Category Archives: New Releases

Magic, Intrigue, Medieval Surgery: Elisha Mancer Book Launch Day!

Yes, I’m excited today because book 4 in my Dark Apostle Series comes out this very day.  What do you mean, you’re not that excited? Oh, right, you probably haven’t read book one.  So rather than harp on about a new book that is best read after the first three, how about I post the opening of Elisha Barber, the book that started it all?

Elisha stands over an array of medieval medical instruments–the barber is in! visit my website for a scroll-over image with descriptions of each tool

Here you go:

“You sent her to the hospital?” Elisha whirled to face his brother, the razor still in his fist. “My God, man, what were you thinking?”

“The midwife couldn’t help her, Elisha, and she’s in such awful pain, for the babe won’t come,” Nathaniel stammered, his pale hands clenched together. He ducked in the low door of the draper’s quarters, his fair hair brushing the carved oak of the lintel.  “The neighbors carried her over while I came here.”

“But the hospital? That place is deadly.” Elisha set his razor again at his customer’s chin, deftly shearing a narrow stretch of the full, and now unfashionable, beard. “What did she say?

“Not so fast, if you don’t mind. I care to keep my chin today, Barber,” the draper snapped.

“Helena?” Nathaniel asked, his face a mask of anguish and confusion.

“No, you fool, the midwife!” Elisha slapped the razor through the water basin and plied it again, forcing himself to slow down. Last thing he needed was to carve the ear off the master of the drapers’ guild.

Sagging, his brother balanced himself against the wall, scrubbing at his sweaty face. “The babe’s turned, and wedged somehow. She thought the physicians—”

At the mention of physicians, Elisha froze. The draper glowered up at him from his best leather chair, but his brother’s wife lay in the hospital, contracting God-knew-what illness added to her condition. For a moment, his conflicting duties trapped him—but Helena needed him, if it weren’t already too late. The draper could abide. Flinging down his razor, Elisha roughly dried his hands on his britches. “The physicians never enter the hospital if they can advise from afar. Nobody who can afford their services goes to hospital.” He popped open the window frame nearest and flung out the dirty water.

The draper rubbed a hand across his chin and jerked it back with a cry of dismay. “You’ve not finished the job, Barber. I’ve still got half a beard!”

“Then you owe me half my fee,” Elisha told him. He snatched his towel from the man’s neck and spun on his heel, basin tucked under his arm. The razor he folded with a snap and gripped until his fingers hurt. “Why did you not come for me sooner?” he asked, dropping his voice to a murmur.

Instantly, Nathaniel straightened, taking advantage of his superior height. “I think you know why.”

For a moment, their eyes met, and Nathaniel swallowed but gave no ground to his elder brother. Elisha had caused the breach that lay between them. He had apologized, but Nathaniel’s presence here was as close as he would come to forgiveness.

 

Want to read more?  Here’s a link to the first three chapters of Elisha Barber!  Available wherever books are sold.  When you love it, you’ll know there are three more volumes ready and waiting. . . and one final book forthcoming to complete the series.    Thanks for reading!

The War of the Adverbs

We’re delighted to feature a guest post today from Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, author of the new book Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg. Take it away, Alvaro!

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Traveler of WorldsIt’s a pleasure to be on Novelocity—thanks so much for having me!

Given that this forum is intended for the discussion of books and their creation, I feel comfortable invoking a writer whose life—over the course of a career now spanning a staggering six decades!—has been largely dedicated to the creation of hundreds of books: Robert Silverberg. I had the pleasure of conducting interviews with Bob over the course of 2015, and we talked about all sorts of things. The edited, organized result of these candid conversations may be found in my just-published book, Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg.

Of course, despite the wide range of subjects we cover, writing was never far from Bob’s mind. We talked about many writers (within genre and without), the meaning of awards, the writing process itself (schedule, etc.), the difference between artistic writing and hack work, and even word usage and grammatical constructions.

In Chapter 6, specifically, Bob and I spend some time investigating the first and last lines of famous novels by Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy and Graham Greene.

At one point in the conversation I ask Bob the following:

“AZA: I want to go back to the end of The Sun Also Rises for a moment, to this line:

The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.” It seems that some writers are very sensitive to adverbs these days, in particular something like “suddenly.” The idea is that if you want to convey suddenness, you can do so by picking a better verb that does it for you, without then having to modify it. To be more elegant in the word choice and make the adverb unnecessary.”

I was curious what Bob thought of this dictum, which I often see given as advice to starting writers (avoid “suddenly” at all costs, etc.).

Here is his response:

“RS: I don’t see anything wrong with “suddenly.” I object to finding different ways to say, “he said.” But “suddenly”? Look, there’s some people who’ll tell you that you shouldn’t use adverbs at all. Or that you shouldn’t use adjectives at all. Whatever works.”

Whatever works. Those words have stayed with me.

Of course, an argument can be made that “suddenly,” and some of its adverbial brethren, are overused, and may indicate laziness on the part of the writer. But that doesn’t mean they may not sometimes be appropriate. They appear in many of the great works of literature, after all, and I don’t think that striking them out would visibly improve such works. They appear in science fiction classics, too.

Ever since I first heard of the admonition to avoid “suddenly,” there was a particular science fiction novel that kept whispering skepticism in my mind. Its opening paragraph contains what I consider one of the finest lines in all of science fiction:

“Yet, across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

This is H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. And it confronts us with that double adverbial offender, “slowly and surely.” Re-writing that sentence without that phrase is possible, sure, but I’m doubtful that it would make it better.

You may say, “Alvaro, ‘slowly and surely’ is not the same as ‘suddenly.’” True. But the word “suddenly” itself appears many times, too, in the same novel: for example in “Suddenly the monster vanished” or “Suddenly there was a flash of light,” and dozens of others.

Historical distance, then? Times change, and today’s readers may not enjoy Wells’ style in the same way the readers of his day might have. Over a century later, we may have become more sensitive to such word choices and repetitions, more canny and sophisticated as readers.

But modern writers like Joyce Carol Oates use “suddenly” quite freely, and I don’t think it’s harmed their careers any, or caused them to be considered poorer writers. Open a novel by Doris Lessing and you may find it strewn with suddenness! They still gave her the Nobel Prize for Literature. I’m reading The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville right now, and the first “suddenly” explodes into being on page 8. Are we to take China Miéville to task for this?

So ultimately, I’m going to take refuge in “Whatever works.”

It’s a freeing thought.

Not “whatever goes,” but “whatever works.”

Our words as writers, whatever their taxonomy, need to work together to produce an overall effect. Maybe some writers feel that “suddenly” is more appropriate for a first-person narrative than one written from a third-person perspective; or that it should be used only under specific circumstances. Fine. But arguing that specific word choices should be avoided on principle, I think, unduly restricts us in our enjoyment of the English language, and in conveying its expressive wonders to our readers.

Bio:

Alvaro Zinos-AmaroAlvaro started publishing around 2008, and has had more than thirty stories appear in magazines like AnalogNatureGalaxy’s EdgeThe Journal of Unlikely EntomologyLackington’sMothership Zeta, Farrago’s Wainscot and Neon, as well as anthologies such as The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of MoriartyThe Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper TalesThe 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure GuideCyber WorldThis Way to the End Times [edited by R. Silverberg], Humanity 2.0 and An Alphabet of Embers. Alvaro’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Review of BooksThe First LineAsimov’sStrange HorizonsClarkesworldSF SignalFoundation, The New York Review of Science Fiction and Intergalactic Medicine Show; he also edits the roundtable blog for Locus.

Find him at: his website, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, and Goodreads.

New Release: Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

After 20+ years writing and publishing short and long fiction, and nominations for the Campbell, Hugo, and Nebula awards, today marks Lawrence M. Schoen’s “big press” debut with the release of Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard from Tor Books.

Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard

Prophecy. Friendship. Intolerance. Conspiracy. Loyalty.
A Drug for Speaking to the Dead.
Also Elephants, in Space.

Barsk is an anthropomorphic SF novel set in the far future. As an elevator pitch, think Dune meets The Sixth Sense, with elephants.

It’s the story of a young man (okay, a young elephant), a historian who discovers he may be part of a prophecy made eight hundred years ago. It’s the story of the historian’s friend, a scientist who sacrificed his life to hide a terrible discovery. It’s the story of the scientist’s friend, a bizarre child who by all accounts should have died in infancy, who has visions and receives guidance from the planet of Barsk itself, as well as its moons. It’s the story of a culture’s way of doing things, and an outside power thwarting tradition. It’s the story of a new branch of physics that explains memory and transcends death and promises to change everything you believe about both.

Here’s what people are saying about Barsk:

“This a hopeful and very human tale in a posthuman world.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Weird, wise, and worldly, Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard is a triumph.”
―Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

“The second you encounter the arboreal uplifted elephants who speak with the dead, you know you’re reading a work of singular imaginative power. It’s a delight from beginning to end.”
―Walter Jon Williams, Nebula Award-winning author of the Metropolitan series

“A captivating, heartwarming story in a unique and fantastic world… as rich and mysterious as Dune.”
―James L. Cambias, author of A Darkling Sea

“A heartfelt and wonderfully weird book: a space opera about kindness and memory.”
―Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence

“A masterful, onion-layered tale of pariahdom, treachery, and genocide that ultimately reveals the true deathlessness of hope and love.”
―Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire

“Combines excellent characters and a fascinating world. What really makes it work is how he deftly weaves together startling SFnal ideas with character-based intrigue. You’ll really care for these characters, even as you find them believably alien. I found it a compulsive page-turner and immensely enjoyable.”
―Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep

“Powerful. Grand in scope, yet deeply intimate. Schoen gives anthropomorphism some serious spirituality. It got inside my head in the way that only an exciting new idea can.”
―Howard Tayler, Hugo Award-winning creator of Schlock Mercenary

“Barsk will challenge every reader’s ideas of what should be possible in SF and leave them delighted to be proven wrong… This book is an astonishing achievement.”
―Kirsten Beyer, author of Children of the Storm

“Readers who like their sf to extensively delve into philosophical subjects will love this book.”
—Library Journal

“Spectacular world building, emotionally poignant narrative, compelling action, and fantastic character development.”
—NerdMuch.com

New Release: The Shores of Spain

Out today, from Ace/Roc, the final novel in the Golden City series by J. Kathleen Cheney:
TSOS300

A brilliant new chapter in the Novels of the Golden City.

Even as the branches of peace are being offered, there are some who still believe those who are not human should be used as chattel. And they are willing to go to great lengths to retain their power.

Newlywed siren Oriana Paredes has been appointed Ambassador to her home islands now that communication between Northern Portugual and the magical races has been restored. But convincing her people that the new Portuguese Prince’s intentions are honorable after years of persecution is difficult. And her husband, Duilio, faces his own obstacles among the sirens where males are a rare and valuable commodity with few rights.

In addition to their diplomatic mission, the two hope to uncover the truth behind Oriana’s mother’s death. Evidence suggests that Spain—a country that has been known to enslave magical beings—may have infiltrated the siren authority. Unable to leave their post, Oriana and Duilio must call on Inspector Joaquim Tavares to root out the truth.

But even his seer’s gift cannot prepare him for what he will discover.

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This is the third and final book in the series, although there will be a couple of related novellas eventually…

 

In addition, the mass market paperback of The Seat of Magic goes on sale today…so if you purchase books at that size, this is your chance!

Seat of MagicEnjoy!

Vectors: Maternal Figures

Mother’s Day was celebrated in America this past Sunday. Today we look to our favorite mothers portrayed in genre fiction and media.

Beth Cato
BoneshakerIf I expand the question to include movies, I think of Elastigirl in The Incredibles and Sara Connor in Terminator 2. Focusing on books, though, it’s a lot harder. I think that points to a major deficit in the genre. Most of the powerful, female protagonists that come to mind are not mothers or even maternal.

However, one of the fundamental books of steampunk has a fantastic mother. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker features the sassy Briar Wilkes, the kind of woman who is willing to brave poisonous gas and a zombie-filled Seattle in order to save her undeniably daft teenage son. She’s a character to root for and it’s great to see her in the background of other stories in the series.

M.K. Hutchins
Carpe DemonCarpe Demon by Julie Kenner stars a retired demon-hunter turned soccer mom who suddenly finds herself needing to brush up on her old skills to keep her family and town safe. It was a fun read — quick plot, great voice, and a perspective I rarely see in fiction. I loved how fresh the book felt, just by making the character older and giving her a teenager and a toddler to juggle as well as a town infested by demons.

KataraI’m also immensely fond of Katara from the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. She’s not a mom, but she often fills that role for others. One of my favorite scenes is Sokka, her brother, telling someone else that he can’t remember the face of his mother anymore. When he tries, he just sees Katara. Mother-characters often get shortchanged, but the writers made Katara a well-rounded person with her own goals, fears, and internal struggles. She cares deeply about others — whether she’s mothering them or dressing up as a spirit and engaging in epic water-bender battles to defend people she just met. I adore her.

Steve Bein
Aunt PolAunt Pol from David Eddings’s Belgariad is the first one who springs to mind. She’s the kind of mom who never needs to spank a kid because one arched eyebrow is enough to make the kid shape up. She’s loving and stern in equal measure, and then there’s the fact that she’s also a sorceress of godlike power. That’s always helpful for keeping the rugrats in line.

New Release: SERIOUSLY WICKED by Tina Connolly

I am really excited to announce that I have a new series starting today from Tor Teen! Seriously Wicked is a light-hearted standalone about a girl who lives with a *seriously wicked* witch. School Library Journal used a lot of lovely words about it like “magical” and “whimsical” and “witty” and “effervescent” (to which I used a lot of words like “squee!!”)

Read on for a little more about it, or read the first chapter right here as part of the Buzz Books 2015 YA collection!

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose–and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch…will that mean she’s wicked too?

Find the book at Powells, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon, and find all my tour stops and more information on my website!

New Release: Superposition by David Walton

Superposition

SUPERPOSITION is about a family torn apart, a man falsely accused of murder, and a race to control a quantum technology before a powerful creature destroys them all.

Jacob Kelley’s family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker…apparently murdered the night before.  As the details of the crime slowly come to light, the weave of reality becomes ever more tangled, twisted by a miraculous new technology and a quantum creature unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. With the help of his daughter, Alessandra, Jacob must clear his name and find the true murderer before the creature destroys his family and everything he loves.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Audible

You can read more about David Walton and his work at http://www.davidwaltonfiction.com/

New Release: “The Deepest Poison” from Beth Cato

Beth Cato’s Clockwork Dagger short story “The Deepest Poison” is out from Harper Voyager Impulse today! This story takes place before The Clockwork Dagger, but either can be read first. This story is just 99-cents.

Deepest Poison

Octavia Leander, a young healer with incredible powers, has found her place among Miss Percival’s medicians-in-training. Called to the frontlines of a never-ending war between Caskentia and the immoral Wasters, the two women must uncover the source of a devastating illness that is killing thousands of soldiers. But when Octavia’s natural talents far outshine her teacher’s, jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship—as time runs out to save the encampment.

Fans of Beth Cato’s debut, The Clockwork Dagger, will love this journey into Octavia’s past—as well as an exclusive excerpt from the sequel, The Clockwork Crown (which comes out on June 9th)!

Release: April 28th, 2015 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

New release: GRAIL MAIDEN novella by E.C. Ambrose

I’m excited to announce the release of a Dark Apostle tie-in novella, The Grail Maiden.

Grail Maiden

1307, Carlisle, England

Young Allyson is the first to hear of the death of King Edward II during a battle with the Scots—but cannot reveal her knowledge lest she be exposed as a witch.

When the man she loves, a Templar, returns from France with news of the disbanding of his order and the arrest of its leaders, she realizes that the heir to England might well betray the Templars to his own advantage. She must turn for aid to the one man she dare not trust: her own husband.

Each of them holds a secret that will change the lives of the others as they work to prevent the war with Scotland from becoming the ruin of them all.

For those who are fans of The Dark Apostle, you’ll meet characters you thought you knew, with a history you’d never suspect. For those who have yet to read Elisha Barber, there’s an excerpt included in this novella!

You can purchase the ebook at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com or through Smashwords. Trade paperback forthcoming!

New release: DISCIPLE OF THE WIND by Steve Bein

Disciple of the Wind by Steve Bein

On April 7th, the third book of Steve Bein’s Fates Blades series was released:

When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even though she doesn’t have proof. She pleads with her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator, an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind, armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate that has been controlling Japanese politics from the shadows for centuries. They are the Wind, and they have a penchant for mystical relics—relics like Mariko’s own sword, and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it will eventually destroy her…

For more information, visit http://www.philosofiction.com or follow Steve on Facebook or Twitter @AllBeinMyself.