Category Archives: Guest Post

Wasteland Book Tour: Guest Post


Authors Laurence Klavan and Susan Kim visit SciFiChick.com today for the first stop on their blog tour, promoting their new release Wasteland!

WASTELAND:
Welcome to the Wasteland. Where all the adults are long gone, and now no one lives past the age of nineteen. Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan’s post-apocalyptic debut is the first of a trilogy in which everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the Variants —- hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin. Esther thinks there’s more to life than toiling at harvesting, gleaning, and excavating, day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day. But then Caleb, a mysterious stranger, arrives in town, and Esther begins to question who she can trust. As shady pasts unravel into the present and new romances develop, Caleb and Esther realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin.

Our Visions of the Future:

LAURENCE: The last thing I am is a scientist or sociologist, but I imagine the future will be driven by changes in technology and the disintegration of the environment. Both things will dictate that we spend more time indoors hiding and/or being entertained. This will be bad news for schools, stores, theaters, beaches, sports arenas, restaurants, and dating, and good news for books (or whatever replaces them), television (or whatever replaces it), frozen food and enforced time with your family. I would invest in companies that make entertainment and other content for electronic devices and those that build houses on stilts and reinforced basements.

SUSAN: I just read an article online about predictions made in 1998 about 2013 (which isn’t even that long… I mean, there already was an internet, so big deal, right?) and how they got stuff wrong like assuming we’d all have robot maids by now. But anyway, here are my totally unscientific predictions, based on my own anxieties and neuroses and overall pessimism as opposed to anything REAL.

1) The environment will be beyond messed up. The bad things that happen now every few years around the world will happen all the time, everywhere: earthquakes leading to tsunamis leading to nuclear meltdowns, hurricanes breaching city walls, crop-scorching dust bowls, shrinking arctic shelves. And the creepy stuff re. runoff and chemicals in our water will get even worse…. I predict heavy-duty mutation in our not-so-distant future and a reliance on purely laboratory-made food.

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Guest Post and Giveaway: James K. Decker

I WANT TO BELIEVE by James K. Decker

One of the themes in The Burn Zone is ‘how much can people be made to believe?’ In the book, this concept is taken to an extreme, but it began with me wondering how hard (or easy) it would be to convince a large number of people something was true, even when it clearly was not.

I mean sure, you could convince a small group of people that black was white – a sliver of the population could be made to believe just about anything – but how about, say, an entire nation? It’s easy to say ‘people are sheep and can be made to believe anything’ but there’s a caveat buried in that statement, which is that the person making it is not one of the sheep. Even if you could get a lot of people to believe something patently untrue, wouldn’t there be at least a subset of free-thinkers who would see through the lie? Wouldn’t they share information, and get validation that proved they were right in spite of what everyone else claimed?

In The Burn Zone, an alien race called the Haan crash land in the fictional city of Hangfei, wiping out a quarter of a million people in the process. That would seem reason enough to dislike and distrust them, and yet fifty years later, human surrogates are caring for haan young and eighty percent of the nation’s food supply is being funneled to the haan, even while the rest of the country, and the world at large, starve. Even as poorer nations push at their borders, attempting to take what they need to survive. The people of Hangfei seem to accept that things need to be this way, and will even defend it, but what could possibly convince them that this arrangement was in their best interest? Even if it was, could you ever convince them of it?

I decided that, given human nature and the way we form opinions that you could, under the right set of circumstances. People of every country have historically traded freedoms for security, and the people of Hangfei have a lot to fear. The haan offer wealth, technology, power and protection. The people are hungry, but they’re also scared. They’re scared they’ll be overwhelmed by the desperate barbarians at the gate, and scared that even if they’re not they’ll succumb to the same decay that the rest of the world has – that even if they are the last to fall, they will still fall.

Add to that the fact that, although they consider themselves free, the people of Hangfei don’t really live in a free society. The city is under martial law. Information comes from strictly controlled sources, and those who dissent tend to disappear. Attempts at contact from the outside are blocked, and attempts to contact the world beyond their borders get you labeled a spy and thrown in prison. The haan have the support of the government, and in turn, the government has the support of the haan. Together they control the flow of information, for better or worse, in support of a larger plan which will, they promise, benefit the greater good. Given the alternative, most opt to believe in a plan they know little to nothing about. You can see those dynamics in effect in the real world, even now.

Like the real world, things in The Burn Zone are never absolute. It’s difficult in Hangfei to point your finger and say ‘those are the bad guys’, but it becomes even more difficult when you don’t, at the outset, know the full truth about the world you live in. Before you can know what you believe, and whose side you’re on, you first have to be able to distinguish what’s true from what’s false. Even when, with a nudge from the highly advanced haan, you might be compelled to truly believe that black is white. Finding the truth would be very difficult, and very risky, and for Sam Shao, it is both. I’ll leave to you to discover what it is along with her.

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About the author:
James K. Decker was born in New Hampshire in 1970, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Issac Asimov turned that love to an obsession.

He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually breaking into the field under the name James Knapp, with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award. The Burn Zone is his debut novel under the name James K. Decker.

He now lives in MA with his wife Kim.

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Courtesy of the author, I have a copy of The Burn Zone by James K. Decker 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 22. I’ll draw a name on March 23, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Guest Post and Giveaway: James K. Decker

Kirsten Miller Guest Post and Giveaway!

Author Kirsten Miller joins SciFiChick.com today to discuss maps and her latest release The Darkness Dwellers. And keep reading for a chance to win a copy for yourself!

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HERE BE THE MONSTERS
– Kirsten Miller

Of the seven books that I’ve written, the novels in the Kiki Strike trilogy (along with my new book,
How to Lead a Life of Crime) are by far my favorites. However, if you were to ask me what I love most about the Kiki series, I’d have to point to something I had no hand in creating—the map/diagram at the beginning of Kiki #1. It shows the Shadow City, the secret world beneath New York in which much of the trilogy takes place. I could literally stare at it for hours.


(Above: The Shadow City from the Kiki Strike books. Art by the incomparable Eleanor Davis.)

There’s nothing I adore more than a really great map. (Though if I could only own one, this would be it.) Often, what interests me most are a map’s empty spots—the uncharted areas that have yet to reveal their secrets. Back when the world was a darker (and more imaginative) place, these unexplored territories were often marked with the phrase, “Here Be Dragons.”

Believe it or not, even in the 21st century, there are still plenty empty spots on our maps—and who knows what monsters may call them home. The pristine forests of the Pacific Northwest are said to be Bigfoot’s stomping grounds. The ocean’s deepest trench could easily hold colonies of kraken. And the forgotten tunnels beneath New York City may very well be infested with mutant, man-eating rats. (As Kiki and her friends discovered in book #1.)

I love maps because they pique one’s curiosity and inspire exploration. They dare you to go places you’ve never gone before. Perhaps that’s why most of the books I’ve written either contain—or were inspired by—a map of some sort.

If you’ve read Kiki #1, you might be surprised to know that the NYCE map does exist. Kiki #2, The Empress’s Tomb, was meant to include a map of the haunted mansion at the center of the story. Kiki #3, The Darkness Dwellers (available 1/13) takes place in the catacombs beneath Paris—and was inspired in part by this phenomenal map. (Smaller version here.) And How to Lead a Life of Crime (available 2/13), which is set in a school for young criminals, will include two maps as well.

I’m taking a break from writing, which means I’ll soon be looking for new ways to spend my free time. I just stumbled across this episode of This American Life, and I’m thinking of making a few maps of my own. If I find any monsters, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Kirsten

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Courtesy of Bloomsbury Books, I have a copy of The Darkness Dwellers by Kirsten Miller 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 1. I’ll draw a name on February 2, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!
Continue reading Kirsten Miller Guest Post and Giveaway!

Nancy Gideon Guest Post and Giveaway!

On a stop along her blog tour, author Nancy Gideon joins SciFiChick.com today with a guest post and giveaway of her latest novel, Betrayed by Shadows!

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WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT WRITING ROMANCE FROM SCI-FI
by Nancy Gideon

Long, long ago in a library far away, before paranormal romance became a blip on my radar screen, I discovered the building blocks of storytelling in another galaxy where I crewed for Bradbury, Heilein, Asimov and L’Engle. I relished those voyages with the Starship Enterprise (mostly to ogle Ensign Chekov) as a training ground for future adventures with Moya, the Maltese Falcon, and Serenity. I discovered the Hero’s Journey on the dusty planet of Tatooine with a whiny kid in baggy leggings. And once cable became a part of my life, there was only one true channel – SyFy.

My mother got lost in the plots of Star Trek (which she called Star Track). My ex couldn’t wrap is attention around tall blue women and a royal toad who floated on cushions. But I was a firm convert to the Outer Limits of the imagination. The universal truths I learned going through those worm holes are the ones I use today in shaping my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal world of Shape-shifters. Here are just a few of the celestial wisdoms I gathered from my science fiction friends:

My world – My rules. You can do anything you want if you can make it believable. Royal toads can fly on cushions. Huge slimy slugs can imprison sexy princesses. A clan of shape changers can live undetected in New Orleans struggling for survival. The one rule you can’t break is if you break it, you have to explain it satisfactorily.

Talk the Talk: An important part of building that otherworldly place is tone. I created my own species: Shifter, Chosen, and Ancient, my own glossary of terms: Glimmer, Upright, Reader, Controller, and Lesser to give the “By Moonlight” world a distinctive feel. But a little jargon goes a long way. Never sprinkle that spice on so heavy that it smothers the taste of the meal. “Frell,” “Frack,” “the Vulcan Mind Meld,” Banthas and Jawas, “Shiny” – these terms became part of our vernacular. The trick is to make the new terms relatable and not to lose the observer under the weight of distancing technical details.

A hero isn’t always heroic: When smuggler Han Solo declares it’s not his problem and walks out on the Rebels in their time of need, that’s in character. It’s what he is. But when he swoops in at the last minute to save the day, that’s WHO he is. A hero in rogue’s clothing. I love reluctant heroes, those who through circumstance or choice disregard the moral highroad to do things their own way. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, anyone? Where they come from, the dark paths they’ve walked are what make their ultimate heroic gestures all the more powerful. My heroes (and heroines) have been assassins (Nica Fraser), mob hitmen (Max Savoie and Giles St. Clair), thugs (Cale Terriot), manipulators (Brigit MacCreedy) which in the end make their sacrifices and redemption all the sweeter.

Courage Comes in Small Packages: Remember that whiny kid in the baggy leggings? Like Luke Skywalker, the children in A Wrinkle in Time and Something Wicked This Way Comes were forced by tragic situations to shoulder the mantle of courage way too young. This push into early adulthood is something many of my characters have in common to prepare them for the difficult actions they’ll confront before that happily-ever-after.

Danger Makes Strange Bedfellows: The goal of over-arcing hero Max Savoie in my “By Moonlight” series is to convince warring Shifter clans that the only way they all can survive is to stop fighting each other and band together against the sinister forces of the Chosen in the North. Nothing like a greater mutual threat to unite enemies. The Shadows in Babylon Five, the Peacekeepers in Farscape, the Alliance in Firefly are powerful galactic bullies who are trying to crush independent friend and foe alike. Throw a group of wildly different outsiders together to common defend a cause and let the chaos and conflict begin.

Evil isn’t Always Ugly: Like the elegant Alliance and my intellectual Chosen, or the Stone Angels of Dr. Who, benevolent-appearing entities don’t always have your best interests at heart. The most frightening enemy is one who comes to you in the guise of a friend. “V” (both the alien series and the Hugo Weaving movie) are all about one hand extending in unity while the other holds a knife. Betrayal is a common theme in Sci-Fi and in the next book of my series PRINCE OF SHADOWS (5-27-13) because by its very nature it cuts to the heart and soul and has characters questioning their beliefs and integrity. The greater good usually gets that way by crushing individual will.

Dreams are Born of Disaster: Nothing’s more poignant than a character struggling to hold onto a dream in the face of adversity. To return to home (astronaut John Crichton/ Giles St. Clair). To find out who they are (Total Recall/SEEKER OF SHADOWS). To establish peace for their people (John Sheridan/Max Savoie). To gain freedom (the Serenity crew/the MacCreedy family). To avenge their loved ones (Luke Skywalker/Cale Terriot). And to have that happily-ever-after. A hero and heroine with a dream hold the shield that protects them from all odds . . . once they are confronted with the pain of loss. The power of that dream is what sustains them, even if the dream proves an illusion.

Have you found these universal truths in your favorite Sci-Fi / paranormal books, TV shows and movies?

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Along with the blog tour, we have a copy of Betrayed by Shadows by Nancy Gideon for one (1) lucky winner!

Balancing a criminal empire and a preternatural clan war, reluctant front man Giles St. Clair doesn’t need a problem like Brigit MacCreedy . . . How much trouble can the head-strong and manipulative Shifter beauty get into in two weeks? Plenty when her schemes range from kidnapping to fleeing the retribution of her dead lover’s clan.

With her family’s lives on the line, Brigit is willing to do whatever it takes to save them. The only thing standing in her way is an immovable stone wall of a man she can’t bully or beguile . . . a human, no less, who has promised to protect her from the secrets and dangers she conceals.

Risking her own safety gets complicated when an honorable and annoyingly desirable man puts himself between her and her powerful enemies in a battle he can’t win in this Taming of the Shrew meets Shifter Goodfellas on the Bayou tale of consequences, redemption and finding love in all the wrong places.

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends February 1. I’ll draw a name on February 2, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Nancy Gideon Guest Post and Giveaway!

Guest Post: Author Alex Scarrow

Okay readers, since the third book in the series TIMERIDERS: THE DOOMSDAY CODE has just been released perhaps it’s time for a ‘story so far’ reminder of what’s happened in book 1 and 2. If you’re new to the series and hate spoilers, turn away now. If on the other hand you want to get yourself up to speed ready for book 3…read on…
And check back tomorrow for an exclusive interview and giveaway!

Book1: TimeRiders
Liam O’Connor, a steward aboard the Titanic, Maddy Carter a computer programmer aboard a doomed passenger plane and Saleena Vikram an Indian girl from 2026, have all been ‘recruited’ from the final seconds of their lives to work for a covert agency tasked with preventing time travellers from the future changing history for their own ends. Waking up from their traumatic ‘extraction’ they find themselves in an archway beneath a bridge in New York. And the old man who recruited them, Foster, immediately begins their training. Theirs is a team – one of many supposedly – expected to work in complete isolation. They’re located in Brooklyn in New York and the date is September the 11th, 2001. They’re in a two-day bubble of time, the day before and the day of 9/11! For them time will repeatedly loop through those two days as they learn every single detail of how those two days are supposed to go.

It’s not long before Sal, the team’s ‘observer’ spots a difference in their two day bubble, a sign that history has been subtly changed. Still fresh from a crash course of training, Maddy detects the origin of the change in history and Liam, and the fourth member of their team, Bob (a ‘support unit’ – a genetically engineered ‘heavy’ with a computer chip for a brain) are sent back to 1943 to prevent a squad of neo-nazis from helping Hitler win WWII. It’s a narrow run thing, but Liam and Bob eventually manage to correct the course of history, but not before Maddy and Sal, still in 2001, see a time-wave altering New York to a horrific new version of itself…as incorrect history plays itself out to the present.

Liam returns from the mission, history corrected, but with nothing left of Bob, but the bloodied computer chip, dug out of his head. All that is left of him. But all is not lost, a replacement body can be grown, and the data on the chip that represents Bob’s newly evolved AI personality can be installed into a new body.

With order finally restored, New York back to its normal self, Foster decides his freshly recruited team can handle themselves and decides to leave them to it. Over a good bye coffee, he explains to Maddy that she’s the team leader, she’s in charge. He explains he has to go…that the affects of the force field that loops the archway back every 48 hours has a long term corrosive affect on the body…as does time travel itself. He must leave, while he still has a few weeks of life left. He parts with a truth…time travel will eventually kill Liam. That’s the dark nature of the technology

Book two: TimeRiders: Day of the Predator
Maddy has taken charge and done her best to get up to speed on how the agency and the technology operates. First order of business is growing a new Bob! A new genetic embryo is prepped for growth and taken to nearly a full growth cycle when disaster strikes. A message from the future, from the agency. Something has happened in 2016; a young student called Edward Chan who is destined to write a degree thesis that will go on to form the foundation of time travel theory has been assassinated during a high school field trip to a science laboratory in Texas. It is suspected that anti-time travel terrorists from the future are responsible. The team decide to send Liam and the new support unit forward to 2016 to thwart the attempt on Chan’s life. However, getting ready to ‘hatch’ the new support unit they discover it’s female, not male. They went and selected the wrong sex embryo to activate. With no time to grow a new one, they go with the female support unit, which they name ‘Becks’. Liam and Becks manage to intervene to save Chan’s life, but a mistake by Maddy, attempting to bring them back to 2001 results in both of them, Chan, the entire high school class and two teachers being beamed back 65 million years to the late cretaceous!

Maddy is distraught. She’s dumped them somewhere, more precisely, somewhen in history and there’s no knowing when!

For Liam, Becks and the others, it’s a desperate struggle for survival while they figure out how they’re going to help Maddy find them. Liam suggests the idea of leaving a carefully placed message containing a calculation of the approximate millennium they’re stuck in, that will eventually, hopefully, become a fossil that will one day be discovered by palaeontologists. Against all odds the plan turns out to be successful, the message finds it’s way to Maddy and Sal and they’re able to zero in on the precise date and open a portal to bring the few survivors home. Edward Chan is returned to his future time to one day write his physics degree paper.

Order once more restored, there’s a decision to be made. Should they keep Becks, or recycle her body and grow a Bob. They decide to keep her AND revive Bob. There’s nothing in the their team’s hand book that says they can’t have two support units.

Maddy manages to locate the old man Foster in New York, and tell him about their last adventure. It’s then Foster drops a bombshell for Maddy. Liam is Foster. They’re the same person!

Book Three: TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code
The adventure continues when some code-hacker student manages to decode a sentence from the Voynich Manuscript, a real document from the dark ages that has yet to be successfully deciphered. In the one sentence he decodes lies a shocking secret that could change the entire course of history….!

Fantasy Book News: Ice Forged Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway!

Bestselling fantasy author Gail Z. Martin is holding a sneak peek for her new book, Ice Forged, and we’ve got the goodies! Gail Z. Martin is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, published by Solaris Books, and The Fallen Kings Cycle from Orbit Books. Her short stories have appeared in numerous U.S. and UK anthologies.

Gail is unveiling the new cover for Ice Forged (coming from Orbit Books in January, 2013), and throwing her annual Hawthorn Moon Online Sneak Peek Event, which includes more than a dozen partner sites with exclusive excerpts, author and character interviews, audios, and more!

Ice Forged will take readers to an entirely new world with completely new characters. “It’s a totally different series,” Martin says. “I’m having a lot of fun building it and I’m looking forward to sharing it with readers.

Here’s the story: Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

Get your exclusive excerpt from Ice Forged here: http://www.4shared.com/office/NhlMRowu/Ice_Forged_Excerpt_2.html

To get in on all the action, including the other three unique excerpts, find out more on Gail’s site, www.AscendantKingdoms.com

Courtesy of the author, I have a copy of one of her backlist titles for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 20. I’ll draw a name on July 21, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Continue reading Fantasy Book News: Ice Forged Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway!

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!