Sunday, November 30, 2014

Melanie's Week in Review - November 30, 2014

Everything is all tinsel and bright lights this week as every shop and business starts to turn on their Christmas lights. I can't believe that its almost December and I don't look very close to completing my Goodreads reading challenge. Perhaps I can pull out some stops in the next few weeks. But for this week what did I read?

I finally found that Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronvitch was available on Kindle and not for too of an exorbitant amount. I have been loving the Peter Grant series and there was a huge shocker at the of book 4, Broken Homes. I will be writing a full review on this book so keep a look out for it but what I can say here is that Aaronovitch continues to craft a great story and avoids repetitive themes or extraneous re-capping of the events in previous books. You may have enough time, if you are super speedy to catch up on the series before you get to my review.

I then looked through my recent book purchases for a quick easy read and decided on Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler. I am not sure what caused me to pick this book over the many others I have to read. I think in part it was the beautiful cover. I guess I am a bit of a sucker for a pretty book cover. Jinn and Juice is Lyla's story of how she was cursed to being a jinni for a thousand years and just when everything looks like it will be lifted she is 'bound' again by the hunky Magi named Oz. He wants her to find a young girl and will release Lyla after she helps him out. Nearly every mythical character plays a part in the chaotic life of the gorgeous jinni but the clock is ticking on Lyla's curse.

If you are in certain age groups the TV show 'I Dream of Genie' and the movie 'Aladdin' will be twirling through your brain when you read this book. I thought it was just OK. I am not certain I want to continue the series. I read the first few books of Peeler's Jane True series but despite liking Peeler's characters I just wasn't that engaged with the story or the decisions her heroine's make. I think that this is due to the fact that her characters are ruled more by libido than by common sense and that always turns me off with modern heroines. If you like a lot of action, lots of sexy but no actual sex and a sassy, belly dancing heroine then give this book a go.

That is all I finished this week. I am hoping to finish off the books I started in previous weeks but haven't yet been able to finish.  Wish me luck but until next week, Happy Reading.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Retro Reviews: Valnir's Bane by Nathan Long

Valnir's Bane
Author: Nathan Long
Series:  Warhammer: Black Hearts
Original Publisher and Date:  Games Workshop, December 16, 2004
Still in Print:  No
Formats and Length: Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Availability:  You can find it used online
ISBN:  9781844161669

Brief History

Nathan Long started writing at the age of 12 and spent several years writing screenplays for TV and films. He's written 15 novels in the Warhammer shared world so far, and Valnir's Bane was his first book published in 2004. His first original book written out of the shared world is Jane Carver of Waar, a parody/ode to Edgar Rice Burroughs. He's also written a few video games.

The Black Hearts series is a reflection of Long's love of the old classic film heroes, everyday men who went through incredible events, and, just as often as they were heroic, they also showed their fear or weaknesses. He has mentioned that he likens Valnir's Bane to the Dirty Dozen in the world of Warhammer.

Back Cover Description

Fantasy heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but few are less able to fit the classic image than the Blackhearts. In a terrific twist on the classic war story, this disreputable band of convicts is released from the dungeons and given a grim choice: volunteer for a suicide mission or die by the noose. They do the former, of course, but when they learn their quest is to venture deep into the lands of the enemy and retrieve an ancient relic that could turn the tide of the war, they begin to seriously regret their choice. With broad characters and violent action, this riotous novel introduces the Blackhearts in just the first of a planned series of adventures.

Brannigan's Review

I have two confessions to make. First, I actually bought this book by mistake. Back before I had a smartphone to take notes on, I read an article talking about a great fantasy series called The Black Company, and while I was perusing a bookstore I remembered the article, but only that the word black was in the title. I saw this book, saw Blackhearts, and thought, this is it. Once I got home, I found out I had purchased the wrong book, but the back cover description sounded good so I wasn't too upset. Later, I found The Black Company by Glen Cook. My second confession is I have only ever read one Warhammer book before, and, to be honest, I wasn't impressed. I have also never played their role-playing games, so I have no real background in the Warhammer world. For these two reasons, I left this book on my bookshelf unread for several years. Once again, the Retro Review has come to make amends in my life. For my second Retro Review this month, I will finally read Glen Cook's The Black Company, as it inspired this whole serendipitous event.

Reading Valnir's Bane felt like watching one of your favorite childhood or teen movies on a day you had nothing better to do. I know we all had those films. I can't tell you how many times I watched Die Hard on an old VHS tape as a kid. I loved that film. Valnir's Bane is like that almost immediately: you like the characters, their interaction with each other, and their disdain for authority and rules. The 'heroes' (I use that term lightly because no one but the villains of the book would ever consider themselves heroes) are all very real. Well, let me stop myself, most of them feel real. For the most part, all of the characters are fleshed out as they attempt to fulfill their mission. At the beginning, it takes some time to figure out who everyone is. There are nine prisoners and a leader/guard. Out of the 10, only five make it to the end. Reiner Hetzau, a pistolier, is the primary character and closest thing to a true hero. I say closest because for the first half of the book he's only concerned with protecting his own hide and using the others as bodyguards. He's also a gambler, womanizer and disgraced noble.

Now, I wouldn't consider these characters anti-heroes in today's sense of the word. In today's fantasy fiction with the sub-genre of dark and grim fantasy that's out there, you would expect these guys to be much much worse than they are to be labeled anti-heroes. I'm more apt to call the Blackheart group reluctant heroes. I actually prefer a reluctant hero over an anti-hero because I feel good about rooting for someone even if they try to deny the good inside themselves.

The pacing of the book is perfect for its length. It has an episodic feel as one trial after another hurtles the group toward the climax, where fighting against every opportunity to be heroic until they realize if they don't save the world, no one else will. Long has a talent for putting his characters through hell. I kept thinking that sooner or later these guys have to catch a break, but for the most part they never do. Still, you're kind of glad they don't because they come up with some entertaining ways out of those messes.

For being a book in a shared world, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Long provided enough information to get a feel for the world and the different warring factions. And, for a book this size, Long did a great job spending time with the characters that mattered.

Valnir's Bane is a comfort book, immensely satisfying, with a quick pace. After reading the first book in the trilogy, I look forward to reading the other two books to spend some more quality time with heroes I could relate to. There are a few minor moments of descriptive violence and implied sexual abuse off camera, to borrow a film term, and little if any bad language, for these reasons I have no problem recommending this book to teens or adults. This is definitely a book to borrow from a friend or the library. I personally will be keeping my copy for future reads, but due to the fact you have to hunt for the book, maybe wait to read it before grabbing your own copy.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

Editor's Note: Trinitytwo had a wonderful time at Connecticut HorrorFest. For some reason Black Friday seems to be a really great day to share what she thought!

(Click to embiggen this and all photos... if you dare)

     The very first Connecticut HorrorFest happened this past August. It was an excellent little Con put on by Horror News Network. In fact, in my opinion, it was the definitive quality over quantity experience. It was held at Waterbury’s Courtyard Marriott Hotel; a small space compared to larger cons, but jammed packed with a very cool array of special guests. Linda Blair, who had been slated to appear, unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute due to personal reasons. However, Connecticut HorrorFest still boasted such Horror royalty as Halloween’s Michael Myers, Tony Moran; Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, Ari Lehman; Paranormal Activity’s Micah, Micah Sloat; American Horror Story: Asylum’s Pepper, the beautiful Naomi Grossman; and Day of the Dead’s Steel, Gary Howard Klar among many other notables.

     My children exposed me to AMC’s The Walking Dead in the beginning of Season 3 and although I resisted at first, I must admit I have become a huge fan. Michonne’s “pets” were going to be there signing autographs and so was one of my favorite characters from the show; T-Dog, the fantastic IronE Singleton. Connecticut HorrorFest had a special VIP package in which for $150.00 a maximum of ten guests could enjoy breakfast, a Q & A, and a photo with IronE. I simply couldn’t resist and bought three tickets as my son and daughter were going with me. Was it worth it? Absolutely!! IronE Singleton was simply awesome.

     Although my memory isn’t perfect and this wasn’t a formal, taped interview, I would like to share some of the more interesting topics we discussed. When IronE came in, he walked over to me and gave me a big hug. We exchanged pleasantries and he moved on around the room, giving each VIP a hug and a smile and some face time. There were only five VIP guests that morning and it really felt like we had IronE all to ourselves. Horror News Network’s Christine Caprilozzi was this VIP experience’s event coordinator and she broke the ice by asking IronE the first question. She asked him what it was like working with Michael Rooker, who played Merle; especially on the rooftop scene in Episode 2. Any fan of the show will immediately recall the racially tension-packed rooftop scene. IronE responded by saying that Rooker is an amazing person. He was so excited to be working with the legend. He shared that Rooker met with him before the shooting of that particular episode and wanted to make sure that it was ok with IronE that he would be spitting on him. IronE told us he said something to the effect of: yeah, man I want this to be real. After each take IronE told us he received a new shirt and there were about 15 takes. One of the guests piped in saying “You left my favorite character on the roof to die.” IronE denied that at once saying T-Dog didn’t do that. He went back and simply dropped the keys. That’s T-Dog being clumsy. If anyone’s to blame, it should be Rick because he handcuffed him to the pipe. We all shared a laugh.

     IronE got back to the topic of Michael Rooker and told us how after a grueling weekend at a Con, Rooker drove an extra hour from the airport to attend a party at IronE’s place and although he had been going all weekend, he was still the life of the party. IronE said he really didn’t have to do that. It really was great to work with a legend like him. Another guest asked “What would it be like if you had actually saved Merle? Do you think he would have killed you?” IronE answered thoughtfully that T-Dog went back for him. And no, you can’t kill someone after they just saved your life. A guest piped in “Merle probably would have punched you in the face.” IronE laughed and said we’d have punched each other. I chimed in and said “You’d win in that fight” and we all laughed some more. Another cool question was “What was your favorite weapon?” IronE said he favored the chimney poker. He thought it was pretty original and if used correctly you could stick the poker right though an eye socket into a walker’s brain. I asked him who his best friends on the set were. He told us that he was friends with everyone, but his closest friends were Jeffrey DeMunn and Scott Wilson. Another question asked was “What was your favorite episode?” IronE said everything in the first season was his favorite because of the friends he made on the set and the stories they shared. He said Season One Episode 2 was his very favorite because it was the start of everything. He said at the time the cast didn’t know history was being made so that made it special. He mentioned that he was told when he originally signed on the show that he would only be appearing in 2-3 episodes.

     IronE was asked what the funniest thing that happened on the set was. He spoke about Norman Reedus and how he has a gross but funny sense of humor. The food that particular morning was sausage but it was gray and long. It was kind of weird looking but IronE was eating it anyway. He said Reedus came by and asked what is that you’re eating, poop? IronE agreed that it looked like poop, but finished eating his sausage. Later, they were filming the scene with the well walker, or as Dale called it “the swimmer”. IronE kept gagging because of the poop reference and the grotesque well walker. The director, Billy, told IronE that he was putting an interesting take on the scene but asked if he could do it again without gagging. IronE laughed and said he couldn’t help it. Reedus had really messed him up. But never fear, IronE told us, he got him back. Soon after this episode, one of the sets was broken into by an animal or squatter who defecated by the fireplace. When the cast and crew got there they knew it was real poop. But Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln, who were waiting outside weren’t warned and no one told them. Reedus stepped in it and everyone could see him sniffing the air. He asked them what smelled so bad. IronE happily told us that after the scene was shot they finally told him. Reedus asked why they didn’t tell them earlier to which IronE said with a smile, revenge.

     He didn’t say he was sad about being killed on the show. On the contrary, he had only expected to work a few episodes and instead worked three seasons. He told us that after season one; he began reading his scripts from the back to the front to see if he was going to survive. He was delighted that in script after script, T-Dog lived. They told him a month in advance that T-Dog was going to be killed. He was sad because he wasn’t going to get his hugs from the set and he was going to miss all the wonderful people on the show but he was happy for the experience and ultimately ok that T-dog died. He felt proud that T-Dog was given a “good” death; one with meaning.

     We switched gears to The Blind Side in which he played the nasty thug, Alton. I asked him what it was like being yelled at by Sandra Bullock in the movie. He shared with us how that movie was his big break after acting for 15 years. He talked about how nice “Sandy” was. He told a story about how he was sitting after a scene with some extras and he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was “Sandy”. She had watched the dailies of him doing that particular scene when he was threatening her character and she felt that he had done an incredible job. She told him she was nervous about her response to that scene because he had just given an amazing performance. He explained that she didn’t have to come over, and that most stars wouldn’t, but she is just that nice. An interesting bit of trivia is that he had grown up in the projects and had actually visited those particular projects from the movie in his youth.

     He shared with us the fact that his mother died when he was 18 and soon after she passed, he had an epiphany of how he needed to live his life. He said he felt it was important to give love and kindness and how he believed it would come back to you if you did. He spoke about his upcoming one man show and his future appearances at the upcoming Walker Stalker Cons. Throughout our discussion it was evident that he was deeply religious and extremely devoted to his wife and kids.

     He gave each of us an autographed copy of his book Blindsided by the Walking Dead (review below). We were then able to pose for a photo before it was time for IronE to go out and meet the rest of his fans.

     After our “breakfast” with IronE, I decided to stop by the Decimated Designs booth and get my inner zombie on. It cost $40.00 for a full face treatment and I went for it. Asked whether I wanted to be a pretty zombie or an ugly one, I joked with Kyle, the owner and makeup artist, “Hey, I’m pretty every day. I want to know what it’s like to be horrifyingly ugly for a change.” He did a great job. People were telling me I looked gruesome all day! I was a very happy customer.

     Soon after being “zombified” my family and I visited Moses J. Moseley and Theshay West, Michonne’s Pet Walkers in Season 3. I joked that I was turning the tables on them. They were used to being the “Walkers” but in our photo together, I was the zombie and they were themselves.

     Gary Howard Klar is another awesome actor who loves to interact with his fans. He played Steel in Day of the Dead, and was someone my son just had to meet. We did wait a while in line but when it was finally our turn, Mr. Klar spoke with my son for at least 20 minutes. He recounted events from the set, complimented George Romero’s directing skill, gave insight into his character and his motivations in playing the role. He talked local CT football; he spoke about the importance of family and how critical it is for young people to be politically aware. One of my favorite things he told us about was his audition for Hit Man in Legal Eagles. He said when it was his turn to audition, the director asked him to scare him. He told us he threw the guy across the table. He got the job. He also spoke about working with Robin Williams and what a talented man Williams really was. Gary Klar was a great guy and a wonderful role model for my son.

     We checked out the vendors, made some purchases, and walked around a few times to see if we missed anything. Later in the day, when we had our fill of Connecticut HorrorFest, my kids asked to say goodbye to IronE. He had made them feel special. In between guests I called to him and waved “IronE, we’re heading out.” I expected a smile and maybe a wave, but IronE came over, hugged each of us and smiled saying “Leaving me, huh? It was so nice meeting you all.” IronE Singleton is a truly cool human being. I want to thank Horror News Network and Connecticut HorrorFest for a thoroughly great day. I felt I got my money’s worth and look forward to attending next year’s event which is slated to take place on July 18, 2015 at The Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, CT.

Blindsided by the Walking Dead
     “From surviving the street to slaying the geeks”
Author:  IronE Singleton with Juliette Terzieff
Publisher:  CreateSpace, March 20, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback, 208 pages
Review Copy:  Provided by the Author

On the streets of Atlanta, the fight to survive is a daily battle.

From the drug-infested corners of one of the city's worst housing projects, to alleyways filled with ravenous zombies-- Blindsided by the Walking Dead examines one man's battle to overcome the violence, drugs, and crime of the 'hood; starting with a young IronE Singleton determined to succeed despite an abusive mother, an absent father, and the temptations of instant gratification inherent with the thug life.

Football and Faith in God become IronE's allies in his quest to escape and helped him reach for the lights of the University of Georgia's football field and theater stages.

After years of struggle--failed businesses, small roles, and an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles--IronE snags his major breakthrough role, playing the kind of drug-dealing, gun-toting thug he would have become on the streets, in The Blind Side.

When he is cast as T-Dog on AMC's international mega-hit "The Walking Dead", IronE examines through art what humanity is about and what it means to truly survive against all odds. Alongside cast mates Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Andrew Lincoln, IronE fought, gagged, and sweat his way into the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

Trinitytwo’s Point of View

IronE Singleton writes straight from his heart. Film enthusiasts will enjoy his anecdotes from working on the movie, The Blind Side, which was his big break as an actor. Any fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead will love the stories he shares about working on the set, his fellow actors and crew. I especially connected to his point that the show is more about the human condition than the undead. Reading his memoir, I was amazed at his openness and bravery as he unveiled the good, the bad, and the sometimes frightening events that shaped his life. As a mom, my heart ached for the young IronE as he recounts the highs and lows of his relationship with his mother including her addictions and her fatal illness. IronE reveals the stark truths of his life without any sugar coating or excuses and I love the fact that he recounts his own shortcomings so matter-of-factly. He admits to making some serious mistakes but owns every single one of them and, it seems to me, always strives to become a better person in spite of them. For all the hard times he and his family endured, his family always taught him the importance of faith. His faith in God and his ability to focus on the positive is a common theme. I am partial to a line near the end of his book. He is still at an early point in his acting career and has yet to achieve commercial recognition, yet he gives himself a pep talk by saying “Look how far you’ve traveled already.” This struck a chord with me and now when I feel low I remember that line because it says so much. It’s obvious that IronE’s intention is to share his life story so that others growing up in the same circumstances as he did, realize that there is a better life out there. This book is about challenges and choices, faith and love, survival and hope. I would definitely recommend this book to any IronE fan but also to anyone who is feeling down and in need of a pick me up. This book is truly inspirational.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New York Comic Con - Some More Thoughts and Giveaway 2

So... I spend most of New York Comic Con doing interviews, saying hello to authors and publicists I've meet before, meeting authors and publicist I've only emailed with or tweeted at (or should that be with?), and meeting new authors and publicists. I do wander about a lot too in between trying to follow a schedule that has me in 4 places at once (which I actually have never managed to do). Sometimes I'm about to enter a panel and end up getting a text that someone is available NOW for an interview and end up rushing through the crowd to get where I now need to be. Rushing of course is a relative term at NYCC. It's more like carefully moving around people and trying not to bump into to anyone or be bumped into. I say "Excuse me" a lot. I also spend a lot of time on lines for book signings. At a signing by Michael R. Underwood I had the extreme pleasure of meeting two folks I chat with on Twitter: Rob Bedford and Shecky. We had a really lovely time chatting! (Waves "hi" to Rob and Shecky) This is another thing I love about NYCC: the chance to meet and talk with people who I'd never otherwise meet. And the chance to talk with complete strangers who share common interests and likes. In that respect NYCC 2014 is amazing!

So enough about the Con... you want to know what I'm giving away.

  1. Diamond Star (Skloian Empire 13) by Catherine Asaro;
  2. The Eflstones of Shannara (First King of Shannara 2) by Terry Brooks;
  3. Big Egos by S. G. Browne;
  4. The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (ARC);
  5. Something From Nightside (Nightside 1) by Simon R. Green;
  6. The Man With the Golden Torc (Secret Histories 1) by Simon R. Green;
  7. Pandora's Star (Commonwelath Saga 1) by Peter F. Hamilton;
  8. Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles 1) by Kevin Hearne;
  9. Horrostör by Grady Hendrix (SIGNED);
  10. A Study in Silks (Baskerville Affair 1) by Emma Jane Holloway;
  11. Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War 1) by Mark Lawrence (ARC);
  12. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard 1) by Scott Lynch;
  13. Uprooted by Naomi Novik - Chapters Pamphlet (Chapters 1 -3) (SIGNED);
  14. The Man with the Golden Mind by Tom Vater;
  15. Don't Look Now Sampler - Suspense, Historical Thrillers and Cozy Mysteries;
  16. Various pins pictured.

The Giveaway and Rules

What:  One entrant will win the Books, pamphlets and pins pictured.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on December 17, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Void by Timothy S. Johnston

The Qwillery is thrilled to reveal the cover of The Void, the 3rd novel in The Tanner Sequence, by Timothy S. Johnston. The Void will be published on March 30, 2015 by Carina Press.

The Void
The Tanner Sequence 3
Carina Press, March 25, 2015

A Tanner Sequence Novel

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. But when his ship breaks down in interstellar space and another murderer starts carving a path through the people around him, Tanner realizes that he might be in over his head. Unfortunately there’s no one to call for help, and the days are ticking down to his probable death. He’s facing a mysterious threat in deep space, but he knows that if he can’t decipher the clues and capture the killer, he’ll at least die trying …

The Void is coming from Timothy S. Johnston and Carina Press on March 30, 2015. It is the third book in The Tanner Sequence, a series of standalone murder mysteries set in unique and claustrophobic environments. The first two are The Furnace (2013) and The Freezer (2014.)
More Pre-order links at Timothy's Website

You may read Brannigan's reviews of  The Furnace (The Tanner Sequence 1) here
and The Freezer (The Tanner Sequence 2) here.

About Timothy

Photo by Tiffany Jones Photography, 2013
Timothy S. Johnston is a writer of futuristic and contemporary mystery/thrillers. There is always a technological component to his plot lines, and the science that he uses to propel his stories forward is real and verifiable. His characters are strongly motivated and undergo extreme change; his protagonists each find themselves drawn into intense situations seemingly beyond their control. The stakes are always huge and the outcomes unique and unpredictable. He is dedicated to the art of telling a compelling story and contributing to the genre that has given him so much over the past four decades. He is passionate about writing and committed to inspiring others through his stories. Carina Press is currently publishing a trilogy of thrillers by Johnston: The Furnace (2013), The Freezer (2014), and The Void (2015). This series — The Tanner Sequence — details Homicide Investigator Lt. Kyle Tanner’s emotional journey as he solves difficult cases set in unique and deadly claustrophobic environments.

Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter @TSJ_Author  ~  Goodreads

Feature: Entangled Publishing's Black Friday Sale

Entangled Publishing is having a Black Friday Sale starting today and lasting through December 6th. Many of Entangled's eBooks are on sale for 99¢. The sale includes titles in Entangled's Paranormal, Historical, Young Adult, Teen, and/or Contemporary Romance lines. Check it out here.

Click 'Read more' to see the flyer and links to the sale eBooks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Guest Blog by Lincoln Crisler - The Inspiration Behind Skinjumper - November 24, 2014

Please welcome Lincoln Crisler to The Qwillery. Skinjumper is out today from Ragnarok Publications. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Lincoln a Happy Publication Day!

The Inspiration Behind Skinjumper

Like most authors, I wanted to write something unique. Like most horror authors, I wanted to write a book about a killer, at least once. Those two aspirations may seem to be at odds, at first glance. I mean, if most horror authors want to write a ‘killer’ story, what are the chances a good portion of them could be unique? It’s certainly not a statistical likelihood.

Luckily, when I was brainstorming the novella that would one day grow into Skinjumper, I had a third criterion in mind, and if my novel really is as unique as I think it is, it’s because of that. I wanted to use a bit of the supernatural, but not too much. Horror authors can really pile on the supernatural sometimes, to either stunning or disastrous result. And of course, what every writer—and reader—thinks is enough to evoke the former rather than the latter is a very personal matter.

There’s a very famous series of books featuring a killer that I enjoyed at first, until the author started introducing more of a supernatural aspect into a world and character that the supernatural seemed out of place in. Interestingly enough, the show based on these books placed almost zero emphasis on anything unearthly, and was much more to my liking, at least for a few seasons. Another book, by an author of my acquaintance, was recently made into a movie with limited release. In that story, the supernatural element was not out of place at all—and trust me, this book would have evoked fear in most readers even without it.

That’s the kind of book I wanted Skinjumper to be. I needed a touch of the other world to set my killer apart from the ones we see in the news everyday—not that I’m adverse to a more mundane murderer; my current work-in-progress features a serial killer with no ghostly abilities whatsoever. I drew upon my past for the little bit I needed; I would never in a million years have killed a dog in anything but self-defense, but I did study Wicca, walk around high school with a Satanic Bible under my arms for a couple years and wear a black trench coat into my early twenties. My classmates often asked me some…interesting…questions.

It wasn’t difficult for me to design the sort of dark art some people probably thought I was getting up to. It was important to me that I concentrate the hocus-pocus in the first chapter as much as possible, to get it out in the open and move past it quickly; mission accomplished, for the most part. I was even able to write in the sort of disbelief I felt vital to the success of the story’s supernatural element; the spell was a complete and utter bust from the kids’ perspective and Terry, the titular character, didn’t discover he’d been made different for five whole years. Finally, that first chapter, which you can read here if you like, let me include two elements criminal profilers often mention when they discuss career killers: cruelty toward animals at a young age and sexual dysfunction.

If that third criterion had to share credit for my finished product with any other part of the process, it would be that I initially wrote a draft of Skinjumper that was half the length of what’s being released this month by Ragnarok. I’ve written and spoken on multiple occasions about how the length of my average story has increased directly proportionate to my time spent as a writer. My beta-readers for the novella version of the story insisted unanimously that Skinjumper needed to be a full-length novel and, about a year later, I made that happen. And, doubling the manuscript diluted the amount of supernatural-ness even more.

No matter what complaints I might get about the book, I’m pretty sure I got that part of the recipe right.

Ragnarok Publications, November 24, 2014
Trade Paperback, 306 pages

Rose Bennett, a young, recently-widowed mother, comes face to face with a newly-minted murderer and learns that there are much scarier things than raising a child alone in an unfamiliar town. Terry Miller has discovered three things in a very short amount of time: his high school sweetheart's been cheating on him with his father, killing is fun, and if he does it just right, he can switch bodies with his victims.

About Lincoln

LINCOLN CRISLER has been writing and editing horror and science fiction since 2006. His first novel-length collection, Queen & Other Stories, is now on sale from Apokrupha. His debut novel, Skinjumper, and third anthology are scheduled for publication in the fall. A United States Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer, Lincoln lives in Augusta, Georgia

Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter @lcrisler

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New York Comic Con 2014 - Thoughts and Giveaway 1

I've been attending New York Comic Con (NYCC) for 5 years now and I am happy to report that NYCC 2014 was the best ever. While Thursday seemed as crowded as Saturday for the first time, it never felt too crowded. Of course that observation may be due to my new walking-through-the-crowds mantra - "all these people assure that NYCC will be back next year!" Of course it will, and I hope to be there too.

The literary track was amazing this year as you can see from the photos below (and those are not all of the photos). If you are a fan of any form of speculative fiction, you really should make an effort to go to at least one NYCC if possible. Tickets disappear quickly so follow NYCC on Twitter or subscribe to their email list so you know when sales start. The tickets really go fast.

Even focusing on authors and books I could not see everyone I wanted to see especially since we did a lot of video interviews, which we will be rolling out shortly.  Yes, we do usually wait until November or so to share our NYCC coverage each year. (Everyone else is done with their coverage by now.)  I had a fabulous and exhausting time and have picked up some goodies for giveaways not only to celebrate NYCC, but The Qwillery's 6th Anniversary, and our over 1,000,000 pageviews.

So why are so many of these authors holding a wooden pumpkin? You may click on the images to embiggen.

Amber Benson
Anton Strout
Bishop O'Connell
C.L. Wilson
Caitlin Kittredge
Charles E. Gannon
Chuck Wendig
Colleen Gleason
Dana Cameron
Ellen Datlow & Laird Barron
Eric Smith
Ethan Reid
Gail Z. Martin
Harry Heckel
Jeff Rovin
John Scalzi
Larissa Ione
Larry Correia
Michael J. Martinez
Michael R. Underwood
Peter David
Richard Kadrey
Robin Hobb
Sam Sykes
Steven Gould
Also signing but
not pictured:

Robert Levy

Trey Dowell

This is why: we are giving away the pumpkin (along with copies of the photos in a black scrapbook) and some other items. This is just 1 of 3 giveaways.
Along with this signed pumpkin (and guide to the signatures), the winner of this giveaway will also receive:

Mass Market Paperback copies of
  1.  Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer 1)by Robin Hobb;
  2.  His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire 1) by Naomi Novik;
  3.  The Eflstones of Shannara (First King of Shannara 2) by Terry Brooks;
  4.  The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War 2) by John Scalzi;
  5.  Carnelians (Skolian Empire 14) by Catherine Asaro;
  6.  Pandora's Star (Commonwelath Saga 1) by Peter F. Hamilton;
  7.  Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles 1) by Kevin Hearne;
  8.  The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard 1) by Scott Lynch;

9.  A Trade Paperback copy of  The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 6 (signed by Ellen Datlow);

10.  An Uncorrected Proof of The Clockwork Dagger (Clockwork 1) by Beth Cato;

11.  Uprooted by Naomi Novik - Chapters Pamphlet (Chapters 1 -3);

12.  Don't Look Now Sampler - Suspense, Historical Thrillers and Cozy Mysteries;

13.  2014 Sampler including excerpts from works by Joe Abercrombie, Terry Brooks, Pierce Brown, Diana Gabaldon and more;

14.  Some pins!

(Note that the scrapbook page in the background is just a mock-up and the ones you receive may, and probably in fact, will look different.)

The Giveaway and Rules

What:  One entrant will win the signed wooden pumpkin, the books, the pamphlets, and the pins.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on December 14, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melanie's Week in Review - November 23, 2014

Welcome to winter! I feel for those of you who have had been suffering from all the snow. It has finally started to feel like winter here in the UK (well apart from Saturday). It has been a murky week to have as annual leave and consequently I didn't manage to read very much. So what did I read?

I only managed to finish one book this week (hangs head in shame) but it was a 'goody'. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey is not your typical zombie fiction. Normally, I don't like horror  - either watching it or reading it but I make some exceptions...mainly for zombies. I love Walking Dead, The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant and Carey's one off tale of a young girl in the midst of a Z-poc. The story starts with a young girl named Melanie (not the reason why I liked it so much either!) who is held prisoner in a military institution along with a dozen other children. She is held in a prison cell, strapped to a chair everyday by soldiers who hold a gun to her head and only looks forward to the few short hours she attends 'school' and taught by the beloved Miss Justineau. In between lessons on the Greek gods and mythology Miss Justineau also teaches her about the world before the 'hungries', before mankind got decimated not just by zombies but by each other. Everything changes when the installation is over-run by junkers and she is on the run with 2 of the soldiers who kept her chained to a chair, a scientist who was about to dissect her alive and her beloved teacher.  On the run, with no where to hide and nothing to eat, pursued by the junkers and zombies alike Melanie learns who she really is and what she is capable of.

This is a gripping book from page 1. You are immediately drawn into Melanie's life not just from her POV chapters but through the other characters in the main story including Miss Justineau. I couldn't really put it down and I thought that Carey pitched the horror at the right level so that you weren't always being 'grossed out'. I like how Carey interwove the Greek myths both through Melanie's schooling but also from how they started to play out in the story. If you like a good story and don't mind the occasional zombie kid munching someone's entrails then this is an excellent book.

I am super excited that Dragon Age Inquisition was out on Friday. I am a very bad gamer but love role playing games and the Dragon Age series is my favourite. There is also a set of books to accompany the games and I started The Calling by David Gaider, who also writes for the games. This is the second book in the prequel series to the games. So far it is pretty good and written very much like the games. If you are a fan of the Dragon Age games then I urge you to check out the books.

That is it for me this week. I am back to work next week and then I have jury service for 2 weeks. I have been informed that it is highly likely that I will have lots of time to read during jury service.  Wish me luck! Until next week Happy Reading.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review: A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney

A Different Kingdom
Author:  Paul Kearney
Publisher:  Solaris, January 28, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN: 978-1-78108-186-0 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family's farm.

Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend.

And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.

When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away – or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.

Doreen’s Thoughts

Paul Kearney is a new author for me, and all I can wonder is how I ever missed him! His A Different Kingdom starts off in rural Ireland sometime in the 1950s, after the Second World War, and while Ireland is deeply divided along religious lines between the Catholics and the Protestants. Much of Ireland is still farmland or unsettled wilderness. Modern luxuries such as mechanized farm equipment and motorcars are few and far between. It was a time of transition, and as such, a terrific environment to set his coming-of-age story for Michael Fay.

Michael Fay is an orphan whose parents were killed as collateral damage in a bombing in Belfast. At the start of the book, he is about six years old. The opening chapter focuses on his extended family -- the grandparents who run the farm, his uncle who is eager to take over running the farm, two aunts, various cousins, and any number of field hands who work the land around the homestead.

However, in the middle of the first section, Kearney introduces an older Michael with his lover, Cat, fleeing for their lives in a world distinctly different from the placid farmlands where he played as a child. Then the story cuts back to the young boy who discovers that past the river that separates the fields from the forest is an Other Place, more wild and mysterious than his everyday life. From there, the story jaunts to an even older Michael, living alone in a city as a bartender and trying to forget the magic that once surrounded him. Kearney continues to intertwine the three narratives back and forth, rather than tell his tale simply from start to finish. While it seemed a little startling at first, I came to enjoy wandering around with Michael at various ages and trying to put together the pieces of his life in some straight line. It was almost impossible to do, which may seem unsettling, but actually worked the way that Kearney presented it.

Juggling timelines and locations just added to the overall mystery of the story. Kearney has a terrific eye for detail, and his descriptions are extremely well done, painting vivid pictures of his characters and their environments. The Other Place has several different races that may have evolved from different time periods of our world – seemingly wild men who could have evolved from Neanderthals, fae creatures that might be the original Fairy folk, missionaries/Templers who dictate their religion to the folk scratching out a living in return for protection, and the werewolves working for the Dark Huntsman who may well be the Devil himself.

This story is almost dreamlike in its telling. The language is lyrical, and the action is raw. I definitely enjoyed A Different Kingdom, although it was not an easy novel to read. It requires a reader to take it in great chunks. For someone like me who bounces between two or three books at a time, I had to focus all my attention on this one, but it was well worth the investment.