Archive for December, 2011
Tad Williams’ new short story collection, A Stark And Wormy Knight, is available now, worldwide, as an ebook, $4.99 (or equivalent) for one month
The following story is posted by permission
THE SUGARPLUM FAVOR
(A Christmas Story)
Danny Mendoza counted his change three times in while the teacher talked about what they were all supposed to bring for the class winter holiday party tomorrow. It was really a Christmas party, at least in Danny’s class, because that’s what all the kids’ families’ celebrated. Danny had his party contribution covered. He had volunteered to bring napkins and paper plates and cups because his family had some left over from his little brother’s birthday party with characters from Gabba Gabba Hey on them. He’d get teased about that, he knew, but he didn’t want to ask his mother to make something because she was so busy with his little brothers and the baby, and now that Danny’s stepfather Luis had lost his job they had a Money Situation. Danny could live with a little teasing.
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Guest Post by Howard Andrew Jones
Before Stormbringer keened in Elric’s hand, before the Gray Mouser prowled Lankhmar’s foggy streets—before even Conan trod jeweled thrones under his sandaled feet, Khlit the Cossack rode the steppe. He isn’t the earliest serial adventure character, but his adventures are among the earliest that can still be read for sheer pleasure.
He was created in 1917 by Harold Lamb, in a time when “costume pieces” provided the same kinds of thrills that fantasy and science fiction adventure stories deliver today, and he appeared in the pulp magazines.
The best remembered of these magazines today are probably those devoted to the adventures of single characters—like Doc Savage or The Shadow—or the early magazines of the fantastic wherein those we now recognize as giants were published—Weird Tales, and, later, Unknown, Planet Stories, and other science fiction magazines.
Shortly after World War I, though, there was very little to be found in the realm of the fantastic. For all their fame, the later science fiction magazines and Weird Tales were hardly representative of the content found in most pulps. The most popular of magazines tended to be devoted to westerns and detective tales. Aside from the occasional Verne reprint and a few innovators—like the fellow who’d written of a civil war soldier transported to Mars—adventure was found in more recognizable places.
And then came Lamb. View full article »
SFFWRTCHT is all about helping writer learn the business. One thing all successful authors must deal with is book reviews and that often means book bloggers. So here’s a perspective from the other side of that to help you understand book blogging, where the bloggers come from and perhaps how to deal with them when and if the time comes.
SFFWRTCHT: How’d you develop your love of reading?
My parents have never liked television. Our TV watching time was strictly regulated to two hours a week and absolutely NO TV in the summer. For fun my mom would take me to the library with this huge empty milk crate and I’d fill it with books. We’d read them together when I was falling asleep at night. I loved that tradition. That’s probably where my love of reading really starts. Then, when I was four I met my childhood best friend who also loved to read, which helped. When I moved from Delaware to Utah, I stopped reading. The move was hard on me and I think I was a bit depressed and lost my interest in books. The year after I moved I had a teacher who loved reading more than anyone I have ever met before, or since that time. I can’t remember exactly how she did it, but somehow she got my entire class reading, and loving it. She reignited the love of literature in me, and I’ve never stopped since.
SFFWRTCHT: Please tell us some of your favorite all time authors and books?
When I was a really little kid my all time favorite book was The Polar Express. My mom even got me a copy of it for Christmas one year and wrote a nice little thing inside and asked me to pass it on to my own daughter when she’s old enough to appreciate it. When I was a little older, my favorite book was James and the Giant Peach and the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In high school I randomly foundThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. That is still one of my all time favorite books, probably because it’s what really got me started on fantasy. It was my first experience with a new world and I loved it. A year or two later, my brothers introduced me to George R. R. Martin, and I’ve never looked back.
Right now my favorite authors are: K.J. Parker, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin, C.S. Friedman and Terry Pratchett (though I haven’t read a ton by him yet).
SFFWRTCHT: When and how did you decide to become a book blogger?
I started my blog in May of 2010. I was in my last semester of college before I was going to graduate and it was a lazy semester for me. It was my first semester I didn’t have to really focus on textbooks so I went back to reading fantasy. It quickly became apparent to me that I love talking about the books I read, and no one in my life cares because no one in my life reads. I started my blog so I could have somewhere I could talk and be excited about what I read and pretend there was someone out there who enjoyed reading, and cared what I thought. I never expected Bookworm Blues to turn into anything serious that people actually read and enjoyed. Through my blog I’ve met a great community of people who love to read and talk about what they read. It’s more than I ever expected and exactly what I wanted.
SFFWRTCHT: Did you study literary theory or anything else to qualify yourself or learn how to critique literature?
Yes. I’ve taken more creative writing and literary theory classes than I care to admit. I have also been a writer my whole life, and I’ve had some short bits published, so I try to put everything I’ve learned in my classes into practice with my own writing. I think not only having studied literary theory, but also having put what I learned and what I like/don’t like into practice in my own writing has helped my reviewing quite a bit.
SFFWRTCHT: What’s the hardest part of being a book blogger?
I hate writing negative reviews. I always feel horrible when I do it. I know how hard it is to write a book and I know how vulnerable, for lack of a better word, authors can feel when their work gets published and read by strangers. I hate saying anything mean about someone’s creative effort. I always feel terrible doing it.
SFFWRTCHT: How did your blog get so popular? You get books sent from major publishers, etc. How long did it take to rise to that level?
I think a lot of the reason anyone even knows my blog exists is because I’m pretty active on Twitter and always open to a discussion with pretty much anyone. When I first started out, I commented on other review blogs all the time. That really helped me gain followers. Especially when several of the blogs I commented on frequently pointed some of their readers in my direction. I don’t consider myself popular, but I have a blast doing what I do so I don’t really mind.
I started getting books from Tor about three to four months after I started reviewing. I was blogging about a year when I started getting books from Pyr. It wasn’t until about three months ago I’ve actually had publishers contacting me, rather than me contacting them.
SFFWRTCHT: Which genres do you review? View full article »
(Minor Spoilers for Book One)
The “Wicked Lovely” series by Melissa Marr is YA urban fantasy that follows Aislinn (human) as she is forced to confront Keenan the Summer King (fairy), thereby inviting the multitude of problems that come with interacting with fae. Namely, these problems include the risk of death-by-fairy, overpowering sensual temptations, and the loss of identity as the world-as-we-know-it is eclipsed and threatened by the world of fae.
Aislinn’s path of self-discovery is a finger-biting roller coaster of death, love, and the power of individual will against all temptations. Aislinn will not fall for the Summer King just because he is beautiful, nor Seth because he is the stormy reflection of her soul. Being forced to break her childhood rules means that she will take her choices where she can get them. In this way, “Wicked Lovely” and its sequels present to us an exploration of willpower and free will, a theme that is bravely and exquisitely developed from page one. For example, Aislinn is told by her well-meaning grandmother that she should never speak to fairies, so that they will not discover that she can see them, as fairies tend to kill humans with the power of Sight. This apparent choice is immediately taken away from Aislinn when Keenan and other fairies not only approach her but become intent on making her the Summer Queen. Yet, although she cannot chose whether or not to interact with fairies, she can chose whether or not to be Summer Queen – and after that, a million other choices found between rocks and hard places, with the stakes rising as the novels progress.
There is no doubt that Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely” is for the more mature YA reader. Saying that these books deal with the “theme” of sexual temptation would be a misleading understatement. While such scenes are not as explicit as they often are in adult fantasy novels, readers should expect sexually active primary characters, scenes of seduction, and temptations of adultery. These scenes are inextricably tied into the plot and themes of the books, but I feel the content warning is necessary as this subject can be a sticking point for many readers. For concerned readers, let me assure you that as much text is devoted to the concept of self-enforced abstinence as there is devoted to seduction. It is only fair to also mention that there is plenty of violence and death, but like the sex scenes, none of it is outrageously explicit. When you open the pages of Wicked Lovely, you are embarking on a journey of older teens into an adulthood of mortal and not-so-mortal danger and the complex relationships that come with the territory.
Moral ambiguity also marks this series for the more mature YA reader. The fae world of Wicked Lovely does not present to us a moral dichotomy where the bad guys are evil and the good guys are holy. Instead, Aislinn navigates a world of balance. On the micro scale she must balance her needs against those of her friends and lovers. On the macro scale, the differing fairy courts must balance each other out or risk throwing both worlds into chaos. Winter, Summer, Dark/Chaos, and Order do not fall clearly into lines of good and bad, and neither do the characters that inhabit them, a fact that allows Melissa Marr to weave her characters into a complex tapestry of motivation, need, and desire.
If you are looking for a tumultuous confrontation of wills in a magic world of the unseen, with a healthy backbone of mired romance, engaging characters, and fast-paced action, “Wicked Lovely” is a good place to land. The first book will pull you in just as Aislinn is pulled in to the world of fae, and the sequels will not disappoint.
Read more about Wicked Lovely and Melissa Marr’s other books at her website, melissa-marr.com . Look for excerpts of her recently released adult paranormal fantasy, “Graveminder”.
Michelle writes short fiction of all speculative fiction genres in between chasing her toddler from tree to tree. The shorter the work, the better, because 200 words looks very long on her cellphone and that keypad is very, very small. You can find out more about her rabid love of Star Trek, podcasting, and raising future geeklings at her blog, wakingdreamsblog.blogspot.com
Congrats to all the winners!!!!!!
Winners were determined as follows:
You chose a number between 1 and 50. I then used this formula to convert to 12 sided die (since we had 11 entrants):
43/50 = x/12
I then rolled in order of the listing on the prize post. Items for which I rolled 12 were skipped and will be given away separately because everyone won something before I got back to them.
So here’s the list:
Michele Chiappetta (chippermuse) — Brenda Cooper Mayan December signed tpb
Sabrina Vourvoulias (followthelede) – Peter Orullion The Unremembered signed
Paul Weimer (PrinceJvstin) — Mike Resnick Return Of Santiago mmpb signed
Kaolin Fire (kaolinfire) — Jay Lake Endurance signed
John Zeleznik (John_Zeleznik) — Paul Kemp Erevis Cale omnibus signed tpb
Lydia Ondrusek (littlefluffycat) – Electric Velocipede Set (EV issues 12, 13, 14, 15/16,17/18, 19, 20, and 21/22)
Jaleta Clegg (Jaleta_Clegg) –Howard Andrew Jones Desert of Souls hb signed
Sarah Hendrix (shadowflame1974) — Maurice Broaddus King’s Justice mmpb signed
Ben Liska (BennLiska) — Maurice Broaddus King’s Justice mmpb signed
Deirdre Murphy (Wyld_Dandelyon) — Fantasy tpb Book Set: The Way Of Shadows by Brent Weeks, The Dame by RA Salvatore and The Firebird’s Vengeance by Sarah Zettel
Ben Love (BJosephLove) – The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks mmpb set
Items saved for later:
SF tpb Book Set: The Edge of Reason by Melinda Snodgrass, Duplicate Effort (Retrieval Artist) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Planesrunner by Ian McDonald (hb)
Black Gate issue 14
Adventure Fantasy Pack: Rage Of The Behemoth anthology & Black Gate issue 14
Thanks all for your support and participation! Email me your address [bryan at bryanthomasschmidt dot net] and what you want inscriptions to say (on signed items) and I or the authors will mail them to you.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.
Fiction, especially in the speculative fiction (fantasy, horror, science fiction) genres, have one person (mostly) who the story revolves around. In most cases, this person is the hero or protagonist. In most cases the hero is familiar at least to the readers or the world around them, but in a lot of Urban Fantasy (UF) books that isn’t always the case.
Monsters are common place in the worlds of UF. Vampires roam the streets openly and sometimes work at the 24 hour coffee shop. Werewolves run for Congress and win. Magicians and witches make their living just like everyone else with a little help from their magic. These people are normal, well, as normal as can be in those worlds.
But what happens when something happens beyond what is normal? Who steps up when a Vamp or a were’ goes rogue or a REAL monster arises? Who fights these battles that the normal monsters of these worlds cant?
Someone who doesn’t fit neatly into the world of humans or monsters.
UF has many examples of these heroes. Mercedes Thompson, a character in the books by Patricia Briggs, walks between the human world as a mechanic and the magical world as a shape-shifter. Learning to be a shaman has been tough for Jo Walker, especially when monsters and old gods creep out of the wood work in the books by C. E. Murphy. Stacia Kane’s books revolve around a world where magic and ghosts are more than just light tricks and Chess Putman has to banish them.
But living like that takes it’s toll. It’s tough. There isn’t a support system on the outside. You always have to watch your back. Friends can quickly become enemies because of a little misunderstanding. These heroes quickly develop a thick skin and become secretive with certain aspects. It’s hard for them to trust or even to love.
But when the proverbial shit hits the fan, they are the ones to jump in and save the day.
I think that’s part of the draw to these books. It is the modern day equivalent of the lone gunshooter hero in Westerns.