Saturday, February 28, 2009

Discovery Showcase - The Dawning of Power

The Dawning of Power
by Brian Rathbone

Fantasy (YA Friendly)

Author's Blurb:

The Dawning of Power is the debut trilogy in Brian Rathbone's The World of Godsland fantasy series. It includes Call of the Herald, Inherited Danger, and Dragon Ore.

Echoes of the ancients' power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind's deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war. In times such as these, ordinary people have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.

~*~


Life is the greatest of all mysteries, and though I seek to solve its many riddles, my deepest fear is that I will succeed.
--CiCi Bajur, philosopher
* * *

Immersed in its primordial glow, a comet soared through space with incredible speed. Three thousand years had passed since it last shed its light upon the tiny blue planet known to its inhabitants as Godsland, and the effects had been cataclysmic. A mighty host of comets followed the same elliptical orbit as the first as they returned from the farthest reaches of the solar system. Their light had already charged the atmosphere of Godsland, and the comets themselves would soon be visible to the naked eye.

The cycle of power would begin anew. Radiant energy, though still faint, raced toward Godsland, bearing the power of change.

As the force angled over the natural harbor where the fishing vessels were moored for the night, it soared beyond them over the Pinook Valley, and nothing barred its path. Beyond a small town, amid foothills dotted with farmsteads, it raced toward a barn where a young woman dutifully swept the floor. A slight tingle and a brief twitch of her eyebrows caused Catrin to stop a moment, just as a chance wind cast the pile of dirt and straw back across the floor. It was not the first thing to go wrong that morning, and she doubted it would be the last.

She was late for school. Again.

Education was not a birthright; it was a privilege--something Master Edling repeatedly made more than clear. Those of station and power attended his lessons to gain refinement and polish, but for those from the countryside, the purpose was only to stave off the epidemic of ignorance.

His sentiments had always rankled, and Catrin wondered if the education was worth the degradation she had to endure. She had already mastered reading and writing, and she was more adept at mathematics than most, but those were skills taught to the younger students by Master Jarvis, who was a kind, personable teacher. Catrin missed his lessons. Those approaching maturity were subjected to Master Edling's oppressive views and bland historical teachings. It seemed to her that she learned things of far more relevance when she worked on the farm, and the school lessons seemed a waste of time.

Master Edling detested tardiness, and Catrin was in no mood to endure another of his lectures. His anger was only a small part of her worries on that day, though. The day was important, different. Something was going to happen--something big; she could feel it.

The townies, as Catrin and her friends called those who placed themselves above everyone else, seemed to feed on the teacher's disdainful attitude. They adopted his derogatory manner, which often deteriorated into pranks and, lately, violence. Though she was rarely a target, Catrin hated to see her friends treated so poorly. They deserved better.

Peten Ross was the primary source of their problems; it was his lead the others followed. He seemed to take pleasure in creating misery for others, as if their hardships somehow made him more powerful. Perhaps he acted that way to impress Roset and the other pretty girls from town, with their flowing dresses and lace-bound hair. Either way, the friction was intensifying, and Catrin feared it would escalate beyond control.

Anyone from the countryside was a target, but it was her friend Osbourne Macano, son of a pig farmer, who bore the brunt of their abuses. The low regard in which his family profession was held and his unassuming manner made him an easy target. He had never fought back, and still the attacks continued. Chase, Catrin's beloved cousin, felt they should stand up for themselves since passive resistance had proven fruitless. What choice did they have?

Catrin understood his motives, but to her, the problem seemed unsolvable. Surely retaliation would not end the struggle, but neither had inaction, which left her in a quandary. Chase seemed to think they needed only to scare the townies once to make them realize such treatment would not be tolerated. That, he said, was the only way to gain their respect, if not their friendship. She could see his logic, but she also saw other, less appealing possibilities, such as a swift and violent response or even expulsion from the school lessons. Too many things could go wrong.

Chase was determined, though, and she would support him and Osbourne in their fight, if that was their choice. But she did not have to like it.

From bribing a woman who had once worked as Peten's nursemaid, Chase learned that Peten had a terrible fear of snakes--any snake, not just the venomous varieties. Chase planned to catch a snake and sneak it into the hall during lessons, though he admitted he had no plan for getting it near Peten without being seen. Just thinking about it, Catrin began to feel queasy, and she concentrated even more on her work. As she slid the heavy barn door closed to keep out the wind, she was submerged in darkness and had to resweep the floor by the light of her lantern.

Her father and Benjin, his close friend, were returning from the pastures with a pair of weanlings just as she lugged her saddle into Salty's stall. She watched the skittish colt and filly enter the barn wide eyed, but they gave the experienced men little trouble and would soon become accustomed to frequent handling. The lamplight cast a glow on Benjin's dark features. Bits of gray showed in his neatly trimmed beard, and his ebon hair was pulled back in a braid, giving him the look of a wise but formidable man.

Salty, Catrin's six-year-old chestnut gelding, must have sensed she was in a rush, for he chose to make her life even more difficult. He danced away from her as she tossed the saddle over his back, and when she grabbed him by the halter and looked him in the eye, he just snorted and stepped on her toes. After pushing him off her foot, she prepared to tighten the girth, and Salty drew in a deep breath, making himself as big as possible. Catrin knew his tricks and had no desire to find herself in a loose saddle. Kneeing him in the ribs just enough to make him exhale, she cinched the strap to the wear marks. Salty nipped her on the shoulder, letting her know he didn't appreciate her spoiling his joke.

Dawn backlit the mountains, and heavy cloud cover rode in with the wind. A light spray was falling as Catrin walked Salty from the low-ceilinged barn into the barnyard. Salty danced and spun as she mounted, but she got one foot in the stirrup and a hand on the saddle horn, which was enough to pull herself up even as he pranced. His antics were harmless, but Catrin had no time for them, and she drove her heels into his flanks with a chirrup to urge him forward.

In that, at least, he did not disappoint as he leaped to a fast trot. She would have given him his head and let him gallop, but the wagon trail was growing muddy and slick in the steady rain. Cattleman Gerard appeared in the haze ahead, his oxcart leaving churned mud in its wake. Trees lined the narrow trail, and Catrin had to slow Salty to a walk until they cleared the woods. When they reached a clearing, she passed Gerard at a trot, waving as she rode by, and he gave her a quick wave in return.

Fierce gusts drove stinging rain into her eyes, and she could barely see the Masterhouse huddled against the mountains; in the distance, only its massive outline was visible. Harborton materialized from the deluge, and as she approached, the rain dwindled. The cobbled streets were barely damp, and the townsfolk who milled about were not even wet. In contrast, Catrin was bespattered and soaked, looking as if she had been wallowing in mud, and she received many disapproving looks as she trotted Salty through town.

The aroma of fresh-baked bread wafting from the bakery made her stomach grumble, and the smell of bacon from the Watering Hole was alluring. In her rush, she had forgotten to eat, and she hoped her stomach would not be talkative during the lessons, a sure way to irritate Master Edling.

She passed the watchtower and the large iron ring that served as a fire bell, and she spotted her uncle, Jensen, as he dropped off Chase on his way to the sawmill. He waved and smiled as she approached, and she blew him a kiss. Chase climbed from the wagon, looking impish, and Catrin's appetite fled. She had hoped he would fail in his snake hunt, but his demeanor indicated that he had not, and when the leather bag on his belt moved, any doubts she had left her. How he had concealed the snake from her uncle was a mystery, but that was Chase, the boy who could do what no one else would dare attempt.

His mother and hers had died fifteen years before on the same day and under mysterious circumstances; no one understood what killed them. Since then, Chase seemed determined to prove that he wasn't afraid of anything or anyone.

Catrin pulled Salty up alongside him, and they entered the stables together. Once clear of the gate, she turned to the right, hoping to slip into her usual stall unnoticed, but instead she saw another insult. All the stalls were taken, despite there being plenty for those students who rode. Many of the townies, including Peten, rode to the lessons even though they were within walking distance. In a parade of wealth and arrogance, they flaunted their finely made saddles with gilded trim. It seemed they now felt they needed pages to attend to their mounts, and they, too, must ride. It was the pages' horses that had caused the shortage of stalls. Catrin stopped Salty and just stared, trying to decide what to do.

"What's going on, Cat?" Chase bellowed. "Have the townies gotten so fat they need two horses to carry each of them?"

"Hush, I don't want any trouble," she said with a pointed glance at his writhing bag. "I'll stable Salty at the Watering Hole."

"Strom may let you stable him there, but certainly not for free. Where does it stop, Cat? How much abuse do they think we'll tolerate?" he asked, sounding more incensed with each word.

"I don't have time for this now. I'll see you at the lesson," she said, turning Salty. Chirruping, she gave him a bit of her heels, trotted him around the block, and slowed only when she neared Baker Hollis, who was busy sweeping the walk. He gave her a sidelong glance and shuffled into the bakery. Inside, Catrin saw his daughter, Trinda, who stared with haunted eyes. She rarely left the bakery, and it was said she spoke even less often. Most thought she was daft, but Catrin suspected something entirely different, something much more sinister.

As she turned into the alley behind the Watering Hole, she whistled for Strom, who emerged from the stable looking tired and irritable.

"Cripes, it's early, Cat. What brings you here?" he asked, rubbing his eyes. He had once attended the lessons and had been friends with Catrin and Chase. After his father died, though, he had gone to work as a stable boy for Miss Mariss to help support his mother. He was shunned by most. His humble circumstances and departure from the lessons marked him as undesirable in the eyes of many, but Catrin enjoyed his company and considered him a good friend.

"I'm sorry to wake you, but I really need to stable Salty here today. The stable at the academy is full, and I'm already late."

~*~

The Dawning of Power is available for purchase. Multiple purchase options can be found at Brian Rathbone's website, including e-book formats. There you can also find his blog, an extended excerpt, a video trailer and more!


Discovery Showcase Information

There are currently six excerpts in the queue. Here are the upcoming works, in the order in which they may appear:
  • Over in Plague Country
  • The Hundredth Spring
  • What Happened to the Indians
If you want to have the first chapter of your unpublished or self-published novel featured at Fantasy Debut as a Discovery Showcase, please read how to do so here.

Comments are welcome, but please remember to be nice to my authors. If you have a critique, be constructive about it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Adrian's Contest, plus other stuff

Adrian Phoenix's giveaway--which is still going on here--will come to a close on Sunday, March 1st at 11:59 PM, so you will have every possible minute of Sunday to get your entry in on time.

I have a Discovery Showcase tomorrow, and I now have a couple of months worth of them. Kimber An said that the number of downloads for her novel doubled after I posted her excerpt. So I was thrilled to hear that.

I have been getting a lot of books well in advance of the release date, so I will be able to post a lot more reviews on or close to the day that they release. I had to get organized, so I came up with a system where all my advance copies are sorted by release date. Some, I get months before they come out. Some--like The Warded Man--I get just a week or two ahead of time. Here is a picture of my current stack:

(Books that I've already read but have not yet reviewed are not in this stack. Books that I am currently reading are not in this stack, except the top one. Yes, I read more than one book at a time, until one hooks me enough to set aside the other.)

Notice my super-high-tech sticky system. Yes, I know. Very impressive. The top ones have the highest priority, because the release date has recently passed. It may not look like a lot of books to some of you who get this many every week, but they are all debuts, except the 2nd book the The 13th Reality series. The bottom one came out in 2006, but the publisher sent it to me just before Christmas, probably because the second book in the series comes out in paperback in May.

At this point, I am heaving a sigh. I received the second book in a series that I was unable to finish last year. The publisher ended up sending me both books. They are not in the above stack. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about those. Maybe I'll give them another chance.

I have an interview coming! William Drinkard, who wrote the excellent and underrated Elom, has agree to an interview. Since he has not had a huge amount of exposure on the web, I have loads of questions for him. I'll be writing that interview this weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One Year Later - Adrian Phoenix - Plus Contest!

Adrian Phoenix is the author of A Rush of Wings and In the Blood. This year has been very active for her, and as you will read below, quite exciting! Adrian has a few things to give away for the readers of Fantasy Debut; the details are after her post.

~*~

ONE YEAR (OR SO) LATER

January 8, 2008, my debut novel, A Rush of Wings, hit the bookshelves at book stores and online retailers. The moment was exciting, seemed unreal, but somehow so right all at the same time. That evening, I went out to dinner with friends and family to celebrate the book’s release. I was giddy and proud and happy.

Then Entertainment Weekly reviewed the book (I was stunned, then terrified. Smelling salts might’ve been handy. LOL.) and they gave it a B+ and a wonderful review.

Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times, Fantasy Debut, authors like Jenna Black, Marjorie Liu, Jeaniene Frost, Barb Hendee, and Jeri Smith-Ready all enjoyed Rush. With each new review I felt lit up inside, warm. It all seemed incredible. (Still does!) But best of all were the people I’ve met who’ve loved and promoted Rush – people like Tia and Raven – including my readers. They’ve moved me more than I can say by their devotion and enthusiasm in spreading the word. I owe so much to each one!

A few weeks later, I had my first signing and, even though I was so nervous my hands were shaking while I signed books, the time blurred past. It was scary and amazing and something I’ll never repeat – my very first signing. I celebrated by seeing Cloverfield with my movie buddy. AWESOME movie!

The year streaked past. I finished and turned in the manuscript for the sequel, In the Blood, saw the cover art (YAY!) and sold two more books in the series to my editor at Pocket – Jennifer Heddle. I love working with Jen. She knows my strengths and weaknesses as a writer and never pulls her punches. (Okay, she does pad the punches with humor, something I appreciate.)

We decided it was time to name the series. So after lobbing dozens of possible titles at Jen like a baseball-spitting batting machine, we settled on The Maker’s Song.

It was around this time, or maybe a month or so earlier, that I learned Rush would be re-released in mass-market paperback February 24, 2009. I pogoed all around my house, freaking out my pets who worried Mommy was deranged (well…more deranged).

Around November 2008, advance reviews for In the Blood started appearing. PW, Romantic Times, The Library Journal, all were great, calling it a paranormal thriller. Giddy time again! I also learned that In the Blood was going to be a January featured title in the Barnes and Noble online paranormal/urban fantasy book club. Let’s make it delirious time!

One of the most surreal things happened the day before In the Blood was released – our local newspaper, The Register-Guard, interviewed me. I met the journalist, Finn John, at the local Barnes and Noble and we talked over coffee. The next day, a photographer from The Register-Guard showed up at my house to take photos of me in my office. Working.

“Just write and I’ll take photos.” Um. Okay. Gibberish fills the monitor. LOL.

When In the Blood was released in trade paper on December 30, 2008, it dawned on me that I’d had two books come out during an amazing year, a year that raced past, never to be recaptured.

But I realize each book is a unique and fulfilling experience – from pouring the story onto the page to revisions, copy-edit, page proofs, then release and, hopefully, into the hands of eager readers. Each book and the world held between its covers, will be opened, spilling light onto the pages and into the hearts of its readers. As it has been with every book ever written. Every story ever told.

I’m honored to be a part of that – as a reader, a writer, a dreamer. I’m looking forward to all the books to come.

What’s up ahead? Well, at the end of August 2009, In the Blood will be re-released in mass-market paperback. The third book in the series, Beneath the Skin, will be released in mass-market paperback from the get-go (YAY!), January 2010.

Also, I’ve just sold the first two books in a new urban fantasy series to my editor at Pocket, so now I’ll have two series going! I imagine the books will be released six months apart, one from each series. My dream continues to blossom into reality. Excited doesn’t even cut it – maybe bliss. We’ll see how blissful I feel when I’m running up against two deadlines. A problem I’m looking forward to.

I count my blessings every day. I know how lucky I am. Thank you, Tia, for allowing me this opportunity!

~*~

Giveaway!

Everyone who leaves a comment will be automatically entered in a giveaway! One winner will receive a mass market paperback copy of A Rush of Wings, and another winner will receive the current trade paperback of In the Blood. I'm not sure when she'll close the contest and pick a winner, so hurry up and enter!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: Would-Be Witch by Kimberly Frost

Would-Be Witch (Amazon USA, Canada, UK)
By Kimberly Frost (Website - Blog - MySpace)
Publisher: Berkley Trade (February 3, 2009)
Paperback: 304 pages
Excerpt

Special thanks go to Ms. Frost for sending me an autographed copy.

(Yes, I have changed my review format just a tad.)

What a delight this novel was. It was great fun to read; just what I needed after my previous novel. I finished it in only a few days. And it has one of the best love triangles that I have ever seen.

Tammy Jo is from a family of witches. Trouble is, she has no power. Or rather, she has power, but she cannot wield it. Or something like that. As the story opens, she's given up on magic and has become a pastry chef. And she's good at it.

Too bad her temper got in her way. A confrontation with a difficult customer left her out of a job. On the way home, Edie, her personal ghost who inhabits that locket you see on the cover, decided to pop in, startling Tammy Jo into a car accident. And once she finally makes it home, she discovers that the costume that she ordered for tonight's party--which was supposed to be Robin Hood--turned out to be "something of a pornographic peacock."

But the bad day gets worse when masked robbers invade the party and steal her locket--at gunpoint. Stealing Edie at the same time. Now, Tammy Jo has to rescue the family ghost before her deathday, which is in just a few days.

And wow; the plot really gets difficult to summarize from there. It takes twists and turns you would never expect. I'll just go ahead and gush about my favorite parts.

My favorite character is Zach, Tammy Jo's ex-husband. Zach is a muscle-bound Texas good ole boy, who also happens to be a cop. Tammy Jo still loves him, but thinks of them like oil and vinegar--sooner or later, they always separate. He's fierce and protective. He orders her around, but doesn't get angry when she does her own thing. He'd happily take a bullet in the chest for her. While they fight, he cooks her breakfast. And vice versa.

The other guy is Bryn Lyons. He's a mysterious wizard who belongs to a family that Tammy Jo isn't supposed to associate with. He's meant to be fascinating, but his chemistry just didn't work on me. Maybe it wasn't supposed to. I'm not even sure it worked on Tammy Jo, since whenever faced with the choice between Bryn and Zach, she always goes with Zach. She just doesn't trust Bryn, and she has good reason not to. However, he also has his good points.

I can really see this love triangle developing in future volumes of the series, which is entitled, A Southern Witch Novel. Ms. Frost did a great job of giving both leading men their share of faults, and their share of virtues. In this book I liked Zach, but I can easily see him becoming a stalker-type (although I hope not--it would break my heart). So who knows how it will turn out?

I only have one real nitpick. And that is that Tammy Jo is strangely clueless about the world of witchcraft. She is supposed to have been raised by witches--her mother and her aunt--but Bryn has to teach her an awful lot. Some things she is able to wing on her own, but more often than not, she muffs it.

For a book about witches, this book was interestingly Christian-friendly. In the same breath as a spell she casts, she decides to throw in a prayer to God for a miracle. And in another prayer, she tells God that only His Son was able to raise people from the dead properly. And she always capitalized the pronouns, as I did above, which you really don't see a lot outside of Christian fiction. At one point, when she suspects that she might have been disrespectful, she say, "And You know, I'd the the last person to lecture You. . . So I'm just going to be real quiet right now." Except she isn't.

Ms. Frost was very careful to tie up every plot thread, almost to a fault. Some of them I didn't even remember, and I was thinking, huh? But that's a good thing; it means that this novel would hold up well for a rereading. Which I can see myself doing, because this is one that is for the keeper shelf.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Debut Showcase: Slathbog's Gold

Slathbog's Gold (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by M. L. Forman (Adventurers Wanted Website)
Hardcover, $17.95
Shadow Mountain Publishing
(See author's website for sample chapters.)

Do you have the courage, the wits, and the skill to claim a dragon’s hoard? If so, apply within …

The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter’s bookshop window: “Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within.” No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation.

Upon entering Mr. Clutter’s shop, Alex is swept away on an incredible adventure to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves. Alex becomes the eigth man in a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red – and evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower.

Alex’s adventure takes him to distant and exotic lands where he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship.

Tia's Take:
I have an advance copy of this novel and it looks good. The above information--scant as it is--was surprisingly hard to find. The publisher doesn't have a formatted page for this novel, making me wonder if the release had been delayed. But it is available at Amazon. I could only find the author's website by guessing at domain names, so whoever designed his website did a terrible job of search engine optimization. Which is a shame, because the website is a really good otherwise, even if it doesn't have a media section (hint, hint). End of rant. This looks like a fun book, and I wish I could have gotten started on it sooner. It can't be next, because I have a few obligations, but I will get to it soon.

Mulluane's Take:
It doesn't get any closer to right up my alley then this! I doubt I will ever get tired of high fantasy, especially dragons! Adventure stories like this are what keeps me young. I have to agree with Tia, that is one of the neatest website I've seen lately but it is definitely not dialup friendly. I could not find alot of info on this one either but it is listed as YA - Grades 7-9.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just Finished . . .

. . . Would-Be Witch by Kimberly Frost. I had another book I was supposed to read first, but I decided I needed something light, first. Review forthcoming.

Post at The Self-Publishing Review

Here is my introductory post at The Self-Publishing Review.

Tidbits, and an Author Catch-Up

This week, I have a One Year Later post for you--Adrian Phoenix! Plus, Adrian is going to run a contest, so be sure to check back on Thursday for that.

Thanks to everyone who entered my Discovery Showcase. I have written to the editor of The Self Publishing Review, and I will be doing an occasional column there, starting sometime this week. I'll link to it when the editor posts it.

Nathalie Mallet just announced on her blog that her next novel, The King's Daughters, finally has a release date! Since it was supposed to come out in December, some of us have been waiting around a while for it! Her first novel, The Princes of the Golden Cage, was a very quick and fun read, that took place in a truly original setting.

Jo Graham, author of Black Ships, recently got a starred review from Publishers Weekly for her next novel, The Hand of Isis. Congratulations, Jo!

Alex Bledsoe is another one of those awesome authors who blog about mixed reviews. He did find one gem in it, but otherwise, this review of his next novel, Blood Groove, really is a wincer. It appears to have hit the reviewer's hot buttons. His previous novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde, got a starred review from PW, so he now has gotten both ends of the spectrum. I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel, Burn Me Deadly.

Laura Benedict's novels are part of Target's Bookmarked promotion! She is having a mysterious photo contest, and everyone who enters wins a small but cool prize. But you'd better watch out for the camera police! Actually, you don't have to take a picture. Pop on over to this post for the details.

David J. Williams would like to remind you that his novel, Mirrored Heavens, is eligible for both the Hugo and Campbell Awards. He also graciously throws in his recommendations of novels besides his.

~*~

I thought of another post to expand on my Blogging Advice for New Authors. That post explained how to attract readers. This next post will be how to keep readers. In it, I'll discuss--without naming names--what has driven me away from following certain blogs. I'll try to get that up on Wednesday. I will also incorporate some of the suggestions from the comments of the original post.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Discovery Showcase - The Star Captain's Daughter

A secret baby grows up to wreck havoc on the galaxy trying to reconcile her parents marriage, not realizing the terrible sacrifice it will require.

THE STAR CAPTAINS’ DAUGHTER
By
Kimber An


1

In the Year of Her Holiness 2296


Others before self. Junior shifted in her seat, first one way and then the other. She slid her butt off the edge and stuck the computer stylus up her nose. Others before self.

The Intari ambassador’s nasal drone rattled her spine. She knew the energy building in every part of her would culminate in disaster which would embarrass the hell out of her very elegant star captain mother.

Best friend Rehama Kahn leaned close and whispered. “Only ten more minutes. You can make it. Remember your breathing exercises.”

Breathe…one...twothreeBLASTOFF! Junior’s legs jerked beneath her and she scampered up the wall like a squirrel. The rocks mortared together provided excellent finger and foot holds.

“Junior!” Rehama had made a wager with Ret she could sit still through the Young Diplomats’ Conference.

Ret’s laugh chased her all the way down the ventilation shaft. “Told you. She may look fifteen, but she’ll always be a five year old at heart.”

Guilt stabbed Junior’s heart, though it did not slow her escape.

Rehama had made the bet to encourage her mastery of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

Strips of light shone through vent slats. Junior snaked towards it, powered by all the energy she’d accumulated since the start of the ambassador’s speech. She hit the vent full-throttle. The vent crashed against the far wall and she shot out, right into waiting arms which wrapped around her. They fell to the marble floor together.

She lifted face off his chest and looked into his stormy blue eyes. He’s gorgeous!

“Hi! I’m Junior. What’s your name?"

“You do not remember?”

A slamming door alerted her and she launched off the boy and away into a crowded market.

Ducking behind stalls selling Arion tapestries and Intari swamp sponges, she peered over a blue-skinned Neboan trying on lipstick in a lovely shade of maroon.

The conference instructors would have certainly alerted Sachi. Her mother had left the security chief in charge of the teens while she negotiated a technology exchange with the Intari. But, Junior had spent the better part of her childhood outwitting Lieutenant Commander Sachi Owada and knew all the tricks. If adults realized what Space Brats know, they’d round us all up and turn us into special ops commandos.

No sign of pursuers.

She pointed at the Neboan’s first choice. “I like dark maroon best on you.”

The Neboan frilled his ears in gratitude and bowed.

Junior looked over her shoulder and realized the open-air market backed a sound stage. Already she could hear Denahi dancers leaping and twirling to musical instruments which made a twang similar to Japanese Yamatogoto. She slipped behind a tapestry and climbed through the criss-crossed support beams.

Sliding leg over the last beam, a hand appeared before her and she looked up to see the boy she’d fallen on. Never one to stop a silly grin, she took his hand. “Sorry I fell on you.” She straightened up beside him. “The Intari ambassador bored me to death. I couldn’t get out of the conference fast enough.”

The boy hugged her. “I have found you at last.”

“Huh?” Junior’s eyes bugged out, chin on his shoulder. What the hell? He’s really cute! She hugged him back, his body warm and snug against hers. I wonder if I can get a kiss. “I’m sorry, but you’ve mistaken me for someone else. I’m Junior, well, Gennie O’Keefe, actually, but everyone calls me Junior. My mother’s Star Captain Olivia O’Keefe of the USS Maverick and my dad…” Pain bit her heart. “Well, my dad died last year. What’s your name?”

“You did not fall on me.” The boy lifted his face from her hair. Only a centimeter taller, his eyes shone blue in the dim light and his full lips curled. “I caught you. I failed to sufficiently brace myself for the speed of your ascent.” The formal way he spoke and his tone seemed so familiar, and she swore she’d run her fingers through his dark blond hair before.

Yes, please, go on breathing warmly upon me! Junior pointed a finger at his chest. “Do I know you?”

A small laugh escaped him. “Yes. We know one another very well.” He slid his fingers up her check and held her red braid to the light. “I understand you are disoriented. We knew your memory would have difficulty crossing the Threshold between Dreamtime and Waking Moments.”

His scent intoxicated Junior, but she’d caused enough chaos in her life by not accepting reality. “I’m sorry. This is just a terrible…”

“I will not leave you.”

Junior darted eyes from his earlobe to his gaze. “Wha…what?”

“You fear I will leave once I realize this is a terrible mistake, but it is not a mistake and I will not leave. I am Ariez, the one who loves you.”

Something about Sachi lecturing her on boys’ pick-up lines rambled through Junior’s mind, but she couldn’t remember her mentioning anything this weird. “Ariez.” The sound of his name and his voice soothed her. Déjà vu. The raging energy calmed into a swirl of goodness.

He waved fingers in front of her face.

Rather than distract her, his gesture weighed down her eyelashes with pleasant feelings. An image of dark green ferns, moss, fallen leaves, and him falling off a log, laughing drifted through her thoughts.

“Remember.” Ariez murmured and kissed her temple. “Come.” He led her by
the hand.

Junior followed him towards a tent flap. “Where are we going?”

“The arboretum. You will remember our Dreamtime more quickly if we are surrounded by trees. You love trees, and birds.”

The glass dome which protected the city flashed bright when she followed him out from under the stage. He kept to the edges, behind stalls, in the shadows. “The arboretum is right through those arches.” She pointed. “Let’s cross through the vegetable market.”

“I cannot be seen here.” Ariez didn’t look back. “The Intari would use me to blackmail the Empress.”

“Empress?”

Ariez led her through a noisy corral of wallow-beasts. They skirted the vegetable market and passed under the arches behind a cart overflowing with succulent leaves.

Once through the arches, nothing blocked the sunlight streaming through the impexi-glass dome. Trees of every kind loomed around as Ariez led Junior along a pebbled path.

She realized she’d stopped when he settled hands around her waist. The
arboretum faded from comprehension, replaced by a great redwood forest, beautiful and bright, the scent of evergreen boughs calming her nerves to bliss. “What’s happening?”

“Dreamtime in Waking Moments.” Ariez’s lips touched hers.

When his kiss closed on Junior’s mouth and her eyelashes rested on her cheeks,
her whole being came into synch with him and she knew they’d kissed before.

A bright light drew her attention over his shoulder and her eyes popped open.

A sword gleamed with Celtic swirls and gold hilt, stuck in a stone. All at once familiar and strange, it drew her with primal instinct. She pulled away and started for it.

Ariez looked. His face twisted. “No!” He shoved her aside and whipped a sword out of a hidden sheath. In blackness, he lunged, smashing his blade down on the sword trapped in the stone.

“You’ll hurt him!” Horror.

Ariez’s blade shattered and a force threw him back.

The Celtic sword trapped in the stone remained unblemished.

Junior reached to free the sword from the stone.

Ariez grabbed her.

“He’s hurt, trapped. I need to help him!” She stood two nanoseconds from twisting the boy’s wrists off.

“No, My Love. Listen to me, please. He is evil, bent on usurping the heart of the Holy Bennu.”

“The…what?”

“You must resist.” He gripped her shoulders not too tightly.

Junior startled at the fear trembling in his face. She re-focused on the sword in the stone, and she saw a man with brown hair fall to his knees, screaming.

Olivia!

The man fell down, sobbing, utterly destroyed.

Warm tears dribbled down Junior’s face. “He is good.”

“You should not be capable!” Ariez cupped her face in both hands and pressed his forehead to hers. “Shhhh, My Love, I will protect you from all unpleasant thoughts and feelings.”

A warm cloud wrapped around Junior’s mind, evaporating the raging grief like mist on a summer morning. His kiss cradled her lips. The goodness of his touch replaced memory with only him.

Junior opened her eyes to the Intari arboretum. “Wha…what happened?” Alone with him among the trees, strange trees fluttered with leaves instead of evergreen boughs.

“Waking Moments.”

She looked over his shoulder and all around, and then back up. “This is so weird.”

“We have found one another in Waking Moments after a long and difficult search.” Ariez kissed her ear. “Our bond is established and will soon be complete.”

Images of a redwood forest drifted through Junior’s memory and little else but
him. “We were children together.”

Ariez smiled. “Yes, in Dreamtime. Everything will be all right, but we must leave at once.”

“Leave? Where are we going?”

“My ship is in orbit. It cannot remain cloaked much longer.” He let go of her
waist and took her hand, ready to lead her away from all she knew.

“Your ship? Oh, but I…I need to ask my mom if I can visit your ship. She…” The mention of her mother sent a wave of grief through Junior’s heart. “My mother…Olivia. My mother’s name is Olivia.”

Olivia! The disembodied voice rang through memory, but nothing else.

Junior’s lips fell apart.

“I will send for your mother later, but we must leave now if we are to cross the border undetected. Come.” Ariez pulled her hand.

“Border? What border?” Her feet stayed put.

“Junior!” Sachi’s voice echoed off the domed impexi-glass ceiling.

Junior wheeled around to see her godmother climbing a rock formation on the far side. The bright sunshine glinted off Sachi’s black hair braided around her head. “Oh, schmutz-butt.” She twisted out of Ariez’s grasp and kissed his cheek. “Gotta fly!” Away she dashed.

“No! Wait!”

“You know what ship I live on. Message me on Interstellar!” Junior knew he gave chase, but so did Sachi.

The longer she evaded her godmother, the longer she could go without scrubbing the magna-converters with an old-fashioned toothbrush. Dread reignited hyperactive energy throughout her body.

Inside a minute, she’d lost herself in the crowded market. She didn’t dare slow down to look at the pretty Ethiopian necklaces imported from Earth, no matter how curious she was about her own homeworld. She’d only visited Earth twice.

Where to hide? Junior fastened gaze on an Intari climbing up the interior of the glass dome, cleaning, his green head bobbing. “Crackling!”

Slipping behind some workers in plain olive jumpsuits, she found a gray box and the climbing equipment inside. “Oh, yeah, this is going to be fun.” Glancing around, she pulled out the super-suction cups and fastened them to her feet and hands. The climbing proved awkward at first, but she soon caught on. All those rock-climbing programs in the Holographic Recreational Center really paid off.

Up the curved bubble ceiling she climbed, up over the arboretum. Looking down never frightened her. Only bugs scared her. Dark red hair smooth in a French twist caught her eye. Mom! Oh, schmutz.

~*~

You can download The Star Captain's Daughter for free from Feedbooks, where it is available in multiple formats. You can also read the entire story at this blog, which contains additional information and commentary, along with information on publishing ebooks.

The cover art is a cropping of Cupid & Psyche by Francois Gerard, a Public Domain image.


Discovery Showcase Information

Upcoming Works:
  • The Dawning of Power
  • Over in Plague Country
  • The Hundredth Spring
I currently have 5 excerpts in the queue.

If you want to have the first chapter of your unpublished or self-published novel featured at Fantasy Debut as a Discovery Showcase, please read how to do so here. I have updated this post within the past week.

Comments are welcome, but please remember to be nice to my authors. If you have a critique, please be constructive about it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Overbooked on Books

I updated all my policy posts a few days ago to reflect the fact that I'm overbooked on books. Publishers who send me unsolicited books are getting really good at sending stuff that I'm interested because I want to read all of them! However, this will take some time. I'm planning another Book Swag post next week to thank everyone who sent me books.

Your Favorite Debut?

Whew! What a full blog week this was. Thank you, Mulluane, for all your help. It wouldn't have happened without you

Today, I'm going to take a little break and ask you to step in by answering a question. Or two. If you're like me, first novels often stand out as something special in your mind.

What is your favorite debut, ever? And did you learn about it on this blog?

I'll start in the comments. The answer is not what it would have been a month ago.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Debut Showcase: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

The Manual of Detection (US - Canada - UK)
By Jedediah Berry (Website - Facebook - Twitter - Writertopia - Goodreads)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: The Penguin Press (February 19, 2009)
Excerpt

Publisher's Blurb:

In an unnamed city always slick with rain, Charles Unwin toils as a clerk at a huge, imperious detective agency. All he knows about solving mysteries comes from the reports he’s filed for the illustrious detective Travis Sivart. When Sivart goes missing and his supervisor turns up murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted to detective, a rank for which he lacks both the skills and the stomach. His only guidance comes from his new assistant, who would be perfect if she weren’t so sleepy, and from the pithy yet profound Manual of Detection (think The Art of War as told to Damon Runyon).

Unwin mounts his search for Sivart, but is soon framed for murder, pursued by goons and gunmen, and confounded by the infamous femme fatale Cleo Greenwood. Meanwhile, strange and troubling questions proliferate: why does the mummy at the Municipal Museum have modern- day dental work? Where have all the city’s alarm clocks gone? Why is Unwin’s copy of the manual missing Chapter 18?

When he discovers that Sivart’s greatest cases— including the Three Deaths of Colonel Baker and the Man Who Stole November 12th—were solved incorrectly, Unwin must enter the dreams of a murdered man and face a criminal mastermind bent on total control of a slumbering city.

Mulluane's Take:
Mystery and Suspense. Well, granted I got my reading start with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden but once I discovered fantasy, I never looked back. Instead I will point you to this review Fantasy Book Critic.

Tia's Take:
According to Robert's review, this novel is a mix of noir crime fiction and fantasy. My two favorite genres, blended into one! Plus, the protagonist is a reluctant detective! It's almost irresistible. Unfortunately, I'm overbooked on review copies right now, so this is one I'll have to keep in mind.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review: LAMENTATION by Ken Scholes

I've been reading a lot of great reviews of Lamentation by Ken Scholes, and they are well-deserved. Mr. Scholes has written an excellent steampunk fantasy, and has made a great start to new series. The series is called The Psalms of Isaak, and it will run five books which are called, Canticle, Antiphon, Requiem, and Hymn. The titles all come from various forms of liturgical music. I'm glad that the final volume is not Requiem--that would just be way too sad. I love all of these titles except Hymn. I just don't think it works as a title for me.

The series title is nowhere on the book that I can find--only online. This is a gripe I often have with books these days. Why hide the fact that it is a series? Are they trying to trick the reader into thinking it's a standalone book?

Anyway, that's hardly the fault of the author.

The novel starts out with the destruction of the city of Windwir, which is the home of the powerful Androfrancine Order and the center of knowledge in the world. To my mind, it appeared that an airplane dropped a nuke on the city, but further reading made me uncertain as to exactly what it was. If it was a nuclear bomb, it was one that produced no fallout. To all appearances, a youth named Neb is the only one who witnesses this destruction at close quarters, and the sight of it so traumatized him that he is left unable to speak.

The novel centers around Neb and several other point-of-view characters. We have Petronus, an old fisherman, Rudolfo the Gypsy King, Jin Li Tam, the daughter of Vlad Li Tam, who runs a powerful banking house, Sethbert, the Overseer of the Entrolusian City States, Resolute, the new Pope of the Androfrancines, and the Marsh King. The novel is about the aftermath of the destruction if Windwir, and solving the mystery of not who engineered its destruction, but why.

And then we have the mechoservitors, or steam-powered robots. They are extremely sophisticated. One of them, which Rudolfo names Isaak, appears to be sentient. Since the series is called The Psalms of Isaak, we know that Isaak must be a pivotal character, and we find out rather early on that yes, he is. I like Isaak's personality--think of a depressed robot who can cry, and who must obey his instructions absolutely, but is capable of taking his own sweet time in doing so. Oh, and when he does start to do something, he cannot be stopped by mere human strength.

The land is thrown into chaos because the old pope-king was killed in the destruction. Resolute declares himself the new pope, but his succession is questionable. Plus, another pope turns up.

All throughout the novel are hints that this is the remains of an advanced civilization that destroyed itself. There are large swaths of land that are uninhabitable due to magics done long ago in ancient times. They are known as the Churning Wastes. People can apparently go in there and dig around for artifacts without any lingering ill effects. Perhaps they have protective gear, I don't know--the novel has not taken us there yet. A time long past--The Age of Laughing Madness--was also brought about by these ancient magics. And the moon was apparently terraformed--it is green and blue, and structures can be seen there. I am wild with curiosity about this moon.

What fantasy novel would be complete without a young boy who falls in love? Neb is an Androfrancine and thus is pledged to chastity. However, his own father was an Androfrancine as well, suggesting that the chastity vow is often overlooked. He is fifteen at the start of the novel and he falls for a young lady who turns out to be much more powerful that you would expect.

This novel is very different and I don't want to summarize it because it would give too much away. It is packed full of intrigue and twisty plots and motivations. The characters are a mix of good and evil. For example, we have the Gypsy King, Rudolfo, who is heroic and likable. However, he apologetically maintains his family tradition of using torturers called the Physicians of Penitent Torture. Sethbert is repugnant, but he thinks he saved the world. Petronus is admirable, but he ran away from his responsibilities.

At the start of the novel, the point-of-view characters changed a bit too rapidly for me to form an attachment to some of them. I liked Neb right away, but it took me a while to warm up to the others, especially Jin Li Tam. This was no longer the case by a quarter way into the book, but I do wish the author could have spent a bit more time with each character at first.

Another problem I had was with the actions of a certain puppet-master, who apparently can prepare for certain events decades before they might happen. In fact, it is suggested that his family has a long tradition of preparing for future events, going back centuries. I'm wondering if there might be any supernatural abilities involved in these long-laid plans, because they would be too far-fetched otherwise. However, there is no hint of this so far.

Magic was interesting in that apparently anyone could use it, if they troubled themselves to learn. The characters commonly use birds to carry messages. One merely has to whisper the recipient's name to the bird and unless the bird is intercepted, it usually delivered its message unerringly. There is also the phenomenon of the magicked scout, which is a scout who can go invisible and silent all at once, while at the same time gaining heightened senses. The only thing I didn't like about the magic system was the spelling of "magick." I've seen magic spelled that way too often now, and whenever I see it, I wonder why magic can't just be magic.

The most interesting magic was the spell called Xhum Y'Zir's Seven Cacophonic Deaths. This is the spell that was used to bring about the destruction of Windwir. The novel strongly suggests that this spell has a steampunk origin. Steampunk is woven all throughout this novel. I would come to the conclusion that all the magic in the novel has a steampunk origin, were it not for the magicked scouts and the messenger birds.

There are some excellent teasers at the very end that really made me sit up and think, "No! Don't end it now! Give me more!" However, not only did the author leave me wanting to learn more, but he ended the first volume very satisfactorily. I am very much looking forward to the next volume which, according to Mr. Scholes website, comes out in October.

~*~

You can find more information about this novel through the Debut Showcase, which follows this post.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Debut Showcase: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Lamentation (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by Ken Scholes (website, blog)
Hardcover
Tor Books
Audio Excerpt

Tor's Blurb:

An ancient weapon has completely destroyed the city of Windwir. From many miles away, Rudolfo, Lord of the Nine Forest Houses, sees the horrifying column of smoke rising. He knows that war is coming to the Named Lands.

Nearer to the Devastation, a young apprentice is the only survivor of the city – he sat waiting for his father outside the walls, and was transformed as he watched everyone he knew die in an instant.

Soon all the Kingdoms of the Named Lands will be at each others' throats, as alliances are challenged and hidden plots are uncovered.

This remarkable first novel from an award-winning short fiction writer will take readers away to a new world – an Earth so far in the distant future that our time is not even a memory; a world where magick is commonplace and great areas of the planet are impassable wastes. But human nature hasn’t changed through the ages: War and faith and love still move princes and nations.

Tia's Take:
Read it, loved it. My review should be the next post up.

Mulluane's Take:

Geez, how do I follow that take? I have read this type of fantasy; the type set so far in the future that it no longer has any comparison to our world, and enjoyed it. It depends on the focus. If it is a degraded world where science is mainly forgotten and weapons are primitive (by our standards) then I find I enjoy it much more. I'll have to wait on Tia's review before I make up my mind on this one.

I Need a Graphic

This blog needs some sprucing up. I tried doing a calligraphy graphic long ago that looked quite good on paper, but I realized that my nice parchment paper didn't translate well to the computer screen. And I didn't feel like doing it over.

Does anyone know of a nice, easy, cheap (preferably free) way to make a cool graphic? Something that involves book covers, probably?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Debut Showcase: The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

The Crown Conspiracy (US - Canada - UK)
By Michael J. Sullivan (Website - Goodreads - Forum)
Publisher: Aspirations Media Inc (October 1, 2008)
Paperback: 310 pages
Excerpt (PDF)

Author's Blurb:

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become unwitting scapegoats in the murder of the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

Mulluane's Take:
This is not a new debut, but it is an unusual one in that it was published by a very small, family run publishing company. Nothing against small publishing companies, but very few put out a high quality product; this book is an exception. The Crown Conspiracy is right up my alley, traditional fantasy, "good" bad guys, a large dose of humor, lots of character development and plenty of surprises. You can read my full review and my interview with Michael Sullivan here: Old Bat's Belfry and another good review here: Fantasy Book Critic. The next book in the series Avempartha, is due out in April.

Tia's Take:
I have a copy of this novel, courtesy of the author, and I plan on starting it next now. Mulluane obviously loved it, so I'm really looking forward to reading it. The blurb is a bit sketchy, so check out those reviews that Mulluane linked. This novel is getting a lot of positive review attention. There's a good deal for it on Amazon, too!

Upcoming

I'm cranking my One Year Later series back up, and this time, there will be a contest! I'm still working out the details with the author, so I'm not sure if I'll have that post this week or next week. I'll let you know ahead of time.

We have a lot of debuts this month, so you're going to see lots of Debut Showcases this week. February seems to be Debut Month for many fantasy publishers, so they're coming fast and furious. Tor sent me a copy of Lamentation well in advance of the release date, so I'm going to post the Showcase and the review on the same day. Otherwise, I won't have enough days in the week to post everything that's going to need posting.

This Saturday, we'll also have our first Discovery Showcase. I now have a handful of entries, so I am pleased. No influx so far!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Debut Showcase: Heart of the Ronin by Travis Heermann

Heart of the Ronin (US - Canada - UK)
By Travis Heermann (Website - Blog - - Trailer - Writeline)
Publisher: Five Star (ME)
Release date: February 18, 2009
Hardcover: 442 pages
Excerpt

Publisher's Blurb:
Thirteenth-century Japan is a dangerous place. Shape-changing animals and bloodthirsty demons can be as unpleasant as a gang of bandits. Ken'ishi - a young, idealistic warrior with his father's mysterious sword on his hip and a wise, sarcastic dog at his side - dreams only of being samurai. Little does he suspect the agony and glory that await him when his dreams come true.

When Ken'ishi saves a beautiful, noble maiden from a pack of bandits, he becomes embroiled in the intrigues of samurai lords, Mongol spies, and a crime boss known as Green Tiger. But Ken'ishi has a few secret weapons. If only he knew more about his mysterious past, his parents' murder, and the sword that seems to want to talk to him. . . .

Mulluane's Take:
I want it! Alternate history, sarcastic dogs, talking swords and set in Japan! FINALLY! A debut that has my name written all over it. This is part one of a three part epic tale (and we know how much I hate series right?), and one I'd love to get my hands on. There is a great review here: Fantasy Book Critic.

Tia's Take:
I have to admit I like the sound of this one as well. I haven't read a Japan-based novel since I read Shogun about ten years ago. I adore novels that can take me into a completely different culture, and it's all the better if the culture is real-world. This novel officially releases on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Book Review Meme!

John has come up with another book review meme! In his own words:

Here is how it works: Find a favorite book, movie, or videogame review (Science fiction and fantasy related) that you have written, no matter where it was posted, and add it to the following list. Make sure to repost the whole list, because in doing so, we accumulate what the reviewers themselves think is their best work, and give each other some linkages, increasing everyone's rankings.
I'm adding my review of Acacia: The War with the Mein to the list not because I think it is a stellar review, but because I have the sequel, The Other Lands, on my brain, and I can't wait for it to come out. My review was written back in the days when I did a lot more as-I-read-it reviews. I have also adorned this meme with the thoroughly awesome cover art for The Other Lands.

The Book Review Meme @ Grasping for the Wind

1. Grasping for the Wind - INFOQUAKE by David Louis Edelman
2. Age 30+ ... A Lifetime of Books - A COMPANION TO WOLVES by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
3. Dragons, Heroes and Wizards - ASSASSIN'S APPRENTICE by Robin Hobb
4. Walker of Worlds - THE TEMPORAL VOID by Peter F Hamilton
5. Neth Space - TOLL THE HOUNDS by Steven Erikson
6. Dark in the Dark - GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY by M.R. James
7. A Dribble of Ink - THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
8. Fantasy Book News & Reviews - EMPRESS by Karen Miller
9. Fantasy Debut - Acacia Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Overall Review Afterthought

John will be updating his post once every 48 hours, including a handy box of links, where I was able to grab the above. Thanks John, for another cool idea!

Update on Discovery Showcase

I have a couple of books in the queue, but I'm waiting on some confirmations before I post anything. Normally, I envision the posts to be up by 6, but since this week we are operating on a compressed timeframe, I'm going to be a bit behind. When I put up the post, I'll leave it up as the top post for at least 24 hours.

Please check back later today.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Discovery Showcase for Self- and Unpublished Novels

Please note!
This blog, and the Discovery Showcase program, is no longer active.

Ever since our discussion a few weeks about about self-published authors, I've been trying to think of a way to support self-published and unpublished novelists in a manner that won't be overwhelming for me. And I think I've come up with something.

I have decided to declare Saturday as Discovery Showcase Day. Each week, on Saturday, I will post the first chapter of an unpublished or self-published novel. I will not vet or edit these excerpts in any way, other than to assure that any published novels are indeed self-published. This will be your chance to get your work before over three thousand weekly readers.

I do have a few rules:
  • Must be fantasy, science fiction or supernatural horror. This includes all subgenres and Christian speculative fiction.
  • Must be the first chapter of a novel-length work. This is not a market for short stories, because I cannot pay you. This is a way to promote or get feedback on your novel.
  • Only unpublished or self-published novels. I cannot take the time to deal with any potential problems with publishers. If you want me to look at your small press novel for a regular Debut Showcase, please send me a query.
  • If an agent is shopping your novel, please don't enter it. If you enter and are later lucky enough to snag an agent, you will have the opportunity to withdraw your entry.
  • You may only have one work in the queue at a time. Make sure it's your best!
  • Make sure the work is as good as you can possibly make it.
  • If the post contains profanity, please say so just after the blurb (detailed below).
  • 2000 word limit on the excerpt (not counting blurb and everything else). If your chapter is longer than 2000 words, send me your opening scenes.
  • No erotica--even if it is speculative.
After the end of each post, I'll add a few boilerplate lines about how many entries are in the queue, the titles of the next few works, and how new readers can get their work in the queue.

I will not respond to any of the entries until you are next in the queue. At that time, I'll send you an email letting you know that it's your turn, and I will ask that you reply with an agreement for me to post your work. This may seem redundant, but I will not post anyone's work without explicit permission. I will let you know how to do that in my email to you. This also will be your chance to make any changes to your entry, so don't send any updates in the meantime. If you need to withdraw the work, this will be the time to do so.

If you don't reply to my email, I will skip your work. This is because I want to be absolutely sure you really want the work online before I put it up.

In order to get a conversation going about your work, I will offer my reaction to the excerpt. If I have a critique, I will say so, but I am a skilled critiquer, and I won't be harsh. Make sure you are open to feedback before you enter. The feedback from others may be harsh. I don't moderate comments here, but my commenters seem to be a nice crowd. I will delete comments that seem abusive to me, but that will be after they have gone live because again, I don't moderate comments.

Have I used enough bold here? I just want to make sure you are ready for any negative feedback you might get. I don't think it will be all bad, but I also don't think I have to warn anyone about positive feedback. :)

Great! How do I send my chapter?

Format your excerpt like this:
  • Title and Short blurb, 200 words or less.
  • Your byline ("by Joe Writer")
  • Genre and any applicable subgenre.
  • Profanity warnings, if applicable.
  • Excerpt, 2000 words or less.
  • Your publisher, for self-published novels. If you created your own publishing company to publish your book, this is perfectly fine, but please say so. Otherwise, I'll end up wasting time researching your publisher.
  • Link where one can purchase or download the novel, if available.
  • Cover image, if you have one. I will place the image alongside the text, just like I do for a Debut Showcase.
The title of your email must be "Discovery Showcase - " followed by the title of your novel. I'm going to have Gmail sort these entries into a folder, so please get this right. Otherwise, I may miss your entry.

Please follow the instructions! I tried to construct this program so it is something that I have time for. Any entry that falls out of these guidelines will be discarded without notice.

Send your entries to tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com.

Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Something Special Tomorrow!

I'm so excited! I'm starting a new thing here at Fantasy Debut! Be sure to check in tomorrow for details! I'll have the post up bright and early at 6.

Debut Showcase: Captain Freedom

Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by G. Xavier Robillard (website - doubles as a blog)
Harper Paperbacks
Trade Paperback
Excerpt

Publisher's Blurb:

Freedom's fifteen minutes are over!Software pirates! Mostly extinct dinosaurs! Giant barbarians! Crooning criminals! Captain Freedom's beat them all, saved the world, and looked fantastic doing it—but he couldn't fend off middle management.

The Superhero lifestyle is all that Captain Freedom has ever known. What's he supposed to do now? Enter politics? Write a children's book?

Freedom's in a bad way and he's only a stint in rehab away from a lifetime of celebrity reality shows. But with the guidance of his new life coach, maybe Freedom can stumble in a new direction—even if it means having to make peace with his parents . . . or finally commit to a single long-term archenemy.

Tia's Take:
Er . . . don't know what to think. It looks like a lot of fun. Certainly nothing I've seen so far would turn me off. The cover probably says it all. This novel is a Kirkus Featured Review. It released February 3rd.


Mulluane's Take:
Er... Me either. I can always use a good laugh though so this is a maybe.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Debut Showcase: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

(click to image to enlarge)

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)

The undead can really screw up your senior year . . .

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

Tia's Take:
The author must have redefined vampires if they can be born as one. Lots of authors have come up with ways to redefine vampires--everything from aliens among us to the blood-sucking fiends we all know so well. According to the author's site, this novel has already gone into a second printing, so I continue to be in the minority with my aversion to vampires. Maybe it's a generational thing, because I know Mulluane will agree with me.

Mulluane's Take:
Eww, yuk, ick....Though I do sympathize with the failure of her "get-a-life-plan". Aside from that, haven't the versions of the name Lucifer already been done enough? I do have to admit one guilty secret, I loved Anne Rice's take on vampires but aside from that, I am not a fan. Give me a good old demon any day! I'm sure though that all the paranormal romance lovers will get a kick out of this one.

Note: This is my first attempt at putting the image elsewhere to solve the image placement problem, which was the subject of the next post down. Please let me know if the image still obscures the text, although at this point, I don't know if there's anything I can do about it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Image Testing for Email Feed Subscribers

This image was inserted using Blogger in Draft, with the image to the left of the text. The image size is set to "medium". Test text follows . . .

This image was inserted using Blogger in Draft, with the image to the left of the text. The image size is set to "medium".

This image was inserted using Blogger in Draft, with the image to the left of the text. The image size is set to "medium".

This image was inserted using Blogger in Draft, with the image to the left of the text. The image size is set to "medium".

This image was inserted using Blogger in Draft, with the image to the left of the text. The image size is set to "medium".

This image was inserted using Blogger in Draft, with the image to the left of the text. The image size is set to "medium".

This text is meant to appear below the above image.

Ok, now I can't see my cursor. See why I use Blogger in Draft? Nevermind; I'll just carry on.

This image--the Durham books make lovely test images, don't they--was inserted using regular Blogger. The size is set to "Medium" and it is supposed to appear to the left of the text.

Where is my cursor? Oh, there it is. Test text follows . . .

This image--the Durham books make lovely test images, don't they--was inserted using regular Blogger. The size is set to "Medium" and it is supposed to appear to the left of the text.

This image--the Durham books make lovely test images, don't they--was inserted using regular Blogger. The size is set to "Medium" and it is supposed to appear to the left of the text.

This image--the Durham books make lovely test images, don't they--was inserted using regular Blogger. The size is set to "Medium" and it is supposed to appear to the left of the text.

~*~

And this concludes this test of Blogger's image placement, as seen via Feedburner's email subscriptions. If you had trouble seeing the text or these images, please email me at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com so I can figure out what's going on. Hopefully, you'll at least be able to read this last paragraph.

A Thank You, and Random Things

First of all, a tardy thank you to Jessica Merritt for including Fantasy Debut in her list of Top 100 Science Fiction Blogs. Jessica has grouped her listing by subject, such as TV blogs, movies, science fact, and reviews, where Fantasy Debut appears.

Thank you, Jessica!

Slow Reading Syndrome
My blog is suffering from what I call Slow Reading Syndrome. It's not the book's fault--it's mine. Therefore, in order to not let this blog languish, I will do an as-I-read-it review, which I haven't done in a while. I'll be working on that today, because I am taking a day off!

Book Blogger Convention Update
If you haven't checked out the Book Blogger Convention Network in a while, please stop by and join the discussions in the forum. Or, join the network if you want to get involved. We're still trying to get this thing going and we need people who really love the idea to get involved.

Email Feed Wonky?
It has come to my attention that my email subscribers are receiving posts that are somewhat wonky. The images appear superimposed over the text, making it impossible to read. I know this happens in Yahoo mail, and I have subscribed to my own email feed so I can see this for myself.

A post will follow this one with various test images with text alongside. Sorry about having to perform a live test--as a software developer, it's unthinkable of me to perform a test like this in a production environment. But I can't think of any other way to do this. If you subscribe to the email feed, please email me and let me know whether you can read the text in the next post or not. My email address is tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Magicians & Mrs. Quent

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (Amazon USA - Canada - UK)
By Galen Beckett (website)
Spectra (July 29, 2008) (Hardcover)
Excerpt

Publisher's Blurb:
Of the three Lockwell sisters—romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious Ivy—all agree that it’s the eldest, the book-loving Ivy, who has held the family together ever since their father’s retreat into his silent vigil in the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magkical studies, but Ivy alone still believes—both in magick, and in its power to bring her father back.

But there are others in the world who believe in magick as well. Over the years Ivy has glimpsed them—the strangers in black topcoats and hats who appear at the door, strangers of whom their mother will never speak. Ivy once thought them secret benefactors, but now she’s not so certain.

After tragedy strikes, Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent in a desperate effort to preserve her family. It’s only then that she discovers the fate she shares with a jaded young nobleman named Dashton Rafferdy, his ambitious friend Eldyn Garritt, and a secret web of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania.

For there is far more to Altania than meets the eye, and more to magick than mere fashion. And in the act of saving her father, Ivy will determine whether the world faces a new dawn—or an everlasting night....

Tia's Take: Oh my goodness! How did I miss this one? I remember taking note of it last July, but then I forgot it entirely. Never mind that it's quite up my alley. It begins like this:
IT WAS GENERALLY held knowledge among the people who lived on Whitward Street that the eldest of the three Miss Lockwells had a peculiar habit of reading while walking.
Does this sound familiar? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, it's a Jane Austen-inspired fantasy! (Did I mention that I have written a Jane Austen-inspired fantasy? No, I have not.) I will be obtaining this novel, by fair means or foul.

Mulluane's Take:
Oh my! Tackles Tia and tussles over the book.... This one is right up my ally too. Secondary world, strong female protagonists, secret societies, magic, what is not to love about that!