Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The View from Monday on Tuesday! - May 31, 2016

Happy Tuesday! Here are today's releases. Look for the full June release list tomorrow.

Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels by formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors are highlighted in green

There is one debut today - Devour by Kurt Anderson.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

The World Weavers (Desert Rising 3) by Kelley Grant;

Zero World (h2mm) by Jason M. Hough is out in Mass Market Paperback;

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley;

The Dirt on the Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson 9) by Darynda Jones is out in Mass Market Paperback

The Liar's Key (The Red Queen's War 2) by Mark Lawrence is out in Mass Market Paperback;

The Lazarus War: Legion (The Lazarus War 2) by Jamie Sawyer;


Zer0es by Chuck Wendig is out in Mass Market Paperback.

May 31, 2016
Devour (D) Kurt Anderson Th
The Aftermath Ben Bova SF - Asteroid Wars 4
Penric's Demon Lois McMaster Bujold F - World of Five Gods 3.5
The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man (h2mm) W. Bruce Cameron Hu/M - Ruddy McCann 1
The Forgotten Room (h2mm) Lincoln Child SupTh/TechTh - Dr. Jeremy Logan 4
Virtues of War (tp2mm) Bennett R. Coles SF - Virtues of War 1
Dancer's Lament Ian C. Esslemont F - Path to Ascendancy 1
Written in My Own Heart's Blood (ri) Diana Gabaldon HistF/TT/R - Outlander 8
The World Weavers Kelley Grant F - Desert Rising 3
Extinction Biome: Invasion Addison Gunn SF - Extinction Biome
The Angel Wore Fangs Sandra Hill PNR - Deadly Angels 7
Beauty & the Beast: Fire at Sea Nancy Holder PNR /F - Beauty & the Beast 3
Zero World (h2mm) Jason M. Hough SF/Th
The Geek Feminist Revolution Kameron Hurley SocSci/Feminism
Blood Lust Alexandra Ivy PNR - The Sentinels 3
The Dirt on Ninth Grave (h2mm) Darynda Jones PM - Charley Davidson 9
The Devouring God (e) James Kendley PTh - Tohru Takuda 2
Born of Betrayal (h2mm) Sherrilyn Kenyon FR - The League: Nemesis Rising 8
Insomnia (ri) Stephen King SupTh
Christine (ri) Stephen King SupTh
Force and Motion Jeffrey Lang SF - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Shadow Of Tyr Glenda Larke F - Mirage Makers 2
The Liar's Key (h2mm) Mark Lawrence F - The Red Queen's War 2
Ghost Road Blues (ri) Jonathan Maberry H/Th - A Pine Deep Novel 1
The Joe Ledger Series, Thus Far (e) Jonathan Maberry H/Th - Joe Ledger
Freedom of the Mask Robert McCammon HistTh - Matthew Corbett 6
The Dinosaur Lords (h2tp) Victor Milán F - The Dinosaur Lords 1
Leviathan's Blood Ben Peek F - Children Trilogy 2
A Shadow in the Deep (e) Anthony Pryor DF - The Shepherd 3
Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek Manu Saadia SocSci/Economics
The Lazarus War: Legion Jamie Sawyer SF - The Lazarus War 2
The End of All Things (h2mm) John Scalzi SF - Old Man's War 6
Vicky Peterwald: Rebel Mike Shepherd SF - A Vicky Peterwald Novel 3
The Darkest Torment Gena Showalter PNR - Lords of the Underworld 12
Zeroes (h2mm) Chuck Wendig SF/CyberP
The Thief's Daughter Jeff Wheeler HistF - The Kingfountain Series 2
The Iron Jackal (tp2mm) Chris Wooding SP - Tale of  Ketty Jay 3

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint

AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
CyberP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tale
FolkT - Folk Tale
FR - Fantasy Romance
GB - Genre Bender
GH - Ghost
GO - Gothic
GoR - Gothic Romance
H - Horror
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistTh - Historical Thriller
Hu - Humor
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legends and Mythology
M - Mystery
Meta - Metaphysical
MR - Magical Realism
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
Phil - Philosophy
PM - Paranormal Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
Pol - Political
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
PTh - Paranormal Thriller
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SO - Space Opera
SocSci - Social Science
SP - Steampunk
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechnoTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy
V - Visionary

Note: not all of these genres are represented in the above releases. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Interview with Fred Strydom, author of The Raft

Please welcome Fred Strydom to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Raft was published on May 3, 2016 by Talos.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Fred:  Firstly, thanks so much for having me. I suppose I began writing just around the time I began reading. As has always been the case, I only write the stories I wish I could read. Whilst pouring through book after book at my local library, I’d usually come back home and get started on some story I wished I’d been able to find on a shelf. Looking back, I did spend a lot of my youth emulating other authors, working out their various tricks, repackaging the bits ‘n pieces that gripped me most, before finally being able to find my own voice in the later years.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Fred:  A hybrid, I’d say. I go in with a certain idea of how I’d like the book to feel, rather than how I’d like the plot to play out, and give myself a lot of room. I also believe if you don’t surprise yourself as a writer, you’re less likely to surprise anyone else.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Fred:  I’d say the toughest thing is maintaining a consistent voice throughout a project that can last as long as three years to pull together. When you’re young, you’re constantly going through the process of trying to define and redefine your own identity. The things that interested you three years ago aren’t necessarily the same things that interest you today, so it’s all about figuring out how stay on track from an intellectual and emotional standpoint. A reader reads a book in only a few days, so a story that potentially took three years to put together needs to be coherent in terms of theme, tone and approach. The older I get, however, and the more certain I become of who I am, the easier that becomes.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing? How has working as a television writer affected or not your novel writing?

Fred:  I’ve had so many influences over the years. As a kid, it was all about The Hardy Boys and Roald Dahl. As a teen, it was the hi-tech thrillers popularised by authors like Robin Cook and Michael Crichton. As an adult, I’ve dabbled in far more science and anthropological non-fiction, but for escapist fiction, I’ve certainly learned a thing or two from, amongst many others, Haruki Murakami, David Mitchell, Jonathan Carroll, Thomas Ligotti and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. As for writing for television, it’s taught me to be concise with my prose. In television, there are time limits and deadlines, and you need to pack your punches in only a few lines. It’s also taught me to hop from character to character and tone to tone at the drop of a dime, which has been very useful.

TQDescribe The Raft in 140 characters or less.

Fred:  A man searches for his son across a world in which every person on earth has lost their memory.

TQTell us something about The Raft that is not found in the book description.

FredThe Raft, a story about people attempting the reconstruct their own identities from scratch, deliberately repackages a number of familiar fairy-tale tropes (Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel in the tower, Pinocchio) as a means of juxtaposing futuristic concepts and elements (related to where we’re potentially heading) with archetypal campfire folklore and mythologies (related to where we’ve come from).

TQWhat inspired you to write The Raft? What appeals to you about writing dystopian science fiction?

FredThe Raft began as nothing more than a single image, that of a man strapped to a raft and drifting aimlessly across the ocean. That was it. All I knew at the time was that this stubborn image wasn’t your run-of-the-mill plane crash survival story; there was something profoundly Sisyphean about him being out there, at the whim of the elements and powerless to control his own fate. I also don’t believe in ideas as a succession of light bulbs. An idea has tentacles, grappling for any surface it can find to pull itself up. As for the label of dystopian, the truth is that I have no specific interest in it as a genre. I didn’t really set out to write a “dystopian” novel at all. In this case, it just so happened to work for the type of story I wanted to tell. More importantly, I’m not entirely convinced it is an entirely dystopian novel. In some ways, depending on where you are in the world, we already live in a sort of dystopia. Therefore, the question about whether or not the loss of our memories (and thus abolishing our constructs of self and society) is dystopian or utopian, remains an open-ended one.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Raft?

Fred:  I get bogged down by research. I am in awe of the kinds of research that goes into historical fiction and hi-tech fiction, but I don’t think I’m built for all of that. That said, I did do a bit of research for the ten percent of tech elements in the novel, as well as browsed through internet texts related to various current and archaic philosophies and religious movements.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Fred:  My main character, Kayle, was possible the easiest, which was possibly why I selected him as the primary perspective. Kayle is well-intentioned and just a little lost, and his journey from non-identity to full identity was also one that allowed me to create him gradually and organically from scratch. He’s not a complete, fully-fleshed out character from page one, so I didn’t need to know who he was before I sat down to write him. The hardest was probably Anubis, only because I needed to evoke a sense sympathy for a snarky, self-important character that often reminded me of the worst aspects of myself.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Raft?

Fred:  I didn’t really set out to right a “message” story. However, since our relationships to the often overbearing social issues of our reality are such a key part of who we each turn out to be, I think I’d find it difficult to create convincing characters and plot hurdles without somehow addressing my own latent and not-so-latent hopes and concerns for the world as it is. The fact that many have said my novel addresses numerous social issues is more of a reflection of myself and my world than of the (hopefully) entertaining yarn I set out to write.

TQWhich question about The Raft do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


“How has being a South African influenced the way in which you’ve told this globe-hopping, science fiction story?”

There is a nowhere on earth quite like South Africa. It’s a country of contrasts, a hodge-podge of extreme highs and extreme lows. It is also a country in transition. A place that is still finding out how (as a country with eleven official languages and with a very dark and only recently abolished Apartheid past) it’s supposed to go forward and forge a single, national identity. In many ways, even though I did not set out to write a political story, the themes of segregation and identity reconstruction have certainly served as a strong backbone to the text. The book also doesn’t purport to have any solutions to our ongoing struggle for a collective identity, but rather re-enforces the capacity and the right each of us has to constantly question ourselves and our roles in the world. The Raft suggests that by maintaining a probing nature, by accepting nothing at face value, we may receive the answers to questions we haven’t thought, or even yet dared ourselves, to ask. Also, The Raft is a story about the importance of storytelling itself, which I believe to be the key to creating empathy between different people with different backgrounds.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Raft.


“Memories are their own strange creatures, flitting between the tall trees of our experiences, inviting us to enter the dark and uncharted woods of our lives, promising nothing.”

TQWhat's next?

Fred:  I’ve just completed my second novel, a twisty homage to Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch entitled “The Inside Out Man”. No sci-fi dystopia in sight! It’s just been picked up and you’ll be hearing all about it sometime next year.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Fred:  And much thanks to you for some really great questions. Cheers.

The Raft
Talos, May 3, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages

“The day every person on earth lost his and her memory was not a day at all. In people's minds there was no actual event. . . and thus it could be followed by no period of shock or mourning. There could be no catharsis. Everyone was simply reset to zero.”

On Day Zero, the collapse of civilization was as instantaneous as it was inevitable. A mysterious and oppressive movement rose to power in the aftermath, forcing people into isolated communes run like regimes. Kayle Jenner finds himself trapped on a remote beach, and all that remains of his life before is the vague and haunting vision of his son. . .

Kayle finally escapes, only to find a broken world being put back together in strange ways. As more memories from his past life begin returning, the people he meets wandering the face of a scorched earth—some reluctant allies, others dangerous enemies—begin to paint a terrifying picture. In his relentless search for his son, Kayle will discover more than just his lost past. He will discover the truth behind Day Zero—a truth that makes both fools and gods of men.

About Fred

Fred Strydom studied film and media at the University of Cape Town. He has taught English in South Korea and has published a number of short stories. He currently works as a television writer and producer in Johannesburg, where he lives with his wife, three dogs, cat, and horse. The Raft is his first novel.

Twitter @FredSaidWrite

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Curtis C. Chen

Waypoint Kangaroo
Thomas Dunne Books, June 21, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he's pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

With Waypoint Kangaroo, Chen makes his debut with this outer space thriller. Chen has an extensive network of connections to prominent science fiction authors, and has studied under John Scalzi, James Patrick Kelly, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Interview with Camille Griep

Please welcome Camille Griep to The Qwillery!

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your newest novel, New Charity Blues, was published on April 12th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Letters to Zell to New Charity Blues?

Camille:  While my writing process hasn’t changed much from my first effort, New Charity Blues led me to two realizations:

The first is that I don’t need as many eyes on a project as I once did. Sometimes, too much feedback can leave a writer swimming in decisions. Everyone brings different motivations to a manuscript, and I feel like I’m better equipped to use and discard portions of critiques that steer my own ideas into a different place. So this time, I had a few trusted eyes instead of shoving paper into the hands of anyone who showed a lick of interest.

More importantly, I’ve learned the value of taking the time to think before I make critical decisions. When I’m at a crossroads in a project, taking the time to daydream and brainstorm is just as important as the writing itself, though I don’t think we as writers – as humans, really – allow ourselves the latitude, time, and space to really think through the hook, the POV, the settings, the internal and external tensions and how to balance them before we dive in. I feel like I’m getting a lot better at that thought process prior to writing. Doing so makes the process of drafting, for me, invaluably more efficient.

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Letters to Zell came out that you know now?

Camille:  Everyone from my agent to my Publisher was absolutely amazing my first time through the publishing gauntlet. In some ways I wish I’d known how to be a bit more ruthless with my own work, how to cut a little deeper into the precious words of my first book. It’s not that I don’t love it and stand by it, but I know now how important certain ideas can be to an author when they mean less to a reader.

Process aside, though, I wish I’d known a bit better what noise to revel in and which noise to block out during the actual release of my first book while concurrently writing the second. That’s a process each author has to learn to guide for themselves: how to channel what sorts of energy when and where it’s valuable. When to listen to the cheering, when to block out the jeering and vice versa. When to shut everything off and start writing again. When to stop worrying about what isn’t under our control. Honestly, though, I expect this learning curve to be life long. And I’m okay with that.

TQTell us something about New Charity Blues that is not found in the book description.

Camille:  It doesn’t say so in the book description, but Syd grew up training to be a ballet dancer. The plague of the book hits just as her career is about to take off. I wanted to explore the deep sorrow an artist might feel when their form is no longer considered relevant or useful. I think, as an overarching rule, this is never the case – art always has use. But in the near term, Syd has lost her family and her moorings and her career and her artistic expression. She casts about to find her purpose and ultimately finds value in a history she’s been forced to leave behind.

TQWhich character in the New Charity Blues has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Camille:  The very minor character of Becky probably surprised me the most during the writing of the book. Here we have someone fairly external to the main storyline and yet, through a series of revelations about Syd, she ends up being a critical ally in the end. She’s somewhat of an allegory on growing up from my own life. I made a lot of assumptions about people when I was young that were probably unfair by simply listening to those around me. As I’ve grown up and learned more about some of those people, I’m thankful for second chances.

The hardest character to write was probably Nelle – another relatively minor player. Though the water in the story is the true Helen, she is also Helen of sorts. I wanted to balance her mythical beauty with intelligence and bravery and wit in addition to making her a big problem for Syd. Trying to draw her complex motivations – Nelle’s obligations to the Survivor Camp’s own plans to liberate New Charity’s water as well as her strange, shifting relationship with Perry, was unwieldy at times. I hope I honestly captured the sense that not every motivation is clear all the time, and the ground beneath us can constantly shift, as it does for Nelle.

TQNew Charity Blues is Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. What appeals to you about writing SF?

Camille:  Hope is the reason I write science fiction. Sometimes when I look around, the world is full of really ugly things – disease and war and sorrow – and then, again, it’s also filled with beauty and art and love. I want to imagine a future where the latter triumphs over the former. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but I do want to tip the scales so to speak. I write Science Fiction – every genre, really – with an eye toward a time, near or far or completely made up, where, even when the inevitable crises come, the human spirit will rise to the challenge: surprise, amaze, and persevere.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in New Charity Blues?

Camille:  There are a lot of social issues in New Charity Blues because I want to reflect the world as it is evolving. In my life, social issues exist, so I want them to exist here, too.

The most obvious example, of course, is New Charity’s Sanctuary. While it’s not a direct allegory of Judeo-Christianity, it is a stand-in for groupthink, which happens in a great many social circles. And while this groupthink can be supportive and useful, it can also, particularly with the wrong shepherding, become exceedingly dangerous. When the belief in anything strips away the unique layers of humanity, it can become something altogether monstrous.

I also made sure to include LGBT characters because they are a part of my world, though I purposefully did not include prejudice against them, which is something I repeated from Letters to Zell. While I don’t want to contradict myself in reflecting the world at large, in this case, I’m trying to reflect the part of the world I want to live in. A world where love is love and who that love is for has no consequence.

Finally, you’ll find the book is filled with people, women especially, not in relationships, nor stated sexual preference. Part of this is because it’s reality for many. Another reason is because I want to write books about young people about just being in addition to being in love.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from New Charity Blues.

Camille:  My friend Dave just finished the book, and wrote me an amazing note, quoting his favorite part, and so I think I’ll repurpose the lines he so gracefully noted:

“A morning beer wouldn’t be a first for us. The summer before I left, he and Cas and Len and I would sit in sleeping bags up on the ridge on Friday nights, looking at the stars, talking about what our lives would be. We never drank to forget—not like Len does now—but to get into that hazy place where everything seemed possible. When the sun shed its pink robe, stars blinking out, we finished the last of the full cans, sneaking home full of hope.”

TQWhat's next?

Camille:  I’m working on a third novel, right now, involving the fairy tale trope “Love Like Salt,” weather magic, and sky deities. But I’m doing so slowly. I’ve been taking some time to build Easy Street, a literary magazine that started just over a year ago. We have an amazing team, and we’re in one of those periods of contests and submissions and growth. It’s really exciting but also very time consuming. I’m doing some mentoring, as well, and working with a nascent nonprofit called Prison Renaissance, matching incarcerated artists with mentors and collaborators who can help them to embrace their artistic visions, assert their humanity, and, hopefully someday, contribute to breaking cycles of incarceration. I could use about six more hours in a day, and I think recently, taking those hours out of my nights slowed me down a bit more than I’d meant.

But it’s all worth it: I’d rather go down with wicked con crud swinging hard for the fences, than from a chance encounter at the grocery store. I try to live my writing life fully, and I promise I won’t let readers wait too long until I loosen some more, hopeful stories into the wild.

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

New Charity Blues
47North, April 12, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 286 pages

In the wake of a devastating plague, two communities emerge as bastions of survival. One is called the City, and its people scrabble for scraps in the wasteland. The other, New Charity, enjoys the bounty of its hydroelectric dam and refuses City denizens so much as a drop of precious water. When City-dweller Cressyda inherits her father’s ranch within New Charity, she becomes intent on opening the dam to all—no matter the cost.

But when Syd reunites with her old best friend, Casandra, a born seer and religious acolyte, she realizes that her plans could destroy the fragile lives they’ve built in order to survive. What’s more, the strange magic securing the dam’s operations could prove deadly if disturbed. Yet when Syd discovers evidence that her father might have been murdered, she is more determined than ever to exact revenge on New Charity’s corrupt.

Pitted against Cas, as well as her own family, Syd must decide how to secure the survival of both settlements without tipping them over the brink to utter annihilation. In this intense and emotional reimagining of the Trojan War epic, two women clash when loyalty, identity, community, and family are all put to the ultimate test.

Also by Camille

Letters to Zell
47North, July 1, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 336 pages

Everything is going according to story for CeCi (Cinderella), Bianca (Snow White), and Rory (Sleeping Beauty)—until the day that Zell (Rapunzel) decides to leave Grimmland and pursue her life. Now, Zell’s best friends are left to wonder whether their own passions are worth risking their predetermined “happily ever afters,” regardless of the consequences. CeCi wonders whether she should become a professional chef, sharp-tongued and quick-witted Bianca wants to escape an engagement to her platonic friend, and Rory will do anything to make her boorish husband love her. But as Bianca’s wedding approaches, can they escape their fates—and is there enough wine in all of the Realm to help them?

In this hilarious modern interpretation of the fairy-tale stories we all know and love, Letters to Zell explores what happens when women abandon the stories they didn’t write for themselves and go completely off script to follow their dreams.

About Camille

Photograph by Jackie Donnelly.
Camille Griep lives just north of Seattle with her partner, Adam, and their dog Dutch(ess). Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Southern California to attend Claremont McKenna College, graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Literature.

She wrote her way through corporate careers in marketing, commercial real estate, and financial analysis before taking an extended sabbatical to devote more time to her craft.

She has since sold short fiction and creative nonfiction to dozens of online and print magazines. She is the editor of Easy Street and is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. She is a 2012 graduate of Viable Paradise, a residential workshop for speculative fiction novelists.

Her first novel, Letters to Zell, was released in July 2015 47North. Look for New Charity Blues in April of 2016.

Website  ~   Twitter @camillethegriep  ~  Facebook

Melanie's Week in Review - May 29, 2016

Happy May bank holiday!  I hope you are having a great holiday.  I am looking forward to watching the rain out the living room window. Unlike. At least it will give me some time to read which I haven't had a lot of lately. This is going to be short and sweet this week as I can only really tell you about 1 book this week. What did I read?

 I decided it was time to finish the Dragon Blood series by Lindsay Buroker with Soulblade. When we left the 'gang' Ridge's plane had crash landed and everyone thinks he is dead. Despite the fact that the evil dragon Morishtomaric is dead the Cofah still want revenge. King Angulus decides to send Tolemek, Cas and a few others to kidnap the Cofah king while Sardelle heads off with her very own dragon to search for Ridge. Will they find Ridge? Will Cofah succeed? Will everyone live happily ever after? I won't tell so you will have to read it to find out for yourself.

I started this series thinking it was OK but this turned to boredom and dissatisfaction at the syrupy dialogue and lack of real action. Soulblade was an improvement to the previous two instalments but it was still fairly tame as far as action or intrigue goes. There was lots of time for romance and characters pairing up along the way to saving the kingdom. While I am glad that the series is finished it wasn't a total waste of time. These were quick and easy reads and I did enjoy the first two books of the series. It's just unfortunate that Buroker couldn't keep the tension for the whole series.

I did read a second book this week - The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. This is the 5th book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series and its creation was funded through Kickstarter. I am writing a full review of this book in time for its release so you are going to have to wait to find out what I thought.

For those of you who aren't reading Ilona Andrew's Innkeeper Chronicles series get yourself to their Innkeeper website poste-haste. Their third instalment 'rocks'. Dina the innkeeper is soon to surpass my previous favourite Kate Daniels. I am loving every chapter and I can hardly wait for each new chapter to be released. Luckily with this series the chapters are released fairly regularly. A whole week however, does seem like a long time. I can hardly wait until the full story is released.

Well folks, that is it for me this week. Sorry it is so short but I hope to have more for you next week. Until then have a great week and Happy Reading.

Dragon Blood 7
December 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 381 pages

It’s been a week since the dragon Morishtomaric fell, and Sardelle is not convinced that Ridge is truly gone. With a companion who thinks he’s a god and a soldier who would happily kill her, she heads back to the mountains to look for signs that Ridge survived. What they uncover threatens to destroy their country and all they care about.

Meanwhile, the Cofah emperor is furious with Iskandia over the loss of its airships and still has a bounty on Tolemek’s head. King Angulus sends Tolemek, Cas, and Kaika on a daring mission that could solve both problems… or leave them all dead.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - In the Shadow of the Gods by Rachel Dunne

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.

Rachel Dunne

In the Shadow of the Gods
A Bound Gods Novel 1
Harper Voyager, June 21, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook 400 pages

A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals led by a violent, secretive man must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world.

Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the Twins grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked until now.

Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—to set off a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it.

When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law.

These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.

2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - May Winner

The winner of the May 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Woodwalker by Emily B. Martin from Harper Voyager Impulse with 46% of all votes. The cover illustration is by the author, Emily B. Martin. You may read about "The Evolution of a Cover" at Emily's blog here.

Harper Voyager Impulse, May 17, 2016
     eBook, 336 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, June 14 , 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

“What on earth would I gain from that?” I asked him. “Risk my own neck by violating my banishment just to leave you? The sentence placed on me if I return is execution. If I’m entering the mountains again, I’d damn well better get something out of it.”

Exiled from the Silverwood and the people she loves, Mae has few illusions about ever returning to her home. But when she comes across three out-of-place strangers in her wanderings, she finds herself contemplating the unthinkable: risking death to help a deposed queen regain her throne.

And if anyone can help Mona Alastaire of Lumen Lake, it is a former Woodwalker—a ranger whose very being is intimately tied to the woods they are sworn to protect. Mae was once one of the best, and despite the potential of every tree limb to become the gibbet she’s hung from, she not only feels a duty to aide Mona and her brothers, but also to walk beneath her beloved trees once more.

A grand quest in the tradition of great epic fantasies, filled with adventure and the sharp wit—and tongue—of a unique hero, Woodwalker is the perfect novel to start your own journey into the realm of magical fiction.

The Results

The May 2016 Debut Covers

Friday, May 27, 2016

Interview with Martin Seay, author of The Mirror Thief

Please welcome Martin Seay to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Mirror Thief was published on May 10th by Melville House.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Martin:  Thanks! I have gradually come to realize that my impulse to write comes mostly from the satisfaction of getting something exactly right. In most undertakings—creative and otherwise—we have to accommodate the limitations of our materials and circumstances, but since writing gives us all of language to work with, as well as the freedom to decide for ourselves what “exactly right” looks like, it’s an area where this kind of exactitude seems, or feels, possible.

So that’s probably why. As to when, I’ve written stuff for as long (or longer) than I can remember. I wrote a few things that would probably qualify as functional short stories when I was in high school and college, and I started getting serious about it—taking classes, reading clinically and rigorously, writing stuff meant to be read by people I don’t personally know—in about 2000. My first published story came out in Gargoyle in 2003.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Martin:  A plotter, but I’m not fundamentalist about it. I once heard the novelist Kathryn Davis say something smart about doing research that I will now attempt to paraphrase and probably get wrong: She said that she does research whenever she gets stuck, but then stops doing research as soon as she’s not stuck anymore. (The general idea is that it’s way easier to just keep researching than it is to get back to writing, and that you’ll probably make the best and most crucial discoveries about your story by writing it, not by reading.) I think a similar principle probably applies to outlining plot: I want to know where I’m going, but I also want the story to feel like a trip, not like a map.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Martin:  Finding time! My process tends to be very revision-intensive—I’ll go over and over a particular chapter to polish it before I move on to the next one—and that means my progress is often painfully slow. While I was writing The Mirror Thief I kept a quote from Moby-Dick taped to my monitor: “God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!”

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

MartinAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy was the first novel by a living writer I read that made me aware of what novels are still able to do, in terms of their capacity to deal with big metaphysical questions while still telling a fun story. I read Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye around the same time, and it taught me a lot about how to write characters with complex pasts and distinctive points of view. The aforementioned Moby-Dick dramatically elevated my standards for what qualifies as fearless and ambitious. A couple of nonfiction selections: Lipstick Traces—Greil Marcus’s book about the Sex Pistols and the hidden radical tradition that includes them—opened a bunch of doors for me. The art critic Rosalind E. Krauss’s book The Optical Unconscious helped me think in new ways about the act of seeing, which is not an easy thing to do.

In the portion of my life where I interact with people face-to-face, not through books, I have been influenced by a number of teachers and friends who are also writers. I should make special mention of the novelist Jane Alison, my thesis advisor in grad school, who masterfully articulated the value of fiction as a way of modeling sympathetic understanding of people who are unlike us, and who also taught me a ton about what it means to be an honest and responsible storyteller. (I also can’t overstate the value of the example of her own writing, which is uniformly excellent and which I highly recommend.)

This is going to be the part of the interview where people go “aww,” but I am honestly most inspired by my spouse, the writer Kathleen Rooney, who during the time I have been working on The Mirror Thief has 1) changed the lives of dozens of college students, 2) started a successful publishing venture (Rose Metal Press) and a successful typewriter-poetry collective (Poems While You Wait), and 3) written eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, fiction, memoir, and criticism, each of which is brilliant and quite unlike its siblings. (She has also recently coedited the first English-language edition of the selected writings of the Belgian painter and philosopher René Magritte, coming out later this year, and written her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in January of 2017.) She’s a great writer and a great literary citizen, in addition to being a real treat to be married to.

TQDescribe The Mirror Thief in 140 characters or less.

Martin:  Las Vegas 2003, Los Angeles 1958, Venice 1592. Soldiers, gamblers, thieves, poets, alchemists, spies. LET US NOW CONSIDER THE MIRROR.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Mirror Thief? Why did you set the core of the novel in Venice, Italy?

Martin:  Venice came first, actually. I had visited it a few years prior to starting the novel and thought it was cool. While I was there, it felt like something I would eventually try to write about.

It’s hard to say why, exactly. One of the things that most struck me about it is the degree to which it’s a purely constructed environment: the vast majority of its structures aren’t built on islands, but on wood pilings pounded into shallow areas of the lagoon. The city is literally built on the water, and took its shape based less on geography than on the stubborn will of its residents.

This creation from nothing seemed to make it analogous (to an even greater extent than other cities are) to a work of art, and especially to a work of literature, which is made from nothing but language, and which is also shaped collaboratively by its writer and those who choose to inhabit it.

The Russian critic Viktor Shklovsky—who I think was pretty sharp—wrote that art functions by “making objects ‘unfamiliar,’ making forms difficult, increasing the difficulty and length of perception, because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.” Venice works a similar trick on us due to the strangeness of its form: where many old European cities are walled fortresses, it’s infinitely permeable; where they’re straight-lined and right-angled, it’s curved. It seems to have been constructed according to a highly idiosyncratic but internally consistent logic that can’t help but suggest a dream. It practically writes about itself.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Mirror Thief?

MartinExtensive research! The novel is set in Las Vegas in 2003, in Los Angeles in 1958, and in the city-state of Venice in 1592; although I had been to all three cities prior to starting the book, I wasn’t able to visit them while I was writing it. Consequently I learned almost everything I needed to know from books, films, paintings, and (of course) the internet. Topics of inquiry included the United States Marine Corps, blackjack card-counting, casino administration and security, the hermetic–cabalist intellectual tradition in early-modern Europe, the Beat movement in Southern California, English-language poetry pre- and post-Pound, mid-twentieth-century esoteric religious practices, pinball machines, Mutoscope films, alchemy, glassmaking, mirrormaking, printing, and a whole bunch of cultural, political, military, scientific, and art history.

That said, I didn’t become an expert on anything while writing the book. Researching a novel is very different from academic research; I didn’t need to achieve any kind of mastery. (And per Kathryn Davis’s point quoted above, that level of rigor would probably have killed the book: I never would have finished it.) What I’m looking for when I research are perfect little tip-of-the-iceberg details that will engage readers’ imaginations and enlist them to help fill in information that isn’t actually on the page. (The other side of that coin is all the reading that I did just to avoid messing stuff up: putting in a detail that rings false or is just plain wrong, that undercuts my authority and knocks readers out of the story.)

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Martin:  Of the three main characters, the easiest to write was probably Stanley Glass, the teenage con-man and petty criminal whom the 1958 Los Angeles sections focus on. This is simply because Stanley is even less given to introspection than the other two main characters are. All I had to do, pretty much, was keep him moving with his eyes open.

The hardest to write was Vettor Crivano, the physician, alchemist, and spy who’s the main character of the Venice 1592 sections. This is partly because he’s the most complex of the three—he has the broadest education, the most elaborate backstory, the most secrets—but mostly because it was very hard to write the consciousness of someone who’s supposed to have lived four centuries ago: I needed these sections to be strange enough to feel authentic, but not so strange as to be incomprehensible.

(Some people will try to tell you that the essential nature of human beings hasn’t really changed since the Stone Age; I can see no evidence that that’s the case. On the contrary, it seems to me that human nature has fundamentally changed just since the iPhone went on the market.)

TQTell us something about The Mirror Thief that is not found in the book description.

Martin:  Although The Mirror Thief is largely set in—and, to my way of thinking, is entirely about—Venice, the word “Venice” never appears in the book.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Mirror Thief?

Martin:  I included a lot of social issues—along with a lot of politics; I’m not sure where to draw the line between the two—as part of the book’s background noise, and I hope that readers will recognize that content as very important to me, even when the main characters aren’t paying much attention to it (which they’re generally not). It seems to me that such material is most effective in fiction when it’s presented deliberately but obliquely—worked into descriptions and dialogue in passing, for example—and not laid out as a thesis. People are prepared to disagree with explicit arguments, but they can be genuinely jolted when they encounter an assumption about a world that conflicts with their own; that’s how I’ve tried to proceed. (To be more specific in terms of social issues, I don’t think the book makes a big deal out of the fact that it contains characters who are African-American, Jewish, Muslim, gay, etc., who are living with disability and/or posttraumatic stress, and who are struggling against conventional assumptions about gender roles . . . but none of this stuff is in the book by accident, either.)

I’m not sure I believe that there is any such a thing as a book that doesn’t include social or political issues. I think books that purport not to do so are probably just conservative. At best.

TQWhich question about The Mirror Thief do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: Why don’t you use quotation marks?

A: Great question! Glad you asked! Strictly speaking, I do use quotation marks; I just don’t use them to tag speech. (They show up around song titles, for instance.) The short answer was that I wanted the narration to be continuous: to feel as if it includes a bunch of voices, but also to suggest that all the voices you hear might really be one voice—the way that, say, a mirror looks like it contains a bunch of discrete objects when in fact it’s just a single reflective surface—which in turn might prompt the reader to think about who (or what) that one voice might belong to. Anyway, it was a choice. Some authors just don’t use quotation marks on principle, but I’m not one of those authors.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Mirror Thief.

Martin:  My favorite sentence in the book (from Page 19) is:

“Stretch limousines idle at curbside, sly and circumspect, while the sidewalk procession slides backlit across their mute black windshields.”

Thanks for indulging me!

TQWhat's next?

Martin:  Honestly, I’m still a little up in the air on that myself. I have maybe three or four ideas that could turn into novels, but I’ll need to spend some time with them before I’ll know what’s likely to take off. Until then, I have a few criticism projects that I plan to play with, and I’m also looking forward to working through a stack of books I picked up during my recent book tour that refreshingly have nothing to do with anything I’m working on.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Martin:  Thanks for including me in the Debut Author Challenge!

The Mirror Thief
Melville House, May 10, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 592 pages

A globetrotting, time-bending, wildly entertaining literary tour de force in the tradition of Cloud Atlas.

The Mirror Thief is a dazzling combination of a genre-hopping adventure, a fast-paced mystery, and literary verve. Set in three cities in three eras, The Mirror Thief calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its serendipitous mix of entertainment and literary mastery.

The core story is set in Venice in the sixteenth century, when the famed makers of Venetian glass were perfecting one of the old world’s most wondrous inventions: the mirror. An object of glittering yet fearful fascination — was it reflecting simple reality, or something more spiritually revealing? — the Venetian mirrors were state of the art technology, and subject to industrial espionage by desirous sultans and royals world-wide. But for any of the development team to leave the island was a crime punishable by death. One man, however — a world-weary war hero with nothing to lose — has a scheme he thinks will allow him to outwit the city’s terrifying enforcers of the edict, the ominous Council of Ten …

Meanwhile, in two other iterations of Venice — Venice Beach, California, circa 1958, and the Venice casino in Las Vegas, circa today — two other schemers launch similarly dangerous plans to get away with a secret …
All three stories will weave together into a spell-binding tour-de-force that is impossible to put down — an old-fashioned, stay-up-all-night novel that, in the end, returns the reader to a stunning conclusion in the original Venice … and the bedazzled sense of having read a truly original and thrilling work of literary art.

About Martin

MARTIN SEAY is the executive secretary of the Village of Wheeling, Illinois. This is his first novel.

Website  ~  Twitter @MartinSeay

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Guest Blog by Kirk Dougal - Trilogy or Three-book Series: Aren't they both just three books?

Please welcome Kirk Dougal to The Qwillery. Jacked will be published on May 31st by Per Aspera (Ragnarok Publications).

Trilogy or Three-book Series: Aren't they both just three books?

By Kirk Dougal

        Recently I was finalizing plans for an appearance at a library to talk about my young adult/thriller novel, “Jacked” (Ragnarok Publications/June 2016), during their YA Week later this summer. As the lady in charge of scheduling the library's events and I were winding down our conversation, she asked if any additional books were planned for the Jacked universe. I answered that the novel was the first of a three-book series.
        “Oh,” she said. “A trilogy.”
        “No, a three-book series.”
        After a few seconds of silence, she whispered into the telephone, “Is there a difference?”
        There is, of course, but I think the logical next step to her question was more important: Does the difference matter?
        What separates a trilogy from a three-book series—or any -logy from a series—is fairly easy to define but can quickly descend into murky waters when an attempt is made to apply it. For the purpose of this discussion, I am going to use these definitions:
        -logy – A line of books where the driving story arc takes place over the course of the entire set, making it the primary reason for the reader to move from book to book. Although every individual book may have its own smaller conflict, these are typically decided by the end of each. At times the author may leave the long arc on a cliffhanger at the conclusion of a book.
        Series – A line of books where the primary story arc is self-contained within the individual editions. Although a series may have a long-term issue for the protagonist to solve, it is a secondary thought to the individual plot lines. In fact, the overriding issue may not even be concluded by the final book.
        The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman is a good example of the -logy definition. Although there are individual tasks for Damien Vryce and the Hunter to complete in each book, both “Black Sun Rising” and “When True Night Falls” end with the action hanging in the balance. It is Vryce's mission to balance the Fae's energy with mankind and the Hunter's search for redemption for murdering his family for power that drive the story forward. J.K. Rowling's heptology of Harry Potter acts in the same manner. Although Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the Hogwarts gang need to solve problems in each individual book, it is the re-emergence of Lord Valdemort and their need to defeat him that is the overriding story arc for all seven books.
        By comparison, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files falls in line easily with the definition of a series. Although Harry Dresden has recurring issues with his family and the pain of his past, each book is its own story with a beginning, middle, and conclusion.
        But some books fall into gray areas when they are being classified. Isaac Asimov's “Foundation,” “Foundation and Empire,” and “Second Foundation” were often labeled a trilogy but the three books were actually comprised of several short stories and novelettes. Asimov confused the issue even more when he added additional works to the Foundation line later in his life.
        J.R.R. Tolkien would have been surprised to hear anyone label “The Lord of the Rings” a trilogy. He intended the work to be one book but a variety of factors, including an abnormally long length for its time and the cost of paper during a shortage, led his publisher to print the one book as three—meaning that in reality LOTR was neither a trilogy or a series.
        So in the end, does any of this mean anything to readers and, consequently, authors?
        I think it does which was why I so carefully labeled Jacked as a series. Calling a line of books a series makes certain promises to the reader and authors need to deliver or they will wonder why subsequent books do not perform as well as they would like. Books in a series must deliver a certain individual finality, a self-contained story with a clear end. When a reader returns for the next book, it is most likely because of the characters or world, not any overarching theme or arc.
        But a trilogy promises something else. An early book must come through with action in the story arc but only a step forward or back, not the full conclusion. The reader needs to reach the end of the book and then stare at the wall, fretting over their favorite character, wondering how they will ever reach their final goal.
        It is that anxiousness, the driving need to know that also brings in the final factor for a -logy: time. I believe the urgency a reader feels translates today into a shorter period of time they are willing to wait before the next book is released. We see that when fans raise an outcry, demanding the author deliver the next book... now! George R.R. Martin has certainly felt that heat in recent years with his “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels. Originally intended to be a trilogy with “The Winds of Winter” planned on being the third and concluding chapter (according to reports), the book is now the sixth with “A Dream of Spring” intended to be the last in what is now a heptology. Martin's intricately weaved story and use of perilous circumstances with cliffhangers has done nothing but fuel his fans' passions even higher. The expectations have been a burden for Martin to endure but then, would ASOIF be the same if it had been structured as a series? Perhaps not.
        And that difference certainly means a lot to his readers.

Per Aspera, May 31, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 310 pages

In the near future, fifteen-year-old "Tar" Hutchins is a fixer.

He can repair technology just by touching it. That's a dangerous thing to be in a world after The Crash, an event that left millions dead or little more than empty, mindless shells. In the aftermath, a new regime hunts down technology and destroys machines with ruthless zeal, even executing fixers like Tar.

And Tar has caught their attention

Now, he's running for his life, desperately searching for other fixers, avoiding the engineers responsible for The Crash, and hoping to save those whose minds have been lost. In his flight, Tar must grow up and come to realize his ability to manipulate tech is more than just "some neat trick.

Can a teenager, even a gifted one like Tar, hope to survive — much less be victorious — when an entire government is deadset against him?

About Kirk

Kirk Dougal has had works in multiple anthologies and released his debut novel, Dreams of Ivory and Gold in May of 2014 through Angelic Knight Press with a 2nd edition in February 2015. His YA science fiction thriller, Jacked, leads the launch of Ragnarok Publications' Per Aspera SF imprint in 2016. He is also waiting on the publication of his SF/LitRPG novel, Reset, while completing the sequel to Dreams, Valleys of the Earth.

Kirk is currently working in a corporate position with a group of newspapers after serving as a group publisher and editor-in-chief. He lives in Ohio with his wife and four children. Discover more at his website or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter.

Website  ~   Facebook  ~   Twitter @kdougal