Category Archives: Guest Post

Shadow and Bone Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Author Leigh Bardugo is visiting SciFiChick.com today with a guest post! This is just one stop on her blog tour promoting her latest release Shadow and Bone, reviewed here.


Plots, Schemes, and Teenage Dreams

Recently, while putting together a post for Dear Teen Me, I went digging through some of the boxes in my mom’s basement. Among the cringe-inducing diary entries and photos of me in my prolonged awkward phase, I also found the beginnings of a lot of stories.

The best (and by “best,” I mean hilariously awful) is the first few chapters of an epic fantasy called Tinscritalswhim. The title kind of says it all, and clearly, 12 year-old me got wise to this too, because in later drafts, I seem to have changed the name to Ladinphur.

The story revolves around a teenage assassin named (wait for it) Blood. Honestly, if you name your daughter “Blood,” what career paths are really open to her? It’s like calling your kid “Candee” then getting upset when she becomes a stripper. Then again, Blood’s brother is named Jereth so I don’t really know what her parents were thinking. Maybe it’s a family name.

Here’s how I describe my heroine:

“Blood didn’t believe in killing for fun. In fact, the thought made her relatively nauseous. She was no sadist either. She hated killing mainly because it was wrong in her mind, but also it reminded her of her own mortality. If they could be killed, so could she.” Wow, okay, I’m not sure if Blood is just a narcissist or firmly in the sociopath camp at this point. (Also, I think my favorite part of this is that she’s relatively nauseous.)

Blood spends a lot of time smiling wryly and leaping down onto her enemies from branches, rooftops, the occasional lintel. I go on:

“Blood had shut up her heart and carefully packaged it in her bundled up soul.”

Admittedly, the physics here are iffy, but I think you get the idea. And I’M NOT DONE:

“She had a dry wit and was a master of satire.”

I’d like to believe that Blood was penning amusing send-ups of the Tinscritalswhimian ruling class in her spare time, but I suspect that preteen Leigh was just confusing satire with sarcasm.

Blood and Jereth (a gentle giant with hidden depths) join forces with a slightly psychic (it’s a thing) tavern-keeper’s son (love interest!), a spiteful fairy named Una (natch), and… a woodchuck. Here’s where things get really weird:

‘What’s for dinner, Lorenzo?’
The woodchuck turned around and placed Una’s glasses on the edge of his small nose, trying to look studious. He instead succeeded in toppling off his pile of books. ‘I’m not sure,’ Lorenzo replied. ‘Everything I’ve made has blown up.’
‘It would help if you used less sneezweed,’ Jereth said, walking over to the counter to remove a root that looked somewhat like celery. Lorenzo could have been incredibly smart. Woodchucks were known for their intelligence and he had all of the advantages of education. However, Lorenzo had been more interested in battle and adventure than becoming a lawyer.’

Okay, let’s stop right there. Apparently, I was reading too much C.S. Lewis and Piers Anthony, because… a woodchuck who doesn’t want to go to law school? There is such a thing as too much whimsy.

So, other than “Burn the evidence,” what possible lessons can I take from this horrifying artifact?

On a personal level, it’s pretty clear that I was trying to make Blood into everything I wanted to be at age twelve: beautiful, deadly, emotionless. I had just started junior high and every day was like going into battle. I didn’t get it as bad as some kids, but that was only because I managed to hide just how much the jabs and snubs hurt. It was all about bravado, pretending I didn’t care. Blood wasn’t pretending. Plus, she had a brother, a confidant, someone she could depend on. I wanted that desperately.

As a writer, I can’t help but notice that there are a lot of drafts of first and second chapters to Tinscritalswhim. They’re written with slightly different names and variations, but they never move much past the introduction of the cast of characters and the beginning of the quest.

These days, though my stories involve fewer talking animals, I still find that starting is the easy part. I may not begin at the beginning the way I did when I was a kid, but there’s nothing like the momentum when a project is new. The characters feel vibrant. The dialogue clamors to be set down. Everything is loud, thrilling cacophony, driving me through the first few thousand words. And then… silence.

Finishing my first book meant making the transition from pantser to plotter. Now when I start a story that I think may have the makings of a book, I don’t let myself linger over specific scenes. I jot down the bits and pieces that I don’t want to forget. Then I force myself to move on to the next moment and then the next. When I get stuck, I write questions into the outline: “How does this work?” “Does this make sense?” “Why would she want X?” (Although my favorites are always things like, “Insert awesome moment here” and– no lie, this was in the first draft of Shadow and Bone– “Villain rant: Kneel before Zod!”)

That initial outline is a tangled, crazy, rambling mess, but it has a beginning, middle, and end. Knowing the structure is there, that I have a final destination, makes returning to the work each day easier for me.

It can be hard to let go of the myths we create about process: I’m a pantser. I’m a plotter. I work best a night. I need my fuzzy slippers to write. In the end, the only thing that matters is whether or not the process you’ve committed to actually works to get you through the draft. I’m new enough to this that it still feels like there’s some mysterious alchemy involved in taking a book from idea to finished manuscript. But I do know that magic comes easier when we shake off the old habits and old ghosts. Sometimes, you’ve got to make like a woodchuck and just blow stuff up.

Courtesy of Henry Holt and Co., I have a copy of Shadow and Bonefor one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US and Canada only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 29. I’ll draw a name on June 30, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Shadow and Bone Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Joseph Nassise Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Welcome to The Great Undead War Blog Tour! My thanks to Angela for having me on today.

My name’s Joseph Nassise and I’m celebrating the release of my new novel from HarperVoyager, By the Blood of Heroes, which is the first book in the Great Undead War series that combines an alternate World War One with steampunk and zombies.

I’ve been focusing in on the characters, the setting, the genre, even zombie classifications since the start of the tour, so today’s focus is going to be on something a little different. Today I want to talk about THE SHARP END.

What’s THE SHARP END, you ask?

BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES has been described by Harper Voyager as “an alternate history zombie novel set during World War I that blends the take-no-prisoners heroic grit of Inglorious Basterds with the irreverent inventiveness of Dawn of the Dead…” Its main focus is a dangerous mission behind enemy lines to rescue a downed Allied pilot who has information crucial to the war effort. It combines horror, steampunk and gold ole fashioned action to create what reviewers are saying takes alternate history to “brilliant new heights” (Library Journal.)

BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES opens with the main character, Captain Michael “Madman” Burke trying to make some field repairs while in the trenches to his mechanical hand. He’s not happy with the result, feeling he’s done little but move some of the dirt from one set of gears to the other, knowing he needs a trip to the rear to get it cleaned properly in one of Nicolai Tesla’s laboratories.

The story quickly moves on to other issues and topics, but questions linger. How did Burke lose his hand? Why did he agree to replace it with a mechanical one? What the hell kind of war is he fighting anyway?

THE SHARP END is my answer to those questions. Think of it as BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES’ little brother. It is a prequel short story that I released as a stand-alone ebook in the days leading up to the launch. It is intended to introduce readers to both the setting and characters of BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES, by telling the tale of this seminal event in life of then Lieutenant Burke. Readers also get to meet Sergeant Moore, who eventually becomes Burke’s right-hand man and close friend.

The story is thirty-six pages long, which makes it more a novellette than a short story, to be honest, and focuses on the events that occur during the Battle of Passchendaele. Also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, this marked the first time the German army deployed poisoned gas as a battlefield weapon. That gas attack occurs in THE SHARP END as well, but the gas has been modified slightly…

Along with the story, the ebook also contains a timeline of events leading up March 1921, which is the setting for the series, and the first two chapters of BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES itself. Best yet, it sells for $1.99, so readers can check out a new writer they might not be familiar with without breaking the bank while still getting a taste of what the story will be like.

So come join the war effort! Check out THE SHARP END. If you find it meets your fancy, BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES awaits…

 

Courtesy of the author, I have a copy of By the Blood of Heroes: The Great Undead War by Joseph Nassise for two (2) lucky winners!

Contest is open to US and Canada only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 15. I’ll draw names on June 16, and notify winners via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Joseph Nassise Blog Tour and Giveaway!

The Book of Lost Fragrances Blog Tour and Scavenger Hunt

M.J. Rose stops by SciFiChick.com today on her blog tour for The Book of Lost Fragrances which releases today! And keep reading for the next stop on her scavenger hunt…

M.J. Rose Guest Post:
Researching The Book of Lost Fragrances was a labor of love. One of the most wonderful parts was working with a famous blogger, Dimi of The Sorcery of Scent. He helped me find out about fragrances that have been lost to us and what they smelled like.

I thought it would [be] interesting for us to tell you about some of them.

Guerlain first focused on verveine (verbena) varieties to use in perfumes in the mid-late 1800’s. Eau de Verveine was released first in the 1870’s and made brief reappearances in the 1950s and the 1980s before being retired from Guerlain’s perfume portfolio. Eau de Verveine is the scent of high summer… sharp, uplifting notes of citrus-green lemon verbena flood the mouth with saliva with their crisp, energizing aroma. Below is a prickle of something darker – perhaps carnation or clove – which adds incredible depth. There is a dry, tea-like quality that emerges as the scent dries on the skin. This impossibly rare scent evokes feelings of long days at the summer’s end with the chirrup of cicadas ringing in the ears.

The most coveted and rare perfume from the Guerlain portfolio, Djedi was launched in 1926, right on the heels of Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. Presented in a flacon resembling a golden sarcophagus with its lid being raised, Djedi is an exploration into decomposition and decay. Gloomy and desolate, Djedi has a dry, arid quality like the shifting desert sands… a “closed over the ages” feel furnished by dry vetiver, oakmoss, musk, and leather. This olfactory requiem pays homage to fallen ancient Egyptian dynasties that have been lost to the sands of time.

COQUE D’OR is an exceptionally beautiful leather chypre created in 1937 by Jacques Guerlain. Soft florals tumble over a buttery leather accord which evoke thoughts of paper-thin hand-made gloves of extraordinary quality. Built over a classic Guerlain chypre base of sandalwood, amber and oakmoss… this perfume is pre-WWII finery at its best. A scent to be worn with cashmere, pearls and soft furs, but sadly one that has been out of production for the last 60 years.

Book Synopsis:
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances–and of her mother’s suicide–she moved to America.

Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with its financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing–leaving a dead body in his wake–Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L’Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation – or is it just another dream-infused perfume?

THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

The Book of Lost Fragrances Scavenger Hunt:
The perfumer smelled death and history. Faint whiffs of tired flowers, fruits, herbs, and woods. Most of these he was familiar with—but he smelled other notes, too. Weaker. Less familiar. Only ideas of scents, really, but they mesmerized him and drew him forward, tantalizing and entreating like a lovely dream on the verge of being lost forever.

He ignored Saurent’s warning that he was entering uncharted territory— that there could be booby traps, serpents coiled and waiting— and Abu’s admonitions about lurking spirits more dangerous than the snakes. L’Etoile followed his nose into the darkness with just his single candle, pushing ahead of the general and everyone else, hungry for a more concentrated dose of the mysterious perfume.

He walked down the highly decorated corridor to an inner sanctuary and inhaled deeply, trying to learn more from the ancient air.
http://insatiablereaders.blogspot.com/

Marty Halpern Guest Post and Giveaway!

Twenty-six Stories, Twenty-six Weeks…
by Marty Halpern

Alien Contact was published on November 1, just a couple of months ago, but its history dates back to August 2008 when I first proposed this anthology to the publisher, Night Shade Books. You can read more about the anthology, including its genesis, on my blog, More Red Ink, on the dedicated “Alien Contact” page. Facebook users can also “Like” the Alien Contact Anthology fan page for the latest news, reviews, and giveaways.

* * *
By April 2011, I had finalized the story order for my Alien Contact anthology. So I was ready to announce the contents list. Most anthologists accomplish this by simply posting a list of the stories. SF news sites pick it up, as do SF bloggers and tweeters, and that’s how readers learn of an anthology’s contents. But a list is, well, a list — and boring.

I had already invested more than two years in putting together this anthology, and I was determined to maintain that energy level until the book was published. So, after a bit of brainstorming, I decided to blog about each of the stories — one story each week, in their order of appearance — over the course of twenty-six weeks, concluding by the end of October, just in time for the book’s publication.

I contacted the authors and asked them to contribute a paragraph or two (or three) — some thoughts on their respective stories, whatever they felt like writing — which I would include in the blog posts. Seven authors even gave me permission to reprint the complete text of their stories online; five of these stories were reprinted on my own blog, while a sixth was posted on io9.com and a seventh on nightshadebooks.com.

Since all of the stories had been previously published, I was able to include a graphic image of the cover art for the original publication of each story. Writing about each story also allowed me to share my own perspective as to why I chose that story, and provide some background on the authors themselves (particularly those with whom I had previously worked). I enjoyed writing these blog posts, searching out the cover art, traveling back in time, so to speak, through my own past experiences as an editor, and it gave me yet one more opportunity to read each of these twenty-six stories. And to tell you the truth, I’ve probably read each of these stories at least a half-dozen times and I have yet to become tired of any one of them.

As I suggested in the anthology’s introduction (also available online), if the reader thinks of Alien Contact as a DVD, then these twenty-six weeks of blog posts serve as the DVD extras.

Though I will admit that after the first four or five weeks of this story blogging, I realized the enormity of the project: twenty-six weeks…one-half of a year! At least I didn’t have to come up with new blog post ideas for the next six months.

Marty Halpern is a two-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award–Professional for his work with Golden Gryphon Press. Marty now freelances as an acquiring editor, anthology editor, developmental editor, and proof reader and copy editor, working directly with authors to prepare their manuscripts for publication, and working with independent publishers such as Night Shade Books and Tachyon Publications, as well as Ace Books and others.
Blog “More Red Ink”: http://martyhalpern.blogspot.com
SF Editors wiki entry: http://sfeditorwatch.com/index.php/Marty_Halpern

Courtesy of Marty Halpern, I have a copy of Alien Contact for two (2) lucky winners!

For US residents only, one print copy of Alien Contact, signed and dated by editor Marty Halpern, and inscribed if the winner wishes. Book will ship directly to the winner via UPS, so no PO Boxes please.

For NON-US residents, an ebook edition of the anthology: the winner gets to choose either MOBI or EPUB format. (Note: there is a difference between the print and ebook editions: the Stephen King story is not included in the ebooks as the publisher doesn’t have the electronic rights to that story.)

To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 3. I’ll draw names on February 4, and notify winners via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Marty Halpern Guest Post and Giveaway!