Things that are happening right now ... Labyrinth of Flame, Group AMAs, excerpts & reviews

All week this week, r/Fantasy will be running group AMAs with a host of your favorite fantasy authors. Today, I join Anne Leckie, Janny Wurts, Michael J Sullivan, Shawn Speakman, Holly Black, Emma Newman, and Brian McClellan in a group AMA where you can ask us ANYTHING.

While you're there, think about giving to Pat Rothfuss' Worldbuilders. Today (Tuesday, December 1, 2015), all donations through Worldbuilders will be matched by Patrick Rothfuss AND Heifer International will match that amount towards their work in Haiti. So, if you are so inclined, give a $1 and watch it grow.

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AS WE SPEAK!

Courtney Schafer's third novel, THE LABYRINTH OF FLAME, is out in ebook today! 

If you haven't already checked out the Shattered Sigil series, you really should give it a go. It has adventure, mountain climbing, and a really cool twist on demons. Strong characters and plot will leave you wanting to sit down and read all three novels back to back.

You can read an excerpt from WITHOUT LIGHT OR GUIDE at Bishop O'Connell's blog! While you're over there, say hi to Bishop and check out his American Faerie Tales. Bishop will be stopping here soon to talk about his series, so stay tuned.

Over at The Supernatural Underground, I tell you to Step Away From That Manuscript -- After #NaNoWriMo.

The first review for Without Light or Guide from the TLC Book Tour is live! Kelly Woodward reviews Without Light or Guide at You Can Read Me Anything. For those of you who are hesitant to pick up a sequel without having read the first novella, please give this review a read.

I was really very glad that someone who had not read the first novella reviewed Without Light or Guide. It is incredibly difficult to make the second story in a series stand alone.

So that is it for now. I'll be back with another round-up later this week.

what I've been reading: The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer

what I've been reading: The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer

A disclaimer before I begin this review: Courtney and I are both former NSB authors, whose debut novels were published within months of one another. Since then, she and I have emailed one another frequently and I consider her to be a friend. That doesn't mean that I will pull punches in my review. It's just there for your information.

For those of you who have not been keeping up with Courtney's Shattered Sigil series (gives a stare worthy of Chuck Wendig), you should be. The first book of the series, The Whitefire Crossing, was a wild romp of a read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you want to read my review of The Whitefire Crossing, it is here.

And now, The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer:

Read More

what I've been reading and what they're doing right (#SFWApro)

Last Thursday, I finished my latest work, Cygnet Moon, and shipped the novel and its accompanying submission package off to my agent. Writing a novel is an immersive business for me, especially when I get into the final quarter and during edits. I don't read anything but the story that I'm working on. I do this so that I don't accidentally pick up someone else's voice during my final round of edits.

I restrict my reading to blog posts and research, then once I'm done, I go on an absolute binge of reading. Here are a few books that I've found worth my while:

Preternatural by G.S. Anderson

I once had an agent who offered up a unique challenge: Anyone, he posited, can tell you what is wrong with a story. The challenge is in telling someone what is RIGHT with a story. Find what works, and you can discover writing secrets, which you can then apply to your own writing. That suggestion has remained with me all these years, so when I find myself enjoying an author's work, I start looking for what that particular author is doing right.

Anderson tells twelve unique stories in this little volume, and I had to read it twice to find out what she was doing right, because her writing is so smooth and enjoyable, I found myself reading for fun the first time through.

What she did right: smooth storytelling with skillful prose made me forget to study fiction and simply enjoy stories for fun. Anderson's writing reminded me Stephen King's Joyland. Skillful storytelling with a cool Twilight Zone twist hidden within each tale. I read it quickly--too quickly--and read it again. My favorite story was "The Unicorn" and I hope that Anderson will give us more shorts such as these. If you're looking for something perfect to while away an afternoon, I highly suggest you check out Preternatural.

Those Across the River and The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman.

Over the winter, I read Christopher Buehlman's Between Two Fires. I enjoyed his story and writing style so much that when my daughter gave me a B&N gift card for my birthday, I ordered his other two novels: Those Across the River and The Necromancer's House.

Of the two, I found myself enjoying the Those Across the River more than The Necromancer's House, but I believe that was more to do with my mindset. Both stories are well worth your time, though, especially if you love horror.

I read Those Across the River in two days. The story is set in post-World War I Georgia when Frank Nichols and his wife Eudora move to Whitbrow, Georgia and learn of the town's disturbing history. Once a month, the town sends a gift of two pigs across the river where the old Savoyard plantation once stood, but the Great Depression is hitting all of the farmers hard, and the town votes to stop wasting its livestock in a ritual that only a few want to maintain. However, it isn't long before those across the river return to take what is no longer freely given.

What is right about this book: everything. The pacing moves at a breakneck speed and Buehlman has a talent for dark fiction, knowing just how much to weave into the story to keep the reader hooked without going overboard into the dreaded school of over-writing. The story is lean, quick, and cuts like a knife.

Unlike Those Across the River, The Necromancer's House jumped between different points of view, which jarred me at times. I had a little trouble getting into the story and the characters, but once there, I really found myself enjoying this twisted take on Baba Yaga. Buehlman's climax and ending were superb.

What he does right: Buehlman takes the time to research his stories, and he puts just enough of that research into the work to give his story authenticity. The balance is absolutely perfect. I'll be watching for more of Buehlman's work.

The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer.

This is the second book in Schafer's Shattered Sigil series and I am currently reading it. I love Schafer's storytelling.

What she does right: Likable characters woven into a good, old-fashioned adventure story with lots of twists and betrayals. Kiran is my favorite character in this story, and Dev is back with style.

I'll be back with a full review when I'm done, but Tainted City is my last fun read before I start work on a new novella.

If you've got a minute and you're reading something good, leave it in the comments. Let us know what you find right about the author's work.

feeding the imagination (#SFWApro)

During 2013, I didn't have a lot of time to read due to writing and all the other things that I talked about in my year end wrap-up. I intend to rectify that in 2014. In addition to my annual business plan, I've decided to develop a definitive reading plan as well. Nonfiction is always a given for me due to the necessity for research; however, I think that having a good plan for reading fiction is just as vital.

More than once, I have arrived at plot or characterization solutions by allowing my imagination to free-roam through another's work, whether it be a short-story, a novel, or a movie. The experience is very difficult to explain, but often a word or a phrase will trigger the solution to an entirely different problem that I am having with my work. Fiction excites the imagination, and the old adage about drawing from an empty well is entirely apropos in any artistic endeavor.

Therefore, I will feed my imagination more this year. I've crafted a partial plan for 2014:

Colder Greyer Stones by Tanith Lee. I have long been a fan of Tanith Lee's works, especially her short stories. I am already halfway through this collection and I am savoring it to make it last. Lee's prose is haunting and lyrical and her imagery remains in my mind long after I've put her stories down.

Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman. I'm in the dead middle of this novel now and I will finish it during the first part of the year. If you love knights, angelology, and horror, you are in for a major treat.

Tainted City by Courtney Schafer. I always try to keep up with my friends and their works, not just out of the feeling of mutual support, but also because I always find something to enjoy in their novels. Courtney has created two very memorable characters with Dev and Kiran, and she knows how to write an adventure novel. I absolutely loved The Whitefire Crossing, and I am really looking forward to digging into the sequel.

A Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman. This book has earned nothing but praise from the book bloggers who I trust, so this will be my starting point for C.S. Friedman's works.

The Tower Broken by Mazarkis Williams. Having already finished The Emperor's Knife and Knife Sworn, I can't wait to see how Williams ends the saga. This novel is already available in the U.K. I'm waiting for it to hit the U.S.

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan. Generation V was the last book that I finished in 2013, and if you're looking for a fun romp filled with vampires and kitsune and all kinds of yummy action, this is the book for you. Meanwhile, Brennan continues Fort's adventures with Iron Night, and I hear there are some really interesting plot developments in store for the vampires and kitsune alike.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews. Here is another author whose work I've been dying to read. I just love Ilona's voice and the snippets she posts on her blog, so I have this as one of my must-reads for 2014. Everyone, absolutely everyone, seems to love this series, so I will finally meet Kate Daniels in 2014.

There is a mix here of horror, fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance, and there is a reason for that. For me, reading a diverse selection of literature helps me grow as a writer. I love seeing authors use different techniques and methods to tell their stories.

In addition to the books that I've listed here, I will probably read some thrillers and literary fiction and romances too. I'm also trolling other authors and bloggers to see what they're reading. Whenever one of our librarians comes to me and says, read this, you will love it, I don't question either of them. I read the book, because even if I don't love the book, I will have broadened my reading experience and fed my imagination a little more.

So if you have a minute, tell me what is on your to-read pile in 2014? How will you feed your imagination? And in what genres?

Debut Authorpalooza (2012) & Reddit AMA

I am joining Justin at Staffer's Book Review, along with nine other debut authors for a two week long event of guest posts, prizes, and never-before-seen excerpts from our second novels. It is the Debut Authorpalooza 2012!

The following authors have all volunteered to write a blog post and offer up an excerpt:

Mark Lawrence Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns

Kameron Hurley God's War, Infidel, Rapture 

Elspeth Cooper Songs of the Earth, Trinity Rising

Courtney Schafer The Whitefire Crossing, The Tainted City

Stina Leicht Of Blood and Honey, And Blue Skies From Pain

Mazarkis Williams The Emperor's Knife, Knifesworn

Bradley Beaulieu The Winds of Khalakovo, The Straits of Galahesh

Anne Lyle The Alchemist of Souls, Merchant of Dreams

Doug Hulick Among Thieves, Sworn in Steel

And of course, I'll be there with my blog post and the first chapter of The Garden in its entirety.

We are also participating in a giant AMA on Reddit on July 19, 2012. That's right! Ten authors answering your questions on a Reddit AMA. You can read the intro here. I'll post more links as they become available, but your best bet is to watch Staffer's Book Review for all the details.

So when is your favorite author posting? Justin has the complete schedule here.

It all begins today, July 16, and Justin is kicking off the event with Mark Lawrence ...

Hanging out at Fantasy Book Critic with Stina, Courtney, and Brad

The Fantasy Book Critic has an awesome interview with part of the Night Shade Posse. I'm hanging out with Stina Leicht, Courtney Schafer, and Brad Beaulieu, answering some of Robert's excellent questions. We're talking about everything from fantasy to GMMR's Game of Thrones to [you guessed it] our own books.

It's a fun interview, so if you have a moment, ride over and check out FBC's Interview with Night Shade Books’ Bradley P. Beaulieu, Courtney Schafer, Stina Leicht and Teresa Frohock (Interviewed by Robert Thompson).

The Truth in Your Heart at The Night Bazaar

Congratulations goes out this week to Bradley P. Beaulieu who is celebrating the release of his debut novel The Winds of Khalakovo! To celebrate, Brad is giving away two copies of The Winds of Khalakovo over at The Night Bazaar.

Since this is his release week, Brad gets to pick the topic and this week it is all about writers who have influenced us. Courtney Schafer asked me to write the Sunday guest post and mine is online today.

So if you have a minute, you can click over and read The Truth in Your Heart, and keep checking back all week, because there are more great posts to come.

Oh, and if you're not already subscribed to The Night Bazaar, well, you should be . . .