Starting the Conversation—A #HoldOnToTheLight Update

By Gail Z. Martin

100 authors are now part of the #HoldOnToTheLight conversation! Our authors span the globe, from the US to the UK to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Even more exciting is that as the campaign picks up traction and visibility, more authors want to join, meaning a growing, vibrant dialog about mental wellness and coping with mental illness.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

We’ve also been talking with conventions to encourage them to add, expand or promote their panel programming about mental wellness issues. ConCarolinas, GenCon, Capricon and ContraFlow have let us know that panels are in the works for 2017, and both Capclave and Atomacon are looking at options!

How can you help spread the message and broaden the conversation?

  • Read the blog posts by our participating authors and share on your own blogs and social media
  • The links below to the newest author blog posts double as tweets you can cut and paste. Easy!
  • Visit the authors’ blogs and like, comment
  • Tweet or email about the campaign and tag bloggers, podcasters and genre media
  • Ask your favorite genre convention to add panels on mental wellness
  • Volunteer with or donate to one of the campaign charities listed at the bottom of this post
  • Join the #HoldOnToTheLight Facebook group.

Latest blog posts/Tweets to share

One step at a time #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by RowenaCoryDaniells http://bit.ly/2c49ZTW @Rebellionpub

Gaslighting myself #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness. @LAGilman on #PTSD http://bit.ly/2ciIOlu

Ride the storm surge #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness. @JimMacAuth #PTSD http://bit.ly/2cFvUgN

#HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @GailZMartin on #PTSD in epic fantasy http://bit.ly/2cqrXvq

Helping a loved one cope #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @Emily_Leverett  http://bit.ly/2cqrmtE

Becoming the mean girl #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness @Jean_Marie_Ward http://bit.ly/2cqTqka

Fighting the urge to jump #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @ChrisKennedy110 http://bit.ly/2cCL2jd

Anxiety & asking for help #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @JoshVogt http://bit.ly/2c6qMRo

The black dog of depression #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @MistyMassey  http://bit.ly/2c6PqRU

Suicide leaves scars. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by @Mudepoz http://bit.ly/2cIdvmd

The bittersweet sustains. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by  @bishopmoconnell http://bit.ly/2cMaAKw

Focus on the good, and fight for that. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness  post by @LS_Taylor http://bit.ly/2chroqC

How do you tell someone what it feels like? #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SFF authors blog on #MentalWellness @JenniferBrozek http://bit.ly/2d3jl2e

Identity and masks. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by @RickGaultieri http://bit.ly/2cBrfM2

Fandom takes care of its own. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by @GailZMartin http://bit.ly/2crcdOs

I wrote my way out until I couldn’t. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @nataniabarron http://bit.ly/2cCnNCi

You are not alone #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @almaalexander http://bit.ly/2cPeEKe

The courage to ask for help #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @jreizes http://bit.ly/2cuoHVA

Among the authors participating so far are: Robin Hobb, Jody Lynn Nye, Cat Rambo, Seanan McGuire, Laura Anne Gilman, Chuck Gannon, Kameron Hurley, Catherine Asaro, Gaie Siebold, Karen Miller, Rowena Cory Daniels, David B. Coe, Marc Tassin, Jonathan Oliver, Jeanne Adams, Nancy Northcott, Aaron Rosenberg, Jennifer St. Giles, Mark Van Name, Juliet McKenna, Jennifer Brozek, Darynda Jones, Christopher Golden, Clay and Susan Griffith, Gregory Wilson, Josh Vogt, Darin Kennedy, Jon Sprunk, James Maxey, Karen E. Taylor, Justin Gustainis, Misty Massey, John G. Hartness, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Jaym Gates, Laura Taylor, Weston Ochse, Ron Garner, Kathy Lyons, Mari Mancusi, Leanna Renee Hieber, Davey Beauchamp, Cheryl Wilson, Rod Belcher, Travis Heermann, Cara Santa Maria, Michael J. Allen, Trisha Wooldridge, Alyssa Day, J. F. Lewis, Joshua Palmatier, Keith DeCandido Mindy Mimudes, Emily Leverett, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Tera Fulbright, Tamsin Silver, Stuart Jaffe, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eric Asher, Rick Gualtieri, Chris Kennedy, Ken Schrader, Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Valerie Willis, Alexandra Christian, Jake Bible, Matthew Saunders, Jay Requard, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly Harmon, Sascha Illyvich, Kelly Swails, Bishop O’Connell, Sherwood Smith, Peter Prellwitz, Tracy Chowdhury, Trevor Curtis, Leo Champion, Alma Alexander, Natania Barron, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Addie J. King, Joelle Reizes, Gabrielle Faust, Selah Janel, Whitney Evans, Tom Leveen Deborah J. Ross, Tally Johnson, Calandra Usher, Jada Diaz, Harry Markov, Brian Rathbone, Robert Greenberger, Linda Robertson and more.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/. Recaps will also be posted on http://www.MagicalWords.net and http://www.DisquietingVisions.com

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Fandom Takes Care of its Own—a #HoldOnToTheLight post by Gail Z. Martin

 

holdontothelight

I grew up believing that I was not going to survive to adulthood. My parents were into doomsday politics and apocalyptic religion, so whether it was Soviet nukes or Armageddon, we were all going down in flames.

Everyone around me—extended family and religious social group—echoed the same fears and beliefs. I was pleasantly surprised to still be alive at age 12, but I didn’t figure it would last.

That’s the year I discovered Star Trek (original series) and read my first science fiction book (Destination: Universe by A.E. VanVogt). I still remember the moment when it hit me that other people saw the possibility of a completely different future than the fire and blood I’d been raised to expect. Cataclysmic destruction was not inevitable. I remember lying in the grass in my back yard, book open, tears running down my face when I realized I actually might live long enough to grow up.

Before I switched schools, I got bullied a lot. I decided when I was 14 that someday, I wanted to write the kind of sweeping adventures that I loved to read, the kind that took me away from bullies and terrifying predictions and showed me magic and space ships and heroes, a world that got better instead of ending up in a pile of ash.

I found two friends who liked the same shows and books. It was enough to get by. We went to my first sci-fi convention in Columbus when I was a junior in high school. I was surrounded by hundreds of people who had seen the same movies, read the same books, got the jokes. I felt like I’d gone to heaven.

Fandom saved my life. It gave me a place where I belonged, and it gave me a vision of another kind of future. It became a new kind of family, one that understood and supported me in a way my birth family never could.

My friends from conventions and fanzines encouraged me to write. They taught me that I could entertain people with my stories, and their nurturing and prompting gave me the courage to keep writing.

Fast forward a few decades. I’m now an author writing several series of fantasy books for major publishers. I still go to conventions—but now I’m up on the panels. Fandom anchors me and nurtures me. I’m more at home at a convention than at almost any other gathering. We have shared history and common ground. I belong.

But what continues to amaze and inspire me is how fandom takes care of its own.

When my friend, author C.J. Henderson, was dying of cancer, a couple of us came up with the idea of doing a charity anthology to help with medical bills. Within a few hours, we had nearly 50 authors on board with the project, all donating previously-published short stories, and a publisher willing to pull the anthology together to benefit CJ and his family. Dance Like a Monkey was the result. CJ lost his battle to cancer. Another book, The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson (and a GoFundMe campaign of the same name), helped to cover burial expenses.

I can’t count the number of GoFundMe campaigns and fundraisers I’ve seen in support of fans with health challenges and other catastrophic life events. So many cons have memorial scholarships given in honor of beloved members of the fandom community who passed away, people like Peggy Rae Sapienza https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Rae_Sapienza. Every con I attend has either a blood drive or a charity auction—or both.

One of the most powerful times I saw fandom taking care of its own came at a panel on the last day of a convention. One attendee who had recently experienced physical and family trauma (I’m being deliberately vague to protect privacy) responded to something one of us on the panel said by talking about committing suicide. The whole mood in the room shifted. The audience became quietly supportive. The panelists tried to let him know he was not alone. One of the panelists—an unlikely hero—was able to find common ground through a similar life experience. He stayed after the panel talking privately with the attendee for over an hour. That was five or six years ago. The man did not kill himself. Circumstances improved. He gets a big hug every year from me and we celebrate.

This past summer, ConCarolinas added a panel on coping with mental illness. The panelists were either authors who were medical professionals and/or authors who had personal experience with depression, etc. Not only was the panel standing room only, it ran over, and spawned a Facebook group.  That’s one reason #HoldOnToTheLight is reaching out to convention organizers to encourage adding, promoting and expanding programming on mental wellness issues.

#HoldOnToTheLight was inspired by #AlwaysKeepFighting, a campaign from the Supernatural TV show fandom (http://www.supernaturalwiki.com/index.php?title=Always_Keep_Fighting)  I’m especially thrilled to see the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network creating a fandom-based peer counseling training opportunity. Details here: http://www.randomacts.org/programs/crisis-support-network/ .  (Yeah, I’m a huge fan of the show.) As Bobby Singer said, “Family don’t end with blood.” In other words, your true family is the one you gather around yourself.

#AlwaysKeepFighting showed the reach media stars have when they talk about issues, and I wondered what would happen if genre authors opened a similar conversation. I recruited my usual partners in crime—John Hartness, Misty Massey, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward, Emily Leverett and my husband, Larry N. Martin—as the steering committee, and we started asking our colleagues and author friends to join us.

The result? More than 100 science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance and speculative fiction authors are part of #HoldOnToTheLight. We’re here to begin a conversation, and we hope you’ll join us for the journey.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

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Turning Back to Epic Fantasy

by David B. Coe

Like Gail, I have written in several fantasy subgenres over the course of my career, most recently taking on contemporary urban fantasy (with my Case Files of Justis Fearsson trilogy) and historical urban fantasy (with the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson). I started out, though, writing alternate world, epic (or high) fantasy. Multi-book story arcs, set in created worlds, with lots of magic and castle intrigue, and with larger-than-life villains who threatened All That We Hold Dear. Fun stuff.

coejacksonpubpic1000I’ve recently returned to these early works. The rights to my first several series have reverted to me, leaving me free to do with them as I please. And I have chosen to reissue what I am calling the “Author’s Edits” (think Director’s Cut) of the books. For obvious reasons, I’ve started with my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle, which I published back in the late 1990s. These books established me commercially and critically, and won me the Crawford Fantasy Award as the best new author in fantasy. They’re as close to my heart as any books I’ve written. But they were also my first efforts and they suffered from many of the flaws one finds in first novels. Hence the Author’s Edit. I haven’t changed any of the plotting, world building, or character work. But I’ve tightened the prose and eliminated unnecessary dialog tags, adverbs, and expository passages. The books now read better than they ever have.

In reading through and editing this first series, I realized that I miss writing epic fantasy. It’s not that I’ve come to dislike urban fantasy. Far from it. I believe the Fearsson and Thieftaker books represent the best writing I’ve ever done. But I had forgotten how much fun it can be to write those huge, sprawling epics on which I cut my teeth as a writing professional.

To my mind, the biggest differences between writing urban fantasy and writing epic boil down to the related issues of point of view and plotting. Urban fantasy, as I’ve approached it in my career and experienced it as a reader, tends to be more streamlined. The cast of point of view characters is usually limited to a single protagonist, or perhaps two or three narrating characters. The plotting can be twisty and intricate, but it’s also focused. Much of urban fantasy pays homage not only to its fantasy roots, but also to noir mystery. It’s not surprising then, that some of the best books in the subgenre are lean, fast-paced, and tightly constructed. As I say, I love urban for just these reasons.dcoe1

But for me, the allure of epic fantasy, both as an author and as a fan, lies in its embrace of very different attributes. My favorite epic fantasies, and all the high fantasies I’ve written, braid together many seemingly disparate storylines that coalesce as the novel and/or series progresses. By necessity, these plot threads are presented through a pantheon of point of view characters, who give the reader dfferent perspectives on the story, and bits of information that form a sort of narrative mosaic.

In some respects it’s less efficient story telling. On the other hand, when done well, epic fantasy can take on a richness and texture that make it unique among all forms of speculative fiction. I enjoy writing it because I can lead my reader through a labyrinth of plot points, hinting at key moments to come, feinting at possible paths my story might take, and telling the tale through a collection of voices, each one unique and, I hope, engaging. I can give my readers more information than any one of my characters has at his or her disposal, thus ratcheting up the tension by, for example, sending my protagonist into a trap of which my readers are aware, even though she is not.

We writers can be a fickle bunch. When I shifted from epic fantasy to urban, I did it, in part, because I was tired of writing the multi-POV, multi-plot-thread, multi-volume stories that I’d written throughout the early years of my career. I longed for that leaner voice of urban fantasy. I wanted to write stand-alone novels that more closely resembled whodunits, but with a magical twist. The Thieftaker and Fearsson books were exactly what I was after.

dcoe2Now, I find that I’m ready to turn back. Reading and editing Children of Amarid, my very first novel, as I prepared for its re-release, I found myself transported back to those days when I was writing the book without a contract, dreaming of one day becoming a published author. I had read many of the great epic fantasists of my youth: Tolkien and Donaldson, Kurtz and Kerr, McCaffrey (yes, I know — she considered herself an author of Science Fiction; I thought of it as fantasy), LeGuin, Brooks, and Eddings. Those were the authors who attracted me to this career, and when I wrote the LonTobyn Chronicle, I tried to draw upon what I saw as the finest qualities of their work. I’m not so full of myself as to claim that I succeeded with this first effort. But they were my inspirations, and fantasy, as they defined the field, was my first love.

So, now I’m back to it. I have more of my backlist to release in coming years: my five-book Winds of the Forelands series, my Blood of the Southlands trilogy. And I’m eager to try my hand at writing new epic fantasy, blending my lifelong passion for the genre with the knowledge of craft I’ve accrued during my twenty years in the business. I don’t yet know exactly what this new project will look like. But those elements of the genre that I love — magic, of course, the more wondrous the better, as well as intrigue, action, and maybe a sprinkling of romance — will all be there, along with the rich complexity that makes reading and writing high fantasy such a joy. Stay tuned!

About the Author

David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of nineteen fantasy novels. As David B. Coe, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first two books, Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes came out in 2015. The third volume, Shadow’s Blade, has recently been released. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach.

David is also the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he is the process of reissuing, as well as the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

 

http://www.DavidBCoe.com

http://www.davidbcoe.com/blog/

http://www.dbjackson-author.com

http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe

http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

 

 

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Jumper–A #HoldOnToTheLight post by Chris Kennedy

holdontothelight

I watched in horror as the girl slid between the rails of the 10th floor balcony, looking at the ground far, far below.

It was my third year of college at the University of North Carolina, and I had come back to school early after the summer break to be an orientation counsellor for the new freshman class. I had just gone to bed when one of my counselees started banging on my door. “You’ve got to help me!” the guy outside the door exclaimed when I opened it. “Sarah was drinking at one of the parties, and now she’s up on the 10th floor talking about killing herself.”

We ran up the six flights of stairs (I was in much better shape then) to find one of my other counselees forcing herself between the rails of the railing. As I raced to her, she made it the rest of the way through. I don’t know if she would have jumped or not, and looking into her eyes as her head turned back to us, I’m not sure she did either, but I could tell she was seriously contemplating it (as if being on the wrong side of the railing wasn’t giveaway enough.) It was probably the scariest moment of my life.

I grabbed her through the rails, pinning her to the railing, and after several minutes of talking convinced her to come back through to our side. While the other counselee ran to call the hospital, I talked with her to find out what drove her to step outside the rails.

She was alone at school, away from home for the first time, and her boyfriend of several years had broken up with her. She didn’t have anyone she thought she could talk to and she had several drinks at one of the parties that were being held that night. It was a bad combination, and almost a fatal one for her.

At the time, I didn’t understand why she would want to throw it all away. She was just starting college and was an attractive young lady; she would have had a number of folks interested in her. Back then, I didn’t know anything about depression…how it eats away at you from the inside, causing you to think that no one cares until you finally believe it. How the world would be better off without you. How it would be better to end it all and make the pain go away.

Having had a serious bout of depression since then, though, I do understand those things, and here’s what I know. Depression isolates you from everyone else. You don’t think that anyone else could ever understand what you’re going through. This deprives you of the one thing you need: someone to talk to. I didn’t have anyone I thought I could talk to, for a number of reasons, so I kept my problems bottled up. I could deal with them myself, I thought; better that than worrying anyone else. And that’s when the first tendrils of depression started working their way into my mind. And once they’re in, they strangle off all reason and eat you from the inside out, until you give up hope.

Alcohol is no help. As Sarah found out, it only removes that last bit of rational thought keeping you from doing something really stupid. Having seen it in action once, I knew better than to drink…even though I wanted to really badly. That kept me together, barely, until things changed a little and I found someone to talk to. Just the simple act of talking about part of my problems let me release enough of the stress to start on the way to recovery. I survived, but it was a lot closer than I liked. I heard the voices…whispering, urging…but was able to keep them at bay. I still hear them, sometimes, when things aren’t going well. Once they’re in, they never completely go away.

Not everyone is able to keep the voices at bay, though, and the only way they’re going to get better is to talk to someone. A professional, if possible, but any outlet helps. If you see a friend withdraw from society, be there for him or her; talk to them. You never know, you just may save their life.

chris-kennedyChris Kennedy is a  bestselling Science Fiction/Fantasy author and speaker, a former naval aviator and elementary school principal. Chris’ stories include the “Occupied Seattle” military fiction duology, “The Theogony” and “Codex Regius” science fiction trilogies, and the “War for Dominance” fantasy trilogy.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

 

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#HoldOnToTheLight—Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors Blogging for Mental Wellness

holdontothelight
What happens when more than 75 sci-fi and fantasy authors start a conversation about mental wellness, mental illness, depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD treatment and related issues?

We don’t know, but we’re going to find out.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness about treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Among the authors participating so far are: Robin Hobb, Jody Lynn Nye, Cat Rambo, Seanan McGuire, Laura Anne Gilman, Chuck Gannon, Kameron Hurley, Catherine Asaro, Gaie Siebold, Karen Miller, Rowena Cory Daniels, David B. Coe, Marc Tassin, Jonathan Oliver, Jeanne Adams, Nancy Northcott, Aaron Rosenberg, Jennifer St. Giles, Mark Van Name, Juliet McKenna, Jennifer Brozek, Darynda Jones, Christopher Golden, Clay and Susan Griffith, Gregory Wilson, Josh Vogt, Darin Kennedy, Jon Sprunk, James Maxey, Karen E. Taylor, Justin Gustainis, Misty Massey, John G. Hartness, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Jaym Gates, Laura Taylor, Weston Ochse, Ron Garner, Kathy Lyons, Mari Mancusi, Leanna Renee Hieber, Davey Beauchamp, Cheryl Wilson, Rod Belcher, Travis Heermann, Cara Santa Maria, Mike Allen, Joshua Palmatier, Mindy Mimudes, Emily Leverett, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Tera Fulbright, Tamsin Silver, Stuart Jaffe, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eric Asher, Rick Gualtieri, Chris Kennedy, Ken Schrader, Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Valerie Willis, Alexandra Christian, Jake Bible, Matthew Saunders, Jay Requard, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly Harmon, Sascha Illyvich, Kelly Swails, Bishop O’Connell, Sherwood Smith, Peter Prellwitz, Tracy Chowdhury, Trisha Wooldridge and more.

These authors will be posting a #HoldOnToTheLight blog either on their own blogs or as a guest blogger during September or October. I’ll be adding every post to a master list, but I encourage you to go to the authors’ sites and comment, like and share their posts to show your interest.

From the massively positive response to recent convention panels dealing with real-life mental health issues, we know this is a topic that resonates with fans. We also know from experience that readers identify with the struggles our characters face related to PTSD, depression, survivor guilt, and other related challenges. And most of us know first-hand what it’s like to wrestle with our own shadows.

September/October are the months for Depression Awareness, Suicide Prevention, Bullying Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness, World Mental Health Day and Domestic Violence Awareness.

What’s our end game? We want to bring the issues, struggle and treatment out of the shadows and make it clear that no one is alone in the journey. We want to demonstrate fandom taking care of its own. And we want fandom to be a safe space for everyone.

The steering group behind #HoldOnTotheLight is made up of John Hartness, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward, Emily Leverett, Mindy Mymudes and me.

How can you help? Share, retweet and engage with the blog posts and social media outreach about the campaign and by the participating authors to spread the word. Encourage the conventions you participate in to add or expand panels on mental wellness. Learn more about the issues, so you can be an educated participant in the discussion.

If you want to get even more hands-on, please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Together, we can #HoldOnToTheLight because #FandomTakesCareOfItsOwn.

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DragonCon is this coming weekend!

FB Tairens LareDragonCon is this coming weekend—and I’ll be there! Here’s where to find me:

Friday
11:30 a.m. Effective Promotion for Writers Embassy CD Hyatt

2 pm Signing at The Missing Volume in the Vendor Hall

2-3 pm Larry N. Martin will be signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

3-4 I will be signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

5:30  Magical Tropes Embassy EF–Hyatt

7 pm Avoiding Historical Mistakes 204J Mart2

8:30 Social Media as Tool not Trial Embassy CD–Hyatt

Saturday
10 – noon Signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

1 pm The Craft of Dystopia Chastain F-H Westin

2:30 pm Signing at Larry Smith Books in the Vendor Hall

2:30 pm Larry N. Martin will be signing in Author’s Lair

4 pm Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Piedmont–Hyatt

5:30 Plotting/Sustaining a Series Embassy CD–Hyatt

7 History or Alternate History 204I Mart2

shadow aliance t-shirtSunday
10 a.m. Literary Comfort Food Embassy AB–Hyatt

11:30 Awesome Women of Podcasting 202-Hilton

1:30 – 3:30 Signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

4 pm Niche Markets in Ebooks/Print 208-209 Hilton

Monday
10 a.m. Hiding in Plain Sight: Closed Worlds in UF Chastain DE-Westin

1:30 – 3 Signing in Booth 122301225 Author’s Lair

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

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Revealing the Magic Trick

by Stuart Jaffe

From time to time, I get asked how something like the Max Porter mysteries came to be.  How did I come up with the idea of mixing true, odd, North Carolina history with witches, ghosts, curses, and such? And, over that time, I had developed a standard response. I had been living in Winston-Salem for several years and was curious to know more about it. My wife was a grad student at Wake Forest University, so one day, while stuck there waiting for her, I decided to hang out at the library. It was there that I stumbled upon a bit of WWII history I had never heard of before (that we shipped German POWs onto US soil to labor for the tobacco industry), and it screamed for a story. Max Porter was born.

That is the truth. But it’s also not.

See, it depends on who you are and why you’re asking. If you’re a reader who just wants to know what sparked this ever-growing series that has (hopefully) thrilled you, then yes, the above answer is the truth. And if that’s who you are, if you don’t like to know how a magic trick works or how the sausage is made, then I urge you to stop right here. Because there be dragon below.

Now — and this part took me years to figure out — if you’re a new writer, then you mean something quite different by the question. What you’re really asking me is how the Max Porter mysteries came to be — as in, the entire series. I see this when new writers discuss any long-running series. They marvel at the complex interplay between characters, how fully-developed each personality is, and how little details in an early book become massively important later on. How, they wonder, did the author know to do that?

My standard answer above does not answer that question.  Because no writer, no matter what PR line they spout, has an entire series fully formed in his or her head. Doesn’t happen. She might have the beginning, some key points in the middle, and a killer ending in mind, but the entire run of a 7 + books series?  Nope.

Those characters you marvel at were not so well-developed in the beginning. The complex interplay grew over the course of all those books. Each mystery they solved, each baddie they vanquished, each love they cherished and loss they endured, all built upon each other so that when Heroine nods with narrowing eyes at Hero, we all know what that means — all the history behind it — which sends chills through our delighted reader hearts. And that little detail which became huge later on — well, the author didn’t plan it that way when she wrote that detail in. But four books later, when she needed something to call back from a previous book, she read over her work, found that detail, and neatly clicked into place.

It’s part of how a writer’s mind works. We are constantly putting together the puzzle pieces that make up a novel, and sometimes we set a piece aside based on nothing but gut reaction, only to discover later exactly why we did it. We know that if we’re patient and consistent, our books will build upon themselves and create that full-world experience you crave. That’s why Book 1 or Book 2 of a series can be so much more difficult than Book 5. But it can be super-exciting too!

It’s all part of the magic trick that we perform.

What’s really cool is that with the Modern Magic deal, you get 12 novels that are almost all Book 1 of a series. You can start now and see how the groundwork for the trick is being set down. Then keep reading those series you like and watch the magic!

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I love superheroes.

By James Maxey

I love superheroes.

Like most people, this started when I was a kid. I’d watch the Superfriends on Saturday morning. I got excited at the I Love Lucy episode that guest starred Superman. Later, the Hulk and Wonder Woman had their own shows. I watched every episode.

Then I picked up actual comic books and things got seriously geeky. If your knowledge of superheroes comes from TV or even movies these days, you can name, what, fifteen superheroes? A couple of dozen, tops? Dive into comics and there are enough superheroes to fill encyclopedias. I used to make lists in alphabetical order cataloging all the members of the Legion of Superheroes, the Avengers, the Defenders, the Justice League. Teen Titans. X-men. Doom Patrol! Outsiders! Invaders! All-Star Squadron! Holy moly, the rosters were endless. In the days before Wikipedia, you had to really work to figure out who some obscure character appearing for a single page on the Avengers might actually be. (Jack of Hearts, anyone? Dr. Druid?) I would dig through boxes of musty, torn up comics at flea markets trying to assemble the various universes.

Unlike most people, this interest in superheroes didn’t vanish as I grew up. Instead, when I got to college, I started to place these heroes into a broader context of historical literature. Superheroes were the foundation of a modern mythology, a worthwhile evolution of the fairytale. The Justice Society used to sit around a round table; they were Arthurian Knights in a modern context.

Despite occasional tip toes into television, superheroes wound up identified with a single medium, the comic book. In the era of pulp fiction, superheroes could be found in prose, headlining their own magazines, like the Shadow. Once comic books came around, the costumed heroes packed up their bags and moved to the new, more visual medium, where their bright colors and miraculous feats found a natural home.

By the 1950s, prose super heroics had almost vanished. By the end of the millennium, only a few licensed properties, like Batman and Spiderman, still appeared in the occasional novel.

Which provided me with a dilemma when it came time for me to write my fourth bookl. The most fundamental advice for any writer is, write what you know. I knew superheroes. But superheroes didn’t appear in prose, and I wanted to write a novel, not script a comic book.

I finally obeyed an even more fundamental rule than “write what you know.” That rule is “do what you love.” So, with no hope whatsoever of seeing it in print, I sat down and started writing a superhero novel. I wrote the book I wanted to read that no one else had yet taken the time to write for me.

The main reason I wrote it was, when you really love something, you hate seeing it done badly. Let me be blunt: the vast majority of superhero fiction in any genre is pretty crappy. Characters that belong to the major publishers are property, and can never truly grow or change. The monthly nature of comic books means they get cranked out on a deadline whether the writers and artists feel inspired or not. They sell to a closed circle of readers, so there’s not much reason to change what they’re doing. The readers already know the characters, so there’s not that much exploration of character’s inner lives, and what little there is superficial. Most characters motives gets summed up in a single sentence: Batman fights crime because he watched his parents die. Wonder Woman was sent to man’s world to bring a message of peace. Aquaman… um, actually, I’m not clear on what his deal is. I know his powers. I don’t know his angels or his demons.

Of course, during the 80s and 90s, there was an effort made in some comics at treating superheroes as real people, peeling back the masks as it were. Unfortunately, treating heroes seriously somehow translated into treating them grimly, stripping away all joy, taking all their bright colors away to paint them in shades of dark gray and even darker gray. Every seemingly good action was shown to have some dark motive. We finally saw the demons on their shoulder, but the matching angels on the other shoulder were missing.

Having had my fill of heroes who were either two dimensional or joyless, I wanted to try my hand at a middle path. I wrote Nobody Gets the Girl treating the characters as realistically as possible, given that some of them fly, some are invisible, and others juggle tanks. But realistic doesn’t have to translate as grim. The hero, Richard Rogers, has his life erased by a time machine accident, trapping him as a ghost in a world where he was never born, a literal Nobody. Having your life erased would be a good excuse to spend the whole book moping, and he does have to deal with the grief over all he’s lost. But, he also takes spark as he begins a new life as an invisible, intangible spy for a family of superheroes. He processes his tragedy with humor and stoicism, working hard to find a path forward after encountering the worst roadblock ever thrown into a person’s life. Like most people, he stubbornly struggles toward joy.

More than joy, I also wanted to capture a sense of wonder. Superheroes are friends with gorillas and robots. They routinely talk to aliens and travel through time. For the heroes, the extraordinary becomes the mundane, but I want my readers to sit back from time to time and think, “Holy cow! That’s cool as hell!”

In the years since Nobody Gets the Girl first saw print, superheroes have become even more culturally dominant than they were. But I hope readers still find it to be a fresh experience, a balanced blend of the everyday and the miraculous, a perfect framework, I think, for understanding life as it truly is.

I’m pleased that Nobody has found a home in the new Modern Magic collection. Hopefully, it will open the door for readers to delve further into my weird and wondrous worlds.

For my excerpt, I going to break from my usual pattern of previewing the first chapter and instead preview something a bit closer to the middle of the book. I like this section because it has most of the major players on the stage. For the good guys, there’s Nobody (our invisible man), the Thrill (Sarah, who can fly and has mind control powers), and Rail Blade (Amelia, who’s ferrokinetic). Also, lots of UN Peacekeepers. Representing the forces of evil are the Panic (an unassuming looking teenage boy who causes panic in anyone who sees him), Sundancer (a woman who controls heat and radiation), and Pit Geek, who’s powers are just too weird to go into now and don’t really play much of a role in this passage anyway. You should also know that the bad guys can teleport away at any time just by saying “exit.” Finally, there’s a whole army of terrorists with stolen tanks, helicopters, etc., showing up to rain death down upon the crowds gathered to celebrate the signing of a peach treaty in Jerusalem.

THE GREAT, BIG, FINAL SMACKDOWN!

“LIVE FROM THE Apocalypse!” said the Panic, facing the camera. “Citizens of Earth! Rise up! It’s time to riot in the streets! It’s time to take what you deserve! It’s the End Time, Armageddon, the Great, Big, Final Smackdown! Waaaaa­hoooo!”

Nobody’s stomach twisted in knots. All around him, panicked people were stampeding, trampling those too young or too old to move out of the way. Sundancer rose into the air, flinging glowing balls of plasma at the United Nation guards, who screamed as their weapons melted in their grasps. Pit Geek belched, bringing up a buckle to his lips. He tugged on the buckle, and dragged out a bandolier of hand grenades.

“Crap,” said the Thrill, her voice crackling over the radio. “Trouble. A dozen helicopters just popped up from nowhere. They—shit! Missiles fired! Missiles fired!”

“On it,” said Rail Blade.

In the distance, loud explosions could be heard. “Sarah, get down here and calm the crowd,” said Nobody. “People are dying.”

“Oh no,” said the Thrill. “Tanks. We have tanks moving in on the edges of the Old City.”

“Do what you can with the crowd,” said Rail Blade. “I’ll stop the hardware.”

High overhead, a glimmer of light, a daytime star, grew brighter and larger. In seconds, the image had resolved itself into the Thrill, clad in mirror armor, wielding her glowing sword.

The Panic looked up.

“Ex—” he said, and vanished, just as the Thrill reached him, slashing the air where he had stood. With grim satisfaction, Nobody noted a stream of blood whip from the sword as the Thrill pulled from her dive and shot back into the sky. Apparently, the Panic had been a little slow.

“Think I got him,” the Thrill said, her voice strained. “Felt like I got a solid hit.”

“Watch out!” said Nobody.

Sundancer blazed a trail behind the Thrill, slamming into her back with a hard tackle. The Thrill went into a spin but pulled up before hitting the ground.

“Monday’s pulled out all the stops,” Rail Blade complained over the radio. “Every tank I tear apart, two more pop up. I’ve never seen him use his teleporter so aggressively.”

Nobody wasn’t exactly focused on her words. Even with the Panic gone, the crowd was still going crazy. By now, Pit Geek had strapped on the bandolier and stood on the edge of the stage, lobbing grenades into the mob, laughing.

Nobody raced onto the stage, banging his fists on the treaty table to get Pit Geek’s attention. It didn’t work.

He noticed the treaty on the table. The formal, gold-rimmed parchment had vanished. In its place was a sheet torn from a notebook, with words written in red marker: “Screw it! Let’s just fight!” Beneath it were three neat signatures.

“Doc,” said Nobody. “The clerics. When Monday teleported them, could you follow them? Can you track them?”

“They reappeared beneath the ocean,” said Dr. Know. “They died in seconds.”

The platform shook as though an earthquake had struck. Nobody was thrown from his feet. The Thrill lay beside him, among shattered boards, shaking her head. She still had her shield, but had lost her sword.

“I’m so sick of this bitch,” she grumbled.

Nobody rolled aside as a ball of flame smashed into the Thrill’s shield. The Thrill flew into the air, deflecting another ball of flame, then buzzed over a UN guard who was trying to carry a wounded child to safety.

“A little help here,” she yelled. “Shoot her.”

The guard dropped the child and placed his rifle to his shoulder, unleashing a stream of bullets toward Sundancer. Sundancer motioned toward the gun, melting its barrel, causing it to explode in the guard’s hand.

The Thrill swooped in, using the momentary distraction, screaming her best kung fu yelp as she delivered a powerful kick to Sundancer ‘s head. The burning woman spun backward, looking surprised and disoriented. The Thrill pressed forward with her attack, continuing to deliver savage kicks with her metal boots. The boots glowed red hot, but if the Thrill felt any pain, she didn’t show it. Instead, her features locked in an angry grimace as she struck Sundancer again and again.

“Come on, Sunny,” Pit Geek screamed. “Take her! You’re making us look bad.”

Sundancer didn’t have anything witty to say in response. Instead, she crashed to the ground, hard, rolling to a stop on the pavement stones. The Thrill swooped down, continuing her assault.

Pit Geek pulled a pin on a grenade and lobbed it toward the fighting women. It bounced on the stones, and burst open in a loud flash. Nobody ducked and covered his eyes as shrapnel ricocheted around him.

He blinked, trying to make sense of the smoking aftermath. The Thrill had been thrown back, lying still against the pavement, though her armor appeared to be intact. Sundancer was screaming. Her left leg was gone from the knee down, and jets of flame spurted from her wounds with each heartbeat.

“Oops,” said Pit Geek.

Nobody spun around, running toward the filthy bum. Pit Geek didn’t notice him. Nobody passed through him, and turned around. There were grenades on the back of the bandolier as well. Gritting his teeth, he pulled one, two, three pins, then ran. He was knocked to the ground by the explosion seconds later. Pit Geek’s head bounced to the ground in front of him, his eyes blinking wide, his lips mouthing words that Nobody couldn’t make out.

Then, the head vanished.

Looking back, Sundancer was gone as well.

Nobody raced over to the Thrill, who had risen to her hands and knees.

“You all right?” he said. “Are you hurt? Burned?”

She shook her head. “Amelia makes good armor.”

He helped her to her feet.

“No rest for the weary,” she said. She rose into the air, two dozen yards over the platform.

“Listen up!” she said. “Yo! Look at me!”

In unison, the hundreds of people within the sound of her voice stopped their panicked flight and looked to her. “We’ve got a lot of wounded people here. I don’t know how long it will be until help arrives. I want everyone who knows anything about first aid to stay and help those too hurt to walk out under their own power. Everyone else, I want you to leave, slowly! Stay calm, don’t step on anyone, and get to safety. Let’s move it, people.”

A pleased murmur came from the crowd, a chorus of “Great idea,” and, “She’s so clever!”

“Ground zero’s locked down,” the Thrill said, dropping down to grab Nobody. “Let’s see if Amelia needs a hand.”

It quickly became evident that things were even more chaotic outside the plaza. Everyone in the streets appeared to be armed, and firefights were blazing from every window and doorway. A millennia’s worth of frustrations and anger had apparently boiled over, and the ancient buildings of the Old City were slowly being chipped to gravel by the relentless spray of bullets.

“Stop shooting,” the Thrill said, flying low and slow over the streets. “Go home! Be nice!”

She left a small wake of peace and quiet, but the sound of gunfire was still omnipresent.

“It’s hopeless,” she said. “We’re never going to put a lid on this.”

“Don’t say that,” said Nobody. “I signed on as one of the good guys. We don’t give up.”

Ahead of them, a tank flew into the air and disassembled itself, sending its astonished crew screaming toward the ground.

The Thrill darted forward, placing a free hand on one of the falling men, and lowered him to the ground. He stood, staring at her, his eyes wide.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

Then he pulled a pistol and thrust it into her stomach.

He pulled the trigger. His hand dissolved into red mist as the gun disintegrated. The bullet flashed backwards with a loud crack, punching a jagged hole through the man’s chest. With a gurgle, he toppled.

“Don’t show them mercy,” said Rail Blade, sliding up behind them on her gleaming steel beam. “Everyone signed on for this intending to kill or be killed. I say we don’t disappoint them.”

“How many more tanks?” the Thrill asked.

“None. I’ve taken apart over fifty of them. All the helicopters are down. I’ve detonated all the missiles.”

“Then all that’s left are the small weapons,” said Nobody. “It’s down to people shooting people now.”

Rail Blade’s track crumbled to rust, dropping her to the dusty street. “You have no idea how tired I am,” she said.

Nobody knelt beside her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “You’ve done good work. You’ve saved a lot of lives. Maybe we should go. The peacekeepers can get all this under control. Eventually.”

“No,” said Rail Blade. She sucked in a deep, long breath. “No. I’m the only one who can stop it. I just need to catch my breath. Just need to think.”

“What—” Nobody cut his question short as Rail Blade closed her eyes. Her body trembled, as if about to explode.

Suddenly, the cacophony of nearby gunfire dimmed.

“I can feel them,” Rail Blade whispered, opening her eyes. “All around me. The guns. I can feel the atoms, agitated and hot. They’re singing to me. Can’t you hear the singing?”

“Um,” said Nobody.

“And I can silence them.”

She breathed deeply once more.

“Triggers snap,” she whispered.

The gunfire lessened further.

“Barrels snake into knots,” she said, sweat beading on her brow. The gunfire grew even dimmer. Angry and confused shouts could be heard.

“Bullet jackets rust,” she said. And all the gunfire stopped. But the shouting continued.

“They… they pull their knives,” she moaned. “So many knives.”

Nobody placed his arms around her as she tried to sit up. She slumped against him, her eyes focused somewhere he would never be able to see.

“And the knives crumble to dust,” she whispered.

Suddenly, even the shouting began to calm. Nobody could see men stepping from their hiding places, looking down at their empty hands, their faces confused.

Rail Blade went limp, her face falling against his shoulder. “It’s over,” she said, quietly. “That’s all I have. It’s over.”

He stroked her hair. “You did fine,” he whispered. “You stopped it. You just stopped the Apocalypse.”

“Wow, Sis,” said the Thrill. “You kicked butt.”

One by one, the confused men in the streets looked at one another, bewildered. Then, with growls, they lunged at each other, fists flying. They lifted paving stones and hurled them with angry curses.

“No,” whispered Rail Blade. “No.”

“Don’t sweat it,” said Nobody. “They can only do so much damage. You’ve stopped the killing.”

“I haven’t stopped the hate,” said Rail Blade, pushing him away. She rose on wobbling legs. “I’m too tired now. I could slap everyone in handcuffs, I guess, but I’m beaten. I don’t care anymore. Let them kill themselves. I’ve done all I can.”

Nobody nodded.

“Don’t beat yourself up,” said the Thrill. “What you did was amazing. You did good.”

Rail Blade’s shoulders drooped. “I’m so tired.”

Nobody looked at the fighting in the streets. In a way, it was comical—the flabby, middle-aged men kicking and cursing, slapping each other like children on a playground.

From the crowd of men, an actual child appeared. He looked to be about ten years old. His features were dark, his eyes red, as if he had been crying. He wore torn, tattered, dirty clothing, and he walked slowly toward them, his eyes focused on the two colorfully garbed women.

Nobody started to point the boy out to Rail Blade, to let her see that her work had possibly saved this boy’s life. Perhaps that would make her feel better. But something about the boy’s eyes made him think differently. They were too hard, too full of hate. The madness that had infected the adults also seemed to be gripping him, though he was too small and powerless for his anger to find any outlet.

He kept walking, until he was only a few yards away. He reached into his coat and pulled out a hand grenade.

Nobody’s mouth dropped open as the boy pulled the pin.

 

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Beneath the Surface

JenniferStGilesby Jennifer St. Giles

What lies beyond our ability to see and touch? Have you visited a spirit laden battleground? Have you sensed the ghosts in a haunted house? Have you seen an aura of goodness glowing around a person or a place? Have you felt the chill of evil in the air?

If you can answer yes or even a maybe to those questions. Or if you’ve had a different experience with the beyond-our-world mysterious, please share with me here. Whenever I am writing in my Shadowmen Series, paranormal romantic thrillers, I get to dive beneath the surface of life and let my imagination go free. I can explore things we miss in the world around us because of our limited knowledge or narrow perspectives.

In my Shadowmen world, I can explain spontaneous combustion. I can give reason to the violent forces of nature like tornados and hurricanes. I can delve into the different ways the battle between good and evil might play out in heaven and on the earth. I can create my own lore behind warring factions of werewolves and vampires. I can enter the realms of heaven and the depraved recesses of hell. But more than all of these things, I can create a new story about the redeeming power of love—the greatest gift to be given or received.

I love writing and the magic that story brings into people’s lives. I love the connection that story brings to all of humanity. Another aspect of life that lies beneath its surface is the untold story of each person’s life. My grandparents and great-grandparents have passed and never wrote the story of their lives down in any sort of journal or other communication. Their amazing stories departed this world when they did. I will never know the depths of their hearts and the truths of their journeys. Those will forever remain below the surface of life, lost in time. So I always encourage people to write for themselves and for their loved ones. Share your story in life because you matter. No, I am not suggesting every person become a writer. I will explain why in the next paragraph. I am suggesting that every person shouldn’t be afraid to put their own hearts and thoughts and experiences on a page where those treasures can be found and not lost.

touch a dark wolf jenniferstgilesWriting, the creation of story that drives a book or inspires a movie is a solitary, painstaking task. We pull words from our hearts and we figuratively bleed on the page for months at a time to write a book. Not necessarily for any real monetary gain. Very few writers achieve financial success with their efforts. Because even in this digital age where the cost of a book can be relatively low, most people will spend more for a cup of coffee than a book. Writers write because they are compelled to create story. And our reward is learning our story touched another person’s heart, for therein is the true measure of success. So share your appreciation by letting your favorite authors know if they’ve touched you. Give a shout out to their hard work in a review. And if their story wasn’t your cup of tea, then be kind.

Touch a Dark Wolf, book one of the Shadowmen Series, is a quick plunge into a unique world that lies beneath the surface of our own world today. I begin my take on how vampires, werewolves, and otherworldly beings might exist and what role they could play in the battle between good and evil. So even if creatures of lore aren’t your thing and the label of romance makes you shake your head—I won’t tell you that almost every story ever told is a romance at heart—I encourage you to delve beneath the surface of the story and connect to the truths that play out in the series.

Don’t forget to share your beneath the surface experience here.

Happy reading
Jennifer St. Giles/ Jennifer Saints/ JL Saint
Reach me at Jenniferstgiles.com or on twitter @jenniferstgiles

Link to excerpt.

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2016 Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour is Bigger and Better Than Ever!

The Hawthorn Moon Banner
It’s time for the annual Hawthorn Moon blog tour to celebrate new books  plus share some guest posts, do some fun giveaways and online parties and connect!

The Shadowed PathWhat’s all the fuss about? Well, two new books and more! The Shadowed Path, a Jonmarc Vahanian collection (and the first new book in my Chronicles of the Necromancer series in 5 year) came out June 14 and Modern Magic: Twelve Tales of Urban Fantasy, a 12-book multi-author dark urban fantasy ebook boxed set came out June 1.

(And of course, Vendetta—the second Deadly Curiosities novel and Shadow and Flame—the fourth and final Ascendant Kingdoms novel, are still new!)

Do you need more? I’ve got new upcoming conventions and signings, new short stories and novellas, new giveaways and cool stuff! It’s a week-long party, and my readers get all the goodies!

12-book box setThe blog tour got its name from a holiday in The Summoner, my first Chronicles of the Necromancer book, which took place on the summer solstice. And the name stuck. So–celebrate the solstice with some new books, new insights, and plenty of goings-on!

On June 29, I’m hosting a Facebook Launch Party with a few dozen of my author friends. Plan to show up for some fun conversation, free excerpts and great giveaways!  https://www.facebook.com/events/1131695230209632/   23 authors are part of the Facebook launch party! That’s Christina Henry, Josh Vogt, Stuart Jaffe, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Faith Hunter, Michael J. Sullivan, Jean Marie Ward, Nancy Northcott, Jaym Gates, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Valerie Griswold-Ford, Michael A. Ventrella, Matthew Saunders, Jennifer St. Giles, Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Clay and Susan Griffith, James Maxey, Karen E. Taylor, Eric Asher, Darin Kennedy, Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine and me! Chat with your favorite authors, meet new authors, and enjoy giveaways, goodies and surprises! Look for times on the party page!

Two awesome Goodreads giveaways for The Shadowed Path and Vendetta now through June 30!

978-1-939704-60-3What’s a blog tour without blog posts? I’ll be a guest on a bunch of blogs throughout North America and Europe over the next week or so–here are some of the sites that are hosting my posts! Check on Twitter, because I’ll add links to the posts as they go live. Some also include excerpts and giveaways!

No More Grumpy Bookseller
Fantasy Book Review
Romance Bandits
SFF World
Geek Mom
Ragnarok Publishing
Beauty in Ruins
Fantasy Book Critic
I Smell Sheep
We Geek Girls
Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s blog
Night Owl Reviews
RisingShadow
Magical Words
Disquieting Visions
Sci Fi Bulletin
BookBlurb
Mighty Thor
Civilian Reader
SciFi Now
Solaris Books
Fantasy Faction
Jennifer Brozek’s blog

That’s what’s coming up–you won’t want to miss a thing! And if you want to catch up with me live and in-person at a convention or signings, check out my schedule on the events page.
See you at the online party!

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