Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fantasy Debut Has Moved!

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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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Writer Wednesday - Setting

This post was delayed by three weeks. Many apologizies.

For me, setting is a huge part of what brings wonder to a novel. Even a gritty novel could be tempered with a bit of wonder. Within the past year, the novel with the strongest sense of wonder for me was The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V. S. Redick. And that was mostly because of the setting on board a singular, mighty ship.

The first contemporary fantasy I ever read stuck with me through the years largely because of the wonderful setting of its very first scene. Imagine a tree as large as a redwood, with limbs that spread as broad as an oak. And then imagine, nestled in the arms of that tree, an inn:

It was getting harder to keep up the old inn. There was a lot of love rubbed into the warm finish of the wood, but even love and tallow couldn't hide the cracks and splits in the well-used tables or prevent a customer from sitting on an occasional splinter. The Inn of the Last Home was not fancy, not like some she'd heard about in Haven. It was comfortable. The living tree in which it was built wrapped its ancient arms around it lovingly, while the walls and fixtures were crafted around the boughs of the tree with such care as to make it impossible to tell where nature's work left off and man's work began. The bar seemed to ebb and flow like a polished wave around the living wood that supported it. The stained glass in the window panes cast welcoming flashes of vibrant color across the room.
From this,  the second paragraph of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first volume of the Dragonlance Chronicles, the authors established a sense of wonder in their setting. And they didn't let up throughout the entire trilogy.

Upon the next page comes the reason for the tree being built in the inn:
The Inn of the Last Home was built high in the branches of a mighty vallenwood tree, as was every other building in Solace, with the exception of the blacksmith shop. The townspeople had decided to take to the trees during the terror and chaos following the Cataclysm. And thus Solace became a tree town, one of the few truly beautiful wonders left on Krynn.

Which is a lie. From Prayer's Eye Peak to Godshome and the Dark Queen's temple in Naraka, it's hard to find a trilogy with so many imaginative settings. Lots of people like to deride the Dragonlance Chronicles. Say what you will, but the authors did at least two things very well: they created lovable characters, and they created wonderful settings.

Other memorable settings come from novels I keep mentioning again and again. The forest in The Once and Future King. The cave in Clan of the Cave Bear. New York City at the end of the nineteenth century in The Gaslight Mysteries. The Shire, Rivendell and Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings. The Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride.

One real-world sight that inspired me was the Luxor in Las Vegas. There is a light that shines from the top of the pyramid straight out into space. It's arrogant and it's so very American. The entire hotel inspired a setting in my epic fantasy, which I'll share in the comments.

Please share any settings that have inspired you and, if you wish, allow us to read some of the settings you have written. As ever, please place your comments and your excerpts in separate posts, and keep any excerpts to 300 words or fewer.

Monday, September 28, 2009


No, not the book. Are you kidding? Me, read a YA vampire novel? I haven't even watched the movie.

Twilight, as in the anesthesia. I'm still feeling the effects 10 hours later. Nothing serious, but the doc wanted to look inside my stomach. He saw some redness in there and took some biopsies. He wants me to take Zantac twice a day and come see him in two weeks, once the biopsy result are in.

To keep my daughter content during the afternoon while I recovered, I asked her, "Do you want to watch a Jane Austen movie?" She said, "Yes!" and immediately requested Northanger Abbey. I denied it because we just saw it two weeks ago, and because it is only two hours long. I needed more time than that. So she requested Emma, next.

The girl knows her Jane Austen. I'm raising her right.

However, say what you will of Emma, but it's kind of a snoozer for an eight year old girl. It wasn't keeping her attention so I said, "Let's watch Pride and Prejudice." She was agreeable. I held the two versions I have of the movie up (the BBC version and the Colin Firth version) and asked her which one she wanted to watch. She pointed to Colin.

So in it went. It kept her spellbound for four and a half hours. I snoozed during the early part of it, right up until she yelled something during Lizzy and Darcy's dance at Netherfield.  I tried going to bed, but it was no use. I was awake.

And what did she ask for after the second and final volume had finished? Volume three!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Murky Middles

 Middle volumes in a trilogy have got to be the most difficult volume to write. As an author, you have to keep upping the tension, while revealing secrets from the first book to satisfy your reader, while also establishing new secrets to keep your readers enthralled until the next book. All too often, the middle volumes fail to deliver and deserve the nickname, "Murky Middle".

When writing a middle volume, a debut author has a much more difficult job, in my opinion, than the established author. Once you've gotten through your first trilogy, we readers know you can deliver, so we're more likely to give you a break. Not so the first time. We've been burned before, you see. We are kind of expecting you to fail. Not that we want you to fail. But we're wondering if the first book was a fluke. So the first time you write a middle, you have a bigger job than once you are established. Consider it your Authorial Trial by Fire. And you thought getting published in the first place was your trial by fire. Hah!

When I consider reading a second volume, I first assess not only how much I liked the first volume, but also how much it stayed with me. Do I barely remember the plot after a year? If so, even if I liked the first volume, I probably won't move on to the second. Do I recall any points where the plot dragged, and where I struggled to get through it? If so, then I'm going to assume that these problems will be worse in the second volume. Am I still excited by the story? If so, I probably won't wait till the next novel comes out in paperback.

It's easy to get frustrated when reading a second volume. If I get the impression that as a reader, I'm just being strung along to fill the length of a book, I'm going to get frustrated. If the author keeps throwing complications in there, they had better make sense with the overarching plot, or I'm going to lose patience. A new character or two helps, because they add intrigue. However, too many new characters is overwhelming. I recently tried to read a middle where almost all the characters were new. I never finished the novel and probably won't ever finish the series.

I also get annoyed by series that goes on too long. I think three books is quite enough for one storyline, and four is pushing it. The only pentology (is that the right word?) I recall enjoying is Stephen Lawhead's Grail series. It worked because each book was about a different person in the Arthur cycle. However, even then, the final volume was difficult to get through. (Part of the problem was the subject matter. You know the Arthur cycle is not going to end well, so it's very difficult to paste a satisfying ending in there.)

What delights me about second volumes? I love it when the characters continue to grow. I love it when they meet new challenges, as long as I can see them fitting into the overall goal. I enjoys twists and turns in the plot, as long as it moves forward. I enjoy romantic complications. I enjoy it when the problem you thought you had in Book One becomes part of a much larger problem in Book Two.

And I kind of like cliffhangers. I know a lot of people hate them, but not me. Maybe I'm just into reader torture.

What are your thoughts on Murky Middles?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Debut Showcase: Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts (Amazon USA - UK)
by Daniel Horman (Blog - Composer Website)
Prime Books
Trade Paperback

One question remains: Did it begin or end in theft? His mother, taken before memory, his father, disappeared in the Manor where Asriael rules, home of the Great Game, where lives are antes and countries divided by mere hands, where the deed to the Slants was bet and lost so many years ago. The underground wizards of the Slants had trained Renue in the high arts, as an expert in disguise, a deadly fighter, a daring card player.

His mission was to infiltrate the Manor and win back the deed so that Asriael's dark magic could finally be unraveled and the people freed. But inside the Manor, Renue meets a mysterious young woman called the Queen of Hearts who seems to hold the secrets to his parents' fate. When Asriael is murdered and the mission betrayed, Renue and the Queen must flee the Manor, the Black Thing on their trail. As the other great lords vie for power, amid chaos and war, Renue must protect the Queen while they search for an ancient magic to end the nightmare of Asriael's black revenge.

The author is also a composer and has a website to showcase his music. He had an interesting path to publication; after selling a short story to Fantasy Magazine, the publisher--who is also the publisher for Prime Books--commissioned a novel. And this is it. I liked this blurb--which I found at Amazon--better than the blurb on his site. I was not able to find this novel at Prime Books' website, but it is available at Amazon. The UK Amazon link shows this novel as unavailable.

The cover image was strangely hard to find, which is why you don't see one here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Short Week

It will be a short week for me, both here and at work, for I am off to take a short vacation. It's a visiting-family type of vacation. I expect walks on the beach, swims in the pools, and strolls through the buggy Florida woods, well armed with DEET. I will bring along The Other Lands if I have not finished it by Wednesday, which is when we are leaving. We'll be back by the weekend--I'm just not sure exactly when on the weekend.

I hope to return refreshed. This was not a relaxing summer, but things have improved. My child is settled in a new school situation. I had my eye doctor re-make the lenses of my glasses. They appear to have been ever-so-slightly tilted, which meant that I was looking at the world through a blur. Normally, when you wear progressive bifocals, the blur is supposed to be outside your field of vision. I had a blur right where I was looking. I was amazed at the difference once I got my new glasses. Still not like having young eyes again, but the headaches are gone.

When I get back, I'll have an announcement. Nothing agent related--unless I'm totally surprised in the next week (and thank those of you who wished me well in that regard). It's something that I've been working on lately, robbing me of the time to work on this blog like I used to.

I updated my policies, and until I catch up on my current reading stack, I'm not taking any more review copies. Sometimes publishers send them to me unsolicited--and I can't help that--but the rate at which they come have slowed to a trickle, for which I am grateful. I really do owe it to the authors whose novels I've already taken to attempt to get caught up.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Other Lands - Opening Chapters

I've been enjoying the opening chapters of The Other Lands, and got a chance to read some more last night. In fact, I suppose you could say that I'm not even in the opening chapters anymore.

Without giving anything away (hopefully), here's what the main characters are up to.

Corinne is being naughty. Very naughty. Remember how Acacia really didn't seem like a fantasy until pretty far in the book? Well, The Other Lands has magic right from the start. The interesting thing about Corinne is she sees nothing but virtue in what she does. She shivers the spine.

Mena's story is still developing. But I'm in the middle of an interesting chapter that contains a creature which can only be the one mentioned in the blurb. So that makes it all the harder to put down. Mena is my favorite character, except when Dariel is.

Dariel. Aah, Dariel. The League gets their revenge upon him for his destruction of their League Platform in Acacia. And it plunges Dariel right in the middle of an adventure. Except I don't know what that adventure is yet, because the chapter ended right at a cliffhanger!

Other occasional points-of-view include Rialus, who seems to have grown a spine.

The mighty Numrek have betrayed an interesting vulnerability.

And an uprising is in the works. But you know, I think Corinne will be able to handle then. Easily. Ruthlessly. Brutally. Frighteningly.

And those are my impressions so far.

In other news, I am sitting on my already-written review of Servant of a Dark God, because the publication date was pushed back and it's now too early to be posting reviews. So I have been busy, even though it may not look like it.

Oh. And I didn't have the flu after all. Thanks for all the well-wishes!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Outta Time!

Sometimes I must put other things before this blog, so I was too busy to write my Writer Wednesday post last night. But I was busy in a good way! And then this morning, I didn't get up early enough to write it. I'm just glad I didn't have a guest! (Although if I had, I would have stayed up till midnight if necessary to get it posted.) I'm sneaking this post in at work, so I'd better go!
I really wish I could eek out an hour or two more a day, but I'd rather have my days too full than too empty--wouldn't you? ;)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Debut Showcase: The Choir Boats

The Choir Boats: Volume One of Longing for Yount
(Amazon USA - Canada)
by Daniel A. Rabuzzi
ChiZine Publications
Prologue and First Five Chapters
Interior Illustrations
Trade Paperback

London, 1812 | Yount, Year of the Owl

What would you give to make good on the sins of your past? For merchant Barnabas McDoon, the answer is: everything.

When emissaries from a world called Yount offer Barnabas a chance to redeem himself, he accepts their price—to voyage to Yount with the key that only he can use to unlock the door to their prison. But bleak forces seek to stop him: Yount's jailer, a once-human wizard who craves his own salvation, kidnaps Barnabas's nephew. A fallen angel—a monstrous owl with eyes of fire—will unleash Hell if Yount is freed. And, meanwhile, Barnabas's niece, Sally, and a mysterious pauper named Maggie seek with dream-songs to wake the sleeping goddess who may be the only hope for Yount and Earth alike.

ChiZine is long known in Fantasy circles as a magazine, so it interested me to learn that they were now publishing books. The author had a nice book launch at WorldCon in Montreal, to which he was gracious enough to invite me, and which I would have been happy to accept had it been possible for me to go. This may appear to be another blend of Christian elements, but judging from the reviews I've read, probably not.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Week

I have an interview out, and I hope to post it sometime this week, plus a second interview I need to write in the next few days. I also have a review of Servant of a Dark God almost ready to go. I'll polish that up for tomorrow.

UPDATE! They pushed the release date of Servant of a Dark God back to October! Oh, well; I guess I'll be even more prepared by then.

This week, we'll do Writer Wednesday again. I don't have a Featured Writer, but I thought I'd do it on Setting, and use as an example an older series that I think many of you like, plus snippets from some other books. I do have another Featured Writer coming up, however--someone you've seen before. Plus, I really do think I ought to invite a male author to be a featured writer, sometime. Mustn't exclude the men.

Any suggestions?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reading Frenzy

I've been reading so much that I haven't had time to blog. Check out my Reading and Tweeting section on the left sidebar for my thoughts on Servant of a Dark God, which I just finished tonight. Review forthcoming, plus a Debut Showcase, which I have not done yet for that book.

I'm also jumping right back into The Other Lands because the opening chapters were really awesome.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I probably won't do much except read and post about frivolous stuff this week. I'm in contact with another author about Writer Wednesday, but that probably won't happen this week.

I'm having trouble getting hold of authors to restart the Discovery Showcase. Two non-responses so far. I meant to contact the next author on the list last week, but I didn't get to it in time. I'll try again, but I'm wondering if some of these authors have given up on me.

I'm loving The Other Lands, but I'm also loving Servant of a Dark God by John Brown. Too many good novels! Oh, and did I mention that I'm sneaking in chapters of Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice in there as well? I'll be covering Hobb at Fantasy Literature, but the other two I'll review here. I'll link my FanLit review when it is up.

I'm reading and tweeting on the following:
Servant of a Dark God
The Other Lands

If I get really excited and just have to post something that exceeds 140 characters, I'll post here as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

In Which Tia Loses All Decorum *

Today, I got two new things. One was a wide-screen monitor, which replaced the old-fashioned CRT monitor that died last night.

Ho hum.

The other was a package from Random House/Doubleday. Which I opened eagerly, to glimpse a book within. Which I eagerly ripped out of the package. Which, upon beholding the cover, I shrieked a most girlish, "Yay!" I do believe my feet even left the ground. Keep in mind that I am a matronly 43 years old.

My husband said something like, "Damn, you're more excited about that book than your new monitor." Well, of course. A monitor is useful, to be sure, but an anticipated novel is nothing but pure joy.

Which book could have caused such excitement?

Yes, it's The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham! Possibly the most eagerly awaited sequel for me since I started Fantasy Debut. Why am I so ridiculously excited about this novel? Well, for one, I had to wait for it for two years. Good things take time. And for another, in the past two years, it kind of grew on me in my memory. I liked it when I read it (link opens multiple posts), but as time went by, rather than forgetting it, I liked it even more. Plus, it's a major epic fantasy, the first one I covered at FD. I love epic fantasies, particularly when the author promises fewer than five novels in the series.

I also flatter myself into thinking that I helped discover the author as a fantasy novelist. A fantasy novelist, I might add, who went on to win the John W. Campbell Award this year.

Check out the shiny things that happen to the cover when you hold it just right to the light:

I'll be happily tweeting this novel as I read it using the hashtag #TheOtherLands. Since it comes out on the 15th, I should be able to have a review up on that day, barring life-changing emergencies.

* With apologizes to Colleen Lindsay of The Swivet, for my blatant theft of her signature verbiage.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Debut Showcase: Rosemary and Rue

Rosemary and Rue (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)
by Seanan McGuire
Mass Market Paperback

The world of Faerie never disappeared: it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie's survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, these second-class children of Faerie spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October "Toby" Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas.

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby is forced to resume her old position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery...before the curse catches up with her.

Dang. An urban fantasy that hits none of my many red flags. This one looks good. I might have to try it. The author also writes as Mira Grant, but it doesn't appear as if the books under that name have been released yet. She is also a singer and a songwriter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Writer Wednesday - Your Favorite Characters

We've discussed bonding with your own characters, and that's all well and good. And it's easy, because they are after all, your own darlings, begotten in your own head. What's more difficult is to get others to love your characters. Which you have to do pretty dang early in the story, or why would the reader read any further?

Here are a few of my favorite characters in literature, and why:

Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. Ayla kept me reading the Earth's Children series four books in. After that, I lost interest mostly because everything that the author did right with Ayla, she did horribly wrong--at least for me--with Jondalar. But back to Ayla. Who could not feel sympathy for a five-year-old child that lost her entire family to a disaster, and then who was reluctantly adopted by a clan of neanderthals? And then right away, Ms. Auel set up this conflict between this young girl and a powerful young man (very young) of the tribe. It was a winning formula.

By contrast, Tom from Tom Sawyer is never a character you feel sorry for. Instead, you marvel at his audacity. He has chutzpah, he is never daunted, and he always has something handy in his pocket. He is the original MacGyver at twelve (or so) years of age. He doesn't hesitate to kiss the girl. He doesn't hesitate to throw a punch. He doesn't hesitate to take on his brutal schoolmaster. And that den of thieves? They never had a chance.

I could go on with a bunch of other favorites, but you get the idea. What are your favorite characters--from any genre--and more importantly, why?

Also, I'd like to do a post on building tension, but I think we should have an expert for that topic. What author can you recommend to me who is especially good at building tension?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Debut Showcase: Drawn Into Darkness

Drawn into Darkness (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)
by Annette McCleave
NAL/Signet Eclipse
Book Trailer
MM Paperback - $7.99

For centuries Lachlan MacGregor has battled demon thieves for the souls of the dead, carrying out his pledge to deliver them into Heaven or Hell. But his greatest challenge as a Soul Gatherer is now among the living.

Struggling to connect with her troubled teenage daughter Emily, artist Rachel Lewis turns to her enigmatic yet strangely compelling neighbor Lachlan for advice. As Lachlan soon discovers, the young girl has fallen victim to a seductive demon—a specter from the past using the unsuspecting women to fulfill an ancient prophesy and settle a hellish score with Lachlan himself.

In the race to save Emily and avert a disastrous power shift among the deities, Rachel and Lachlan forge an uncommon bond. But how can Lachlan tell the mortal woman he’s falling in love with that the next soul he’s been enlisted to gather—and deliver beyond—is her daughter’s?

I reviewed this novel a few weeks back and gave it an overall positive review, but it does tread a bit too close to Christian beliefs for comfort. Ms. McCleave won the 2008 Golden Heart for Best Paranormal Romance with this novel. The novel is a strange--and frankly, awkward--mixture of the sacred, profound and sexual. Nevertheless, I think the author could go far.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've Been Interviewed!

Harry Markov of Temple Library Reviews wrote some very insightful interview questions, which must have taken him a while to research. He also did one of his blog critiques, where he said some very nice things about me and Fantasy Debut. Times like these make blogging very rewarding. He calls this feature Reviewer Time.

Check it out!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Debut Showcase: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)
by Leanna Renee Hieber
Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books
Date of Publication 8/25/09 (UK: 1 Sep)

What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…

This reminds me of Marissa Doyle's Bewitching Season, even down to the name of the heroine. No twin here, though. This looks pretty good. The blurb is almost perfectly enticing, because right away, I am dissatisfied with it, and want to learn more. If the book were in front of me, I'd be reading pages. So I guess it's an effective blurb! Her website has lots of extras, all conveniently located on a page called Extras.

You can let me know of an upcoming debut here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eye Strain

I owe a few of you email responses, but due to eye strain (which is due to my new glasses), I avoided the computer last night and spent the evening in semidarkness. I'm going back to the eye doctor on Friday to see what can be done about these dratted glasses. In the meantime, please be patient. If I haven't answered your email, I will in the next day or so, or over the weekend at the latest.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writer Wednesday - Researching for Fun and Profit

For this week's Writer Wednesday, I thought I'd explore a topic that didn't require the posting of excerpts in order to draw out those of you who prefer not to post excerpts. Since I'm in the midst of writing a historical novel, I also thought I'd blatently use this blog in an attempt to discover all of your favorite research methods. Here are a few of mine.

I am a master of Google Search. If it's on the Internet, I can find it with my Googlebar. I'm really good at figuring out the perfect search term to get the info I need. Maybe it's because I just love research and the Googlebar was something I just adored from day one. Privacy concerns? Bah. It's worth the loss of privacy. :)

Wikipedia is also a wonderful resource, especially when the article you are looking at has lots of citations that you can explore as well. I found some great Rosie the Riveter sites through Wikipedia. One thing I love is plugging in a date and seeing all the information that appears. Want to know the major news stories in 1924? Just plug "1924" in your Googlebar, and Wikipedia will be the first entry that pops up. Click on it, and you will see a comprehensive listing of everything that happened in 1924, along with a bunch of internal links to stuff like film, literature, sports, television--you name it. It may not be a definitive source, but it is a comprehensive one.

But the problem with Google and Wikipedia is you have to know what you're looking for. You can get lucky and have one page lead to another and eventually to a gem, but it takes a lot of surfing to find those.

But what about when you don't know what you are looking for?

What I really want to do one day soon is spend an afternoon at a library looking through microfiche. Those of you who are younger may not have any clue how fun microfiche is. It's so cool, even if it's low-tech. Imagine a bunch of newspaper pages placed side by side, zipping by you in the viewer. Unless they've changed these viewers considerably, you actually use a dial to control how fast the pages fly by. It's so 1970! If they duplicated this with computers, it would take forever to load!

What am I looking for? Nothing in particular. I'll know it when I see it. I want to look at the microfiche for the local papers in the early 20s, and zip through them. I'm looking for culture, for atmosphere. I'm looking for things like ads (and prices!), for portraits, for fashion, for cars, for sports, for buildings, for anything that catches my eye. Newspapers are a slice of life from that particular day in time, and I just want to browse through them.

To this end, I love Shorpy Photo Archive. I look at Shorpy's photos every day. If you are a history lover, you will love it as well. At least a few time a week, they post a street scene from the 20s. These are invaluable to me. You can zoom in on the photos and examine them in detail. When they post scenes from the interior of drugstores, I can get the prices on common goods. A milkshake? Fifteen cents. They had soda subscriptions. Buy a card for a dollar and you can redeem it for ten sodas. That sort of stuff didn't make the history books.

Your turn! What are your favorite research sites and methods?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Debut Showcase: Night's Cold Kiss

Night's Cold Kiss (Amazon USA - UK - Canada)
by Tracey O'Hara (website - blog)
HarperCollins - 7.99
Release date: August 25, 2009

For centuries war raged between the humans and Aeternus vampires—until courageous efforts on both sides forged a fragile peace.

But the rogue Necrodreniacs will never be controlled—addicted as they are to the death-high . . . and bloody chaos.

Since witnessing the murder of her mother, Antoinette Petrescu has burned with fiery hatred for the vampire race—even for Christian Laroque, the noble, dangerously handsome Aeternus who rescued her. Now an elite Venator, Antoinette must reluctantly accept Christian's help to achieve her vengeance—even as he plots to use the beautiful, unsuspecting warrior as bait to draw out the bloodthirsty dreniacs.

This isn't my usual forte, but maybe Raven will want to read it. The cover art looks familiar, and I wonder if I recognize the artist. I'm thinking Chris McGrath, but I didn't see this cover in his portfolio. The author was a finalist in the Golden Hearts along with Kelly Gay and Annette McCleave.

If you know of an upcoming debut, please let me know about it using this form.