The Voodoo and Hoodoo that You Do

By Gail Z. Martin

My Deadly Curiosities dark urban fantasy series of books, novellas and short stories is set in Charleston, SC. Charleston is a beautiful city with a bloody past, one of the oldest cities in the United Sates, and one of the most haunted.

I draw on a broad range of magic in Deadly Curiosities—everything from Cherokee shamans to Voodoo (some practitioners prefer Voudon) mambos and houngans, and root workers along with a secret society of kick-ass Episcopalian priests, witches, a necromancer, supernatural hit men, a paranormal special ops guy, clairvoyants, a psychic medium, and more.

Many of the characters associated with magic are recurring cast members for the series, showing up in both books and throughout the short stories and novellas. Lucinda is a Voudon mambo and Caliel is a houngan, both descendants of Mama Nadedge, a mambo who lived in the 1700s and whose ghost still haunts Charleston’s alleys. Father Anne is an unorthodox Episcopalian priest, a member of the secret St. Expeditious Society, and a friend to the Alliance, always happy to help come kick some demon ass. Ernestine Teller is a root worker and a weaver of sweetgrass baskets. She and her daughter, Niella, use their abilities with Hoodoo to help Cassidy and the team take out the bad guys. These are just a few of the magic-wielding allies that Cassidy, Sorren and Teag call on through the Alliance. You’ll meet more, but I don’t want to give anything away!

In addition to the inherent hauntedness of Charleston, I’ve added a lot of magic and supernatural traditions. Most people connect Voodoo (or Voudon as some practitioners prefer) with New Orleans, but forget that slaveholding families would have moved back and forth between Charleston and New Orleans to visit relatives, or slaves would have been sold between plantations. That makes it reasonable to me that Voodoo practitioners could have been in Charleston, and that their descendants might be there today. Voudon plays a big role in the Deadly Curiosities novels and in a lot of the short stories, and the Loa—powerful spirits—are very active.

Hoodoo (sometimes called ‘conjure’) is another folk tradition with strong African and Caribbean roots that came with enslaved individuals. Hoodoo is particularly well-known in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and is often referred to as ‘putting a root’ on someone. Practitioners are known as ‘root women’ or ‘root workers’. Spells, powders, rituals and potions abound for blessing, cursing, bringing good fortune or warding off evil.  Conjure workers often deal with attracting love, happiness and wealth, or causing misfortune to someone who did somebody wrong. Even today in the South Carolina Lowcountry, it is no idle threat to ‘put a root’ on someone! You’ll see more of Hoodoo and Voodoo in both Deadly Curiosities and Vendetta and in the ‘extended episode’ short stories and novellas.

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Excerpt from my book Ice Forged http://bit.ly/1oCHuNP

Try this excerpt from Collector, a Deadly Curiosities story http://bit.ly/1t8XMy7

Use your free Audible trial to get my books! DeadlyCuriosities https://amzn.com/B01IITFPZE

Enjoy this excerpt from Bad Blood, a Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure http://bit.ly/1uQXtVd

Sweet! An excerpt from Stuart Jaffe’s Southern Bound Max Porter Paranormal Mystery: http://www.stuartjaffe.com/mp-sample/

Double Dragon Sampler #3 http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE003.mobi

Spooky! An excerpt from John Hartness’s Bubba The Monster Hunter story Hall & Goats  http://bit.ly/1Lok7PC

Have you seen the Vendetta video? https://youtu.be/u72GIQlBAoU

Read free excerpts from all of Falstaff Books’ new releases! http://bit.ly/2eoLwJu

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Defying Categories

by Gail Z. Martin

Writers, like actors can get pigeon-holed.

If you’re very successful writing one type of fiction, publishers, agents and readers want you to continue to write that same type of fiction, sometimes indefinitely. While it’s great to have ongoing series, most creative people like to experiment, stretch their wings, try something new. Creating a new series that is in the same genre is often an easy sell, because since you’ve succeeded with that genre before, people expect continued success.

But what if you’ve got ideas for other types of stories, outside that genre? Then it can get dicey. Publishers and agents worry about risk. Readers of one genre might not read the other genre. Even your gender might be an asset in one genre and a liability in another. Some genres are considered to be more competitive than others, and certain genres have overall higher sales figures/readership than others. All of those things factor in to potential profitability of a new series, the impact on your track record/reputation, and future opportunities.

Ideally, you want to have the freedom to keep doing what made you successful, while being able to risk venturing into new territory. Some authors achieve this by writing in the other genres with separate publishers, or by working with a small press. Others use indie publishing to bring out series in genres where they haven’t previously made a name for themselves. Still others choose to use a pseudonym, either to separate their sales in one genre from those in another, or by or because they don’t want to confuse readers whose preferences might not cross over. Lingering stereotypes about author gender lead some writers to assume one persona for one genre (like romance) and a different personal for another genre (like suspense). I’m looking at you, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb.

I’ve been very lucky to have had supportive publishers who have enabled me to write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. I’m currently working on new books that fall into the horror, dark urban fantasy and space opera categories. I don’t know whether those will find a home with a publisher or whether we’ll bring them out indie, but they are tales I want to tell. I know up front that not every reader will follow me across the genres, but I believe there will be some degree of overlap, and welcome the chance to develop relationships with new readers.

Writing is about creativity as well as earning a living. If you keep writing the same kind of things without a chance to explore new ideas, you’re likely to get bored, resentful or stale, none of which will do good things for your fiction. So write what you want, and eventually those stories will find a home and an audience. They might not succeed equally, but you’ll learn something in the process, have some fun, try out new skills, explore new place, meet new people. That journey is just as important as the destination.

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Excerpt from Caves of the Dead in my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures http://bit.ly/12s2f4T

Enjoy an excerpt from Coffin Box, one of my Deadly Curiosities Adventures short story http://bit.ly/SDCIjx

Hot stuff! Look at my video for Ice Forged and Reign of Ash https://youtu.be/RPXi27GnSO4

Hey! My Ascendant Kingdoms series is on Audible! Start w Ice Forged here https://amzn.com/B00EP1C1HK

DoubleDragonSampler#1 http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE001.mobi

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Mining History

by Gail Z. Martin

How can you ever get writers’ block when there’s history?  History is the ultimate reality show. It’s the best gossip in the world.

Once you get past the pallid caricatures of historical figures presented in high school textbooks, you realize that the famed forebears who forged history were flawed, broken, selfish, pig-headed, inspired, visionary, brilliant, horny, bigoted, exceptional, obsessive hot messes, and that makes them fascinating.

Need a role model for your character? Ideas for political schemes? Plans to take over the world? History’s got them all. Anything you can dream up has been done, and history is ready to dish the scoop and tell you all about the winners and the losers. Take something that happened in history, twist it a little, add magic or monsters, move it to a different geographic area, shift a pivotal outcome–and you’ve got the basis for a whole new series.

A caveat–history is often re-written by the winners, or they make certain their version of accounts survive and dominate. So it’s key to also look for the holes in the narrative, because that’s where people without power have been consciously erased by those who want to own and control the story. Ever wonder why the narratives we grew up with had few if any women, people of color, LGBT people? It’s because their contributions were intentionally excised from the main narrative. Yet they definitely existed and did amazing things–and you can find this ‘hidden history’ through journals, letters and personal accounts.

Mining history has never been easier, thanks to the wealth of digitized records museums, archivists and individuals are bringing online on a daily basis–much of which is free to access. Photographs, letters, official documents, the census, maps, out of print books, newspaper articles–it’s all there, and it’s a wonder to behold. So many ideas in those yellowed pages!

When I get stymied by a plot point, I research. It might be Googling random ideas and seeing where it leads me, or following links in Wikipedia, or watching something on the History Channel. Inevitably, I find the perfect elements that I didn’t even know I was looking for. It’s magic–and so addictive. Sometimes I think writers write as an excuse to research. Time can get away from you so easily!

Then again, I was a history geek even before I became a writer. I’d still love history if I didn’t write, but since I do, I find it to be my killer app, the Swiss Army knife of writing tools. You’ll never run dry of ideas so long as you’ve got history!

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Here’s an excerpt from Bad Memories, one of my Deadly Curiosities story http://bit.ly/1xigNgz

Read a free excerpt from Among the Shoals Forever, A Deadly Curiosities short story http://bit.ly/TP14YG

Enjoy this excerpt from my novel The Summoner http://bit.ly/1D81sBa

Use your free Audible trial to get my books! Ice Forged Audible https://amzn.com/B00EP1C1HK

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Writing Real People into Your Fiction

by Gail Z. Martin

If you’re going to use real people in your fiction, make it easy on yourself and be sure they’re dead.

Dead people don’t have as many rights as living people (or corporations). Public figures have fewer privacy restrictions than private individuals. If you’re going to make a character be something really terrible, pick someone who is long dead, long enough that close relatives won’t feel inclined to sue. I’m not a lawyer, but if you think you’re going to use a real person in a book in a way that might make someone related to that person annoyed enough to make your life miserable, you might want to create a fictional character instead. Remember that the laws differ from country to country, so err on the side of caution if you don’t want to fork over legal fees.

That said, using real public figures who have been dead for a hundred years ago are fair game. They won’t have spouses, children or grandchildren around who might fear a tarnished reputation if you make great grand-daddy a serial killer. Hence, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

What about using people you know? This is dangerous territory. If the person paid to be written in (called a ‘Tuckerization’), it’s still good to get a signed release form, in case memory lapses years down the road. While we all learn about people by watching the folks who are around us on a daily basis, resist the urge to write in the kid who bullied you in fifth grade or the roommate from college who stole your best sweater. Fiction should be more than cheap revenge, and there’s more to building good characters than wholesale copying. It’s one thing to assemble a mixture of traits from a variety of real people and another thing to make a real person easily identifiable as the model for your character. Unless you like settling legal disputes, avoid causing harm.

In general, I will use real people and places in my urban fantasy and our steampunk to create a sense of time and place, often as walk-on or secondary characters. I treat long-dead public figures with less care than modern celebrities and politicians, and generally avoid using the latter unless it’s a cultural reference (and even then, such things can date your book).

It’s the same courtesy I use for real places. Historic, public and government buildings, sites and organizations are safe to use as locations. On the other hand, I don’t like to use a real, existing business in my fiction because they might not be in business by the time the book is printed, and they might not be happy about being used as a crime scene or alleged to be run by a supernatural monster that eats children.  I figure my life is chaotic enough without dodging legal problems that can be easily avoided. In writing, as in medicine, it’s good to follow the concept, “first, do no harm.”

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Use your free Audible trial to get my Deadly Curiosities! https://amzn.com/B01IITFPZE

Here’s an excerpt from my novel The Summoner http://bit.ly/1D81sBa

Enjoy this free excerpt from Bounty Hunter, one of my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure short stories http://bit.ly/10rPQ07

Try an excerpt from Wicked Dreams, a Deadly Curiosities short story http://bit.ly/1obkBAb

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Making Magic: Creating a Magical System

by Gail Z. Martin

How does a writer go about creating a magical system when magic isn’t ‘real’?

Fortunately, we have centuries worth of books, letters, writings and documents detailing all kinds of magical systems by people who believed them to be very real. Lift the hood on modern magical practices and the structure of religions, and you’ll find food for thought. The trick is taking those elements and making them something unique to your world, rooted in your special brand of magic.

Mystical practice–whether occult or religious–has a core need to create a sense of altered and heightened reality in its devotees. The means of doing so is well documented, and validated by psychology. Trance states can be induced by repetitive actions (chanting, rocking, dance), by chemicals (peyote, wine, hallucinogens), by physical hardship (fasting, grueling initiation rites), by sleep deprivation or extended solitude. Once the right mental buttons have been pressed, susceptible initiates will have visions, hear voices, feel non-existent stimuli, believe themselves to be flying. Most ritual initiations have some element of acting out a form of death and resurrection. These are the stuff of belief and religion–and the same building blocks of magic.

Liturgy has as its intent the opening of liminal space, thinning the veil between our world and the next. Blood and sacrifice often factor in at some level, literal or metaphorical. There is power in speaking the old words in the old ways, dressed in clothing that denotes being set apart from daily occupations, in a space deemed to be sacred, with the intent of achieving a mystical connection with something greater than ourselves and tapping into that power.

Think about the rules for the magic you create. Who has magic and who doesn’t? Must you be born with it or can it be acquired? Can you learn to improve your magic, or do you come ‘factory-equipped’? Do abilities differ in type and power? Is magic permitted in the society? Desired? Feared? Persecuted? Do people with magical abilities hold special positions and do they have a choice about being inducted into those roles? How can magic be misused and what are the consequences? Who are considered the ‘bad’ people with magic, who are the ‘good’ people and why? Is magic hidden or openly used? What are the limits and costs of using magic? Where does the power come from? How has the use/understanding of the magic changed over time or vary depending on the status of the user? Always build in a Kryptonite for your mages so that they don’t become all-powerful. Magic must have a price, both to learn and to use or else you’ve got a lot of godlings running around throwing lightning bolts and it’s bloody boring.

Study what makes ritual and religion tick, and you’ll understand the psychological drivers necessary for a convincing magical system. I can usually spot when an author has no first-hand experience with a faith tradition or is contemptuous of anything mystical because their attempts at written magic fall flat. They are missing the heart, the transcendence. Magic has rules and structure, but it is also emotional and transcendent. Miss that, and all you’ve got is a shopping list for odd ingredients and some funny words in bad poems.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Why fandom matters now more than ever

by Gail Z. Martin

Now, when the world feels more hostile and frightening than it has in a long time, I believe fandom (the creators and organizers who enable it, as well as the fans who participate) is more important than ever because when we are afraid, we need our tribes.

It is perfectly reasonable to seek comfort and encouragement from those who share a love for the same stories and our fandom mythologies.

In my experience, fandom shares a deep belief in honor, loyalty, friendship, integrity, courage, family (both family by blood and family by choice), and in spite of apocalypses and dystopias, a conviction that we will survive if we keep faith with each other and refuse to leave anyone behind.

Fandom has also been a shelter for those of us who don’t always fit in out there. We’re different, and we belong together. That means right now many of us feel vulnerable and at risk. Be gentle with each other, support each other, and protect each other.

If you’re a creator, keep telling stories, making movies and shows and videos, writing songs and acting, cosplaying and making art. If you’re a fan, gather your tribe and immerse yourself in the stories that sustain you. If you’re a convention organizer, blogger, site admin, keep bringing us together.

Fandom is fierce. We’ve got the biggest damn BAMF heroes who stand for truth, justice, and most importantly, the idea that humanity’s better self can ultimately prevail. Our heroes are flawed and scarred, they make mistakes and they pay a price, but they do not give up, give in, or give way. They inspire us to find the hero inside of ourselves.

Science fiction and fantasy has a long history of being subversive to tyrants. SF was the language of dangerous ideas behind the Iron Curtain. We speak the truth in myth. There’s a reason so many of our sacred tales are about rebels. We aim to misbehave.

We are the people of Aragorn and Galadriel, of Sam, Frodo and Arwen, of Mal and Zoe and River, Kirk, Janeway, Sisko and Picard. Of Sulu and Spock and Uhura. Of Harry and Ron and Hermione, McGonagall and Dumbledore. Of Captain America, Wonder Woman, Batman and Black Widow. Of Sam & Dean and Team Free Will. Of Frozone and Mulan and Moana (yes, I count Disney as part of fandom). Of Leia and Han and Lando, Finn and Rey, Jyn and Cassian. Sheridan and Delenn. The Doctor and Capt Jack Harkness. We are strong, and we fight for what we believe in, shoulder to shoulder.

So take heart in Aragorn’s speech at the Black Gate. Close your eyes and repeat Paul Atreides’ Litany Against Fear. Be ‘proud of us’. Stand up for what you believe in and stand up for each other. Take your place at the Battle of Hogwarts, or Yavin 5, Sector 001, Stull Cemetery, Serenity Valley, Demon’s Run or the Battle of the Line. We come from a long, proud heritage of people who don’t want to be told the odds.

And if you haven’t read my personal story about how fandom saved my life, it’s here https://holdontothelight.com/…/fandom-takes-care-of-its-ow…/

#AlwaysKeepFighting #HoldOnToTheLight #YouAreNotAlone #FamilyAlwaysHasYourBack #YANA #AKF #FAHYB

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fandom, Gail Z. Martin

Starting a Series from Scratch

by Gail Z. Martin

Nothing is more intimidating than a blank screen or an empty page. I don’t care how many books you write, I’m not sure it ever gets any less scary to sit down and stare at that vast expanse of empty whiteness waiting for your words.

After you’ve got a few books under your belt, you do come prepared to face your fears with foreknowledge. You know it’s going to be difficult to get started, so you spend time mentally crafting your opening scene so you can jump right in. Or maybe you console yourself with the knowledge that you’ve done it before and you can do it again.

Of course you have an outline, and when you wrote the outline, it seemed like a good idea. The publisher signed off on it, so they thought it was a good idea too, and so did your agent. But then you sit down at the computer and that outline suddenly seems anemic. (I can’t speak for the authors who are said to write outlines of the same word count most authors write books. Maybe it’s easier for them, but that’s kind of like writing the book before you write the book, so cheating a little.)

For me, there are several issues that need to be settled as I build out a new series. They are 1) characters; 2) magic and religion; 3) political/economic structure; 4) climate/geography/history; 5) map and location of story action; 6) technology. All of those generally come to me based on the plot. So I’ll usually get an idea for a particular character with a certain kind of challenge/problem/danger. Then the question becomes: In what kind of a world could that happen? How would their world have to work for that to be an issue? How would those threats arise from that world and what would the ripple effects be?

I majored in history, so I know the importance of all the elements that come to a confluence in order for historical turning points to occur or pivotal leaders to surface. So I’ll think through the political situation and think about the rival forces and their competing visions, the economic system and who stands to profit or lose from the Big Problem. I’ll think about how history, myth, religion, magic and culture either support or pull against those trends. I’ll consider the various internal and external factions, what they want, what they stand to lose, and what they’re willing to do to win.

Geography matters, because it determines where roads and cities are built, where trade routes and money travel, where people will be isolated and where there is a natural crossroads. A map helps me keep it all straight. Then I have to go back and reconcile whether the characters and plot I originally envisioned have what they need to move forward in this new world, and if not, it’s back to the drawing board.

Building the world is as much fun as populating it with characters and writing the story. It’s a little like playing God, but without the mess.

I’m not permitted to say much yet about the new series I’m writing for Solaris Books that will come out in 2017 except to call it the Epically-Epic Epic Fantasy That Cannot Yet Be Named (or E3F for short). It’s my third foray into building an epic fantasy world. I’ve done my best to make all of the worlds I’ve created very different from one another in as many ways as I can. So the magic works differently and comes with new rules and a different source. The politics and the backstory are coming from a very different focus. All new gods and a new understanding of religion. Mixing it up keeps it fresh for me as well as for readers. Even though epic fantasy has its tropes (Medieval, castles, monarchies, swords, magic) there are so many ways to play with the details that it never gets boring. And if I need inspiration, real history is nearly limitless in the ideas!

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Here’s an excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here http://bit.ly/1ZXCPVS

Free excerpt from my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure short story Raider’s Curse http://bit.ly/12s119H

Don’t miss out! Here’s the War of Shadows book video video https://youtu.be/DgCgrTto9WY

Use your free Audible trial to get my books! War of Shadows Audible https://amzn.com/B00WAFNG6I

DoubleDragonSampler#7 http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE007.mobi

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Which Comes First–Character or World?

by Gail Z. Martin

Ask three writers how they do their worldbuilding, and you’ll get four opinions. Maybe more, if our characters get to give their own answers.

That is to say, there’s no wrong way to worldbuild as long as the final product ends up satisfactory to readers. The trick is to come up with an approach that works for you, that creates a realistically detailed and nuanced setting, and–most importantly–seamlessly and believably supports your plot and characters.

How detailed should your worldbuilding be? That reminds me of the old joke about how long a man’s legs should be–long enough to reach the ground. You want your world to have age and depth and weight to it. It should feel like it’s been thoroughly lived in and hard used, not like one of those false-front fake Wild West villages at amusement parks. Your characters and plot should feel as if they rise organically from your world, as if they couldn’t possibly happen anywhere else or be the same in any other setting.

If you’ve ever traveled somewhere unfamiliar, whether it’s across the state or across the world, it’s the little things that made you aware that you were someplace far from home. The menu choices were unfamiliar. The brands of soda were different. The money looked odd and came in strange colors and sizes. People went about their daily routines a bit differently than back home. Signs are not what you’re used to seeing. All those little details aren’t important by themselves, but collectively they are the stuff of authenticity, and to the extent that you have thoroughly thought these things out, your readers will have a richer, more immersive experience.

I believe that immersion was part of the genius of the Harry Potter books. In a million different little details, J.K. Rowling signaled that we weren’t in our own mundane world but someplace wondrous and frighteningly different. The best books give us enough of these nuanced details that we don’t feel infodumped or overwhelmed but we do grasp that we’ve been whisked away to somewhere new.

As for which comes first, character or world, that’s like the chicken/egg dilemma. If you think hard about the circumstances and experiences that shaped your character, you’ll know a lot about the world he/she came from. And if you build out your world convincingly, you’ll know what kinds of characters arise from its climate, history, culture and society. Start wherever you please; you’ll end up in the same place.

How do you drill down to those details? Some writers like to ‘interview’ their characters, sitting down and having a mental chat with their creations who proceed to spill their guts. I’ve used that successfully. Sometimes, either the world or the character just comes to you full-blown, and you have to figure out the rest around the edges. I’ve also built series that way as well. For me, I want my world to be a character in its own way. For example, in my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, things happen that are quintessentially Charleston, SC so that if the action were to happen somewhere else, it would have to be different. The city of Charleston is woven into the fabric of the story in a way that can’t be undone.

If you’re still struggling with worldbuilding, think about the places you’ve been (or go on a day trip somewhere new) and note the details. Jot them down and pay attention to everything you notice that differs from back home. Now think about how you might pull that kind of nuance into your fictional worldbuilding. It could be easier than you think!

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Here’s an excerpt from my Deadly Curiosities Adventures short story Buttons http://bit.ly/1v5t9Zf

A free excerpt from my Deadly Curiosities Adventures short story Coffin Box Deadly Curiosities short story http://bit.ly/SDCIjx

Use your free Audible trial to get my books! Ice Forged Audible https://amzn.com/B00EP1C1HK

Try a free excerpt from my Reign of Ash http://bit.ly/1oCEa5j

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Getting Real with Trifles and Folly

by Gail Z. Martin

At the heart of my urban fantasy series Deadly Curiosities is the antique store Trifles and Folly. Trifles and Folly has been run by members of my main character’s family since Charleston, SC was founded nearly 350 years ago, always in tandem with its secret silent partner, a nearly 600 year-old vampire named Sorren.

Trifles and Folly is really a front for The Alliance, a secret coalition of mortals and immortals that eliminates supernatural threats and gets cursed and haunted objects out of the wrong hands. My main character, Cassidy Kincaide, is a psychometric who can read the history and magic of objects by touch.

The books are set in Charleston, SC but the storefront that I picture when I think of Trifles and Folly is in New Orleans, LA, just down the street from the famed Hotel Monteleone. I took one look and knew it was exactly what I had in mind, although I described Trifles and Folly years before I ever visited the Big Easy.

What makes the NOLA store perfect? The storefront appears to date from the 1800s, with black wood, old-fashioned awnings and big windows reminiscent of Victorian style. Two large, ornate carriage lanterns hang on either side of the facade, giving it an elegant but gothic feel. Gold lettering has the ideal old-time feel. Peering through the windows, the inside it suitably gloomy and underlit. It looks like the perfect place to buy needful things.

I grew up going to a lot of antique stores, swap meets, flea markets and yard sales because my dad couldn’t resist them. Most of the stores were dusty and junk-laden, a hoarder’s storage space excused as a business. But then there were the special ones, the ones that sent a tingle down my spine, the ones that I just knew held special–and perhaps dangerous–treasures.

Sometimes those treasures were estate jewelry or old silver tea sets, and other troves were full of clocks, leather-bound books, or vintage clothing. Those stores smelled of dust and mothballs, and hinted at obsession, curated with purposeful madness. They were the dangerously alluring shops where it didn’t seem impossible for an item to harbor magic–or a curse.

I always kept my hands to myself. Some things are best left untouched.

So far, I haven’t been able to take the time to go inside the store in New Orleans. When I do, I assure you that I won’t be handling the merchandise, or making any deals with the owner. After all, I know how these things work.

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Hot stuff! Look at my video for Ice Forged and Reign of Ash https://youtu.be/RPXi27GnSO4

Spooky! Free excerpt from my Deadly Curiosities short story Shadow Garden http://bit.ly/2efTfev

Use your free Audible trial to get my books! The Sworn Audible https://amzn.com/B004KSWCEU

DoubleDragonSampler#3 http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE003.mobi

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Paths to Publication

by Gail Z. Martin

In today’s market, authors have more choices than ever before on how to bring their book to readers. Traditional big publishers, small press, self-publishing–what’s an author to do?

Each path to publication has pros and cons. There are a few considerations to factor in as you’re looking at options. What do you want out of publishing? If you have your heart set on becoming a New York Times bestseller, that’s more likely for a book put out by a big traditional publisher (and even then, it’s far from guaranteed). Likewise, if you’re hoping to pay all your bills with your advance check, a big publisher is the way to go. Large traditional publishers have national (and sometimes international) bookstore distribution, still a factor with today’s readers. You may also find more marketing resources with a big press, though that is debatable as staff cuts continue.

On the other hand, if you want someone else to handle the details of publication (editing, layout, cover design, some marketing) but you’re not worried about fame, bookstore placement or an advance, a reputable small press could be a good fit. Small presses can put out books of equivalent (or better) quality as large publishers, and tend to invest more editorial time in working with authors. Their marketing clout might not be as substantial, but marketing is an iffy proposition even for large publishers. Bookstore distribution and lack of an advance are the biggest drawbacks, but even big houses are paying smaller advances nowadays and bookstores are not as plentiful as they once were.

If you enjoy total control, self-publishing (also called indie) might be a good fit. Or, if you believe in a book and haven’t found a home for it, self-publishing with today’s online tools and Amazon can still make sure your book reaches the right readers. Self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it used to when the only choices were unscrupulous vanity publishers. A growing number of authors who have enthusiastic fan bases are finding it possible to make a living with self-published books (though it is still not guaranteed, even for established authors). The biggest caveat is that when you self-publish, you are both author and publisher. You write the book, hire the copy editor and proofreader, arrange for the cover art and the layout, handle the audio rights, set up the accounts with Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc. A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into bringing a book to life after the writing is done, and the type of work required is not everyone’s idea of ‘fun’. Succeeding with self-publishing takes a lot of effort and attention to detail, but it’s more possible now than ever before.

Most of us pursue ‘hybrid’ careers, meaning that we play in all three arenas. If you can snag a contract and an advance with a big publisher, grab it. If a small press wants to include you in an anthology or bring out a niche novel, do it. And if you want to bring out some series on your own or self-publish short stories/novellas tied in to your series with other publishers, go for it. Working with big publishers, small presses and some self-publishing makes you more resilient to fate, since you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. I’m seeing more and more authors going this route, and it’s the path I’ve personally chosen because it allows the greatest range and ‘security’ in a highly volatile business.

The greatest thing about your writing career is that you get to chart your own way, making the decisions that are best for you and your books. Know your options and then pick what works for you. And be sure to enjoy what you do every day!

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight–100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com

Read an excerpt from my Deadly Curiosities short story Redcap http://bit.ly/2eenhgz

Enjoy excerpt from Reign of Ash http://bit.ly/1oCEa5j

DoubleDragonSampler#2 http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE002.mobi

Check out the Iron & Blood book video! https://youtu.be/MZ_0Zm7OSIY

Use your free Audible trial to get my books! The Summoner Audible https://amzn.com/B0032COUQS

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin