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Saturday, October 31, 2015

DAYS OF THE DEAD BLOG TOUR STOP: The Social Writer by Gail Z. Martin

Fantasy Book Critic is extremely excited to be a part of Gail Z. Martin's blog tour Days of the Dead, especially since today is Halloween!

Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.  

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

Without further ado, welcome Gail Z. Martin and don't forget to read at the bottom of the post to learn about how you can take part in the opportunity to get some nice treats – literary style!


 The Social Writer 

Gone are the days when an author can retire to his or her garret and write in solitude, as the mysterious, reclusive artist.

Welcome to the real world. Thanks to social media and a 24/7 news cycle, readers want more than just your books. They want to get to know you, to interact with you on an ongoing basis. They don’t just want to hear you—they want you to hear and respond to them. Visibility is so important that publishing contracts now routinely include marketing clauses requiring author participation in publicity efforts. Sometimes, the push to promote almost seems to overtake the opportunity to write new books.  

Marketing is a fact of life for authors at every level of success. While the small group of authors at the pinnacle of their careers might spend their time on nationwide book tours and being a guest on top TV and radio interview shows, authors at every level are taking similar steps to ensure that their books get the visibility they need to send readers scurrying to the bookstore.

Of course, when you’re meeting the public, you’re not writing. So there’s a trade-off, but if the public isn’t buying your books, you won’t be writing for long.

What are the must-do elements for a writer to fulfill the ‘social contract’?   

Conventions—Genre conventions, ComicCons, these are the places readers go expecting to meet authors, artists and creators. There are probably a half a dozen conventions—or more—every weekend of the year. I love going to conventions, because I was a fan before I was a pro. I geek out just as much over meeting the legends of fandom, whether those are artists or celebrities or authors I admire. I also value the relationships I’ve created at ‘cons’ with other authors, con runners and attendees. While the very largest conventions can be a bit of a blur, smaller cons create a lot of opportunities to have good conversations, share a drink and get to know people better, and listen to what fans and readers think.

Social Media—Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit are where readers want to connect on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. And it’s not just about the books. Sure, readers want to know when you’ve something new out, or what convention or store signing you’ll be at next. But they also want to see pictures of your dog (or cat), vacation photos, funny memes, pictures of the cool new dish you tried to cook, pictures of you and your convention friends, great costumes…you get it. And don’t forget the ‘social’ part—which means you encourage people to talk to you, instead of you just talking to them.

Real people stuff. YOU stuff—the things that give a sense of who you are so there is a human connection. You don’t have to share your inner feelings and bare your soul, but the more of a glimpse you give of the real you, the more other people can relate to you. (Note: If you’re a real ***hat, then don’t be the real you. Be someone nicer.)

Blogs—Your own and someone else’s. Blogging is a way for you to share tidbits about the work in progress, musings about the universe, reactions to what you saw on TV last night, upcoming events, pretty much anything that interests you. Blog tours are a series of guest blog posts in a given period of time, usually to promote a new book or a key event. Bonus points if you ask questions that encourages people to comment so that the blog becomes more of a two-way conversation.

Book clubs and store signings—Yes, these still exist in the Internet era. They’re actually more precious because there aren’t as many of them as there used to be. Small groups like this can be a lot of fun because they’re on more of a personal level, and people feel a little less intimidated about asking questions or giving feedback in a comfortable setting.

Why is the social part so important? I think people today are hungry for interpersonal connections. So much of what we do is online that we want to meet real people. At the same time, TV and the Internet have created the illusion that celebrities come into our living rooms every day, and the immediacy of social media makes us expect two-way conversations with people feel like we know but don’t really know.

As a writer, is it hard to juggle the social elements and still get the books done? Yes. No matter how much we write about time-travel, there are still only twenty-four hours in a day to do everything that needs to be done. On the other hand, the social part can be a lot of fun, and very gratifying. I really enjoy the chance to get out a meet people, hear back from readers, talk shop with other pros, and have a fangirl moment around my heroes. It’s all good. Very, very good.

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here:
Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors before 11/1!
Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here Launches Dec. 29
Treats not Tricks! Read an excerpt from Collector, one of my Deadly Curiosities stories
More Trick Or Treat fun with an excerpt from In An Iron Cage

Trick or Treat! Double-Dragon Publishing sampler #7

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Spotlight on four upcoming novels and cover art (by Mihir Wanchoo)

THE TIGER AND THE WOLF by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book blurb - In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming

Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She can’t disown half her soul, so escapes – with the killer Broken Axe in pursuit.

Maniye’s father plots to rule the north, and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger, a time of testing and broken laws. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. But what spark will set the world ablaze?

This will be the start of a new epic fantasy series that is said to be “Game of Thrones's internecine rivalries meet Jean M. Auel's epic tales of a earlier world in turmoil.“

As a fan of his The Shadows Of The Apt series, we can’t wait to see what new devious fantasy story Adrian has come up with. The fantastic cover art and design is by Neil Lang.

THOSE BELOW by Daniel Polansky

Book blurb - For centuries beyond counting, humanity has served the Others, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city, building a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

But all that is about to change. Bas Alyates, grizzled general of a thousand battles, has assembled a vast army with which to contend with the might of Those Above. Eudokia, Machiavellian matriarch and the power behind the Empty Throne, travels to the Roost, nominally to play peacemaker - but in fact to inspire the human population toward revolt. 

Deep in the dark byways of the mountain's lower tiers, the urchin Pyre leads a band of fanatical revolutionaries in acts of terrorism against their inhuman oppressors. Against them, Calla, handmaiden of the Eternals' king, fights desperately to stave off the rising tide of violence, which threatens to destroy her beloved city.

The story begun in Those Above comes to a stunning conclusion in this unforgettable battle for the hearts and minds of the human race, making The Empty Throne series the most exciting epic fantasies of recent times.

The gorgeous cover is a perfect complimentary one to its predecessor and is by Rhett Podersoo. After loving Daniel's take on war and elves in Those Above, I certainly will be very eager to see how it all ends for Pyre, Calla, Eudokia & Bas.

DEAD MAN'S STEEL by Luke Scull

Book blurb - In the City of Towers, former rebel Sasha and her comrade Davarus Cole struggle to keep the peace between the warring mages who vie for dominion. But when the White Lady sends Davarus south to the Shattered Realms to seek allies among the fallen kingdoms, he finds that his hardest battle may be one fought within. The godly essence now residing within him offers power that could be used against the Fade—but with every death that feeds It, Cole risks losing a part of himself.

An association with a Fade officer grants the Halfmage Eremul a position of privilege among Dorminia’s new masters. He witnesses firsthand the fate that awaits humanity. But with his magic pitiful in the face of the Fade’s advanced technology, the Halfmage must rely on his wits alone to save whom he can…

And in the frozen north, the legendary warrior Brodar Kayne fights a desperate battle for his people. He is running out of time: an ancient evil sealed beneath the mountains is about to break free, an evil that is older than humanity, older than the Fade, older even than the gods—and it will not stop until the entire world is drowned in blood

This is the US cover art for the concluding volume of Luke Scull’s debut trilogy. It’s scheduled to be published in December of 2016 and looks like that’s Davarus Cole on the cover. 

SKULLS by Tim Maquitz

Book blurb - Life held little interest for Jacob...until he found death.

Abused and neglected, Jacob's only solace comes when he is alone in the woods or in the arms of his new girlfriend. But when he stumbles across a hidden bunker filled with human skulls, he learns what true suffering is. Drawn to examine the skulls, he finds there is more than just empty blackness behind their lifeless stares. Through their eyes he watches them die.

With every glance, he witnesses another murder, the memories of the dead playing out inside his mind until reality becomes a blur. A primal cruelty awakening, Jacob returns to the morbid comfort of the skulls, over and over again. But when he happens upon a fresh skull, a victim tortured and slain for his amusement alone, he knows his time has come. Face to face with death, Jacob must choose whether to resist the darkness that dwells inside or condemn himself forever, murdering his innocence on the edge of an axe.

This book is the revised edition with striking cover design by Shawn King and from while I certainly enjoyed the story in its previous iteration. I can’t wait to read the revised version which going by Tim’s horror writing will be smashing to say the least.

Monday, October 26, 2015

GUEST BLOGGER: Going Dark, Why Gulf is So Different by Julie E. Czerneda

Fantasy Book Critic is extremely excited to welcome Julie E. Czerneda to our blog. We are kicking off a blog tour for Julie's book This Gulf of Time and Stars. This Gulf of Time and Stars is the first of the final trilogy in Czerneda's science fiction series – Clan Chronicles

This Gulf of Time and Stars is scheduled to be published November 3, 2015! Learn more about the series and author Julie E. Czerneda by reading below!

More about the series:

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.

Without further ado, we welcome Julie E. Czerneda for her guest blog! If you wish to follow more posts from Julie E. Czerneda or learn more about the series feel free to follow the blog tour via Facebook. The Facebook event can be found here.


Going Dark, Why Gulf Is So Different.

Those familiar with my novels, particularly the last two fantasies, A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, but also my science fiction, will know it’s fair to say I’m something of a fluffy bunny, a term first coined by the inestimable S.M. Stirling, who isn’t one (although very sweet). More telling, perhaps, my dear long-time friend Anne Bishop categorizes her books as “Julie-proof” or not. By that standard, her Ephemera books and latest series, the Others, are (and I love them), but her Realms of the Blood books are not. However beautifully written, those are too dark for me.

Yet now I’m writing dark. What’s up with that?

My previous lack of dark isn’t completely due to my being a fluffy bunny, aka a romantic, optimistic person looking for stories that not only satisfy my tastes, but make me want to linger, re-read, and generally sigh with joy. Okay, that’s a big part of it. I love happy endings. What really gets me is that I can’t forget what I’ve read, especially if it’s disturbed me. Washing out the brain? Not an option. There are enough despicable things in the world without reading them on purpose, therefore I don’t. That means horror, especially well-written, convincing horror, isn’t for me.

Nor, I’d thought, was dark.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a tragic ending, given it’s done not for shock value but rather with powerful inevitability. Life’s like that. Such endings can be beautiful and uplifting, despite the tears. (I read with tissues.) I’ve written such an end for a beloved character, with tissues, and am proud of it. (Species Imperative)

But that’s not going dark. Dark, to me as a writer, is unrelenting. It steals hope, limits choices, sends characters into peril—then slams the trapdoor behind them and tosses away the key. Dark is about making readers wonder how anything good could happen, even as I prepare to make it worse.

Which brings me to Reunification. I knew ten years ago what had to happen in these books in order to complete the story of the Clan. I knew as I wrote the prequel trilogy, Stratification. My hands literally shook as I finished Rift in the Sky, writing how the Clan, faced with living among Humans, made their choice.

The wrong one.

Even now, writing this, I find myself forced to pause and take a deeper breath, letting it out in a sigh. A story starts with infinite possibilities, but each event, each decision, narrows the options. A good story—a great one—gathers momentum. The inevitable narrowing seizes the writer by the heart as well as mind and you’ve no choice, that word again, but to take the only path left.


Science fiction explores consequence. Like any experiment, you put the requisite parameters and constraints in place, then record what happens. That a story does so in words makes it no less potent a tool. The Clan, embodied as Sira, is my experiment and I’ve watched its ending unfold.

A confession. I was supposed to jump in and start writing Reunification in 2009. After all, I’d just done the prequel after months of research. It would have been efficient, to say the least. Maybe I was a coward—okay, I was a coward—but knowing where the story had to go, I discovered the last thing I wanted to do was write it.

I called my dear editor and asked to do the opposite. She agreed, and I spent what became years building a rich world full of magical toads and invisible dragons, writing a romantic, optimistic, blissfully happy fantasy (A Turn of Light), then its sequel. I’m glad I did. Yes, you had to wait, but my hindbrain had understood. I wasn’t ready, in 2009, to write what I had to write.

I am now.

As I said at the start, This Gulf of Time and Stars will be a surprise to some of my long-time readers. In it, no one and nothing is safe. In it, the Clan face the consequence of the choice they made, to subjugate and use those of lesser power. Generations of breeding for Power, of fearing discovery, of fearing Humans, have narrowed their options to one. The story goes dark, by my definition above, and doesn’t come up for air.

It was a different experience, revisiting these characters, my very first. Different, because I know their endings as well as the story’s. That knowledge makes me hold on tight and savour each moment. Cherish them, as I might not have otherwise.

Maybe that’s why Gulf–and the trilogy it begins--is so different. Not the going dark but because it’s the end, after all these years, to my first story. For me, it’s the right ending and I’m content. Even better, I’ll have answered my own question.

Who are the Clan?

Footnote: Still not ready to read your Blood books, Anne


About Julie E. Czerneda 

Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications:
a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora.
Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. 


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