Books Archives

[GUEST POST] S.G. Browne on The Writing Life

S.G. Browne is the author of the novels Big Egos, Lucky Bastard, Fated, Breathers, and the forthcoming Super Duper, as well as the novella I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus and the ebook collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel. He’s a Guinness aficionado, ice cream snob, and a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life. He lives in San Francisco.

The Writing Life: We Are Not Alone

by S.G. Browne

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing: isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

The above quote was taken from Robert De Niro’s presentation for the screenwriting category at the 2014 Academy Awards. I don’t know who wrote the words that De Niro spoke but whoever it was nailed writers to the post.
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Joshua Palmatier has posted the table of contents for his upcoming kickstarted anthology Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens:

  1. “The Cavorite Job” by Ian Tregillis
  2. “Gracie’s Fire” by Leah Cutter
  3. “Quinta Essentia” by Bradley P. Beaulieu
  4. “When Comrade Ekaterina Died for the Motherland” by J.R. Hargenrader
  5. “A Clockwork Alien” by Gini Koch
  6. “Heart of the Empire” by Jason Palmatier
  7. “The Red Queen and the White” by C.B. Pratt
  8. “The Wizard of Woodrow Park” by Jean Marie Ward
  9. “Of War and Wings” by Tansy Rayner Roberts
  10. “Airship Down: A Sound and Fury Adventure” by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin
  11. “Steamsuit” by David J. Fortier
  12. “Fingers of Steam, Veins of Gold” by Brad Hafford
  13. “Heart of Clockwork” by S.C. Butler
  14. “Lady Antheia’s Guide to Horticultural Warfare” by Seanan McGuire

There’s also an Introduction by Patricia Bray.

[via Tansy Rayner Roberts]

REVIEW SUMMARY: Epic Sword & Sorcery.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Freshly blooded from the defense of Lissen Carrak, the Red Knight and his company venture to Morea where they find themselves in the midst of a civil war. Elsewhere in the realm factions move one step closer toward total warfare. Alliances are made and schemes are fulfilled.

PROS: Larger-than-life characters; authentic descriptions; densely woven plot; bold scope; high stakes; complex and mysterious magic; enthralling action.
CONS: The large cast of the first book is expanded even further, and while the characters are well developed, it results in a slowed pace.
BOTTOM LINE: The sequel to one of my favorite novels of 2013 continues to deliver on the promise of the first book. This series is bound to please fans of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, and likely even Historical Fiction.
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Seth Skorkowsky was born beneath the pine trees of East Texas and grew up with a love of camping and outdoors. His teen years were spent ingesting heavy doses of Dungeons & Dragons and Clive Barker novels, but attributes Fritz Leiber as the single greatest influence on the atmosphere of his fantasy writing. Later this year will see the publication of two short story collections, Mountain Of Daggers and Sea Of Quills. His first novel, DÄMOREN, was just published by Ragnarok Publications.

The Story Behind DÄMOREN

by Seth Skorkowsky

Every story has a different process in which it was created. When I decided to write Dämoren, I only had a few things to go on. I knew the rules in which demons could possess people and die. I had a holy revolver that could kill them. However, I still had no hero, no plot, and no conflict. The only other thing I had was a series of scene flashes that I wanted to show, but no real link between them.
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How about an exclusive eBook Deal?

For the next two weeks, SF Signal readers can buy an eBook copy of Wrede on Writing: Tips, Hints, and Opinions on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede for only $1.99! That’s 60% off its regular $4.99 price. (The paperback goes for $16.99.)

Here’s the book description:

How do I turn an idea into a novel? How do I build a character? How do I decide how to tell a story?

Patricia C. Wrede has been a stalwart of the sci-fi/fantasy world for decades, publishing dozens of books across multiple series, storming bestseller lists and corralling accolades from critics and fans alike. Now, with brilliant insight and a sparkling wit, Wrede shows beginning writers the ropes in WREDE ON WRITING.

How do I find the time to write? How do I decide when a book is finished? How do I get my book published?

Wrede tackles all issues for writers, from the basic how-to’s to the more advanced topics on character development and worldbuilding. In her conversational tone, she gives writers the tips and tricks her experience has brought. After WREDE ON WRITING, authors will have the knowledge to put their tools to better use. Thinking of starting a book? Trying to finish one? WREDE ON WRITING will guide you towards that superior draft to send to agents, to publishers, and to readers.

How do I calculate royalties? How do I plan my finances as an author? How do I write as a career?

Before she became a successful full-time writer, Patricia C. Wrede worked in finance, and she also provides for authors an extensive look at how to manage the money—from royalties to determining the financial potential of your next project, Wrede provides authors with deep insight into the business of writing.

A brilliant guide from a literary stalwart, WREDE ON WRITING is the book everyone with a novel under their beds or inside their heads should read.

Purchase the book here to take advantage of this deal.

The folks over at VODO have assembled an eclectic mix of science fiction media in a single, pay-what-you-want bundle. The basic Otherworlds Bundle includes the following movies, games, comics, books and music:

  • Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now [[Book] – Graphic novel of six stories by Cory Doctorow.
  • Bientôt L’été [Game] – Heavily atmospheric game for two players. Existential!
  • 2145 [Audio] – Dark Ambient music from Sabled Sun
  • The Surrogates [Book] – Acclaimed five-part comic series. NY Times Bestseller.
  • Blink [Film] – 4 tightly-crafted visions of beyond in 1 short film.

But there’s more!
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Yeah, a few days late with this post…but last week at the Kirkus Review blog, I look at the latest round of speculative fiction books turning into movies.

Check out Read Them Now, Watch Them Later: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Adaptation Watch over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

Check it out!

Books Received: April 14, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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I’m always interested in what others are reading, how they read, how much they read, etc.

To that end, here’s another fun science fiction and fantasy book-related meme…

You know the drill: Copy the questions below and paste them into the comments with your answers.

  1. The first science fiction, fantasy or horror book I ever read was:
  2. The last science fiction, fantasy or horror book I read that I’d put in my “Top 20″ list is:
  3. The last science fiction, fantasy or horror book I couldn’t finish was:
  4. A science fiction, fantasy or horror author whose work I cannot get enough of is:
  5. A science fiction, fantasy or horror author I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet is:
  6. A science fiction, fantasy or horror book I would recommend to someone who hasn’t read sf/f/h is:
  7. A science fiction, fantasy or horror book that’s terribly underrated is:
  8. A science fiction, fantasy or horror book that’s terribly overrated is:

Lorie Ann Grover is a young adult novelist and board book author. She has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, and was a 2003 Washington State Book Award Finalist. Her works have been further honored by VOYA, Bank Street College, the New York Public Library, Parents Magazine, and Girls Life magazine. Lorie Ann is a co-founder of readergirlz, an advocate for teen literacy awarded the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize. She also co-founded readertotz, a board book blog to celebrate the best works for the youngest readers. For more information, please visit

Why I Wrote About Gendercide

by Lorie Ann Grover

I just didn’t think it was possible. Today? How could gendercide still be occurring? This is what I wondered back in 2004 when I ran across a snippet of an article talking about the killing of female infants. I was dumbfounded and then outraged as I considered the reality: for male preference, females were being killed in the womb or shortly after birth. My anger against the atrocity found release in writing my fantasy novel, Firstborn. Sadly, as my book launches ten years later, gendercide continues in 45 countries around the world. “There is an entire system, a social machinery, that says we don’t want females,” says gender activist, Rita Banerji.
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Right now you can get the ebook version of Red Rising by Pierce Brown for only $1.99 on the Amazon Kindle, Nook and Apple platforms!

Here’s what it’s about:

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

The Transformation of George R.R. Martin

I’ve been a fan of Game of Thrones since I first caught it a couple of years ago, and I’ve been impressed with the HBO series as I’ve continued to watch. When Season 1 hit, I pulled out my copies of A Song of Ice and Fire and started the first book, alternatively reading and watching the show. I’ve found the books to be a trial to get through, but I’ve ultimately enjoyed them.

I’ve found Martin’s rise to real fame in the last couple of years to be an interesting thing to watch, and it’s equally as interesting to look back and remember that he was a fairly prominent SF author throughout the 70s and 80s, and with this past weekend’s release of Season 4, it’s a good time to look back on his roots.

Go read The Transformation of George R.R. Martin over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog.

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

[Editor's Note: I would like to apologize that this post first went up without the entire third response and an outdated biography.  The post has been edited to show the complete answer and the author's biography has been updated. -JS]

Today’s recommendations are by Leah Bobet. Leah Bobet’s first novel, Above, was nominated for the 2012 Andre Norton Award and the 2013 Aurora Award, and her short fiction has appeared in several Year’s Best anthologies and as part of online serial Shadow Unit.  She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she edits Ideomancer Speculative Fiction, picks urban apple trees, does civic engagement activism, and works as a bookseller at Bakka-Phoenix Books, Canada’s oldest science fiction bookstore.  Leah’s second novel, On Roadstead Farm—a literary dustbowl fantasy where stuff blows up—will appear from Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2015.

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Right now you can get The Blade Itself, the first book of Joe Abercrombie’s series The First Law, for only $1.99!

Here’s the book description:

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body – not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers. Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men. And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all – ideally by running away from it. But as he’s discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed. . . especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult…

get it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you purchase your ebooks. (As of this writing, the iTunes prioce is $12.99.)

Jon Sprunk is the author of the fantasy epic Blood and Iron as well as the Shadow Saga trilogy (Shadow’s Son, Shadow’s Lure, and Shadow’s Master). He’s also a mentor at the Seton Hill University fiction writing program. For more on his life and writing, check out

Inspirations for BLOOD AND IRON

by Jon Sprunk

The first book in my new epic fantasy series, Blood and Iron, came out in early March. Briefly, it’s about a war for freedom in an ancient land ruled by sorcery and powerful cults.

Today I’d like to tell you about what inspired me to tackle this series. Sources of inspiration are a tricky thing to track down. There are lots of reason why I why like to write, but why did I write this story specifically?
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John Fleskes, president and publisher of Flesk Publications, teams up with renowned portrait photographer Greg Preston to produce a special book created on the showroom floor of the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event, held May 9-11th in Kansas City, Missouri. Sessions: Spectrum Fantastic Art Portraits will feature the art, a brief bio, and a portrait created by Greg Preston of at least 50 of the creators behind today’s best contemporary fantastic art. This project is a singular opportunity that YOU can make happen, and as an added bonus you are invited to witness its creation.
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Check out Blake Morrow‘s gargoylish cover art and the synopsis of the novel Incarnate by Anton Strout, the latest in the series A Spellmason Chronicle
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BOOK REVIEW: Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In an underground facility among the Appalachians, a door has been opened into another world, but now something has come through that threatens the very existence of our world.

PROS: Interesting characters, solid story, lots of zombie action with a big twist.
CONS: Quite a few dream/vision sequences that pulled me out of the narrative a bit.
BOTTOM LINE: This is not your momma’s zombie book. Coldbrook is an intelligent thriller that offers much more than flesh eaters on the prowl.
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BOOK REVIEW: Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

REVIEW SUMMARY: Jam-packed with the best fantasy elements, Steles of the Sky‘s diverse characters and beautiful prose beautifully closes out the Eternal Sky trilogy.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: Re Temur, Samarkar, Edene and their companions stand against much more than just an usurping Uncle, with the fate of much more than the Eternal Sky of the Steppe in the balance.

PROS: Deep worldbuilding; rich characters; beautiful prose and dialogue that sings.
CONS: The ending brings tears; one secondary character still feels a little underdone.
BOTTOM LINE: Sticking the landing, Steles of the Sky magnificently ends the Eternal Sky trilogy

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Here’s the table of contents for the new issue of Asimov’s.
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