jpskewedthrone: (Default)
So those were all of the contributors to the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar anthology. Along the way, you were introduced to one of the editors as well. For this last introduction post, I’d like to introduce . . . well, myself. *grin* But the contest is still running, s here’s the deal: to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the other editor: Joshua Palmatier. AKA, me. I contributed a story to the anthology, writing as Benjamin Tate, so you’ve really already been introduced to me, as him. The entire anthology came about (as described in the Introduction to the book) as a result of seven authors getting together at a bar after a signing and chatting. I’d never edited an anthology before--had never even considered it--but the idea seemed too good to NOT attempt to sell. So while at Worldcon in Montreal, I began asking questions about how you went about selling such a thing and was told that if I could get a proposal written and to Tekno Books the next morning, then they’d pitch it for us. Needless to say, I spent that evening frantically writing up a proposal. I sent it in and then, as with all things in published, we waited. Eventually, the idea sold. Patricia and I were as surprised as anyone. Here’s the official description, ripped almost literally from our proposal:

After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar: The first bar, created by the Sumerians after they were given the gift of beer by the gods, was known as the Ur-Bar. Although it has since been destroyed, its spirit lives on--in each age there is one bar that captures the essence of the original Ur-Bar, where drinks are mixed with magic and served with a side of destiny and intrigue.

The editing process was . . . interesting. I had fears that Patricia’s and my friendship might not survive it, but it was actually incredibly fun. Enough that we wrote up a few more proposals and are happy to announce that one of them sold. So watch for our next anthology, The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, sometime in 2012. I certainly had a blast working on this project, and look forward to seeing what other great stories we can find in future anthologies. This anthology is certainly packed with them. And if you want to know a little bit more about me, here’s my editor bio from the anthology:

Joshua Palmatier is a writer with a PhD in mathemat¬ics. He currently resides in New York while teaching mathematics full-time at SUNY College at Oneonta. His novels include The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, and The Vacant Throne, all part of the "Throne of Amenkor" trilogy. His short story "Mastihooba" appeared in the anthology Close Encounters of the Urban Kind. This is his first stab at being an editor and it required the consumption of many, many White Russians. But he’ll do it again given the chance. www.joshuapalmatier.com.

All three of my Throne novels are being given out as prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the fifteenth contributor: Anton Strout ([livejournal.com profile] antonstrout)! Anton’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Izdu-Bar, which sets the Ur-bar in a possible, post-apocalyptic zombie future. Here’s the official description:

"Idzu-Bar" by Anton Strout: In a future world terrorized by zombies, one bouncer discovers that letting someone in after hours may be the worst mistake of his life.

I hadn’t met Anton in person until we did a signing together, when his first book came out. Turns out, he also works at Penguin, the company that distributes my own books, as part of the sales division. Suddenly he’s my best friend! *grin* Here’s his author bio from the anthology:

Anton Strout remembers his early days of barhopping in New York City, making The Slaughtered Lamb an old favorite of his thanks to the drinks, dungeon, life-sized werewolves and fake lightning storms. He is best known as the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series including Dead To Me, Deader Still, Dead Matter, and Dead Waters. He has also appeared in a variety of anthologies. In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the world’s most casual and controller-smashing video gamer. He can be found lurking the darkened hallways of www.antonstrout.com.

We’ll be giving away the first three books in his Simon Canderous series as prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the fourteenth contributor: Jackie Kessler! Jackie’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Where We Are Is Hell, which integrates the Ur-bar with her Hell series of books. A ghost is stumbling through a place with only doors that don’t open, her memories lost. But then, one of the doors opens unexpectedly and she stumbled into the Ur-bar. Here’s the official description:

"Where We Are Is Hell" by Jackie Kessler: Condemned to purgatory--a hallway full of closed doors--a young woman’s ghost stumbles into the Ur-Bar where she finds the courage to open one final door . . . and face her own Judgment.

I must have met Jackie at Albacon. I can’t imagine anything else. (She’s the Guest of Honor for Albacon--the one in Albany, NY--this coming October, by the way.) At one of my readings/signings, she was the only one to show up. She was already my friend, but I think that alone pushed it into the “lifelong” category. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Jackie Kessler writes about demons, angels, the hapless humans caught between them, superheroes, the supervillains who love to pound those heroes into pudding, vampires, ghosts, and the occasional Horseman of the Apocalypse. Her favorite drinks include a semi-dry Riesling and, when at conventions, rum and Diet Coke. When beer is the thing, her favorite bar is the Peculier Pub on Bleeker Street in New York City. For wine, it’s got to be The Wine Bar in Saratoga Springs, NY. For more about Jackie, visit her website: www.jackiekessler.com.

We’ll be giving away her Hell trilogy as prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the thirteenth contributor: Avery Shade! Avery’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Forbidden, which is the first story to bring in some science fictional elements to the Ur-bar. Here, a scientist has been sent back from the future to the 1980s. Lots of oblique references to that time period here, and lots of temptations as well. Here’s the official description:

"Forbidden" by Avery Shade: A traveler from a dying future is sent back to 1985 in search of the genetic samples that will save her people, but instead finds herself seduced by the uncivilized past.

Avery is actually a newer member of the writing group with Patricia Bray and I. At the time we accepted this story for the anthology, she hadn’t yet been published. However, over the course of the last year she’s sold two books! They’ll be published under a pseudonym (since they’re more romance oriented), but Patricia and I are still happy to declare that we discovered her first. *grin* Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Avery Shade is an author of paranormal and urban fantasy of both the adult and young adult variety. Though grounded in a small upstate NY town, she lives vicariously through her stories. When not busy writing, she is probably off searching for the real meaning of life, the universe, and. . . well. . . everything. If you can track her down (try her website: www.averyshade.com) you might offer to go for drinks somewhere. She’s all too eager for a bit of escapism. Maybe one of these times she’ll find the Ur-Bar and Gil will mix her a drink that can give her some more time.

Since Avery Shade doesn’t have a book out (yet) to offer as a prize in the contest, we’ll be offering a bag of special Ur-bar M&Ms! These are chocolate M&Ms in gold, blue, and purple colors with a few key Ur-bar phrases on them, such as "After Hours," "Ur-Bar Tales," and of course the release date "March 2011."



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the twelfth contributor: Ian Tregillis! Ian’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Steady Hands and a Heart of Oak, which has the characters hiding out in the Ur-bar during World War II during the Blitz. The main character is a sapper--someone sent in to diffuse unexploded bombs--but he has more serious problems than bombs in this story. Here’s the official description:

"Steady Hands and a Heart of Oak" by Ian Tregillis: In World War II’s London, a young sapper with the Sight finds redemption and glory in the heart of an unexploded bomb.

I was introduced to Ian by S.C. Butler at a convention (Boskone?), I believe when a group of us were all getting ready to head to dinner. All three of us had been members of an online writing workshop (Sam had actually critiqued some of Ian’s work), so we instantly bonded over that. And imagine that! All three of us are now published. *grin* Here’s his author bio from the anthology:

Ian Tregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader. He is the author of Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War (October, 2011), and Necessary Evil (2012). He received a doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota, but now lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other unsavory types. His favorite holiday drink comes from a one hundred fifty-year old recipe for eggnog. www.iantregillis.com

We’ll be giving away the hardcover of Bitter Seeds as a prize in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the eleventh contributor: Laura Anne Gilman ([livejournal.com profile] suricattus)! Laura Anne’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Paris 24, which refers to the Olympics, set in Paris in 1924. Some of the U.S. fencers take a night off before the competition to visit one of Paris’ finer bars . . . the Ur-bar of course. Here’s the official description:

"Paris 24" by Laura Anne Gilman: A team of fencers arrives in Paris for the 1924 Olympics and during a night out on the town one of the athletes discovers there’s more to life than fame and glory.

I honestly can’t be certain when I met Laura Anne . . . my guess would be at Lunacon, during the "disaster" hotel (when it wasn’t at the Escher hotel). I think Jennifer Dunne introduced us over some discussion over jewelry. Since then, we’ve been to numerous cons together, had many signings, and held a few rather successful parties. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Laura Anne Gilman has a history of writing short stories that aren’t quite as-expected. This is nothing new: she wrote her first original novel, Staying Dead, when everyone said that urban fantasy was dead, and, in 2008 she wrote The Vineart War, an alternate-historical fantasy, when everyone was looking for urban fantasy. She thinks being contrary’s a pretty good way to build a career. It should be noted that, despite The Vineart War being about wine-magic, and despite the story being set in France, the story for this anthology does not reference wine, but rather a specifically evil sort of cocktail popular at the time . . . the author does not encourage consumption of more than three in an evening!

We’ll be giving away the first three books in her Retrievers series as part of the contest!




jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the tenth contributor: Juliet E. McKenna! Juliet’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Grand Tour, where the Ur-bar becomes a refuge for two young men who are experiencing the best--and wors--of the world before heading off to university. Here’s the official description:

"The Grand Tour" by Juliet McKenna: In the years before the Great War, two young travelers find themselves stranded in an Austrian village, where they encounter both hatred and kindness . . . and a lesson that will change the course of their lives forever.

Juliet and I met while at Boskone, when we were both scheduled for a dual kaffeeklatsch that none of the fans signed up for. We ended up talking about cover art, comparing our own and some of Juliet’s upcoming covers, writing, and general writely chat. I’d already read her first series and hadn’t realized that another had already been started. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Juliet E. McKenna has always been fascinated by myth and history, other worlds and other peoples. After studying classical history and literature at St Hilda’s, Oxford, she worked in personnel management before a career change to combine book-selling and motherhood. Her first novel The Thief’s Gamble was published in 1999. That series, the Tales of Einarinn, was followed by The Aldabreshin Compass sequence and her current trilogy, The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution. Living in the Cotswolds of England she is lucky enough to have the Wychwood Brewery within easy reach, home of Hobgoblin and Wychcraft beers.

We’ll be giving away the entire Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution as a prize in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the ninth contributor: Seanan McGuire ([livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire)! Seanan’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Alchemy of Alcohol, which takes the Ur-bar to San Francisco in 1899 and includes the recipes for the cocktails that wake the Winter Queen and Winter King out of season . Here’s the official description:

"The Alchemy of Alcohol" by Seanan McGuire: In 1899 San Francisco, a young alchemist is forced to wake the Winter Queen weeks ahead of time in order to save her from death.

I met Seanan McGuire for the first time in person at Worldcon in Montreal at the DAW dinner. Well, just previous to the DAW dinner actually. I’d already corresponded and IMed with her online, but in person is always better. After the dinner, a few of us authors and the editors retired to a bar in order to partake of some absinthe. It’s distressing that I haven’t managed to be at another con with her since then. IM just isn’t the same. *sigh* Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Seanan McGuire was born and raised in Northern California, which explains a lot about her approach to venomous reptiles and the concept of "weather." She’s been writing since she was nine, driving everyone around her crazy; her first book, Rosemary and Rue, came out from DAW in September 2009. More have followed. Seanan lives with two blue cats (Siamese and Maine Coon), too many books, and a great many horror movies. Her favorite drink is the Corpse Reviver #2: gin, Cointreau, Lillet blanc, lemon juice, absinthe, a cherry, and defiance of nature’s laws. Delicious, delicious defiance. Seanan doesn’t sleep much.

We’ll be giving away the first three books in her October Daye series as prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the eighth contributor: Patricia Bray ([livejournal.com profile] pbray)! Patricia’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Last Call, which is the first (and only) story to actually feature different versions of the Ur-bar, since it’s set over an extended period of time. It also features unicorn vomit. Here’s the official description:

"Last Call" by Patricia Bray: George Harker hunts demons in eighteenth century Europe, but when he discovers an immortal bartender he finds he has finally met his match.

As I mentioned during Jennifer Dunne’s introduction, I met Patricia while working at Waldenbooks and was a published-author-wannabe. Since then, I joined their writers group and discovered that Patricia and I are, rather freakily, mentally on the same wavelength. We often say the exact same things at the same time, and have the same thoughts (usually snide comments). We’re loads of fun when we happen to be on panels together at cons (and often even when we AREN’T on the same panel). I was afraid that doing this co-editing thing together would drive a wedge between the friendship, but actually we complemented each other rather well, both contributing on each story for edits, revisions, etc. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. And I would SO be her boy toy if she ever wins MegaMillions. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Patricia Bray is the author of a dozen novels, including Devlin’s Luck, which won the 2003 Compton Crook award for the best first novel in the field of science fiction or fantasy. A well-spent youth taught her that the best accompaniment to a fine ale is an equally well-crafted story, a lesson that she drew on for her first foray on the editorial side of the fence. She currently lives in upstate New York, where she combines her writing with a full-time career as systems analyst, ensuring that she is never more than a few feet away from a keyboard. To find out more, visit her website at www.patriciabray.com.

We’ll be giving away her entire Chronicles of Josan trilogy as one of the prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the seventh contributor: D.B. Jackson ([livejournal.com profile] davidbcoe)! David’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Tavern Fire, which uses the Ur-bar to explain the Boston fire in 1760, not only its origins, but also how a fire that destroyed a significant portion of the city managed not to kill anyone. Here’s the official description:

"The Tavern Fire" by D.B. Jackson: In eighteenth century Boston, a desperate woman comes to the Ur-Bar seeking a love potion but brings more to the casting than she expected as her own bitterness fuels a fire that threatens to destroy the city.

David probably doesn’t remember this, but I met him at Worldcon in Baltimore ages ago during a "Meet the Pros" mixer. I was there to meet with a potential agent and, hopefully, to "accidentally" run into the editors at DAW. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to randomly run into those editors, so ended up chatting with David and a few others for an hour to so. Thanks for taking the time for a complete nobody, David! *grin* Here’s his author bio from the anthology:

D.B. Jackson also writes as David B. Coe, the Crawford Fantasy Award-winning author of the popular series The LonTobyn Chronicle, Winds of the Forelands, and Blood of the Southlands, as well as the novelization of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. The first D.B. Jackson novel, Thieftaker, will be released in 2012. It is a historical fantasy and mystery, which, like "The Tavern Fire," is set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. D.B. likes any bar that serves dark ales on tap.

We’ll be giving away The Sorcerers’ Plague and The Horsemen’s Gambit as prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the sixth contributor: Kari Sperring ([livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_)! Kari’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will, which is set in Paris, France, and features a servant to a mistress who literally stumbled into the Ur-bar and discovers the help she needs through Gilgamesh and the magic of the bar. Here’s the official description:

"The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will" by Kari Sperring: Personal maid to the king’s favorite mistress by day, and secret satirist by night, Thais will sacrifice everything to save a friend who has been accused of witchcraft.

I met Kari Sperring in person at Worldcon in Montreal . . . THIS I remember well. *grin* I believe we were both volunteering at the SFWA table, and my shift was starting and hers ending, or vice versa. I’d already taken an interest in her first book, Living with Ghosts, and everyone will be glad to hear that her second should be out shortly. I know I’m waiting for it, rather impatiently. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Kari Sperring grew up dreaming of joining the musketeers and saving France, only to discover that the company had been disbanded in 1776. Disappointed, she became a historian instead and as Kari Maund has written and published five books and co-authored (with Phil Nanson) a book on the history and real people behind her favourite novel, The Three Musketeers. Her first novel Living with Ghosts was published in 2009 by DAW books and she has recently completed her second. "The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will" was inspired by the Poisons’ Affair that rocked the French Court in the 1670s and by a beautiful named pair of earrings by jeweler Elise Matheson. She’s British and lives in Cambridge, England, with her partner Phil and three very determined cats, who guarantee that everything she writes will have been thoroughly sat upon. Her website can be found at www.karisperring.com.

We’ll be giving away a copy of Living With Ghosts as one of the prizes in the contest mentioned above, of course.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the fifth contributor: Maria V. Snyder! Maria’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Sake and Other Spirits, which takes the Ur-bar to feudal Japan for a story featuring samurai, and a water vampire, known of as a kappa. Here’s the official description:

"Sake and Other Spirits" by Maria V. Snyder: In feudal Japan, a young woman in hiding from the samurai finds work at the local bar only to be forced to face her past when a supernatural kappa--a water vampire--takes up residence in the local lake.

I met Maria V. Snyder at Balticon, I think during the first year that I attended, when my own first novel came out and was eligible for the Compton Crook Award. I believe Maria’s first novel, Poison Study, had won the year before. In any case, we were on panels together, chatted in the green room, and generally had a grand old time. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to fantasy novelist when she began writing the New York Times bestselling Study series (Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria dreamed of chasing tornados, but lacked the skills to forecast their location. Writing, however, lets Maria control the weather which she does in her new Glass series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass). Readers are invited to kick back with her favorite drink, a Long Island Ice Tea, and read more short stories on her website at www.MariaVSnyder.com.

We’ll be giving away a copy of Storm Glass as one of the prizes in the contest mentioned above.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website!





And now for the fourth contributor: Barbara Ashford! Barbara’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Tale That Wagged the Dog, which has some rather prominent and well-known personages from English history and folklore carousing at its tables. Here’s the official description:

"The Tale That Wagged the Dog" by Barbara Ashford: Transformed into a dog by the Queen of Faery’s curse, Tam Lin finds the cure he seeks in the Ur-Bar, but discovers there’s more to becoming a man than changing his shape.

Barbara and I hit it off almost immediately after meeting at a convention . . . I think it was Lunacon? Perhaps Balticon? I can’t remember (they all blur together after a while). But I do remember her and I playing darts at Albacon and clearing out a fairly good-sized circle around the dart board. Drunk authors who don’t really play darts can clear a room, let me tell you. But WE had a blast. Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

The only dog Barbara Ashford ever owned was a dachs¬hund. He didn’t say much. After stumbling through several jobs in educational administration, she ran away to the theatre, working as an actress and later as a librettist/lyricist. Her first trilogy was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Society’s award for fantasy literature. Her new novel--Spellcast--comes out in May 2011 and is set in a summer stock theatre far more magical than any she worked in. She credits her husband for inspiring “The Tale that Wagged the Dog” and for keeping her supplied with single malt whisky. Visit her at www.barbara-ashford.com.

We’ll be giving away a copy of Spellcast as one of the prizes in the contest mentioned above, but the winner will have to wait until the book is actually released in May 2011.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website: http://www.sff.net/people/benjamintate/afterhours/afterhours.html.





And now for the third contributor: Jennifer Dunne ([livejournal.com profile] jennifer_dunne)! Jennifer’s contribution to the anthology is the short story The Emperor’s New God, which uses the Ur-bar as the place for an illicit meeting between gods and men while in Venice. Here’s the official description:

"The Emperor’s New God" by Jennifer Dunne: The Holy Roman Emperor Otto secretly visits the Ur-Bar in order to pledge his allegiance to Mars, the God of War, but when Otto breaks the bargain he pays the ultimate price.

I’ve known Jennifer since meeting her and Patricia while working at the local Waldenbooks in Binghamton, NY. I was a wannabe writer and so they added me to their writers group meetings, both of them having already been published at the time. The group quickly degenerated into gaming and drinking nights, with a little critiquing getting done on the side. *grin* Here’s her author bio from the anthology:

Jennifer Dunne is the author of over fourteen fantasy and paranormal romances. While traveling in Italy last year, she fell in love with Venice, and the more she read about the city, the more she wondered. Why would one of the two most powerful men in the world at the time sneak into Venice in disguise, only announcing that he had been there after he was gone? What was he really hoping to accomplish? And, because she believes in happy endings, of course in her story, he gets one.

Jennifer’s books run more to the romance and adult side, as you can see from the covers, however we’ll be giving away Shadow Prince as one of the prizes in the contest.



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website: http://www.sff.net/people/benjamintate/afterhours/afterhours.html.





And now for the second contributor: S.C. Butler ([livejournal.com profile] scbutler)! Sam’s contribution to the anthology is the short story Why the Vikings Had No Bars, which takes the Ur-bar a little farther north and a few years forward in time. Here’s the official description:

“Why the Vikings Had No Bars” by S.C. Butler: When the Ur-Bar appears outside Hedeby, Odin can’t resist “helping” introduce the bar to the locals . . . with a typical Viking brawl answering the question of why the Vikings had no bars.

I’ve known Sam since we met at a convention (I can’t remember which one), probably at the bar (which would explain why). I loved his Stoneways Trilogy, enough to blurb the third novel before it came out. Excellent books. Here’s his author bio from the anthology:

S.C. Butler is the author of the Stoneways Trilogy: Reiffen’s Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magicians’ Daughter. A relative once complained to him about all the underage drinking in his books, but who ever drank the water in the Middle Ages? His favorite drink is a glass of Pinot Grigio, and his favorite place to drink it is the bar deck of the Lawrence Beach Club on a summer evening, with two hundred yards of sand and fifty miles of the Atlantic Ocean spread out before him.

A copy of his first book, Reiffen’s Choice, is being offered as one of the prizes in the contest, so skip on over and friend or like the appropriate pages for your chance to win!



jpskewedthrone: (Default)
As part of the promo for the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar release, I figured I’d highlight all of the contributors to the anthology individually. And while we’re at it, run a contest as well! So here’s the deal, to enter the contest you have to either friend the [livejournal.com profile] afterhoursurbar community here on LiveJournal OR you have to like the After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar Facebook page (search for the title of the anthology on Facebook to find the page). If you do both, you’re entered into the contest twice! The contest will end March 31st, 2011. Prizes will include copies of the contributors books (sometimes entire trilogies), After Hours: Tales From the Ur-bar M&Ms, and perhaps other prizes. They will be awarded by random drawing from those who’ve liked or friended the appropriate pages. If you’ve already friended or liked the pages, then you’re already entered into the contest! Find out more about the anthology at its website: http://www.sff.net/people/benjamintate/afterhours/afterhours.html.





And now for the first contributor: Benjamin Tate ([livejournal.com profile] benjamintate)! Ben’s contribution to the anthology is the short story An Alewife In Kish, which sets up the origin story of the Ur-bar and how Gilgamesh comes to be its immortal bartender. The anthology stories are set up in chronological order, so this is the earliest, set in ancient Sumeria. Here’s the official description:

"An Alewife In Kish" by Benjamin Tate: Condemned by the gods to spend her life serving others, the alewife Kubaba tricks Gilgamesh into taking her place as the undying guardian of the Ur-Bar.

So who is Benjamin Tate? Well, here’s his author bio from the anthology:

Benjamin Tate was born in North-Central Pennsylva¬nia and is currently a professor living near Endicott, NY, teaching at a local college. He began writing seriously in graduate school, using the fantasy world of his novel Well of Sorrows as an escape from the stress. His goals in life are to travel Europe, sail the Mediterranean, visit Aus¬tralia, and preside over a small kingdom from a castle on a hill while occasionally bombarding the villagers below with catapult fire. His favorite drink is a White Russian--preferably with top shelf vodka.

You can find out more about Benjamin Tate at his website: www.benjamintate.com. Well of Sorrows is available in trade paperback at the moment, and will be released in mass market paperback in May 2011. One of the trade versions of the book is available as a prize in the contest!



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Hey, an author introduction! I haven't done one of these in forever. I need to start this back up on a regular basis. Maybe now that the semester is coming to an end I'll have some extra time. (I'll just ignore that looming deadline for the sequel to WELL OF SORROWS. *grin*)

In any case, here's the first author introduction for a while. Ari Marmell ([livejournal.com profile] mouseferatu) wrote a post about mixing fantasy with horror as a way of introducing us to his book The Conquerer's Shadow, out from Spectra right now in hardcover. Check out the post and comment! And then check out the book!





In Ari Marmell's words:

Fantasy, if you’ll pardon the somewhat questionable metaphor, is like cocaine or heroine. I’m not talking about it being addictive, though it is that. (The first hit was free, and in the decades since, I’ve been paying huge amounts for my regular fix.) I’m referring to the fact that it’s more valuable if you cut it with something else.

This may be an odd thing to say, coming from a guy who recently wrote a column expressing his dislike for mixing hard sci-fi and fantasy. That combination, while it can occasionally be done well, just isn’t normally to my taste. But that doesn’t mean that fantasy can’t benefit from other genres. In fact, the more fantasy I write (or just read), the more I’m coming to believe something that I’m sure at least some of you will find a little objectionable.

Specifically, fantasy is almost never complete--almost never “pure,” if you will--without at least a little bit of horror.

The two genres are really a lot more intertwined than some people ever realize. I mean, really, look at the staples of so much classic fantasy. Dragons, trolls, werewolves, evil fey. . . . Ghosties, ghoulies, and long-legetty beasties. Man-eating giants, hordes of orcs, vampires in dark towers. Necromancers and evil wizards and sorceresses.

Picture a vile spirit, a shade of ancient times, a corrupt ruler who sold his soul for power. He now roams the earth, hunting on behalf of his hellish master, sometimes alone, sometimes with his minions who are themselves only slightly lesser wraiths. Alternatively, picture a traveling carnival, run with an iron hand by an evil witch. This carnival survives by misleading and deceiving its patrons, and occasionally imprisons people to make them part of its exhibits.

These sound like they could at least be potentially come out of a horror novel or movie, right? The first is the Witch-king of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgûl from Lord of the Rings. The second is Mommy Fortuna’s carnival from The Last Unicorn. (Okay, technically I cheated--Mommy Fortuna didn’t imprison people--but I’d argue that imprisoning fully intelligent and self-aware beings like the unicorn and the harpy counts as the same thing.)

This is a combination that was especially well understood by the early pulp writers; pick any Conan or Solomon Kane tale at random, and odds are good it’s got some pretty horrific elements to it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the line of demarcation between fantasy and horror isn’t defined by content, but purely by focus. The exact same setup--characters, setting, plot--can sometimes be written as a horror if it focuses on the supernatural evils and their influence, playing it out via scenes of suspense and discomfort; and other times written as fantasy, by focusing on the efforts of the heroes to overcome the evil, which is presented much more matter-of-factly.

Note that I’m not saying horror can’t focus on the latter, or fantasy on the former; I’m just throwing out one example of how they often differ. (Actually, now I’m thinking that I’d love to see the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring reimagined as a horror, focused primarily on a group of hobbits trying to make this journey while being stalked by the ringwraiths . . .)

This intertwining of the two genres isn’t coincidental. I’d argue that fantasy is, in fact, an offshoot of horror. Look at the oldest inspirations for fantasy: myth, fairy tales, and the like. These were all attempts at explaining the world around us, specifically the parts that frightened us--or, in the case of some fairy tales, of imposing certain moral behaviors by making us fear the consequences of other behaviors.

And what is fantasy, then, but an alteration or addition to that baseline, in which we suddenly produce heroes capable of protecting us from those fearsome powers?

Obviously, I’m speaking to extremes. It’s patently obvious that people can write fantasy without including horror. And it’s equally obvious that there’s a huge gray area between “no horror at all” and “H.P. Lovecraft’s Narnia.” (Which I also want to see, now.) Even fairly light fantasy can include a few darker/more horrific scenes; there are a couple, for instance, in the Belgariad, which is otherwise as pretty non-horrific as fantasy comes. But as you may have picked up from what I’ve said so far, I tend to prefer fantasy that goes darker. I’m not saying it must be very horrific, just that I believe fantasy is stronger, and cleaves nearer to its source inspirations and archetypes, if it allows itself to get dark/frightening/bloody when necessary. That “when necessary” is key, of course. If it’s purely gratuitous, it’s not helping the story.

(If one includes gore in one’s definition of horror--and gore is certainly an effective tool of horror, if used properly--then one could potentially argue that any fantasy that includes sword-fights or people being eaten by monsters is being dishonest with itself by not including at least a tiny touch of horror. But that’s a different discussion, I think.)

Which brings me to my second Great Belief. (I really ought to start a religion based on this.) And that is, even the darkest/most horrific fantasy can--indeed, must--include substantial amounts of humor.

The last thing I want is for my entertainment to be undiluted bleakness. I don’t find that--well, entertaining. But more specific to my point, I don’t feel that humor interferes with horror. In fact, when done right, it improves it; the humor offers a relief of tension, or the horror is accentuated coming on the heels of the humor. (In his darker moments, Steven Brust makes great use of this combination. And though his horror is usually more of the gory/squicky variety than the creepy/suspenseful variety, the humor/horror combination seems to be a favorite of Simon Green’s as well.)

Thing is, in addition to “unrelenting dolefulness” not being a fun read, it’s also simply not realistic. Very few people are completely humorless, and yes, people often joke to make themselves feel better, or break tension. If fantasy is drifting further from its roots and archetypes by avoiding horror, the characters in both horror and fantasy drift further from being real people by avoiding at least some amount of humor. But I guess this is less about “characters in horror” or “characters in fantasy” than it is just “characters in general.”

I am, of course, speaking of humor in the dialog, and in the occasional funny situation. I’m not advocating for the addition of slapstick, or the use of Douglas Adams/Terry Brooks-style humor in a book that otherwise resembles Clive Barker or Glen Cook.

Now, while these two traits aren’t necessarily tightly linked, I’ve discovered that I have a tendency to combine them in my own writing. In most of my books to date, the funniest characters tend to also be among the darkest. Maybe it’s because I feel I can be more bitterly/offensively sarcastic when speaking through the mouths of the less sympathetic? I don’t know. I don’t think it was deliberate on my part, and there are certainly exceptions; but it’s definitely a trait that arises more often than it doesn’t.

Still, that’s not required. All I want of my fantasy--again, written or read--is that it allow itself to get as dark as the story and the mood require, while also remaining humorous enough to make me laugh, all without sacrificing either the character development or the unveiling of an interesting plot.

Is that a lot to ask? I dunno, maybe. But this is fantasy, after all; it’s not that unreasonable to expect the impossible.

(My most sincere gratitude to Joshua Palmatier for the opportunity to speak with you folks. If you’re interested in learning more about The Conqueror’s Shadow--my recent novel, which inspired many of these thoughts, and which I hope lives up to the fairly strenuous demands I just made of others--you can do so here.)
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Here's another Author Introduction for you all. Diana Pharaoh Francis ([livejournal.com profile] difrancis) has been here before with a previous book in this series, but now the third book in the Crosspointe series, The Turning Tide, has been released, so she's here to tell us about it. Or rather, about the characters in the book. The intro is a little long, so there's some cuts involved. (I'm experimenting with the crossposting thing, so bear with me.)





Hi all! And thanks to Joshua for having me visit.

So I am here to talk about my new book The Turning Tide. Actually, I’m here to talk about my characters and how I got to know them.

But first, a little bit about my usual process. I generally don’t know my characters all that well when I begin writing. I know some things about them, but usually, I have to actually write to know them. Which means I’m usually a good fourth of the way into the book before I am really acquainted with them. What that means is that I generally spend a lot of time revising the beginning.

But what I quickly figured out was that my usual process was simply not going to work for The Turning Tide. Because a huge part of the plot was keyed to the relationships of my main characters, I needed to know them very well before I even started. I did some character sketches, but they didn’t do enough. I needed to be in their heads and in their voices. So I decided to interview them.

I made up some questions, and one of the things I was going for was to let them talk about themselves and each other--when characters talk about each other, they reveal things about themselves and the relationship, as well as about the other characters.

Several interesting things happened in the course of this interview. First, I discovered that one of the characters was really not all that forthcoming. He refused to answer questions, he was snide and rude, and yet when I did get him talking, he said really telling things. I thought I knew Ryland pretty well--I thought he was a pretty straightfoward, straight arrow sort of guy. I was wrong. And then Fairlie--I had this idea that she was good natured and nice and deeply involved in her work. And that was true. But it turns out she had more sharp edges than I thought.

Now all that sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it? Like I am not in charge of the writing of the characters or planning or etc. Like I’m not the author. Well, the truth is, that the characters take over in my head and I let them go. They do have a life off the page in an odd way. They have to if I am to believe the world that I’m writing and believe the story.

So I thought I would share some of the interview bits with you. There are possible spoilers here so be warned. This is both edited down a lot, and yet slightly longish. I’ve also included a couple of author notes to talk about what I learned, so look for those. Now without further ado . . .

Ryland's Story )

Shaye's Story )

Fairlie's Story )

So there you go. My character interviews. If you stuck with this post for this long, thanks and if you have questions, ask away.

*******************

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Yet another Author Introduction! We met David Williams at about this time last year when his debut novel Mirrored Heavens hit the shelf. I bought the book at Balticon and started reading it on the drive home . . . and everything else I was currently reading went back on the shelf until I finished it. Basically, it explodes off the page on page one and never gives you a chance to breathe. I'm not typically into SF all that much, preferring the non-mathematical world of fantasy when I'm not doing my day job, but this book sucked me right in. (And as an aside, I've been trying a few other SF books since then as well.)

Now we have the second book from David, called Burning Skies. I haven't received my copy yet (*frown* I should have just waited and bought it at Balticon), but expect to have it within the week and will likely dive right into it. Anyway, I highly recommend you try his books out. Now, I'll hand it over to him so he can plug his own book. *grin*





Thanks to the inimitable [livejournal.com profile] jpsorrow for the space and hi to everyone!
Although BURNING SKIES is the second book of the Autumn Rain trilogy, I've
designed it so that it can be used as the entry-point on the series; it
opens with a conversation between the rogue hacker Claire Haskell and her
imprisoned spymaster Matthew Sinclair that quickly catches us up on what we
need to know about MIRRORED HEAVENS, in addition to telling us what was
really going on in that book . . . .

BURNING SKIES itself centers on the space station/O'Neill cylinder known as
the Europa Platform, the site of the secret summit conference between the
U.S. president and the leaders of the Eastern bloc. (See the cool
map/illustrations on my website!)
In reality, the conference is a cover for
the president's real objective: luring the elite terrorist group Autumn
Rain into a trap. Of course, Autumn Rain is also trying to draw the
president into a snare of their own, so things get complicated quickly. And
I'm going to go on record as saying that the book features one of the
craziest space battles to ever appear in science fiction . . . (hey, a guy
has to have ambition. . . )

But for me, one of the most interesting things about the book was writing
about the U.S. president (aka "the Throne"). Andrew Harrison is at the helm
of state at a time of national crisis, and I wanted to make him as complex
as any historical figure. In studying how other authors approach fictional
presidents, one thing I noticed is that usually the writer's politics are
pretty transparent. Larry Niven's FOOTFALL has the Weak Liberal President;
the Judge Dredd universe has the Evil Right-Wing Warmonger, etc., etc. I
wanted to deny the reader such easy labels; we see very little of Harrison's
interior life, but we get a good sense of his policies and machination, and
whether they're merely expedient or utterly necessary is something that
everyone has to decide on their own. And we've also got a bit of a career
mobility dynamic for the rest of the characters; they were second-tier
players in the first book, but now they're operating at the side of the
president. And of course, the higher up you get, the more dangerous your
missions become . . . .

--
THE MIRRORED HEAVENS (May 2008)
THE BURNING SKIES (May 2009)
THE MACHINERY OF LIGHT (May 2010)

www.autumnrain2110.com

*************************

So, go forth and buy! Or if you order from amazon.com, click through the link below. I get a little bit of a kickback and that helps me fund the giveaways I do here. (Even if you don't order these books through the link, anything you do order gets the kickback, so help out if your ordering anything at any time from amazon.com. Just click on these links in my posts.)

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Another Author Introduction! This time it's for Maria V. Snyder's Storm Glass, the first book in a new series. And in addition to some words from Maria about storms and writing, I'm also going to give away one SIGNED copy of Storm Glass! This will be a random draw from the commenters on this post, and I'll pick the winner in about a week. Since I'll be seeing Maria at Balticon this weekend (in fact, we're doing a signing together), I'll get the book signed, although it won't be personalized. Here's the catch: if you win the book, once you read it, you have to do a review of it either on your blog, post it on amazon.com or bn.com, or do all three. In the meantime, check out what Maria has to say about the writing life, the inspiration for the book, and an excerpt from the novel!






Storms & Magic: Controlling the Forces of . . . Fiction?

I’ve been fascinated with storms ever since I got over my fear of thunderstorms (nothing like getting caught in a storm and having your fears soak your shirt and puddle in your shoes). When I was in 6th grade, I learned a meteorologist studied the weather and I also realized that, at that time, most adults didn’t know what a meteorologist was. As a precocious . . . okay, let’s be honest . . . bratty kid, I delighted in telling adults I was going to be a meteorologist when I grew up. After they stumbled and incorrectly mentioned meteoroids, I would smugly say, "Not meteors from space, but hydrometeors." This caused more confusion. (I did admit to being bratty as a child. ;) Does anyone know what hydrometeors are? (I didn’t say I grew out of it *grin*).

Having found no other career that interested me enough, I went to Penn State and earned a BS in Meteorology. Now what? I wasn’t very good at forecasting and tornados don’t like being caught (trust me on this one) so I went into environmental meteorology, which involved air pollution studies and getting permits. Or in another word . . . BORING!

So naturally, I turned to writing fiction to counter the boredom (what? You would do something else?? Pish!). When I was writing my latest release, Storm Glass I actually used my meteorology degree (thanks Mom & Dad). And I realized that storms and magic have much in common.

Weather systems have to follow the forces of nature. Gravity, topography, temperature, air density, and even the spin of the Earth all affect the path and severity of a storm.

Magical systems have to follow the forces of fiction. Only I know the forces of fiction . . . for my magic. Each author develops their own rules for their magic systems. Rules you ask? Yes. Rules. Writers can’t go hog wild and have magic be a free for all. Nope. Won’t work. Where’s the fun in that? If Superman didn’t have kryptonite, we’d all be bored.

How do writers develop these rules? First lots of research. Not into magic per say, but in reading other Fantasy books to see what other authors have done and have done to death. And they’re looking for something different for their magic. For example, my Stormdancers in Storm Glass use magic to harvest energy from big storms and bottle it in glass orbs. They turn the storms into wimps, and use the energy to fuel their factories.

Magic needs boundaries. Hurricanes can only get so big and they're slow. If there’s high pressure giving a part of the country sunshine, there’s always a low pressure system, bringing rain somewhere else. Stormdancers can only fill 3 to 4 orbs.

Magic should also have consequences. There should be a price to pay for using it. When the Stormdancers finish "dancing" they’re exhausted. And if one of those full orbs breaks, they die.

Magic can have loopholes. As I say before with the kryptonite, there needs to be a way to bypass or counter the magic. It creates conflict and makes for a more interesting story. If another magician surrounds a Stormdance with a null shield, he can’t access his magic. Hurricanes lose strength when they hit land.

Magic needs consistency. Can’t change skills in mid-book or mid-series. The Stormdancers can’t suddenly light fires or read minds. And if they can – I better have a good explanation for it.

Which brings me to surprises. With a magic system all planned out, how can you have surprises without breaking the rules?? You can’t. That’s when the writer needs to be creative. A surprise is just like a storm that does something unpredictable – it is unpredictable at the time, but when you examine/study it later – all the right factors/elements were in place, but they went unnoticed or were deemed not important at the time.

I’m often asked what sparked the idea for the Stormdancers. It was during the 2005 hurricane season. A record season for hurricanes with four Category 5 hurricanes (Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma). The 2005 season caused $180 billion in damage and killed approximately 2,280 people. Hurricanes release a ton of energy in one day. Enough energy to meet the electrical generating needs of the entire world for 200 days.

The 2005 season had me asking, What if? What if we could harvest that storm energy and use it? Turn big and nasty Katrina into a mild soaking rainstorm? The answers lead me to another boatload of potential conflicts. Who decides what the energy is used for? Do they sell the energy? Share it or just use if for their factories?

Ahhh . . . stormy weather is brewing on the horizon! Make sure you bring an umbrella with you to keep those hydrometeors from falling on your head! *grin*

*******************************

Excerpt from Storm Glass:

“I’ll need to examine Kade’s orb,” I said.

“You’ll have to ask him,” Nodin said.

“Me? I thought . . .”

His brown eyes sparked with glee. “Yes, you. I’m beginning to like you, Opal. But not that much.” He grabbed the sphere and returned it to the back of the cave. “If you want to see Kade’s orb before dark, you better hurry. Once the sun dips below the sea, it turns black fast.”

I followed Nodin down to the beach. The sun hovered near the edge of the horizon, casting shadows along the water’s rippled surface.

“Good luck.” Nodin waved.

The wind whipped hair into my eyes when I stepped out on to the black rocks. I pulled the leather tie from my messy ponytail and tried to recapture all the strands into a neater knot. Funny how I hadn’t noticed the wind on the beach. Calling to Kade had proven futile. My shouts drowned by the sea’s song.

I hadn’t noticed how uneven and jagged the rocks were either. Waves crashed into them, sending spray high into the air. Water soon coated my skin and soaked my clothes. The rocks became slicker with each wave. I was glad I wore my brown boots, even though my boots were filled with water, their thick soles helped me navigate the slippery and rutted outcrop. At one point I climbed over a few sharp boulders, and at another I leapt over a gap. The tight knocking of my heart warned my body to turn around and go back to the beach, but I was determined. Stupid?

No. Determined. Until I reached a space too big to cross. Too big for me. Kade was three rocks farther out. Each separated by a large opening. Had he swam or jumped? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was he heard my shout.

He spun around. And I wished I had waited on the beach. With an angry scowl, Kade moved. I would have marveled at his speed and grace as he flew over the gaps, except he aimed toward me.

An errant wave knocked into me and I grabbed a rough edge to keep from falling. Pain laced my palm and blood welled.

Kade stopped before spanning the space between our rocks. His mouth moved, but the wind snatched half of his words. “…idiot…dangerous…go back!”

I understood his intent and turned to retrace my steps. The waves grew in size and frequency. They hunted me, attacking when I was vulnerable.

“Opal,” shouted Kade.

I looked back in time to see a giant blue-green wall of water rushing toward me.

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

My vision clouded with blood and saltwater. Kade and the outcrop grew smaller as the sea sucked me into her liquid embrace.

*****************************

And now buy Maria's books! If you haven't read her Study series--Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study--then here's your chance to catch up!

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Joshua Palmatier

March 2017

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