Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guest Blog: We love it! We can't use it! What is it?

It was a long, strange journey from my final draft of Haunting Blue, my first novel, to its eventual publication through Damnation Books. Nothing proved stranger than the series of rejection letters and emails the book collected during the hectic three years my then-agent (she’s such a sweet woman) sent it off to pretty much every major publisher on the planet, and seeing the various “reasons” for its rejection. What follows is a fictionalized conversation with a character representing all these various publishers.

Pub: Haunting Blue is well-written, tightly plotted, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished. We love it!

Me: So you’re going to publish it?

Pub: We don’t love it THAT much!

Me: Oh, sorry for being presumptuous.

Pub: I love the book, I just don’t love it…for our readers! You understand me?

Me: Yes. Uh….no.

Pub: For us to use it, you’d have to change it.

Me: What parts?

Pub: Well…all of it. We wanted an edgy thriller for young adults.

Me: I can edit the adult language if that’s the….

Pub: No, we can do that. The biggest problem is that it gets too exciting at the end.

Me: I was going for mundane, but I got a bit carried away.

Pub: Look, kid, books with strong female protagonists are flying off the shelves, but then your punk girl’s not girly enough. The tweens won’t relate to her.

Me: You want me to make Blue a girly rebel punk?

Pub: And what’s with all this arguing with the parent? What teenager can relate to that?

Me: When you’re right, you’re right.

Pub: And if you alienate teenagers, who’s going to read it? Our marketing clearly shows that adults won’t read books about teenagers.

Me: What about Carrie and Christine?

Pub: Are you comparing yourself to Stephen King?

Me: I’m sure it would be career suicide to compare myself to Stephen King.

Pub: Besides, this is a supernatural thriller, but all this “stuff” happens before it gets supernatural.

Me: it’s a slow burn. Like Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. The town itself is kind of a character.

Pub: So this is like Ray Bradbury?

Me: I’m sure it would be career suicide to compare myself to Ray Bradbury.

Pub: And what the hell is up with your structure? You swap back and forth between first person and third person. That’s going to confuse the reader!

Me: William Faulkner did it in As I Lay Dying.

Pub: Who? Listen, is this Bill Fauker or Folker or whoever a current bestseller?

Me: I defer to your expertise.

Pub: I was so excited when this hit my desk.  Teenage girl! Monster! Like Stephanie Meyer with a ghost instead of a vampire! Now she knows how to write bestsellers!  Why’d you make that face, kid? Don’t you like Stephanie Meyer?

Me: It would be career suicide to compare myself to Stephanie Meyer, but for a vastly different reason than the other two.

Pub: Look, you’ve written a young adult too dark for tweens, but not dark enough for  horrorreaders, a chick lit novel not particularly girly and a southern gothic that takes place in the Midwest. Who the hell cares about Indiana, anyway? What exactly is this thing you’ve written?

Me: It’s a damn good story, sir. I’m sure we’ll find a terrific home for it elsewhere.

And eventually, my agent punted it back to my control with her regrets, and I found a terrific home for it through Damnation Books. Please enjoy this edgy urban punk chick-lit Midwestern gothic Hardy Boys for Big Kids ghost story novel, also known as Haunting Blue.

R.J. Sullivan and his family live in Heartland Crossing, Indiana, south of Indianapolis. He’s published short fiction in Midnight Graffiti and Strange Weird and Wonderful eZines. He’s composed dozens of articles for local magazines and newspapers, and “ghost” writes newsletter content for several companies. Join the R.J. Sullivan fan community at 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Haunting Blue Book Review

Title: Haunting Blue
Author: R.J. Sullivan
Publisher: Damnation Press
Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781615722747

Haunting Blue is the debut novel from author R.J. Sullivan, published by Damnation Press.

Where to begin with this novel?

It was so much more than I expected, in so many ways.

Haunting Blue is the story of Fiona, a goth chick from Indianapolis, who is forced to move to a small town in the northern part of Indiana, when her mother takes a new job. From the very beginning of the novel, the reader begins to learn about Fiona, and her life, as the newest chapter in her life unfolds. Immediately she's thrown into small town drama, that's right: high school. She quickly realizes what it's all about, making friends and enemies as she goes. Including Chip, a geek/nerd/dork who loves all things computer related. The two soon strike a friendship, until it turns in to something more serious. As the story progresses Chip explains to Fiona -- who Chip nicknames Blue (the name stuck) -- that there's buried treasure at the local theme park, and he wants her to help him.

While Blue's story is unfolding, Sullivan does a remarkable job with flashbacks, taking the reader all the way back to 1973, to when the buried treasure had been stolen, and the group of men involved with the armed robbery.

I found the storytelling in Huanting Blue to be surreal at times, and often frustrating, and here's why: with a title like Haunting Blue, I kept finding myself wondering when the haunting part was going to occur. It wasn't until the very last second, and the most unpredictable moment that it happened. It kept me on the edge of my seat, from there on out, until the last sentence was read.

I'd like to say that I knew what I was in for when I first picked up Haunting Blue. At times I thought I was reading a coming of age story, or a romance. At other times it felt like a thriller, or maybe it was a ghost story after all.... I'm still unsure.

If you're looking for a good read, pick up a copy for yourself or a loved one. That way you can argue with them after you've both finished it.

Because Haunting Blue kept me guessing on the edge of my seat, it's earned 8.5 out of 10 TARDIS's.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Black Christmas.

Christmas came early this year, in several forms including two boxes of review copies from Black Library Publishers, who specialize in Warhammer Fantasy fiction, as well as Warhammer 40k (40,000).

Look for several new reviews of some of the pictured titles above in the next several weeks. Until then: Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Shotgun Sorceress Book Review

Title: Shotgun Sorceress
Author: Lucy A. Snyder
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 330
ISBN: 9780345512109

Shotgun Sorceress is the second book in Lucy A. Snyder's Spellbent Trilogy published by Random House.

Very few sequels ever, in my opinion, manage to be as good as the first book in a series, but Lucy A. Snyder's Shotgun Sorceress easily earns it's place as the second book in the projected three book series, dealing with her protagonist Jesse Shimmer's newly founded abilities, her familiar Pal.

Shotgun Sorceress picks up only hours after Spellbent, and carries the torch of full-throttle amazingness found at the end of the first book, to all out increasingly strangeness within the first one hundred pages of the second, including one of the best opening scenes to grab my attention in a long time.

After returning from her boyfriend, Cooper Marron's version of hell, and defeating a powerful magic wielder, she's left with powerful magic that she can't seem to get rid of. With her giant half-spider/half-ferret familiar, her boyfriend Cooper, and Cooper's brother The Warlock, the four set out on an adventure to a little town in Texas. A town isolated in more ways than one. With her father's help, Jesse must find a way back to the real world, out of the clutches of a gorgeous and powerful witch, and find her brother.

Shotgun Sorceress is a marvelous sequel, continuing the breakneck pace begun in Spellbent, and reassuring the reader that this series isn't your average Urban Fantasy. That's why I'm giving Shotgun Sorceress 8.5 out of 10 TARDIS's.

If you're looking for a good Urban Fantasy series that's not your typical run-of-the-mill, then pick up a copy of Spellbent, and while you're at it, pick up a copy of Shotgun Sorceress, you won't be disappointed.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Apex Day 2010.

Saturday, December the 11th was Apex Day.

For those of you who don't know, Apex is a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Publisher, based out of Kentucky, and owned by the awesome Jason Sizemore. Some of Apex's authors include: Alethea Kontis, Lavie Tidhar, Fran Friel, Maurice Broaddus, Jerry Gordon, R, Thomas Riley, Wrath James White, and Gary A. Braunbeck. They also produce Apex Magazine, (Issue 19 for December, 2010 just came out).

To Each Their Darkness
December the 11th was also the release date for Gary A. Braunbeck's non-fiction book: To Each Their Darkness, a reworking of an earlier account on writing that had been published several years ago, called Fear in a Handful of Dust: Horror as a Way of Life. Braunbeck has stated many times in the past, and in the introduction of To Each Their Darkness, that at the time of writing Fear in a Handful of Dust, he hadn't lived enough in order to pull off the things that he wanted to convey. And that's why To Each Their Darkness was written.

Although I plan on doing a full review for To Each Their Darkness for the blog sometime in the future, the best way I can explain To Each Their Darkness, is this: take Stephen King's On Writing and amplify it by 12.

Yeah, it's that good...

Saturday was an early day for me, having to get up and meet the rest of the IHW (Indiana Horror Writers) so that we could carpool to Lexington, Kentucky. On the way down, I inquired as to where Apex Day was going to be held, to which I was told: Joseph Beth Booksellers. I had never heard of the bookstore, but was excited to find out that it was a two story bookstore, filled to the roof with books of all kinds. As soon as I walked into the store, I was blown away. The Architecture of the place was absolutely gorgeous!
They even had an escalator!

Overall, my first impression of Joseph Beth Books was one of awe. However, on closer inspection of their books, I found just about every Lansdale book that I didn't want to have to order from my local B&N (that means a lot). But, because of finances, I had to talk myself out of picking them up, much to my chagrin. And when I looked lost and (I'll admit it, still awestruck with the place) confused, a nice sales-boy stopped to help me find my place before the IHW would have to send a search party to find me.

Chatting with the guy (unfortunately, his name escapes me as of the moment, I'm sorry) I was surprised to find that he knew, and had read almost as many horror books as me, including Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, John Skip, Joe Hill, and even, yes, you guessed it... Joe R. Lansdale!

I digress... Back to Apex Day.

Gary reading from To Each Their Darkness, Apex Day 2010.
 Coming in late, we (the IHW) found some seats and sunk into them to absorb the second and third readings that Gary was giving from To Each Their Darkness. Afterwards there were giveaways... lots and lots of giveaways. In fact, everyone who came in before and during the reading ended up landing a book. However, only the first ten or so actually landed a book either by, or with Gary in it. Those who received a Braunbeck prize, also received a burnt copy of a short film called One of Those Faces, which was based on Gary's short story "Rami Temporalis." I happened to walk away with a copy of Future Net (look for a future review of this book as well), and a copy of One of Those Faces.

Future Net and a DVD copy of One of Those Faces
After Gary's reading it was time to buy books and get things signed, and time to just chill out and talk with people. Outside of the Apex authors in attendance, there were several other authors there as well, including: Michael West, RJ Sullivan, Stephen Zimmer, Michele Lee, Debbie Kuhn, Lucy A. Snyder, and Nicole Cushing.

After my explorations of the store, I returned to find that I had more books than what I had originally intended to pick up, which shouldn't have been a surprise, considering it happens to me every time. There were several titles I had been looking for, that I knew would be my only chance to pick up for a while, most notably Braunbeck's In the Midnight Museum (Tansmaniac Publications), and Lucy A. Snyder's Sparks and Shadows (HW Press).

From left to right: The Exodus Gate, To Each Their Darkness,
Sparks and Shadows, and In the Midnight Museum.
 I also managed to pick up To Each Their Darkness by Gary, and the first book in Stephen Zimmer's Epic Urban Fantasy series: The Exodus Gate (Seventh Star Press). I also received a bunch of promotional items for The Exodus Gate, including a couple of cover flats and two bookmarks, thanks to Stephen who was kind enough to give them to me.

December 11th, 2010 is one of those days I won't soon forget. Call it an early Christmas... Okay, one of many. Look for reviews for these titles to pop up within the coming months. And if you can't wait for the reviews, might I suggest going out and picking up a copy of one, or all of these titles for yourself, or maybe add them to your Christmas List... it's never too late for Santa!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Huffer Book Review

Title: Huffer
Author: Michael J. Hultquist
Publisher: Gravside Tales
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780980133875

Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist is the newest book from Graveside Tales Publishing. What if you had the ability to see "evil" people, and had the power to do something about it? When a mysterious figure dressed in a hawaiian shirt appears to Gus Gerring after a stint of huffing paint in the middle of a cornfield, "Satan" as Gus refers to him, begins to show him things about people that no one would ever want to know about another person.

When the girl he loves doesn't return the affection,Gus spirals further into depression and begins huffing even more. But that's just the beginning. Soon, his world begins spiraling out of control: his mother and her boyfriend who are hiding a secret about his dead father, an uncle who has a particular affection for having his way with prostitutes and then offing them, a dream of the love of his life, and the local police who are after Gus for the winning Lotto numbers, and a man who wants to use Gus's special abilities to his advantage.

Gus quickly realizes that he can't control everything, even with Satan's help.

Huffer is an ambitious novel with some rather wonderful characters, such as the aforementioned Uncle Ham who has a taste for the macabre, -- having his way with prostitutes and then killing them -- and the mysterious figure which Gus refers to as "Satan": the indentity behind the visions that propels Gus's life into a Dive-Bomb.

Hultquist seems to have a firm grasp on the location in which the novel is set (always a good thing for an author), often times describing scenery with an outsiders eye effectively, drawing the reader in and keeping them there.

Characters and settings aside, nothing defines a novel more than the ending. And unfortunately Huffer suffers from a sloppy ending. As I read and grew closer and closer to the ending, I was expecting a climactic event that would leave me dumbstruck, and tie up all of the loose ends that were left hanging. However it didn't. In fact, I felt like I was reading an Indie Film: written with a sloppy, loose ending, intentionally written for the purpose of making the writer look smart; making the audience think for themselves, wondering what happens next.

For me, the mark of a great story teller is the ability to effectively be able to tell a story that leaves the reader still thinking about the events of the story longer after the books been put down, rather than dwelling on one or two major flaws that stand out like a sore thumb. For me, the ending was a sore thumb.

Just because the ending wasn't my cup of tea, it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy reading Huffer, that's why I'm giving it 6.5 TARDIS's out of 10.

One last note: with Christmas fast approaching, I'd like to point out that right now Graveside Tales has a sale on for those with a Kindle and are interested in picking up a digital copy of Huffer, that the publisher currently has Kindle Editions of their books for only $2.99, so if you've got the pocket change to spare, download it and read it for yourself.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monster Hunter Vendetta Book Review

book cover of 
Monster Hunter Vendetta 
 (Monster Hunter , book 2)
Larry Correia
Title: Monster Hunter Vendetta
Author: Larry Correia
Publisher: Baen Publishing
Pages: 612
ISBN: 9781439133910

Monster Hunter Vendetta is the second book in Larry Correia's New York Times Bestselling series (Currently #27 in Mass-Market), which started with Monster Hunter International.

Like I've mentioned before, there's always the expectation for a sequel to be at best, on parr with the first book in a series. With this being the first sequel that Larry's written, I was looking forward to finding out just how well Monster Hunter Vendetta would turn out. Too often authors will hit the big one with their first novel, then turn around, write the second book in the series without really caring, and being unfare to the reader. This is not true for Larry. He's a damn good story teller who knows how to weave every essential elemnt of storytelling together, without sacrificing one thing for another. As I cracked open my copy, I was blown away. Needless to say, there's no dissapointment on my face.

Picking up several months after the events in Monster Hunter International, Monster Hunter Vendetta continues the story of Owen Z. Pitt and his life as an accountant-turned-monster-hunter. After having made The Dread Overlord mad for something Owen didn't due (thanks largely in part to the Feds and a big nuke), Owen is then faced with a bounty on his head, put there by the The Dread Overlord (seriously, how could you ever be happy with a title like that?). Enter the the Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition, I cult spearheaded by a British necromancer who simply goes by the name of the Shadow Man, and wants nothing more than to gain the favor of The Dread Overlord.

Like with most things, the government always has to have it's hands in everything, that's why the MCB (Monster Control Bureau) sends Agent Franks to fill in as Owen's personal bodygaurd. And that's were the story begins.

I love learning about the history of things, and in general, world building, and Correia definitely doesn't dissapoint in that regard.Throughout the book Larry delves further into the backhistory of the rich, vast, complicated and bone numbingly scary world that he's created within the pages of Monster Hunter Vendetta. Along the way we're introduced to gansta gnomes, Owen's rockstar brother, giant Japanese demons, giant zombie elephants, and MHI's newest toy, Leviathan, as well as the answer to one of the biggest mysteries shrouding MHI's history. Needless to say, there isn't single dull moment within the pages of this book. And, finally, one of the biggest jaw dropping surprises that I would have never seen coming in a million years.

Monster Hunter Vendetta was by far more than I could have ever expected, and then some. That's why I'm giving it 9 TARDIS's out of 10. So, if you like zombies, vampires, werewolves, necromancers and scary death cults, and are tired of the same run of the mill cliched tropes that seem to mercilessly litter the shelves of Urban Fantasy section these days, then pick up Monster Hunter Vendetta, and while your at it, why not start from the beginning, and double the fun? Go ahead and grab Monster Hunter International and start from there.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Fall Book Review

book cover of The Fall  (Strain Trilogy, book 2)byChuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro
Title: The Fall
Author(s): Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 308
ISBN: 9780061558221

The Fall is the much anticipated sequel to Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's new vampire trilogy which began with The Strain.

The Fall begins only hours after the events of The Strain: with the fall of New York City. Now it's up for grabs, and fighting for it's control are the Old and New World Vampires. As war breaks out across New York, two small band of survivors, one including Eph Goodweather and Holocaust survivor-turned-vampire-hunter Abraham Setrakian, and the other, a group of gangbangers-turned-vampire-hunters are caught in the middle of the war. And with newly acquired knowledge of how the parasite works, Abraham must race to stop them. All the while as Eph fights to save the world, he also has to contend with his dead ex-wife, who's only purpose is to find and feed on their son, Zach.

As with most sequels, there's always the expectation for it to be better than the first; to surpass the first book in the series if only by a small margin. Unfortunately these hopes were dashed for me as I settled in to read The Fall. The first issue I had with it was the size. Unlike The Strain which was considerably larger in volume, The Fall is a sleek little novel. Granted, size doesn't matter, but I was expecting more. I loved the direction that del Toro and Hogan took the story in, but felt that it dragged out and bogged down with parts that didn't really seem necessary to the plot at hand, including several new point-of-views that served no purpose to the story.
However, I loved the fact that the story delved further into the back history of Abraham Setrakian's life. I also enjoyed and the concept of the two sides: Old and New World Vampires, fighting to stop The Master's deadly plot to essentially erradicate the human race. del Toro and Hogan up the thrills with several new game-changing introductions to the story that most readers won't see coming. Including a few jaw-dropping moments for myself.

Overall, The Fall was an alright read. Although it left much to be admired, it was an interesting read that left me at times on the edge of my seat, while also dropping surprises I'd never see coming. That's why I'm rating The Fall 7.5 TARDIS's out of 10. As negative as I've been, I can't wait to see what det Toro and Hogan due with book three, The Night Eternal which releases one year from now.

If you've already invested your time in The Strain and just haven't picked up The Fall yet, I'd recommend picking it up the next chance you get.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Gathering of Crows Book Review

book cover of A Gathering of Crows byBrian Keene
Title: A Gathering of Crows
Author: Brian Keene
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Pages: 300
ISBN: 9780843960921

This review has been a long time coming. I've actually read the book more than once in the past several months, since it's July 27th release date, but have found it hard to come to realize that this is the final Brian Keene novel to be released through Dorchester Publishing.

It's no secret that Keene is no longer on their list of current authors writing for them. He even made the announcement on his blog a while back. But, I thought it best to wait until things had been sorted out to write this review, that way I could inform everyone who still doesn't know, about Keene's departure. And so now that you know, without any further excuses, here's my review for Brian Keene's A Gathering of Crows:

Set in a not so unusual location: Brinkley Springs, West Virginia, a podunk town hit hard by the recent economy. But unlike most towns of it's kind, the citizens of Brinkley Springs are being hunted down, gutted, getting their souls sucked out of their skulls, and all around mutilated by a shape-shifting murder of crows. Although that would be a killer plot for any novel (if executed properly), Keene ups the anti, throwing one of his most popular characters to date into the thick of things: Levi Stolzfus, an Amish powwow weilding magus, and all around badass.

When I first heard that Levi would be a major character in A Gathering of Crows, I couldn't help but get excited. Introduced in Ghost Walk, -- the sequel to Keene's Dark Hollow -- Levi quickly became one of my favorite characters to come from Keene.

The first third of the novel takes a while to get in to, but from there on out, it picks up the pace and keeps hitting harder with every turn of the page. Including in the last third of the book: a major nod and further explanations into Keene's mythos, mainly with The Thirteen, as well as The Old Ones, and a bit of a history lesson with the lost colony of Roanoke -- which Keene deftly ties into the story -- leaving just enough unanswered for the reader to want to know more. Add in killer dialogue throughout, red-shirts that are as real as you and me, and you've got one hell of a novel.

A Gathering of Crows has hands-down become one of my favorite novels to come from Keene in recent years, easily making it in the top five mass market paperback titles. There's not much more I can say without being truly biased, and splattering spoilers all over this review, so I'll just keep it short and simple: Run to your local bookstore before Leisure pulls it, and buy a copy. Hell, buy several copies and give them to your friends. And while your at it, go ahead and pick up any other Keene books you don't have, because the way it's sounding now, there's not much time left to do so.

I'm giving A Gathering of Crows 8.5 TARDIS's out of 10.

Just go pick the book up.



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crystal Rain Book Review

Title: Crystal Rain
Author: Tobias S. Buckell
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 358
ISBN: 9780765350909

Crystal Rain is the 2006 debut novel from Caribbean born author Tobias S. Buckell.

On a world not so unlike our own, strange winds begin to blow: the loathsome Azteca have stormed the Wicked High Mountains, and begun a march across Nanagada, sacrificing man, woman and child to their cruel, bloodthirsty gods as they go. Their intended target: Capitol City.

After having washed ashore 27 years earlier, John deBrun remembers nothing of his past, but as the winds of war begin to steadily blow, he's forced to remember just who he really is. deBrun -- a self made fisherman -- finds himself caught up in a fight that he doesn't really want to be a part of, until his town is invaded and sacked, and his wife and son have disappeared. Left with nothing, deBrun is forced to do the one thing he thought he'd never be forced to do again: fight. Saved by a man named Oaxyctl, the two travel as forerunners to Capitol City, where there they sound the warning against the invading Azteca.

But as the annual Carnival begins, a mystical figure arrives, questioning locals as to the where-abouts of John deBrun. The man known as Pepper has his own secret agenda, and as the story unravels, not only is the vail of Pepper's history lifted, but also deBrun's, as the two are forced to work together to save Capitol City. With only an ancient map to go by, and a name: Ma Wi Jung, deBrun leads a crew of men to the north, where they hope to find something that can save Capitol City from falling to the approaching Azteca attack.

Crystal Rain is something of a wet dream for both science fiction and fantasy lovers alike. The way Buckell deftly intertwines and blends the two genres together is breathtaking. Add in a heaping dose of the Caribbean, with a pinch of of seige warfare, and you've got the perfect main course.

Buckell does a fine job with keeping each chapter as short as possible, without sacrificing quaility. In most places it reads like a thriller should, and keeps info dumps to a minimum, instead placing small bits of information into strategic points of the story that do nothing but good for it. With well thought out characters and an ending that blew me away, I'm looking forward to spending more time in this unique universe that Buckell has done a superb job with introducing in Crystal Rain. That's why I'm giving it 8.5 out of 10 TARDIS's.

If you've got the spare pocket change and are looking for a good read that does a superb job of blending two major genres of the literature world together, then give Crystal Rain a chance. I promise you'll like it.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Accidental Sorcerer Book Review

Title: The Accidental Sorcerer
Author: K.E. Mills
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 530
ISBN: 9780316035422

The Accidental Sorcerer is the first book in the Rogue Agent Series, written by K.E. Mills and published by Orbit Publishing.
When I first picked up The Accidental Sorcerer and began to read, I quickly realized that it read much like a mature knock-off of Harry Potter. Which, the more I continued to read, the more I wanted it to be. Sadly, it only lasted for the first one hundred or so pages. It then quickly turns into something completely different than what I thought it would. To say that this book kept me surprised until the end would be an understatement.

The Accidental Sorcerer is the story of Gerald Dunwoody, and his transformation from Third Grade Wizard to King Lionel of New Ottosland's new Court Wizard. It all starts with a bang, after Gerald blows up a factory trying to save it, working as a Third Grade Wizard inspector -- a job usually held by a Second Grade Wizard at the very least -- for one of the most famous wand makers in the country.

Out of a job, and a stain on the Ministry's reputation, Third Grade Wizard Dunwoody is distraught, until his close friend Monk Markham recommends he look in the newspaper for potential employees. To his surprise, Gerald finds an add: New Ottosland is looking for a new Court Wizard. Hired on the spot, Gerald moves into his new position as Court Wizard, and struggles to keep it together as things begin to spiral out of control all around him.

Will this new position make, or break Gerald Dunwoody? With an interesting choice of characters, K.E. Mills -- a pen name for author Karen Miller -- fills the pages of The Accidental Sorcerer with some of the most memorable characters that I've read in the last several years. Between Monk Markham, one of the most brilliant minds working for the Ministry, and one of Dunwoody's best friends; Reg, a talking bird and one of Gerald's closest friends who eximplifies the Transformer's motto: "more than meets the eye," there's enough humor to make the reader smile, even in the last half of the book.

With all writers, they have their strong points, and the weak ones. As I read I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters of The Accidental Sorcerer, but as I read on, deeper and deeper into the novel, I couldn't help but ask questions concerning the government of New Ottosland and the running of it. For me, Mills fails at developing the kingdom of New Ottosland, instead sacrificing it for further development of the characters.

At 530 pages, The Accidental Sorcerer is by no means a brick of a book, but neither is it your typical 80,000 word, 320 page novel. Mills is bordering on what I consider to be the "King Syndrome": aptly named after horror author Stephen King, who takes freakin' forever to get anywhere with his books. I think a large portion of this book could have been boiled down, or all together cut out to make a more solid and well rounded novel. I'm necessarily recommending cutting it down to 320 pages, but instead bringing it down to the 450 page range, would have helped the books in some serious ways.

In the end, I throughly enjoyed reading The Accidental Sorcerer. Mills has done what many authors out there today can't necessarily do: make me invest in the characters, and want to know what happens next. Besides a weaker ending than what I would have liked, I can't wait to see where Mills takes the reader next with the second book of the Rogue Agent Trilogy, that's why I'm giving The Accidental Sorcerer 7.5 out of 10 TARDIS's.

If you enjoy character development, without the technical infodumps and overly long explanations for everything, I would highly encourage you to pick up The Accidental Sorcerer the next time you hit your local bookstore.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Skull Full of Kisses Book Review

Title: Skull Full of Kisses
Author: Michael West
Publisher: Graveside Tales
Pages: 212
ISBN: 8790980133882

Lately I've been finding myself reading more and more short stories, and enjoying them more than the typical novel. There's been a few collections that have stunned me in the past, but every collection pails in comparison to Michael West's Skull Full of Kisses. There's only two words that come to mind when I think about this marvelous collection, and those are: disturbingly brilliant!

Every story contained in this small, but remarkable collection not only makes a person think, but plants that thoughtful seed in the readers mind. And with each passing story that's read, that seed begins to grow, until finally you've reached the end, and left with a stunningly beautiful and haunting apparition that will follow you long after you've read the last word.

Although the collection is short, it's solid, compact, and written with a passion that's hard to find. Every story reads like polished gold. "Jiki" -- the opening story -- deals with Koji Ogawa, the newest member of the Yakuza who comes face-to-face with something more sinister than the mobster could ever dream of. Then there's "Einstein's Slingshot," which reminded me of a love child between Jurassic Park, The Mist, and The Outer Limits. There's also "To Know How to See," a sci-fi/horror hybrid that will leave you questioning the true identity of everyone around you; and then there's one of my personal favorites: "Sanctuary," which deals with travelers seeking for refuge from a Himalayan snow storm, but find something more when they hole up with a group of monks. And finally, to round out the collection, is "Goodnight," a heart-string plucking tale of a grandfather recounting a real-life bedtime story to his grandson.

I've read this collection five times in the last three months, and each time I've finished the book I've found myself stunned at what an amazing collection Skull Full of Kisses really is.West knows and loves his genre, and shows and shares it, with a remarkable ability to craft tales, and flesh out characters that feel alive. That's why I'm giving Skull Full of Kisses an 8.5 out of 10.

If you're looking for something that will seriously mess with your head long after you've put it down, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of Michael West's Skull Full of Kisses.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monster Hunter Alpha Cover Revealed

A couple of days ago, author Larry Correia revealed the cover for the newest novel in his very popular Monster Hunter International series: Monster Hunter Alpha.

Not only is it kick-ass, but it's also sexy. Here's the synopsis for Monster Hunter Alpha:

Earl Harbinger may be the leader of Monster Hunter International, but he’s also got a secret. Nearly a century ago, Earl was cursed to be werewolf.  When Earl receives word that one of his oldest foes, a legendarily vicious werewolf that worked for the KGB, has mysteriously appeared in the remote woods of Michigan, he decides to take care of some unfinished business. But another force is working to bring about the creation of a whole new species of werewolf. When darkness falls, the final hunt begins, and the only thing standing in their way is a handful of locals, a lot of firepower, and Earl Harbinger’s stubborn refusal to roll over and play dead.

After reading that blurb I was super excited. More of Earl's backstory = awesome. But what really had me dancing up and down like a school girl is this: Monster Hunter Alpha will clock in somewhere around 832 pages... yeah, a door-stopper. Sexy! As per-usual with a Larry Correia release, I can safely say that there will be several sleepless nights for a while after procuring my copy of Monster Hunter Alpha, especially at 832 pages.

Look for it to hit shelves sometime in the beginning of August, 2011.


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Resurrectionist Book Review

Title: The Resurrectionist
Author: Wrath James White
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Pages: 324
ISBN: 8790843963120

I've known about Wrath James White's stuff for a while now, but haven't either had the time to pick any of his titles up, or had the money. Now, I'm glad to say, that I have both.

When it comes to the genre of Horror, there are only a few names that stand out when a person mentions blood and guts, and in general: sick and sometimes raunchy writers. Two come straight to mind: Edward Lee, and Wrath James White. But unlike many authors out there who go straight for the blood and guts and rely on nothing more than that to carry their stories, Wrath uses it as a tool, and writes it with an eye and an understanding. Some for the shock value, but mostly to scare the living crap out of you.

And scare the crap out of you he does!

I knew before cracking open The Resurrectionist, that it was going to be everything -- and probably more -- that I've been cautioned about. Sex and blood and violence oh my! Now, just as I was cautioned before picking up The Resurrectionist, I think it would only be right for me to caution the next batch of readers: it's bloody and graphic in some parts, so, if you have a weak stomach you'll want to make sure you're careful with this one.

Dale McCarthy is a strange man with an incredible ability, a sick addiction and a screwed up childhood. He's also Sarah's newest neighbor. On a street where half the houses have been foreclosed or are for sale, it's a surprise for Sarah and her husband when they find that there's a new addition to the neighborhood.

After their first meeting, Sarah comes to the conclusion that Dale is nothing more than a creeper. But he's more than that. Strange dreams begin to worry Sarah as she dreams of being raped and then killed by Dale. Soon, she realizes that some things are realer than what she would like them to be, and begins a quest to prove that Dale is her rapist, killer and her resurrectionist.

The idea of The Resurrectionist is an absolutely brilliant idea, and Wrath does a wonderful job with building a story around it and pulling the reader in. My biggest issue -- and only issue -- with this novel is that there are several scenes that felt slow and didn't really need to incorporated into the novel. Also, there was quite a bit of filler that wasn't necessary and didn't really carry the story.

Overall, I'd recommend The Resurrectionist to anyone who's looking for a twisted book with a good story... and a strong stomach. Although this book isn't everyone's cup of tea, I have a feeling that the readers who will find the contents agreeable and tolerable, will also immensly enjoy it. That's why I'm giving The Resurrectionist 7 out of 10 T.A.R.D.I.S.'s.


Monday, June 7, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to John Cunningham, who is the new owner of a signed copy of Lucy A. Snyder's Spellbent!

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner, or for that matter posting on here. Within the last several weeks, things have been hectic, including a new job and being sick. But, hopefully, there'll be more interviews, reviews and giveaways posted within the next coming week, so stay alert folks!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Podcast #10: Interview #4: Lucy A. Snyder, and Book Giveaway #1

Lucy A. Snyder

Lucy A. Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the poetry collection, Chimeric Machines, and Sparks and Shadows, and her first novel, Spellbent. She has a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in journalism and is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop. Born in South Carolina, she grew up in the cowboys-and-cactus part of Texas and currently lives in Worthington, Ohio.

Here's the full interview with Lucy: Podcast #10: Interview #4: Lucy A. Snyder

MoCon Binge Book Giveaway #1

Hey all, here's your first chance to win a free book signed by the author. If you'd like the chance to win a free copy of Lucy A. Snyder's remarkable book Spellbent, then send an e-mail to: with your name and address. You may only enter your name once for this book.

This contest will run for two weeks, starting today (May 22nd), until June 5th at midnight (EST).



Sunday, May 16, 2010

The MoCon Binge


I've been so excited for so long now about sharing all of the goodness that is MoCon. If there was one thing that I was looking forward to the most this year, it was definitely MoCon V. It was also a big event for the site: I got the chance to interview Lucy A. Snyder, Gary A. Braunbeck, and Brian Keene (more about this later in the post), as well as prospects for even more author interviews, as well as a handful of books to give away (also explained later in this post).

My first encounter with MoCon was two years ago, when I was browsing Brian Keene's website and noticed that he'd be signing, as well as reading and participating on several of the panels being held at the convention. There I met Maurice Broaddus, Kelli Dunlap, Bob Freeman, Michael West, Alethea Kontis, D. Harlan Wilson, Geoffery Girard, Brian Keene, as well as Gary A. Braunbeck, his lovely wife Lucy A. Snyder, and Wrath James White.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend last year, but I did this year.

It was incredible. This years theme was the incorporation of faith in writing. They had several panels that were brilliant, funny and insightful. There was amazing food, good fellowship (including a few games of Magic), and some damn fine art, with Steven C. Gilbert as the Art Guest of Honor.

I hope you'll understand and forgive me, when I say that beyond that description there isn't much more that I can expound on. Everything went by so quickly, and sort of blurred together, but in a good way.

So, with that being said, here's how this Binge thing will break down:

Book Reviews

At my first MoCon -- strapped for cash but craving for more books --I promised Wrath James White that I'd pick up more of his books when I had more cash. Well, this year I just happened to have enough to pick up some of his other titles, that I've been really looking forward to reading.Therefore about half of the forthcoming reviews will include some of Wrath's novels, but they will be interspersed evenly throughout.

Interview Podcasts

While at MoCon I was lucky enough to interview and record, Lucy A. Snyder, Gary A. Bruanbeck and Brian Keene, as stated before. I'll be post each author's interview seperately, probably in three or four day intervals.

Book Giveaways

I've procured several different titles while at MoCon, all signed by the authors, that I'll be giving away within the next several days. I'll be posting more information when I make the official post.

For now, hang tight, and enjoy the binge!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vanilla Ride Book Review

Title: Vanilla Ride
Author: Joe R. Lansdale
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9780307270979

Vanilla Ride is the eighth book in author Joe R. Lansdale's fantastically popular Hap and Leonard Series.

I've only recently discovered Lansdale, and within the short period of time since my finding, I've quickly devoured all of the Hap and Leonard novels, and am now well on my to finishing the rest of his surprisingly long bibliography. When I got to the end of Captians Outrageous, I started jonesing for more, and to my surprise found that there was still one more book in the series to go before I had to officially begin the agonizing wait for another adventure with Hap and Leonard.

Hap Collins, -- a smart ass who has an affinity for southern women (also his one true weakness) -- and Leonard Pine -- a gay, black Vietnam Veteran whose still looking for the right man -- aren't your typical duo. And although they might not see eye-to-eye on everything, they both share the same passion for causing trouble and making things right, even if it might be wrong.

When an old buddy asks Leonard to rescue his daughter from an abusive, low-life drug dealer, he agrees. Inviting Hap along for the ride, the duo heads out on a wild quest. One that will pit the two men against the Dixie Mafia, which elusive, sexy and dangerous Vanilla Ride.

Although this wasn't my favorite Hap and Leonard novel, it was one hell of a ride! The storyline was slightly recycled from some of the duo's past experiences, but Lansdale makes up for this by mixing it up just enough to keep me hooked. I was really excited to learn just what exactly Vanilla Ride was, and after learning what it was, I'm looking forward to seeing what Lansdale does with it.

However, naturally, I have a few issues with Vanilla Ride. Firstly, it seemed as though it took forever for anything major to take place. Lansdale does a marvelous job with building the story, but nothing really happens until you've read a third of the book. However, from there things do pick up and it's a typical Hap and Leonard adventure: edge of your seat, no holds-bar, nonstop ass kicking, wisecracking romp that doesn't let up until the final page.

The second issue that I have with Vanilla Ride is probably the reason for my first problem with it, which is that there seemed to be large amounts of talking between the infamous duo. Maybe it's Lansdale's way of showing the reader that no matter how much the reader doesn't want Hap and Leonard to be getting older, -- a feeling I'm sure the duo shares with the reader -- they really are.

And the most ridiculous of my issues with Vanilla Ride -- even though it minute -- is that Leonard, whose known to have an affection for sawed-off shotguns, doesn't obtain said firearm until well near the end of the book.

In reality, all of these issues are probably ridiculous and minuscule, but they're things that I've come to expect from these characters, and from the author, therefore I'm giving Vanilla Ride 8.0 TARDIS's out of 10.

If anyone is interested in starting from the beginning of the series, you can pick up a copy of Savage Season here, and here.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brine Book Review

Title: Brine
Author: Adrienne Jones
Publisher: Creative Guy Publishing
Pages: 204
ISBN: 9781894953511

Brine is one of the most inventive, luring, brilliant and thought-provoking books I've read this year.

I have to admit that the first thing that caught my attention when I was browsing through Creative Guy Publishing's book catalog (whose site I would highly recommend visiting), was the beautiful and bizarre cover of Brine. I know that you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but after seeing the cover for this one, I couldn't help myself: I had to make sure it was as kick ass as the cover led me to believe.

Good thing I was quick to judge this book by it's cover!

Not only is the cover bizarre, but so is the story: it follows a year in the life of Elliot Newton, an up and coming painter, whose life is changed forever after waking up one morning from a drunken painting streak the night before. Nursing a hangover Elliot quickly realizes that he's not alone. In fact, he finds that over night his Cape Cod property has become occupied with several creatures not of the human world, but rather of the human mind. With the help of his friend Bobby, the two slowly begin to unravel the truth behind the painted inhabitants. From there the story goes from weird to weider, and ends at extremely weird.

Jones does a marvelous job with keeping the pace smooth, and quick, filling it full of memorable characters, and a kick ass plot that keeps you guessing with each page. I really loved the concept of the first third of the novel, and although it at first reminded me of Stephen King's Duma Key, I was happy to find that it far surpassed anything that King could ever write. And that goes for the remaining two-thirds of the book as well.

Have you ever cracked a book open, begun to read, and hours later realized that you've spent all your time absorbed by the pages in front of you? Well, that's exactly what happened to me with this book. At 204 pages, it's a quick read -- which was a good thing, considering I read it in one sitting -- but the story is so well written that after reading it, it feels like you've just finished reading a 350 page novel. There's so much going for it at once, that even if the characters ridiculous and shoddily written, it would still be one hell of a novel.

Brine was absolutely amazing, and surpassed my expectations by many miles, and then some! That's why I'm giving it 9.5 TARDIS's out of 10.

I absolutely loved Brine, and I can't wait to see and read what kind of other weirdness Jones stirs up and commits to the page in the future. With a few more re-reads, I have a feeling that Brine will quickly become one of my favorite all-time novels.

So, if you're into reading weirdness, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of Brine as soon as possible. You can buy a copy over at Barnes&, and at, and while your at it, pick one up for a friend. They'll thank you for it later!


Monday, May 10, 2010

And Now, Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

This last week has been a killer, with school and life in general getting in the way, there hasn't been much time for reading, which means no time for writing reviews. I haven't even been able to give updates of all the neat things that are going on right now, which disappoints me. But don't be discouraged! Starting today and continuing all through this summer, (until sometime in mid-August) expect regular posts, including book reviews, author interviews, book and publishing news, as well as some special book giveaways and "Book Binges."

The first Book Binge will be announced next Monday, and will run until the specified set of books are finished. Until then, keep checking for more reviews, the first of which will be Adrienne Jones's Brine. Look for it sometime tomorrow, or the next day.

Also, for those both new and old to the site, check out the poll that's currently up on the right hand of the screen. The poll consists of 12 different series varying in genres. My goal with this poll is to get feedback from you -- the reader -- as to what series I should crack open. Right now, Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts Series is in the lead with 1 vote.

For those who are interested, here's how the poll works: visitors to the site are aloud to vote once a day for a series. I'll leave the poll up until the end of June. July 1st, I'll announce the winning series, and will have a review for the first book in the winning series posted by the end of the month, and will continue to post reviews, once a month until I've finished reading the series.

After that, I'll post the poll back up, with the finished series replaced with a new one.

So keep tuning in to the site, and don't forget to vote!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Empire In Black and Gold Book Review

Title: Empire in Black and Gold
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Publisher: Pyr
Pages: 414
ISBN: 9781616141929

Empire in Black and Gold is the first novel in the "Shadows of the Apt" series by Adrian Tchaikovsky;a new and ambitious fantasy series published by Pyr.

The city-states of the Lowlands have only known peace for the past several decades. These great city-states are bastions of civilization protected by treaties, they share trade with their fellow neighbors.

But while the people of the Lowlands go about their comfortable lives, a tide of black and gold soldiers are consuming, demolishing and enslaving countries from afar, quickly making their way towards the smug and comfortable inhabitants of the Lowlands. Highly trained and born with the killing Art, these are the soldiers of the Wasp Empire.

As the tide spreads, and more countries are consumed, the leader of a once small band of truth speakers emerges once again to raise the warnings. He is Stenwold Maker: Beetle-Kinden, statesmen, artificer, spymaster and teacher. With a cadre of his best students, and a few friends from years past, he and his small band of rag-tag heroes are the only thing standing in the way of the Wasp Empire and the remaining countries that have not fallen under black and gold shadows.

Empire in Black and Gold is a brilliant read. For those looking for a different take on fantasy, this is what you've been looking for. And if you don't believe me, then you only have to look at the marvelous and beautiful cover that Pyr has given to this tome of a book. They seem to always be on the mark when it comes to their covers, and this one doesn't disappoint.

Tchaikovsky does a marvelous job with world building, and drawing the readers attention in from page one. From the various races, to their different cultures and beliefs, this world reads like an already established shared universe in that there's so much going on. But unlike some of the shared universes, there's only one mind behind Empire in Black and Gold: Tchaikovsky. His characters are real; hero and villain begin to blur the more the book progresses.

What I find truly remarkable about this series is the fact that Tchaikovsky has added elements of Steampunk into such a marvelous world. Doing so, hasn't taken anything away from the world that he's created, but in fact, I think it's only made it stronger and more unique.

Fight scenes are abound in this novel as well. Brilliantly described and easy to imagine, Tchaikovsky has a remarkable mind when it comes to writing such scenes. He has kick-ass characters that help to elevate the fight scenes, promising the reader more in the following books as tensions between characters build, and the Wasp Army continues to demolition all that stands in their way.

Although it felt slow in several parts, for the most part the story flowed smoothly, and kept me wanting to read more. And since it's his first novel, I'd have to say that overall this is a damn fine debut. That's why I'm giving Empire in Black and Gold 9.0 out of 10 TARDIS's.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Author Interview: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Several days ago I posted a review for Kristine Kathryn Rusch's incredible sci-fi novel Diving Into the Wreck. Not longer after that, I contacted Kristine to see if she would be willing to do an interview for the site. Luckily enough she has, so with that said...

What made you want to become an author?

I always wanted to be a writer, from my earliest memories. The amateur psychologist in me thinks that’s because I was raised by 5 adults who were always reading. One of my earliest memories is asking reading adults to play with me (I couldn’t read then) and they told me to go away because they were busy. But who knows, really? I’ve always loved stories, and I just learned that my mother’s side of the family was filled with writers, newspaper editors, and book publishers. So maybe it was Destiny.

How did you get your start in writing?

I always wrote. I started publishing in high school when I got to write the high school column for the local paper (and got paid!). I wasn’t an English major in college, but I took writing classes so that I would have an excuse to write. I mailed things out from an early age, and got fiction published when I was 21.

What appeals to you the most about writing; what makes it special?

I can sit in a room by myself, make things up, and then later, people I’ve never met talk to me about that story. I think that’s just nifty snifty. (Seriously.)

Who are some authors who have had the most influence on you?

I’m sure there are many I’m not even aware of, but I always cite F. Scott Fitzgerald and Daphne Du Maurier, mostly because I reread The Great Gatsby every year, whether I need to or not, and Rebecca every year as well. In sf, I think my biggest influences were Andre Norton and Ursula K. Le Guin.

You've written in several different genres. Do you have a particular favorite?

Honestly, no. I didn’t even know genres existed until college when my buddy Kevin J. Anderson told me what genres were. I just like books.

Diving Into the Wreck was originally written as a novella. How did you go about expanding it into the full length novel that it is now?

I write almost completely out of my subconscious. I don’t plan things, I don’t outline, I don’t really know what’s happening until it gets revealed on the page. So I started a second novella, called “The Room of Lost Souls,” and suddenly Boss appeared. I realized then that “Diving” and “Room” were parts of a novel, and so I wrote the rest of it. Then I started another story, and Boss showed up again (she won’t leave me alone!), so I realized that there was a lot more than one novel here. The “Spires of Denon” happened without Boss, but in the same universe, so now I have an even bigger group of stories to tell.

Undoubtedly you’ve created an amazing universe within the pages of Diving Into the Wreck, and some amazing characters, particularly Boss. Is there any chance that we might be seeing more of her in the future?

Oh, yes. The next book is called City of Ruins and it will come out in Spring 2011. There may or may not be a novella in Asimov’s before that, called “Becoming One With the Ghosts.” I’m not sure when Sheila has it planned. And of course, there are all the stories I mentioned above, and more that will happen as I finish up City. Readers can find out what all the related stories are either on my website,, or on a Diving-dedicated static website called

What kind of projects are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m finishing up my next Kristine Grayson paranormal called Wickedly Charming. These books are about as far from Diving as you can get. In this novel, Prince Charming falls for the Evil Stepmother—at a book fair.

You’ve written several media tie-in novels in the past, for such series as Star Trek, X-Men, Aliens, and Predator. What are some of the challenges to writing in already established universes?

You have to be true to the characters and the world. You also have to love those worlds, or it’s just not worth anyone’s time. Never do the work cynically. I’m just a big fangirl, so I have a lot of fun when I write tie-ins.

Technology is quickly catching up to the standards of science fiction. Do you think this is a good thing? What kind of an impact do you think new inventions like the iPad will have on the genre?

SF has never really been about tech. It’s about Now disguised as the future. So I don’t think tech changing is a problem.

I think the iPad and other inventions will only improve the genre, and help us find new ways to tell stories. (And new ways to deliver them.)

What’s your take on electronic books? Do you think that they have/will
hurt the publishing business?

Help. They’ll bring in new readers, new ways of writing, new ways of consuming stories. Already, I’m seeing a lot more folks reading—on their phones, listening to podcasts, talking about books. That’s a good thing.

As for the big publishers, New York publishers, they’re in the same position that the TV networks were in during the late 1980s, early 1990s, as everyone started to get cable. The overall numbers of viewers went up, but the numbers per program went down. I think some of the big bestsellers will see numbers go down, but the midlist writers will see their sales go up as the books become available through a wide variety of non-traditional and smaller markets.

When not writing, what are some of your hobbies?

I run. I go to movies, watch too much TV, and read of course. And travel when I get the chance.

What are some books that you’ve recently enjoyed reading?

I do a recommended reading list on my blog every month because I love sharing what I’ve read. It’s here:

Recently, I recommended Connie Willis’s Blackout, Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook, and Robert Crais’s The First Rule. There’s tons more on the lists, but those are memorable highlights.

Do you have a favorite quote?

I don’t have it in front of me, so this probably isn’t exact, but I heard it from Senator Edward Kennedy: “Never let the perfect get in the way of the good.” I tend toward perfectionism, so that really helps.

What’s one important thing that readers should know about you?

I write a lot, so if you like one kind of fiction, I’ve probably written it (under one name or another).

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I have a new book out from Golden Gryphon. It’s called Recovering Apollo 8 and Other Stories. It’s my latest collection of award-winning, award-nominated, and best-of short stories. The book has a lovely Bob Eggleton cover. I’m really pleased with it. It’s a lovely package.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule and stopping by. Hopefully we’ll see you again!

Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Official Release Date Set for Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear.

Well folks, for those of you have been waiting patiently like me for news regarding the release date of The Wise Man's Fear, the second book in Patrick Rothfuss's King Killer's Chronicle, then this is the time to rejoice! Pat's just released the publication date for his second tome: March 1, 2011 (click on his name to go straight to his blog to read the full entry he's posted there). In just under a year we can all do a little happy dance before devouring what Pat's already said is going to be a monster of a book.

And for those of you who haven't been exposed to any of Pat's stuff, might I recommend picking up a copy of the first book in the series, The Name of the Wind.

Here's the synopsis for The Wise Man's Fear:

"There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man." An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe discovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King's road. All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived. Under her tutelage, Kvothe learns much about true magic and the ways of women. In The Wise Man's Fear Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Doctor Who Experience #2: Ryk E. Spoor

In correspondence with the newest episode of the new season of Doctor Who, and the weekly author experience, I give you author Ryk E. Spoor. His newest book, Grand Central Arena hits shelves on Tuesday, and is published by Baen. If you get the chance, pick up a copy!

With that, here's Ryk's experience:

I first encountered Doctor Who not on television, but as a book intro -- with, if I recall correctly, Harlan Ellison talking about how he taunted a crowd at an SF convention with the greatest filmed SF being Doctor Who! ("Who?" they said, and I said "Who!" and we went back and forth ...).

I don't recall which of the Doctor's adventures that particular book was, but the words stuck in my head until I heard that this show was going to be shown on WHMT, our local public television station, and I tuned in.

My first reaction, rather predictably, was "What the HELL is this thing? It looks like it was filmed by two college students with a budget of $2.50! Why is ANYONE watching it?"

And yet...

And yet...

I did watch it. There was something about this tall, curly-haired man with the ludicrously long scarf that held your attention. And as I came to understand the mythology, the history behind this peculiar figure and his blue box with "POLICE" at the top and the shaky cardboard sets, the more I was able to see past the cheap sets and the rockets with smoke that mysteriously rose "up" in space where there was, or should be, no "up", the aliens who were barely more convincing costumes than the Mickey Mouse bobbleheaded costumes you saw at supermarket openings. I started to see SPACE OPERA. Grand scale, requiring your imagination to work with it, yes, requiring you to suspend your disbelief from a cable composed of Dalekenium, yes, but a great sprawling exciting universe that was building itself up from some of the most bizarre concepts ever.

A time-spaceship that looked like a police call box on the outside, but was the size of a skyscraper inside. A main character who was always the same, yet drastically different, when he changed his face (one of the most brilliant ideas in television history). Crazy like a fox, noble, quixotic, grim, childlike, lonely, impulsive -- there were a thousand ways to describe the Doctor, and all of them fit, somehow.

Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker defined the Doctor for me in the early years -- and in many ways it was Pertwee, rather than Baker, that was the essence of a Timelord: wise and old, human yet... not at all, with a nobility -- and a presence -- that set him apart from all others.

Then came the New Doctor Who. With real effects. And I was afraid that they would completely mess it up. For a while it seemed they had; Eccleston's Doctor was dark, gritty, abrupt in a way the others had not been. But then came _Dalek_ and suddenly it was clear what had caused him to be that way -- and after the climactic event of that episode, he began to come back to himself in a brilliant rebirth, exemplified by the line that still, to this day, brings tears of joy to my eyes even by typing it: "Just this once -- EVERYBODY LIVES!"

And Tennant took that and RAN with it, building the legend anew for a reborn audience and old fans alike, the craziness, the majesty, the *humanity* of the immortal alien Timelord -- a humanity allowed to show more clearly than before, and the scale of his adventures far more sharply delineated, culminating in a threat to destroy the entirety of creation: "This, Doctor, is my ultimate triumph! The destruction of Reality itself!"

As a writer and a fan, the Doctor is one of the great figures of science fiction. He is the defender of the universe in a rumpled suit, a warrior who needs no weapons, the lone hero between the universe and destruction. He seems harmless sometimes, eccentric, a clown, a nosy meddling busybody with no idea of what he's doing, or how... until he gives you *that* look, and you realize he's known all along what he was doing, and what you were doing... and if you're a villain, you feel that terrible sinking certainty that he has already precalculated your doom, had already done so before first you met. Matt Smith has already had one such moment, in his first episode, calling back the aliens who had threatened earth: "Is this world protected? Has it been invaded? What happened to THEM?" A cold look as the aliens search the data and keep finding one being, wearing different faces but always the same, coming to the realization of what they face. "So, basically... RUN."

The Doctor inspires me to create heroes that think outside the box, that manipulate events to allow the bad guys to set themselves up, as well as heroes willing to take on things of cosmic significance. In _Boundary_ and its sequel _Threshold_, I have the character A.J. Baker, whose full name is Adric Jamie Baker -- named by his parents after two of the Doctor's companions, and getting in Threshold one very Doctor-like Crowning Moment of Awesome.

The Doctor's companions are also vastly important -- some of them iconic in and of themselves. The savage companion Leela who became one of the residents of Gallifrey, the Timelords' homeworld; Rose Tyler, ordinary shopgirl who became a cross-dimensional heroine; Sarah Jane Smith, reporter that aliens visit and invaders fear; Captain Jack Harkness, con man turned hero; Donna Noble, once a self-centered, completely oblivious woman without a thought outside of the moment, transformed in moments of shock and terror into a woman willing to cross the galaxies for the sake of adventure -- and to keep this "Doctor" from losing himself; Jamie McCrimmon, Highlander warrior whose innocence was a weapon greater than his considerable skill in combat; and many more. How many heroes has he made? The list is long and filled with honor.

And he has enemies of heroic and terrifying scale; The Master, his dark twin, another Timelord with an appetite for conquest and destruction that, eventually, consumed him; the Sontarans, super-warrior clone race, nearly indestructible; the Cybermen, assimilating humans into their cybernetic ranks with "Resistance is Futile" long, long before the Borg ever stole the line; and ever and always the Daleks and their grandly insane creator, Davros. Few creations of science fiction can match these -- and I salute them in my own way in Grand Central Arena, not the least of these nods being that the vessel used by Sethrik in his race against Ariane Austin is named "Dellak" -- a transposition of "Dalek, and a name which is supposed to be one of the six original Minds, AIs which have conquered their own creators and seek to do so to the rest of the universe.

I'm not even sure I COULD figure out all the influence the Doctor has had on me; all I know is, it's immense, and I am grateful to all of those who created, and continue to create, the ongoing story of the Last of the Timelords.