Gail Z Martin Guest Post – Days of the Dead Blog Tour

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

Author Gail Z Martin joins SciFiChick.com today along her Days of the Dead Blog Tour!

Raising the Stakes
By Gail Z. Martin

One of the things I love about writing series is the space for characters to grow and for the challenges they face to also become more difficult. This is true whether the story is structured to be consecutive novels that tie up a story line in each book (but also build on each other), or are the more traditional multi-part story spread across several volumes.

I tend toward having each book in a series address a particular threat/villain while other threads continue from book to book. So in my Assassins of Landria series, the continued existence of the Witch Lord poses an ongoing threat, while each individual book deals with a specific plot/conspiracy to be dealt with.

Part of showing that growth in the characters lies in facing more formidable dangers so that the characters are required to utilize the skills and knowledge that they have acquired over the course of the story. They should be able to do things several books into the series that they couldn’t have done at the beginning, and should have a better understanding both of their opponent and of themselves.

As an author that means looking for ways to raise the stakes. Maybe the threat at first is more limited in scope or power, but as the books progress, the bad guy reveals new abilities or the plots grow bolder in the damage they could cause. The hero has to ‘level up’ and acquire new allies, gain new skills, and take a broader view of the problem, growing more strategic and less reactive. Along the way, we want the characters to begin to understand themselves in a new way, gaining wisdom and perception as well as the street smarts necessary to survive.

That story progression is one of my favorite things about writing (and reading) a series, and why I usually feel unsatisfied with stand-alone books. If I fall in love with the world and the characters, I want more than just one taste. I want to follow them and watch them grow and change, see them fail and redeem themselves. And likewise, if I read a series where the characters never grow and remain unchanged from book to book, I get impatient, because even if the stories are set in a fairly short span of time, what’s happened should change the characters in some kind of meaningful way. I want them to be as real to me as possible!

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The Last Druid – Book Excerpt

In honor of today’s release of THE LAST DRUID by Terry Brooks, the final installment in the Shannara Cycle, SciFiChick.com has the first full chapter excerpt!

_______________________

ONE

Tarsha Kaynin was not dead. She should have been, but she was not.

It surprised her when she woke from the blackness into which
she had fallen when she had gone over the cliffs of Cleeg Hold and
dropped toward the churning waters of the Mermidon several hundred
feet below. She could feel sheets of hard rain beating down on
her, soaking her clothing and chilling her body. She could hear the
sounds of the storm all around her—the staccato slap of raindrops against the stone walls of the Rock Spur cliffs, the howl of the wind, and the thunder of the rain-swollen river as it surged wildly down its narrow channel. She was dangling from something that had snagged her and now held her fast. Yet as the buffeting winds set her swaying back and forth, she was reminded of how precarious her situation was.

Still, she was not dead.

Her aching, throbbing head provided further proof. She must have
hit it as she fell. Perhaps the blow was even responsible for saving her.

Perhaps it had slowed her just enough, arresting her fall sufficiently to allow the cliffs to catch hold of her. She could not remember, and she would likely never know for certain. But one thing she did know: She could not remain where she was. Sooner or later, the winds would tug her loose and she would begin falling once more.

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Dragonwatch: Champion of the Titan Games

Dragonwatch: Champion of the Titan Games by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
The war against dragons intensifies. Will Kendra and Seth find the help they desperately need from the Giant Queen? This fourth book in a five-book series leaves the underwater dragon preserve of Crescent Lagoon for a gladiator-style arena at Titan Valley, the magical realm of towering giants and enslaved dragons. Our two young heroes have never felt so small or faced a challenge so . . . giant!

Review:
Kendra is busy trying to stop the dragon invasion, while trying to find her brother as well. And Seth just wants to get his memories back. Their journeys both collide at Titan Valley. But it’s uncertain if they can trust each other’s motives.

Champion of the Titan Games is the next to last in this captivating spin-off series of Fablehaven. The adventure and excitement doesn’t let up as these adventurers face a wild array of challenges and dangerous creatures. All of the humor, suspense, mystery, and drama make this – and Brandon Mull’s other books – must-reads. There are always fun twists and surprises along the way. Mull is a master of children’s fantasy – the engaging characters, unique worldbuilding, and thrilling adventures. I enjoyed this installment from beginning to end. And now the final book in the series can’t come soon enough!

The Best of Walter Jon Williams – Book Giveaway

Courtesy of Subterranean Press, I have an early review copy of The Best of Walter Jon Williams for one lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 30. I’ll draw a name on October 31, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

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The Mirror: Broken Wish – Book Review

The Mirror: Broken Wish by Julie C Dao

Synopsis:
The Mirror: Broken Wish marks the first book in an innovative four-book fairy-tale series written by Julie C. Dao, Dhonielle Clayton, Jennifer Cervantes, and L. L. McKinney, following one family over several generations, and the curse that plagues it.

Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide. She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She’s heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow.

But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner-none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it’s too late.

Review:
Elva has a gift – or a curse – according to how you look at it. She has visions, that always seem to come true. And when she discovers letters from the witch in the woods to her mother, Elva realizes that she needs to seek help from the one person who has no reason to.

Broken Wish is a captivating fairy tale. It’s dark and heart-wrenching. But Elva’s hope and kindness affects everyone around her. She’s an amazing young woman who thinks nothing of personal gain, just for those most hurting. This isn’t a Disney princess fairy tale, with everyone living “happily ever after.” But there is a hope for the future. And this beautifully-written tale makes me excited for the next in the series.

Received in September

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

Blu-Ray/DVD:
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 Blu-Ray
Stargirl Season 1 Blu-Ray

Blink:
Devastation Class by Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon

Disney Hyperion:
Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

Freeform Books:
#NoEscape by Gretchen McNeil

Kingswell:
The Golden Girls Cookbook by Christopher Styler

Saga Press:
The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Machinehood by S.B. Divya

Shadow Mountain:
Dragonwatch: Champion of the Titan Games by Brandon Mull

St Martin’s / Wednesday Books:
Hush by Dylan Farrow

Subterranean Press:
The Best of Walter Jon Williams

TCK Publishing:
Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter

Tor:
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

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