Guest Post: “Beginning, Ending and Extending Book Series” by Gail Z. Martin

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

With six different book series in various stages, it seems like I’m always contemplating beginnings, endings and extensions.

I’ve got a new epic fantasy series coming out in 2017 from Solaris Books (which I’m not allowed to name or reveal details about), so beginning a new book and starting a brand-new series have both been on my mind as I finish up that manuscript. In March, Shadow and Flame marked the final novel in my Ascendant Kingdoms epic fantasy series (Orbit Books), so wrapping up not just a single book but a story arc and a series is also fresh in my thoughts. The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books) is a collection of eleven of my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures short stories that are prequels to The Summoner and my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, which has wrapped up (for now). Continue reading

New Books (March)

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Featuring: Daniel Abraham, Jason Arnopp, Stephen Aryan, Madeline Ashby, Adrian Barnes, Terry Brooks, Steve Cavanagh, Catherine Cerveny, Curtis C. Chen, Jennifer Close, Brenda Cooper, John DeCure, Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Deena Goldstone, Jack Grimwood, Aidan Harte, Nathan Hill, L.S. Hilton, Roger Hobbs, Trevor Hoyle, Richard A. Knaak, Spencer Kope, Giles Kristian, Robert Kroese, Jason LaPier, Glenda Larke, James Lovegrove, Drew Magary, Gail Z. Martin, Malka Older, Melissa F. Olson, Stephanie Saulter, Jon Skovron, Sam Sykes, Laura van Den Berg, Dan Vyleta, David Wingrove, Ben H. Winters, John Wray

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Guest Post: “Saving the World — With a Little Help From Friends” by Gail Z. Martin

0061-eWomenNetworkWhen the chips are down and you’ve got monsters on every side and the fate of the world hangs in the balance, you need to know you’ve got good friends watching your back.

And if those friends include two people learning to wield powerful magic and a nearly 600 year-old vampire, your odds of winning — and surviving — just went up.

Welcome to the world of my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series including Vendetta, my new novel that just launched December 29. The series is set in historic, haunted Charleston, South Carolina. The main character, Cassidy Kincaide, is a psychometric who can read the history and magic of objects by touching them. She owns Trifles and Folly, an antique and curio shop with a few dangerous secrets. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Anarchy Sucks” by Gail Z. Martin

0061-eWomenNetworkWar of Shadows is the newest book in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, tracing the struggle of disgraced lord Blaine McFadden and his convict friends, as they attempt to restore control over magic and reinstate the rule of law in the devastated kingdom of Donderath. It’s the third book in the series, and with rival warlords and rogue mages competing for control over Donderath’s ruins, there’s action and intrigue aplenty.

Underneath this all is a heartfelt conviction, born out of a lifelong study of history, that anarchy sucks.

The suckishness of anarchy seems up for debate. It’s quite trendy these days to loudly announce “we don’t need no stinkin’ government”. Sometimes, the announcement comes from people well-heeled enough to wall themselves in secure enclaves and protect their interests with private armies of security guards. On the other end of the spectrum are live-off-the-land survivalist types who believe that some canned food, a trout stream and several thousand rounds of ammunition are all that’s needed to live the good life. Continue reading

Early 2015 Most Wanted: Orbit Books

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While browsing Orbit US’s catalogue of upcoming books, I spotted a few I think people should be aware of and check out. Some of them have featured already on the site (at the previous location), but what the hell. I’m really interested in reading them, and ’tis the season for sharing lists and so forth. Here they are, with details…

Featuring: Alex Marshall, Gail Z. Martin, Brian McClellan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sam Sykes, Jaye Wells Continue reading

Guest Post: “It’s the End of the World — Bring Charmin” by Gail Z. Martin

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In the post-apocalyptic TV show “Revolution,” one of the characters, a former Google executive, says, “80 million dollars in the bank and I would trade it all right now for a roll of Charmin.” Of all the things that society has lost, at that moment, he misses commercially-produced toilet paper. It’s the little things that count.

I write the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, a post-apocalyptic medieval epic fantasy series, for Orbit Books. In Ice Forged, the first book in the series, my characters have to come to terms with what they’ve lost, both big and small. Oddly enough, sometimes it’s the small things that matter the most.

Epic fantasy usually deals with the sweeping repercussions of events and decisions — the wars, assassinations, dynastic conflicts and economic collapses that change the balance of power. Certainly anything worthy of being called an apocalypse affects the superstructure of society: government, commerce, economics, and technology. Add in plague and natural disaster and a nation, continent or kingdom loses a significant portion of its workforce, its intellectual capital, its history and its physical infrastructure. Those losses are guaranteed to change what daily life is like for the survivors, and to make just getting by much more difficult.

Martin,GZ-IceForgedYet for individuals — whether real people or book characters — sometimes the big losses seem distant and abstract and it’s the small losses that drive home just how much life has changed and what is gone. In Ice Forged, characters mention what they miss, little things like memories of how holidays were celebrated and favourite foods that are now difficult or impossible to get. Perhaps it’s the realization that the landmarks — like a castle or the main street of a city—that seemed immutable are now ruined. It’s the dislocation of war and cataclysm that causes long-time neighbours to go missing, and the people you always met in the course of your daily life to vanish. Or it’s discovering that with crops unplanted or unharvested and distilleries and vineyards ruined, there’s not going to be any new good wine, ale or whiskey any time soon.

When the means of production are destroyed, whether those are craftsmen or factories, the goods in existence are all the goods there will be until manufacturing is restored. For the characters in Ice Forged, that means any goods they can’t grow themselves or create from raw materials. Not only will there be no new brocades or silks (and nowhere to wear them), but no new metals or coal mined, no imported goods until trade is restored, and nothing that someone might have purchased rather than making. Things like sugar and salt, maybe even lumber and clay become difficult to find. Looting the ruins and the trash heaps becomes the new form of shopping. And in a million little ways, life becomes strange and hard.

In Ice Forged, the devastation of the Cataclysm goes beyond physical destruction. Mages on both sides made a doomsday strike using magic, and unintentionally destroyed the bonds that allowed men to tame magic and use it to their purposes. For a culture that depended on the little magics for everyday life, that means no healers, no using magic to keep pests out of the crops or strengthen a sea wall, no way to keep milk from spoiling or food from rotting or all the hundreds of small ways that people had come to rely on a flicker of power here and there. And after four centuries of using magic as part of everyday life, few people remember how to do things the old way.

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams advised readers to “Always know where your towel is.” Perhaps he should have included some Charmin, just in case?

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Martin,GZ-ReignOfAshCome check out all the free excerpts, book giveaways and other goodies that are part of my Days of the Dead blog tour! Trick-or-Treat you way through more than 30 partner sites where you’ll find brand new interviews, freebies and more.

Ice Forged will be a Kindle Daily Deal with a special one-day price of just $1.99 only on October 31!

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books.

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About the author: Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and the upcoming Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, 2014), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books, and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread) from Orbit Books. In 2014, Gail launches a new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, from Solaris Books. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Be sure to check out Gail’s website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook for more up-to-date news. Gail can also be found at the Disquieting Visions blog and on the Ghost In The Machine Podcast.

Books that Fell Through the Cracks (Late Acquisitions)

Given my peripatetic existence over the last couple of years, there have been a number of address changes. These have resulted in a number of books getting sent to old and/or obsolete addresses. I’m currently visiting one of these old addresses, and have finally managed to get my hands on the following books (below) – so, apologies to publishers for not saying thank you, and hopefully I’ll be able to get to some of these soon (two in particular are very high on my TBR mountain, now).

Received: Julianna Baggott’s Fuse, Susan Ee’s Angelfall, Hugh Howey’s Shift, Stephen Kiernan’s The Curiosity, Stephen King’s The Wind Through the Keyhole, Gail Z. Martin’s Ice Forged, Frank P. Ryan’s The Snowmelt River

BooksReceived-20130801 (Shevaun)

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Baggott-2-FuseUKJulianna Baggott, Fuse (Headline)

After a young Wretch is abducted by the Dome and ‘cleansed’ of her fusings and imperfections, she is only able to repeat the Dome’s latest message: ‘We want our son returned. This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.’ Willux will go to any lengths to get his son Partridge back, including murder. Partridge sacrifices himself and returns, in the hope of taking over the Dome from within, only to uncover more of his father’s chilling, dark secrets.

Outside the Dome, Pressia, Bradwell, and El Capitan are decoding the secrets from the past – tucked away in one of the Black Boxes – to uncover the truth that might set the wretches free of their fusings forever. Those fighting Willux will be pushed over boundaries, both land and sea, heart and mind, in their quest – further than they ever imagined.

This is the sequel to Pure, which I also (shamefully) haven’t had a chance to read. It sounds like a fascinating series, but I kept missing it for one reason or another. Now that I have this second novel, as well as an ARC for book one, I really don’t have much excuse (save lack of time…) to read it. I’ll do my best to get to it soon.

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Ee-AngelfallSusan Ee, Angelfall (Hodder)

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I kept seeing this advertised on the London Tube after I got back in January. I was intrigued, certainly (there seems to be a rise in Angel-related fiction in the past couple of years – some good, some not so much), and so when I was told a copy of this had arrived for me, I decided to place it relatively high on my TBR pile. I’ll hopefully get to this very soon (ah, those Famous Last Words, again…). I have sent some interview questions to the author, too.

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HoweyH-ShiftUKHugh Howey, Shift (Century)

In a future less than fifty years away, the world is still as we know it. Time continues to tick by. The truth is that it is ticking away.

A powerful few know what lies ahead. They are preparing for it. They are trying to protect us.

They are setting us on a path from which we can never return.

A path that will lead to destruction; a path that will take us below ground.

The history of the silo is about to be written.

Our future is about to begin.

I still have to read Wool before I can get to this, but I’ve heard a great many people say they enjoy the series. Ill-considered blog posts that the author may write notwithstanding, there is something about the series’s premise that intrigues me. So, I suppose I’ll get to it relatively soon, if I feel in the mood for some dystopian fiction (which is more often than not).

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KiernanS-CuriosityStephen Kiernan, The Curiosity (William Morrow/John Murray)

A haunting love story in which a man frozen for 100 years wakes up in today’s America to be hounded by tabloids, condemned by religious conservatives, and hunted by a presidential candidate while he strives to come to terms with his unique second life, one in which he falls in love with a beautiful scientist from a century after him.

Maverick scientific genius Erastus Carthage has developed a technique to bring frozen simple-celled animals back to life. But when his Arctic research vessel discovers a body encased in an iceberg, he seizes the chance to apply his pioneering process to a human being. The man Carthage’s lad awakens from death is Jeremiah Rice, a Massachusetts judge, who was born in 1868 and fell overboard in 1906. Jeremiah is an instant celebrity – chased by paparazzi, vilified by the religious right, and overwhelmed by a society he sees as brilliant and diverse but also vulgar and violent.

As his only ally biologist Kate Philo attempts to protect him from financial and political exploitation, the two fall in love. Meanwhile, Jeremiah’s time on earth is slipping away.

I hadn’t heard anything about this, until my sister mentioned it had arrived and she’d read (and enjoyed) it. It sounds rather intriguing, certainly, so I may have to read it within a week or two.

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KingS-DT4-WindThroughTheKeyholeStephen King, The Wind Through the Keyhole (Hodder)

Stephen King returns to the rich landscape of Mid-World, the spectacular territory of the Dark Tower fantasy saga that stands as his most beguiling achievement. Roland Deschain and his ka-tet – Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy, the billy-bumbler – encounter a ferocious storm just after crossing the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies. As they shelter from the howling gale, Roland tells his friends not just one strange story but two… and in so doing, casts new light on his own troubled past.

In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death, Roland is sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man” preying upon the population around Debaria. Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, the brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Only a teenager himself, Roland calms the boy and prepares him for the following day’s trials by reciting a story from the “Magic Tales of the Eld” that his mother often read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” Roland says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, never too old. We live for them.” And indeed, the tale that Roland unfolds, the legend of Tim Stoutheart, is a timeless treasure for all ages, a story that lives for us.

I have never read any of King’s Dark Tower series, despite always seeing it in bookstores (on both sides of the Pond). The series, begun in 1974, gained momentum in the 1980s, and was concluded between 2003-2004, after the final three volumes were published. This is apparently a novel that can stand on its own for readers new and old (Goodreads lists it as “Dark Tower #4.5”). I think I’ll probably still try to hunt down at least the first book, before diving into this. It’s high on my Life Reading Priority list, but I’m not sure how quickly it will make its way onto the top of the TBR mountain. (I think I’ll probably read King’s On Writing, first, as I already own that…)

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Martin,GZ-IceForgedGail Z. Martin, Ice Forged (Orbit)

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

I am really interested in reading this series. I recently got the second volume, so now that I have picked up this as well, I hope to get to it ASAP.

Also on CR: Guest Posts “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (Again)” & “After Apocalypse

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RyanFP-3P1-SnowmeltRiverFrank P. Ryan, The Snowmelt River (Jo Fletcher)

Chance has brought together four young people in the small, historic Irish town of Clonmel. Alan is Irish-American, Kate Irish, and the adoptive brother and sister Mark and Mo are Londoners although Mo originally hails from Australia and has an exotic spiritual quality that suggests something strange, almost magical, about her. They discover that they share a terrible secret, one that cannot be coincidence, and it makes them wonder if it was fate, and not happenstance, that really brought them together, and which now binds them inseparably as friends. And then, over the long hot Irish summer, the enchantment begins… The Snowmelt River is the first of a four-volume epic fantasy series, with each book a separate adventure in itself. All four novels revolve around the coming of age, and power, of the central characters, Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo, each a very different personality, yet each making his or her personal contribution to an epic odyssey.

Another series I didn’t know much about, before this came along (it’s possible this is the second copy that’s arrived – as I faintly recall seeing the second book at some point…). Not sure when I’ll be able to get to it, but I’ve heard and read some interesting things about it.

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Any of these grab your attention? Received anything good I should know about, or that I (or CR readers) might like?