joshuapalmatier: VacantThrone (Default)
Here's another Author Introduction for you all. Diana Pharaoh Francis has been here before with a previous book in this series, but now the third book in the Crosspointe series, The Turning Tide, has been released, so she's here to tell us about it. Or rather, about the characters in the book. The intro is a little long, so there's some cuts involved. (I'm experimenting with the crossposting thing, so bear with me.)

Hi all! And thanks to Joshua for having me visit.

So I am here to talk about my new book The Turning Tide. Actually, I’m here to talk about my characters and how I got to know them.

But first, a little bit about my usual process. I generally don’t know my characters all that well when I begin writing. I know some things about them, but usually, I have to actually write to know them. Which means I’m usually a good fourth of the way into the book before I am really acquainted with them. What that means is that I generally spend a lot of time revising the beginning.

But what I quickly figured out was that my usual process was simply not going to work for The Turning Tide. Because a huge part of the plot was keyed to the relationships of my main characters, I needed to know them very well before I even started. I did some character sketches, but they didn’t do enough. I needed to be in their heads and in their voices. So I decided to interview them.

I made up some questions, and one of the things I was going for was to let them talk about themselves and each other--when characters talk about each other, they reveal things about themselves and the relationship, as well as about the other characters.

Several interesting things happened in the course of this interview. First, I discovered that one of the characters was really not all that forthcoming. He refused to answer questions, he was snide and rude, and yet when I did get him talking, he said really telling things. I thought I knew Ryland pretty well--I thought he was a pretty straightfoward, straight arrow sort of guy. I was wrong. And then Fairlie--I had this idea that she was good natured and nice and deeply involved in her work. And that was true. But it turns out she had more sharp edges than I thought.

Now all that sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it? Like I am not in charge of the writing of the characters or planning or etc. Like I’m not the author. Well, the truth is, that the characters take over in my head and I let them go. They do have a life off the page in an odd way. They have to if I am to believe the world that I’m writing and believe the story.

So I thought I would share some of the interview bits with you. There are possible spoilers here so be warned. This is both edited down a lot, and yet slightly longish. I’ve also included a couple of author notes to talk about what I learned, so look for those. Now without further ado . . .

Ryland's Story )

Shaye's Story )

Fairlie's Story )

So there you go. My character interviews. If you stuck with this post for this long, thanks and if you have questions, ask away.

******************* Widgets
joshuapalmatier: VacantThrone (Default)
Yet another Author Introduction! We met David Williams at about this time last year when his debut novel Mirrored Heavens hit the shelf. I bought the book at Balticon and started reading it on the drive home . . . and everything else I was currently reading went back on the shelf until I finished it. Basically, it explodes off the page on page one and never gives you a chance to breathe. I'm not typically into SF all that much, preferring the non-mathematical world of fantasy when I'm not doing my day job, but this book sucked me right in. (And as an aside, I've been trying a few other SF books since then as well.)

Now we have the second book from David, called Burning Skies. I haven't received my copy yet (*frown* I should have just waited and bought it at Balticon), but expect to have it within the week and will likely dive right into it. Anyway, I highly recommend you try his books out. Now, I'll hand it over to him so he can plug his own book. *grin*

Thanks to the inimitable [ profile] jpsorrow for the space and hi to everyone!
Although BURNING SKIES is the second book of the Autumn Rain trilogy, I've
designed it so that it can be used as the entry-point on the series; it
opens with a conversation between the rogue hacker Claire Haskell and her
imprisoned spymaster Matthew Sinclair that quickly catches us up on what we
need to know about MIRRORED HEAVENS, in addition to telling us what was
really going on in that book . . . .

BURNING SKIES itself centers on the space station/O'Neill cylinder known as
the Europa Platform, the site of the secret summit conference between the
U.S. president and the leaders of the Eastern bloc. (See the cool
map/illustrations on my website!)
In reality, the conference is a cover for
the president's real objective: luring the elite terrorist group Autumn
Rain into a trap. Of course, Autumn Rain is also trying to draw the
president into a snare of their own, so things get complicated quickly. And
I'm going to go on record as saying that the book features one of the
craziest space battles to ever appear in science fiction . . . (hey, a guy
has to have ambition. . . )

But for me, one of the most interesting things about the book was writing
about the U.S. president (aka "the Throne"). Andrew Harrison is at the helm
of state at a time of national crisis, and I wanted to make him as complex
as any historical figure. In studying how other authors approach fictional
presidents, one thing I noticed is that usually the writer's politics are
pretty transparent. Larry Niven's FOOTFALL has the Weak Liberal President;
the Judge Dredd universe has the Evil Right-Wing Warmonger, etc., etc. I
wanted to deny the reader such easy labels; we see very little of Harrison's
interior life, but we get a good sense of his policies and machination, and
whether they're merely expedient or utterly necessary is something that
everyone has to decide on their own. And we've also got a bit of a career
mobility dynamic for the rest of the characters; they were second-tier
players in the first book, but now they're operating at the side of the
president. And of course, the higher up you get, the more dangerous your
missions become . . . .



So, go forth and buy! Or if you order from, click through the link below. I get a little bit of a kickback and that helps me fund the giveaways I do here. (Even if you don't order these books through the link, anything you do order gets the kickback, so help out if your ordering anything at any time from Just click on these links in my posts.)

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Another Author Introduction! This time it's for Maria V. Snyder's Storm Glass, the first book in a new series. And in addition to some words from Maria about storms and writing, I'm also going to give away one SIGNED copy of Storm Glass! This will be a random draw from the commenters on this post, and I'll pick the winner in about a week. Since I'll be seeing Maria at Balticon this weekend (in fact, we're doing a signing together), I'll get the book signed, although it won't be personalized. Here's the catch: if you win the book, once you read it, you have to do a review of it either on your blog, post it on or, or do all three. In the meantime, check out what Maria has to say about the writing life, the inspiration for the book, and an excerpt from the novel!

Storms & Magic: Controlling the Forces of . . . Fiction?

I’ve been fascinated with storms ever since I got over my fear of thunderstorms (nothing like getting caught in a storm and having your fears soak your shirt and puddle in your shoes). When I was in 6th grade, I learned a meteorologist studied the weather and I also realized that, at that time, most adults didn’t know what a meteorologist was. As a precocious . . . okay, let’s be honest . . . bratty kid, I delighted in telling adults I was going to be a meteorologist when I grew up. After they stumbled and incorrectly mentioned meteoroids, I would smugly say, "Not meteors from space, but hydrometeors." This caused more confusion. (I did admit to being bratty as a child. ;) Does anyone know what hydrometeors are? (I didn’t say I grew out of it *grin*).

Having found no other career that interested me enough, I went to Penn State and earned a BS in Meteorology. Now what? I wasn’t very good at forecasting and tornados don’t like being caught (trust me on this one) so I went into environmental meteorology, which involved air pollution studies and getting permits. Or in another word . . . BORING!

So naturally, I turned to writing fiction to counter the boredom (what? You would do something else?? Pish!). When I was writing my latest release, Storm Glass I actually used my meteorology degree (thanks Mom & Dad). And I realized that storms and magic have much in common.

Weather systems have to follow the forces of nature. Gravity, topography, temperature, air density, and even the spin of the Earth all affect the path and severity of a storm.

Magical systems have to follow the forces of fiction. Only I know the forces of fiction . . . for my magic. Each author develops their own rules for their magic systems. Rules you ask? Yes. Rules. Writers can’t go hog wild and have magic be a free for all. Nope. Won’t work. Where’s the fun in that? If Superman didn’t have kryptonite, we’d all be bored.

How do writers develop these rules? First lots of research. Not into magic per say, but in reading other Fantasy books to see what other authors have done and have done to death. And they’re looking for something different for their magic. For example, my Stormdancers in Storm Glass use magic to harvest energy from big storms and bottle it in glass orbs. They turn the storms into wimps, and use the energy to fuel their factories.

Magic needs boundaries. Hurricanes can only get so big and they're slow. If there’s high pressure giving a part of the country sunshine, there’s always a low pressure system, bringing rain somewhere else. Stormdancers can only fill 3 to 4 orbs.

Magic should also have consequences. There should be a price to pay for using it. When the Stormdancers finish "dancing" they’re exhausted. And if one of those full orbs breaks, they die.

Magic can have loopholes. As I say before with the kryptonite, there needs to be a way to bypass or counter the magic. It creates conflict and makes for a more interesting story. If another magician surrounds a Stormdance with a null shield, he can’t access his magic. Hurricanes lose strength when they hit land.

Magic needs consistency. Can’t change skills in mid-book or mid-series. The Stormdancers can’t suddenly light fires or read minds. And if they can – I better have a good explanation for it.

Which brings me to surprises. With a magic system all planned out, how can you have surprises without breaking the rules?? You can’t. That’s when the writer needs to be creative. A surprise is just like a storm that does something unpredictable – it is unpredictable at the time, but when you examine/study it later – all the right factors/elements were in place, but they went unnoticed or were deemed not important at the time.

I’m often asked what sparked the idea for the Stormdancers. It was during the 2005 hurricane season. A record season for hurricanes with four Category 5 hurricanes (Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma). The 2005 season caused $180 billion in damage and killed approximately 2,280 people. Hurricanes release a ton of energy in one day. Enough energy to meet the electrical generating needs of the entire world for 200 days.

The 2005 season had me asking, What if? What if we could harvest that storm energy and use it? Turn big and nasty Katrina into a mild soaking rainstorm? The answers lead me to another boatload of potential conflicts. Who decides what the energy is used for? Do they sell the energy? Share it or just use if for their factories?

Ahhh . . . stormy weather is brewing on the horizon! Make sure you bring an umbrella with you to keep those hydrometeors from falling on your head! *grin*


Excerpt from Storm Glass:

“I’ll need to examine Kade’s orb,” I said.

“You’ll have to ask him,” Nodin said.

“Me? I thought . . .”

His brown eyes sparked with glee. “Yes, you. I’m beginning to like you, Opal. But not that much.” He grabbed the sphere and returned it to the back of the cave. “If you want to see Kade’s orb before dark, you better hurry. Once the sun dips below the sea, it turns black fast.”

I followed Nodin down to the beach. The sun hovered near the edge of the horizon, casting shadows along the water’s rippled surface.

“Good luck.” Nodin waved.

The wind whipped hair into my eyes when I stepped out on to the black rocks. I pulled the leather tie from my messy ponytail and tried to recapture all the strands into a neater knot. Funny how I hadn’t noticed the wind on the beach. Calling to Kade had proven futile. My shouts drowned by the sea’s song.

I hadn’t noticed how uneven and jagged the rocks were either. Waves crashed into them, sending spray high into the air. Water soon coated my skin and soaked my clothes. The rocks became slicker with each wave. I was glad I wore my brown boots, even though my boots were filled with water, their thick soles helped me navigate the slippery and rutted outcrop. At one point I climbed over a few sharp boulders, and at another I leapt over a gap. The tight knocking of my heart warned my body to turn around and go back to the beach, but I was determined. Stupid?

No. Determined. Until I reached a space too big to cross. Too big for me. Kade was three rocks farther out. Each separated by a large opening. Had he swam or jumped? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was he heard my shout.

He spun around. And I wished I had waited on the beach. With an angry scowl, Kade moved. I would have marveled at his speed and grace as he flew over the gaps, except he aimed toward me.

An errant wave knocked into me and I grabbed a rough edge to keep from falling. Pain laced my palm and blood welled.

Kade stopped before spanning the space between our rocks. His mouth moved, but the wind snatched half of his words. “…idiot…dangerous…go back!”

I understood his intent and turned to retrace my steps. The waves grew in size and frequency. They hunted me, attacking when I was vulnerable.

“Opal,” shouted Kade.

I looked back in time to see a giant blue-green wall of water rushing toward me.

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

My vision clouded with blood and saltwater. Kade and the outcrop grew smaller as the sea sucked me into her liquid embrace.


And now buy Maria's books! If you haven't read her Study series--Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study--then here's your chance to catch up!

joshuapalmatier: VacantThrone (Default)
OK, after a few weeks of LJ emptiness here due to the end of the semester madness, I'm hoping to get back to some writing-related posts and other interesting book-related things, such as Author Introductions! I have a couple of author intros either in hand or in the works, so thought I'd start today by introducing Edward Willett (who we've met before on here, and is [ profile] ewillett here on LJ) because he has a new book out, Terra Insegura, the sequel to Marseguro. In addition to words from the author himself, I've decided I should also give you guys the cover copy of the book, you know, to help you decide whether it would be a good book for you. So, here's the awesome cover (I love the colors in it), followed by the cover copy and then some words from Ed himself. And if you head over here, you can enter for a chance to win free books!

Cover Copy: Gene Warfare

Marseguro, a water world far distant from Earth, is home to a small colony of both unmodified humans and the Selkies, a water-dwelling race created by geneticist Victor Hansen from modified human DNA. For seventy years the Selkies and the unmodified landlings have dwelled together in peace, safe from pursuit by the current fanatical theocratic rulers of Earth.

But everything changes when Earth discovers Marseguro, and a strike force--with Victor Hansen's own grandson Richard aboard--is sent to eradicate this abomination.

Yet Marseguro has devised a defense against Earth's Holy Warriors, a plague genetically tailored to destroy unmodified humans. With the Holy Warriors defeated, the people of Marseguro are ready to put their world back together and heal the wounds of war. But no one has anticipated the actions of the traitor, Chris Keating. Chris was the one who signaled Marseguro's location to Earth. And now he is aboard a ship returning home to Earth, unknowingly carrying within him the plague that can destroy all life on the mother planet.

Richard Hansen and the Selkies feel they have no choice but to send their own mission to Earth to deliver a lifesaving vaccine. Only time will tell what awaits them when they reach their destination. . . .


And now, a few words from your author:

Terra Insegura is a sequel to Marseguro, published last year and recently short-listed for the Aurora Award for best Canadian science fiction or fantasy novel.

They were born in September of 2005 when I was in Robert J. Sawyer's science fiction writing course at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, part of the Writing With Style program there.

One morning the first thing Rob asked us to do was write, cold, the opening to a story. I think we had five minutes. I wrote: “Emily streaked through the phosphorescent sea, her wake a comet-tail of pale green light, her close-cropped turquoise hair surrounded by a glowing pink aurora. The water racing through her gill-slits smelled of blood.”

I tried to turn that into a short story as the week went on, but as I asked myself story-building questions—“Why does Emily have gills? Why is there blood in the water? What is she fleeing?”--the answers quickly outgrew short story length. So when the time came to propose a new book to DAW after Lost in Translation, my first with them, I crafted an outline for Marseguro. Which Sheila Gilbert bought, and which in turn begat Terra Insegura.

Emily, I realized, has gills because she is a human who has been genetically modified to be amphibian, able to breathe in both air and water. (It was either that or make her an alien, and who would name an alien Emily?) Besides, genetic modification was on my mind because I’d just taught myself more than I’d ever before known about genetics by writing Genetics Demystified for McGraw-Hill.

But this isn’t a hard SF novel, so my focus wasn’t on how these modified humans--nicknamed Selkies, after the seal-people of Irish legend--were created. My concern lay more with questions of human nature, not only that SFnal oldie-but-goodie “what does it mean to be human?”, but even more with the question of how, once some humans have been extravagantly modified genetically, non-modified humans will react to, and interact with, them.

On the hidden water world of Marseguro (which means “safe sea” in Portugese, and thank you, Google Translator, for giving me my title), they relate pretty well. But it’s a lingering resentment of moddies that causes one non-modded human to blow the whistle on the Selkies’ hiding place and bring the bad guys from Earth running--the bad guys who were the answer to the other questions I asked about my original story-opener, “What is she fleeing?” and “Why is there blood in the water?”

To provide my baddies, I did what there is a long history in science fiction of doing, and created my own religion (though it’s unlikely to take off in the real world and become a favorite of Tom Cruise), The Body Purified . . . a religion which exemplifies one of the less-positive ways modified and non-modified humans might someday interact.

The Body sees the genetic modification of humans as an abomination, a desecration of the “holy human genome.” (They don’t like clones, either.) But it wasn’t enough just to come up with The Body Purified and its nasty God (an impersonal “It” that’s really into that whole fire-and-sword thing). I had to explain how it managed to take power.

Many religions rest on a founding miracle. For The Body Purified, it was an astronomically unlikely event: one asteroid smacking another out of its Earth-destroying trajectory at the last possible moment. Since The Body Purified had been busily extermin--um, “purifying”--genetically modified humans on Earth while telling the panicked population that this was the only way to convince God Itself to turn Its wrath away, this miraculous rescue convinced all but the most recalcitrant believers in other religions that The Avatar, the Body’s leader, had a direct pipeline to God.

By the time of Marseguro, The Body Purified has been in power for decades, is trying to export its purification policies to the handful of human colonies scattered among the stars, and would really, really like to find out where genius geneticist Victor Hansen fled to in a stolen spaceship with his abominable race of Selkies. Thanks to the aforementioned disgruntled non-mod on Marseguro and Victor Hansen’s “grandson” Richard on Earth (who is the story’s main protagonist along with Emily, the Selkie girl), the Body Purified’s Holy Warriors descend on Marseguro with guns blazing.

But you really shouldn’t underestimate the defensive capabilities of a society built on high-level genetic engineering. The Purification of Marseguro goes badly, Richard Hansen finds out he’s not who he thinks he is (rather, what he thinks he is changes--and he changes with it), and at the end it seems likely that rather than Earth purifying Marseguro of Selkies, Marseguro may have inadvertently purified Earth of unmodified humans.

And that gives us Terra Insegura (meaning unsafe Earth), as a mixed crew of Selkies and nonmods, led by Richard Hansen, head to the home world to see what assistance they can render.

So: a quarter of a million words of fiction, containing at least a couple of reasonably large ideas, all sprung from a single writing exercise involving very little thought at all.

In a way, that’s its own kind of miracle.


joshuapalmatier: VacantThrone (Default)
OK, so a while ago these books came out in paperback, the first one called The Thief's Gambit by Juliet E. McKenna and I started reading them and they were good. So when the next series started with Southern Fire I decided that I'd buy them in hardcover. I got the first one, but since I only read a series once I have all of it in hand (I buy them as they come out though to support the author), I didn't read it and sat back to patiently wait for the other three books in the series to hit the shelf. That didn't happen immediately, so I waited some more. And more and more and more. I assumed that the author was working hard on them and they just hadn't come out yet.

That was not the case. Apparently, the books had come out but only in the UK. Due to sales or some other decision at the publishing company, they'd decided not to continue the series here. I didn't find out about this until I met Juliet E. McKenna at Boskone this year and I was ticked off to say the least. I like my series books to be in the same format and all that, but I was more disgusted by the fact that the series was just dumped, especially considering the original series had sold well, from all indications.

But, I did get to meet Juliet E. McKenna ([ profile] jemck here on LJ) in person. And I bought the UK versions of the books and now have a complete series in the same format . . . and Juliet was kind enough to send me a copy of the first book in her new series, Irons in the Fire, which is indeed being released here in the US. I invited her to do an Author Introduction . . . and here it is! So I'll hand it over to Juliet and let her convince you to try her books, if I haven't done so already:

In the Author's Words:

With Irons in the Fire being my tenth novel, I’ve noticed something new about the way people say, "But I haven’t read your other books." What they’re actually asking is, "Must I read all your other books for this one to make sense?" Which is a fair question.

The answer is no. Irons in the Fire begins a new series, carefully written to be entirely comprehensible to anyone coming fresh to my work. This was something I and the editorial team at Solaris agreed on in the early stages. Once the final draft was written, we checked by finding a Solaris staffer who hadn’t read my other books. Indeed, he’d been banned from them once we signed the contracts. So he could find out if this new book made sense to a newcomer to my fictional world. I’m delighted to say it did. Better yet, he’s been on tenterhooks for the second and third instalments.

So what’s it about? Well, the unfolding of The Lescari Revolution does have roots in my earlier writing. My first series, the Tales of Einarinn, features men and women living on the edges of legality and society, including some mercenaries. They get caught up in the rediscovery of ancient magic and a lost land over the ocean and the consequences on different people, good and bad. That’s good and bad people, as well as good and bad consequences.

Mercenaries must fight to earn their money, so I sketched in the troubled country of Lescar, divided between six dukes who all feel entitled to be High King. They skirmish and plot and every so often, bloody war breaks out. Only nothing is ever resolved, because no one in the neighbouring countries has any real interest in peace in Lescar. Worse, they make more money out of on-going strife. So those who can afford to leave Lescar do, to find themselves second-class citizens elsewhere. Those who can’t leave stay and try to keep their heads down.

Lescar, part of the background. After finishing the Tales, I wrote the Aldabreshin Compass sequence. After writing about ordinary, if uncommon, folk caught up in the affairs of wizards and princes, I was interested in the challenges of absolute power. At points in the Tales, my characters could reasonably have said, "Hey, not my problem, bye!" But a lord with the power of life and death over his subjects? The price of that power is protecting his people when trouble arises.

I’d introduced a realm with such warlords in the Tales. The tropical Aldabreshin archipelago is a complex, brutal realm, hazardous for anyone not understanding how different it is from the mainland. It’s lethal for wizards since magic is banned on pain of death. The Aldabreshi see wizardry is an abomination corrupting the natural order and the complex auguries that govern their lives. So what does a warlord do, a man of genuine good character, when magic wreaks havoc in his islands? Not wielded by anyone he can negotiate with, but chaotic murderous sorcery. How is he to fight this fire with wizardly fire without compromising all that he believes in? But his first duty, above all else, is to fight.

Dev, one character in those Compass books, is Lescari. That heritage makes sense of who he is; rootless, cynical. Lescar’s still part of the background. I found myself thinking about it some more. What happens when those ordinary Lescari decide they’re just not going to take this any more? I got a chance to explore that when I wrote a novella for PS Publishing. Turns and Chances shows how a conspiracy of priests and craftsmen, a stable-boy, a blacksmith, his apprentice and the duke’s mistress, can frustrate their noble masters’ plans, even deciding the outcome of a battle to neither warring dukes’ advantage.

A friend read that novella and observed Lescar was ripe for revolution. I hadn’t seen that, not at all. He was absolutely right though. But how? In Turns and Chances I’d shown how stubbornly this running sore persisted. I thought some more. One thing sustaining this unhappiness was remittances from Lescari exiles. What if those exiles decided the time had come for change? What if they worked with that conspiracy of priests and craftsmen? What if the time was right for other folk, from all levels of Lescari society, to take a stand, for their own differing reasons?

That would truly be a revolution. It also wouldn’t be anything I’d written before. Both the Tales and the Compass series featured enemies from outside. The Lescari are fighting each other, with all the anguish that entails. These Lescari are ordinary folk but they’re invested in their homes, their families, unlike the wanderers of the Tales. But with little or no formal power, they’re worlds away from the mighty Aldabreshin warlords.

How can they possibly succeed? By using their wits, as exemplified by Tathrin and Aremil, scholars in the city of Vanam, both Lescari exiles themselves. By understanding the role of trade and finance in Lescar’s wars, as explained by Gruit, the venerable wine merchant, who fled Lescar in his youth. By joining forces with Reniack the rabble-rouser, who fled just before the dukes’ men hanged him. By enlisting the support of Lady Derenna, one of those Lescari nobles who turn to scholarship rather than risk politics. By contacting that other duke’s treacherous mistress. By finding the soldiers who can turn their plans into action. By discreetly using this world’s other magic, Artifice, which (hopefully) escapes the Archmage’s edict banning wizardly interference in war or politics.

Irons in the Fire sees rebels and exiles hatch their conspiracy to set revolution in motion. Blood in the Water shows what happens once they meet the dukes’ resistance. Banners in the Wind will see what unfolds after that. I’m an author who’s a historian by inclination and education so I’ve seen these three phases unfold time and again; people deciding they need a revolution, undertaking that upheaval, and then facing the challenge of making their new order stick. No part of this is easy and that last step is trickiest of all. As a reader who likes plenty of action and excitement myself, it’s all proving great fun to write!


joshuapalmatier: VacantThrone (Default)
So, here's the next new release this week: S.L. Farrell's ([ profile] sleigh's) second book in the Nessantico Cycle called A Magic of Nightfall. Steve came for a visit when the first book, A Magic of Twilight, was released and I'm glad to have him back for the second book. Here's what he has to say about the new book:


So let me tell you about A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT and A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL, two of the three books of what I’m calling the Nessantico Cycle.

I was finishing the three books of the Cloudmages series (HOLDER OF LIGHTNING, MAGE OF CLOUDS, and HEIR OF STONE). Mind you, I had ideas for twelve books set in that series. The Cloudmages world is one where magic ebbs and flows in great, long, slow waves; I originally intended to explore one of those ‘waves’ entirely. The three books I’d written covered the slope from trough to about halfway up. I’d planned three more books that would follow after the events of HEIR OF STONE, each book a different generation (as the first three books had been), climbing all the way up to where magic would again be at its height. Then I wanted to go back in time and do six ‘prequel’ books, which would cover time from the previous crest down the slope to the trough, ending with the events that led to Lamh Shabhala, the primary mage-stone, being lost on the hillside where Jenna would eventually find it again in HOLDER, thus completing a whole cycle.

But... I found that by the time I’d finished HEIR, I was itching to do something ‘new.’ It wasn’t that I’d lost interest in the Cloudmages world -- I still love those books and that land, though at this point I don’t know that I’ll return to it any time soon -- but I was aching to try try something different.

I’d been reading a few books on the Renaissance. I’ve always been fascinated by that time period, and it struck me that it would be interesting to explore a world that was on the cusp of a more secular attitude, in which science and reason were beginning to overshadow old superstitions and mythologies -- and to see that happen in a world where magic was indeed genuine. I was reading about Venice and Paris, and the idea of the “Great City” also fascinated me, in the way that the city can be considered a character, with an arc much like that of a fictional person in a novel. I started playing with ideas, doing the initial worldbuilding... and that in turn started me thinking of characters and situations, and all the sudden there were the first few scenes beginning to bubble in the subconscious...

Then Denise and I took a trip to France, and that sparked a few thousand ideas. I took pictures and made notes both written and mental. On returning home, I was just aching to start writing -- and so I did.

With HEIR OF STONE, I’d also played with using multiple viewpoints to tell a story that took place over a wide geographic space. all at the same time. As I started to create the Nessantico world, I realized that I needed to expand on that technique, since there were things happening in this world not only in different places, but in different social strata; to see them all, a single viewpoint wasn’t sufficient. Nor, it seemed to me, were two or even three.

One thing I did steal from the Cloudmages series was the idea of a ‘generational’ saga. If Nessantico, the city herself, was to be the central character, well, her story would be a long one, and the people she held would be born, love, marry, produce children themselves, and die, all while that greater story went on. I wanted to see the city at full flower, in decline, then rising again. And -- because I tend not to like series books that just seem to stop in the middle of things, I wanted each book to stand alone to some degree -- which meant new protagonists for each book.

I pitched the idea to Sheila at DAW, and she was excited by the proposal... and so A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT came out last February (in hardcover) and in paperback last month, and on March 5, A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL will be out in hardcover. A MAGIC OF DAWN, the third volume, is moving along nicely in draft...

A writer never quite knows what to expect. We all hope that the reader will love the book as much as we did, that the passion we had in writing it will somehow inflame the words on the page and incite the same passion in the reader, that the characters who lived and loved and died so brightly in our heads will do the same in the reader’s mind.

That’s the hope, anyway. The reality is out there on the pages, waiting.



Thanks for visiting, Steve! Click through Amazon link below if you'd like to order his books (or any other book for that matter). As part of the Amazon Associates program, the little kickback I get from them helps me fund the free books I give away here and over at [ profile] dawbooks. Thanks!

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So, back in the 80s, I was part of the Science Fiction Book Club. I don't remember why, but I had them send me a book called Lear's Daughters by Marjorie B. Kellogg and William B. Rossow. I read it, loved it, and immediately went looking for other novels by Marjorie B. Kellogg . . . and found none (at the time). Disappointed, I moved on. Decades later, I noticed some books appearing on the shelf by Marjorie B. Kellogg again and immediately bought them. And now, through the miracle of fate and the publishing industry foibles, Lear's Daughters is back on the shelves.

I invited Marjorie B. Kellogg to talk about her book and she agreed. First, the cover copy, to get you excited about the book. Then, below, the story of how the book came to be rereleased after nearly 30 years, in her own words. Check out the new book, as well as some of her others!


Cover Copy: The year is 2073. Earth's climate is faltering and her eco-systems are breaking down. Her burgeoning populations now rely on food and energy supplies imported from colony worlds.

A routine exploratory mission to the planet Fiix finds conditions radically different from the initial probe data: a world seemingly at war with itself. Instead of a sunny desert climate, the planet is deep in an arctic freeze. A precipitous thaw soon follows, then a sequence of murderously unpredictable weather events. When storms and flooding devastate the Terran base camp and destroy their power and communications links, the pressure is on to figure out what's going on, not just for the sake of science but to ensure the expeditions success and survival.

One explanation comes from the local inhabitants: the Sawls' seemingly primitive society is shaped entirely by the needs of survival under the planet's harsh conditions. The Sawls claim that twin Sister-Goddesses wield the natural elements as weapons of war, taking the entire planet as their battleground. Sorting out the local language and myth, the expedition's young linguist, Stavros Ibia, finds himself drawn into Sawl culture, and increasingly convinced that these bizarre beliefs are true.

But local culture is of no interest to the expedition's prospector, Emil Clausen, whose mining-giant employer has funded the survey in the first place. He is in search of new sources of lithium, which has become a crucial component of energy production back home. If he makes a big strike on Fiix, the Sawls will only be in his way. So sides are drawn within the expedition in the fight to save the Sawls and their planet from exploitation and development. But growing evidence suggests that the Sawls are not such simple primitves after all, and that their history is far deeper and more sophisticated than was first assumed.

Then, Clausen finds his lithium, and the battle begins in earnest. . . .

Originally published more than two decades ago in two volumes, The Wave and the Flame and Reign of Fire, Lear's Daughters was a novel that sounded a clarion call about the dangers of global warning, pollution, exploitation of resources, and disastrous climate change at a time when few people wanted to listen. This new edition has been completely revised and updated to include the most cutting edge knowledge and research. Lear's Daughters is a book that should be read by anyone concerned with the greatest crises facing our world today.


So . . . here’s the true story of the revival of Lear's Daughters.

It’s a DAW Books Rocks sort of story.

Read More )


If you're going to order the book through Amazon, click through the link below. I use this to help fund the free books I giveaway here and at the [ profile] dawbooks community. The Dragon Quartet has four books (obviously) called The Books of Earth, The Book of Water, The Book of Fire, and The Book of Air. They were rereleased in 2 omnibus editions called The Dragon Quartet, Volume I and The Dragon Quartet, Volume II. I could not find a listing for The Dragon Quartet, Volume I at, but did find each of the individual books listed.

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We haven't had one of these in a while! An Author Introduction! I'd like to introduce Mindy Klasky ([ profile] mindyklasky), author of numerous books, but whose most recent book Magic and the Modern Girl hit the shelves at the beginning of this past October. So without further ado, here's Mindy!

"Many thanks to Joshua for giving me a soapbox to talk about me, my writing, my reading, and the true meaning of fantasy literature!

I used to think that I had this writing thing all figured out. I'd sit down at my computer, type out my brilliant fantasy ideas, finish my novel, send it to a publisher, and then be rich and famous. Things haven't quite worked out that way...

I did sit down at my computer. And I did have some fantasy ideas. (Some glimmered in interesting patterns, even if they weren't actually *brilliant*.) I did finish nine novels, and I did send them to publishers, by way of my agent. But rich? Famous? Those are way over-rated.

I started out writing traditional fantasy novels, publishing five volumes of the Glasswrights Series, and a stand-alone novel, SEASON OF SACRIFICE. When readers asked what I was working on, I told them about my other traditional fantasy ideas. I even wrote an incredible (if I do say so myself) traditional fantasy - with dragons! (I was the only person who thought it was incredible. It remains in a nice, neat trunk beneath my bed.)

Somewhere along the way, I shattered my original career plan. My writing tastes changed. My reading tastes broadened. I actually started to think about ideas outside traditional fantasy worlds. And that was when I returned to an old concept that I'd floated by my agent years before: The story of a young woman in a contemporary urban setting, snarkily recounting her series of failed first dates.

I wasn't ready to abandon my fantasy roots, though. I wasn't ready to set aside the types of stories that I loved to read, that I longed to write.

And so, I wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, the story of Jane Madison, a twenty-something librarian in Washington, DC, who discovers that she's a witch.

At first, I had to justify my new literary directions to myself. I posted a picture of cotton candy by my computer, to remind me to be light and fluffy. I mourned the lack of world-building in my new books, regretted the loss of that special-ness, that other-ness that makes fantasy novels special.

But then I realized that there *is* a type of world-building in Jane's story. I needed to figure out how her magic worked. I needed to build the culture of other magical practitioners around her. I needed to give her spells and crystals, runes and potions. Her world became every bit as complex as my Glasswrights world -- I just had the extra challenge of hiding Jane's details inside the shell of contemporary Washington.

The third volume of Jane's story, MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, came out this month. It's been gratifying to hear from readers who enjoyed my traditional fantasies, who were brave enough to try something new. I find myself sketching out more story ideas, additional possibilities in different slices of "reality." At the same time, I find myself mulling over new concepts for traditional fantasy.

It's easy for authors -- and readers -- to settle into "us vs. them" camps. "I know the type of writing I like, and *that* isn't it." But playing in different sandboxes has taught me that I just might like more than I thought I would. My reading list has expanded -- and that can only be a good thing!

If you're interested in reading more about me or my books, you can check them out at The first chapter of each of my novels is online, if you want to trace my progression from traditional fantasy to urban fantasy/chicklit/paranormal romance/whatever it is I'm writing these days!"


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It's time for another Author Introduction. Gregory Frost latest caught my attention in my last visit to the bookstore, and since we're both part of SFNovelists, I thought it only courteous to ask him to stop by and visit. So, without further ado:

"Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself . . .

Gregory Frost here, author of SHADOWBRIDGE [Amazon] and its sequel, LORD TOPHET [Amazon], both of which have of late been receiving a great deal of acclaim. A couple of examples: Paul Witcover in SciFi Weekly "His pages bristle with the kind of lively energy I associate with Miyazaki films, and his delight in the stories his characters hear and transform and retell is palpable and contagious." And Fantasy Book Critic: "...not only is Lord Tophet...a richly rewarding experience, it is also one of the few must-read fantasies of the year."

These two, a duology, tell the story of Leodora, a young shadow-puppeteer, as she travels the world of Shadowbridge. It's a fantasy world of vast oceans covered by infinite spirals of bridge spans. Each span represents a cultural reference point to our world that has changed over time, commingling elements of myth, folktale, fairy tale--the sinister and the comic. The inhabitants of Shadowbridge have their creation myths, their tales of how Death came into the world, and more, stories that sound much like those we know, but aren't any longer. As she travels the spans, Leodora learns these stories, but also through her adventures becomes one--and that is the story these two volumes tell.

I've enjoyed very much creating and working in this universe. It's been a strange ride. In some ways the time and research that went into these two books is akin to the extensive research that preceded my earlier fantasies, TAIN and REMCELA, two books based on the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge. I fell into these worlds, which I suppose is what I do, and probably what a lot of fantasy writers do. I immerse in the place, and there have been days when I emerge from a long writing session and for a moment almost don't know where I am. That's happened less frequently than the "writer's high," that endorphin glow that some writers describe after a good writing session.

With these two I've come back to fantasy novels after a long spell away (my first, LYREC, was published in 1984, and the two Irish novels mentioned above were also published in the late 1980s). I wrote a "Dickian" science fiction novel, THE PURE COLD LIGHT, in the '90s. The rest of that decade, I just wrote short fiction, much of which has been collected in ATTACK OF THE JAZZ GIANTS & OTHER STORIES [Amazon] from Golden Gryphon Press (2005)

In 2002 Tor brought out FITCHER'S BRIDES [Amazon], an historical thriller that's my recasting of the Bluebeard fairy tale for Terry Windling's series of retellings. A great deal of historical research went into that book as well. I am enamored of research, yet at the same time not everything I write requires it, or requires it so extensively. Some years ago I was on a convention panel with my friend, Jeffrey Ford, and I blathered on about the joys of research. Jeff sat patiently by till I shut up, then said that for his magnificent novel The Physiognomy he hadn't done a lick of research. He made the world up entirely. I realized so had I, twice, for LYREC and for PURE COLD LIGHT. So now I'm a little more cautious when I say "Oh, yeah, you gotta do the research." Well, not exactly. More like, you have to know whether or not you need it. The real rule is, there are no short-cuts. (Oh, and Ford did extensive research for his more recent novel, The Girl in the Glass, so he, too, puts in the effort that the work requires.)

So there you have it. Some writers are comfortable working in one vein. I'm not. But then I'm also one of those writers who writes to find out what I think, and also in order to discover who these people are whose lives I'm either concocting or invading. If writing is discovery, it's also a lifelong discovery, and I go sailing along, bound to the mast with my ears open to hear the Sirens as they sing . . . which probably means I'm at least half mad. Just so long as the other half picks up the check, I should be all right.

If anyone would like to continue this--or open up a further conversation, Joshua indicates you can post here, and I'll move it over to my LJ pages if we want to keep it going (so as to keep him from going mad, too).

One more item for those who are interested: Numerous tales are mentioned throughout the two Shadowbridge novels that don't end up being told by the end. Del Rey, the publisher, has mentioned that they would like to have a new tale to go in the mass market edition (as a separate story) when it's released next year. So I'm asking those who've read the books to vote on what untold tale they would most like to see. Vote early and often.

Thanks for your time.

Gregory Frost's Other Books )
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Well, I'm at Denvention and so far things have been going great. Which means I've gotten no sleep and I've drunk more in the last few days than I probably have all year so far. The sign of a good con. *grin* But today is Saturday and so I figured I'd take a moment--a time out if you will--and post another Author Introduction! This time I've roped in Paul S. Kemp, who writes some of the Forgotten Realms books for Wizards of the Coast, and who happens to be evil. But I'll let him explain:

"First, my thanks to Joshua for allowing me some space on his blog. When I finally meet him in person, the beer/scotch/wine is on me.

And speaking of me.... :-)

I’ve written eight novels (and lots of short stories) for Wizards of the Coast, all of them set in the high fantasy world of the Forgotten Realms. Of course, this makes me a tie-in hack. It’s worse than that, though, because I’m also a corporate lawyer, which makes me evil. Together, this makes me an evil, tie-in hack.

I’m okay with that. And my wife has a forgiving soul. And, at this point, only the really small animals screech and flee my presence. The big ones just snarl.

Shadowstorm (Book 2) [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy]

True, I have contributed short stories to a few non-tie-in anthologies (Horrors Beyond II, Worlds of Their Own, and Sails and Sorcery) but I don’t like to mention those because they make me look a little less like a hack.

Anyway, I live and work in Michigan with my wife, our four year old twin sons, and a few cats. Yankee baseball and/or University of Michigan football are on my television often. I drink way too much diet Dew, smoke a few too many cigars (Te-Amo and Dunhill, for those who might want to send gifts or who otherwise wish to placate my wrath), and drink just the right amount of Jamesons (or Glenlivet, if I’m in the mood for Scottish peat).

Almost all of my work in the Forgotten Realms features my signature character, Erevis Cale, an assassin turned priest of the God of Shadows. Most of my fans describe my work as dark and gritty. And yes, I know, those terms are overused a bit these days, but I think they fit so I stick with them. I draw inspiration from Moorcock’s Elric tales, Leiber’s stories of Fafhrd and the Mouser, Gemmell’s work generally, and Brust’s Vlad Taltos tales. Long story short, I write sword and sorcery tales, and I write them proudly, without a nod and a wink, without apology, and with respect for the greats who came before. That means my novels feature larger than life heroes (or anti-heroes, in the case of Erevis Cale), a good deal of action, and a fair amount of magic. That said, I take a great deal of pride in my characterization, which I delude myself into thinking is my strength as a writer. My work is, in a word, fun, both to write and (I hope) to read. Better still, you really don’t need any previous knowledge of the Forgotten Realms to enjoy my stories.

Shadowrealm (Book 3) [Amazon Preorder,Mysterious Galaxy Preorder]

I’ve got two big rules I follow when writing – first, characters drive plots, not vice-versa. That means you’ll find most of my stories to be character-driven tales, not event-driven (though my most recent trilogy, The Twilight War, is as close as I’ve come to event-driven epic fantasy). Second, be fearless and write outside your comfort zone. I don’t actually know what that means in this context, so I’ll just quote Jules from Pulp Fiction and say that it "just sounded like some cool shit to say."

And, really, can you go wrong with a Pulp Fiction/Samuel L. Jackson reference? I think not.

Here’s a list of links to reviews of my work -- They’re all positive. I send a cease-and-desist letter to anyone who publishes a negative review –- that’s a side-benefit of being a lawyer who writes.

Anyway, I hope you’ll consider giving my work a shot. If you enjoy fast-paced fantasy tales that work hard at nuanced characterization, you may enjoy my work.

My thanks again to Joshua for renting me some space."

Paul S. Kemp’s Other Books )
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Hey, everyone, here's another Author Introduction! Let me introduce you to C. F. Bentley and her first book. You may also know C. F. Bentley under a few other pseudonyms, but I'll let her introduce herself. The book comes out this coming Tuesday, so check it out!

"First off, I big thank you to [ profile] jpsorrow for allowing me to take over his space for a bit. Our overlapping f-list will recognize me as [ profile] ramblin_phyl and by my two other pen names, Irene Radford ( and P.R Frost (

Yes, I have reinvented myself yet again. This time because Harmony [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy] is entirely different from anything else I’ve written. I call it my spiritual quest with a literary twist in a space opera landscape.

I’ve been enthralled with the concept of space travel and lost earth colonies since I watched classic "Star Trek" on original network broadcasts. I can’t possibly be that old, but I think I am. I didn’t discover Heinlein and Haldeman until many years later. Those two authors made my addiction worse. Throw in "Babylon 5" and later incarnations of "Star Trek" and I’m hooked for life.

Most of my writing has been in the realm of fantasy, and there are fantastical elements in Harmony [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy]. However, my primary story line revolves around some of the changes in culture, religion, morals, and biology that take place when a population cuts itself off from the mother world and its traditional roots. And how much we stay the same. I play with the idea that there is a big difference between faith and religion. I look at the mechanism politicians use to maintain control over a population--minimal education, rationing of resources, censored media, and separation of castes.

Yet when an artificial infrastructure that abhors change begins to break down because it refuses to evolve, strong leaders rise out of the ashes. How much of the old traditions must be kept, and how much thrown aside? Is a total restructuring worth the risk of civil war when aliens threaten invasion and a major influx of new ideas?

I hope that some of the ideas put forth will push the readers to stop and think about our own society and the troubled times we face in the future. For we will always face troubled times and needs for change. Society, like humanity, needs to grow and evolve to remain viable and meet the future. But tradition is the foundation that holds us together. Where is the balance?

Larry Rostant did a wonderful job in capturing the feel of the book in beautiful cover art. It evokes my beloved Stonehenge, ancestor worship among grave stones, and the electricity of change.

I hope you will join me in exploring this strange new world and then embark on new adventures in the "Confederated Star Systems" series that explore other cultures and societies, some alien, some bizarre human adaptations.

May you find Harmony in chaos."

C.F. Bentley's Other Incarnations )
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Everyone say hi to Jenna Rhodes, aka Emily Drake, aka . . . well, I'll let her list them all. *grin* Jenna is the latest invite in my Author Introduction series and she's here to talk about her latest book, The Dark Ferryman, as well as talk about herself and writing. So without further ado, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Jenna!

"Hi, and thanks to Joshua for inviting me into his journal. Excuse me while I take a moment to swipe a crackled finish vase that seems to be just sitting here forlornly…

I juggle seven or eight pen names, and my license plate says I’m a PRO WRTR. More often it is mistaken for PRO WRESTLER and I’ve been asked if I know Hulk Hogan or (insert your favorite wrestler here). I’ve been known as Emily Drake, Elizabeth Forrest, Anne Knight, Charles Ingrid and R.A.V. Salsitz. Different names for different marketing audiences. I’ve been autographing and paneling as Jenna Rhodes this last year.

Today is somewhere around the middle of July. I use calendars for the pretty pictures and watches not at all unless I’m sitting on a panel or giving a lecture in which case I must pay attention to the passage of time. Otherwise, I try to ignore it. Unless you count the little post-it notes attached to my monitor which exhort me 15 pages a day or 7 and 5 and 5 (which is my new mantra except that post-it note dried up and fell off somewhere which means either my deadline is forfeit or I have to find a better way to attach my goals to my work machines). I’m currently working as Jenna Rhodes. Book two of The Elven Ways was released in June and has gotten some really nice comments from readers who also loved book one. I think Josh is inserting a link here to The Four Forges [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy] and The Dark Ferryman [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy]. So, my post-it notes refer to my current deadline for book three, as yet untitled, and some back works I need to also have in progress. I love writing and only wish I could make a living from it. Fifty + published novels from where I started, I still can’t depend on any income, good reviews and great covers aside. That’s neither here nor there, though, as right now my business is to craft a thumping good tale and answer some of the plot questions that have been hanging and hint at intriguing and shocking developments for book four. I think I’m up to it, as long as I have fun.

The more I write, the more I think of to write. I keep my hard disk full of intriguing two and three liners for possible ideas down the line which may or may not get developed. One or two I will simply have to write on spec because the characters are nagging me. I probably ought to turn up the music louder to drown them out, but past experience has shown me it probably won’t work. If characters begging to be heard aren’t enough, there are titles which spring up as though ejected from some universal toaster. I caught one last night as if it were a cannon-fired eggo: The Late, Great Wizard. Now I know there’s a YA I’m going to have to write in the next six months and hope my intrepid agent can sell it.

So, to paraphrase, dying is easy . . . writing is hard. But it’s the only way to go."

Jenna Rhode's Other Books (including the pseudonyms) )
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What's this? Another Author Introduction? Well, don't you all just think you're special. *grin*

Say hello to wonderful writer and spectacular friend (bwain-fwiend) and drinking buddy Patricia Bray ([ profile] pbray). And her little friend, too!

"Thanks to Joshua for inviting me to post an author introduction on his blog. Joshua and I know each other quite well, but for those readers who haven't met me before, here's a little about myself and my writing.

I met Joshua Palmatier in the summer of 2001, when he was a PhD student at the University of Binghamton, moonlighting at the local bookstore to support his habit. At the time I was an established Regency romance author, who'd just sold her first fantasy trilogy to Bantam. A mutual friend introduced us, and we began getting together regularly to talk about writing.

I think that part of the reason why Joshua and I get along so well is that while our writing styles are dramatically different, we both have similar ideas about genre and what it means to be a writer. I had no intention of constraining my creativity to a single genre, and was as thrilled by my first Regency romance as I was with my first fantasy novel. Joshua has also dabbled in other genres, having penned a horror novel in addition to his fantasy works.

For us the adage isn't "Write what you know"-- it's "Write what you love." If I'm not passionate about the story, then why should anyone else care? I'm fundamentally attracted to strong characters and great stories, regardless of genre, and find myself equally enchanted by Pride and Prejudice and The Replacement Killers. Thus it's not surprising that I'm driven by these same inspirations in my writing--strong, memorable characters, and storylines that are worthy of my creations.

Strong characters were at the heart of my latest series, as Brother Josan, Emperor Lucius and Lady Ysobel each fought to determine their own destiny. Underlying everything else--the political scheming, magic spells, and a conflict that pits two rival empires against each other, these books are ultimately about the search for identity. Each character must answer for themselves the questions Who am I? And, more importantly, Who do I want to be?

This month marks the release of THE FINAL SACRIFICE [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy], the concluding volume of The Chronicles of Josan. It was a difficult book to write, because both Josan and Lucius were such strong characters, and yet it's clear that only one of them can emerge triumphant. I had to come up with a resolution that was both suitably dramatic, and in keeping with their individual natures. If I've done my job as a writer well, the ending will be seen as not only logical but inevitable--because of who these people are, they could have made no other choices.

As for what I'm writing next? Expect something completely different--and yet very much the same.

Info for links here:

My website:"

Patricia Bray's Fantasy Books )
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Another exciting edition of Author Introduction! This time, I've invited Sherwood Smith, who's most recent fat fantasy (almost as fat as my current mess) came out from DAW this past week. Check out her books from DAW, after pondering the following life-questions regarding fantasy and why we all love it!

"Hi, I'm Sherwood Smith ([ profile] sartorias) and I'd like to thank [ profile] jpsorrow for his invitation to blat and toot in his blog.

On July 1st the third of four books in my Inda story cycle came out, King's Shield [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy]. You can find the summary stuff at the Amazon site or else on my website here or here. If you really want detail, some readers have built a wiki here.

But I'm thinking that there might be something more interesting to discuss. I mean, if you haven't heard of me, there's nothing to talk about after your eyes glide past my grafs of yodeling about my stuff. "I began writing about this world when I was 8 years old—-135 notebooks—-made my first globe at age 19, on a beach ball, which has the advantage of built-in time zones." Who cares, if no one knows anything about the story?

What I think is of more interest, perhaps, is this gathering of writers of broad canvas fantasy, in particular DAW authors, that I find here. Josh also talks about writing process, as he's as passionate about his work as the rest of us are about ours. I guess what I wanted to do while I'm here is open up the possibility of discussion about what it means to be a writer of Fat Fantasy. Despite the scorn that is sometimes flung our way ("fat fantasy is all neo-conservative hogwash, hearkening back to a good old days that never existed" is the most common slamdunk I've seen) I find when I read good fantasy that the writers are exploring archaeological levels of the human experience: emotional growth or twists, the costs of power, the effects of change (whether small or catastrophic), and the bland-sounding,
but fundamentally important issue: what it means to be human. But we've chosen to explore those issues within the context of magic, castles, royal whosis of varying degrees, and a few monsters thrown in. (Even when the monsters look like the heroes. Even when the monsters are the heroes.)

So . . . what brought all of you to write in a form that requires massive amounts of research in everything from plate tectonics to ancient city construction to forms of barter? Why aren't you pouring your wisdom, passion, and insight into tight little postmodern novels focused on hapless middle class workers crushed by governmental rot and by urban despair? I know why I'm not . . . despite Nabokov (otherwise brilliant) who insisted that the sophisticated reader doesn't identify with characters, I do identify with characters. I like putting on a different body and point-of-view, and I really, really like going out and being able to Do Something, whereas in this world, if I, a fifty-something, glasses-wearing, arthritic old bat, went out crusading, I'd find my sorry ass in jail within minutes. If
I wasn't run over by a truck first. In short I embrace escapism—-especially escapism that is fun, yet makes me think."

Sherwood Smith's Other Books )
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Instead of an update on the revision process today, I give you another edition of Author Introduction! Say hello to Lynn Flewelling ([ profile] otterdance), author of numerous books, but with her newest--Shadow Returns--hitting the shelves yesterday (I was supposed to post this yesterday but missed the mark . . . sorry!). So read what Lynn has to say about the books, ask her some questions, then go buy them!

"Thanks, Joshua, for inviting me. What to say? Well, today is the birth day of Shadows Return [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy], my seventh novel, which is also the fourth book in the ongoing Nightrunner Series.

And only nine years have passed since the last NR book, Traitor's Moon! Why the big gap, you might wonder. I took some time off to write a trilogy, the Tamír Triad. I always meant to come back to the Nightrunner series; I love the characters and the world. The two main characters, Seregil and Alec, are a pair of talented rogues who work as necessity dictates as spies for nobility, intelligence gatherers for wizards, and wanderers through the scenery of five countries. Seregil was originally meant to be a sort of medieval Sherlock Holmes, with generous helpings of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Odysseus, Scaramouch, and Robin Hood. Maybe a little Indiana Jones there, too. Alec was meant to be his Watson, and has taken on a much broader role over the years. It's great to be back with these guys, but it was difficult writing my way back into that story line after such a long absence. I made some mistakes, caught most, missed a few, which my readers have been quick to point out. Nothing major, just some nits that didn't get picked despite several editing cycles. It happens.

By the time I'd finished the third Nightrunner book, the series had a growing following who wanted more. I wanted more, too, but the Nightrunner part of my brain was exhausted, drained, and generally tapped out. I probably could have kept squeezing out books, but I knew that the quality would suffer and I promised myself a long time ago I wasn't going to do that to myself or my readers. Or my beloved characters, for that matter.

So I wrote three new books, The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior, and Oracle's Queen, the tale of a princess magically transformed into the form of her murdered twin brother to hide her from a usurper uncle who's seized the throne that is rightfully hers. Lots of gender work in there, along with a dire ghost, a witch, lots of magic, and a loyal squire. Did I mention that the princess doesn't know she isn't really a boy?

By the time I was all finished with those books, the Tamír part of my brain was exhausted, drained, and generallly tapped out, and I'd said all I had to say for those characters. For now, at least. Rested and refreshed, my Nightrunner brain cells have kicked in again and turned out what I think is a pretty darn exciting book. I'm working on a sequel now, The White Road, due out next summer.

Happy to answer any questions. :-)"

Check out Lynn's website at

Other Books by Lynn Flewelling )
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Welcome to another edition of Author Introductions, and once again this is a literal introduction, since today’s author, David J. Williams ([ profile] davidjwilliams), is going to speak about his debut novel. I initially contacted David when I noticed his new book had just been released and decided it looked interesting, inviting him to participate. As circumstance would have it, David also happened to be attending Balticon this past weekend, so I got to meet him in person. We had a spectacular time, and as I mentioned in my Balticon post, if you ever get the chance to hear David reading from his novel, take it. Before I become too maudlin however, I should probably hand the blog over to him and let him do the talking. So everyone say HI! To David Williams. And then go buy his book. *grin*

"First, my thanks to the inimitable [ profile] jpsorrow for the airtime. And, er, um, uh, *clears throat* . . . hello! to everybody who's reading this. It's been less than two weeks since THE MIRRORED HEAVENS [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy] hit the bookstands, so it all seems sufficiently surreal that I'm thinking I'm going to be feeling like I'm living in some mad parallel universe for some time to come.

But as long as I'm here, let me tell you a bit about the book. My agent sold it as "John Le Carre on science fiction crack", which works for me, since I had Le Carre's SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD on my nightstand pretty much nonstop during certain periods of writing (and I'll take the fifth on the issue of whether the crack pipe was sitting beside it). THE MIRRORED HEAVENS [Amazon, Mysterious Galaxy] is a tale of 22nd century espionage . . . or alternatively, you can think of it as cyberpunk where the state never got around to withering away. Instead of serving faceless corporations, my agents serve faceless governments. The Earth-Moon system is divided between two superpowers, the United States and the Eurasian Coalition (more data's on my website); they've been locked in a second cold war for decades, and have fortified the Moon and the libration points. So space has been pretty much totally weaponized.

And cyberspace has gone the same way. There's no more World Wide Web; that's been divided up along geopolitical lines and sealed off behind different operating protocols so that each of the two superpowers can forestall the cyberattacks of the other. The result is an arms race that lasts for decades, even as ecological meltdown grips the Earth. But eventually (as the 22nd century dawns) the two superpowers come to their senses; they sign a wide-ranging series of political and environmental accords. And start building a massive space elevator to accelerate the transfer of industry into space.

As to what happens next, maybe we can try the multi-media approach:

Until I figure out why LJ won't embed the book trailer, here's the link to youtube so you can watch it.

Again, thanks a ton to Joshua for the invite. And to all of you for listening/watching. THE MIRRORED HEAVENS: read before burning. We will disavow all knowledge of your actions. Over and out. *static*"
joshuapalmatier: VacantThrone (Default)
And here we have the latest installment in the Author Introduction series . . . this time by a fellow "Zombie"! Yes, C.E. Murphy was one of the six authors who threw the Zombies Need Brains party at World Fantasy in Saratoga Spring, NY. It was a blast, and had NO EFFECT on asking C.E. Murphy to participate in this series, I swear! Of course, I'm a Zombie, so I lie alot. *grin*

But heeeeeeere's Catie! See what she has to say. And then check out her newest book.

"I've been reading Joshua's Author Introduction blogs with wistful envy, sort of kick-the-dustishly wishing that *I* could be Introduced, but not having any idea how one got to be so honored and thinking it would be terribly rude to, y'know, volunteer. So I was very happy and full of squee when he asked me to participate as an introduction for my latest book, THE QUEEN'S BASTARD [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]
. (God, it really is the little things in life, isn't it?)

So hello! I'm C.E. Murphy, known in real life as Catie (or Kit) and on lj as [ profile] mizkit. Most of you, if you know me at all, will know me as an urban fantasy novelist; I have two urban fantasy series, The Walker Papers, starring Joanne Walker, Reluctant Shaman, and The Negotiator, starring Margrit Knight, New York City's only legal counsel to a fabled group of peoples known as the Old Races. (A vanishingly small percentage of you might know me as Cate Dermody, author of the action-adventure romance trilogy The Strongbox Chronicles ...but probably not.)

THE QUEEN'S BASTARD [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy] is my first foray outside of the urban fantasy realm. It's a big, fat, lush alternate-history fantasy set in 1587, and I love it and am completely terrified of how people will react, because it's so utterly different from anything I've written in the past...

In a world where religion has ripped apart the old order, Belinda Primrose is the queen's secret weapon. The illegitimate daughter of Lorraine, the first queen to sit on the Aulunian throne, Belinda has been trained as a spy since the age of twelve by her father, Lorraine's lover and spymaster.

Cunning and alluring, fluent in languages and able to take on any persona, Belinda can infiltrate the glittering courts of Echon where her mother's enemies conspire. She can seduce at will and kill if she must. But Belinda's spying takes a new twist when her witchlight appears.

Now Belinda's powers are unlike anything Lorraine could have imagined. They can turn an obedient daughter into a rival who understands that anything can be hers, including the wickedly sensual Javier, whose throne Lorraine both covets and fears. But Javier is also witchbreed, a man whose ability rivals Belinda's own . . . and can be just as dangerous.

I tend to regard myself as something of an efficient writer--get in, tell the story, get out--which is an approach unquestionably used in the Walker Papers and the Strongbox Chronicles, and to a *slightly* lesser degree, in the Negotiator trilogy.

I've totally thrown that out for the Inheritors' Cycle. Not only do they feature a cast of, if not thousands, at least tens, but aside from moving far away from the contemporary era in which I've been writing, the writing style I've developed for TQB and its sequels is far more luxurious and ... well, as my husband said when he picked up part of the manuscript and read it, "'s *squishy*!"

One of the great things about being a writer is the ability to do that, to try to challenge yourself and write in a way that you haven't done before. I was nervously certain I *couldn't* do this, and when I began writing TQB about six years ago, I was right. I managed the style, but the cast-of-thousands was beyond my skill. When I came back to it in 2006, I'd developed the ability to both manage the style and the cast, and it was like throwing open shutters on long-closed windows. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences I've had as a writer: wow, look what I've learned to do!

The whole thing's been basically a joyful experiment for me, and I really hope readers like the end result as much as I do. There's an excerpt from THE QUEEN'S BASTARD available here, at my website,, so have a look if it sounds appealing, and my thanks to Joshua for letting me use his blogging space today!


C.E. Murphy’s Other Books )
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It is time yet again for another Author Introduction. However, this time, I'm going to tell you a story about the author, and then introduce her new book. I have a rather personal connection to this author (made before I was published) and I thought it would be a good thing to share, since there is often a perception among aspiring authors that the published authors are guarding some closely held secret or key and are bastards for not sharing. There is not secret. There is no key. To get published, you need to write a good book and get that good book to the right person by submitting it (and getting rejected along the way). So today's Author Introduction is being done by me, from my perspective, and I hope the author in question--Kate Elliott ([ profile] kateelliott)--doesn't mind. I hope you enjoy.

Author Introduction: Kate Elliott )

Kate Elliott's Books )
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It's been a little light on the author introductions lately. Mainly because I've been crazy busy. But I managed to convince S.C. Butler to drop on by and say hi. So check out what he has to say . . . and then go check out his books!

Hello, minions of Joshua Palmatier, and all others who read his LJ. I’m S.C. Butler [ profile] scbutler, here by Joshua’s kind invitation to talk a little about my writing. Currently the first two books in my Stoneways trilogy are out from Tor: Reiffen’s Choice [Amazon , Mysterious Galaxy] and Queen Ferris [Amazon , Mysterious Galaxy]. Having just handed in the third, tentatively titled The Magicians’ Daughter, I hope all three will be available by the end of the year.

I’ll start by telling you what you won’t find in my books.


It’s not that I don’t like them. Elves are great: better-than-human humans; nobler, more idealized versions of ourselves. (Except in the sorts of books where the elves are the villains, in which case they’re usually wickeder, more idealized versions of the bad guys.)

But I like Dwarves better. For one thing, they live in caves, and I think caves are one of the coolest things in the world. (Anyone ever been in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky? You can walk underground for miles and miles without ever being able to touch the ceiling. But I digress.)

Anyway, when I began writing the Stoneways trilogy, I knew Dwarves would be one of the main elements of the story. (Hence the name, The Stoneways.) I knew the world would be flat, with a top and a bottom, and that the Dwarves would live on the bottom in upside-down cities with unnerets instead of towers, and fight wingless serpents, and cross the windless abyss in lighter-than-air balloons.

But I had to have humans in the world, too, to tell the story, and shapeshifting bears, and magic, and temptation, and talking seals, and plagues. And a tale about three friends who grow up to be great heroes and save the world.

Whether or not they save themselves is another matter entirely.

As I’m hoping the dust jacket on The Magicians’ Daughter will explain:

The first book is about how Reiffen found magic.
The second is about what he did with it.
The third is about what the magic did to him.

If you want to read more about the books, check out my website at You’ll find sample chapters, sections that had to be dropped from the first two books, my original map, and links to reviews. Whatever you do, don’t read the novella “More Than Once Upon a Time”, which has major spoilers in it that might ruin reading The Magicians’ Daughter

I had a great time writing the entire trilogy, and tried to make it just the sort of fantasy readers will enjoy whether they’re fifty or fifteen. It’s an old-fashioned story that takes a while to develop and a while to tell, but which has a definite ending, sad and sweet. You’ll find high emotion and thrilling escapes, and villains who are never quite up to what you think they are.

Reiffen’s Choice is out in hardcover and mass market paperback, but Queen Ferris is still only available in hardcover. Amazon had been offering the book for less than $10, but that just changed yesterday. The paperback will be out this fall, along with the final volume: The Magicians’ Daughter.

Meanwhile, whatever you do, don’t read “More Than Once Upon a Time”!


Get both of S.C. Butler’s books now!

Reiffen’s Choice [Amazon , Mysterious Galaxy]

Queen Ferris [Amazon , Mysterious Galaxy]
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Here’s another entry in the Author Introduction series. Say hello to Alma Alexander, author of a few books, the most recent part of the “Worldweavers” YA series. This post, called “Choices” is actually one part of three, the other parts appearing in other blogs. The links to the other parts are provided at the end of her introduction. So without further ado, heeeeeeeere’s Alma!


When you are young, all your choices are made for you.

You eat the things that are provided for you, go to schools your parents picked, move when they move. You're pampered. Looked after. Protected. Sheltered.

You are not free.

Freedom begins with choice. When you start growing older and the road starts forking more and more, you realise that it’s ALL about choices. That’s what growing up means.

And it starts early – it starts when you still ARE a child, when you hit your teens. The choice to rebel or to live up to expectations; the choice of picking “what you want to do” and focusing your schooling on a career, more and more closely every year. And then, after, the choice of the job you apply for, of the partner you pick to share your life.

Those are just the basic yes-or-no choices, the ones that take you down one fork of a road or another. But there are harder choices, where the road forks without signposts, where you're forced to choose between more nebulous things, between the right thing and the easy thing, between the truth and the lie, between succumbing to something "just once" because it will bring you an advantage or sticking to inconvenient principles and watching someone else walk away with the prize.

In my books, it's ALL about the choice.

Invevitably, given the coming-of-age theme of the Worldweavers books, choice is what
Thea Winthrop's story is all about.

Be warned - perhaps it's a mite spoilerific ahead, although I will try to preserve as much of the mystery as I can.

Gift of the Unmage [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]

In Book 1, "Gift of the Unmage", Thea is introduced as the Double Seventh, the seventh child of two seventh children, the most magical of all magical beings, and great and wonderful things are expected of her. The moment of her birth is greeted with flashes of
cameras, and TV specials. She is followed around as a toddler by eager reporters waiting for her to perform some extraordinary feat of magical power.

And then there are the Alphiri, the Elves with the souls of Ferengi who believe everything is for sale. They tried to buy Thea from her parents when she was still in her crib, and then stalked her through childhood, always ready to pounce if her potential magical abilities ever manifested.

Thea does not know why she can't do magic. All she knows is that there is a glass wall between her and the thing that she is supposed to be able to do, a wall that allows her to see with bitter clarity exactly what her duty is but leaves her unable to actually perform it. – that that her father, whom she idolises, has a shadow in his eyes when he looks at her… and it HURTS. It hurts badly to be the one who can't,the one who is inadequate when so much was expected, the one who fails.

In a last effort, before Thea is sent to what she and her peers know as the “Last Ditch School for the Incurably Incompetent”, the school where children of magical parents who are themselves – for whatever reason – unable to do magic are sent to be trained for a mundane and enchantment-less life. But before they take that final, irrevocable step Thea’s father tries one more thing.

He sends his daughter back in time. Back to an Anasazi shaman, the last of a vanished tribe, whose magic is perhaps older and wilder than any that Thea has encountered before.

And it is there, in this strange and frightening world into which Thea is taken and thrust and left alone in, that she begins to have the first inkling of the true reality of her life.

Her Anasazi mentor tells her, "When there is a battle to be fought, it is you who can choose the battlefield."

She discovers that she, herself, has chosen to block her abilities of magic in her own world, because if she hadn't hidden her talents, even from herself, she would have been in unspeakable danger all of her life from the Alphiri.

And there is something more.

If she had manifested her abilities earlier, she would have been unable to save her world from the greatest danger it has ever faced, a monster called the Nothing that feeds on magic.

When Thea returns to her own world, the Nothing has swept across it and decimated the strongest and the best of her people – and only she, the blank slate, the one on which no magic has yet been written, can stand between the hungry darkness and all the magic in her world.

In the end, it is all about the choices that Thea has made. The choices she has made by instinct alone – and instinct has served her well – and the choices she has made in full knowledge of circumstances, building on what she knows and can use. The first hard choices on that road without signposts which lead to what is Easy and what is Right. Thea, in the end, CHOOSES to go to the “Last Ditch School for the Incurably Incompetent.”. She chooses to fight the Nothing with her unmagic, and chooses the traditional whalehunt as her tool for the Nothing’s destruction. The whale in the hunt chooses to be taken, and this is crucial in the defeat of the Nothing – because the Nothing does not choose, it has all the choices forced on it.

The lessons are clear – you HAVE to choose. Without choosing, you perish.

But if this was difficult, things get much worse in the second book, and fast.

Spellspam [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]

In “Spellspam”, Thea is faced with something that is incredible, unbelievable – the one thing impervious to magic in her world, so safe that it can be used for storage of magic spells because it is immune to accidental ill-effects, is a computer. In the first book it becomes apparent that Thea’s own magic had something to do with the cyberworld – and that in itself was astonishing enough. But now unwanted email – spam – is popping up everywhere and causing havoc, because this is “spellspam”, spam infused with real magical spells, which make the things it says actually happen, with malicious intent.
If it promises you “clear” skin, for example, it turns your skin transparent.

There is someone else out there, obviously, who can use computer magic. And Thea is the only one who can find this other cybermage and deal with the spellspam epidemic.

What she doesn't count on is that when she meets him, she actually LIKES him.

Which doesn’t change for a moment the fact that it is she who has to deal with the fact of his existence, and his astonishing abilities.

She makes the hard choices, and then has to live with the guilt of it, even knowing that she could not have done other than she did.

She makes the choice, and is changed by it. This is what choices do – every road we take leaves its imprint on us, and every choice we make is there to take us that one more step, to take us further, to make us grow.

In the third book, Thea’s choices lead her down a road which is both dangerous and glorious – and by the end of the third book in the trilogy, “Cybermage”, she is challenged to make the hardest choice of all, a choice that could permanently seal her own identity and put an end to something that had barely begun, a magic she had barely begun to taste and get the first heady rush from. She might have to give up EVERYTHING for the things that she believes in.

A similar choice awaits at least one of her Last Ditch School friends – a choice that involves fundamental questions of identity and values.

Left or right fork. Cake or ice cream. The green car or the red one. Artist or worker ant. Live or die.

Choices are all around us. In the stories that we read. In the lives that we lead.

Sometimes all that is possible is to choose to gather up the pieces of a broken heart and go on, to climb another mountain, to get back on the horse – to take another step, to take another breath. To simply go on.

That’s what the stories I tell are all about. The courage to choose. The courage to choose right.

About my books (with purchase links):

This is an essay in three parts. Read them all: :Courage :Choices :Change”

Alma Alexander’s Other Books )


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