Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

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I asked the fantastically amazing David B. Coe to guest blog for me today to promote his new series, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, and he came up with something just a little bit different…  In the past he’s done some great blogs for me as D.B. Jackson (author of the “tricorn punk” Thieftaker series).  Some of those include: Where Does the Author and and the Character Begin and History and POV.  He’s also a regular blogger for Magical Words, where I think he does some of the most helpful and informative posts for writers.

Today, though, he managed to wrangle a particularly reticent character into an interview.  I have to say that I think this is the first time anyone’s ever gotten a runemyste to speak publicly and it may very well be the last, so enjoy!  What’s a runemyste, you ask?  Well, I think I’ll let Namid speak for himself.

Interview with Namid’skemu

Welcome! Today we are most fortunate to have with us Namid’skemu, one of only thirty-nine runemystes in the entire world. Namid’skemu, who in life was a shaman in the K’ya’na-Kwe clan of the A’shiwi, or Zuni nation, gave his life centuries ago so that he could be transformed into a runemyste, a protector of magic in our world, and a teacher of those who would learn spellcraft. He is a somewhat reticent individual, and we are truly honored that he has consented to join us today.

Hello, Namid’skemu. Welcome.

N: Greetings.

Do you mind if I call you Namid?

N: Some call me this. You may as well.

Thank you. Can you tell us a bit about what it means to be a runemyste?

N: You have spoken of this already. I am a guardian of magic in your world, and I would train those who carry runeclave blood in their veins.

Of course, but I’m sure our readers would like some more details. What exactly does that mean?

N: Which of the words I used did you not understand?

It’s not that I . . . Never mind. From whom do you guard the magic?

N: There are some among the weremystes of the world who have turned to dark magic, who cast blood spells or seek to escape the effects of the moontimes by using forbidden magic. My fellow runemystes and I watch for signs of this dark magic, and we train weremystes of your world so that they might prevent such abuses.

The moontimes?

N: What runecrafters would call phasings. Each month, on the night of the full moon and the nights before and after, weremystes lose control of their minds, even as their magic is enhanced. It is the natural way of things, the price of the magic weremystes wield. But some seek to evade this law of runecrafting, and often their attempts to do so involve blood rituals, even murders. We cannot sanction this, but we also cannot interfere in your world. And so those we train act in our stead.

I see. And among those you train — you in particular, I mean — is one Justis Fearsson, a former police detective turned private eye.

N: What of him?

What can you tell us about him?

N: He is a runecrafter of limited ability but uncommon potential. He is also a most difficult man. He has an odd sense of humor which he displays at the most inopportune times. He is reckless and does not show enough discipline in his training.

So you don’t like him.

N: I did not say that. I am not sure what right you have to inquire about our personal interactions, but as it happens I consider Ohanko a good friend.

Ohanko?

N: It means “reckless one.”

Has he–

N: If you wish to ask questions about Justis Fearsson, perhaps you should speak with him.

Very well. Let’s move on. Your appearance is most unusual. You appear to be made entirely of water, and yet you have substance and form. How is this possible?

N: I am of the K’ya’na-Kwe clan, the water people. My line is now extinct, but we were a proud, powerful, spiritual people. Centuries ago, when as a living man I was sacrificed by the runeclave, the magic that transformed me into a runemyste allowed me to take my true spiritual form. And so I am as I appear before you: a shaman and the living embodiment of the water people.

So you’re sort of a ghost.

N: I am not a ghost! Why is it that humans of your world are so limited that they cannot conceive of a spirit being as anything other than a ghost?

Forgive me. I didn’t–

N: Justis Fearsson calls me a ghost as well, though he does this to annoy me. He knows better. But you . . . Ask your next question.

Are you immortal?

N: I am not. My kind can be killed, though it is most unusual — in all the hundreds of years since the runemystes were created, not one of us has perished. But we exist to fight those with dark magic, and so our vigilance cannot slacken.

Are all of your kind like you?

N: If you mean do they appear as I do, the answer is of course they do not. Each man and woman who was sacrificed by the runeclave took a form natural to his or her heritage — some are stone or wood, others are comprised of wind, of music, of soil, of light itself. They were drawn from all over the known world, and they are as diverse as the people who now inhabit the earth.

And are they as committed as you are to the protection of magic?

N: Why do you ask this? What have you heard?

I’ve heard nothing. I’m curious is all.

N: I probably should not speak of this, but the truth is, some are not as devoted in their opposition to dark magic. Some — one runemyste in particular — has chafed at the limitations placed upon our kind by the runeclave all those many years ago. He wishes to do more, to extend his influence beyond what is thought proper by the rest. He bears watching, this runemyste, for he may well be a threat to all that we hold dear.

Who is he? What’s his name?

N: [Shaking his head] I have already said more than I should. I know nothing for certain. I have heard rumors, whispers riding the wind. I will say no more on the matter. Indeed, I have tarried here too long. I must return to my kind. Farewell.

Thank you, Namid’skemu. This was a most interesting conversation, cryptic as it was. Good day to you.

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in August 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (coming in July 2015). He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Where he can be found: his blog, D.B. Jackson website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon.

Iron Axe finalSteven Piziks As promised, I’m really pleased to introduce Steven Harper, author of IRON AXE, the first book in a wonderful Norse-inspired series about an outcast, half-troll boy given an earth-shattering (or saving) mission by Death herself.  Publishers Weekly says of it, “Harper begins the Books of Blood and Iron series with an exciting and somewhat unusual quest… His reinterpretations of trolls, giants, and fae folk give this series opener a fresh feeling, while his nods to Norse mythology and folklore root it strongly in fantasy tradition. Readers will be eager to see what’s in store.”  If you want to see what’s in store, comment below for a chance to win the audio edition (via Audible) of IRON AXE!

For those who don’t know, I’ve represented Steven for a long time now…almost exactly a week longer than I’ve been married to my husband.  I started reading his work shortly before taking time off for the last minute wedding prep and literally couldn’t put it down.  I was haggling with the caterer and his publisher all at the same time.  (Can you say insanity?  Sure you can!)  As Steven Harper, he’s written the steampunk Clockwork Empire books for Ace (THE DOOMSDAY VAULT, THE IMPOSSIBLE CUBE, THE DRAGON MEN and THE HAVOC MACHINE), as well as The Silent Empire series and other books like WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL (Writers Digest Books).  As Steven Piziks, he’s written original sf thrillers IN THE COMPANY OF MIND and THE CORPORATE MENTALITY as well as various tie-ins.  And today, he’s written for you about his…

Emergency Backup Fantasy World

When I was sixteen, I doodled a map of a city with a strangely-shaped harbor.  Eventually, I wondered what the country around the city looked like, so I doodled that, too.  Then, just for fun, I drew the countries around it, and eventually the continent.  By now I had so much time invested in it that I had to keep going.  I got some good drawing paper and colored pencils and put in the terrain and geography.  I worked out weather patterns.

Then I worked out the people.  Since I liked fantasy, the place became a fantasy world.  This country was ruled by elves.  This one by humans, but it was fragmented like Europe in the 1700s.  This country was for dwarves, and over here, merfolk.  I created gods and goddesses as well, nine of them in all.  The notes grew and grew, and I put them into a big blue binder.  Since I called the world Terra, the binder became the Terra File.

Over the years, I used the Terra File on and off.  It was a role-playing game for a long time.  I wrote a couple of short stories set on Terra, but nothing major.  Eventually, I put the Terra File aside and forgot about it.

Then I talked to my editor, Anne.  We were at World Fantasy Con, and she wanted to know what my next writing project would be.  I pitched several ideas, but none grabbed her.  Finally, in desperation, I remembered a short story I’d written years ago about an outcast teenaged boy who was half human, half troll.  I’d always wanted to write a novel about Trollboy, so I pitched that.  The setting was historical Norway, and I’d done a fair amount of research into Viking culture.

“Hmmm,” Anne said.  “I like the character and story, but Vikings are a hard sell.”

Think fast, Steven.  Think!  And I remembered the Terra file.

“Well,” I replied slowly, “I do have an emergency backup fantasy world.”

Anne blinked.  “You have an emergency backup fantasy world?”

“Doesn’t every author?” I said, and described Terra.  “What if I put Trollboy there?”

“I like it!” she said.  “Send me a synopsis, and we’ll talk.”

Back home, I dug out the Terra file and went to work.  A couple weeks later, I had my synopsis and was working on IRON AXE, the first novel in the Books of Blood and Iron.  Trollboy lives!

It pays to keep an emergency back up.

_____________

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a name that no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he often writes under the pen name Steven Harper. He lives in Michigan with his family.   When not at the keyboard, he plays the folk harp, fiddles with video games, and pretends he doesn’t talk to the household cats. In the past, he’s held jobs as a reporter, theater producer, secretary, and substitute teacher. He maintains that the most interesting thing about him is that he writes books.

nexus First, a HUGE shout out to Ramez Naam for winning the Endeavor Award for his novel NEXUS along with Ken Scholes for his novel REQUIEM.  For those playing along at home, Mez has also won the Prometheus Award (tying with Cory Doctorow for HOMELAND) and been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clark and Kitschies Golden Tentacle Awards.  Mez has been shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer as well.  So proud!

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This just in, more huge congratulations to my Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award nominees!

DUST AND LIGHT by Carol Berg (Roc Books) for Fantasy

TRACE OF MAGIC by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Bell Bridge Books) for Best Indie Press/Self-Published Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

BROKEN SOUL by Faith Hunter (Roc Books) for Best Urban Fantasy

PRINCE OF SHADOWS by Rachel Caine (NAL) for Book of the Year!

ac unity Also, out today is a really fun book from Ubisoft, written by Christie Golden, illustrated by Andy Belanger and Karl Kerschl: Assasin’s Creed Unity: Abstergo Entertainment: Employee Handbook.  From the copy:

Agent:
At Abstergo Entertainment, history is an experience. Our work not only enriches lives, it brings out truths that time has forgotten. But as many of our analysts have learned, testing these experiences is not easy. These files represent the work of the first analyst to take on the case of Subject 44412—Arno Dorian. Living through the bloodiest days of the French Revolution, Dorian’s life certainly took many dark turns, but those memories and choices are his own.

Up until now, Dorian has proven to be one of the biggest challenges for our research team. We believe that there is valuable information to be gleaned from this subject, and our hope is that you will succeed where others have failed. Familiarize yourself with your predecessor’s file as you make your way through this case. Steel yourself, and stay focused. Don’t let us down.

Your work so far has not gone unnoticed. Here is your chance to prove yourself.

touch of evil Something else to be thankful for? TOUCH OF EVIL, the first novel in C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp’s stunning, USA Today bestselling Thrall series is now out in paperback!  From the copy:

The alien vampires known as the Thrall classify most humans as Prey, save for a few who survive the bite of the parasite. People like Kate Reilly, whose latent psychic powers were activated by the vampire’s venom when she was attacked a few years ago. Kate is Not Prey, and safe.

Or is she? The Thrall Queen intends to make Kate her successor, despite Kate’s hatred of the vampires.

All is not bleak in Kate’s world. Her downstairs neighbor, Tom, is a hunky firefighter who arouses her senses…including the ones that tell her he’s not human. Tom’s a werewolf—and his pack knows how to protect Kate from the Thrall Queen. The problem? The last time Kate trusted a man she loved, he betrayed her to the Thrall and nearly got her killed.

Action, adventure, romance, and thrills—everything readers want from the USA Today bestselling authors who are also Cat Adams, creator of the Blood Singer series—are all on display in Touch of Evil.

Want more?  THE EXILE by C.T. Adams, first in an all new Fae series, is scheduled for release March 10th of next year and already available for pre-order.  Check out this stunning cover:
THE EXILE And this great quote from Publishers Weekly: “Adams does an admirable job of breathing life into Faerie and its creatures before ending on a game-changing cliffhanger.”
Okay, all, I’ll sign off for now.  I hope to have a few pics to post (I didn’t take many this year; too busy running around) and a write up of the World Fantasy Convention on the morrow.  Spoiler alert…it was awesome.

Since I’m going to be on a plane for Australia this coming Thursday – Sydney for the 2014 Romance Writers of Australia Conference! – I’m posting about my exciting releases over the next couple of weeks today.  I do hope to have at least some access to social media while I’m gone (otherwise, withdrawal symptoms will set in), I want to be absolutely sure to spread the word on these fabulous new releases.

Coming August 5th:

DustAndLight DUST AND LIGHT by Carol Berg

National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption….

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

(*Check out the Author’s blog for contests and appearances!)

Blood_Games BLOOD GAMES by Chloe Neill (#10 in the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series)

“IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A VAMPIRIC ROLE MODEL, YOU COULDN’T DO ANY BETTER THAN MERIT….CHICAGO IS LUCKY TO HAVE HER.”—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Charlaine Harris

While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet….

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

(*Chloe Neill is running a big giveaway right now, including a grand prize of a Kindle Paperwhite, audiobooks and all kinds of Cadogan House swag.  Check it out!)

Downfall_Revise DOWNFALL by Rob Thurman (#9 in the New York Times bestselling Cal Leandros series)

I let it go—all of it. Everything I’d been saving up all my life, building and growing inside me, too much to hold in one half-human body. It pushed and fought to be free with a force that turned me into a bomb with a timer vibrating on zero. I was free.

But so was everything I’d fought so hard not to be….

Brothers Cal and Niko Leandros know trouble when they see it—and then proceed to wipe the floor with it. But now it seems their whole world is falling to pieces. Cal’s nightmarish monster side is growing ever stronger, changing Cal physically as well as mentally. Which is exactly what Grimm—Cal’s savage doppelgänger—wants. And when a covert supernatural organization decides that it’s time to put Cal down before he threatens pretty much everything else in existence, the brothers find themselves in a fight they actually might lose. But the dark temptations Cal has denied all his life may prove to be exactly what can save them.

Even if he must fall forever…

(*The author is running a fabulous contest until August 9th for signed copies and prints of some special character pics.)

Coming August 12th:

black ice BLACK ICE by Susan Krinard (#2 in the Midgard Series, which started with MIST and the novella FREEZE WARNING)

New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard continues the thrilling urban fantasy series that began with Mist in Black Ice.

Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie known as Mist one of the only survivors.

Or so she thought.

The trickster god Loki has reappeared in San Francisco, and he has big plans for modern-day Earth. With few allies and fewer resources—but the eyes of the gods and goddesses of an old world upon her—it’s up to Mist to stop him before history repeats itself.

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To celebrate yesterday’s release of the third novel in D.B. Jackson‘s wonderful Thieftaker series from Tor Books, I’ve asked him to come talk about the division between character and writer.  A PLUNDER OF SOULS, the latest novel, is also my favorite in the series so far…and just wait until you get to book #4, DEAD MAN’S REACH!  The series just keeps getting better and better.  But more about that later.  For now, I present to you:

DBJacksonPubPhoto “Where Does the Author End and the Character Begin?” By D.B. Jackson

 

How many times have you read a story or book and assumed that the protagonist was, on some level, speaking for the author, or that the experiences of the author’s point of view character were in some way autobiographical? It’s hard not to make such assumptions. Perversely, the better the writing, the more convincing the character development, the more this becomes a problem. The narrating character becomes so real and so convincing that it’s hard to imagine how he or she could be entirely imagined. I’ve been writing for the better part of two decades, and still sometimes, when reading a great book, I forget that the author and the hero do not necessarily have a lot in common.

Ethan Kaille, the thieftaking, conjuring hero of my Thieftaker Chronicles (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and, most recently, A Plunder of Souls), a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, is very much a man of the eighteenth century. He has lived a hard life, he’s a loner, and he makes his living in the violent streets of a lawless city. Aside from his fine physique and devastating good looks, he and I have very little in common.

[Tapping foot and glaring] As soon as Lucienne stops laughing I’ll continue . . .

Kidding aside, Ethan and I are very different people, not only because we live in different times, not only because he has access to magic and I don’t, but because I have worked hard to make him his own man, with a life history and personality that have nothing to do with me. He is braver than I am, and more willing to rely on his physical strength in moments of crisis. He is self-reliant to the point of being standoffish, a product, no doubt, of having survived years as a prisoner, laboring under brutal conditions on a sugar plantation in Barbados. Time and again, he has proved himself far stronger than I ever could have been.

Do we have some attributes in common? Sure. We’re both rash and quick-tempered at times. We’re both utterly devoted to the people we love. And we both pride ourselves on our integrity.

The fact is, though, being similar to or different from our characters comes down to much more than just a catalog of qualities. We are all collections of attributes, positive and negative, and invariably we are going to share some of those qualities with our protagonists, and be their polar opposites with respect to others. What still surprises me about characters in general — and what has surprised me about Ethan from the beginning of the series — is the choices he makes.

Let’s start with the fact that Ethan is a Loyalist, also known as a Tory: put another way, he is a supporter of the Crown and Parliament in their dispute with the American colonists over taxation and representation. Without in any way wanting to start a political argument, I know myself and my leftward political leanings well enough to understand that there is no way I would have been on that side of the argument. But despite my own Whig leanings, Ethan made it clear to me from the outset that, because of his service in the British Navy as a younger man, and in part as well because of his conservative temperament, he has no tolerance for rabble-rousers like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. This changes somewhat after the British occupation of Boston begins in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry, but still, his political tendencies are nothing like mine.

And then there is this moment, also from Thieves’ Quarry, when Ethan truly shocked me. Late in the story, he explains to someone all that has been done with “magick” over the course of events described in the novel. The man to whom he is speaking is horrified and nearly orders Ethan from his house. “If this power you wield can give and take life with such ease,” the man asks, “how can such a thing not be evil?”

“I carry a knife on my belt,” Ethan answers. “I can take a life with it. Does that make the knife evil? Or does the question of good or evil fall to the man holding the blade?”

The argument should sound familiar. It is basically the same as “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

As I said before, I am not trying to start a political discussion about gun rights or, for that matter, any other issue. But I’m a political progressive, and it would never occur to me to make an argument like this in favor of gun ownership. And to be clear, I didn’t make the argument. Those were my character’s words, not mine; I didn’t know he would speak them until I typed the line. I realized immediately, though, that it was absolutely the right thing for him to say.

For those who don’t understand how an author can create a character without knowing him or her fully and without making intentional choices about that person’s politics, or tastes, or personality, I can only say that it happens. Yes, I have an idea of what my characters will be like. I try to give them certain traits, I fill in their backstory, I guide them through my narratives. But still, my characters surprise me all the time, doing and saying things that I neither planned nor expected. To be honest, it’s one of the greatest rewards of writing. When my characters surprise me in some way, be it with an unexpected comment or some plot-changing action, it tells me that the character has taken on a life of his or her own, and has become as close to sentient as a fictional being can be. It’s kind of cool, actually.

Ethan and I are not the same person. We have some common traits. I like him, admire him, respect him. At times I find him exasperating. I would like to think that if he could know me, he’d like and respect me, too. But I’m not at all sure he would. I do know that if I were to try to control him more forcefully — if I were to try to make him more like me in his actions, thoughts, and emotional responses — he would lose something vital and would be less convincing and compelling as a narrator for the Thieftaker books. So, I’m glad to give him his independence, and I expect he’s glad to have it. I’m sure, though, that he’d rather you didn’t share that bit of insight with Samuel Adams.

 

*****

A Sampling of Praise for the Series:

A PLUNDER OF SOULS

“This engaging third entry in Jackson’s Thieftaker series (following 2013’s Thieves’ Quarry) ably mashes up the historical with the fantastic… Jackson is an increasingly reliable tour guide to America’s colonial past.” —Publishers Weekly

“A Plunder of Souls is a terrific addition to the Thieftaker Chronicles. D.B. Jackson shows once again that he knows how to pull all the right strings to create one creative story. As I have said if you thought that Thieves Quarry was great wait till you get your hands on A Plunder of Souls, it’s even better, D.B. Jackson has really outdone himself.” —The Book Plank

THIEVES’ QUARRY

“With solidly developed characters, the vivid depiction of 18th-century Boston, and a seamless blending of realism and fantasy, this sequel to Thieftaker should interest fans of historical fantasy, alternate history and period mysteries.” —Library Journal

“I literally read this book in one sitting. Its fast pace, shocking crime, vivid historical setting, and the twists and turns of intrigue and suspicion totally absorbed me.” —Kate Elliott, author of King’s Dragon

“D.B. Jackson’s writing is amazing and Thieves’ Quarry is even better than the first book. Absolutely enthralling and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful read!” —Kat Richardson, author of Greywalker

“The Thieftaker series is a tour de force. There is no way to get enough of it– and I LOVE Thieves’ Quarry. This is definitely the best new series of the decade!” —Faith Hunter, author of the Jane Yellowrock books

THIEFTAKER

Named one of the Best Fantasy Books of 2012 by SciFiChick.com

Named “Best First Book in a Series” for 2012 (one of two books so honored) by the Word Nerds.

“The author does an impressive job of weaving fantasy into historical fiction, and even introduces a few familiar names from . . . the Stamp Act from American history . . . With plenty of adventure, mystery, magic, drama, and thrills – genre fans won’t want to miss this one. Thieftaker is a fantastic series debut that I can’t wait to see continue.” —SciFiChick.com

“Thieftaker is a bit like the Dresden Files meets Johnny Tremain, combining magical crime-solving with the Revolutionary War. At first, it sounds like a strange combination, but it works and I’m already looking forward to the sequel . . . A fun read.” —The Word Nerds Book Banter

“Jackson has an enviable gift for detail, the ability to put his reader smack-dab in a location (Boston, 1765) with such intensity that you can hear the burr in voices, smell the smoke and tea in the air, and wince when the hero gets punched in the face . . . Thieftaker is a delicious murder mystery sundae, with a sprinkle of supernatural bravado and a few famous historical figures for cherries on top.” —Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

*****

Author Bio:

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Social Media:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

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A few things I’m really excited about today.  One is wishing J. Kathleen Cheney HUGE congratulations for finaling in the Locus Award for Best First novel for her wonderful fantasy THE GOLDEN CITY (to be followed July 1st by the sequel, THE SEAT OF MAGIC).  Such a worthy book in such prestigious company!

wishes legacy pback poison pback  SEDUCTION

More exciting news: those of you already familiar with Molly Cochran‘s wonderful YA novels for Paula Wiseman Books/S&S will be thrilled to know that there’s a new Katy e-novella out called WISHES (and for only $1.99)!  Those of you who aren’t yet familiar, there’s no time like the present to dip into the world, especially with the specially priced novella out and the paperbacks of the first two books soon to be released: LEGACY and POISON.  Her third Katy book, SEDUCTION, is scheduled for December 2014.

Sending for the newsletter, but also for a huge WHOO HOO!

goldencity_100dpi So beside myself with excitement to see J. Kathleen Cheney’s debut novel THE GOLDEN CITY on Library Journal’s list of Best Books of 2013: SF/Fantasy!

It’s so funny, because just the other day some writers were bemoaning on my Facebook page the way the “establishment” is so averse to new voices, how we’re all gatekeepers (read evil ogres), etcetera and so forth and yet here’s one of the industry magazines putting a new voice on par with other awesome, established authors.  Hmm, because this is my soapbox and I’ll holler if I want to, here are some other recent and amazing debuts on my list, all new within the past twelve months or forthcoming:

NEXUS by Ramez Naam – a great SF thriller released by Angry Robot Books in December 2012, followed by the sequel CRUX in August 2013

GATED by Amy Christine Parker – a young adult thriller about a girl who grows up in a cult and begins to question as the “end times” are upon them published by Random House Children’s in August 2013

THE GOLDEN CITY by J. Kathleen Cheney (mentioned above) – a fantasy/mystery set in a alternate Portugal released by Roc books in November 2013

BEYOND OUR STARS by Marie Langager – a suspenseful YA science fiction novel in which a girl’s hope for a fresh start on a new planet becomes a nightmare when she’s marked by the current inhabitants for for special testing coming in December 2013 from Bloomsbury Spark

PREDATOR by Janice Gable Bashman – young adult novel with a unique twist on the werewolf mythos coming from Month9Books in Fall 2014

THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman – wonderful fantasy novel billed by the publisher as Doctor Who with librarians! forthcoming from Tor UK in January 2015

My debut novelists have also included Lynn Flewelling, Carol Berg, Vicky Dreiling, Diana Pharaoh Francis, N.K. Jemisin, Kalayna Price, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Steven Piziks (aka Steven Harper), Tammy Kaehler….  A very impressive list, I think you’ll agree!  So, if you want to see more new voices, the best thing you can do is support them as they come along!

It’s exciting any time a book I rep gets a starred review or some kind of extra attention, but when it’s a debut, especially, I just want to shout from the rooftops, “Yay, I’ve always loved this book and think you should all rush out for a copy to find out why!”  Or two…or three copies…  Books make great gifts!  Anyway, my whoo and hoo are coming out right now for J. Kathleen Cheney’s starred review in Library Journal for THE GOLDEN CITY.  To quote, “VERDICT Cheney’s debut is a masterpiece of historical fantasy, set in early 1900s Portugal, a time and place rarely explored in English-language fiction. The fascinating mannerisms of the age and the extreme formality of two people growing fonder of each other add a charmingly fresh appeal that will cross over to romance fans as well as to period fantasy readers.”  Yay!

Also, I want to congratulate The Knight Agency’s Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award nominees, listed below!  So proud!

Contemporary Romance: SUMMER AT MUSTANGE RIDGE by Jesse Hayworth

Regency Set Historical Romance: WHAT A WICKED EARL WANTS by Vicky Dreiling

Vampire Romance: PRINCE OF SHADOWS by Tes Hilaire

Paranormal Romance: HEART OF OBSIDIAN by Nalini Singh

Paranormal Romance: BLACK AND BLUE by Gena Showalter

Futuristic Romance: HEART FORTUNE by Robin D. Owens

Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding: LAST BLOOD by Kristen Painter

Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding: BLOOD WINTER by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Harlequin Desire: BEDROOM DIPLOMACY by Michelle Celmer

Paranormal Worldbuilding: GUARDIAN DEMON by Meljean Brook *

Harlequin Desire: BEHIND PALACE DOORS by Jules Bennett *

Harlequin Nocturne: TAMING THE DEMON by Doranna Durgin

First Mystery: DEATH COMES TO THE VILLAGE by Catherine Lloyd

 

* Not a TKA title

goldencity_100dpi J. Kathleen Cheney’s debut fantasy novel THE GOLDEN CITY debuted yesterday to wonderful reviews (see below) and much fanfare.  She’s here today with a little insight into what it took to get there!

Quotes:

“Cheney’s The Golden City pulls readers in right off the bat, as the story kicks off with our heroine in a desperate situation that will leave you rooting for her almost instantly. Oriana’s “extra” abilities are thoroughly intriguing and readers will love the crackling banter and working relationship between Oriana and Duilio.” —Romantic Times

“An ambitious debut from Cheney: part fantasy, part romance, part police procedural and part love letter to Lisbon in the early 1900s.” —Kirkus Reviews

“I honestly cannot wait to read what Cheney writes next.” —Bookworm Blues

 

Kill Your Darlings (Not Starring Daniel Radcliffe) by J. Kathleen Cheney

Yes, we’ve all heard that saying–that a writer must be willing to give up that one sentence, idea, or plot point that they loved…for the greater good of their work.

When I was in second grade, my teacher, Miss Baeza, wanted to send one of my stories to Highlights to see if they would publish it.  Even then, I knew this was a Big Deal.  But there was a catch; she wanted me to change the ending.

In my story, a group of animals escape the zoo, only to end up being magically trapped as the animals in a carousel.  My teacher wanted a happy ending.  But in my second-grade wisdom, I felt that mine was the correct ending.  I hid the story in my father’s file cabinet and told her I couldn’t find it.  This, by the way, became the truth because I never did see that story again.

Now fast forward lots of years and I’m a professional writer.  (I have paperwork from both RWA and SFWA that say I am, so I know it’s true.)  At a workshop a few years ago, I learned a very important phrase from author Steven Savile: I can do that.

If you’re seeking traditional publication, that’s a useful sentence.  If your agent makes a suggestion, if your editor makes a suggestion, if your publisher makes a suggestion, they have a reason for doing so.  So when my agent or editor suggests I change something, I listen.  Then I usually say: I can do that.

Admittedly, I still go and hide my manuscript in the metaphorical file cabinet and sulk for a few hours.  How could they not appreciate my untrammeled genius???

But because I’m not in second grade any longer, the next morning I get that manuscript back out and start analyzing their suggestions.  No, I don’t slavishly obey those suggestions. The book I just turned back in to my editor?  I had some changes I considered but, for one reason or another, they didn’t work for me.  My editor will look at my edits and decide whether to press me on those things again or let it drop.  It is a give and take relationship.

Editors have given me some pretty awesome ideas.  My editor for “Iron Shoes” asked for me to add another scene with interaction between my heroine and the villain.  Once I’d wrapped my mind around it, not only did I get to add another historical character, I also found a chance to slip in some very pertinent plot information.  My editor for “The Golden City” suggested a huge change at one point, making one character not as villainous as I’d previously thought him.  Figuring out the logic behind that alteration opened up new avenues for me to explore in this setting, and it made that world more realistic.

So I’ve learned to be open to changes.  The truth is that a traditionally published book isn’t just mine.  There’s a team involved in producing the book.  There’s an agent who sold it, editors who’ve picked over every word, an art department that has produced a beautiful cover, a sales department, a publicity department…well, I could probably list more.

But if you’re hunting traditional publication, cooperation is a good thing.  If I’d known that in second grade, I might have been published decades ago!

I’m so pleased to present a guest blog by Keith R.A. DeCandido, whose brand new story collection RAGNAROK AND ROLL has just been released by Plus One Press.  Here he talks about the setting and how inspirational it can be.

ragnarok and roll  The first time I went to Key West, I was overcome by the magic.

I’m not the biggest fan of Florida, but I’ve always made an exception for Key West. The laid-back attitude, the excellent food, the friendly people, the live music, the history, the folklore, the nightly celebration of sunset—there’s a lot to love.

I took several trips there throughout the 1990s, and just absolutely fell for the place. Besides the fact that it’s beautiful—especially at sunset, which they really do celebrate every single night—there’s so much history and storytelling on the island. It started out as a burial ground for the Calusa tribe—its original name was Cayo Hueso, Spanish for “Bone Key,” anglicized to “Key West” after Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1819. It’s been home to wrecker captains, to rogues and misfits, to treasure hunters and transients, to Naval bases and tons of bars. And it’s got more ghost stories than anyplace this side of New Orleans.

So many colorful characters have called Key West home: author Ernest Hemingway, President Harry S Truman, treasure hunter Mel Fisher, musicians Jimmy Buffett and Michael McCloud, and tons more.

Naturally, it’s the perfect place to set urban fantasy stories. I already had a character in mind, a San Diego-based scuba diver named Cassie Zukav whom I’d used in a story back in 1997. Transplanting her to Key West was no problem—the island is full of people who came to visit and never left, and it was easy enough to have Cassie do that.

Cassie was conceived as a weirdness magnet: crazy-ass stuff happens to her all the time. My plan was to use that as a vehicle for telling stories about the magic that can happen on the island: ghosts, mythical sea creatures, immortal rock-and-rollers, even Norse gods. Plus the Key West standbys of scuba diving and hanging out in your favorite bar and hearing the house band rock it.

To my surprise, the Norse gods kinda took over a bit. Well, okay, it wasn’t that much of a surprise, I guess—the Aesir can be insidious, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Tom Hiddleston. Better still, ask Tom Hiddleston’s fans…

Anyhow, I hit on the notion of Cassie being one of the Dísir, the fate gods of the Norse pantheon, and it all came together. Cassie-as-Dís became the fulcrum of the stories—and it also meant that Loki and Sigyn and Odin would all become recurring characters in Cassie’s life in Key West, along with 1812, the house band at Mayor Fred’s Saloon on Greene Street, whom Cassie never misses if she can.

The result of all this is Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. It has eight stories, some reprints, some new—plus digging up that old 1997 story that introduced her. In the title story, Cassie finds out that she’s a Dís just in time to stop Loki from bringing about Ragnarok. And then it gets really weird as she encounters a water elemental who wants to kill one of the regulars at Mayor Fred’s (and doom one of 1812 as well), the truth behind one of the great blues legends of the 20th century, the hyper-charging of the ghosts on the island coinciding with visits from Cassie’s twin brother Paul and their parents (who really did name their twin children “Castor” and “Pollux”), plus the tumultuous relationship between Loki and Sigyn and a surprise appearance by Thor the Thunderer.

Be assured that this is only the beginning. Throughout Ragnarok and Roll you’ll see references to other adventures Cassie has had, and I do plan to tell those (particularly the one about FBI Special Agent Rance Demitrijian—who is not Cassie’s boyfriend, really!—being naked on the boardwalk after being ravaged by a nixie), plus there’s lots more stuff that can still happen on Key West.

If you want to sample one of Cassie’s stories, check out the first part of the three-part “Cayo Hueso” arc—”A Farewell to Cats” is available for Kindle or Nook for only $.99. The second part, “The Buck Stops Here” will be available this week (also for $.99), with Part 3, “Twisting Fate,” coming next week (guess the price—oh, c’mon, guess!). Or you can just go ahead and order the full collection of Ragnarok and Roll with all nine stories from the fine folks at Plus One Press in either trade paperback or eBook form from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

And hey, if you’re in the New York City area, there are two launch parties for the collection this week: Tuesday the 20th at the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art at 138 Sullivan Street in the SoHo section of Manhattan at 7pm, and Friday the 23rd at Singularity & Co. at 18 Bridge Street in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, also at 7pm. All are welcome!