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Book Excerpt: Three Promises by Bishop O’Connell

Hey, all! Remember those term papers I was digging out from under? Still digging. Good news, though! Here is Bishop O’Connell, my friend and fellow Harper Voyager author, who is celebrating the release of his third book. Check it out!

Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection is my third book. It’s a compilation of short stories—technically three short stories and a novella—and while I’ve always struggled with short fiction, that wasn’t the case here. These stories seemed to write themselves, and the characters truly shine. In my previous books, The Stolen & The Forgotten (available anywhere books are sold) the stories drove the characters. In Three Promises, the opposite is true. There’s no child to rescue, no shadowy enemy snatching kids off the street, and you get to see the characters for who they are. I was worried they wouldn’t stand on their own, but I think they didn’t just stand, they soared I really liked my characters before; now, I love them. I hope you will, too.

Here’s a sample from one of the short stories, “The Legacy of Past Promises”:


Three Promises_Cover     Elaine stared at the painting. While her body didn’t move, her heart and mind danced in the halls of heaven. The depth and intensity of mortal passion was astounding to her, and her ability to experience it through art was like a drug. The heavy silence that filled her vast loft was broken by the high-pitched whistle of the teakettle. Elaine extricated herself from the old battered chair, which was so comfortable it should be considered a holy relic. She crossed her warehouse flat to the kitchen area, purposely stepping heavily so the old hardwood floor creaked. She smiled at the sound. It was like a whisper that contained all the memories the building had seen. Unlike the fae, the mortal world was constantly aging. But for those who knew how to listen, it sang of a life well lived in every tired sound. The flat took up the entire top floor of a warehouse that had been abandoned in the early 1900s. She owned it now and was its only permanent tenant. The lower floors of the five-story building were offered as a place to stay to the fifties—half-mortal, half-fae street kids, unwelcome in either world—she knew and trusted. But with all the unrest in Seattle, she was currently its only occupant.

She turned off the burner and the kettle went quiet. Three teaspoons of her personal tea blend went into the pot. The water, still bubbling, went next. The familiar and comforting aroma filled the air, black tea with whispers of orange blossom. Light poured in from the south-facing wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. But she ignored the view of the Seattle skyline. The twenty-foot ceiling was constructed of heavy wooden beams and slats, broken only by the silver of air ducts, a relatively recent addition. The floor was oak, original to the building but well maintained over the years, as were the exposed bricks of the walls and pillars. The flat was large, 5,000 square feet of open space, sparsely furnished with secondhand pieces. They had been purchased so long ago, they were technically antiques now. But she looked past all that to the paintings that covered the walls, collected over centuries and not always through strictly legal means. Nearly every school was represented by at least one piece. Her eyes followed the heavy strokes of a Van Gogh, thought lost by the general public. The emotions and impressions left behind by the artist washed over her. The melancholy and near madness, the longing and love, all mixed together like the colors of the painting itself.

The smell of her tea, now perfectly brewed, broke her reverie. As she poured tea into a large clay mug, her gaze settled on a Rossetti. Elaine smiled as she remembered seeing the painting come to life. Gabriel Rossetti—Elaine could never bring herself to think of him as Dante, it was such an absurd name—had captured Jane’s beauty spectacularly. Jane Morris had been a truly beautiful mortal; it was no wonder Gabriel so often chose her as a model.

Elaine carried the mug back to her chair, sank into the plush cushions, and hit play on the remote. Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto no. 4 in A Minor filled the space. She closed her eyes, letting the music fill her soul. The mournful cello danced with the playful harpsichord. She sipped her tea, opened her eyes, and her gaze fell upon another painting, the one she’d almost lost. Unwanted memories rose to the surface—and just like that, she was back in France, deep in the occupied zone.

The war—or more correctly, the Nazis—had mostly turned the once beautiful countryside and small villages to rubble. The jackbooted thugs had marched with impunity, leaving only death and destruction in their wake

Even now she could almost hear the voices of her long-dead friends.

 

Êtes-vous attentive?”

Elaine blinked. “Pardon?

François narrowed his eyes. “I asked if you were paying attention,” he said, his French heavy with a Parisian accent. “But you answer my question anyway, yes?”

There were snickers from the collection of men, scarcely more than boys, gathered around the table and map.

“Sorry,” Elaine said, her own carefully applied accent fitting someone from the southern countryside. “You were saying a convoy of three German trucks will be coming down this road.” She traced the route on the map with her finger. “And this being one of the few remaining bridges, they’ll attempt to cross here. Did I miss something?”

François turned a little pink, then a deeper red when the chuckles turned on him. When Paul offered him the bottle of wine, François’s smile returned, and he laughed as well.

“Our little sparrow misses nothing, no?” he asked, then took a swallow of wine before offering her the bottle.

Elaine smiled and accepted.

Six hours later, just before dawn, the explosives had been set and the group was in position. She sat high in a tree, her rifle held close. Despite having cast a charm to turn the iron into innocuous fae iron (a taxing process that had taken her the better part of three weeks), she still wore gloves. On more than one occasion she’d had to use another weapon, one that hadn’t been magically treated.

As the first rays of dawn touched her cheeks, she had only a moment to savor the sublime joy of the morning light. Her keen eyes picked up the telltale clouds of black diesel smoke before she ever saw the vehicles. She made a sparrow call, alerting her fellow resistance fighters.

A thrush sounded back.

They were ready.

Elaine hefted her rifle and sighted down the barrel, her fingertip caressing the trigger. She watched the rise, waiting for the first truck to come into view.

Her eyes went wide and her stomach twisted when she saw the two Hanomags, armored halftrack personnel carriers, leading the three big trucks. That was two units, more than twenty soldiers. She made another birdcall, a nightingale, the signal to abort.

The thrush call came in reply, repeated twice. Proceed.

“Fools,” she swore. “You’re going to get us all killed.”

She sighted down the rifle again and slowed her breathing. They were outnumbered almost three to one and up against armor with nothing but rifles and a few grenades.

“Just an afternoon walk along the Seine,” she said. Of course Germany now controlled Paris and the Seine, so maybe it was an accurate comparison.

The caravan crawled down the muddy road, inching closer to the bridge. Looking through the scope, she watched the gunner on the lead Hanomag. His head was on a swivel, constantly looking one way then another. Not that she could blame him. This was a textbook place for an ambush.

The first Hanomag stopped just shy of the explosive charges.

Her heart began to race. Had they spotted it? No, it was buried and the mud didn’t leave any sign that even she could see. No way could these mortal goose-steppers have—

An officer in the black uniform of the SS stepped out of the second Hanomag, flanked by half a dozen regular army soldiers. Elaine sighted him with her scope, noted her heartbeat, and placed her finger on the trigger.

The tingle of magic danced across her skin as the officer drew a talisman from under his coat. “Offenbaren sich!” he shouted.

There was a gust of wind, and the leaves on the trees near her rustled. She whispered a charm and felt it come up just as the magic reached her. The spell slid over her harmlessly. Her friends weren’t so lucky. A red glow pulsed from the spot where the explosives had been set, and faint pinkish light shone from six spots around the convoy.

Aus dem Hinterhalt überfallen!” the officer shouted and pointed to the lights.

The gunners on the Hanomags turned and the soldiers protecting the officer took aim.

Merde,” Elaine cursed, then sighted and fired.

There was a crack, and the officer’s face was a red mist.

Then everything went to hell.

Soldiers poured from the trucks and the Hanomags, the gunners turned their MG-42s toward the now-fading lights marking François and the others. The soldiers took cover behind the armored vehicles and divided their fire between her and her compatriots. She was well concealed, so most of the shots did nothing more than send shredded leaves and bark through the air. Only a few smacked close enough to cause her unease.

Elaine ignored them and sighted one of the MG-42 gunners.

Vive la France!” someone shouted.

Elaine looked up just in time to see Paul leap from cover and charge at the soldiers, drawing their attention and fire. She watched in horror as the Nazi guns tore him to shreds. Somehow, before falling, he lobbed two grenades into one of the armored vehicles. There came a shout of panic from inside the Hanomag and seconds later came two concussive booms. Debris flew up from the open top of the halftrack and the shouts stopped.

François and the others took advantage of Paul’s sacrifice, moved to different cover, and started firing. A few Nazi soldiers dropped, but the remaining MG-42 began spraying the area with a hail of bullets.

Elaine gritted her teeth and fired two shots; both hit the gunner, and he fell. This again drew fire in her direction.

The fight became a blur after that. She took aim and fired, took aim and fired, over and over again, pausing only long enough to reload. It wasn’t until she couldn’t find another target that Elaine realized it was done, and all the Nazis were dead or dying.

She lay on the branch for a long moment, until the ringing in her ears began to fade. When she moved, a sharp pain in her shoulder brought her up short. More gingerly, she shifted and saw tendrils of white light filled with motes of green drifting from her shoulder. At the center was a growing blossom of gold blood. She rolled and dropped from the tree, landing only slightly less gracefully than normal. Still, the jolt made the pain jump a few numbers on the intensity scale.

She clenched her jaw, hefted her rifle, and carefully inspected the scene. The Germans were all dead, but the driver of one of the Hanomags was still alive. He took a couple shots at her with his Luger, but he’d apparently caught some ricochets or shrapnel because he didn’t even come close. Elaine put him down with a shot through the viewing port.

“Please, help me,” someone said in bad French.

Elaine spun to see a German soldier lying on the ground. He was little more than a kid, maybe sixteen; it didn’t even look like he’d started shaving. She just stared at his tear-filled eyes, blood running down his cheek from the corner of his mouth. He had at least half a dozen holes in his chest. He was already dead, he just didn’t know it.

Ja,” she said.

Dank—

His thanks were swallowed by the loud report of the rifle as she put a bullet between his eyes. There was nothing she, or anyone else, could’ve done for him. She wiped tears away and muttered a curse at Hitler and his megalomaniacal plans.

After double-checking that all the soldiers were dead, Elaine made her sparrow call. Her mouth was so dry, the call was hardly recognizable.

Only silence answered her.

Swallowing, she hardened her heart and went to where François and the others had been taking cover. She couldn’t bring herself to look down at the bloodied mess that had been Paul. She just kept walking. Her rifle fell to the ground, then she went to her knees, sobbing, covering her mouth with her good hand.

They were dead, which wasn’t a surprise, but it didn’t make finding them any less heartbreaking. Rémy was almost unrecognizable. If it wasn’t for his blond hair, now matted with blood—Elaine’s stomach twisted and she retched to one side. Michel, Julien, Daniel, Christophe, and Christian were in slightly better shape, for the most part. Julien’s left arm had been chewed up by the machine gun, and Christophe’s torso had been ripped open, allowing his insides to spill out. Elaine sobbed and turned to François. His rifle had been discarded and his pistol was still clutched in his left hand, two fingers having been shot off his right.

Sadness mixed with anger, and she screamed curses at him.

“You arrogant fool!” she said between sobs. “Why didn’t you just call off the operation? You got them all killed!”

It wasn’t long before Elaine grew numb inside. She used her fae healer’s kit to remove the bullet from her shoulder, and a liberal smearing of healing      ointment numbed the pain enough to give her almost full use of her arm again. Lastly, she set the pinkish, putty-like dóú craiceann over the wound, sealing it like a second skin. She’d never been much of a healer herself, but she got the job done. With effort, and still careful of her wounded shoulder, she dragged Paul into the cover to join his brothers-in-arms. Elaine whispered a charm and the earth drew itself up and over her friends. A moment later, lush green grass covered the seven mounds.

Adieu, mes amis,” she said softly.


The ebook is only $0.99 (and how can you not buy a $0.99 book?), but if you preorder the paperback (releases 1/8/16 and is only $3.99) from The Fountain Bookstore, not only will it be signed, but you’ll get an exclusive gift. As a nice bonus, you can also order signed copies of The Stolen and The Forgotten while you’re there, and don’t worry, they ship worldwide.


Bishop O’Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, CA where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. While wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he experienced autumn in New England. Soon after, he settled in Manchester, NH, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed “visionary” of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint (aquietpint.com), where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.

 

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Guest Post: Super Heroes…Bleeding

Happy Monday, folks! While I’m digging myself out from underneath a pile of term papers, I have a guest post for you from my friend, Teresa Frohock. Enjoy, and be sure to pick up her newest installment in the Los Nephilim series, Without Light or Guide.

Every time I think about heroes, I hear Brad and Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, singing in my head. I am completely aware of how strange this sounds. Unfortunately, there is no cure. I’ve just learned to live with it and pass the earworm along at every available opportunity.

The song I’m talking about is entitled … wait for it … Super Heroes, and the pertinent lyrics go like this:

Brad: I’ve done a lot / God knows I’ve tried / To find the truth / I’ve even lied / But all I know / Is down inside I’m

Chorus: Bleeding

Janet: And super heroes / Come to feast / To taste the flesh / Not yet deceased / And all I know / Is still the beast is

Chorus: Feeding

 

Of course, if you can’t see why those lines excite my imagination, you haven’t been paying attention to my stories.

Also, for the record, I never really had any heroes like Brad and Janet. I just wanted to give you that earworm before proceeding to the post.

You’re welcome.

WithoutLight coverI used to have this thing about heroes, that they all should be like Superman (the one from the 1950s and 1960s–not grimdark Superman, and screw whoever thought that up). Heroes should be good. They should be strong. Their moral compass should never waver.

And so on and so forth and so on.

I thought about heroes a lot while working on Los Nefilim. For a bit of context: my “angels” are really invaders from another realm – they are another species completely separate from the daimons, which are earth spirits, and the mortals. The angels start out good and wholesome with the mortals’ best interests at heart, but by the time In Midnight’s Silence begins, some of the angels have spent so much time in the flesh, they have become corrupted by the very creatures they think they’re trying to save.

And the super heroes the angels have created – the Nephilim – are beginning to hemorrhage emotionally from being involved in a continual war.

As a creature who is half angel and half mortal, Guillermo wonders about his place in this cosmic dynamic. He has served as a general in the angels’ army for centuries. He has not always been content with this role, but he has always been duty-bound to do what is right. When he was young, he went out and performed great deeds, but now he has settled down with a wife and a daughter of his own. One day, his daughter, Ysabel, will succeed him as the leader of Los Nefilim, and Guillermo is beginning to wonder what kind of legacy he will leave for her.

Likewise, Diago’s life changes dramatically when he is faced with the discovery of his young son, Rafael. Living unmoored to either angel or daimon is no longer a choice. He must choose a side and learn to fit in for Rafael’s sake.

And all the while, the angels and the daimons continue to feed, like a beast that is never sated.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the old Superman, the one who never had any doubts. I need heroes like that. I need them because when my moral compass goes south, I want a clear indication of the right thing – the good thing – that should be done.

The reality is that life and choices aren’t so clear cut. That is one the themes I wanted to explore with Los Nefilim. How super heroes are just like us. They want to have all the things: to be safe, to be a good person, to do what is right. Yet in spite of their best intentions, they sometimes do the cowardly thing. And sometimes, the thing that makes them feel safe turns out to be just an illusion of safety, just as it so often is with us.

However, I don’t believe that one kind of hero should supplant the other. That is one of the things that bothers me when people start arguing about grimdark vs. other forms of fantasy. The implication is often that a hero must be one way or the other, and I’ve never felt that to be necessarily true.

I need both kinds of super heroes: the good ones like Superman, and the reluctant ones like Diago. Occasionally, I read stories with no heroes at all. Yet each story is important, because they all show me something about myself.

I aspire to act with Superman’s integrity; although, most often I am more like Diago – a little lost and afraid in the world. However, seeing a variety of characters portrayed, I am able to find balance, and within all of this beautiful fiction we’re making, I find bits and pieces of myself – both the person I aspire to be, and the person that I am.


 

T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and numerous short stories. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is from Harper Voyager Impulse, and consists of the novellas In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death.

You can find out more about T. at her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Guest Cover Reveal: GOLDENFIRE by AFE Smith

Good morning everyone! My foiled blog post about Rothfuss’s The Slow Regard of Silent Things will have to wait because today is the official cover reveal for Goldenfire, the second book in the Darkhaven series by my friend AFE Smith. It will be released by Harper Voyager on 14 January, but if you want to read it sooner, you can enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an advance ebook copy!



Goldenfire cover

In Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

 

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father’s legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

 

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

 

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.




Enter the giveaway:

Guest Post: Beth Cato, “How I Wrote a Novella in Four Easy (?) Steps”

Today is a special day. Beth Cato, talented writer of the Clockwork Dagger series and fellow Harper Voyager author, is paying us a visit. Read her post, and check out her work (Many steampunk! Very wow!).

The good news is that Harper Impulse Voyager sent me a contract to write a novella in my Clockwork Dagger steampunk fantasy world. Yay! The bad news is that I had never written a novella before, so I was rather freaked out about the whole thing.

Novellas tend to be 17,500-40,000 words long. There are very few magazines that accept stories of that length, so it’s a format that I avoided because it’s so hard to market (though that is starting to change). Like most writers, I tend to have my comfort zones for word counts; my stories tend to be around 1,000 or 4,000 or 6,000 words, and my novels tend to hit at about 90,000. Novellas are out in some wasteland.

But more good news: I wrote the novella, and it’s out as of November 10th! “Wings of Sorrow and Bone” features two teenage girls setting out to save a laboratory full of gremlins from a politically-powerful scientist.

Here’s how I survived going from zero to 27,000 words of published text.

1) I sent up the Bat Signal to call in friends who had written novellas.

They provided great advice, including:
– read more novellas to understand the pacing
– keep the named character count low
– think like a novel cut into a 1/3. I actually pulled out some of my novel outlines to see how long they were to get a sense of how I usually work.

2) I outlined my novella.
There is a constant debate in the writing community about if plotting or writing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants is best. As far as I’m concerned, there shouldn’t be a debate. A writer should find out what works for them, and that might change by the project.

Following that advice to think of it like a short novel, I did my usual “plot vomit” where I write out everything I want to throw in the story. It was a big mess but from there I could fill in gaps and break it into chapters.

3) I wrote and rewrote.
Since I hadn’t done a novella before, I fumbled a lot through the process. I ended up adding a new chapter when I revised, and I had to rewrite another full chapter on my editor’s advice. I had great feedback from critique partners, too–some of those same people who gave me initial advice on writing novellas.

4) I continued to read more novellas as I worked on mine.
My Clockwork Dagger series doesn’t take place on Earth, but it still required a lot of research. For this novella, that research included making a technical study of other novellas:
– How much time did they spend setting up the world at the beginning?
– How many characters did they use?
– At what point did the climax hit?
– How long did it take to resolve things afterward?
It was like returning to my college English 1B class, but a lot more useful and enjoyable.

The good news: “Wings of Sorrow and Bone” received a passing grade from my editor. I’m pretty happy with the end result, too. I can say I’ve published a novella now… and who knows? I just might write another one.


 

Wings of Sorrow and Bone“Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella” by Beth Cato

Wings of Sorrow and Bone: A Clockwork Dagger Novella

A few months after the events of The Clockwork Crown

After being rescued by Octavia Leander from the slums of Caskentia, Rivka Stout is adjusting to her new life in Tamarania. But it’s hard for a blossoming machinist like herself to fit in with proper society, and she’d much rather be tinkering with her tools than at a hoity-toity party any day.

When Rivka stumbles into a laboratory run by the powerful Balthazar Cody, she also discovers a sinister plot involving chimera gremlins and the violent Arena game Warriors. The innocent creatures will end up hurt, or worse, if Rivka doesn’t find a way to stop Mr. Cody. And to do that means she will have to rely on some unexpected new friends.

Available for just 99-cents

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iTunes


 

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN from Harper Voyager.

Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

World Fantasy 2015, the Recap

I had the great fortune this past weekend to attend the 2015 World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY. Here is a brief recap of my experiences there.

Friday

I drove out on Friday and arrived at about two in the afternoon. I checked in and got a massive bag of paperback books (seriously, there was a small library in there – I think the Kindle is going to go on a bit of a hiatus). As I knew approximately zero people, I wandered about for a bit.

Okay, I wandered around all day.

Going to conventions alone is a tough thing to do, especially if you’ve never gone to that particular convention before. While I’m not exactly shy, I don’t want to be that weirdo who creeps his way into other people’s conversations, so I walked around looking for somebody I recognized – my editor, somebody I’d met before, etc. It didn’t happen.

So, for lack of anything better to do, I bought a couple books on the Sellers Floor (a copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora in paperback for Scott Lynch to sign, a Game of Thrones Coloring Book for grown-ups, and one other novel – I wanted to find a paperback of a Max Gladstone book, too, but couldn’t find one). Then I went to a panel on Politics and Economics in Fantasy Worlds wherein the panelists discussed how important it was to consider such things when building a world (and admitted that most good fantasy authors do, to some extent).

Next up was a reading by Max Gladstone from a forthcoming work (not part of the Craft Sequence – wholly new!) which sounded really cool. I introduced myself to him afterwards, mentioning how we’re practically neighbors. I’m pretty sure that weirded him out. Go me.

Then I went to a panel on the surrealist scifi artwork of Richard Powers, which was really very interesting but I do not have time to go into here. Anyway, it solidified my belief in the strong ties between the Modernist movement of the early 20th century and the science fiction and fantasy genres (something to explore at greater length in a different post, I think).

Lastly, I went to the signing hall that night to get Scott Lynch to sign his book for me, which he did. Then I wandered around and around and around, wondering if I was going to spend the entire weekend not talking to another human being, when, lo and behold, Sarah Beth Durst, a YA/Middle Grade author I’d met in NYC recently, flagged me down. I hung out with her for the rest of the night, pretty much, since she’d been coming for a while and knew all kinds of people. I got introduced around. I met Katherine Addison, ran into Scott Lynch again, and really hit it off with fantasy author SC Butler. We stayed up way past our bedtime telling each other stories, which was fun.

My first day goal – meet new people – was a success!

Saturday

Saturday, I went to a ton of panels. An absolute ton.

This is basically what I did all day.

This is basically what I did all day.

What were they on? Hmm…

  • The Quest (and whether it has become passé). The conclusion was that it actually couldn’t become so, since it’s so ingrained in us. The line of the panel was Leah Bobet, who said “Not every quest needs to be David Eddings’ ‘go to each country on the map, find a friend, and slay the giant monster with the glowing blue thing.'”
  • Anthropology and Archaeology and how it can influence Fantasy writers. It was interesting, but no real zingers.
  • Faerie Courts and Fairy Courts and portrayals of the Fey in Fantasy literature. Much was made of moving away from Victorian Tinker-bell types and getting back to terrifying hobgoblins like Red Cap.
  • Violence and the Epic: how to portray violence in Epic Fantasy, why to do it, and when does it become gratuitous. Very interesting discussion. Glen Cook was on the panel and said less than a hundred words, but those he did say were doozies. Line of the panel (and probably the convention) was by him:

We live in a society where we think it’s really really bad to hurt people, but other places and times they’d throw a guy on the fire because it was fun to watch him scream.

Yikes.

I also listened to Scott Lynch read from The Thorn of Emberlain, which was freaking amazing and I can’t wait to read the whole thing.

That night I wandered around the art show for a while. The fantasy artists on display were crazy good. No pictures were allowed to be taken in the gallery (they’re trying to sell the artwork, you see), but take my word for it – jaw-dropping stuff. A lot of airships and steampunky stuff, for some reason. I loved one called “War Griffon” which showed a griffon decked out like a WWI fighter plane with a flying ace holding his reigns – goggles, cap, scarf, the whole thing. Very cool.

While there, I ran into Sarah again, and again I met a lot of other people by dint of my knowing her. Wandered from party to party for a while, then turned in late.

Sunday

Sunday morning I went to two panels. First was “Genre Tropes That Deserve to Die,” which was mostly hilarious and offered numerous injunctions against having fantasy characters eat stew while on the road (it takes way too long to cook. Frodo and Sam would have never made it out of the Shire if they had to spend a day making stew every time they were hungry). It was pointed out, though, that all tropes can be done well. It just gets harder for some to work once they’ve been overused.

The second panel, and my favorite of the convention, was on weapons beyond the sword and how can be used in the fantasy genre. Very cool stuff, very interesting. Turned out there was an actual bladesmith in the audience who contributed to the panel a great deal. I stayed afterwards to talk with Ian Cameron Esselmont (who let me babble on about Alandar and The Saga of the Redeemed for a bit) as well as Chuck Gannon and the aforementioned bladesmith (whose name sadly escapes me at the moment). Very, very interesting talk.

Finally, then, there was the banquet. I got a seat at the Harper Collins table between my editor, Kelly O’Connor, and author Rio Youers. The table mostly talked about baseball. The awards were fun – all the winners seemed surprised, and pretty much nobody had a speech prepared. There was a real sense of community in the room, which was nice – these were all friends, all who knew one another, all who supported each other. It was a really pleasant atmosphere, and I know I’ll come back. I want to become a real part of this community, not just somebody on the periphery. Goals to shoot for.

But, with that said, the convention is over now. Back to work, both real and fanciful.

Congratulations to all the winners! I’ll be back next year!

Win a Signed Copy of THE OLDEST TRICK! Today only!

You could win this, and with my name scribbled in it! Surely, your descendants will sing of this immortal day!

You could win this, and with my name scribbled in it! Surely, your descendants will sing of this immortal day!

Today is a very special day. My friend, A.F.E. Smith, has a book out today. It’s called DARKHAVEN, and it sounds really cool, and you should all buy it. To celebrate, AFE is throwing a release party, at which you can win many prizes and much wealth. Well, prizes. Mostly in the form of books or artwork from your favorite authors. Which, now that I think of it, is very much the same thing as wealth.

But I digress.

I, the intrepid author of this, your fourth or fifth favorite blog, am participating in this party in two very important ways.

Way the First

Ms. Smith will be interviewing me on her release party page at 3pm EST (or 8pm UK time). You can ask questions, too! Stop on by and join in the fun!

Way the Second

To support AFE’s release, I’m putting up some of my own books for a prize. I will be giving away 3 signed copies of THE OLDEST TRICK, my latest fantasy novel (see sidebar). Here’s how to win:

  1. AMUSE ME! The challenge is as follows: tell me a fantasy (or Dungeons and Dragons) related joke in the comments or, if you’d prefer, post an amusing fantasy-related picture or meme (or link to it). The funniest three win the prize!
  2. To make it easier for me to contact you (and for you to know that you won), please follow this blog (I’ll post the winners tomorrow). Then I can coordinate where to send your book with you via e-mail.

That’s it! Get posting, and I hope to talk to you at the interview!

(Note: The paperback release of THE OLDEST TRICK probably isn’t until August 11th, so it might be a few weeks before I can mail your book to you. Sorry for the delay, but I’ll do the best I can. Thanks so much for playing!)

IRON AND BLOOD: Thrilling Conclusion to THE IRON RING, Releases Tuesday!

Haven't read it yet? Now has never been a better time!

Haven’t read it yet? Now has never been a better time!

THE IRON RING introduced you to a world of industrialized magic, sorcerous enlightenment, and a seedy underworld of smuggled monsters, alchemical narcotics, and mirror-armored wizard/cops. You met Tyvian Reldamar – criminal mastermind, smuggler, and impeccable dresser – and watched him writhe in frustration as some fool’s idea of an external moral compass in the form of a plain iron ring was bolted to his hand. Struggling through the desolate winter countryside, a street urchin and a vengeful mother gnoll in tow, he tried to evade capture from the Defenders and secure vengeance upon the partner who betrayed him – that wretched, ink-thralled mercenary, Zazlar Hendrieux.

And then the book ended…

Frustrating, I know. If it’s any consolation, I was frustrated too – my publisher wanted it that way – but now, oh boy, do I have good news for you!!

IRON AND BLOOD, Book 2 of the Saga of the Redeemed, is releasing on June 2nd and (checks watch) that’s only four days away, friends!

Yup, in only four (4) days you’ll get to find out what happens!

(WARNING: Mild spoilers below if you haven’t read Book 1) 

Pre-order now! It's almost here!

Pre-order now! It’s almost here!

Will Hool be reunited with her lost pups?

Has Artus survived the night?

Will Myreon manage her escape?

Will Tyvian realize Carlo’s betrayal in time?

What horrible plan does Sahand have cooking, anyway?

Can Tyvian juggle all the threats that surround him to achieve revenge?

 

Is the ring actually making him a better person AND can he ever get it off?

Well, you folks have only four days to wait until you can find out.

I’m really excited! Are you really excited? I hope so! Finally, after a long, long wait, everybody will finally get to see this story wrapped up as I intended it to be.

Oh, yeah, and there will be third book coming out soon, too.


In Other News

I will be signing books at the Prudential Center Barnes and Nobel tomorrow, Saturday May 30th, from 2-4pm. Most of my family and many of my friends came to the last one, so I’m relying on people I don’t know personally to come and keep me company. I promise I’m nice. And not entirely unattractive. No, seriously. I mean, I could stand to lose a few pounds and I haven’t hit the gym too often recently, but still. I’ll shave, okay? Deodorant, decent shirt, the whole nine yards.

Anyway, see you there, okay? I’ll sign your book. Maybe it will be worth money someday. Or maybe you’ll be able to trade it for something useful in a post-apocalyptic scenario of your choice. You never know, right?

Book Giveaway Contest: Best One-Liners

Hello there, friends! Say, have you heard I have a novel out? No?! Heavens to murgatroyd, wherever have you been? Well, no matter, no matter – we’ll fix things up right soon. Here’s what I’m going to do:

I’m going to give you a free copy of THE IRON RING. Yes, that’s right – give you one. For free.

I’ve got a bunch of copies of THE IRON RING to give to you good people. Why? Well, it just so happens the sequel to THE IRON RING is coming out on June 2nd, and I want to give some people a chance to read the first one before they read the second, right? Only seems fair, and time is of the essence, my friends.

Now, obviously this is such a stupendous deal that I might be inundated with requests for that limited number of free copies, and then I’d have to break the hearts of so many fine people. So, instead, I think we’ll have ourselves a little contest to make it more fair. After a week, I will pick the best entries to be the winners, and they will be set on their way to adventure, intrigue, and whimsy in the world of Tyvian Reldamar. Since Tyvian is, himself, something of a pithy one-liner artist, I’ve devised the following:

movie-james-bond-quotes-sayings-trade-egg-sarcastic_large

Thing the First: Post your favorite one-liner from a book, action movie, video game, or what-not in the comments below (or tweet at me – @AustonHab – with the hashtag #bestoneliner). Think James Bond, Conan the Barbarian, John McClane, Locke Lamora, Kvothe, Rand al’Thor – what line of theirs made you smirk with it’s awesomeness? Put it in the comments. Give some context if needed. Heck, if you want, go ahead and make up your own! If it’s awesome, I’ll give it a prize!

Thing the Second: Sign up for my e-mail list on the right sidebar and/or follow me on Twitter (so you’ll know if you won).

The Rules

  1. The contest will run from today (5/11) until next Monday (5/18). I will make a post here listing the winner’s names and we can then arrange a way to e-mail you your book.
  2. 3-4-13-b

    Let’s get this one out of the way, shall we?

    One prize per person, please. If you enter a whole bunch of times, I’ll just pick the best one. You can’t win a bunch of books.

  3. If you win, you’ll be getting the book direct through Harper Collins, so you might need to download their special reader app for your phone/tablet/ whatever.
  4. All comments need to be made either here on this post or Tweeted at me (@AustonHab) on Twitter with the hashtag #bestoneliner.
  5. I am the sole arbiter and judge of the contest.

Okay, ready? Go!

I’m Off to LA!

Hello, loyal readers!

(cue theme song to The Great American Hero)

(cue theme song to The Great American Hero)

Just dropping a brief note for you folks here: tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m off to the City of Angels for the Writers of the Future Workshop and Gala!

What does this mean for me? Well, I’m going to be hob-nobbing with the scifi and fantasy elite and getting an award for being awesome.

What does this mean for you? Well, no blog posts for the next eight days, at least. In the meantime, busy yourself by purchasing Book 2 of the Saga of the Redeemed, BLOOD AND IRON, on pre-order. Also, do it now – it seems that Harper Collins (my publisher) and Amazon are about to get in a bit of a squabble, so best buy while the buyin’ is good!

Anyway, wish me luck! I’m off to meet my destiny!

Liana Brooks: THE DAY BEFORE

Today, I’d like to throw a little plug in for one of my fellow authors over at Harper Voyager Impulse: Liana Brooks! The cover of her first, full-length novel THE DAY BEFORE has just been revealed. The book itself will be released on April 28th. Here’s a teaser for the book:

Friday May 17th, 2069

Alabama District 3 

Commonwealth of North America

DayBefore coverWith an asthmatic wheeze the engine died. It figured. Stuck in a man’s craw, it did. This truck had been his daddy’s and his pappy’s, and before the Commonwealth government forced him to replace the diesel engine with the newfangled water doohickey, he was certain he’d pass the truck onto his son.

He’d been playing under the hood of trucks since he was six and now he was stranded. Embarrassing, that’s what it was. He climbed out of the cab to check the engine out of habit. The ice blue block of modern fuel efficiency stared back. Three hundred bucks it’d cost him, straight from his pocket.

Oh, there was a government subsidy, all right. A priority list. Major Population Centers, they said. Unite the countries of the Commonwealth on a timeline, they said. And what did all that mean?

It meant the damn Yankees got upgraded cities and free cars before the ink was dry on the Constitution and what about the little man? Nobody thought about the working class. No one cared about a man covered in oil and grease anymore.

He thumbed his cellphone on. No reception. Figured.

So much for the era of new prosperity. He’d hoof it. There was a little town about five miles down the road where he could call Ricky to bring a tow truck. It would have been cheaper to pay the diesel fines than get all this fixed.

Off schedule. Over budget. Son of a –

He stared at the distant trees. Well, it wasn’t going to get any cooler.

He grabbed his wallet and keys from the cab of his truck. The tree line looked like a good spot to answer a call from nature, then he’d see if there weren’t a shortcut through to town. A meadowlark sang. Not a bad day for a hike. Would’ve been better if it weren’t so dammed hot, but at least the humidity was low. He wouldn’t like to walk in a summer monsoon, not at his age with arthritis playing up.

Under a sprawling oak he unzipped his pants. As an afterthought, he glanced down to make sure he wouldn’t stir up a hill of fire ants.

A hand lay next to his boots.

He blinked, zipped his pants slowly, and turned around. “Hello?”

Cicadas chirped in answer.

“Are you drunk?” The quiet field that looked so peaceful only moments before was now eerily sinister. He nudged the hand with his foot. It was swollen and pale and crusted with blood, just like a prop out of a horror movie.

Maybe it was a good idea to run to the next town.


 

A body is found in the Alabama wilderness. The question is:

Is it a human corpse … or is it just a piece of discarded property?

Agent Samantha Rose has been exiled to a backwater assignment for the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, a death knell for her career. But then Sam catches a break—a murder—that could give her the boost she needs to get her life back on track. There’s a snag, though: the body is a clone, and technically that means it’s not a homicide. And yet, something about the body raises questions, not only for her, but for coroner Linsey Mackenzie.

The more they dig, the more they realize nothing about this case is what it seems … and for Sam, nothing about Mac is what it seems, either.

This case might be the way out for her, but that way could be in a bodybag.

A thrilling new mystery from Liana Brooks, THE DAY BEFORE will have you looking over your shoulder and questioning what it means to be human.

Buy Links: Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Goodreads


LLiana Brooks_headshotiana Brooks once read the book GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and noted that both their biographies invited readers to send money (or banana daiquiris). That seems to have worked well for them. Liana prefers strawberry daiquiris (virgin!) and will never say no to large amounts of cash in unmarked bills.

Her books are sweet and humorous with just enough edge to keep you reading past your bedtime.

Liana was born in San Diego after bouncing around the country she’s settled (temporarily) in the great wilderness of Alaska. She can be found on Twitter (@LianaBrooks), on FaceBook, and on the web at http://www.lianabrooks.com.