Bookish Giveaway & Interview: James W. George, Author of My Father’s Kingdom

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author James W. George. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, My Father’s Kingdom, which explores the relations between the Wampanoag tribe and the Puritan colonists of the 1670s.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Wow, what a fun question. Is time travel a possibility? I might have to go back to 1970 and pilot a B-25 while sitting next to Art Garfunkel in “Catch-22.” If I have to stick around 2017, I guess “The Tudors” is long gone so I can’t gallivant around with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Natalie Dormer and Henry Cavill in my finest sixteenth-century frippery.
I guess I’ll keep it simple and appear on the next “Avengers” movie. Maybe I can smack some of the smugness out of Tony Stark, and my daughter would be extremely jealous.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

My first answer is very predictable. When writing and marketing My Father’s Kingdom, I’ve held fast and true to a fundamental precept: King Philip’s War in 1675 New England was one of the most fascinating and catastrophic events in American history, and most of us have never even heard of it.

So certainly, I would welcome the opportunity to see seventeenth century New England, especially the first interactions between some of the Native people and the European settlers.

I would love to visit well-studied periods like WWII, the American Revolution, the Viking conquests of England, and Tudor England, but I feel like historical fiction and cinema have done such a remarkable job of recreating these eras, I almost wonder if anything would genuinely be surprising.

If you’re going to hand me a fully-functioning time machine, I think I’d like to see some really obscure and mysterious periods, such as the empires of South America.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Brom Bones from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a remarkable piece of American literature. I love it so much my daughter is named Katrina. The lyrical prose by Washington Irving is simply unbelievable.

Brom Bones is the villain, but what did he actually do? He deceived the interloping schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, with a brilliant ruse. No one was actually hurt, maimed, or killed. I guess in the end he already has his happy ending, but I would hope he and Katrina lived a wonderful married life together.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Wow. Let’s go with some intellectual giants of American history. Maybe Increase Mather, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Let’s throw in some modern-day wit. Perhaps Mark Steyn can regale us with the conservative viewpoint, and Jon Stewart can hold down the left wing.

What to read? Probably 1984 and Catch-22, but we’re going to have to do an awful lot of explaining to all those old people. And of course, my book, so Increase Mather can tell me how unfairly I portrayed him.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I used to load trucks for UPS while in high school. It was physically exhausting and quite difficult. You don’t load one truck at once, you loaded multiple trucks.

In addition to the physical toil, it was all like one big game of Tetris; you have to make sure you’re building the wall of boxes in the most logical, sturdy fashion possible. I guess there’s a lesson there for writers; sometimes you think all the disparate elements are seamlessly coming together in a nice, impressive structure, but when they don’t, you have to tear it down and start over.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

As a writer of historical fiction, I rely on countless works of nonfiction that help make 1670s New England come to life. I think one book in particular, which is probably my favorite work of nonfiction, is Don’t Know Much about the Bible by Kenneth Davis. He approaches all the complex, thorny questions of the Bible with an open mind, and gears the book toward those who know little or nothing about the Bible. It helped me imagine how incomprehensible the Puritans and Bible must have been to Native Americans in the seventeenth century.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live my relatively mundane life here in southeastern Virginia. I work my day job (which I love) and spend time with my wife and two kids. I’m a big music fan and it’s been a great pleasure watching my sixteen-year-old guitarist son completely eclipse me musically.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Yikes. No distinct memory is coming to mind. It might have been Clifford the Big Red Dog. I also remember loving the “Encyclopedia Brown” series as a kid. We have a house full of books and have kept quite a few children’s books. My favorite, hands-down, is Yertle the Turtle. That is Dr. Seuss at his finest!

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

I’ve completely immersed myself in the New England of the 1670s this year, but it’s reminded me how ignorant I am of so much history regarding the European exploration of the United States before the Mayflower. I live down the road from Jamestown, so I’m pretty familiar with that, but the tales of Spanish conquistadors like Coronado and DeSoto exploring the southern U.S. in the 1500s are unbelievable. How many Americans know the tale of the French Huguenot settlement in Florida?

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Book Two should be out this fall, and I’m delighted with how it’s shaping up. I think Book One is quite atmospheric. It develops the characters and sets the tone for King Philip’s War, whereas Book Two is the actual war and is a little more action-packed. Benjamin Church, one of colonial America’s most famous soldiers, will play a very prominent role.

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author James W. George:

James W. George is a debut author currently residing in Virginia.  He is a graduate of Boston University, a military veteran, and a lover of historical fiction.

Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of My Father’s Kingdom:

In 1620, more than 100 devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plymouth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Angus Freathy:

Angus Freathy was born and educated in London – that’s the one in England, for you Ohio folks!

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he went to Switzerland to join Nestlé for a 2-year wandering assignment, which lasted 37 years and involved travel and work on every continent (except the cold ones at the top and bottom).

Periods of residence in the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland have resulted in a network of friends and acquaintances with an amazing range of world insight and a wide repertoire of mostly excellent jokes.

Since retirement, Angus and his (still working) wife, Debra have lived in Oregon, Maryland and are now in Dublin, Ohio, ‘the only place we have actually chosen to live since we have been married!’.

Following a crushing rejection by the BBC at the age of 19, Angus is re-activating a long-held ambition and launching a new career in voice-over, with the sole intention of having some fun and being in touch with some very talented people.

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $25 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 6th, 2017.

My Father’s Kingdom Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Naamah’s Curse Part III

The read along continues with Naamah’s Curse, Book 2 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 33-47, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) What stood out to you for Moirin’s baptising ceremony? Have you ever been through such a religious ceremony and did it go as you expected?

At first, I thought this ceremony would go well and then Rostov or the Duke would decide to keep her captive anyway, like a trophy or something. In fact, I worried that Moirin would be married off directly afterwards just to keep her new chaste self safe from herself. I had totally forgotten how things went down. I agree with Moirin on not swearing that final vow and I don’t really know if there was anything she could have done at that moment to have changed Rostov’s mind about stoning her. Addressing the Duke concerning her royal lineage didn’t help. However, her anger also didn’t help. Still, I would have wept to have seen her beg.

I’ve never been through such a religious ceremony but I’m glad that I have the freedom to explore such things as I like.

2) Now Moirin and Alexsie (spelling?) are free. Alexsie has much to learn not just about Moirin but also about the larger world. What moment do you think challenged his ingrained believes the most? What do you think he will do ultimately with his life?

Alexsie and his idea that charms and enchantments lurk around every corner and are in everything that Moirin does! It gave me a laugh.

I believe that moment when Naamah bestows her blessing upon Alexsie and he knows it really challenged his ingrained beliefs, but in a good way. He now knows that the world, both mortal and godly, is so much bigger.

I’m not sure what Alexsie will go on to do with his life. I feel he’s a scholarly sort, so perhaps he will found a school of learning and religious tolerance. Hopefully, he will get some real traveling in before then so he can experience many new things before settling down.

3) There comes a moment when Moirin realizes that she did come to love Alexsie, in a way, and that’s the same moment she knows she will not see him again. Naamah’s curse indeed! Have you had such a moment yourself? Do you think this curse also applies now to Moirin’s love of the departed Jehane?

That was a little bitter sweet, wasn’t it? She’s done her best to be honest with Alexsie and hopefully he came to understand that there are many types of love in their short time together. No, I haven’t had such a moment yet though I expect if Naamah’s Curse ever does fall upon me, I will automatically think of Moirin.

As to the second question, perhaps. Moirin knows she loves Jehane but perhaps in that moment when she learned of her childbirth death, she realized the full weight of the love she bore for Jehane and also how she will no longer be able to revel in it with Jehane.

4) Falcons and spiders and rats, oh my! What stood out the most for you in Moirin meeting up again with Erdina, Bao’s wife? And what do you expect Moirin will find as she heads towards the Falconer with his Spider Queen?

It was such a gamble to approach Erdina in the first place, but then to hang around waiting to meet with her at an assigned time and place was really pushing her luck! Moirin is lucky that Erdina has more honor than her father. It was also extra lucky that Erdina gave Moirin back her personal belongings, though I half expected Moirin to turn around and give Erdina a small token, perhaps a bit of cloth scented with a few drops of Jehane’s perfume.

Falcons are cool, even spiders as long as they aren’t biting me. Same for rats, though the fleas they can carry could be a problem. Moirin is a forest-raised lass, so I expect she won’t have any trouble dealing with the beasties themselves, but this Spider Queen and her assassins could be a problem.

Other Tidbits:

While I like that Alexsie is still holding to such things like not stealing the horse from the church, he also takes a moment to weigh Moirin’s responses, like how they stole her first so she can right well borrow this horse now.

Moirin’s deep satisfaction at having the silver chains and manacles melted down was shared by me. Good riddance to them! While I think they were expecting a bit much to not be tracked by those chains, they definitely needed the money. Perhaps they should have fled first, and bedded later?

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S CURSE in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Leviathan Wakes Part II

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 15-28, so be prepared for spoilers below!

The plot thickens! Do you think the sickness has anything to do with what we saw in the prologue? And who ordered it to be incubated? What’s their end goal?

Yes, I believe the sickness has something to do with whatever Julie saw int he prologue. It’s either something crazy man-made bacteria or virus or possibly something alien. I expect that someone wants to monitor it while it does what it does and that’s why we have all the observation equipment on the station. I forget who ordered this devious incubation.

What’s your current take on the POV characters? Think they’ll continue to work together? Is Miller crossing a line in this section?

While Holden seems a bit strained by Miller’s casual violence, I think these two can continue to work together. After all, Holden has been working months with Amos, who has that simmering violence just beneath the surface at all times.

I do recall some of the big things that happen next, so it’s hard for me to say that Miller has crossed a line, though I really do like that he is pondering that same question himself. Since he’s even bothering to ask that question, I still put him on the Good Guys List. Besides, his casual yet specific violence has kept Holden and his crew alive so far.

James S.A. Corey’s set up an entire futuristic solar system. What’s your favorite part about it so far?

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the authors talk about this futureistc solar system a few times at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. Ty Franck originally created this future solar system for a computer game, but that deal fell through. So he teamed up with his friend Daniel Abraham to create this series and I’m very glad he did. I really appreciate these guys doing a very good job of keeping real physics and the difficulties of space travel and colonization in mind and how that affects humanity over time.

So Miller found Julie. Do you think this effectively ends her involvement, or is there more to learn about her?

Well, Julie’s physical self has been out of the game for some time but now we still have her ‘ghost’, so to speak, that has been in Miller’s head for several chapters now. I expect that Miller will continue to look to Julie Ghost for guidance and possibly reassurance.

Other Tidbits:

Naomi and karaoke!

There were several references to aching balls in this section, whether from high G or from a dedicated whorehouse.

I have forgotten what’s on that little black info box the Martian Navy guy had. But now I’m really curious. After all, we still have half the book.

While I didn’t particularly care for Don Quixote, I do love the name Rocinante.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Mary Turzillo, Author of Mars Girls

Join me in welcoming Mary Turzillo to the blog! Apex Magazine has put together this lovely blog tour to celebrate Mary’s newest book, Mars Girls. Learn about science fiction poetry and Mary’s involvement in fencing! Make sure you check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post to see how to win an ebook copy of this science fiction novel.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I’m going to be very unoriginal here. I wish Darth could change back into Anakin, through time travel, I suppose, to be reunited and reconciled with Padme, then rejoice in the birth of Luke and Leia. But the Star Wars universe so far has not included time-reversal, so I guess that’s out. Oh well.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

All the old pulps. All the Ace Doubles. Oh, wait! It ALREADY exists: The Judith Merril Collection, in Toronto! It’s a great institution, run by fabulous librarians. If you are ever in Toronto, don’t miss it. And there’s a great poutine restaurant nearby.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Oh, that’s an easy one. Star Wars. It was so fresh when it first came to the screen, so epic. And I’d like to see it without knowing what happened to all the actors later on, because some of that is so sad. I really felt there were more imaginative leaps in the first Star Wars movies than in any previous science fiction movie. The vehicles, the aliens, the bots — any single one of them you could find models for in previous movies, or at least some original thinking. But Star Wars just piled on the neat stuff, scene after scene. And the other thing was a beautiful, very young woman acting as a warrior and a hero. Then more of the same as the series developed.

I also would like to see Scanners and the original The Thing and maybe the original (?) Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A little dark, I know. I do love Donald Sutherland’s work.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I hated and loved teaching at Trumbull campus of Kent State. A few of my students were difficult; one class of nursing students tried unrelentingly to drive me from the classroom. They left a preserved pig’s ear on my lectern. They hazed the best student in the class. They shoved a cake in my face. I had a student who wrote themes that were thinly disguised death threats — meaning, my death.

But I was heavily involved with art and theatre students, and they were so inventive and so eager to learn and create, that I am still friends with many of them years later. Some of them have become published authors. Some are college profs, following in my footsteps. I created costumes for Shakespeare shows that they were in. I coached them on lines. I was even in shows with them, playing a witch in Macbeth and Richard III’s mother.

One of my favorite memories: In my office one afternoon, suddenly a human body with an elephant head appeared in the open door. It was one of my Shakespeare I students, just finished with his prosthetics project from his Theatrical makeup class. A few minutes later, the victim of a horrible accident appeared. Blood all over, broken nose, black eye, missing teeth. Another of my student’s prosthetic makeup projects. Later, a green alien, with huge bulging eyes and tentacles sprouting from his bald head. Same deal. A Cthulhu head. An ancient old lady. They each challenged me to identify them, and I could only match my students’ names to about half of them. That was before I had an iPhone, or I’d share pictures. If only!

Those were the kids I loved, the best students in the whole world. The best people.

I loved the non-theatre students, too. They were original, creative, full of spirit and hope. I still know many of them as friends.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

My husband, Geoff Landis, for obvious reasons. But then I’d choose an additional crewmate with an engineering background, like Arlan Andrews, Vernor Vinge, or Arthur C. Clarke. Of Course I’d want a physician, and so I’d choose F. Paul Wilson and Janet Asimov, with Robin Cook for second and third opinions, in case I had a space-related injury. Octavia Butler, because she could think her way out of anything. I wish she was still with us! Joan Slonczewski in case we needed a little genetic engineering done.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Science Fiction & Fantasy poetry, what works would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Wow, if only! It would need to contain be an enormous number of poems, so let me just sketch out my brainstorming for this fantasy course.

First Unit: Roots: I’d want poems from Shakespeare (selected passages from The Tempest) and maybe some passages from Dante and Milton, for perspective. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, of course. A smattering of Poe. These would be early in the course, as teasers, because they would be beautiful and draw students in.

Second Unit: Theory: I’d direct students to follow sfpoetry.com. Essay readings would be assigned, particularly Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook. I think there exists an essay called “Why Speculative Poetry Matters,” but I can’t find it right now.

Third Unit: An Explosion of New Masters Mid Twentieth Century: The next part of the course would be devoted to landmark spec poetry: I’d assign several anthologies, especially Edward Lucie-Smith’s Holding Your Eight Hands: an Anthology of Science Fiction Verse (1969) and Robert Frazier’s Burning with a Vision: Poetry of Science and the Fantastic (1984).

Fourth Unit: Twentieth Century Master: Contemporary Masters: Here I’d pile on Ray Bradbury’s When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, with special attention to “If We Had Only Taller Been.” Then there would be slim volumes by Roger Zelazny, parts of Creatures of Light and Darkness, plus To Spin is Miracle Cat and “When Pussywillows Last in the Catyard Bloomed.” Next, Ursula Le Guin, not sure which volume, maybe New and Selected Poems.

Fifth Unit: Masters of the Last Thirty Years: I’d create an anthology of all the Rhysling winners. This would be quite a task, because I’d a) have to locate the authors or their literary estates and b) wrangle permission to reprint. So I might just do a Samizdat printing, or have students read the poems from the SFPpoetry website. (I won a 2nd one time, but it’s not up there, because they started listing them after my winning.) I’d also include Bruce Boston’s retrospective, Dark Roads; at least one collection by Jane Yolen; David Kopaska-Merkel’s The Memory of Persistence, Geoff Landis’s Iron Angels, F.J. Bergmann’s Constellation of the Dragonfly, David Cowen’s The Madness of Empty Spaces, one of Mary Soon Lee’s extraordinary Crowned series, and Marge Simon’s Unearthly Delights.

Plus poems by Ann Schwader, Kendall Evans, Suzette Haden Elgin, Bryan Thao Worra, Mike Allen, Deborah P. Kolodji, Sandra Lindow, Gary William Crawford, Josh Gage, Mari Ness, Rachel Pollack, John Amen, Lucy Snyder, J.E. Stanley, G.O.Clark, Tim Esaias, Scott Green, Robert Borsky, Denise Dumars, Bryan D. Dietrich, Linda D. Addison, Sandra Kasturi, David Clink, Stephanie Wytovich, Herb Kauderer, and Alessandro Manzetti.

Out of pure egotism, I would offer free copies of my own books, Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions, 2012) and Your Cat & Other Space Aliens (Van Zeno, 2007) as prizes for the best essays about some other poet.

I’d have a few words about SciFaiku, plus poets outside the spec fic community who write speculative and may not even know it: Billy Collins, Lola Haskins.

I’d alas not be able to do much with non-English-speaking poets —

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I told Roger Zelazny I wanted to BE him. Roger was fundamentally very reserved, and just kind of froze in horror.

I also fed Algis Budrys an absolutely inedible meal at my house — burned to charcoal. And suggested he should watch his diet and stress level.

Another awkward moment was when I was at a Writer of the Future event and my boyfriend asked Larry Niven what he did for a living. This boyfriend soon became my ex-boyfriend. (Of course that was also because I took him to a Warren Zevon concert and he made fun of the drummer’s hairdo.)

Competitive fencing has been a part of your life. How did you get into it? How long have you been fencing?

I always wanted to fence. Swords, don’t all geeks love them? My departed son collected historical replica swords, so I feel a connection with him when I fence. My husband and I have been fencing for over five years and by pure luck I represented the US in Veteran’s (meaning over 40) Women’s Foil in Germany last year.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The whole debate about “mainstream” (meaning literary realism) versus speculative fiction. I hope we’ve finally put that puppy in the grave.

Of course now the big debate is that some factions (white hetero males) think there’s too much emphasis on social justic themes in fiction by women and minorities. It makes my head ache.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Margaret Wise Brown’s The Golden Egg Book. The illustrations are so very Miyasaki-like, so pretty, in my memory. The second book I read was Clare Turlay Newberry’s April’s Kittens, a story about a girl who loves her cats, but has to choose between the mother cat and her kitten.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’ll be at Worldcon in Finland (if we ever make our plane rez). I’m trying to arrange some signings for Mars Girls. I’m in the process of arranging some bookstore signings. Check Facebook (I make all my posts public, so you don’t have to go through the whole “friend” chore.) and I have an Amazon Author Page.

Places to Follow Mary

Facebook

Amazon

GoodReads

LiveJournal

Book Blurb for Mars Girls:

Nanoannie is bored. She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a litte. When Kapera—a friend from online school—shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the roer and take off. Finally an adventure!

What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.

Life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls.

Author Bio

Mary Turzillo’s 1999 Nebula-winner,”Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award.  She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots.   SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award.   She’s working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN’S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex.   She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

Geoff and Mary ponder the question: what would it be like to fence in zero-G? and: What about if we were cats fencing in zero-G?

Places to Follow Apex Book & Magazine Publisher

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Apex is giving away 1 ebook copy of Mars Girls, open world wide. Just do the Rafflecopter thing below. Ends June 17, 2017, midnight.

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Leviathan Wakes Part I

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 1-14, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. First impressions! We’re given two main POVs here, a lot of important information, and a big fat (intriguingly political) murder mystery in space. What’s your take on the setup so far?

I think there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. Perhaps one hand doesn’t know what the other 6 are doing. So the Canterbury is annihilated and that gets broadcast everywhere and perhaps multiple groups see it as a sign to act, and then of course we have government agencies reacting to try to tamp things down. While I read this book several years ago, I truly have forgotten a lot of the details. I would be delighted to find out that there’s some mastermind orchestrating everything but odds are against that.

2. Regarding the narrative: we get the bulk of the story so far from the POVs of Miller and Holden. What do you think of each character, and how do you think they compare to one another? Do you think their paths might cross or are we looking at more of a Game of Thrones style approach to the story’s arc? For that matter, which might you prefer?

I think it’s giving us a good balance of what space freighter life is like versus a stable space station existence. Really, we just need someone living on a planet that has a sky (even if you can only see it thru a bubble) to complete the picture. Holden seems like an upright, always attempt to do the right thing kind of guy. Miller’s morals are more flexible but his core seems to be good; he always works towards stability of his little home station Ceres (spelling?). I do recall the answer to whether or not they will meet in this book, so I will hold my tongue on that.

3. Let’s talk about Julie Mao, and THAT prologue. Given what we know about her by the end of chapter 14, do you think Julie might just be a victim of circumstance or is she more deeply involved in whatever is going on?

Now Julie’s story arc for this book I do recall. Let’s say there’s more going on here than nearly anyone knows and Julie is caught up in it, partly due to her own actions and partly due to other people’s goals.

4. Chapter 14 ends with Miller contacting Julie’s father; do you think his hunch about dear old Dad knowing some things is right, or should he listen to Shaddid on this one?

Tough question! So for my entertainment, of course I want Miller to keep digging and find a way to Julie. However, for his own safety and a future that involves decent medical coverage, I would tell him to drop it.

Other Tidbits:

I love all the bits of SF throughout the book. This isn’t just some light-hearted space opera. This story has real cutting edge tech to far flung hypothetical stuff. The sense-heightening lozenges that the Mars Military guy used when chatting with Holden is a good example.

Back when I first read this book in 2013, I was a bit sad that there weren’t any major female characters. There are several good secondary female characters and my Bill, who has read the rest of the series, says the female characters do get more prominent even with Book 2. So I find myself paying more attention to them during this reread.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Read Along – The Schedule

I read Leviathan Wakes (Book 1 of The Expanse series) some years ago and I have watched the first season of The Expanse as well. Now the wonderful folks on the SF/F Read Alongs GoodReads group have put together this group read. I couldn’t resist. Anyone is welcome to join in the fun. I’ll be listening along with the audiobook.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Friday 9th June – Chapters 1-14, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 16th June – Chapters 15-28, hosted by The Illustrated Page
Week 3: Friday 23rd June – Chapters 29-43, hosted by There’s Always Room For One More
Week 4: Friday 30th June – Chapters 44-End, hosted by The Illustrated Page

Book Blurb for Leviathan Wakes:

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Naamah’s Curse Part I

The read along continues with Naamah’s Curse, Book 2 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Allie is our host. We’re covering Chapters 1-15, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) A lot of this section involves recapping the adventures of Naamah’s Kiss. What do you think about the way this was incorporated into the story?

I really enjoy how J. Carey does this. In many ways, it makes each of her books in the Terre D’Ange Cycle stand alone to a great extent. For me with this particular book, it was useful as we group read Naamah’s Kiss when I was pretty sick and before my big surgery (which involved an intentional mini-coma) so I find that my memory is fuzzy on some things.

2) Moirin heads off alone toward the Tatar steppe in winter. Do you think this was the best course of action, or should she have traveled with some sort of escort or guide?

While she has a lot of outdoor skills, I think she over-estimated her survival skills a bit. Yet we all know how important it was to her (and later to Bao) that she do this without an escort. So I think she could have taken a little time to learn some essentials skills from the locals before heading out: where to find water, what rodents are edible, how to weave a grass mat for hauling stuff or making baskets, etc.

3) What stuck out to you the most about the Tatar tribe Moirin stays with and their way of life?

The short hairy cattle. I wonder if they are little yaks. Plus, burning dung may keep you warm, but I bet it scents everything…. clothing, the yurts, food….

Oh, and the grandmother. She said she was once an imperial princess, right? So I want her backstory and I wonder if Moirin got it out of her during those long, cold winter days.

3) Bao & Moirin reunite in kind of a difficult situation–he’s been married. Do you think they’re searching for a solution in the right way? What do you think of how Bao has handled things so far?

I’m pretty sure Bao has been sleeping with his wife regularly and so she may well be pregnant. So, no, I don’t think Bao and Moirin are considering everyone that will be affected by their current plans. Plus they haven’t really talked about what they want on a larger scale. I mean, if they plan to live in Chi’in versus Alba or Terre D’Ange (or anywhere in between) and how they each feel about that. If they plan to set up house relatively near the Tartars, then perhaps they need to be extra wary of making enemies.

Bao has known for months that Moirin was on her way and yet he hasn’t really prepared himself nor his wife for this. So, yeah, he’s made a mess of it. On the other hand, we haven’t heard yet his full thoughts on his father and what changed his mind about him. Is it just the Tartar royalty aspect or is it being accepted as a hero by his biological father or is there something more there?

4) Bao & Moirin might have been in love before, but now they’re forced together by divine magic. How do you think you would react to finding yourself trapped as they are? Would you initially react more like Moirin or Bao?

If I was initially in love with the person, I don’t think the divine magic part would bother me very much unless the love of my life started acting dickish…. glances sidewise at Bao.

I understand the importance of having choices, especially in regards to big things. I found out at age 23 and 5 months into my marriage that I wouldn’t be able to have kids and I was more upset about the choice not being mine than I was about the actual fact. So, I get Bao’s emotions even as I feel he hasn’t reacted the most maturely about it.

Other Tidbits:

So far, we’ve had no falconry and I was expecting some at these big games.

I think it was nice of Moirin to apologize to Edina but I also don’t feel it was necessarily her responsibility. Moirin had no clue that Bao was married. Still, I think it made it easier for Edina to see Moirin as a real person and perhaps, in the long run, to forgive Bao.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S CURSE in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Naamah’s Curse Read Along – The Schedule

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Naamah’s Curse is Book 2 of the third trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. You don’t have to have read the first two trilogies to enjoy this third one, as it occurs a few generations after the second trilogy.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Chapters 1-15, post Monday June 5 Hosted by Allie
Week 2:  Chapters 16-32, post Monday June 12 Hosted by Lynn
Week 3: Chapters 33-47, post Monday June 19 Hosted by Susan
Week 4: Chapters 48-64, post Monday June 26 Hosted by Allie
Week 5: Chapters 65-END, Post Monday July 3 Hosted by Lynn

And here is the current list of participators:

Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

Book Blurb for Naamah’s Curse:

Alone and far from the land of her birth, young Moirin sets out across wild Tatar territory to find her beloved Bao, the proud Ch’in stick fighter who holds the missing half of her diadhanam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. But the lovers’ reunion is short lived. Moirin is abducted, cast in chains that bind her magic, and betrayed into the hands of a fanatic Yeshuite priest. Fiercely zealous, he is determined to save Moirin’s soul and convert her to his faith…or see her stoned to death for her many sins. With her soul declared a battleground of the gods, Moirin will struggle to hold on to her humanity and survive – all the while wondering if the gift of love bestowed on her by the goddess Naamah is a blessing or a curse.

Wrestling with issues of faith and divine will, Naamah’s Curse explores what happens when mortal men seek to mold the gods in their own images.

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S CURSE in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: A. J. Spencer, Author of The Thol-ra

Join me in welcoming AJ Spencer back to the blog! He’s the author of The Thol-ra, a short tale of epic fantasyas well as the beloved SnowRaven ChroniclesCheck out his previous interview on Dab of Darkness. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win an audiobook copy of The Thol-ra.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Grand Admiral Thrawn (from Timothy Zahn’s Trilogy of Star Wars Books from the early 1990’s). He was one cool cat who was playing for the wrong team…..I wish he was on our side!

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved amount of attention? 

Sword & Sorcery – huge back in the day…..but has now faded away…..

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

A book that has the meaning of life would be nice. The lost books from the library of Alexandria……I wonder what they were. One historian said civilization was set back 1000 years when all that ancient knowledge went up in smoke….I think he was right.

If you could pick a fictional character to officiate at your wedding or renewal vows, who would it be?

I always thought being married on a ship, by a sea captain was very romantic (and if you want to have a honeymoon on a cruise ship, two birds with one stone). How about Captain Picard onboard the Starship Enterprise…..The holodeck could create one hell of a theme wedding!

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d have to say superhero (Is Batman available?) I think the supernatural creature and/or space alien would probably be causing the peril in question…….

What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

I read somewhere that a ship was washed ashore during a big storm in the 1800’s, pushed right up on the beach and was just left there. People see the surreal image of an empty ship on a beach and say “Boy that was a bad storm…..or, isn’t that odd, kind of spooky”……Bram Stoker thought – vampire on board! This event became an inspiration for Dracula. That’s how inspiration works with a writer – could just be one little seed, one spark that can start a whole franchise. To answer your question – There are many, many mysteries I want to explore in my stories….but they are the BIG Mysteries of the universe (That run throughout all of Science Fiction, folklore and Mythology).

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

Actually, I was a teenager in the 1990’s.…..I wouldn’t mind reliving that time knowing then what I know now (but doesn’t EVERYONE?)

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public? 

DEFINITELY the food replicator from Star Trek…..just ask for something, ANYTHING and it just appears on your plate, I like that. I like that A LOT!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve had good days and bad days….and many days somewhere in between on every job. This question reminds me of  an interview with Rod Serling – he said the hardest part of writing was being your own boss…..the discipline of writing a certain quota each day. I also heard a story about a writer who kept missing his deadlines, just had too many distractions in everyday life. So his agent (or publisher) set up an empty cubicle in his office building and had the writer come in 9-5 Monday through Friday and just write the rest of the book they had given the writer an advance for. The writer didn’t rebel – but thanked him for doing this! Saying he never would have finished without that structure!

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

One of my favorite authors – Robert E. Howard (The creator of Conan The Barbarian); JRR Tolkien – if anyone knows about magical quests, its Tolkien!; George RR Martin (THE expert on Fantasy intrigue, and machinations); and JK Rowling, to school our team on conjuring a little magic of our own!

Finally, what can we expect from you next? I adore SnowRaven! Any chance for more stories about her? 

Thank You – you are the SnowRaven’s biggest fan 😊I don’t have writer’s block, but more of a writer’s OVERLOAD. I have LOTS of ideas, but am having a hard time pinning the story down. Getting the look and feel just right, and fleshing out the characters into 3 dimensional people. I am currently working on a big Science Fiction Anthology style book – having a REALLY hard time with it……but it could be one of the BEST things I’ll ever write (If I can pull it together that is…..) Some stories veer more toward fantasy, some are futuristic….some could be another SnowRaven story (The Thol-Ra was going to be a SnowRaven story but went in a different direction. The same may happen with the new anthology). However, I do want to put the same poetic flare into this story as the SnowRaven stories (the same style) and the main character of my big Sci Fi opus is very SnowRaven like…..very much a cyber punk SnowRaven!

Places to Follow AJ Spencer

Facebook

Amazon

Audiible

Book Blurb for The Thol-ra:

A city under siege…. An ancient book of forbidden magic…. A power that will save or destroy all!

The ancient desert city of Al-zora is under siege by a swarm of man eating insects – unleashed by a deposed queen’s vengeful curse.

But on the eve of total destruction hope for salvation comes…. In the form of Princess E’feena – the renegade princess who enlists the help of the noble swordsman Alcar, her sworn protector, and Jzemlek the alchemist and thief. To claim an ancient book of forbidden magic.

A book hidden deep in the very heart of the city – a vile swamp haunted by man eating plants every bit as ravenous and deadly as the attacking swarm.

But to save her beloved city from total annihilation E’feena will risk anything – ignoring the warnings of the sages, defying her father, the king -whose word is law! Defying all who fear the uncontrollable magic will bring a far greater calamity!

For E’feena means to unleash the most powerful force locked within the mysterious tome….a force with the power to not only destroy the insatiable swarm….but also create a true nightmare….a fate far worse then the horde encircling the city walls -For princess E’feena means to unleash the dreaded Thol-ra itself!

Audible ~ Amazon

Book Blurb for The SnowRaven Chronicles: The Shafra-Copian

The lady Snowraven becomes entangled in a tempestuous industrial revolution that promises to liberate the bleak mountaintop kingdom of Arkel-nia from the dominance of the Vosharian – a race of cunning and cruel bio-luminescent insects who have drained the kingdom’s wealth for centuries. Nightmarish creatures whose taste for human flesh has decimated countless generations of Arkel-nian maidens – human sacrifices given in exchange for the glowing orbs that only the Vosharian can create. A vicious, unending cycle for the orbs, prized above all for the light and warmth they give. The only source of energy in the whole of the desolate snow covered mountains- until now…

Audible ~ Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

AJ Spencer is offering up 6 copies of his short epic fantasy, The Thol-ra. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Do you have an Audible.com account? What authors would you take on a fantasy quest? Optional: Follow AJ Spencer any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 22nd, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to those that have an Audible.com account.
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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Colin Falconer, Author of Opium

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Colin Falconer. He’s the author of the Opium, along with his newly released Sleeping with the Enemy, and my personal favorite, Colossus. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 3 copies of Opium.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Starwars, Susan. I’d be a Stormtrooper: only I’d bring my own gun and be the first Stormtrooper to ever actually hit someone. (Probably Luke Skywalker, he annoys me.)

Or I’d be Blofeld’s cat.  All that screen time but I wouldn’t have to remember any lines.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Moby Dick. I’d like to see him swim off to a marine park reserve safe from idiots like Ahab. Maybe have some little humpbacks with a Mrs Di-, well with a wife. And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s long overdue that the guy who killed Bambi’s mother be brought to justice. I hate that guy, have done ever since I was 3.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

This is weird but – the entire collection of Classics Illustrated Comics. You can read the entire canon of great Western literature in a single wet afternoon. It is the cheat notes of all cheat notes, a condensation of every great classic story ever written; Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Dumas’s Black Tulip, Wilkie’s Moonstone.

Unusual choice, I know. But it would also bring back memories of my Aunty Ivy, who used to buy them for me at Chingford markets, so I had something to do on wet Saturday in London. At eight years old, I fell in love with Story.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

The most difficult job was my thirteen years as a volunteer in the country ambulance service. It was also the best and most rewarding, outside of writing.

I worked with a fantastic team of people and the challenges were exacting, auto accidents and beach rescues being among the most arduous but also the most rewarding. One moment I’d be tapping away on the laptop, the next I’d be crawling into a car wreck.

There is absolutely no comparison to the writing life but I loved it just the same.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

The Lord of the Rings. Call of the Wild. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Michelangelo’s David. I’d put it in my front garden. Only I’d put shorts on him so people would stop laughing. I’ve always felt sorry for the guy.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I’m intrigued by Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. We never really learn what was going on in her head, or how culpable she was in the death of Hamlet’s father. For me, she’s almost as interesting as Hamlet.

Orr, in Catch-22. He drives Yossarian crazy, and everyone thinks he’s a moron, and Yossarian won’t fly with him because Orr crashes his plane every time he flies. But he turns out to be the smartest guy in the whole squadron and the key to Yossarian’s final triumph.

Then there’s Judas in the Bible. Why does he hang himself at the end? More going on there than we’re told, and perhaps the traditional answers about him don’t ring true. Definitely a case of an Unreliable Narrator.

But the quintessential secondary character for me is Tybalt. He’s not in the original poem that Shakespeare took his play from, but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wouldn’t work without him. Tybalt makes Romeo likeable and gives the play its impetus at the midpoint. That’s why Willy invented him.

For my own characters – well my favourite minor character is Ruby Wen. She was supposed to be the villain’s love interest but just took over CHASING THE DRAGON. The girl couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube, but she’s sexy and spirited and funny as all get out.

Pity what happened to her in the end, but it was inevitable, I suppose.

Chupa snoring

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? 

Clearly, Superman if I wanted to win it.

But if I wanted to just trail along behind, drinking and smoking cigars, like I did in the school cross country races, then Charles Bukowski.

Places to Find Colin Falconer

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Opium

Vientiane, 1960. Laos is a sleepy post-colonial backwater, run by generals and at war with the communist Pathet Lao in the north. Corsican gangsters, left behind after the French departure five years before, run the opium trade, flying raw opium out of the mountains to Bangkok and Saigon. The most celebrated of the milieu is Rocco Bonaventure, cursed with a daughter who turns heads everywhere she goes. Baptiste Croce is kind of man her father has always warned her about – a handsome and womanising pilot with his eye on the main chance. But Noelle is a woman to be reckoned with, as both Rocco and Baptiste discover for themselves. Their affair, conducted against the looming mountains of Indochina and its blazing poppy fields, change all their lives forever. Baptiste risks his life for her again and again in the air; or is it for control of his father’s opium business? Meanwhile in the teeming slums of Hong Kong’s Walled City, a Chinese refugee uses his cunning and his fists to rise to become Red Pole of the Fei Leung triad. He sees beyond the filthy opium dens to a day when the drug will help him rule the world. From the jungles of the Golden Triangle to the tenements of sixties Hong Kong, from colonial Saigon to the skies of northern Laos, romance and horror collide in a stunning novel of passion and greed and breath-taking action. The Opium series charts the story of the drug trade in Indochina, from sacks thrown in the back of tiny planes in the nineteen sixties to the multimillion dollar international industry that soon became the plague of the western world.

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Colin Falconer is an internationally best-selling author. Born in London, he was a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter for many years. But writing novels was his passion and led him to write his first book, Venom, based on his own experiences in South East Asia. 

He has now published over 50 books that have been translated into 23 languages.

His next novel with Lake Union THE UNKILLABLE KITTY O’KANE is out in November, and the first novel in a new crime series will be published by Little Brown in London in April 2018. His latest novel SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is available with Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2ohHfdg

GIVEAWAY!!!

Colin is graciously offering up 3 copies of her ebook Opium. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What has been your most difficult job? Optional: Follow Colin Falconer anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 21st, 2017, midnight.

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