Posts Tagged With: Candlemark & Gleam

It’s Here!

Hi, all! Long time, no blogging. I hope you’ve all been well. How many of you are still around?

Remember last summer when I told you about my story “Chlorophyll Is Thicker Than Water,” and how it had just been accepted for publication in Athena Andreadis’ anthology To Shape the Dark? Well, the book came out on May 1! What a wonderful day for a book birthday!

I’m so excited to be a part of this collection. I hope you all can get a chance to read it. Keep an eye out for a giveaway.

To Shape the Dark - cover

 

Categories: Books/Authors, Writing | Tags: , , , ,

Infinity Key by Chrysoula Tzavelas – A Review

Infinity Key
Chrysoula Tzavelas
272 pages, Candlemark & Gleam (November 2013)
contemporary/urban fantasy

4.5/5

 

Infinity Key cover

“She really didn’t want to be one of the giggling girls in the audience, watching passively as the world changed around them.”

Earlier this year, I read Chrysoula Tzavelas‘ debut novel, Matchbox Girls, enjoying it quite a bit. You can see my thoughts on that book here, if you like.

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There’s a Little Real History in my Alternate History #6

The sailors have harvested as much wood as they can from the corpse of la Santa Maria, and building has begun. It’s an awkward-looking square taking shape on the beach, just above the high-water line. I’m trying to picture the men from three ships fitting into the bones of one, and I wonder. What’s the point of this, other than to mark Colón’s claim on this land, on this people?
~”So The Taino Call It”

Whaddaya know? Back in the fall of 2012, I ran a series of blog posts talking about the real history in my alternate history novella “So The Taino Call It.” Recently there’s been stuff in the news that calls for an update.

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Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas – A Review

Matchbox-Web Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas
324 pages, Candlemark & Gleam (February 2012)
contemporary/urban fantasy

4.5/5

As you can see by the publication date, I’m a little late to the party with Matchbox Girls. But, then again, books don’t really go bad (for the most part), and I reviewed one from the nineteenth century last year, so, you know? I’m not going to worry about it. Just wanted to point out that this book has been out for a little while.

And I’m sorry I didn’t get around to reading it sooner. Continue reading

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Happy Blog Birthday! Part 2!

My blog is two years old today! Happy Birthday to the blog!

Yojimbo pondering

Two years? Seriously?

Yes. Two years!

Isn't that wild?

Isn’t that wild?

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City of Devils by Justin Robinson – A Review

City-of-Devils-Large-605x907

So, it’s January and 2013 is over. (I know. You probably already figured out both of those facts.) I have one more book to review for the WOGF Challenge, but that just arrived in the mail on Tuesday and I haven’t finished it yet.

Instead, I’m going to review the first book I’ve finished for 2014. That would be Justin Robinson’s City of Devils, published last year by Candlemark & Gleam.

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Indigenous People’s Day – Plus Free Books!

So, I’ve had a problem with the celebration of Columbus Day ever since grade school when I first figured out that Columbus never set foot anywhere in North America, let alone the part that became the U.S. My disdain for the holiday only grew when I learned that Leif Ericson was actually the first European to land on the continent. Why don’t we have a Leif Ericson Day instead, I wondered. (Actually, we sort of do–October 9. Did you know this? I didn’t until now.)

 

Statue of Leif Erickson which stands in Milwau...

Statue of Leif Ericson in Milwaukee, WI.  He doesn’t look as Vikingy here as he does in many other statues. Interesting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Where was I? Oh yeah. Columbus Day. Like I said, it was the initial logicfail of the holiday that threw me off the bandwagon, but it was discovering more of what Columbus’s explorations began–colonization and genocide–that really got my goat. Like The Oatmeal asks in his latest cartoon, this guy’s worth celebrating?

 

My only problem with the cartoon is that, while I agree that Bartolomé de las Casas was the better man and deserves recognition for what he tried to accomplish once he repented of his earlier ways, by turning Columbus Day into Bartolomé Day, we’d still just be celebrating another dead white guy.

 

Bartolome de las casas

Bartolome de las casas–better than Columbus, but still… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Another dead white guy who, I have to admit, I used as a source while writing my novella “So The Taino Call It.” De las Casas’ book A Short Destruction of the Indies provides a lot of information about what Columbus and the men who came after him did to the original residents they found on the islands they “discovered.” But it is those original residents I think we should really be remembering today. There’s already a name for that holiday: Indigenous People’s Day. What would their lives be like, if the Europeans had never shown up in the first place? Or showed up in peace and humility? We’ll never know, but it’s interesting to think about.

 

In honor of that holiday, how’d you like to win a digital copy (DRM-free) of the anthology Substitution Cipher, a Candlemark & Gleam book that contains several cool alternate history stories of espionage, one of which is my tale of what might have happened if Columbus’s first voyage didn’t go quite as planned? Substitution Cipher also includes G. Miki Hayden’s tale “In God We Trust,” which explores a different historic path the people of North America might have taken.  There are also tales of Berlin, Venice, World War II, and the Cold War. It’s a neat collection. Comment on this post here and I’ll pick a random winner by next Monday.

 

Happy Indigenous People’s Day!

Millie Ketcheschawno, filmmaker, organizer and activist for Native American rights; she was one of the founders of the first Indigenous People's Day (still an annual event) in the U.S. 1937-2000

Millie Ketcheschawno, filmmaker, organizer and activist for Native American rights; she was one of the founders of the first Indigenous People’s Day (still an annual event) in the U.S. 1937-2000

 

 

Categories: Books/Authors, Holiday Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

An Interview with Justin Robinson PLUS Free Books!

city of devils

Well, it is September 2013. It’s even September 24, 2013, and you know what that means? Only that Justin Robinson’s latest comic noir epic, City of Devils, is now available for you to buy and devour it. It’s already getting some amazing reviews. Justin was kind enough to settle in and answer some heavy-hitting questions I threw his way. I hope you’ll enjoy his answers. And read further to see how you can win a DRM-free digital copy of City of Devils.

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Hi, Justin! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your new book, City of Devils. I hope all’s well on the Left Coast?

It’s been hovering around 100 degrees for a little over two weeks now.  I’m about a day away from sacrificing someone to Huitzilopochtli.

Yikes! I hope it cools down soon (and I’m suddenly happy I live on the opposite coast from you).

Since I haven’t read City of Devils yet (I’m waiting for the amazing paperback to arrive), I did a little research on the book and you (totally not stalking) to prepare for this interview. I was tickled to discover that besides loving old monster movies, you’re also a big Dashiell Hammett fan. So am I! What are some of your favorite stories of his? What of his writing would you say has influenced you the most?

The Thin Man is the perfect novel, full stop.  I love everything of his I’ve read, but that one stands head and shoulders above pretty much everything.  I didn’t consciously name Nick Moss, the protagonist of City of Devils, after Nick Charles, but I can’t speak for my subconscious.

Nick & Nora Charles I should have asked about the dog, too.

Oh sure. The one Hammett novel I haven’t read yet.
(Nick & Nora Charles from The Thin Man.
I should have asked about the dog, too.)

In City of Devils, will there be monsters other than those from the Universal canon? Will we get to see a giant Venusian cucumber, for example? Or Slime People? Personally, I’m hoping for the giant octopus from It Came From Beneath the Sea, but I’m guessing that would be a little destructive for your purposes, wouldn’t it?

Killer vegetables have a proud history on the silver screen, from The Thing from Another World all the way up to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  And yeah, there are a bunch of monsters not specifically from Universal.  I started there, but quickly expanded, only chopping a couple ideas out because they were blatantly anachronistic.

It’s good that you’re looking forward to giant monsters.

I always look forward to giant monsters!

The aforementioned Venusian cucumber from It Conquered the World

The aforementioned Venusian cucumber from It Conquered the World

One of the best descriptions of City of Devils I found was a review on Goodreads suggesting that the novel was “Philip Marlowe meets HP Lovecraft channeling Abbot and Costello.” Would you agree? How would you describe your book?

That’s actually really good.  I might sub out Lovecraft for someone like Tod Browning, but Lovecraft has better name recognition.  And the gill-men have some Innsmouthian influences.

Oh, cool. Can’t wait to meet them!

In your last book, Mr Blank, you have another character who deals a lot with monsters. Is there any kind of connection? How did that book influence this book?

They’re both comic noir novels written in the first person, but that’s pretty much the only similarity.  With Blank, I had a mandate for my hero: that he would never win a fight.  With Nick, he’s a veteran of both WWII and the following Night War.  He’s also a bit of a nervous wreck, so he’s at once better able to take care of himself, but less confident in that ability.  Plus, you know, there’s like monsters everywhere.

In terms of influence, I think Blank helped give me a road map for the kind of book I wanted to write.  I could look where I went right and where I went wrong, and kind of correct for that.  I was also more confident in my worldbuilding, so I really tried to create a different version of Los Angeles, that was both internally consistent, and consistently bizarre.

Mr Blank and City of Devils are definitely the closest of my books to one another.

On another topic of mutual fandoms—at least according to the little bird I talked to—I hear you’re also a Vincent Price fan. Is there any chance that a vengeful sculptor/Shakespearean actor/concert organist might show up in City of Devils’ sequel?

Heh heh.  You’re not going to have to wait very long at all for crazy musicians…

Excellent!

Excellent!

Thanks again, Justin, for sharing your thoughts with me and my readers. Good luck with CIty of Devils!

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As for that contest, if you’re interested in winning a DRM-free digital copy of City of Devils, just comment below. It’s that simple. I’ll pick a random comment by next Tuesday (Oct. 1) as the winner. Comment away! You’re not going to want to miss this.

Categories: Blog Tour, Books/Authors, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The State of Things

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted something that doesn’t have a video or a list of links attached to it. It’s been a busy summer, like I’ve said. Care for an update?

Over the last few months, I wrote and submitted two new short stories to a couple of themed anthologies. Still waiting to hear. There’s also been a lot of reading. I’ll be done with the next WOGF Challenge book soon and will have a review. I went old school this time; so far, it’s another good one.

The Travelers continues to limp toward its conclusion. I’ve mainly been typing up (dictating, really–my wrists have been sore lately) pages I’d already hand-written. That’s been interesting: 1) I wrote some of these scenes months ago (maybe longer), so I’m revisiting them with various levels of “cringe” and “oh, that’s not too bad”; and 2) Windows speech recognition doesn’t always hear quite what I said–latest fave mistake: “put a sock fuzz” for “bodhisattvas.”

Alpha Reader and I had a really good brainstorming session last month figuring out where The Travelers should end up. Lots of good questions and conversation. Let’s see if that translates into a good story!

In the realm of already-published business, Winter Well received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! There were good things said about my story “To The Edges,” which made my day, and continues to, even though the review came out last week.

I also ran into the dark side of attempting to get published yesterday, when I discovered that the latest issue of a magazine I’d submitted another story to was just terrible. (TW for rape; it’s on the right) It felt like a backlash against the really cool hashtag #DiversityinSFF that was happening on Twitter last week. Obviously, this place is not the home for my badass space detective. I immediately submitted somewhere else that feels a lot more welcoming to anyone who, you know, doesn’t find assault titillating. Here’s hoping they think my story’s a good fit, too.

In the what’s-happening-next category, I’m going to be posting an interview with Justin Robinson, author of the soon-to-be-published City of Devils. That’s going to happen on the day his book’s coming out, Sept. 24. I hope you’ll tune in for that. Should be fun. There might even be a giveaway!

That’s it for now, I think. How’ve you all been?

Man sits on bench reading

I love this photo: the composition, the colors, someone reading! Man sits on bench reading (Photo credit: Ian Livesey)

Categories: Works in Progress, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Daughter Star – Guest Post

daughter star

Today I have the pleasure of turning over the mic to Susan Jane Bigelow so she can share her thoughts about her new book, THE DAUGHTER STAR. Published by Candlemark & Gleam, it’s out today!

I first discovered Bigelow and her writing when I read BROKEN (Extrahumans #1), her debut novel from 2011. It’s a wonderful tale about superheroes. THE DAUGHTER STAR is the first book in Bigelow’s Grayline Sisters series. I was curious about Susan’s process in writing the book, and here she is to tell us all about it.


Sometimes, stories really don’t end up where you thought they would, and sometimes stories change so utterly in tone that they don’t seem like the same thing anymore. THE DAUGHTER STAR was like that.

This book started out in a rather unusual way; I wrote it as a “pace book” when I was working on THE SPARK (Extrahumans #3). What that means is that I’d work on it when THE SPARK had worn me out, or I was interested in doing something else. I’d never written two books at the same time before, and it seemed like a fun challenge. So what I came up with originally was a much lighter book, because that was what I needed to counterbalance the melancholy, tense and serious nature of Dee’s story in THE SPARK. The first draft started out being a fun, silly kind of space adventure, and I didn’t take it entirely seriously. I remember writing at the time that I was writing a Jenny Starpepper Mystery (or a kind of pulp adventure novel. It makes sense if you’ve seen the movie Paul. Why haven’t you seen this movie? Go see this movie! It’s like a love letter to SFF fandom, and it has Sigourney Weaver).

However, as I explored the world and the characters more deeply, I felt that this lighter approach wasn’t working. There were all these massive issues of an alien species basically taking advantage of humanity, two sisters who run away to war together, and Marta Grayline’s whole process of growing up, and I felt like I was dancing around them instead of tackling them head on.

I’m not saying lighter books can’t deal with these sorts of issues, they totally can and do! I am probably not the author to write books like that, though, and as I went through rewrites it seemed like the book had a split personality. Parts of it were silly or nonsensical, while other parts were haunting or sad, and it just didn’t work together in a way that made sense to me. Also, pieces of the world felt one-dimensional, and I really wanted this universe to be as real-seeming as possible. I decided to remake the book.

What I eventually came up with after numerous rewrites and revisions is a book that is a lot darker than the original drafts. The stakes feel higher, Marta’s development is clearer, and Beth’s decisions feel a lot more frightening. I also changed what I wanted to do with this series; instead of a serial of adventure stories featuring Marta, I decided to explore the defining story of each of the three Grayline sisters in three separate books. This means that the next book will be about Violet, and the third will center on Beth. This allowed me to wrap up Marta’s story in a way that felt satisfying, instead of leaving her unfinished. I finished the first draft of Violet’s book, THE SEEKER STAR, between when I turned DAUGHTER STAR in to my editor and got her revisions back. That experience really helped me sharpen DAUGHTER STAR’s focus a lot more, and pieces of the world made a lot more sense to me as well. The final book is darker and more serious, but it’s also a way better book. It didn’t feel to me like something I’d written until the final version, if that makes any sense at all.

I… suspect that this piece makes it sound like my creative process is nothing but pure chaos. This is often true—at least with the rough drafts. I will often have no idea how a book will end when I begin writing it. The real work, and the place where I become a lot more methodical, is in the reimagining and reworking. THE DAUGHTER STAR changed more than many books over time, but every book I write goes through that dramatic refining process.

I hope people will check out THE DAUGHTER STAR, which releases today. Thank you all for reading, and for M. Fenn for having me!

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