Tag Archives: fantasy

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 https://bit.ly/2c49ZTW @Rebellionpub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The courage to ask for help #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @jreizes https://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 https://www.MagicalWords.net and https://www.DisquietingVisions.com


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Days of the Dead 2015: Tricks, Treats and Stuff that’s Scary-Good!

DaysofDead Banner V1 copy

Welcome to the 2015 Days of the Dead blog tour!

We are going to celebrate in style this year with excerpts, interviews, book giveaways, sneak peeks at new covers, and more!

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTA2Three new books are coming up—and that’s just the beginning! On December 29, Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel (Solaris Books) launches—and it’s got an awesome Chris McGuire cover. Then in March, Shadow and Flame (Orbit Books) comes out—the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms series. In June, we return to the world of The Summoner with Shadowed Path, a print (and ebook) anthology of the first ten Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures PLUS an exclusive eleventh story that is only in the anthology!

But wait, there’s more! The Weird Wild West anthology is out, with a Storm and Fury Adventure story from Larry N. Martin and me, and The Side of Good/The Side of Evil anthology/flipbook is also new—and it’s got another Storm and Fury Adventure story as well. Speaking of the Iron & Blood-related Storm and Fury Adventures, check out the FREE full novella Grave Voices on Wattpad as well as short stories Resurrection Day and Airship Down on Kindle/Kobo and Nook.WWW cover

There’s a brand new Deadly Curiosities Adventure short story, Spook House, which will be out right in time for Halloween, and earlier this year we wrapped up Season 2 of the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures—Season 3 will start in 2016. Coming soon are the all-new Blaine McFadden novellas in the King’s Convicts series, that happens before the main action in Ice Forged (available on Kindle/Kobo and Nook). And in December, a Blaine McFadden short story, No Reprieve, debuts on Orbit Short Fiction.

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

In fact, there is so much awesome cool stuff going on that it takes TWO different blog tours to contain it all! That’s where the Full Moon Blog Tour comes in—with even MORE great blogs from 25+ different authors (including me) so just click here or on the graphic to get started!

So what ELSE is going on with the Days of the Dead tour? Here’s the deal—different blogs will post my guest articles on different days. Make the rounds, enter the contests, be entertained and grab some fun freebies! Where? Watch for links for Beauty in Ruins, ESpecBooks, The Qwillery, SF Signal, The Book Plank, Magical Words, I Smell Sheep, Bookloons, Romance Bandits, SFNow, Fantasy Book Critic, SF World, We Geek Girls, SF Bokhandlein, Fantasy Faction, SFX, No More Grumpy Booksellers, Solaris Books and more!

What kind of freebies? First off, there’s The Swaggiest Swag giveaway. If you like bookmarks, swagpostcards 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:

I’ll have three different Goodreads giveaways, one for Iron & Blood, one for Deadly Curiosities and one for The Weird Wild West. There are also giveaways on Reddit, Bookloons, The Full Moon Blog Tour, No More Grumpy Bookseller and Romance Bandits. Sprinkled along with the guest blog posts are links to excerpts for all my books and short stories, plus DOZENS of links to books and short stories by author friends of mine. Enough to keep you reading for quite a while!

Good-EvilWhat are you waiting for? You can get in on all the Days of the Dead fun on a treasure hunt/Trick-or-Treat just by visiting these sites. Check back at www.AscendantKingdoms.com and here to find all the links! And please, “like” my TheWinterKingdoms page on Facebook and follow me @GailZMartin on Twitter! And if you join my Chronicles newsletter, you’ll never miss out on something because Facebook didn’t show everyone the update!

With so much good stuff going on, it’s going to take a week just to get through it all! What are you waiting for? Dive in and help me celebrate the Days of the Dead!

And because Halloween wouldn’t be complete without some Trick or Treating, here are some excerpt links to my stuff and stories by some of my author friends!

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors https://on.fb.me/1h4rIIe before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here https://bit.ly/1ZXCPVS Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160181-deadly-curiosities

Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160182-iron-blood

Halloween treat! Read two of our complete haunted novellas FREE on Wattpad The Final Death https://w.tt/1jsKqLL & GraveVoices https://w.tt/1kapSrn

Halloween Loot! Double-Dragon Publishing sampler #1 https://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE001.mobi

Good Stuff!  Double-Dragon Publishing sampler #2 https://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE002.mobi

Win some WeirdWildWest awesomeness! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/138364-the-weird-wild-west

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War of Shadows Is Now In Stores!

Blaine McFadden is back, and the bad guys are badder than ever! Broken magic. Power-hungry vampires. Evil mages. Battling warlords. War of Shadows is now in stores and online in trade paper and ebook—my darkest and grittiest adventure ever!

War of Shadows

War of Shadows

War of Shadows is Book 3 in Blaine McFadden’s Ascendant Kingdom’s Saga. Here’s the recap: Blaine “Mick” McFaden has scored a victory and restored the magic, but new threats rise from the wreckage of the kingdom of Donderath. While the magic remains brittle and undependable, warlords both mortal and undead vie for power, fighting for control of the ruined Continent. McFadden and his unlikely band of convict heroes must choose their allies wisely as renegade talishte take long- awaited vengeance and powerful mages seek to control Donderath’s next king. Blaine McFadden must protect those loyal to him against the coming storm, and find a way to bind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him, because time is running out …

And since a picture says a thousand words, this is the book video

There are a few days left on the Goodreads giveaway

You can find an excerpt plus links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Chapter/Indigo, Waterstones and Kobo here: https://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/books/the-ascendant-kingdoms-saga/war-of-shadows/

What Reviewers are saying about War of Shadows

If you are an epic fantasy lover, then this is a series you should try!—Exploding Spaceship Reviews

Packed with action, politics, magic, and monsters, this is epic fantasy writ large—Barnes & Noble

“War of Shadows is a rousing adventure full of action, intrigue, danger, and suspense. It’s epic fantasy at its best, filled with vivid magic but grounded by real human emotion.”
—Aaron Rosenberg, author of the bestselling Adventures of DuckBob Spinowitz series

“This book kept me reading long past my bed time. As always, Gail Z. Martin delivers Epic Fantasy as it was meant to be read: gripping, action packed, and larger than life. A delight for any fan of the genre!”—Rachel Aaron, author of The Spirit Thief

“A vivid, engrossing tapestry woven from epic heroism, post apocalypse struggles, perilous magic and darkest fantasy. A distinct and distinctive achievement”.
–Juliet McKenna, author of The Tales of Einarinn

“Which of these things are on your epic fantasy checklist: Intense action in the first few pages which then carries right through to the last? Vivid battle scenes? Characters that combine the best of classic archetypes with fresh new twists? Snappy dialogue? Exciting world building? If you’ve checked even half of these items, then you owe it to yourself to check out Gail Z. Martin’s War of Shadows. It’s heroic adventure at it’s rollicking finest.”
–Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire

“With a large cast of satisfying characters, Gail Z. Martin masterfully presents an epic struggle between the forces of life and the forces of death in a world of broken magic.”
—James Maxey, author of Greatshadow on War of Shadows

“High mage magic, thrilling battles and heart-thudding adventure – yet another superb fantasy tale from Gail Z. Martin!”
– Andy Remic, author of The Iron Wolves on War of Shadows

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Kicking the Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter Up a Notch!

kickstarter, anthology, women, science fiction, fantasy,

Help fund the Kickstarter campaign to bring the Athena’s Daughters campaign to life!

Athena’s Daughters is the second Kickstarter anthology I’ve been part of. (The first is the upcoming Clockwork Universe: Steampunk Vs. Aliens by Zombies Need Brains Press.)

Once again, I am amazed by our fantabulous backers! We have passed Stretch Goal #20, which means all backers at $5+ get the audio book of War of the Seasons Part I by Janine Spendlove, plus the amazing print of Athena by Ginger Breo, plus a new anthology story by Jennifer Brozek, plus a new e-story by Tera Fulbright,–we added all those goodies just in the last couple of days, thanks to you!

Each time we make another stretch goal, all backers at the $5+ level get new stuff. The more people who back the Kickstarter, the more loot we all get. Got it? Fund it!

So what’s Stretch Goal #20? A limited edition hardcover of Athena’s Daughters will be published. This won’t be a freebie, but it will be available to order, and the funding at this level makes publication a possibility.

Stretch Goal #21 will mean an additional story will be added to the anthology by Diana Peterfreund.

Goal #22 will fund the creations of a companion anthology, Apollo’s Daughters, featuring female characters written by some of the top male science fiction and fantasy writers! Writers like Michael A. Stackpole, Aaron Alston, Aaron Rosenberg, David Mack and Brian Young, so you know this is going to be good!

And Goal #23 adds a story by Alma Alexander to the anthology!  We are adding new stretch goals and new pledge rewards almost daily! There’s still plenty of good stuff–but you’ve got to fund it to get it!

In addition to the Stretch Goals, there are still some awesome Pledge Rewards waiting to be gobbled up. These exclusive packages have limited quantities, and offer unique bundles of ebooks, print books, art, music and surprises. Support at the FIERCE level and get personalized, signed copies of my books The Sworn, The Dread and Ice Forged, plus other goodies. Support the REGAL level and get a personalized, signed copy of a limited-edition ARC of my book The Blood King. Support at the MENTOR level and get a manuscript review by one of our anthology’s published authors—perfect for your own work or to give as a gift to the writer in your life!

Here’s something else that’s awesome–for every book sold, Athena’s Daughters will contribute to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), the largest anti-abuse network in the U.S.  You get the whole stretch goal package–books, ebooks, e-stories, artwork, music, and victims of abuse get the help they need to survive. It’s a great way to do good while getting goodies.

You’ve got it fund it to get it! Please become a backer of Athena’s Daughters: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-women-in-science-fiction-and-fan’s  (You’ll also see all the contributing authors, artists, editors and musicians, plus the AWESOME stretch goals, pledge reward levels and add-ons.)

Watch the Athena’s Daughter’s video.

Get to know the Athena’s Daughters awesome authors with our blog hop! Just follow this link to blogging bliss!

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Athena’s Daughters is a Kickstarter anthology featuring short stories by women writers in science fiction, fantasy and steampunk. Introduction by retired astronaut and former space shuttle pilot Pam Melroy. 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, Vicki Johnson-Steger, DL Stever , Diana Peterfreund, Jennifer Brozek, Tricia Barr. Art by Tietjen Alverez, Kellie Neier, Betsy Waddell, Ginger Breo.  Edited by Jean Rabe.


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Strong Women, Exciting Stories–Athena’s Daughters Anthology Kickstarter is Live!

kickstarter, anthology, women, science fiction, fantasy,

Help fund the Kickstarter campaign to bring the Athena’s Daughters campaign to life!

I’ve partnered with Silence in the Library Publishing, Kickstarter, and a host of renowned authors including names like Mary Robinette Kowal, Jean Rabe, Sherwood Smith, and many others in a new Kickstarter project titled Athena’s Daughters.

My story, “Retribution”, is set in my Deadly Curiosities universe, in modern-day Charleston, SC. It’s the same characters and setting as my “Buttons” adventure, and as the upcoming urban fantasy novel, “Deadly Curiosities” (Solaris Books, 2014)

Athena’s Daughters is a collection of short fiction from some of the best female science fiction and fantasy authors in the industry. This anthology features stories written by women about women. I’m also incredibly excited to have an introduction to the anthology by retired astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy.

The publisher, Silence in the Library, believes strongly in the concept of bringing the artistry back to publishing. To that end, every anthology they produce features illustrations for each and every story. Additionally, my fellow authors and I, and the staff at Silence in the Library Publishing believe that any good project should contribute something to improving the human community. In keeping with that goal, a portion of every book sold will go to RAINN. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

By funding Athena’s Daughters at any level, you help bring this project to life. And for supports who fund starting at the $5 level, you get awesome thank-you gifts from the authors. Help us reach our stretch goals, and you could win free books, ebooks, audiobooks, art, and more. You might even win the chance to be written into one of the stories!

Watch the cool video Janine Spendlove made to tell you all about it:    Athena’s Daughters–You can make this live!

This is only a small portion of what is waiting for you when you visit the Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter project page. Please join us and become a part of the Athena’s Daughter’s journey by visiting https://tinyurl.com/athenasD and contributing today!

Read an excerpt from my Athena’s Daughters story, “Retribution” here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/10512852-retribution

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Fantasy Worldbuilding 101, Or How To Make Your Setting More Like Middle Earth, And Less Like A Ren Faire

by Jennifer Allis Provost

The term worldbuilding gets used with some frequency when discussing fantasy, and, to be fair, if your worldbuilding isn’t up to par, your story will fall flat. What’s the point of investing all those long hours at the keyboard, crafting finely nuanced plots and flawed yet lovable characters, if the place they live in – whether it’s a castle, wattle and daub cottage, or even an igloo – rings about as true as the set from a high school production of Camelot?

Before you send that manuscript off into the abyss of querydom, compare your world against the following checklist. While adhering to these points won’t ensure that your setting is perfect, they will go a long way toward keeping your world consistent.

Food: What do your characters eat? If the story takes place in a medieval setting, I would expect to see more joints of meat and loaves of dark bread than chicken nuggets and side salads. Also, how is the food served? On metal platters, in wooden bowls, or on trenchers of bread? Are the bones thrown to the dogs, or saved by a thrifty kitchen maid for tomorrow’s stew?

Clothing: Pre-industrial societies tended toward two broad categories of clothing: spare and utilitarian for the working class, ornate and cumbersome for the nobility. Also, due to the labor involved with spinning and weaving, only the very wealthy owned several sets of clothing. If your peasant keeps showing up in pristinely clean shirts without any mention of Ye Olde Laundress, your readers will smell something fishy.

Even if your fantasy has a modern setting, you should still consider clothing carefully. If the character’s on the run, they’re going to get dirty. Also, what are they wearing while avoiding the Feds/evil vampires/rabid bunnies? Good clothes for going on the lam: jeans, t-shirts, flat soled boots or sneakers. Not so practical choices include flimsy dresses or blouses, spiked heels, and lacy lingerie.

Locomotion: How are your characters getting around? In a modern setting this isn’t as much of an issue, since we have all the requisite planes, trains, and automobiles. But, in those pesky pre-industrial societies, your characters are pretty much limited to animal-based transportation (horses, elephants, camels), boats, or some sort of magical device, such as a portal. Boats are, well, boats. If your characters have access to portals or time dust or whatever, please make it a grounded, working magic system.

If your characters rely on the animal-based transportation, please keep one thing in mind: remember to feed the animal! A quick Google search can give you valuable information about how much a horse needs to eat, how often it needs to rest, etc. While this might not be such a big deal for one or two characters on a short jaunt about the countryside, traveling for a significant distance requires either packing feed, or stopping at a stable for the night.

How do you worldbuild? What do you consider to be the vital details?



Jennifer Allis Provost is the author of the fantasy series Chronicles of Parthalan, available now, and an urban fantasy series, Copper Legacy. The first installment, Copper Girl, will be released June 2013 by Spence City.


Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.


Blurb for Copper Girl:


Sara had always been careful.

She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark.  After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.

Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara’s dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.

Available in print and e-book June 25, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-939392-02-2

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Ice Forged is Now in Stores!

Ice Forged: Book One in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga is now in stores!

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

I’m going to be partying with readers to celebrate Ice Forged’s release throughout January and February—and beyond. Here’s where to find me!

I’m hosting three Ice Forged launch parties with refreshments, prize drawings and book signings—join me for the fun and surprises at Arisia (Boston), Chattacon (Chattanooga) and Mysticon (Roanoke)!

• Jan. 9 – 16 I’ll be hosting a discussion on Goodreads about end of the world fiction—join us! https://bit.ly/Vfo2Dd
• Jan. 11 I’ll be signing Ice Forged at the Barnes & Noble at Birkdale, Huntersville from 5 – 7 pm
• Jan. 12 I’ll be signing Ice Forged at the Books a Million in Concord Mills NC from 1 – 3 pm
• It’s official! I’ve been invited to Arisia in Boston Jan. 18 – 20—Ice Forged Launch Party is Saturday night 9:30 – 11:30!
• Also official! I’ve been invited to Chattacon in Chattanooga, TN Jan. 25 – 27—Ice Forged Launch Party is Saturday night!
• Feb. 1 I’ll be signing Ice Forged at the Barnes & Noble Morrowcroft (South Charlotte) from 7-8:30
• Feb. 2 I’ll be signing Ice Forged at Park Road Books in Charlotte from 2 – 4
• Look for me at Shevacon in Roanoke, VA Feb. 8 – 10
• Feb. 15 I’ll be signing Ice Forged at the Books a Million at Cotswold from 1-3
• Feb. 16 I’ll be signing Ice Forged at the Barnes & Noble in Pineville, NC from 2-4
• I’ll be back in Roanoke for Mysticon Feb. 22 – 24—Ice Forged Launch Party is Saturday night!
• It’s official! I’ll be at Lunacon March 15 – 17 in Rye Brook, NY
• Look for me at the Arizona Renaissance Festival (near Phoenix) signing books March 23-24
• It’s official! I’ll be at Ravencon in Richmond, VA April 5 – 7.
• Come see me at ConCarolina in Charlotte, NC May 31 – June 2
• It’s official! I’ll be at Dragon*Con Labor Day weekend!

I’ve got some more surprises coming for you in 2013!

• Be part of the conversation on Goodreads as I host a new discussion every month. We’ll talk about writing, publishing, fantasy, favorite books and more—and you’re invited!

• I’ll be bringing out all-new short stories throughout 2013—a new one every month on Amazon. Explore my Deadly Curiosities universe of cursed objects and intrepid thieves (think American Pickers meets The Exorcist across 500 years).

Jonmarc Vahanian is back! Find out how the brigand lord of Dark Haven became the most feared warrior in the Winter Kingdoms in my new series of short stories—new on Amazon in early 2013!

• If you dream of writing your own bestseller, join my Thrifty Author Meetup Group—now both live and virtual so you can participate wherever you are! We meet live once a month in Charlotte, NC, but starting in 2013, Meetup group members can join in on the Goodreads discussion as well—new topics each month!

• “Like” my Winter Kingdoms page on Facebook and follow me @GailZMartin on Twitter—I post live from cons and signings, and let you know where there are extra signed copies!

• My GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com will introduce a whole new slate of author readings and interviews—drop by and meet the pros!

• If you like the paranormal, drop by my DisquietingVisions.com blog, where I post each week along with my co-bloggers J.F. Lewis (urban fantasy), Crymsyn Hart (paranormal erotic romance), and Tina McSwain (a bona fide ghost hunter).

I’ll be a guest on these blogs over the next few weeks, so please visit and comment!

• RT Book Reviewer

• Civilian Reader

• BookLifeNow

• Fantasy Book Critic

• OrbitBooks.net

• WritersFunZone.com/blog





• Monday, January 14 https://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com/2013/01/author-interview-gail-martin.html

• Monday, January 14, https://www.ulbrichalmazan.blogspot.com/

• Wed. January 23rd https://www.terribruce.net

• Thurs. January 24th https://www.twfendly.com

• Thurs. Jan 24  https://anneejohnson.blogspot.com/

• Fri. January 25th https://emlabonte.blogspot.com/

• Mon. January 28th https://ulbrichalmazan.blogspot.com/

• Tues. January 29th https://deanswritingtime.blogspot.com/

Read an excerpt from Ice Forged here: https://a.pgtb.me/JvGzTt


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Keeping Fantasy Fresh: Going Different Directions

by Sue Bolich

You know, it’s hard to be different when writing fantasy sometimes, which is why I am always amazed to look around and see the sheer imagination pouring out of new releases every day. Yet to many people, “fantasy” is still all about evil overlords, quests to save the world, magic McGuffins that must be collected and used, and magicians, swords, and all forms of sorcery. As a fantasy reader I love those things; as a fantasy writer, I want to go beyond them.

Firedancer and its sequels in my Masters of the Elements series are about as big a departure as I could make from the usual S&S tropes. I really, really wanted to leave the usual villains and plots behind and focus on something different. Hopefully, I achieved it in making my antagonist completely non-human: living fire. The elementals, Wind, Water, and Fire, are the children of the Earth Mother, but have long since grown beyond her direct control. Thus, she created the talented clans to hold them in check: Firedancers, Windriders, Water Clans, and Delvers–but the elementals are challenging that ancient magic, and no one knows why. Will it hold? Will the world end in fire or flood or destruction by the mad, uncontrollable Hag blowing all to ruin before her?

It is immensely fun doing something so different, trying to invent a world with none of the usual drivers of human conflict. There is no war here except against the elements. No swords, no armies, no ambitious dukes and kings. There are people trying to save their world and their loved ones, who differ greatly in the approach they think should be taken. Isn’t that like real life when crisis strikes? Everybody thinks they know the way to take control and get things back to normal, but how many times do they trip over each other, start fights, go down dead ends that make things worse, and generally end up worse off than before? I think people are the most fascinating things on earth, and when you throw in magic to complicate their relationships…! Ai yi yi, you get all sorts of interesting twists!

Still, despite their differences, the common desire among most people is to do good. In fantasy as in real life, somehow that thread becomes a lifeline, despite the fact that each one of the clans has the power to do massive damage (even unintentionally) to the rest. Imagine if a Windrider should make a mistake calling Wind in the presence of Fire. Nasty surprise for the Firedancer trying to control it! Yet there is room for love even across clans, equally unexpected, equally surprising, and very fun to explore, from passing quarrels to midnight passion.

Writing fantasy is the art of making the impossible real. Why not a fire creature that badly wants out of its prison, and why not folk trying to assimilate the fact that this time…it just might win? Who needs a cackling evil overlord when fire can eat your whole world?? Different villain, different battle, different magic…pure fantasy. And pure fun to write!

Read the first five chapters of Firedancer free at my website, https://www.sabolichbooks.com/Firedancer1-5.pdf. You can also buy it at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and nearly everywhere else books are sold, in ebook and print.

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What are some things you learned from writing fantasy?

by Gail Z. Martin

Q:  What are some things you learned from writing fantasy?

A:  One thing I’ve learned is a definite respect for the hardships which our ancestors endured—plague, famine, lack of clean water, lack of indoor plumbing and central heat, high mortality rates from curable conditions, etc.  At the same time, I’m intrigued by how much joy they were still able to take from life through family and friends, small comforts and conveniences, celebrations and holidays, and good food when there was food to be had.

I’m in awe of what they were able to do with the technology that they had to work with, whether it’s the invention of war machines such as those DaVinci designed, or the creation of complex water and sewer systems, or the sheer temerity to sail across an ocean without modern communication and navigation tools.  And then there’s the cooking.  I’m amazed at the complicated recipes they created to be cooked over open flames or in “ovens” without any reliable temperature control!

I’ve learned a lot about medieval weapons and society, not in a bookish sort of way, but by needing to apply what I learned from history and then live with it in the skin of my characters.  It’s one thing to read about something.  It’s another to put yourself into the moment and have to live with it.

I’ve also learned how much contemporary stories rely on instantaneous communication and modern travel speeds, neither of which were available in the medieval world of epic fantasy.  This has major plot ramifications.  If something happens on one battlefield, there is no way to get word to someone hundreds of miles away faster than a horse and rider can travel, unless you use magic (but magic must be unreliable to avoid being a cheat).  We don’t think about those kinds of delays today, but they were very real throughout most of history.  If a character needs to go to a distant place, they’re constrained by how fast a man can walk or how fast a horse can sustain a gallop.  Especially in battle scenes, these two issues are crucial, because there is no good way to communicate among far-flung  battlefields, no way to know real-time information, no fast way to move an army from here to there.  These kinds of things make a big impact on how you can tell the story, what can be known by your characters, and what options are open to them.

I’ve also learned fun things, like word origins.  For example, people have been retching since 1540,  puking and heaving since the 1600s, but only barfing since the 1960s.  They’ve been pissing since the 1300s and leaking since the 1500s, but they didn’t start to pee until 1788.  If your character needs to do one or the other, you’ve got to get the historically correct term. These things are important for a writer to know!


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Sci-Fi Takes a Holiday

by Gail Z. Martin

What are your favorite holidays in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy book, movie or show?  I’d love to know!

Some of the ones I remember—Babylon 5 did a great job with the holidays of different planets.  Lord of the Rings certainly had plenty of celebrations.  Independence Day (the movie) put a whole new spin on Independence Day (the holiday).  V for Vendetta (not really sci fi but can we stretch fantasy to include it?) did for Guy Fawkes Day what Independence Day did for July 4.

What am I missing?  What’s your favorite?

If you haven’t read John Scalzi’s blog post about sci fi holiday specials, it’s definitely worth a read.  And yeah, we all watched the Star Wars Holiday Special, don’t try to deny it! https://www.filmcritic.com/features/2011/12/truly-terrible-science-fiction-film-holiday-specials/

Scalzi suggests some not-yet-but-could-be sci-fi holiday specials, but I bet you can think of others.  What would you like to see?

Let’s be right up front here—Christmas does focus on a chubby red alien in a UFO  (yeah, eight tiny reindeer…sure).

Here’s one:  Unification Day Pub Crawl.  This is for all the Browncoats who seem to find themselves in a bar on U-Day.

Ok, by now we’ve all seen Rudolph a gazillion times as well as the Grinch.  So what are your favorite holiday specials or stories?  Bonus points for the unusual and the obscure.

Mine—the book How Murray Saved Christmas by Mike Reiss.

Here’s a link to a list of 16 holiday themed Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories:  https://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/12/05/16-holiday-themed-science-fiction-and-fantasy-stories/

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