Review: HIDDEN DESIGN: THE PROPHECY by Tia Tormen & C.K. Stone


Sex sells.

Everyone knows that. Marketing professionals especially know that. But does the inclusion of sex necessarily make something better? Erotica has become more mainstream in popular fiction within the past few years and can make any genre book more appealing to the right audience. In some cases, however, the sexual element can detract from what would otherwise be a great story.

Unfortunately, I think that Hidden Design: the Prophecy, marketed as an erotica dark fantasy, is a perfect example of this. Continue reading

Review: A WIZARD’S FORGE (Woern Saga #1) by A.M. Justice

wizard's forge

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

It’s no surprise that I was drawn to this book immediately, considering it’s fusion of fantasy and science-fiction elements, it’s excellent world-building, and its awesome protagonist named Vic (short for Victoria). But I’ve been burned by free ARCs before. I’m so pleased to report that this novel met all expectations, and in many cases, far exceeded them. Continue reading

Author Interview with A.M. Justice: Parallel Paths Redux

A few weeks ago, a lovely speculative fiction author contacted me out of the blue with an interesting proposal. She had stumbled across me on the Internet and thought it would be fun if we did a bit of cross-promotion since we had so much in common. She featured me with an interview on her blog and today I’m happy to return the favor! Check back here next Tuesday for my review of A.M. Justice’s excellent fantasy novel, A Wizard’s Forge.

How much do we have in common, exactly? Besides both being medical writer/editors and military brats, today we even discovered that we share the same wedding anniversary and are married to men with the same name!

As someone who also writes crazy genre-bending speculative fiction, I’m always interested in other author’s perspectives. What made you decide to introduce elements of science fiction in a story that could easily stand alone as high fantasy?

In my day job as a medical writer, I’m required to back up every statement with documented evidence. I want what we call an evidence base to exist in my fiction too, because I like to understand why things happen. Setting A Wizard’s Forge on an alien planet rather than a fantasy world allowed me to give the humans who live among weird creatures like the Kragnashians a “documented” reason for being there. It also allowed me to let my imagination run wild and invent whole new species, rather than populate the world with elves, dwarves, and the other usual suspects of fantasy. Finally, a science fiction setting lets me play with science and religion as belief systems as Vic, the atheist, argues with her religious friends about human origins.

The next book, A Wizard’s Sacrifice, dives deeper into some of the science fiction elements. Readers will learn the biological nature of Vic’s power, which involves neurological parasites called the Woern. The fact that wizardry comes from an infection has major implications for Vic’s developing romance with Ashel, as well as her relationship with his family members. In fact, how the Woern are transmitted and their beneficial and negative effects on people is a main plot driver in Sacrifice. Readers will also see the Devices used a lot more, and will glimpse something of the nonmagical origins of these transporters. There will be a lot more interaction with the Kragnashians, Knownearth’s indigenous and highly intelligent giant insects, and lastly, there will be time travel! Continue reading

Author Interview: Jessica Knauss

Awash in TalentI was delighted to interview author Jessica Knauss in support of her new novel, Awash in Talent (now available in ebook and hardcopy).

About the Book

So much Talent can kill you.

Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island, home of telekinetics, firestarters, and psychics!

Emily can’t escape her annoyingly Talented telekinetic healer sister without committing a crime.

Kelly must escape her pyrokinesis school and bring Emily’s sister to Boston—her mother’s life depends on it.

Appointments with Emily might drive her psychic therapist insane.

With so much Talent, sometimes it’s all you can do to function in an un-Talented society.

When you first told me about this novel, you referred to it as “zany, hard-to-pin-down” and “Gilmore Girls with a paranormal twist.” As someone who also writes urban fantasy that defies categorization, I’m always interested in other authors’ reasons for doing the same. Why break away from the YA paranormal comfort zone that most readers are familiar with?

I don’t assign genres or categories to my work until it’s done and ready for readers. This can cause some head scratching, believe me! Many years ago, I heard Maya Angelou say that if we can’t find the book we want to read, we have to write it ourselves. I took that advice to heart. If something has been done before, why do it again? As a reader, I’m always searching for something different that will speak to me in a way nothing else has. I’ve set my sights on that elusive uniqueness as a writer. Continue reading

“Evolution of Vampires in Popular Fiction” on Speculative Chic

impalings-of-vlad-the-impalerAbout a year ago, I was lucky enough to be featured on SF Signal, an amazing blog that featured all things speculative fiction. To help promote my own brand-new, nontraditional vampire novel, I condensed years worth of research into a short article on the evolution of how vampires have been represented in popular fiction throughout the modern literary age.

Sadly, SF Signal discontinued publication. But I was proud of my article and hoped to find a new, permanent home for it.

Enter Speculative Chic!

Though my ridiculously busy life had so far precluded me from participating beyond short write-ups for group posts, the editor invited me to submit this previously published article. So if you missed it a year ago, now is your chance to check out my take on vampire representation in different literary mediums (including film, television, and graphic novels).

Do you agree or disagree with my assessments?

Did I miss your favorite vampire?

Who would win in an epic battle: a vampire, werewolf, or zombie?

Feel free to comment either here or at the original post, and I’d love to discuss these things with you!

You can read about how my vampire characters differ from the norm in the first book of the Steel Empires series, Steel Victory.


Parallel Paths Interview with AM Justice

And then there was that awkward moment when my doppelganger on the Internet reached out to me…and turned out to be a lovely person. Speculative fiction author AM Justice says it best:

Once in a while you run across a kindred spirit on the Internet, someone whose life has followed a path similar to yours. Such is the case with former military brat, cat lover, medical editor, and scifi/fantasy author JL Gribble. She and I even gave our protagonists similar names (hers is Victory, mine is Victoria). After that, however, JL’s highly imaginative Steel Empires series bears little resemblance to my work.

You can find the rest of the interview about my books at her blog, Journeys Through Time.

wizard's forgeDespite all of the similarities that we bring to the writing table, Justice’s first book in her Woern Saga, A Wizard’s Forge, is a hero’s journey through a high-fantasy landscape. Or is it? Just like my series is a strange mix of blended genres, Vic’s tale also includes tantalizing hints of hard science fiction.

You can learn more about the Woern Saga in an interview with author AM Justice available here soon, and definitely check back  for a review of A Wizard’s Forge that will be posted on launch day, September 19. The ebook is currently available for preorder, and I encourage everyone who loves Victory and Toria to take a chance on Vic as well. You won’t be disappointed.

August Wrap-Up & September Goals

Another slow month production-wise, another stressful month regarding real life. I’m having a hard time living by myself, and disaster struck one of my favorite places in the world earlier this month.

August Wrap-Up:

  • I aimed for 15k to 20k words drafted for book 4. I am actually impressed that I ended the month with a whopping 10k. Having a detailed outline helps a lot, but there are a lot of really difficult scenes early in this book. The first scene is even already with my critique partners to be shredded, and I’m going to dump another on them this month. (My critique partners are the best.)
  • I did write some book reviews!
  • I’ve participated in some group posts over at Speculative Chic, which is now officially live and posting new content daily!
  • And finally, I snuggled my cats a lot and attended the traditional first day of the Maryland Renaissance Festival with some of my best friends.

    Ren Fest August 2016

    Selfie Credit: Julia Vilece

September Goals:

  1. Write more words! Hopefully 15k to 20k. Will be happy with another 10k. (But I think I’ve over the first major hump and it should come easier now.) (Hopefully.)
  2. Write more book reviews! I’ve been doing more reading lately, and the back log is at 7.
  3. Continue to participate in Speculative Chic. This month will even feature my first solo post; make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
  4. Count down the days to DogCon V! Technically, that’s in October, but I don’t know when I’ll get to do my September Wrap-Up post, so let’s start getting excited early. (And continue to keep all fingers and toes crossed for Steel Victory for the Reader’s Choice Award!)

I’m already in mourning for the end of summer, but there’s a lot to look forward to this fall. Thanks for coming along for the ride.