Monthly Archives: March 2014

Reign of Ash Launches April 1! Book 2 in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga—Blaine McFadden Returns

I am so excited to announce the launch of Reign of Ash, the second book in the Blaine McFadden Ascendant Kingdoms series!

Reign of Ash

Reign of Ash by Gail Z. Martin

Survival is only the beginning.

Blaine McFadden endured six long years in the brutal Velant prison colony, exiled for murder. War devastated his homeland of Donderath, and destroyed the magic on which the Ascendant Kingdoms relied. Now, Blaine and a small group of fellow exiles have returned to a lawless wasteland, where unrestrained magic storms wreak havoc and monsters roam free.

Yet, amidst the chaos, rumors persist of a new magic that could restore the kingdoms. But the key lies within a dangerous, ancient ritual and a group of vanished survivors. Now, McFadden’s only hope is a small, desperate, quickly rallied army. Together they must make one last stand knowing that if they fail, the civilization of the Ascendant Kingdoms dies with them.
Reign of Ash is now available in bookstores and online everywhere!

NEW Urban Fantasy Novel—Deadly Curiosities—Debuts June 25

Curses. Restless ghosts. Malicious magic. Some family heirlooms are to die for….

Cassidy Kincaid’s job is to find haunted and dangerous objects of power; Sorren’s job is to destroy them. For centuries, a secret coalition of mortals and immortals have spirited malicious supernatural objects out of unsuspecting hands to avert disaster. Cassidy can touch an object and see its history, and when that includes curses, ghosts and dark magic, it’s time for her team to get to work, because the shadow world is closer than you think…

Deadly Curiosities is the all-new novel, coming June 25 from Solaris Books!

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin

New urban fantasy, coming June 2015


New Crowdfunded anthology “Dance Like a Monkey” Campaign Runs through May 1

This anthology of fantasy and sci-fi stories includes stories from over 30 authors including Kevin J. Anderson, Timothy Zahn, Ed Greenwood, Mike Stackpole, Aaron Rosenberg, Jean Rabe, Danielle Ackley-McPhail and me! The anthology benefits author CJ Henderson, who is battling cancer for the second time. $10 gets an anthology that should hit over 700 pages and 60+ authors if we meet all our stretch goals—fund it on Indiegogo here:

Dance Like a Monkey

Dance Like a Monkey

Athena’s Daughters Anthology Features Stories About Women, by Women Authors

Athena’s Daughters features short stories by 25 women writers in science fiction, fantasy and steampunk. Authors include Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Janine Spendlove, Maggie Allen, Conley Lyons, Cleolinda Jones, Cynthia Ward, C.A. Verstraete, Tera Fulbright, Tanya Spackman, EJ Lawrence, Nisi Shawl and art by Kellie Neier, Ginger Breo.

A portion of every book sold will benefit RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-abuse organization.

You can order the ebook or trade paperback from Silence in the Library Publishing

Athena's Daughters

Adventurous women characters

Graphic Novel Project Includes My Short Story – Illustrated by a LucasArts’ Artist!

I have a short story in Icarus: A Graphic Novel illustrated by artist Joe Corroney, an awesome artist who has done posters and comic book art for LucasArts. Other authors/artists include Maxwell Drake, Mike Stackpole and Matt Slay. Order in ebook or trade paperback from Silence in the Library

Icarus: The Graphic Novel

Icarus: The Graphic Novel

Watch for these anthologies too:

Clockwork Universe: Steampunk Vs. Aliens

—includes my story “Airship Down” from my Sound and Fury Adventures, coming this fall from Zombies Need Brains Publishing

The Big Bad 2 will have a story from me told from the villain’s point of view, Fall 2014 from Dark Oak Books.

Dreams of Steel V will include another Sound and Fury Adventure, Fall, 2014, also from Dark Oak Books.

Steampunk vs. Aliens

Steampunk vs. Aliens

Short Stories

In addition to my two new novels and the anthology projects, I have a number of short stories available on Kindle, Kobo and Nook, with more coming each month!

Dark Passages, A Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure—A poisoner is loose in the caravan, and men are dying. Powerful old enemies have returned for vengeance, and Jonmarc finds honor and courage tested as he risks his life to save his friends.

Dark Passage

Dark Passage

The Deadly Curiosities Adventures

This series of adventures spans over 500 years, from the 1500s to modern day as a small cabal of vampires and their human helpers battle supernatural enemies to find and destroy dangerous magical items and keep the world safe from dark forces. Vanities; Wild Hunt; Dark Legacy; Steer a Pale Course; Among The Shoals Forever; The Low Road; Buttons

The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures

Soldier. Fight slave. Smuggler. Warrior. Brigand lord. If you’ve met Jonmarc Vahanian in the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings Cycle books, you don’t really know him until you take his journey. Raiders’ Curse; Caves Of The Dead ; Storm Surge; Bounty Hunter; Blood’s Cost; Stormgard; Monstrosities; Bad Places; Dead Man’s Bet; Dark Passages

Signings and convention appearances

• Apr 1 Reign of Ash launches from Orbit Books!
• Apr. 9 Reddit Ask Me Anything AMA, 3 p.m. on r/IamA
• Apr 5 Book Signing, Barnes & Noble Birkdale (Huntersville, NC)
• Apr 12 Book Signing, Barnes & Noble Morrison (South Park)
• Apr 18 – 20 Awesomecon, Washington, DC (launch party for Reign of Ash)
• Apr 24 Reddit Ask Me Anything AMA on r/Fantasy
• Apr 25-27 Ravencon, Richmond, VA (launch party for Reign of Ash)
• May 3 Book Signing, Books A Million Concord Mills
• May 10 Book Signing, Books A Million, Carolina Mall, Concord NC
• May 17 Book Signing, Park Road Books 2 – 4 p.m., Charlotte, NC
• May 23-26 Balticon, Hunt Valley, MD (launch parties for Reign of Ash, Athena’s Daughters and promo party for Dance Like a Monkey)
• May 27-30 Book Expo America, New York City (Signing at Solaris Booth)
• May 30 – Jun 1 ConCarolinas, Charlotte, NC
• June 21 Hawthorn Moon Online Event
• June 25 Deadly Curiosities launches from Solaris Books!
• June 27-29 LibertyCon, Chattanooga, TN (Deadly Curiosities launch party!)
• July y9 9:00 AM (ET) I’m Fantasy Writer of the Day on Reddit – come and chat!
• July Watch for Reddit “Ask Me Anything (AMA)”
• July 11-13 Congregate, Winston-Salem, NC (Deadly Curiosities launch party!)
• July 19 Book Signing Barnes & Noble, Pineville, NC
• July 23-26 Book Signings, London, England—Forbidden Planet, Waterstones
• July 31 Book Signing at Waterstones, Cardiff, Wales
• Aug. 1 Book Signing at Waterstones, Edinburgh, Scotland
• Aug 29-Sep 1 Dragon*Con, Atlanta, GA
• Oct. 3-5 ContraFlow, New Orleans, LA
• Oct. 24 – 31 Days of the Dead Online Event
• Nov. 7 – 9 World Fantasy Convention, Washington, DC
• Nov. 14 – 16 Atomacon, Charleston, SC

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The Hardest Part Of Making a Change


With my new novel Deadly Curiosities (Solaris Books, summer 2014), I make the jump to urban fantasy.  I’ve been writing epic fantasy for seven years, and will be continuing my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga books for Orbit with Reign of Ash in April, so I’ll really have a foot in both camps.  That’s like trying to ride two horses at once, which are each running at different paces.

I’ve read a lot from both epic and urban fantasy, but it was a bit of a switch shifting from third-person narrative for the epic books into first-person for the urban stories.  But I would say that the hardest part has been convincing myself that it’s ok to use modern phrases in the urban book since I worked so hard to become aware of them and avoid them in the epic books.

There are so many words and phrases that we use every day that do a great job of conveying exactly what we mean.  In normal conversation, we don’t worry about the origin.  In writing, it matters a lot.  There are a couple of etymology web sites that have become bookmarks on my computer because I am frequently checking to see when a word or phrase was first used, and how it was used.  For example, people have been puking since the Middle Ages, but they didn’t barf until recently.  And while they have been pissing for hundreds of years, it’s only in the last few decades that anyone has been pissed off.

It matters because the wrong word choice is an anachronism and it ruins the suspension of disbelief for the reader.  The right words take the reader deeper into the atmosphere of the book.  The wrong word yanks them out with a hook.

Since I’m a word junkie, I find this fun.  I collect cool words like other people collect shiny rocks.  So I’m overjoyed when I find a great period-authentic word that is exactly what I need.  The trick is to sprinkle those less familiar, but authentic, words so that they are enjoyable little bonuses instead of annoying readers by sending them to their thesaurus on every page.

With Deadly Curiosities, it’s also fun because the book is set in modern-day Charleston, SC, so there are some wonderful concepts and phrases unique to that area that help to set the mood.  And while visiting the Middle Ages to check out locations isn’t entirely possible (although it’s amazing how instructive it is to visit what’s left), scouting local spots in Charleston is easy and always a pleasure.

So there you have it–the hardest part is remembering to have characters speak in modern English.  Strange, but true!

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books.  My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.


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Shadows of the Past


I grew up around antiques.  My dad haunted antique shows and flea markets, dragging me with him on my childhood weekends.  Dad would go off on a quest for whatever he was looking for at that particular time, leaving mom and me to wander the aisle on our own.  Even back then, I remember being fascinated with the idea that these objects had a history of their own.

I would imagine what they had witnessed, what secrets they had overheard.  Perhaps a vintage evening purse had been to the opera or to Lincoln Center.  Maybe a piece of jewelry had been worn when the former owner met a dignitary, movie star, or other luminary.  To salvage the day from utter boredom, I would start concocting stories about what I saw and regale my mother with my imaginings.

Decades later, going to an antiques or collectibles sale became a stroll down memory lane.  I’d spot a piece of furniture that an aunt had owned, a vase that looked familiar from the home of a childhood friend, a dish or clock that I remembered from my youth.  My husband and I would laugh at how pieces donated to charity just to be rid of them were now fetching big money as “collectibles.”

Fast forward again, and I learned how much objects become a touchstone for memory as my husband and I had the task of cleaning out our childhood homes after our parents passed away.  Handling the family silverware, the good dishes, the table linens became almost sacramental as we remembered the events and people who had used them.  Surrounded by family members, someone would pause from cleaning out a cupboard or closet to hold out an item and say, “Wow, do you remember this?” Reminiscing became a way to honor the memory of those who were gone and to pass on those stories to the younger cousins and grandchildren.

Perhaps after all that, it was inevitable that I would come up with the concept behind my upcoming Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, which will debut from Solaris Books in the summer of 2014.  Cassidy Kincaide is a psychometric, someone who  can read the history of an object by touching it.  She runs Trifles & Folly, an antiques and curio shop in historic, haunted Charleston, South Carolina, whose real business is getting dangerous magical objects off the market before they cause disaster.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of strange, unnerving and odd items laid out for sale at antique shows.  I’m not worried about running out of fodder for tales about Cassidy and her team!  I’m excited about the chance to share her world with readers in Deadly Curiosities!

My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

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Q&A with Tom Riddell

264490_637434426316323_530122009_n1. How did you choose to become a writer?

I worked in a library for five years. In that time I read some horrible books. I thought, I can do better.

2. What’s your favorite part of writing a new book or story?

I like when the characters come alive  and drag me along for the ride to write it all down.

3. Where can readers find you on social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library Thing, Redd It, etc.)
You can find me on Facebook at

4. Who are your favorite fictional characters—your own, and from other books, TV shows and movies?
Raistlin Majere fron the Dragonlance novels and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki from the avengers and Thor movies. I think a well written villain is worth ten well written heroes.

5. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Just keep writing. Even if you don’t get it published you finished something all your own.

Click here to listen to a special reading by Tom on our sister site.

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Living in Interesting Times


“May you live in interesting times,” is a Chinese curse.  Boring times may be well, boring, but they also tend to be stable, safe, and predictable.  All the things that make those times boring also make them less dangerous.

By contrast, “interesting” times are unstable, dangerous, unpredictable and in a constant state of flux.  Those times make for great fiction, but aren’t such fun to live through while everything is being decided.

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, Tris Drayke has the misfortune of living in interesting times.  The king’s murder touches off a chain of events that lead to Tris running for his life with a few close friends, trying to outwit bounty hunters and figure out how to unseat the despot who has usurped the throne.

The chaos that makes things interesting for the reader bring hardship and misery to Tris as he fights his way through a dangerous landscape where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.  When times are “interesting,” rules change, old ways of doing things don’t work anymore, and there’s always a dangerous power grab as the chaos of the moment unseats the previous top dogs.

As society reshuffles itself, there are winners and losers, and the people who were on top under the old order rarely end up keeping their spots (or their heads).  Sometimes, the entire social order is upended, as when a country is overrun by invaders from a foreign country.  A natural disaster, a bad harvest, or a plague can bring down the mighty and raise the powerless, and when the dust settles, nothing is the way it had been.

Creating “interesting times” is one of the fun parts of being an author.  We love to torture our characters, and it’s a challenge to make things bad, then worse, then even worse to see what the character will make of it.  It’s also a great way to learn about your characters, because you won’t really know what they’re made of until they’re in hot water.  Some will turn out to be heroes.  Others will betray their friends, run from the fight, or sacrifice themselves for others.  Even we authors don’t always know for sure what’s going to happen until we put the characters in the situation and see what happens.

“Interesting times” are at the heart of great stories.  All stories focus on something that changes, or else there is no tension, no opportunity for growth.  So here’s to “interesting times”!

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books.  My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.


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Q&A with Steve Dorning

DSC02581.   What is the title of your newest book or short story?

The title of my newest short story is called “Bottom Of The Mug” and is included with a whole slew of talented author’s works in the Anthology “A Tall Ship, A Star, And Plunder” from Dark Oak Press.  It’s a pirate story of adventure, friendship, duty and redemption. You can find it just about anywhere good books are sold, like Amazon, the Dark Oak Press website or Barnes and Nobel.

2.  Why did you chose to become a writer?

I really didn’t chose to become a writer, it chose me. Stories have always played an important part in my life.  They let us escape from reality into different worlds where anything is possible, and I had so many worlds coming to life and dying in my mind that it just made sense to start writing them down so I could share them with other people.

3.  What inspired your new story?

Actually, the world that it is set in actually inspired it.  I’ve been working on Alongrid, a world where dwarves pretty much populate most of the land, and humans are seafaring nomads, or pirates.  When the story call for a pirate story come in, it went hand in hand with what I was already doing, and it gave me a chance to flesh out the human side of things.

4.  What do you read for fun?

I read just about anything for fun, but mostly science fiction and fantasy.  A little supernatural thriller if it’s done right.  My absolute favorite authors are David Gemmel and Jim Butcher.  I still recall the first book I read by David Gemmel.  It was ‘Legend’ and it was about a castle siege.  I remember thinking ‘A castle siege? How can you make that interesting? They can’t go anywhere or do anything.’ But I gave it a chance.  I couldn’t put it down. I read the whole book in one sitting.

5.  What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Write your story.  Forget about word count or how many pages you have and write the story from beginning to end.  You can always go back and add if it’s not long enough or cut if it’s too long, but if you don’t have it written down you don’t have anything to work with.

6.  Where can readers find you on social media?

If you just want to pick up my books you can goto my website,  or Amazon Author Page, listed under S.P.Dorning.  If you want to get in touch with me, or just follow along with what’s going on in my career, you can find me on facebook under Stephen Patrick Dorning or you can “like” my book page at

Click here to listen to a special read by SP on our sister site.

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Misbehaving Women

Reign of FINALBy Gail Z. Martin

I love the quote, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”  That’s true in the real world, but it’s always true in fantasy.

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, all of my female characters “aim to misbehave.”  Kiara Sharsequin may be the heir to the Isencroft throne, but when she needs to find a way to heal her father the king, and avoid an arranged marriage to a tyrannical monarch, she takes off on her own and breaks all the rules to find a solution.

Carina Jesthrata is a healer whose been making her own way since she and her twin brother, Cam, were cast out of their home because their neighbors feared that twins were bad magic.  Between Carina’s healer’s talent and Cam’s brawny size, they find work with a mercenary troop, and later with a traveling caravan.  It’s not the genteel life of a healer to a noble house, but it puts Carina in position to affect the future of the Winter Kingdoms.

Aidane is a serroquette, a ‘ghost whore,’ a medium who can permit a ghost to inhabit her body for an intimate reunion with a living lover.  She makes her way despite the Nargi priests who hunt down and kill the serroquettes. When she is caught, beaten and left for dead, her unlikely rescuers sweep Aidane up into intrigue in a war-torn kingdom, setting a chain of events into motion that put the fate of the new queen in Aidane’s hands.

In my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, Kestel Falke is a spy, a courtesan and an assassin.  (It was the assassin part that earned her a one-way ticket to the Velant prison colony.)  Her fighting skills keep her alive and protect her within the brutal Velant prison, and her adaptability helps her survive was a colonist in the harsh Edgeland climate.  When magic fails, Kestel finds herself being the bodyguard and lover of the one man who might be able to put things right.

And in my Deadly Curiosities series, Cassidy Kincaide is the owner of Trifles & Folly, an antiques and collectibles store in Charleston, SC that is much more than in appears to be.  Cassidy is a psychometric, able to read the history of objects with a touch.  That comes in handy, because Trifles & Folly is the front for an organization dedicated to removing dangerous magical objects from circulation.  Cassidy’s work involves a fair amount of breaking and entering, and a certain level of subterfuge to keep the store’s real purpose under wraps. (You’ll see more of Cassidy in my story, ‘Retribution,’ in the Athena’s Daughters anthology, and in the new Deadly Curiosities series from Solaris books in 2014.)

If any of my heroines had been “well-behaved,” they would never have gotten into the situations that let them save the monarch, save the kingdom, or chart their own destiny.  By defying the norms of their culture, social class and circumstances, they break the constraints that would have kept them from coming into their full abilities and making a huge difference in the world.  Let’s hear it for women who misbehave!

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books.  My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

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Q&A with Cindy Vallar

CindyVallar-AuthorPic1. What is the title of your newest book or short story? What’s it about? Where can readers find it?

The title of my newest short story is “Rumble the Dragon,” which appears in the anthology A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder from Dark Oak Press.

When Vikings steal a sacred chalice, a misfit dragon named Rumble must find and recover it before the Vikings endanger mankind.

A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder is available in e-book, paperback, and hardback formats from and Barnes & Noble.

2. What inspired your new book or story?

Last spring, one of my readers told me about an open submission call for a pirate anthology. Since I’m a historical novelist who has written non-fiction articles about maritime piracy for more than a decade, this story call sounded perfect. I knew most people would write about Caribbean piracy during the 17th into the early 18th century – what is known as the golden age of piracy and the one most people are familiar with (think Jack Sparrow or Blackbeard and you’ve got the correct time period). Somewhat of a rebel at heart, though, I tend to favor other eras.

Dark Oak Media focuses on fantasy, dark fantasy, and steam punk, but I write straight historical fiction or historical romance. Being a member of the Historical Novel Society, I know there are many other subgenres to historical fiction, including historical fantasy. During my daily walks through the neighborhood, I struggled with how to step outside my comfort zone to write in this subgenre. It’s not that I don’t read fantasy; I do on occasion, but my preferences rarely follow elves and fairies. So what fantastical creatures do I like? Dragons!

But what did I know about dragons? Not enough to fill a thimble. The first book I ordered for my research library proved a truly piratical treasure chest. Ciruelo’s The Book of the Dragon provided all sorts of inspirational gems for an author in search of ideas. One of my favorite jigsaw puzzles, “Confabulation of Dragons” by Scott Gustafson, offered another. In this picture three young women visit a host of dragons. One lady carries a crosier with a dragon head carved on it; she served as a model for the Welsh woman in my story who is a dragon keeper.

Several more walks through the neighborhood provided me with a coming-of-age dragon named Rumble. Born of an earth dragon and a water dragon, Rumble is a misfit who only wants to belong. Now that I had my main character, I needed a time period when dragons and pirates might co-exist. Having just finished reading James L. Nelson’s Fin Gall, a novel set in Viking Ireland, I thought of the drakkar, the dragon warships of the Norsemen who plundered their way through the British Isles and many other regions of Europe. Thus “Rumble the Dragon” was born.

3. Who are your favorite fictional characters – your own, and from other books, TV shows and movies?

From my own works, Rumble is first on the list, although I tend to like whichever characters I’m working with in my current work-in-progress.

Isaac Bell and Stone Barrington are two favorite characters that appear in books written by Clive Cussler and Stuart Woods, respectively. Another favorite is Louis L’Amour’s Texas Ranger, Chick Bowdrie.

My favorite TV characters are those on “Castle” and “Murder She Wrote.” In film, it would have to be Captain Blood, particularly when played by Errol Flynn.

4. What do you read for fun?

When I read for pleasure, I usually pick a thriller or contemporary romantic suspense. Sometimes I’ll pick up a historical novel in a time period or setting I’d prefer reading about rather than writing.

5. Was there a book you read in your childhood or teen years that changed your world? Tell us which book and how it made a difference for you.

My mom introduced me to the world of historical fiction when she suggested I read a favorite story from her childhood, Marie McSwigan’s Snow Treasure. That story ignited my passion for reading and when I decided to write a novel many years later, I had no trouble picking a genre – historical fiction.

Two other stories that impacted my life were Ann McGovern’s Wanted Dead or Alive and a story about a cocker spaniel named Rusty. McGovern’s book told the story of Harriet Tubman, who became a role model. Her ability to overcome adversity and help others really inspires me even today. Although I don’t recall the title of the dog story, I fell in love with Rusty. When my dad asked me what kind of dog I wanted, I said a rust-colored cocker spaniel. It took us awhile, but we finally found one, and, of course, I named him Rusty.

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