Guest Post – Auston Habershaw

I’ve been lucky in the authors I’ve met and have come to call my friends. Auston Habershaw is one of those. His name makes him sound like a Bond villain, but I’ve been assured this has never been proved in a court of law. He first stopped by about a year ago to talk about guilty pleasures when his debut novel, The Oldest Trick, came out. Auston is an eloquent and gifted writer, be it novels, short stories, or blog posts. Which of course means I hate him as only the truly envious can. I’m kidding of course (mostly). His second book, No Good Deed, comes out today. If it’s anything like his first, or his blog posts, or short stories, or, well, it’ll be awesome. Yep, hate him.
Anyway, he’s back to talk about, rather fittingly, writing a second novel.


For many young writers trying to break into the traditional publishing world, the primary focus is getting that first book deal, and with good reason—that deal represents the foot in the door, the start of the journey, the admission to the secret club with the secret handshakes and snake pit and what not. There’s a lot you learn while writing your first book (often the hard way), and there are huge amounts of good resources to advise you on what to expect on your way to that magical “yes” moment. I, however, want to spend some time talking to you about what comes after that.

Say you’ve gotten that book deal, published that first novel, and now your contract has you writing a second one for the same publisher. Or maybe your agent is there telling you what would be the best next move. Or maybe you’re just on your own again. The fact is, while everybody loves talking about how to deal with your first book, not at many people seem interested in telling you what goes on with your second. You’ve already got keys to the clubhouse, right? Why worry? Well, sadly it isn’t as easy as all that. Here’s a list of five things I learned while writing my second novel.

 

#1: Writing Every Novel Is Different

This is probably the worst thing I can tell you, but also what I think is the most true. The experience of writing one novel is not likely to be the same as writing any other. All that weeping and crying and grim determination you mustered in mastering that first book? Yeah, it’s coming back. Yes, you do learn from each book you write, and yes, you hopefully will improve as a writer, but you are almost guaranteed to get somewhere in the midst of your next book, face contorted in anguish, and yell KHAAAANNNN at the sky.

Thing is, though, that this is normal. It’s okay. I daresay it means you’re even doing it right. Novels are complicated beasts and, what’s more, they should be unique. You can’t and shouldn’t write the same book a million times in a row, so you shouldn’t expect the same experience every single time you do it.

 

#2: Editors Are Not Forever

If you’re anything like me, you expected your relationship with your editor to be something like when Butch met Sundance. “You and me,” the editor would say, with a steely glint in her eye, “are gonna take on the world, buddy!” and then we’d jump on our individual jet skis and fight ninjas with our laser axes.

Yeah. It ain’t like that.

My experience with my editors (note the plural) has been very good, mind you—no real complaints—but you are probably only one of their many, many authors all of whom they are trying desperately to give their attention to equally and all of whom are smothering them in a staggering workload. They are also human beings who have other things going on in their lives and sometimes that means leaving their job, or switching jobs, or going back to school, or whatever. And then there will be another editor there to take their place—hopefully every bit as professional and talented as the last one—and you will continue on with them. This is the nature of the business and it happens. It isn’t the end of the world.

 

#3: You Mean I Need To Worry About Word Count?!

When you are trying to get a book deal, you might think a bit about word count, but most of us probably just shrug and say “the story is going to be as long as it needs to be” and keep writing. In an ideal world, I suppose, this would be true—books should be as long or as short as prudent (assuming they’re well edited and not wasting our time or leaving us hanging). Unfortunately, once you’re under contract for another book, this isn’t the case anymore. The publisher wants a book that is between 90K and 100K words and no more and no less. That’s a binding document, buddy—a document you signed—so you’ve gotta do it now. And writing a novel with a word-count target is very hard. It’s a bit like shooting a tennis ball from a cannon and getting it to land in a trash barrel five miles away—it’s going to take a few tries.

The first draft of my second novel was 124,000 words. My editor needed it as far under 100K as possible, preferably closer to 90K. That meant I needed to cut 25-35 THOUSAND words from my complete, polished novel to make it fit. I lost a few years off my life there, let me tell you, but I did it (and am a much better editor of my own work as a result).

 

#4: Series Fatigue Is a Thing

When you start writing your series (and who doesn’t write a series these days, right?), you think you’re going to be writing that series forever and ever and ever. “It’ll have 9 books!” you’ll crow. Oh, my, what a glorious decade of book writing that will be! Ahahahahaha hahaha…hah..ha…heh…

 Gulp.

 Okay, so maybe that will happen—maybe the series will hit it big and you will write it forever and forever be known as the “space laser monkey lady” or whatever. Almost certainly not, though. And what’s more, you very probably will get tired of those same characters and that same world and that same story. I know it sounds crazy, but it is a very, very distinct possibility. Consider this: for every hour you spend reading your favorite series, the other probably spends a hundred hours writing it. Now, in a trilogy, that adds up to about three hundred hours of writing. Do you have many books that you would love to read for three hundred hours? Yeah, probably not. Sooner or later you, as a writer, will struggle with some heavy I’m-sick-of-this-shit-itis. You can get past it, but I’m telling you it’s coming.

 

#5: Writing Is a Calling, Not a Whim

For all the hard truths I’ve mentioned so far, though, there is one thing that is very, very worthwhile that you learn in that second book: writing is something that fulfills you on a level all other work does not. Even when it’s hard and you’re not making your word count and your editor has disappeared into the Sudan on a commando mission and you hate your stupid protagonist’s stupid face, you realize something: you’ve done this before, you can do it again, and, in the end, you will love having done it. That second book, and the conquest thereof, is a true rite of passage—plenty of people write one book, but authors write many. You are about to confirm what you’ve always known is true in your heart—you are an author, and this second book proves it wasn’t a fluke.

Press on. We’re with you. If you need me, I’ll be waiting by the snake pit.


NoGoodDeed_cover art
Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody is playing a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that the person pulling all the strings is none other than the most powerful sorceress in the West: Lyrelle Reldamar.

Tyvian’s own mother.

No Good Deed is available at all the usual places or you can read an excerpt here.
Harper Collins
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
iBooks
You can also find Auston on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, or writing to his cousin.

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Guest Post – Dan Koboldt

Dan Koboldt is a scientist and author of The Rogue Retrieval, a brilliant fantasy/sci-fi story about a stage illusionist sent to a world where magic is real. The fact he’s also a fellow Harper Voyager Impulse author means he’s cool in addition to being a great writer. Him being a scientist and an author just means he’s showing off, but don’t hold that against him, like I said, he’s cool and a great writer.
One of the most common questions authors are asked is “where did the idea come from?” Well, Dan was brave enough to answer it, and do so here.

rogue-retrieval-web-250


 

What Inspired The Rogue Retrieval

By Dan Koboldt

When you write a book and manage to get it published, one of the most common questions you’re asked is “Where did you get that idea?” For me, there’s a short one-line answer that I hand out a lot: I got the idea for The Rogue Retrieval after reading an article about a Vegas illusionist. That’s only a partial truth. There were actually three sources of inspiration for the story that became my debut novel.

Epic Fantasy Classics

I first read The Lord of the Rings in the fourth grade. This wasn’t a school assignment; my parents had given me the trilogy after I’d finished reading The Hobbit. My 4th grade teacher, in fact, was not a fan of how much time I spent reading rather than paying attention to her. But Lord of the Rings drew me in, and sparked a love of epic fantasy that’s lasted more than two decades.
I went on to read other epic fantasy authors – Raymond Feist, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams. I spent almost as much time in Midkemia and Recluce as I did in the real world. When I started writing fiction of my own, I wanted to create secondary worlds that were just as engrossing. That was inspiration #1.

Hard Science

When I was in high school, I heard about this effort to map the human genetic code, something called the Human Genome Project. Part of the work was being done right in my hometown of St. Louis, at Washington University School of Medicine. I knew I’d probably enter a technical field, and I thought it would be so cool to join an effort like that. Fast forward about ten years, and I joined the Genome Sequencing Center at WashU as a genetics researcher.
I love cutting-edge science, and because of my profession, I’m exposed to it every day. Geeky futuristic tech is my bag, and I wanted that to become part of my writing, too. But this created a problem for me. There are epic fantasy books, and futuristic sci-fi books, but rarely books that incorporate both.

The Modern Illusionist

About four years ago, I read an article about Teller, the silent half of the famous magic act Penn & Teller.  The article – which I’ve long since lost track of – described his efforts to get patent/copyright protection for his illusions. Apparently, whenever he developed a new trick, these hacks would reverse-engineer it and run off to perform it in Europe or other places without even acknowledging him.
It got me thinking about how modern technologies –things like high-def video and the Internet – have changed even the field of performance magic. I wondered how a modern illusionist would fare in a world that hadn’t even invented electricity.
Barring time travel, the only way that could happen would be if we discovered another world. And I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if that discovery were made not by a gaggle of precocious children, but a large and powerful corporation. This became the unifying element that let me write epic fantasy themes, sci-fi tech, and a modern illusionist into a single book: the story of a Vegas illusionist who infiltrates a medieval world.


The Rogue Retrieval is available everywhere and you should really buy and read it right now.
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Harper Collins

 

Stacey Berg Interview

Stacey Berg is a writer with Harper Voyager Impulse and a scientist. Her novel, Dissension, came out March 15th in ebook, the paperback came out yesterday. As one of the newest members of the HVI family, I invited her here to the pub to talk about her book and ask her utterly irrelevant questions.


Hi, Stacey! Welcome. First question, what are you drinking?

Thanks Bishop. Nothing yet, but it’s going to be beer. Probably the Karbach Weekend Warrior tonight.

I suppose a pale ale is acceptable since it’s a craft beer. Dissension is a science fiction story set in a world where clones are tools of the government to oppress the unhappy populace. How much of this is autobiographical?

I haven’t managed to clone myself, if that’s what you mean. Although like everyone else I would find having one pretty handy when the days get busy!

Actually, you’d be surprised how annoying they can be, especially when you get above seven and the personalities start to degrade—um, so I’ve heard. Seriously though, your main character, Echo Hunter 367 is a soldier genetically designed to only focus on duty in a dystopian type world. What came first? The character, the story, or the world? Or did they all evolve together?

In this case the world and character came first, then the story. I had a very strong image of a woman in the desert, a kind of soldier, protecting another woman, some kind of runaway who was her prisoner. The dynamic between them was clear to me right away: the soldier determined to do her duty no matter what it required; the prisoner, wryly admiring her captor’s skill.  That gave me a hint of story: I pictured the two of them facing some unseen enemy together, and gradually switching roles, until the duty-bound soldier wanted only to set the prisoner free, and the prisoner realized that she could run no longer and had to face her destiny. This bit ended up not being the main plot, but it’s an important part of the backstory.

That sounds like a really interesting scene, I can see why you found it so compelling. Now you’re a medical researcher in your day job, how much of that knowledge fed into the story?

I think my science background helps, the same way doing detailed world-building before you start writing helps: a lot of what you have doesn’t make it directly into the story, but it gives you a solid foundation underneath the bits that do, and it makes the story feel richer. In writing Dissension it was useful for me to know some basics about cloning and genetic recombination, but the story is driven by the characters rather than by the science-y part of the fiction. I just needed to have enough understanding to make certain things plausible, and to avoid distracting mistakes.

Nice that you were saved the time of researching based on your existing knowledge. Speaking of which, is this book just a test to see how people will respond to cloned soldiers so that you’ll know the effects when you release your own in a bid to conquer the world?

There are some, shall we say, drawbacks to the cloning methods in the book. It ends up being a low-volume process. My women are pretty badass, though. It wouldn’t take too many of them to conquer the world if that’s what they set out to do. Fortunately they’re made to protect us instead.

Yes, here for our protection…Well, let me be the first to welcome our new badass women overlords. On a related note, cats or dogs? Hint, it’s a trick question, the answer is marsupials.

Hmmmm, does that make it wombats?

It was actually wallaby, but I’ll give it to you because your choice is almost as adorable as a wallaby. You’ve written a couple of short stories, is this your first published novel?

Yes, this is my debut, and I’m incredibly excited to have it out in the world!

Well congratulations! I’m sure I speak for every single other person in the world when I say we’re delighted to have your book in it. In terms of writing, you’ve also blogged about issues of diversity, how important do you think it is for a book/story to have a diverse cast?

It’s important for readers to have acknowledgement that people like them exist. Every book doesn’t have to have a diverse cast, and a cast doesn’t have to represent every kind of person to be diverse. But “books” in aggregate should be diverse. If you read a dozen or a hundred books about future humanity and don’t encounter a single person like you, you begin to think that there’s not a place for you out there. On the other hand, if you see all kinds of people, you get an idea that there could be room for you too.

I couldn’t agree more, and I think readers enjoy a story much more when they can relate or connect with a character in it. I’m going to guess you think it’s a good thing that more diverse people are getting stories published (I would agree) but what do you think of those of us with higher levels of privilege (straight white cys males) having more diverse casts in our books? Is it a good thing, or should that be left to people of specific groups to write their own stories?

I think we all should be free to write whatever we can imagine. If you take write-what-you-know to the extreme, we’d all only be able to do autobiography (and most of us wouldn’t be able to do aliens).  However, diversity isn’t just about the kinds of characters in a story. Writers from different backgrounds are likely to see different stories as important to tell. The more diverse our authors, the richer our book world will be. Regardless of our backgrounds, though, creating different characters, trying to get into the heads of people who are not like us and to see the world through their eyes, seems like a good step towards breaking down the barriers that make someone else “other.”

That’s a really concise and eloquent argument for diversity, and I’d like to reserve the right to quote that in the future. I am curious though, you said “most of us wouldn’t be able to do aliens.” Just most? Is there something you’d like to share with the class? Or perhaps it’s better if you didn’t say anything since they’re probably watching right now, so let’s move on. Do you have requirements for writing such as listening to music, absolute silence, bonobo monkeys playing ukuleles behind you, or can you write under any circumstances?

Concentration is my one requirement. It has to be quiet in my head, but if it is, it doesn’t matter too much what else is going on as long as no one’s talking directly to me. I don’t listen to music much, but I think that’s because I usually write early in the morning. That said, I listened to a lot of Imagine Dragons and Muse while writing Dissension. I guess Radioactive, Demons, and Madness pretty much set the mood!

Preaching to the choir! When the insane radioactive demons get loose it really—oh wait, you meant the songs, didn’t you? Yes, of course, me too. Next topic, you live in Houston Texas, do you have puffy tacos there?

Puffy tacos are really a San Antonio thing, but we can get them here.

I find your lack of enthusiasm about tacos quite disturbing, but I’ll let it pass because you’re building an army of badass women soldier clones. What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Almost anything. Of course Klondikes are a ’Burgh thing, I used to get them at Isaly’s.

Almost anything? So we finally learn the ultimate goal of your clone army. How many books do you think will be in the Echo Hunter series?

Right now the plans are for two. The world the books are set in is on the cusp of change though, so who knows what might happen?  It could be up to the readers!

Always good to keep an open mind. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Ancillary Mercy, interspersed with a Modesty Blaise graphic novel. (For anyone who hasn’t read Modesty Blaise, you should get one of the novels or graphic novels right this minute. They’re about a woman who’s kind of a female James Bond, and the stories are incredibly entertaining).

I loved the Ancillary series, a really great concept. I’ll have to check out the Modesty Blaise graphic novels. Do you have any plans for other books or stories?

I’m in the middle of writing the second Echo Hunter 367 book, so I haven’t had much time to think about what’s coming next. I have a very enticing idea for another novel percolating in the back of my brain, but it’s not ready to come out and face inspection yet.

I understand, can’t take the cake out till it’s done cooking. I mean you can, but then it’s runny and how likes runny cake? Anything else you’d like to declare?

It’s been great to be here, thanks for having me! Enjoy a nice quiet pint.

It was a pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your hypothetical plans for world domination. Good luck with the sequel and I hope sales are fantastic.

Dissension is available in ebook or paperback now, and you should totally go buy it. Remember, she has an army of badass women soldier clones, and she can make more!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Dissension

For four hundred years, the Church has led the remnants of humanity as they struggle for survival in the last inhabited city. Echo Hunter 367 is exactly what the Church created her to be: loyal, obedient, lethal. A clone who shouldn’t care about anything but her duty. Who shouldn’t be able to.

When rebellious citizens challenge the Church’s authority, it is Echo’s duty to hunt them down before civil war can tumble the city back into the dark. But Echo hides a deadly secret: doubt. And when Echo’s mission leads her to Lia, a rebel leader who has a secret of her own, Echo is forced to face that doubt. For Lia holds the key to the city’s survival, and Echo must choose between the woman she loves and the purpose she was born to fulfill.

Three Promises Now Available! (Really This Time!)

It’s here! Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection is now available as an ebook! For $0.99, no less! I’m still a little blown away that this is my third book (and second this year). Three Promises was a new adventure for me. It’s a collection of short stories—technically three short stories and a novella—and I’ve always struggled with short fiction. It’s never come as naturally to me as novel-length fiction, but that wasn’t the case here. These stories seemed to write themselves, and the characters truly shine. In my previous books, The Stolen & The Forgotten, the story drove the characters. In Three Promises, the opposite is true. There’s no child in danger, no looming shadowy enemy snatching kids off the street, and you get to see the characters for who they are. I was worried they wouldn’t stand on their own, but I think they didn’t just stand, they soared. I really liked them before; now, I love them. I hope you will, too.

As a reminder, if you preorder the paperback (releases 1/8/16 and is only $3.99) from The Fountain Bookstore, not only will it be signed, but you’ll get an exclusive gift, too (and it will be awesome). As a nice bonus, you can also order signed copies of The Stolen and The Forgotten while you’re there, and don’t worry, they ship worldwide.

Cover Reveal: Goldenfire by A.F.E. Smith

Today is the official cover reveal for Goldenfire, the second book in the Darkhaven series, by A.F.E. Smith. It’ll be released by Harper Voyager on 1/14, but if you want to read it sooner, you can enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an advance ebook copy!
Rafflecopter giveaway here!


Goldenfire coverIn Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father’s legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.

 

Preorder Goldenfire:

HarperCollins  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Google Play  iBooks


Don’t forget to catch up on the series with Darkhaven:

HarperCollins  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Google Play  iBooks  Kobo

Excerpt of Without Light or Guide

T. Frohock is a fellow Harper author, and friend. Her latest novella, Without Light or Guide is a sequel to In Midnight’s Silence. She’s a gifted writer who has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. These are great stories, with interesting, compelling characters. The setting, just before and during the Spanish Civil War, serves to add both tension and depth. She’s also the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse.

You can find out more about T. at her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
Without further ado, Here’s T. to tell you about her book and give you a sneak peek.


The hero of Los Nefilim is Diago Alvarez. He, and his lover, Miquel, are part of a secretive group known as Los Nefilim (Spanish for The Nephilim–say it like “The Mob” and you’ve got the right idea). This group of angelic Nefilim monitor daimonic activity for the angels.

The only thing is: Diago is not fully angelic. He is part daimon, part angel, and his very unique form of magic is sought by both sides in the conflict between angels and daimons. Diago moves through a world of espionage and partisan warfare with a rogues’ gallery filled with angels, daimons, and mortals.

In the first novella of the series, In Midnight’s Silence, the reader is introduced to Diago’s world. We meet Diago, Miquel, and Diago’s son, Rafael. We get a brief glimpse of the shadowy world of Los Nefilim and its king, Guillermo Ramirez.

In Without Light or Guide, Diago’s story continues as he tries very hard to fit in with Los Nefilim, but his daimonic heritage follows him, and seeds distrust among the other Nefilim. Guillermo assigns Diago to work with another Nefil by the name of Garcia, who is Guillermo’s plant within the Urban Guard.

In this scene from Chapter 2, Diago has just completed an assignment for Los Nefilim and is going to meet Guillermo and Miquel. After a tense encounter with his dead father, Alvaro, on the subway, which has left him on edge, Diago is hoping to evade another argument with Garcia.


Diago rode the elevator to the main floor and exited the building. Outside, Garcia was nowhere to be seen. Either he had hidden himself well, or he was off on another task for Guillermo.

Relieved, Diago turned toward the Gothic Quarter and decided to avoid the metro. Another encounter with Alvaro was the last thing he needed.

He had just crossed the street when a police car rolled to a stop beside the curb. Had Ferrer discovered the missing memo? Diago made a conscious effort to keep his hand away from his pocket.

The youth behind the wheel cranked down his window with ferocious speed. “Excuse me, Doctor Alvarez!”

Doctor? Oh Jesus, what now? Diago bent over and saw Garcia’s terse face glowering from the passenger side of the car. This day was not getting better.

Garcia emerged from the car. The urgency in his step alarmed Diago. His concern shifted from the stolen memo to Guillermo and Miquel. Had something happened to them?

Garcia rounded the bumper.

“What’s the matter?” Diago asked.

Garcia clenched Diago’s bicep and propelled him to the car’s back door. “You’re a doctor now, do you understand?”

Diago twisted free and lowered his voice. “Don’t touch me again.”

“Just get in the fucking car.”

“At least tell me what kind of doctor I’m supposed to be.”

“An alienist.”

Diago calmed somewhat. Guillermo was in no danger if he had sent for Diago to play the role of a criminal psychiatrist, and that likewise meant Miquel was safe.

Whenever mortals were involved and his friend had needed someone to read the patterns of a daimon attack, he’d called on Diago and passed him off as an alienist. Now that he was Los Nefilim, Guillermo must have decided wining and dining him was no longer a necessary component of the request. “And what kind of crime am I investigating?”

“We don’t have time for questions.” Garcia jerked the door open. “Get in.”

No use arguing. The sooner he got inside, the sooner they’d arrive … where? There could be only one place. Guillermo had mentioned a visit to Doña Rosa Iniguez. Diago got in the car.

Garcia slammed the door hard enough to rattle the window in its frame.

Diago caught the young mortal’s gaze in the rearview mirror. “What’s happened?”

The young man licked his lips. “He killed them all,” he whispered. “He’s insane.”

Garcia rounded the right bumper.

Diago resisted the urge to lean forward. “Who?”

The officer clutched the wheel in a white-knuckled grip. Before he could answer, Garcia jerked open the door and got in the front seat.

“Drive.”

* * *

It seems that throughout Barcelona, the mortals Diago has known are dying gruesome deaths. A daimon is loose in the city, and Diago’s only clue to her identity is a mysterious phrase written in smoke: She Hunts.

The year is 1931.

The city is Barcelona.

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind.

The hunt begins.


Without Light or Guide and In Midnight’s Silence are available at all the usual sellers of ebooks:
Amazon     Apple     Barnes and Noble     HarperCollins     Kobo

WithoutLight cover IMS

Awesome Book and Great Giveaways!

My friend and fellow HV author, Michelle Hauck’s debut novel was released yesterday. To celebrate, she’s hosting a spectacular raffle in which you could win various copies of great Harper Voyager novels, including both The Stolen and The Forgotten, just in time to read before Three Promises comes out! Check the raffle out. It’s free books! What’s not to love?


 

It’s finally here! The big day!


You can now officially get your ebook copy of Grudging at your favorite retailer.

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

To celebrate, I’m giving away a huge prize package of books from my fellow authors at Harper Voyager Impulse. I think authors at the same publisher, especially one that features a limited number of genres, should be a big family. We support each other. And we provide prize packs when someone has a special day!

These are super reads in fantasy and science fiction. I have read several of them and can vouch they are great reads!

There are ebooks and paperback copies. All you have to do to enter is use the rafflecopter below. Follow all these generous authors on Facebook or twitter for additional entries.

I’ll have a short blurb about each book below the rafflecopter so keep scrolling to see in more detail what you could win. And don’t hesitate to buy a few if you can’t wait for the rafflecopter! I’m sure the authors will appreciate you for it!

The rafflecopter will determine the winner and each author will send their prize to said winner individually. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Books You Will Win:

Paperback for the Winner:

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking
for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is
Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested
present. But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When
bodies start turning up – desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t
scientifically explain – her investigations land her in the middle of a covert
war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only
one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking
are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of
antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows
for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or
die next.

Buy: Amazon|Barnes and Noble|HarperCollins

Paperback for the Winner:

Anders Jensen is having a bad month. His roommate is a data thief, his girlfriend picks fights in bars, and his best friend is a cyborg…and a lousy tipper. When everything is spiraling out of control, though, maybe those are exactly the kind of friends you need.
 
In a world divided between the genetically engineered elite and the unmodified masses, Anders is an anomaly: engineered, but still broke and living next to a crack house. All he wants is to land a tenure-track faculty position, and maybe meet someone who’s not technically a criminal—but when a nightmare plague rips through Hagerstown, Anders finds himself dodging kinetic energy weapons and government assassins as Baltimore slips into chaos. His friends aren’t as helpless as they seem, though, and his girlfriend’s street-magician brother-in-law might be a pretentious hipster—or might hold the secret to saving them all.
THREE DAYS IN APRIL is a speculative thriller that raises an important question: once humanity goes down the rabbit hole, can it ever find its way back?
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Compiled for the first time, The Oldest Trick comprises The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood in the Saga of the Redeemed.Tyvian Reldamar gets betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.


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Ebook for the Winner:

 

The Empire is Shrouded, not only by the barrier that covers the land, but by the lies and oppression of the mierothi regime. Magic is the privilege of the elite, and the people of this shadowed country have forgotten what it means to hope under their rule.
 
But there are some who would resist, with plans put into motion millennia before. For returned to the Empire is a valynkar, servant of the god of light, and with him come the strength and cunning that could tip the scales to end the Emperor’s reign. He has gathered a group of heroes ready to ignite the flame of rebellion and fight against the dark power that has ruled for nearly two thousand years. A power that has champions of its own.
 
Nathan Garrison’s Veiled Empire throws a mythical land into chaos, with races long thought forgotten, and magics only just discovered. Steel and sorcery clash as brave souls vie for freedom and control in this astonishing debut novel.
 
Author will provide ebook or paperback:
A body is found in the Alabama wilderness. The question is:
Is it a human corpse … or is it just a piece of discarded
property?
Agent Samantha Rose has been exiled to a backwater
assignment for the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, a death knell for her
career. But then Sam catches a break—a murder—that could give her the boost she
needs to get her life back on track. There’s a snag, though: the body is a
clone, and technically that means it’s not a homicide. And yet, something about
the body raises questions, not only for her, but for coroner Linsey Mackenzie.
The more they dig, the more they realize nothing about this
case is what it seems … and for Sam, nothing about Mac is what it seems,
either.
This case might be the way out for her, but that way could
be in a bodybag.
A thrilling new mystery from Liana Brooks, The
Day Before will have you looking over your shoulder and questioning what it
means to be human.
Ebook for the Winner:
Sixteen-year-old Marci Guerrero is one of the best teen hackers in Seattle. However, she’d give up all her talents to know she isn’t crazy.

Marci feels possessed by what she perceives as shadowy spectres that take control of her body and make her do crazy things. While spying on the clandestine group known as IgNiTe, she’s confronted by the leader, James McCray. His presence stirs the spectres inside her brain into a maddening frenzy. Her symptoms and ability to control them don’t go unnoticed by James, who soon recruits her and shows her the awful truth.

Half of the world’s population is infected by sentient parasites. They bind themselves to the human brain and replace the pathways for all thoughts and actions. The creatures then morph their hosts into grotesque monsters with extraordinary strengths. Winged, clawed, fanged half-humans become living nightmares. Now Marci wishes she was crazy, because the truth is worse.

She’s infected.                                     Buy: Amazon|Barnes and Noble
Ebook for the Winner:
For ten millennia, the leaders of the Overland have been Selected by the Machinery, an omnipotent machine gifted to the world in darker days.
The Overland has thrived, crushing all enemies. But the Machinery came with a prophecy: it will break in its ten-thousandth year, Selecting just one leader who will bring Ruin to the world. That time has arrived.
Katrina Paprissi is an Apprentice Watcher, charged with seeking out any who doubt the power of the Machinery. But as the Machinery nears breaking point, her own doubts begin to surface. She must travel to its home in the depths of the mysterious Underland, to see if Ruin really is coming for them all…
Choice of ebook or paperback:
Tonight, for the first time in over a century, a mortal child will be kidnapped by faeries.
 
When her daughter Fiona is snatched from her bed, Caitlin’s entire world crumbles. Once certain that faeries were only a fantasy, Caitlin must now accept that these supernatural creatures do exist—and that they have traded in their ancient swords and horses for modern guns and sports cars. Hopelessly outmatched, she accepts help from a trio of unlikely heroes: Eddy, a psychiatrist and novice wizard; Brendan, an outcast Fian warrior; and Dante, a Magister of the fae’s Rogue Court. Moving from the busy streets of Boston’s suburbs to the shadowy land of Tír na nÓg, Caitlin and her allies will risk everything to save Fiona. But can this disparate quartet conquer their own inner demons and outwit the dark faeries before it’s too late?
Choice of ebook or paperback:
Across the United States, children are vanishing. Only this time, faeries may not be to blame …

Dante, Regent of the fae’s Rogue Court, has been receiving disturbing reports. Human children are manifesting magical powers in record numbers. Shunned and forgotten, they live on the streets in ragtag groups with the already-booming population of homeless changelings. But the streets aren’t a haven; someone, or something, is hunting these children down.

Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, has no home, no family, and no real memories of her past. She and her friends SK, Fritz, and Shadow are constantly on the run, fleeing from a dark and unknown enemy. But when her companions are taken by “the snatchers,” Wraith is their only hope. Her journey to find them will test the limits of her magic–and her trust. A dark force is on the rise, and it could spell the end of our world as we know it.
 
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Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven.

Yet her half-brother Myrren hasn’t inherited the family’s ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn’s brutal murder only Myrren believes her innocent and aids her escape. A fugitive from her own guard, Ayla must now fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

But does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Ebook for the Winner:
 
A fantasy
full of sumptuous characters, rip-roaring adventure and dark deeds…” Harper
Voyager, UK 2015
Archivist,
Devin Roché has just taken his finals at Coreé prestigious Académie. As the
sixth son of the ruler of Llisé, his future is his own, and so he embarks on an
adventure to memorize stories chronicling the history of each province.
As Devin
begins his journey with only his best friend Gaspard and their bodyguard
Marcus, he hears rumors of entire villages disappearing without a trace and of
Master Bards being assassinated in the night.
As the three
companions get closer to unearthing the truth, they can’t help but wonder
whether it is their own quest that may have set these events in motion. But if
that is the case, what do Llisé and Devin’s father have to hide?
 

Buy: Amazon US|HarperCollins|Amazon UK

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It frightens me, knowing the One has called up two such strong individuals. It means that there are troubled times in our future, and you must prepare yourselves.”

The Temple at Illian is the crown jewel of life in the Northern Territory. There, pledges are paired with feli, the giant sacred cats of the One god, and are instructed to serve the One’s four capricious deities. Yet Sulis, a young woman from the Southern Desert, has a different perspective – one that just might be considered heresy…

Sulis’s twin Kadar, meanwhile, is part of a different sort of revolution. When Kadar falls in love with a woman from a Forsaken caste, he finds he’s willing to risk anything to get these people to freedom. But with Sulis drawing a dangerous level of attention from the deities, and war about to break out on two fronts, the twins find change may not come without great sacrifice.

An astonishing debut, Kelley Grant brings to life a powerful new epic fantasy tale of determination and self-discovery.


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Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.
 
But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies – and this isn’t the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he’s been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs.
 
Even if that means life might never be normal again.

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Big Announcement

Well, I think it’s a big announcement.
The American Faerie Tale series has been cleared for two more books!

hobbes

I’ll be sharing more information as time goes on, but here is something to hold you over. The next book will be called…

Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection

Aside from a bonus story about a group introduced in The Forgotten, the unanswered question at the end of The Stolen will be answered! The current scheduled release date is December 2015. Stay tuned for more information, including cover reveals, perhaps some excerpts, and exclusive offers for pre-orders!

New Author Adventures Interview: Tim Lees

Tim Lees is a British native, recently moved to the US. He’s the author of two books: The God Hunter, and Devil In The Wires. Like me, he was plucked out of obscurity and hurled into a new kind of obscurity when Harper Voyager selected him from its open submission window.

Hi, Tim. Welcome. What are you drinking? Understand as a Brit, your choice of pint will heavily weigh my lasting opinion of you. No pressure.
Ginger lychee mojito, please. Thanks very much.

 I had no idea you were a bond villain.
Right then, moving on. In your books, the storyline revolves around the idea of harvesting the latent psychic energy left behind in ancient worship sites (and eventually the Gods themselves) and using to it create real power; electricity. However, your main character also deals with the daily grind of being a corporate underling; paperwork, inept supervisors, etc. Are you really just a socialist/communist/anarchist/botanist looking to convert others to your ideas in attempt to form an underground army with the plans to bring down the capitalist structure?
Yes. But I hide it well.

Do you? Or is it a clever ruse, and you’re writing this book in hopes of distracting others from your real goal of forming exactly the company in your stories that will one day rule the world with an iron-fisted control on the energy market?
You mean we don’t already?

Do you have an IPO planned?
Okay, now that the easy question is out of the way, here’s a really tough one, and don’t try dodging it. Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea?
Absolutely.

Well played, sir. Well played.
Next question: science fiction has a long tradition of making social commentary; condemning wars, warning about the certainty of invading aliens who will destroy us if we don’t win the war against them, warning about the certainty of robots/AIs who rise up to destroy us if we don’t win the war against them, to life in a giant submarine would be awesome. Is there any deeper message to your books?
I don’t think you can have a book without some kind of deeper message, since its content is bound to reflect the author’s views and experience, whether he knows it or not. There are some deeper messages there – I could even suggest an allegorical reading for the last one, but I won’t, because it would sound really bad – but I don’t believe in preaching. I’d rather entertain people, and maybe make them think a bit. Let them come to their own conclusions.

I think I agree with you entirely. The entertaining makes the message easy to get across. What are your plans for the series? How many books are you thinking about?
 I have one more in my head at the moment, still a bit underdeveloped, but it’s coming along. I’m told HarperVoyager are keen to extend the series and, lo and behold! I am suddenly inspired to do the same! Amazing, isn’t it?

Absolutely remarkable coincidence! Such luck! Now, as a new author, what would you rate as the top three experiences thus far? Assuming of course getting the publishing deal and seeing your book in the flesh are numbers one and two.
 I’m not really a new author. I’ve published a lot of short stories, two collections, and the novel Frankenstein’s Prescription (Tartarus Press). But this is my first experience with a major publisher. My previous work was with the independent press, and the thing I learned there is that your exposure is likely to be limited. Some good reviews, but, unless you’re very lucky (or have lots of friends) not much in the way of sales. With a major publisher, you get noticed more. That said, my first book with them, The God Hunter, was a little slow to take off. (It’s doing pretty well now.) They got behind it and, after first asking my permission (yes, really) put the e-book version on special offer, just to get the whole thing going. I’m impressed; I had imagined that, in the tough world of big boys’ publishing, anything that immediately failed to make money would be junked. Not so, at least in this case.
The editing process has also been very important. It’s had me tearing my hair out at times, but I think my writing since has been stronger for going through that mill – knowing what to leave out, what to make clearer, and so forth. I may be busy crafting sentences and scenes, but the editor sees the book as a whole, and if it starts to flag at any point, she (in this case) can spot it where I may not.
I should say, the editing was mainly a matter of cutting. It hurt, but I’m in favor of it – if you can say the same thing in half the space, you’ll probably say it better.
I am also now entirely bald.

Ah, so you’re experiencing things from both sides. And I’m very sorry about the baldness, but the wig is excellent. Very natural looking….How do you deal with/react to bad reviews? If you have none yet, let me know and I’ll provide you with some.
The “bad” reviews I’ve had tend, I think, to be from people who are expecting something different. The God Hunter has a lot of comedy in it and the publisher’s blurb mentioned Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens. So I got a thumbs down from a Pratchett fan for, well, not being Terry Pratchett. (I would like to assure everyone that I am not now, nor have I ever been, Terry Pratchett.) Someone put up an Amazon review of Devil in the Wires complaining that it was too gruesome and they were now desperately trying to forget it. But they gave it five stars, so I’m not sure if that’s a bad review or not.

Well, in fairness, I’d give you a thumbs down for not being Terry Pratchett as well. You’re a nice guy, but you clearly aren’t Sir Terry. But enough about your shortcomings in being Terry Pratchett. Your book almost straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy, the harnessing the power of Gods, but in a scientific society where there is no magic. Was the genre bending intentional? Or did it come about as a consequence of the story as it evolved?
Are you trying to suggest I don’t know what I’m doing?

No, of course not……

Actually, there are all sorts of things in there: comedy, horror, adventure, etc. But my notion was that, having thrown in something utterly fanciful, it should then be explored in a logical, “realistic” fashion. Note I put “realistic” in quotation marks.

So you’d call your book more magical realism, then. I think that’s a fair assessment.
If you could, what one author would you meet, and would you hug them or punch them? Understanding of course that this document could well be used against you in the future to show premeditation and intent, should charges be filed.
There is the old line about being wary of meeting your heroes. But if you fancy a punch-up, I’m game.

So then it’s someone you’d punch and you’re refusing to give a name for your own legal sake. Prudent choice. Do you feel the need to correct Americans who call it soccer?
We call it soccer, too, you know. There are two kinds of football (real football, I mean): rugby, or “rugger”, invented at Rugby School for the brutalization of the English upper class, and Association Football, or “soccer”. I’m not sure why that was invented, though there are rumors it began with a bunch of Anglo-Saxons kicking a Viking’s head around. That would certainly make the World Cup more interesting, anyway.

What’s not to love about a sport designed to physically assault the upper class? I think I heard that about soccer as well. You know, it would make the World Cup more interesting, and might even get some more Americans watching. Lastly, because I’m a philosophical kind of guy, if you could go back to any point in your life and give your younger self any single piece of advice, at what age would you meet yourself and what would you say? Or would you just mess with him and tell him he’s the only hope to turn back an alien/robot invasion that has decimated the human race?
Now, you know I’m not allowed to talk about the alien invasion. That would be like discussing my superpowers or my secret identity, wouldn’t it? And please don’t call me “Clark” in public any more. You know it embarrasses me.

I’m very sorry, Bruce.


 

Thanks, Tim, it’s been fun. *give secret handshake* Good luck on your books and/or plans for corporate domination of the energy market.

Tim’s books are available in paperback or ebook pretty much everywhere. They really are excellent stories with an interesting story line. If you’re looking for a thriller with great dry humor, you’ll love these books. You can also find out more about Tim and send him adoring fan mail via his website https://timlees.wordpress.com/

“It’s a perfect circle, Chris. The god receives his audience, the grid receives the power—and we light up Chicago.”

After the perilous retrieval of a long-dormant god from Iraq, Chris Copeland—professional god hunter and company troubleshooter—is about ready to quit his job. But his employers at the Registry have other plans…plans to build a power facility on the shores of Lake Michigan. Adam Shailer, a rising star at the Registry, thinks he can cage the god, drain its energy, and power the city.
It’s Chris’s job to make sure nothing goes wrong. And at first, everything seems fine. Great, even. But when ecstatic devotees start leaving human sacrifices on the beach near the god-house, it quickly becomes clear that the god is not as contained as the Registry would have everyone believe. The devil’s in the wires, and there’s no turning back now.

Devil

Happy 4th of July and a Guest Post!

Happy 4th of July! If you’re in the US, you’re probably eating hot dogs, hamburgers, bbq, or perhaps some soy impersonation of them with friends and family before enjoying a colorful display of high explosives. For those of you not in the US and might not be familiar, the 4th marks American independence from the British. And what finer way to celebrate than to invite a Brit into the pub? AFE Smith is one of my fellow Harper Voyager open submission selectees. In fact, it’s in no small part from her hard work that many of those selectees (most of whom you’ll see listed on my links list) are now friends. As such, it’s my pleasure to have AFE for a visit promoting her debut novel, Darkhaven. It’s a fantasy novel with shapeshifting, mystery, intrigue, AND flying unicorns. That’s right, I said flying unicorns. We shall not at this time however delve into whether they are pegacorns or unisuses. As part of this tour, she has a lot of giveaways happening. You can, and should, check out the tour here. And if you’d like to get a free copy of Darkhaven, as well as some other nifty stuff, here’s her Rafflecopter giveaway.

For her visit, AFE is here to talk about how she came to not only accept who she is (and what she loves) but to be proud of it, and frankly, that’s a story that can never be told enough.


Love what you love

Let me tell you a story.

Maybe 15 or 20 years ago, when I was a young teenager, I was … well, pretty much the same as I am now. Quiet*, shy, a voracious reader, into fantasy novels and sci-fi movies and going to the library on a Saturday morning. The only difference was, I was ashamed of being those things. I used to creep around the fantasy section of my local bookshop with one eye constantly on the door, just in case someone I knew came in and saw me. Yet now I’m a fantasy author who wrote a book about love and murder and flying unicorns, and I’m not in the least ashamed. Because it’s awesome.

So what changed?

Well, for me it was threefold. Partly it was getting a bit older, moving from school to university, and discovering that no one judged me anymore; the cool kids read fantasy too. Partly (though this may sound silly) it was the first Lord of the Rings movie, which came out around the same time – because it was a wild success, and everyone was watching it, and that meant it wasn’t weird to like fantasy after all. And partly, it was the internet.

I kind of wish the internet had already been mainstream when I was growing up, because one wonderful thing it does is allow people with similar interests to come together. I never even had an email address until I went to university. I’d barely ever used the internet before.** But once I found online communities, I suddenly had a way to know I wasn’t alone. Whatever you love, someone else loves it too.

(As an aside, if I’d had internet access in the 90s I would totally have been a fanfic writer. Actually, I was a fanfic writer – privately, on paper.*** But I’d already stopped writing fics by the time I got online. Which is a little bit sad, because I never got to experience that particular community.)

Then, of course, geeking out over stuff – being enthusiastic about something – became cool. But I’m happy to say that by that point, I no longer cared what anyone thought. Thank goodness. Took me long enough.

The point of this story, quite aside from don’t be as wimpy as me, is never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your passions. Love what you love, and be proud – whether it’s building robots or collecting obscure varieties of tea or dressing up as a different anime character every weekend. It took me maybe ten years to go from being ashamed of what I love to being proud of it (and, you know, even making a living out of it. Maybe. Fingers crossed. If this book takes off). It shouldn’t take that long. It shouldn’t take any time at all. Own it.

 

*If my best school friend is reading this, she’d probably argue with that assessment. But then, even the quietest person needs someone to be noisy with.

**Yes, at the turn of the century it was possible for someone to reach the age of 18 without knowing anything about the internet. Crazy, I know.

***I’m sure you’re longing to know what I wrote fics for, so I’ll tell you this: the first fic I ever wrote was for the Ace Ventura movies. Remember those, with Jim Carrey? And yes, I know that’s weird. And no, you can’t read it.


Cover_image_DARKHAVEN_AFE_Smith

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

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Scavenger_day14

A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.

What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

Author_photo_DARKHAVEN_AFE_Smith

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