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Where Have All the Muses Gone—a #HoldOnToTheLight post

By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

From the first days of my conscious thought I have always been creative. I have told tales and given free rein to my imagination. I’ve created worlds on paper, in my head, for my toys, friends, and anyone else who would listen. And—eventually—for my fans. I have lived with my muses for a very, very long time.

holdontothelight-fb-bannerI live to be creative. To make something awe-inspiring out of nothing but a thought.

It kills me to not be creative.

I am dying inside.

Since 2014 the stress of life has become a barrier between myself and my muses. The death of loved ones, friends, pets… The struggle to provide for my family. My failure to do so. Losing my job. Losing my house. Moving in a long, slow, painful process that feels as if it will never end. Still not knowing how I’m going to meet my obligations. Needing to find a job.

My muses and I are rarely on speaking terms anymore. Or maybe I’ve just become deaf to their voices, too soft to hear over the clamber of all my other worries. Pushed back by all the other responsibilities. Even just writing this article has been a struggle. I despair of every being creative again. Believe me. That doesn’t help. The panicked jibbering in my head at that thought drowns the muses out even more. Depression kills my passion and my joy, but I refuse to let it triumph and kill the heart of me.

I remind myself that today is not the day. But that does not mean tomorrow isn’t. Or the next. Or even years from now.
My creativity might not come when I expect it. When I need it. But that is not today’s concern. Today I must survive. I must manage what responsibilities I can. Deal with whatever crises rise up before me. Because no matter how dark today seems, there is always tomorrow. Each time I wake up to a new day, it is a win. I will not surrender my life, my creativity to despair. I will not hand it that victory.

Over the last three years I have had to focus on survival, but that does not mean my muses have been silent. I have written, there have been fleeting moments of inspiration, and once I find my feet again, my sisters will be there, ready once more to whisper in my ear, to share new worlds with me.

And I WILL share them with you. If I do not give up.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

#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, 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 and join us on Facebook

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



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 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 (  I’m especially thrilled to see the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network creating a fandom-based peer counseling training opportunity. Details here: .  (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

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

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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New Cool Stuff!

It must be spring, because I’m heading to The Steampunk World’s Fair, followed by Balticon, and then ConCarolinas—you can see the summer schedule at the end. It’s nice to get back on the road and back with the tribe—and I’m hoping you’ll come say hi if you’re heading to one of summer cons.

GZM_Shadow_and_Flame_205x330Shadow and Flame, the fourth and final Ascendant Kingdoms (Blaine McFadden) novel, is out in paperback, ebook and audiobook. Bookwraiths says, ‘a wild ride … never a dull moment!’  Watch book video here  and buy it now!  Shadow and Flame on Audible for the audiobook lovers!

Now about that six year gap in Ice Forged, when Blaine gets sent to Velant Prison … You already know that I cover those years in three Kings Convicts Draft 1novellas: Arctic Prison, Cold Fury and Ice Bound. Now you can get all three novellas in one collection for a special price in King’s Convicts.

Do you like a little Steampunk with your fairy tales? Gaslight and Grimm Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam. With tales by James Chambers, Christine Norris, Bernie Mojzes, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Jeff Young, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, Elaine Corvidae, David Lee Summers, Kelly A. Harmon, Jonah Knight, Diana Bastine, and Jody Lynn Nye. Our story is a Billy Goats Gruff riff, “The Patented Troll.”

G&GRed-Gold Leaf-150The May survey wants to know the ways you like best when it comes to interacting with authors at conventions! Take the survey and enter for a chance to win a sampler platter of 4 ebook short stories, one from each of our series!

Have you pre-ordered The Shadowed Path? Eyes and Books reviews calls it ‘crammed full of nonstop action, great characters and fast-paced writing! See the review here  and pre-order here.

And I’ve been on a few blogs lately, talking about this and that….

When the End Comes—I share some thoughts with author Juliet McKenna on ending a series FC JONMARC COLLECTION

Anarchy sucks. Bibliosanctum gives me the mic to talk about the end of the world.

Ever wonder about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in fantasy novels? Catch my musings at SciFi Now.

And the Barnes & Noble blog had me on as a guest to talk about how we might never be Aragorn, but on our best days, we might be Sam.

How to find us:

• May 7 Book Festival in Rutherfordton, NC
• May 13 – 15 Steampunk World’s Fair, Piscataway, NJ (Iron & Blood party—Larry will be there with me!)
• May 27 – 30 Balticon, Baltimore, MD (launch party)
• June 3-5 ConCarolinas, Concord, NC (launch party—Double trouble—Larry’s coming, too!)
• June 15 – 19 Origins Gaming Convention, Columbus, OH
• June 21-28 Hawthorn Moon blog tour
• June 14 The Shadowed Path comes out!

Reviewers and media—The Shadowed Path is now on NetGalley. And if you missed getting a review copy for Shadow and Flame or Vendetta, just let me know and I can arrange it.

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As The World Burns. Shadow and Flame in Stores and Online Now!

Shadow and Flame, the fourth and final Ascendant Kingdoms novel, is now in stores and online! Not only that, but Orbit and I have some killer special deals with special low launch prices and great extras!


Here’s the scoop:

Blaine McFadden and his allies have brought magic back under mortal command and begun to restore order to the beleaguered kingdom of Donderath. Now, new perils and old enemies gather for a final reckoning. Foreign invaders, a legendary dark mage and vengeful immortals fight Blaine’s battered forces for control of the continent, and Blaine’s weary army is the only thing standing between a kingdom struggling to rise from the ashes and a descent into fury and darkness.

So here’s what’s REALLY cool!  Right now, the paperback copy of Shadow and Flame is just $10.24 (save $5.75) on Amazon ! AND Orbit has done a price drop on ALL of the Ascendant Kingdoms books for a limited timeIce Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows are just $4.99 on Kindle (save $5 on each)! Great for catching up if you got behind, and perfect for binge-reading your way through the series. Grab them quick!

Arctic PrisonAnd to sweeten the deal a little more, if you buy Shadow and Flame (ebook or paper) before 3/31, you get Arctic Prison (a Blaine McFadden prequel novella) free! (That’s a $2.99 value!) Need to catch up on the series? Buy 2 or more Ascendant Kingdoms novels (any format) by 3/31, and get King’s Convicts (three Blaine McFadden prequel novellas) free! (That’s a $9.99 value!) Details here:

Here’s what they’re saying about Shadow and Flame!

“The perfect conclusion to a truly epic tale.” — Michael J. Sullivan, author of the Riyria novels.

“Gail Z. Martin is the one of the finest storytellers writing today. Her fascinating characters and mastery of atmospherics gives readers stories that have to be savored. Her characters display the sort of quick wit and heart that make them a joy to follow through their adventures.”
Michael A. Stackpole, New York Times Bestselling author of I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron

“A flawless finale that does not disappoint.” — RT Book ReviewsKings Convicts Draft 1

And Shadow and Flame made io9 and Gizmodo’s “Most Talked About Books for March list!

But as they say on QVC, wait—there’s more! Join my Chronicles newsletter in March and enter for a chance to win a free copy of Arctic Prison (2 lucky winners!).

Join me on March 23 for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit/Fantasy! I’ll be posting around noon, and returning later in the day to answer your questions. Want to know something about one of my books or characters, what’s coming up next, or just have questions about writing and publishing? Ask Me Anything! (If you miss the date, stop by anyhow and check out the Q&A or ask a question—I’ll be dropping by for a while to pick up latecomers!)

Shadow and Flame isn’t the only thing that’s new—we’ve got a new Storm and Fury Adventure for Steampunk fans. Airship Down takes the Department of Supernatural Investigation on a wild ride in search of mysterious orbs that might be sabotaging New Pittsburgh’s factories. It’s jam-packed with adventure and explosions!

Airship Down Brass DraftWant another chance to win a prize? Answer my March reader survey question!

If you like bookmarks and book swag, you can get a whole envelope of cool free stuff for my books! Free swag! Send SASE (w 2 stamps on return envelope) to PO Box 241721 Milwaukee WI 53224 Must say ‘Attn: Gail Martin’ on outside envelope

If you were part of my Shadow Alliance street team, you’d get sneak-preview snippets from Work In Progress, exclusive t-shirts, and other special stuff. It’s free to join. Help spread the word about my books and have access to cool contests, giveaways and more!

Want a signed copy of Shadow and Flame? I’ve got two signings coming up! Mar. 26  at Park Road Books, Charlotte NC from 2-4 and Apr. 2 at Barnes & Noble, South Park Charlotte, NC from 1-3! Come by and say hello!




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Contests, Quizzes and New Stuff

Happy New Year! While you’re bracing for (or digging out from) Snowmageddon, make sure you have plenty to read along with your milk, bread, beer/wine and TP!

Free Stuff

What kind of reader are you? Take my survey and enter for a chance to win a prize!

Contest just for newsletter readers!  The Chronicles newsletter is going monthly and so are the giveaways with two new winners every month, one from existing subscribers and one from new subscribers! January’s prize is a $10 Amazon gift certificate plus an envelope of signed swag! Watch for a new prize and new drawing in February!

Goodreads giveaway for Vendetta! 

Join the Shadow Alliance!  My new street team gets exclusive snippets from the books and stories I’m working on, plus special contests, giveaways and get-togethers for helping spread the word about my books. It’s free—and fun!


Book News

New Steampunk! Grave Voices, our newest novella, is now live on Kindle, Kobo and Nook. It’s a Storm and Fury Adventure, set in our Iron & Blood world of 1898 alternative history Pittsburgh. Clockwork zombies, mad scientists, creepy dolls and awesome inventions make for a thrilling tale packed with explosions!Grave Voices V2

We’re also stretch goal authors for the Gaslight and Grimm steampunk fairy tale anthology funding now on Kickstarter! We’ve hit our basic funding level, but to add our story (a steampunk retelling of the Three Billy Goats Gruff), we need to add a few more bucks to the bucket. Hurry—the Kickstarter campaign ends soon!

shadowAndFlame.inddBinge readers! If you’ve been waiting to read the Blaine McFadden Ascendant Kingdoms series until all the books were out—now’s the time to start!  Shadow and Flame, the fourth and final book in the series comes out March 22 (now available for pre-order). And now there are three new ‘prequel’ novellas in my new King’s Convicts set plus a short story that fill in a six-year gap at the beginning of Ice Forged and spill the secrets about Blaine’s years as a convict, how he met Kestel, Piran, Verran and Dawe, and more! Here’s the sequence: Ice Forged (novel), then Arctic Prison, Ice Bound, No Reprieve, and Cold Fury (novellas and short story), and Reign of Ash, War of Shadows and Shadow and Flame (novels). Perfect reading for long winter nights! Click on the links for excerpts and ordering.

Vendetta is hot off the press, and it’s the newest Deadly Curiosities novel in my urban fantasy series set in historic, haunted Charleston, SC. Someone very powerful is trying to destroy Sorren and everyone he cares about. That puts Cassidy, Teag and Trifles and Folly in the cross-hairs, against an unknown enemy with strong magic and significant resources. Sorren has spent centuries shutting down the plans of powerful immortals, dark warlocks and supernatural creatures, and now he’s got to figure out which of those many enemies is out to get him before they pick off his friends one by one and come after him to finish an immortal vendetta. DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA2

Redcap is the latest Deadly Curiosities Adventure short story, with killer pixies running loose in Charleston. It’s a ‘bloody’ good Christmas story!

New feature—Meet My Author Friend

Stuart1Each month, I’ll introduce you to a writer friend whose work you might enjoy. This month, my guest is Stuart Jaffe, who writes a number of series across several genres, including the Max Porter paranormal detective series. His gift to you–The Max Porter Starter Library: 2 FREE novels and a FREE short story. It was supposed to be a new beginning – good job, good pay, and a lovely home in North Carolina. But when Max Porter discovers his office is haunted by the ghost of a 1940s detective, he is thrust neck-deep into a world of old mysteries and dangerous enemies. One in which ghosts, witches, curses, and spells exist. One in which a simple research job can turn deadly. Real history meets the paranormal in this exciting mystery series!

Here’s the Link:

RedcapUpcoming events

Here’s where to find me in February and March. If you’re at a con with me, I love it when people take panel photos or take a pix with me and tag/post!

  • Jan 30 Signing–Barnes and Noble, Morrison Charlotte, NC 1-3 pm
  • Feb 11 – 14 Capricon, Chicago, IL
  • Feb 20 Signing—Books a Million, Concord Mills, Concord, NC 1-3 pm
  • Feb 26 – 28 Mysticon, Roanoke, VA (launch party)
  • Mar 5-6 AZ Renaissance Festival, Apache Junction, AZ

Just a reminder—you can find me hanging out nearly every day on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook at The Winter Kingdoms, and on Goodreads, Wattpad and Pinterest. Come say hi!

Arctic Prisonice boundNoReprieveCold Fury

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Vendetta Launch! (And Other Cool Stuff)

Vendetta, the second book in my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, is now in stores and on ebook!   Read an excerpt here, then go get your very own copy!


Early reviews love Vendetta!

“Wow! One marvelous, twisty, touching, thrill of a book.”–Kat Richardson, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels

“Exceptional once again.” –Douglas Meeks

“Rachets up the tension”–Blackgate

“Ending 2015 with a bang”–Horror Underground

In case you still have some room on the book gift card you got for the holiday, here are a few suggestions!

WWW coverThe Weird Wild West features our Storm and Fury steampunk adventure Ruin Creek, set in the world of Iron & Blood (and a reviewer favorite). Plenty of your favorite authors and lots of weird West stories to while away a winter evening!

Cinched: Imagination Unbound anthology with a corset theme features another of our Storm and Fury steampunk stories, Lagniappe, set in New Orleans. We’re in fine company with a slew of other amazing authors!

The Side of Good/The Side of Evil superhero/supervillain anthology features still another Storm and Fury steampunk adventure, Ghost Wolf (another reviewer favorite) with all-star author company in a fine anthology for a long winter night.Cinched

No Reprieve revisits a moment in Blaine McFadden’s convict past–brand new from Orbit Short Fiction on Amazon. Arctic Prison and Ice Bound are two novella-length stories in the new King’s Convicts ebook series about Blaine’s time in Velant Prison (watch for the third and last King’s Convicts novella–Cold Fury–coming soon!).

RedcapRedcap is the new Deadly Curiosities Adventure short story for December, for anyone who has ever been suspicious of the elf on the shelf or thought it was no accident that grandma got run over by a reindeer. It’s a bloody good Christmas story!

What are you waiting for? Dive in now and read until spring!

And remember–if you like my books, please write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. It really matters!  Thank you.

Want to always have the latest news? Join The Shadow Alliance, my new street team!



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Inventing Holidays, New Blog Hop & Gift Ideas

One of the things I love about world-building is the chance to create entirely new holidays. I personally believe that you can never have enough holidays, so the chance to invent a few of my own is really too much to resist.

As with any world-building, holidays need to fit into the belief structure of the place and people you’ve created. I’ve found that it helps a lot to read about holidays, feasts, and celebrations world-wide and throughout history in order to get a feel for the kinds of things that people commemorate with a special time set apart.

If you’re writing a militaristic culture, it’s likely that they will commemorate great battles, both wins and losses. The losses are likely to be solemn occasions, while the victory remembrances may include feasting, storytelling, gift-giving, dances and music. It may be a time when mayhem is permitted and even tacitly encouraged. Or it could be the time when young warriors are presented for initiation.

In an agricultural culture, holidays are likely to follow the seasonal cycle of planting and harvest. There will be times when people are too busy to celebrate, and other times when it’s possible to take a day to enjoy the harvest. Foods will be what are seasonally available. Spring will focus on new life, and may be the time for handfastings. Fall is a time for counting stock and preparing for the cold dark winter.

Holidays play a big role in all of my series. In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series. Not only do they provide a window into the cultures of the different kingdoms in how they are celebrated, but the characters’ attitudes toward the holidays also provide an insight into who they are and what they have experienced. In the Ascendant Kingdoms series, even exiles in a harsh arctic colony find a way to make a celebration out of the beginning and end of the “white nights”. And of course in my Deadly Curiosities Adventures, real-world Charleston, SC knows how to celebrate in a big way!

Holidays are also a great way to provide a view of the economy of your fictional world. Are special goods required for a celebration? How far in debt will people go to acquire them? What trade is necessary to supply them? Can they be obtained illegally? How do celebrations differ between the rich and the poor? Slave and free? People of different races or kingdoms?

Make sure to study folklore and world customs to avoid just copying the holidays you might be most familiar with. Throughout history, people have found a rich variety of ways to honor their deities, so you’ve got a lot of inspiration to pull from beyond our modern culture.

Holidays are a lot of fun to write. Invent a good one, and you may be able to make it an annual celebration with your readers. Adding holidays to your writing creates a whole new layer of believability and texture to your world. Try it and see!

Just in time for the holidays–some bright shiny new books, giveaways and more!

Mocha NewSGBlog

Mocha Memoirs Press Holiday Blog tour is live! This is one of the holiday-themed posts–follow them all for clues on how to enter to win cool stuff!  Click on the graphic to find out more about the prizes, and click on the frog in the box to find all the other great blog posts!!

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA2Vendetta, the new Deadly Curiosities novel, launches Dec. 29! You can pre-order online–just in time for Christmas, and some great New Years’ reading.

Larry and I have a new Storm and Fury Adventure story (set in the world of our Iron & Blood steampunk series) in the new corset-themed anthology Cinched: Imagination Unbound. It’s a hot bunch of stories guaranteed to warm up your winter nights.Cinched

Superhero (and villain) fans, rejoice! The Side of Good/The Side of Evil is now available–and it includes our Storm & Fury Adventure Ghost Wolf, with a steampunk superhero, set in our Iron & Blood world!

The Weird Wild West anthology is coming soon–with another of our Storm & Fury steampunk tales, Ruin Creek (which got a special shout-out from two reviewers!)

Blaine McFadden fans–lots of good stuff new for you! No Reprieve is a brand new story set during Blaine’s time as a prisoner in Velant–coming on ebook Dec. 15 from Orbit Short Fiction. ice bound

Arctic Prison and Ice Bound are two new novellas in The Kings’ Convicts series set during Blaine’s convict years, now available on Kindle/Kobo/Nook

NoReprievePre-order The Shadowed Path, the new Jonmarc Vahanian collection in print or ebook, perfect for the Chronicles of the Necromancer lover on your list!FC JONMARC COLLECTION

Fatal Invitation was the Thanksgiving Deadly Curiosities Adventure for November, and watch for a spookalicious Christmas story coming in December!

fatal invitation

Still time to get in on the big Holiday Book Giveaway! The more you enter, the more chances to win!Happy Holidays giveaway


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Happy Halloween! Days Of the Dead tour saves the best for last!

We’re close to wrapping up my Days of the Dead tour, but there are still plenty of surprises to come!

New Books, Novellas and Stories!

Arctic PrisonFirst off, I’m introducing a whole new six-part novella series set in the Ascendant Kingdoms world featuring Blaine McFadden and his convict friends during their time in Velant Prison and Edgeland colony—the ‘missing’ six years at the beginning of Ice Forged. King’s Convicts Novella 1: Arctic Prison begins right where the prologue of Ice Forged leaves off, with Blaine and Verran on the ship bound for Edgeland!  Available now–Read it here (available on Kindle, Kobo and Nook):

And a second Blaine McFadden short story during the Velant years, No Reprieve, comes out in December (available for pre-order)

Just in time for Halloween—Spook House, a Deadly Curiosities Adventure short story, is available now! Cassidy and Teag have their hands full when a haunted house attraction gives guests more supernatural scares than they bargained for! Spook House

Vendetta (Book 2 in the Deadly Curiosities novels) comes out Dec. 29 but it’s available now for pre-order! Launches Dec. 29

And the first new addition to the Chronicles of the Necromancer series in four years—The Shadowed Path—is a PRINT and ebook collection of the first 10 Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures PLUS an exclusive, never-before-seen 11th story that’s ONLY in the collection. Coming in 2016, pre-order here:


New Blog Posts

EC Ambrose and I talk about the occupational hazard of going down the research rabbit hole

NoReprieveI chat with The Writers’ Lens about strategic short stories

Jacey Bedford hosts me for a quick Q&A

Why urban fantasy loves its tainted talismans

Why promoting your book is as important as writing it

Selling Your Soul for the good of the craft

Talking Steampunk and Pittsburgh with Sf Bokhandlen Oct. 28 (be sure to do the ‘translate page’ unless you speak Swedish)

I chat about Cursed Trinkets, Haunted Objects and Deadly Curios with Solaris Books  DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA2

Over at Vonnie Winslow Crist’s blog, I muse about how to go about Making Epic Fantasy Epically Epic

And MB Weston hosts me pondering Urban or Epic?

Doing the Monster Mash over at Falcata Times

I’ve got a favor to ask: If you’ve liked my books/stories please do me a BIG favor and leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads! Reviews matter a lot! Thank you.


A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

More Giveaways!

The Broad Universe Full Moon blog tour with 30 author blogs and 3 awesome book bundle giveaways runs through 11/7. Find the blogs here: and the rafflecopter for the giveaways here:

The Swaggiest Swag promotion—like a convention in an envelope!—ends tonight! All it costs you is an envelope and a stamp, and you get free swag from me, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, John Hartness, Stuart Jaffe, Darynda Jones, Christina Henry, Laura Anne Gilman and Jennifer Estep—info here


More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities or Iron & Blood!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin

Deadly Curiosities

by Gail Z. Martin

Giveaway ends November 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Iron & Blood by Gail Z. Martin

Iron & Blood

 by Gail Z. Martin

Giveaway ends November 19, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Win yourself a copy of The Weird Wild West (which includes our Steampunk Storm and Fury Adventure Ruin Creek)

New holiday giveaway with free books, book gift cards and cool stuff from the same bunch of authors (including me!) who brought you The Swaggiest Swag—to enter, just comment on a blog or Facebook page, or join our newsletters, like our pages, details here—the more you enter, the more chances to win!

Happy Holidays giveaway

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Days of the Dead Blog Tour Rolls On With Spookalicious Surprises

DaysofDead Banner V1 copy

My Days of the Dead blog tour is on a roll with new guest blog posts, new giveaways and lots of goodies!  Here’s what’s new.

Spook HouseBrand new for Halloween—“Spook House”—a Deadly Curiosities Adventure now on Kindle (also Kobo and Nook)

Five Reasons Authors Do Blog Tours (And Maybe You Should Too) on Magical Words

Why authors love research on Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s page

Switching Gears Between Genres for The Qwillery

Recap thus far of all the Days of the Dead posts and goodies


What lies at the intersection of fantasy and reality?

Why I wrote Vendetta

SFF World chats with me about Kickstarter’s impact on publishing and authors’ careers


And the U Mass Science Fiction Society sits down for a Q&A with me on various and sundry bookish things

Then SFSignal asks about small press vs. self-publishing and get an earful

Speaking of the Full Moon tour—there are 30 awesome moon-related posts on the tour and three awesome book prize packages. You can find the posts here: and the Rafflecopter contests here (make sure you click on the arrow in the box—there are 3 contests)

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

I’m doing a giveaway on Reddit/Fantasy for a set of 3 of my books in either physical or ebook (Kindle/Kobo/Nook)—2 winners, lots of fun! Books are War of Shadows, Deadly Curiosities and Iron & Blood. Details here Ends 10/30.

If you want to make sure you always know about new books, stories, novellas, events and giveaways, please join my Chronicles newsletter. It’s free, you’ll get excerpts and flash fiction, and you’ll get the scoop first! Sign up here:

And don’t forget The Swaggiest Swag giveaway. If you like bookmarks, postcards and cool free stuff from bestselling authors, this is for you. I’m one of 11 authors who are giving away neat stuff for just the cost of a self-addressed/stamped envelope. Find out more here:


Two cool giveaways begin today, with free copies to be won on Goodreads of Deadly Curiosities and Iron & Blood here 10/29-11/14 and here 10/29-11/14

Read an excerpt from #TheLowRoad by @GailZMartin @Rebellion_Pub on @Wattpad

Win yourself a copy of The Weird Wild West in this Goodreads giveaway

Trick Or Treat! Download the DoubleDragonSampler #1 for free!

BB2 smallHow about an excerpt from The Big Bad II antho

And one from Space Horrors

There’s more to come, so stay tuned! And be sure to get in on the goodies fast–like Halloween, many of them vanish after 10/31!


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