Friday, October 30, 2009

Comments Closed

In case you have not noticed, I've closed this blog. :) My shiny new blog is at Debuts & Reviews. I keep putting up these posts to catch the attention of subscribers who have been absent, or who have not had a chance to check out this blog in a while.

Anyway, I've closed the comments because the only ones who comment here anymore are spammers, and I'd rather not have this old blog fill up with comment spam.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Important - Please Read

After months of work, during which time you may have noticed a decrease in postings, I have finally finished preparing a new blog at my new domain.

Huh? What? New blog? Why a new blog? And what the heck took so long? Well, I was picky. I tried and discarded about 10 content management systems before I settled on WordPress. And then I had to find an appropriate template. Plus, I only worked on it every once in a while, on weekends, when I remembered that I had a new domain to set up.

Anyway. The new blog is called Debuts & Reviews. It's basically just like Fantasy Debut, except it's different. There's a post up over there explaining why I did this. But don't go over there yet.

Wow. This is kind of scary. I have almost 400 subscribers through Google Reader, and I'm working on 150 subscribers through Google FriendConnect. What if no one comes to my new blog?

(Shakes off moment of self-doubt.)

The rest of this post is for feed subscribers, Google Friend Connect Subscribers, and Blog Owners. Or, practically everyone.

Attention Feed Subscribers!

Before I moved into this new blog for good, I wanted to ask (implore, request, beg) any feed readers who subscribe to Fantasy Debut directly to a reader to re-subscribe through FeedBurner using this handy link. Simply click the blue button, select your feed reader of choice, and you're good to go. Oh! And come back here when you're done, because I've got more stuff for you to read.

When I redirect my feed to Debuts & Reviews in a day or so, I'll whisk you along with me, just as if we were riding a magic carpet through the interwebs over to the new blog. One day your feed will come from Fantasy Debut, and the next day it will come from Debuts & Reviews.

If you're an email subscriber, or if you originally subscribed through FeedBurner, then you're already on the magic carpet, so you don't have to do anything at all.

If you think subscribing by email would simply be the bee's knees (a cool bit of 20's slang I picked up from Barely Bewitched), then please enter your email address and click the button. This is also through Feedburner.

Attention, Google Friend Connect Subscribers!

If you prefer to subscribe through Google Friend Connect, please re-subscribe directly at Debuts & Reviews using the link below. Apparently, links from here won't work. I DID find a hack that would allow me to sweep you along on the magic carpet ride as well, but it relied on a hole in Blogger's programming. Were I a software developer for Blogger, I'd want to patch that hole. I'd hate for my hack to one day stop working. Besides, I didn't want my new blog to remain dependent on my old blog into perpetuity. Best to start off clean.

So click on over to the new blog, click the Join This Site button, and make my day.

Attention, Blog Owners!

And lastly, if you are a blog owner and are linking to Fantasy Debut, please, update your link to the following:

Blog name: Debuts & Reviews
Blog link:

If you really, really, really want to make my day, announce my blog change-of-address at your own blog. All bloggers who do so will be publicly thanked.

Ok, if you're still here, go ahead and take a peek at my new blog. There's a welcome post waiting for you. I've tried to recreate everthing I have here, but I still have a few items on my ToDo list. Do let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review of BARELY BEWITCHED at Fantasy Literature

Kat of Fantasy Literature obtained a copy of BARELY BEWITCHED by Kimberly Frost for me, and they just posted it today. I sped-read it--something I don't usually do--but I couldn't help myself!

Here's an excerpt, plucked out of the middle:

Tammy Jo's adventures force her to get to know Bryn better, and she grows more and more attracted to him. However, Zach is still her first love, and he shows no sign of having moved on. For a while, I was thinking I'd have to ding the author for lack of character growth in Zach, but I was happily incorrect. Bryn grows both darker and more appealing, displaying both a ruthless side and a caring one. I still prefer Zach, especially in light of his decision on the last few pages. Talk about a teaser! Zach (who is a deputy sheriff) is going to take a little trip, get some special combat training. And I can't wait for him to come back. (I do hope this doesn't mean an entire book will have to go by without him.)

Here are both of my reviews of Frost's Southern Witch series.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Debut Showcase Double Feature - Matters of the Blood and Blood Bargain

This is the first time this situation has come up at Fantasy Debut. A novel--actually two--that we've covered here at Fantasy Debut has been re-released by another publisher. No wait. It's the same publisher. But now, that publisher (Juno Books) is an imprint of the larger Pocket Books, and they've re-released several of the original Juno Books urban fantasy titles. We have reviewed both of them here at Fantasy Debut. Here they are.

Blood Lines (series title)
by Maria Lima (website - blog)
Juno Books - 7.99
Mass Market Paperback

Matters of the Blood
Publisher's Page
Released September, 2009

Try being Keira Kelly. A member of a powerful paranormal family, Keira elected to stay among humans in the Texas Hill Country when the rest of the clan moved (lock, stock, nd grimoire) to Canada. But family duty means still having to keep an eye on cousin Marty--a genetic aberration who turn out 100% human, poor guy. And recently Keira's been having violent dreams--or are they visions?--featuring Marty as the victim of a vicious murder. Something sinister seems to be going on in little Rio Seco. Can Keira get to the bottom of it all while avoiding entanglement with former lover, Sheriff Carlton Larson? And what does she plan to do about the irresistable and enigmatic Adam Walker? When this old friends shows up as the new own of a local ranch and wants to get better acquainted, Keira is more than happy to be welcoming...until she suspects that Adam could be intimately connected to the dangerous doings in Rio Seco.

Read my review.

Blood Bargain 
Publisher's Page
Released October, 2009


Keira Kelly has settled in with handsome Adam Walker, but happy-ever-after is not so easy when your vampire lover seems determined to deny his true nature. With Adam starving himself of blood and growing weak, Keira needs to work out how to persuade him to take care of himself, something she's finding difficult to do--even with the advice of her brother Tucker, a millennium-old ex-Viking shapeshifter. And people have started disappearing in the Rio Seco area, making Keira worry about what this could mean, both for her friends in Rio Seco and to the community she and Adam have been creating at the ranch. But her investigation only seems to bring more trouble, especially when a clue leads her to an abandoned cemetery that Keira knew well when she was that has always been extremely important to her magical family. Evil is definitely walking once again in the Texas Hill Country. Can Keira discover where the danger lies...before danger discovers her?

Read Raven's Review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week's Debuts - October 13, 2009

Shadowfae by Erica Hayes (website and blog)

Imagine a secret world veiled in fairy glamour and brimming with unearthly delights. A city swarming with half-mad fairies, where thieving spriggans rob you blind, beautiful banshees mesmerize you with their song, and big green trolls bust heads at nightclubs. And once you’re in, there’s no escape…

Enslaved by a demon lord, Jade is forced to spend her nights seducing vampire gangsters and shapeshifting thugs. After two hundred years as a succubus, she burns for freedom and longs to escape her brutal life as a trophy girl for hell’s minions. Then she meets Rajah, an incubus who touches her heart and intoxicates her senses. Rajah shares the same bleak fate as she, and yearns just as desperately for freedom. But the only way for Jade to break her bonds is to betray Rajah—and doom the only man she’s ever loved to a lifetime in hell.

Looks like Jade has herself in quite a pickle. A good premise, but probably too dark and sexy for me. (Just an aside--Rajah (or Raja) is an Indian name. I have also known a woman named Raji and another named Raju. Makes me wonder if this novel absorbs Indian mythology, of which I admittedly know almost nothing.) The author's website has a short story prequel, an excerpt and a book trailer.

Servant of a Dark God by John D. Brown (website, blog and Twitter feed)
Reviewed here. Interview with John Brown here.

Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person’s life can be harvested, bought, and stolen. Only the great Divines, who rule every land, and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beast and become twisted by their polluted draws, know the secrets of this power. This land’s Divine has gone missing and soul-eaters are found among Talen’s people.

The Clans muster a massive hunt, and Talen finds himself a target. Thinking his struggle is against both soul-eaters and their hunters, Talen actually has far larger problems. A being of awesome power has arisen, one whose diet consists of the days of man. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers. Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before the Mother finds the one whom she will transform into the lord of the human harvest.

This was a good book. Epic fantasy just as it should be, even if it was light on the romance. John keeps an interesting blog that I've been following for a couple of months now. He's also got a section for writers, teachers, a page on his short stories (with a few links) and "zing".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mystery Reviewer. Plus Other Stuff.

Up this week: a new guest reviewer! My guest has not only beta-read both of my own novels, but she's been following this blog from the start. When I read on her blog that she's been buying and reading some of the books I've showcased here, I asked her to be a guest reviewer. She has written two reviews for you. One will go up this week; the other will go up when a certain novel is released in paperback.

Also, don't think I've forgotten Raven, because I have one of her reviews, too! So wow, I like, don't even need to read anymore. Just kidding!

Might have a guest for Writer Wednesday this week. You'll know on Wednesday.

The pace of debut releases is picking back up, so I'll be doing weekly news posts rather than Debut Showcases. It's easier this way, and it frees up other days of the week for other stuff.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Discovery Showcase - The Second Hand Kid

The Second Hand Kid
By Tom U Bean
Middle Grade Fantasy
This novel is unpublished.

This is a story of a boy called Jack Dent who is fascinated by an ancient antique and curiosity shop. He yearns to explore the rooms for his birthday present. Jack is the only child of Bill and Elsie Dent. A family with plenty of love, but little money. Several boys in his class spot Jack, and his mum entering a charity shop in search of bargains. That was the only cue the boys needed to ridicule Jack, and make his life a misery.

The keeper of the shop, Alfred Hopkins introduces Jack to a world of wonder. Jack’s virtuous and caring nature prompts Alfred to bestow talent and enlightenment upon him. Over the school year an everlasting relationship develops between Jack, and Fiona. They share an honesty, innocence and spirit that sets them apart from the humdrum of human existence.

Alfred requests a meeting with Fiona, and Jack, and draws their attention to the deterioration in the quality of life throughout the world. Life as we know it is in danger of falling into anarchy. He asks them to undergo a journey saturated with danger into the Underworld to correct the Urn of Malevolence, and the Urn of Benevolence to their rightful positions.


The bus juddered to a stop at the junction. Cars, bikes, and taxis jostled for position. Pedestrians flowed cautiously across the road. Jack took little notice of the rush hour mayhem, his attention was focused on a towering sandstone building that wrapped itself around the wide corner. For several weeks He had been fascinated by the soaring edifice, now he was intrigued. Slightly crooked window frames guarded a multitude of secrets. Above the entrance a faded sign swayed in the wind. Ancient words on the board barely visible. The once pristine lettering worn, and nearly featureless. Jack squeezed his face to the misty bus window and was just able to decipher the words.

Alfred Hopkins keeper
Importer of antiques and curiosities

He continued his gaze when the bus eased itself away from the crossroad. Silhouettes of figures moved in the dim light behind the grimy windows, slowly shuffling too and fro, and occasionally crouching as though inspecting some interesting oddity. “If only I could persuade Dad to let me have a full day exploring, if only.”

Chapter One Alfred Hopkins

Jack was deep in thought when he entered the school playground. He wasn’t in any mood for listening. His mind was brimming over with inquisitiveness, and with double maths first, his chance of giving full concentration looked doubtful. He knew the penalty for day dreaming in Miss Carter’s Class. She would launch one of her scathing verbal attacks, and with open night and his birthday so close together he had better be on his best behaviour.

The metallic sound of the steel tips of Miss Carter’s heels clanking on the tiled corridor clattered through the hum of low conversation. Early morning chatter was converted into silent reading, and by the time she rounded the corner into the classroom silence greeted her. Jack reached into his desk for his reading book. A shabby piece of torn paper was stuck to the front cover. The scruffy writing exploded in his face. A SECOND HANDKID BUYS SECOND HAND CLOTHES ! A quick glance over his shoulder confirmed his feelings. Bentley, Hughes and Dodds were looking down, and smirking.

Miss Carter glared at Jack. “Your book should be on the desk. Silence is so important for the first few minutes, it places everyone in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.”

Bentley saw his chance to intimidate Jack even further. “Miss, I saw him messing about in the cloakroom, moving trainers around. He smells Miss, I think it’s his clothes.”

The rest of the class couldn’t resist a collective grin. Jack was deeply hurt, but he didn’t allow Bentley the satisfaction of seeing the pain. Isolated, unwanted an outcast. He back pedalled into the comfort of his own mind insulating his feelings from further intimidation. He decided to feign illness when he arrived home. A few well timed coughs, and splutters should be enough to guarantee a day off school. No child, no open night, no bad report. He still might make it to the old shop to buy his birthday present.

Rest, and loneliness allowed Jack time to think about recent events. Bentley, Hughes and Dodds had never bothered with Jack until they spotted him, and his Mum hunting for bargains in a charity shop. They were rich, he was poor. Then the teasing started. He couldn’t understand why they were trying to make him so unpopular in class. He always felt uncomfortable when he was near them. He had an instinct like an animal. He could feel their falseness, it seemed to ooze out. Other children in the class seemed to be unaware of their deceit. Whatever they emitted was like a poison. He gave them a wide berth so as to stay pure, and not be sucked into their world of dishonesty, and greed.

On Friday evening he made his way down to the kitchen for a bite to eat. He downed a small bowl of soup, and a few fingers of bread.

“You seem to be on the mend Jack. A couple of hours watching a DVD might do you the world of good.,” said Dad pulling out a surprise packet from beneath his jumper.

The family snuggled into the lounge. One table lamp lit up the corner, the curtains were drawn and a couple of extra logs were placed on the burner. It was bliss. Happiness comes in the shape of a family. Jack relished the film then headed towards his bedroom looking forward to a peaceful sleep.

Remnants of an autumn storm were blowing away when Jack, climbed out of bed. He studied his reflection in the wardrobe mirror. His blonde hair was badly in need of a haircut. Hours of labouring in the summer with dad had toned up his muscles. Lean and muscular. Standing at five foot six he was taller than most boys of his age. He wondered if he would be as tall as Dad. His soft brown eyes stared back and smiled at the words he whispered, “happy birthday Jack Dent.” He wanted to leap out of his room, and launch himself in the direction of the old shop, but he waited.
The delicious smell of fried bacon drifted through the house.
“Happy birthday Jack,” shouted mum from the kitchen. “Do you feel up to breakfast? It’s your favourite.”
“I do feel a bit peckish Mum. To tell you the truth I’m famished.”

“I thought as much. There’s more than enough to go round; enough I’d say for second helpings, but you’d better be quick, you know what Dad’s like.”

Jack licked his lips. “Down in a minute mum, don’t let it go cold!”

The family settled down to a good tuck in. There was no conversation, eating food took priority over speaking words.

“A bit nippy outside Jack. Coat, hat and gloves weather,” said Dad warming his hands by the stove.
“Why can’t we go in the car ? ”

“Its old son, a bit like me A good service, and a few new parts should see it right; it will be too expensive this month though. Look on the bright side, a good walk will do us he world of good.”

Elsie eyed her husband suspiciously. “You did have the money. What have you done with it Bill? You’ve been gambling again. How many times must I tell you to stop. I know it’s only a few pounds, but we can’t afford it. From next Friday I want your wage in my hand the moment you walk in that door.”

Bill fumbled around for any excuse. He stared at Elsie, then nodded.

It was a brisk twenty minutes walk into town, there was a sneaky wind, and the sun didn’t have the strength to break through the thin veil of cloud. Jack, and Dad were well wrapped up with scarf, hat, gloves and coats. Their stroll was interrupted by the throbbing of a powerful engine poised at the traffic lights. Jack, saw Charles Bentley pressing his face against the window of his dad’s new sporty car. Bentley, managed to push his hand next to the window, then slyly fired a couple of fingers at Jack. When Dad turned, Bentley’s hand had transformed itself into a wave.

“Who’s that Jack?”
Jack gave a sigh, and mumbled out his name. “Charles Bentley, one of the boys in my class.”
“He seems a pleasant young m… .”

“What,! Pleasant. You don’t know him. He’s the pits. Always poking fun, and trying to make others look stupid.”

There was an uneasy silence between father and son.

“Nearly there Jack, just round the corner.”

Jack widened his stride and scrambled away.

“Just a minute, you don’t have any money.”

“No problem. Meet you in the shop.”

Jack pushed the door open and entered into a dusty entrance hall. Water coloured sunlight flowed through the stained glass windows reminding Jack of kaleidoscope patterns.

“Good morning young man, are you looking for something?”

In a corner sitting on a huge velvet chair, behind an even larger desk an old man slowly raised his head. A mane of long silver hair fell onto the keeper’s shoulders. The sparkling brightness of his blue eyes contrasted sharply with an ebony coloured complexion. His face thoughtful all knowing, and sharp; but there was a kindness, a gentle kindness that flowed outwards from the keeper. Calmness, purity and wisdom blended into an almost tangible force radiating over Jack. He could almost touch the aura. Jack vaguely remembered a similar experience when he’d entered an empty church. Clearing his mind of distant memories he stared into Alfred’s face. After a few heartbeats of silence he was ready to speak. “Sir, I’ve come to buy a present.”

“Step a bit closer. Let’s take a good look at you. It isn’t often I have the pleasure of someone so young visiting my old shop.”

“I see you’ve noticed my war accident. Unfortunately, I lost both my legs, though as they say, life goes on.”

Jack was still chatting to Alfred, when he noticed Dad leaving the betting office. Dad sauntered into the shop, and was flabbergasted by the size.

“I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure Mr …”

“Oh, I’m Mr Dent, Jack’s Dad, I’ve brought my son to have a good look round, and if anything catches his eye he can have it.”

“I see,” said Alfred, as he fumbled into his pockets to find some keys. “Well I hope you can find something of interest. Would you like a map? It is a vast building. It saves unnecessary leg work. And if you would like, your dad could stay here. There is plenty to read., and I have a wide range of refreshments free to my best customers. There is just one last thing Jack, the top floor is out of bounds unless…”
“Unless what sir?”

“All in good time,” replied Alfred.

Jack edged his way towards the solid oak door. He clicked open the latch and entered into a world of musty silence. The thick carpet muffled his footsteps along the corridor, the thick stone walls deadened the hum of traffic rattling past on the bypass overhead, the dim windows prevented any bright sunlight disturbing the mellow atmosphere in the ancient building. He was in a cocoon where time stood still. To his right was the entrance to a large oval shaped room. It was crammed with framed paintings. Some that small, you could tuck a few into your pocket, and still have room for a bag of sweets. Some that big, it would take two burly men to cart them off. They were beautifully painted. Colours vibrant, and full of life. Jack was attracted to one painting of a long green valley surrounded by steep hills. Perched on the highest hill was a castle. It guarded the entrance to a steep sided valley. Tall ramparts guarded by noble looking soldiers were assembled in battle formation. Their sharp features focused in a gaze peering northwards. On the tallest towers a mound of jagged rocks all but covered the catapults that would deliver them. Alert, and waiting the formidable force was in readiness for some hostile enemy, or something else. Jack continued his search checking every room on the second floor.

It was then that he spotted a leather pouch hiding under a grubby table. A gold ring held the contents of the pouch in place. Jack removed the ring, and tipped out several pounds, and a couple of fivers; he put the money back into the purse, then placed it firmly into his pocket. “Finders keepers, that will do nicely,” said Jack, before he continued his search. One final room remained on the second floor, a rectangular shaped room with a smoked glass door. He clicked open the door to reveal a multitude of boxes of various sizes. Jack rummaged through the first line of containers carefully opening them, and examining the contents. If nothing took his fancy he positioned the items neatly back into the box. He threw off a dusty sheet from a damaged wooden crate. A medieval castle poked its way through a loose covering of straw. The price £30. He checked the map and found a short cut to the reception.

Discovery Showcase Information

Here are the upcoming Discovery Showcases, in the order in which they may appear:
  • Rise of the Ancients - Annuna
  • Armageddon - The Battle of Darkening Skies
  • Interregnum
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.

My apologizes for the lengthy hiatus that this feature has been on.  I tried to get in touch with two authors, but neither replied, so I have skipped those titles. I decided to move the Discovery Showcase to Sunday afternoon because I have better web traffic during this timeframe.

My thoughts:
Ordinarily, I would put my impressions here, but the author sent me this excerpt before I changed this feature to include my impressions, and I forgot to tell him that I now do this.

However, nothing prevents you from posting your  thoughts, as the author has given his permission. Please leave constructive feedback only.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An Interview with John Brown!

John Brown is the author of Servant of a Dark God, which I just reviewed on Tuesday. His site doubles as a blog, and he is a frequent poster. He has won the Writers of the Future contest, and has been published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalatic Medicine Show and Lady Churchhill's Rosebud Wristlet.

Q. Please briefly describe what Servant of a Dark God is about.

It's about a young man named Talen and young woman named Sugar who live in a world where humans are ranched by beings of immense power. Not for their flesh, but soul. Often we think of souls and spirits as insubstantial. But I thought, well, if souls exist, they're physical things. And there would probably be a food web based on them. So the core idea of the book started with that idea. Except it's not that straight-forward because if you were going to ranch intelligent creatures, you certainly wouldn't want them to know it. They'd be much easier to manage if they thought they were governing themselves. So the truth is hidden deep. And the human overseers are merciless in rooting out and destroying anyone who gets on the trail of the truth or tries to thwart their control. The problem in this story occurs when Sugar's family becomes the target of one of these hunts.

Q. Tell us a little about your inspiration for Servant of a Dark God.

Cows were the inspiration. I live up in the hinterlands of Utah. It's all ranch land for miles and miles. Now, I'm a city boy, so everything up here was new to me. And one day I was hiking up a canyon and came across a small herd of cattle on their summer range. The bull was bellowing. Being of supreme intelligence, I bellowed back because, hey, isn't it everyone's dream to talk to animals? We went back and forth a few times. I thought we were having a fine conversation until he began to charge through the willows at me. I suddenly realized I was telling him I was going to take one of his women. He had a slight size advantage on me, and because I'm not attracted to cow I hightailed it out of there. But I began to think: humans, cows, ranching--what if humans were ranched? So it was cows that gave me the idea.

Q. I loved how the entire family gets swept up in the story--no farm boy running off to go on an adventure. Instead, adventure comes to the farm! What was your inspiration for this particular twist and was it difficult to pull off?

I'm so glad that resonated with you. It was one of the more enjoyable parts of the story for me as well. Many moons ago my sister pointed out that many stories feature heroes with the Superman syndrome--they're single men, no attachments. That insight stuck with me. Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with heroes out on their own. After all, in many situations a man or woman must leave safety to go face some danger to protect the family or group. They have to do it alone. But I knew when I began to write this I wanted to explore what would happen when family was in the thick of it.

And your question is interesting because there was indeed one tricky aspect to this. See, normally, if mom and dad are around, they will take the hero's role. Unless they're schmucks or disabled in some way. But the parents in this story are all strong. And I wanted it that way. I wanted to write about strong adults with good relationships with their kids. So I had to figure out a way to let these two young adults take the lead and act on their own. At the same time, I didn't want to just kill all the parents off immediately because they were interesting to me as well. So it was a balancing act.

Q. Please tell us about your favorite part of Servant of a Dark God.

It's going to sound stupid, but I enjoyed every scene and story line I've got in there. Some for one reason, some for others. You're making me choose my favorite child, darn it! I was sad to see some go that weren't really contributing to the story. One scene, where Talen was being chased by these drunk dogs, made it to the last edit, but Hartwell and Hague-Hill convinced me it wasn't doing anything for the story. So out it went. But let me see. If I had to choose, I would say, well, no, it's just too hard. Except, I did love writing the opening scenes with Hunger. He was such a lovely discovery.

Q. What about any parts that were difficult to write?

The beginning. I just couldn't figure out the right sequence for the chapters. In fact, the opening three chapters originally didn't come until page 40 or 50. All of the first drafts started with Sugar. And then I tried cutting back and forth between Talen and Sugar. But we realized that in both instances the structure was leading the reader to invest too much into Sugar too early. Hartwell came up with the current sequencing, and I am very pleased with it.

Q. Please tell us what's coming next and when--the paperback release? How about the second book, Curse of a Dark God? Do you have any plans for extending the series beyond a trilogy?

No plans right now to do more than three books. I know Tor decided against using "trilogy" precisely because they wanted to leave it open for more books in this world. So it's the Dark God Saga. And it's a rich world, I think, and could supply a lot of stories. But I know that I don't want to extend this story beyond three books. It's going to end on book three. I'm plotting that book right now, and I'm telling you, it will end there come heck or high water. That's not to say I won't write another book in this world or start another trilogy like Robin Hobb did with her Farseer books, but I have other projects I'm excited about and want to move to them when I'm done with Dark God's Glory.

As for the second book, Curse of a Dark God, it's slated for release a year after this one. That is if we finish on time. We're running a bit behind. I planned a 170k word book and it ended up at 230k words. That's a bit large and so we'll probably have to cut, which is going to change a lot of things. You can't just cut 60k words without changing core parts of the story. We'll see how long the story editing takes. But I hope we stay on track. And that would mean the paperback would come out a month or so before the release of book two next fall.

As for the story, I can tell you that the creatures ranching humans consider it a red alert when their human subjects rise up in rebellion. It's as dire as slave revolts are to slave owners. You're going to call out the big guns. Old enemies will band together to deal with the common threat. And so the problems for our characters only magnify in book two.

Q. Please tell us about your growth as a writer. Do you have any journeyman novels sitting in a closet, somewhere? Have you had any short fiction published?

I started out writing drek. Naturally, I didn't even think about writing professionally. Why would I? That was lofty dream stuff, and I was diddling in creative writing classes. Then I took a workshop from David Wolverton who was at that time the coordinating judge for the Writers of the Future contest. For the first time in my life I thought that maybe I could write for publication. Wolverton was so encouraging to all of us. So I submitted to the contest and, on the second try, won a quarterly first prize. That was back in 1997. It was my first publication. I sold a few other pieces of short fiction after that. My last sale was a reprint to Year's Best Fantasy 9 that came out this summer. It's about a golem who is a thief.

But my big problem in the early years, and there were quite a few years, was making time. My mind is like a furnace. If all I do is write a few hours every week or write like a madman for a few weeks and then take a long break, then I found what I'm really doing is spending all my time warming up the furnace. It makes it impossible to finish anything. I need consistent hours. I also didn't know how to deal with writer's block. I've since learned it's a gift. It's not a block at all. Once I saw those two issues for what they were, I was able to produce. It took me about five years from that point to make my sale. I don't have a journeyman novel in a trunk anywhere. All the early stuff, while there were some very nice parts, was broken on arrival. So it went into the trash.

Q. Please share with us the story of how Servant of a Dark God came to be published--how long did it take to write, about your agent search, and finally getting the call about the publication.

I did not get a call, dang it. I got an email instead. I also got an email when my fab agent, Caitlin Blasdell, indicated she'd like to talk about representing me. In fact, I remember wondering for a time, because I'm so used to face-to-face, if the whole thing was a hoax. Yeah, I'd talked to Caitlin on the phone. But almost all our communication was email. I guess I'm old school. I needed some flesh and blood to shake hands with and look in the eye. For a few weeks I started wondering if it really was Caitlin Blasdell I'd hooked up with or some poser who said she was Blasdell. How was I to know? I hadn't seen any office. And there ARE a lot of women out there, you know.

I still haven't been to New York. Haven't met Caitlin or Stacy Hague-Hill (who is the other editor working with David Hartwell on these books) in person. But that's just how this business works. However, I have had the chance to meet a bunch of other wonderful folks.

As for the breaking in. The novel took seven months to write. I took another month or so to edit. I think I took a whole month coming up with the query letter and synopsis. Then I submitted to the publishers who said they'd look at unsolicited stuff. I hadn't made any contacts with editors personally yet. Was planning on doing so. But I'm not one for waiting around. So I began to send queries out to fifty agents.

When I tell some people that, they look at me all weird. Fifty? Yes, fifty. Of course, I had an A, B, and C list and sent them out in batches. And I made sure to check all of them out for complaints etc. I know a lot of people say you don't need an agent. But the fact is they have more access than I do. A good one would know which editors to approach better than I. And that proved true in my case.

So of the fifty, eight never responded, thirty-three eventually passed (and almost all were very timely in their replies), but nine wanted to see more. Nine. But that was more than double the number that had asked for more with the first novel I wrote. I was very excited to hear from Caitlin. I was impressed with her resume, and have found her to be wonderful to work with. There were two other agents looking at the full manuscript when I signed with her (yes, I made sure both knew they weren't getting an exclusive before sending).

But we didn't submit immediately. Caitlin wanted me to make a few edits. And this is one of the reasons I was so interested in her. She'd been a senior editor at Avon. So she had more than a sales resume. And while some writers don't want that, I did. So I think we did two rounds of edits. And then in October of 2007 she began submitting. We had a lot of good response, then she told me Hartwell was interested. I was thrilled. Tor is such a great publisher and Hartwell knows his stuff. A few months later I signed a very nice three book deal with Tor. But remember, most of this was in email. So between notice of Tor's interest and receiving the actual contract I began to have those odd doubts about the Blasdell poser again. Why? I don't know. Maybe because pinching myself wasn't enough to convince me I wasn't dreaming. But I'm fairly convinced it's all real now :P

Q. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Two things. First, is just to say thanks, Tia. I appreciate the time and effort you make to highlight debut authors. I'm glad you reached out to me. Second, is to let anyone who reads the book know I'd love to hear the report of your experience with it. Come on over to and contact me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writer (and Reader!) Wednesday - Peeves and Quirks

I have a simple topic for Writer Wednesday today, and I'm hoping those of you who are readers only will add your opinion. We writers need all the help we can get!

First, as a reader (and all writers must be readers as well as writers), what are your pet peeves--things that writers do that annoy you? Is it grammar and punctuation? How about certain dialog techniques? Authorial pet phrases?

And if you are a writer, what are your writing quirks? Things you do unconsciously and know you must edit for afterward?

I'll post my own answers in the comments.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Servant of a Dark God By John Brown

Servant of a Dark God (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)
by John D. Brown
Tor Books
Hardcover - $17.15 at Amazon! ($25.99 normally)

Note: This book releases on October 13. Tor provided a complementary ARC copy.

Servant of a Dark God by John Brown is one of those novels that I pick up with some reluctance, not really thinking it's for me, but then I end up enjoying it thoroughly.

Mr. Brown has taken a very different approach with Servant of a Dark God. This is an epic fantasy that does not involve epic journeys, recent calamities or long-term character arcs. It does involve long-term lies; the kind of lies that are told over such a long period of time that they are thought of as truths.

Servant of a Dark God begins in the point-of-view of Talen, a boy. He's probably younger than fifteen, but not by much. He has an older brother named Ke and an older sister named River. His father's name is Hogan. He has an Uncle Argoth, with a son named Nettle.

All are important.

In a nearby town, a family has been accused of slethery. Slethery is the illegal use of fire, which is one of the elements of life. All creatures have soul and fire. Fire may be thought of as the days of your life. Slethery is the use of fire that has been taken from another person, hence it's illegality. The accused family consists of Sparrow, a blacksmith, his wife Purity, their daughter Sugar and their blind son, Legs.

Definitely not your run-of-the-mill fantasy names. They're all easy to pronounce, and there's not an apostrophe in the bunch.

The story begins in Talon's point-of-view, and his is the most prevalent viewpoint. Other viewpoint characters are Sugar and Argoth.

And then we have Hunger, another viewpoint character. Hunger is a sort of a golom. He has been created out of rock, wood, dirt and plants. He even has flowers growing out of his shoulder, which makes him rather whimsical, even though he is often horrible. He's one of those villains who engages your sympathy. So half the time you are rooting him on, and the other half, you are saying, "Oh no! If he wins, then my favorite character is going to die!"

UPDATE: Just wanted to expand on Hunger. He is not the villain--you actually feel sorry for the poor creature. But he's no more a villain than Quasimodo was in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Lennie was in Of Mice and Men. The actual villain is much more chilling than Hunger.

The story is about the unraveling of old lies. It's also about families. Like Russell Kirkpatrick's Across the Face of the World, the families in this novel, for the most part, remain together. I enjoyed this very much, and it was one of the reasons I liked Kirkpatrick's novel as well. When the group is all family, it makes the lengths the characters will go through on each other's behalf all the greater.

One of the problems I had early on was Talon as the point-of-view character. He's a bit of a brat. He's all too willing to turn Sugar and Legs over to the authorities, even when he knows that they won't get fair treatment. He's part of an oppressed minority, and he's a bit hung up on that. I know this was necessary for his character development, but it did prevent my bonding with him at first. The opening chapter, especially, made him seem foolish and bratty. I was just wishing he would save a puppy or something. Anything to inspire some liking for him.

Fortunately, Sugar's point-of-view wasn't very far in, and she was able to carry me through until Talon grew up a bit.

The worldbuilding is incredible. John Brown doles out his backstory more-or-less evenly, but toward the end, the backstory got a bit heavy. This may have been because Mr. Brown ratcheted up the tension so high that I got impatient when backstory came up. But I had to pay attention, because there were secrets revealed, while leaving other secrets for the next novel.

I was afraid there would be a cliffhanger, but there wasn't. Servant of a Dark God is an unexpected novel, much like The Warded Man was, in that I expected one thing and got something very different. There was a satisfying--if sad--ending that looked toward book 2, leaving just enough unanswered questions to make me look forward to the next book.


On Thursday, I will post an interview with John Brown. It is one of the most enjoyable interviews I've had with an author in quite some time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

FTC to Monitor Bloggers?

I suspect this bit of news may raise eyebrows in the blogging community:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.

It is the first time since 1980 that the commission has revised its guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, and the first time the rules have covered bloggers.
You can read the rest of this very short article here:

Most of the books I review here are provided by the publisher, but I have never received a dime for a review. Sometimes I disclose the fact that the book I am reviewing was provided by the publisher or author, but I often don't think to do so. It's an 11,000 fine per violation! Will I face a fine for being forgetful? Am I going to have to include some legal mumbo-jumbo on each review post?

I wonder if this new regulation will cover magazines, too. They're doing it for profit. I'm just doing it for the love of it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

This Week

Welcome to the new subscribers who have signed up to follow Fantasy Debut recently. When I have a difficult time posting--as I have had recently--it's always a boost to my spirits when someone wants to subscribe anyway!

And ugh, am I still suffering from the stomach biopsies and twilight anesthesia of last week. I am forbidden to take ibuprofen, so of course a migraine reared its ugly head, and anything other than ibuprofen only makes the pain pull back a little. Plus, I cannot seem to digest meat. I've lost two pounds, which will look good at my Weight Watcher's weigh-in on Tuesday.

I have a review of Servant of a Dark God almost ready to post on Tuesday, plus I just sent an interview off to the author, John Brown. I am into the opening chapters of Slaves of the Shinar, which is an older debut. It has the advantage of featuring a grown man rather than a boy. I have enjoyed all the boy stories I've read recently--despite all my complaining--but it is good to get away from them for a while. And then I'll read Canticle.

Plus, I really want to get my hands on the sequel to Would-Be Witch by Kimberly Frost, which has another adorable cover and is called Barely Bewitched. It just came out on September 15th. I need a Zach fix. Plus, I read the blurb, and the idea of a "toxic spill of pixie dust" is just too funny!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh, Joy!

Canticle by Ken Scholes has arrived in the mail! It's another debut graduate, since I reviewed Lamentation earlier this year. Canticle sure looks pretty on my shelf next to Lamentation.

I really need to read some actual debuts, these days. However, I have a review already written for Servant of a Dark God, which is a debut, and I'll go ahead and post it about a week before the October 13th release date. Canticle comes out on the same day, so it will be a busy week. Plus, I'm almost done with a non-debut (kind of) for Fantasy Literature, which I'll link up when it goes live.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Debut Graduate: The Other Lands

The Other Lands (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)
by David Anthony Durham
Hardcover - $28 ($18 at Amazon!)

I first cracked the cover of The Other Lands with a great sense of anticipation, and from the first page to the last, David Anthony Durham did not disappoint.

The Other Lands continues the story of the three royal children of the Akaran family. They are Corinne, who is now queen, Dariel, who could have been king, but let the rule pass to Corinne, and Mena, the warrior princess. There are also several new characters, but it's difficult to introduce some of them without giving spoiling the plot.

Since Corinne resumed the Akaran rule of The Known Lands, the quota trade has continued, but the people have not resumed their dependence on mist, the drug that has kept the populace quiet and happy for hundreds of years. Since the people are sober, they are also restless. They object to sending their children off into an unknown slavery; and they object to crushing Akaran taxes. Corinne has resumed trade relations with the League, and in recompence for Dariel's burning of the League Platforms in the first novel, she has offered them certain lands that might have a warm place in the reader's heart. And they have most diabolical plans for those lands.

Right from the start, the League is up to something. They come to Corinne with a story of a captured spy, a situation that has been the ruination of their trade relationship with the people of the Other Lands. She asks Dariel to go with them to the Other Lands as her emissary. He reluctantly agrees, for they know he is the one who set fire to their platforms in Book 1. Both suspect treachery. Both are right.

Surprises await in the Other Lands, and they are not what you would expect.

In the meantime, Mena is ridding the world of foulthings, twisted creatures left behind by the Santoth after they came to the assistance of Aliver in Book 1. Each foulthing is worse than the last, until she finally tracks down the last one. And she finds a creature that is anything but foul. She forms a bond with the creature, whose nature may surprise you. Or, it may not.

And Corinne is up to more than simply ruling the Known World. She has been studying the Song of Elenet, and she has mastered its music. She begins to use it openly, and the people both love her and are terrified of her, with good reason. She is chilling, but lovable at the same time. As Mr. Durham managed with Hanish Mein, he has created an engaging villain in Corinne. Except I'm not sure she's the real villain. The League would be a candidate for that, or something else, altogether.

There are a couple of marked improvements over the first volume, Acacia. One, is dialog, which Mr. Durham now writes out rather than summarizes, for the most part. The other is Mr. Durham's use of cliffhanger chapter endings. It became very difficult to put the book down at the end of the chapter, or even at the end of a scene break. More than one time, I continued the reading session longer than I intended, for I simply didn't want to put it down. Most of the time, I only put it down when I got to Rialus chapters. But even then they were engaging, because Rialus continues to somehow find himself working with the enemy--despite his best intentions otherwise--so Rialus's point-of-view often gives a window into what the enemy is doing. It is a particularly masterful touch.

The only part that made me wince was a hint of a romantic threesome forming in book three. Nothing happened in this book, but I'm a bit leery about where this is heading. I was hoping for a great romance with this character, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind. In general, the romantic subplots in this novel are not strong. Dariel and Mena are both involved with characters that come across as weaker than themselves, but I understand that this is probably intentional. The best romance in this series so far took place in The War with the Mein, and it was between Corinne and her captor and enemy, Hanish Mein. The simultaneous love and hate between them made for some great tension. Since all these characters are so much larger than life, the possibility for a wonderful, self-sacrificing romance is there.

One part in particular made me smile. A while back--back when I first wrote to Mr. Durham about the possibility of getting an advance copy--Mr. Durham replied with something unexpected. After re-reading my multi-part review of Acacia: The War with the Mein, he decided he needed to tweak The Other Lands. He didn't tell me exactly what he had changed, just that my review had affected the story.

I recognized it as soon as I reached that part of the story. Which was very cool.

Doubleday did a fabulous job with the book itself, with maps on both inside covers, the inclusion of a synopsis of book one (no substitute for the original!), and an awesome cover.

Oh, and the ending. It will blow you away. Yes, it's a cliffhanger. But for me, it was still an ending that satisfied, mostly because it was completely unexpected. As was much of the rest of the story. This is now my favorite epic fantasy. I am very much looking forward to reading the next volume. But . I probably have a while to wait!

Here is my multi-part review of Acacia: The War with the Mein, plus some other stuff. Just scroll down.