those two novels—SHATTERING THE LEY and THREADING THE NEEDLE. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the Cataclysm that so many fantasy novels refer to, here’s your chance.


Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of Threading the Needle by K. Eason 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 July 15. I’ll draw a name on July 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Joshua Palmatier

Blog Tour: Ada Palmer Guest Post

Ada Palmer

Author Ada Palmer joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about the world from her latest release Too Like The Lightning!

Too Like the Lightning: A World of Diaspora

The flying cars on the cover of my science fiction novel <em are more than just a promise that this will be a classic, energetic science fiction setting, with dazzling futuristic cities reminiscent of golden age SF. They’re also the center of the political system in my version of the 25th century. This future is linked together by a system of flying cars so fast that you can commute from anywhere on Earth to anywhere else in two hours, close enough to bring the whole planet into practical commuting distance.

Imagine if such a system came in as suddenly as smart phones, and within a few years it came to be effortless to commute from continent to continent. There would be political and even military consequences (we hear about that phase of history in the background of the story), but it’s easy to see how it would also revolutionize lives, and families. No one would have to choose where to live based on a job anymore, since you could in Bermuda, work in Tokyo and lunch in Paris while a spouse or roommate worked in Buenos Aires and you met for dinner in Antarctica. It’s easy to imagine the real estate upheaval as people rush to buy homes to the most beautiful and exciting parts of the Earth, but that generates another political consequence: a world of expats.

With these flying cars, suddenly living in another country wouldn’t be any impediment to still working and socializing primarily in your birth nation, and a huge portion of Earth’s population would suddenly start living in another country. Or is it really living in another country when you spend only a third of your time there, another third working in a second country, and the rest having fun in every corner of the Earth? And what about children born of parents who are Japanese but bought a home on the French Riviera to grow the view? This happens today with expat couples and immigrants, but if the flying car system came in it would suddenly happen to half or more of all the children in the world, within a generation.

This is the birth of the world of Too Like the Lightning, a world of diaspora, in which all cultural groups are spread all around the Earth, and living in the region where your ancestors lived is the exception, not the rule. It is a world of diaspora, much like the world of the internet where we have friends scattered around dozens of cities, and many of our most important relationships are unrelated to geography. In this 25th century, nations as we know them—geographic nations—are a thing of the past, since now that virtually no children grow up in a place that corresponds to their languages and cultures, a fully mobile global population finds it absurd that, in the olden days of people were governed by the laws the splotch of dirt where they happened to be born. Instead, as part of coming of age, young adults choose freely among several globe-spanning borderless nations, selecting the ones whose culture, policies and ideology are most personally appealing. Adults live by the laws of their chosen nations no matter where on Earth they reside, and what is legal or illegal in one house may be completely different from the house next door, depending on the choices of the family.

This world of diaspora is a fantastic place to explore political interaction, and especially cultural interaction. When you start Too Like the Lightning you’re plunged into a whirlwind mix of different races and languages, a detective from Alexandria investigating a break-in in Chile affecting a family with Chinese, Indian and Mestizo members and political effects on Japan and Paris. But this isn’t an exotic jet-set, this is normal life in this world of diaspora, when there are no majorities anywhere on Earth, just dozens of minorities mixing coequally in every space. It’s an amazing plunge, and an amazingly dynamic space in which to see how one mystery can sweep through and touch every corner of such an interconnected world.

About the author:
Ada Palmer is the author of the recently released sci-fi novel Too Like the Lightning and a professor in the history department of the University of Chicago, specializing in Renaissance history and the history of ideas. Her first nonfiction book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. She is also a composer of folk and Renaissance-tinged a capella music, most of which she performs with the group Sassafrass. Her personal site is at adapalmer.com, and she writes about history for a popular audience at exurbe.com and about SF and fantasy-related matters at Tor.com.

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Chris Howard’s NIGHT SPEED

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Chris Howard joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about what super power he would chose to have and what he would do with it…

Pick your own super-power!?

If I could have any super-power at all?! Whoa. For a long time, I’d have said “flying”. Kinda obvious… but, come on, flying! How awesome?! But we all kinda know how that would work. So I’m gonna mix it up and say the super-power I pick is… the “ability to freeze time”.
Right?!

I’d love this. Heck, I’d never run late again! Well, I would run late, because I always seem to push it so I can get more things done before I set off wherever it is I’m trying to go, but now I’d just freeze time, and go zipping through the static world (on my bike, I guess, or I could just walk because there’d be no hurry). That’s the beauty of this super-power… there’d never be any hurry. At all.

So let’s think about this…

Continue reading Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Chris Howard’s NIGHT SPEED

A Truly Horrifying Blog Tour and Giveaway!

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Lori Goldstein joins SciFiChick.com today to share her High School Horror Story on this stop of Chandler Baker’s blog tour!

Lori Goldstein’s High School Horror Story

Here’s the thing about horror stories. Sometimes, it’s all about perspective.

What seems like a huge deal at the time might not be all that horrific in hindsight and vice versa, something that is entirely de rigueur might come back to bite you in your older keister.

My older keister has a big chunk missing. Because of this.

Lori Goldstein Photo 1

Permed, teased, curling ironed, I owe my high school horror story to a monster can of Aqua Net.

But it’s not really my fault. See, I grew up in New Jersey. And if you don’t know anything about New Jersey, think Jon Bon Jovi pre haircut.

Lori Goldstein Photo 2

I’m not looking so bad now, right?

Living in the shadow of New York City, we Jersey girls had to find ways to stand out. Or in this case, up. Way, way up.

Flipping through my high school albums proves it wasn’t just me. We were all doing it. That doesn’t make me want to whisper, “the horror, the horror” any less.

Though there was one benefit. For once in my life, I easily clocked in at five feet without heels.

Bio:
Born into an Italian-Irish family (hence the short temper and the freckles), Lori Goldstein grew up in a small town on the Jersey shore and now makes her home outside of Boston in a place close enough to the ocean that on the right day, she can smell the sea from her back deck, and yet it still takes an hour to get to the beach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before embracing her love of fictional people. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, out now; Circle of Jinn, May 17, 2016). When not writing or reading (preferably from a sandy local), Lori can be found chatting books and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter (@loriagoldstein). You can visit her online at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com, Tumblr and Instagram: lorigoldsteinbooks.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/LoriGoldsteinAuthor, and Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/LoriGoldstein


Courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing, I have a copy of Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker 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 February 5. I’ll draw a name on February 6, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading A Truly Horrifying Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Blog Tour: Monsterland Guest Post

Monsterland Blog Tour Header Image

Self-Publishing Versus Traditional: A Discussion with Award-Winning Author Michael Phillip Cash

Self-publishing versus traditional. It’s a question every writer faces at some point or another. For me personally, I’ve never even bothered submitting a manuscript to a traditional publishing house. First off, I’ve heard horror stories. Just with marketing, after your book comes out and it’s marketed as best as they can, they no longer market it any further. My book Stillwell is out four years already, and it’s still a best seller on Amazon, all because my team continues to market it to different audiences.

I am a huge believer in the self-publishing model. Yes, could traditional houses get you into Costco and Wal-Mart…the answer is yes. However, a friend of mine from high school was published through Simon and Schuster. His book came out 10 years ago and he has 30 reviews on Amazon. My book Witches Protection Program has 160 reviews, and it’s been out for 4 months.

If you are just starting out, I say self-publish. You have control over your work. Hire a good marketing team, a social networking guru and a publicist. Concentrate on writing excellent stories and have your team market the hell out your brand. Also, get familiar with the differences between traditional and self-publishing. Read A.P.E. – Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. It’s the bible for Self-Publishing that I live by.

About the Book

Monsterland Michael Phillip CashMonsterland

Written by Michael Phillip Cash Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville. Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong?

Monsterland contains solid ingredients for a horror feast: stupid teens, smart teens, a little challenged romance, family dynamics, action, blood and gore. Will civilization ever be normal again? You’ll have to read it to find out. We dare you!”—The Children’s Book Review

Ages 14+ | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2015 | 978-1517180676

Add this book to your collection: Monsterland

Available Here:

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About Michael Phillip Cash

Michael Phillip CashMichael Phillip Cash is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist. He’s written eleven books including the best-selling Brood X, Stillwell, The Flip, The After House, The Hanging Tree, Witches Protection Program, Pokergeist, and Battle for Darracia series. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island. He writes full-time with his screaming monsters in the background. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Monsterland Tour Giveaway

Monsterland, by Michael Phillip Cash | Giveaway

Would you rather be a werewolf, a zombie or a vampire? Enter to win an autographed copy of Monsterland, by Michael Phillip Cash; plus a living dead themed travel mug and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Giveaway begins November 14, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 16, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST. US addresses only.

Monsterland Tour Dates

Thursday November 12 2015
The Children’s Book Review

Tour Kick-Off & Giveaway

Tuesday November 17 2015
The Review Wire
Book Excerpt from Monsterland

Tuesday November 24 2015
SciFiChick.com

Guest Post written by Michael Phillip Cash

Tuesday November 17 2015
Suz Reviews

Author Interview with Michael Phillip Cash

Sunday November 29 2015
The Cover Contessa

Guest Post written by Michael Phillip Cash

Tuesday December 1 2015
DCC Mealy

Author Interview with Michael Phillip Cash

Wednesday December 2 2015
Once Upon a Twilight

Book Excerpt from Monsterland

Saturday December 5 2015
The Fairview Review

Monsterland Book Review

Tuesday December 8 2015
Just Another Mom

Monsterland Book Review

Monday December 14 2015
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monsterland Book Review

Tuesday December 15 2015
Inspired by Savannah

Author Interview with Michael Phillip Cash