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A Small Price To Pay

The latest short story from Leona R. Wisoker explores the world of the reclusive, dangerous teyanain of her Children of the Desert series:

The teyanain are a mysterious, insular tribe who control the major access point between the northern kingdom and the southern desert Families. Outsiders know little to nothing about the teyanain; the less one knows, the better, is common wisdom. The further one gets pulled into politics, however, the more likely one is to face the teyanain. For all their reclusiveness, they meddle in politics constantly.

This short story offers a rare glimpse into the world behind the curtain as Cuna, an ambitious young woman, breaks with permitted gender roles and risks her life to become nitta-hei: an elite assassin-spy. Her choices, and the escalating price tag, have long-ranging consequences that echo into the final book of the Children of the Desert series.

Like the previous release, Fallen City, and the subsequent release, Salt City, this story fills in background detail intended to enrich the reader’s enjoyment of the overall series.

Buy it now

Cover art by Mike McPhail of eSpec Books.

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Kicking Open The New Year

Hello there! Recovered from that epic hangover? Caught up on your sleep? How about your To Be Read list, is that all caught up?

(Pauses for hysterical laughter)

Yeah, me neither. But guess what! I’m going to add MORE to that TBR stack. There’s always room for one or ten more titles, amirite? OF COURSE I AM.

So here goes.

First up, if I haven’t mentioned Darin Kennedy often enough for you to be utterly sick of the name yet, I haven’t said it often enough. The man writes some damn good surreal fiction based around supremely intelligent concepts. I fell in love with his debut hit, The Mussorgsky Riddle, last year, and I’m currently working through his draft of the sequel–he’s been kind enough to let me be one of his beta readers/unofficial editors. IT’S EVEN BETTER than TMR. *hops up and down wildly* I’m telling you, go read his work. It’s mega good. Here’s a glimpse at the concept description:

Psychic Mira Tejedor possesses unique talents that enable her to find anything and anyone, but now she must find a comatose boy wandering lost inside the labyrinth of his own mind. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Faircloth hasn’t spoken a word in almost a month and with each passing day, his near catatonic state worsens. No doctor, test, or scan can tell Anthony’s distraught mother what has happened to her already troubled son. In desperation, she turns to Mira for answers, hoping her unique abilities might succeed where science has failed. At their first encounter, Mira is pulled into Anthony’s mind and finds the child’s psyche shattered into the various movements of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical music suite, Pictures at an Exhibition.

If that hooked your interest, there’s a sample chapter up now.  And while I’m at it, let me give a shout out to his publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for being smart enough to snatch this one up. Hopefully they’re treating him well, because he’s a keeper for any publisher with a lick of sense.

Next on the list of BOOKS YOU MUST READ:  Gail Z. Martin has been writing short stories about the world of Deadly Curiosities for some time, and I fell in love with the concept as much as with the stories themselves:

Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

I adore this sort of story, and Martin pulls off a great set of tense, fast-paced, and fun reads in her various short tales about Cassidy and the Alliance. I was utterly delighted when she came out with the first full book, Deadly Curiosities, last year, and the sequel, Vendetta, just came out late last year and is very high on my own TBR list. The short stories range from free to a couple of bucks, by the way, and can be found here.

Moving sideways to a very different sort of read, I picked up a copy of Susan Shell Winston’s novel Singer Of Norgondy. This is not fast-paced, and it’s not tense; it’s undeniably complex, but still comes across as a largely relaxing read, swaying along through an interesting story. I was surprised at how much I liked it, to be honest; it was a really nice break from the modern race to the finish line style story. Here, read the first couple of chapters to see what I mean. And here’s a description:

If you had the power to enter men’s minds and convince them that you’re a god, would you use it? That’s the choice that Verl, a young singer of Norgondy, must face. Trained by the tellerwoman Merind to telepathically touch the god-spot in people’s minds, Verl holds the ultimate — and deadly — power to control the masses — by creating a new god they can’t help but believe in. Together they help their friend Crel and his dancing bear become the Bearman, the shapeshifting Reaper God who leads the people of Norgondy into war against their usurper queen.

I’ll only add one more thing: that Kirkus Reviews found it good enough to review, which is a pretty high daggone bar to hit, in my experience. Give this one a try.

Let’s see, what’s next? Ah, let’s talk about Angela R. Wade’s books. Full disclosure here: I’ve been the editor for these books, the typesetter, and her writing buddy for *mumble* years now. Angela and I have been friends ever since she stepped into my fledgling writing group wayyyyy back when. I’ve been watching her writing grow and improve by leaps and bounds over the last three years alone, and I’m finally happy enough with her skill to stand up in public and say: she’s a good writer, and someone to keep an eye on over the coming years.

Her Edward Red Mage series has been in development and revision for the whole time I’ve known her, and the first two books are finally out; she self-published for various reasons, and I think she made a smart move. In Cloak of Obscurity, the first book in the series, the protagonist isn’t conventionally attractive, clever, or special in any of the usual ways. He can drink a dwarf under the table, and eat as much as five dwarves at a time; he thinks he’s stupid, ugly, fat, and slow. But every time he turns around he’s saving someone’s life, solving a mystery, uncovering secrets, and generally drawing the attention of dukes, princes, kings, queens, and powerful mages. The ebook is available through Smashwords, and you can read a sample there. Take a look.

The followup volume, Queen Isabeau’s Book, develops Edward Red Mage further, giving him considerably more self-confidence and setting him against bigger and badder enemies with more at stake–the Queen’s life is in grave danger from an unknown enemy, and Edward is searching for the source of the threat, more than willing to risk his own life for the good of the kingdom. Edward also falls head over heels in love with a completely unsuitable young lady and learns rather a lot about Life In General thereby. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, and since I’ve been reading her work for years, I can tell you that the next book will slam things into even higher gear. I can’t wait to get to the editorial stage on that one!

For doll enthusiasts, Angela P. Wade also has a lovely array of doll clothing and patterns on her etsy page.

Moving to the younger end of the scale, I came across a couple of really fun kid’s books recently. Lisa M. Becker and illustrator Rachael Mahaffey teamed up on Have You Ever Seen…, which I found to be a very, very cute concept. For example: “Have you ever seen a crab call a cab? Have you ever seen a cow take a bow?” The illustrations are delightful, and I can definitely see reading this to a toddler with great results. Unfortunately the author doesn’t seem to have a solid social media presence or web site at this time, so the best I can do is direct you to the Amazon page to take a look at the book.

Mahaffey, however, does have more on tap than this one book; she also illustrated An Ordinary Toad’s Extraordinary Night, another charming kid’s book by author Joanne McGonagle. In Ordinary, a young toad wonders “whether his life would be more interesting had be been hatched a frog.” He sets out to ask his grandfather, and along the way discovers and delivers a lot of information about amphibians to the reader. It’s a fun read that educates even as it amuses. The difference in styles between the two books is remarkable; one is very watercolor-blurry, the other more cartoonish in its clear lines and sharp colors. I liked them both, and I had fun browsing through McGonagle’s portfolio online. If you’re looking for a children’s book illustrator, she’s definitely a good name to look up.

I’m going to close out there; I think I’ve added enough to your TBR list for one day! If you do take any of the above suggestions, please also remember that the best gift you can possibly give an author is a review. Post on Goodreads or B&N*, Facebook, Twitter–tell your friends, get others to read the book as well!

Now go forth–Read and Enjoy!

* I’ve stopped recommending Amazon as a place to leave reviews because it’s put some really absurd restrictions into place that have directly hurt authors. For more details on that, check out Anne R Allen’s blog post on the topic.

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Items Of Interest

Here’s another roundup of cool things you might be interested in looking over:

What if Sherlock Holmes had to accept that the supernatural does, in fact, exist? For an answer, take a look at a new anthology, An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by A.C. Thompson. Contributors include Tally Johnson, Lucy Blue, S.H. Roddey, and several more. It’s published by Mocha Memoirs Press, which is owned and run by author Nicole Givens Kurtz. Full disclosure: I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, but based on hearing bits of it read at various conventions in the past couple of months, it’s on my TBR list. I love the concept! I’ve always wondered what Sherlock would do if faced with irrefutable evidence of the paranormal.

Next up, take a look at BrewinOvations. I ran across them at a recent convention and was really impressed with their switch plate covers. They craft everything from candle holders to clothing, wooden boxes to patio lanterns. It’s an impressive array of creative dedication, and quite possibly a great source for that last minute holiday gift you’ve been wanting to grab.

Orchard Organiss is another really interesting business to check out. Their web site is unlike anything else I’ve seen lately: a web-comic/t-shirt design company. There appears to still be some development of the concept in progress, but it’s a very intriguing start!

Interested in erotic SF? Take a look at Ora J.McGuire/Nickie Jamison’s web site, oopswrongcookie–the site name alone was enough to get my interest! Again, I haven’t read any of this author’s work to date, but she’s on my TBR stack based on how she presented herself at Chessie and AtomaCon.

Latest great music showing up on my Pandora playlist: Katzenjammer, Utada Hikaru. Also, if you haven’t already heard of the beautifully surreal podcast Welcome to Night Vale, take a listen right now–they even have an app for your phone/iPad that makes sorting out the stream dead easy. And there’s even a Nightvale novel out now! That is definitely on my TBR list, lemme tell you….

That’s enough for now. Have fun going through the various links, and I hope you find a great holiday gift or new favorite among the above offerings! 🙂

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More About Martin!

Gail Z. not George RR. (Big difference. For one thing, Playboy hasn’t yet tried to make a sexy Halloween cosplay of her, but they sure have gone there with George….)

Now that you’ve wiped the coffee from your screen and cursed us in six languages for an image you’ll never, ever be able to get out of your mind, let’s move on to talking about our Martin.

Readers may recall that Gail ran a post here on TSL recently, talking about her upcoming and current projects; well, if that caught your interest in the teensiest bit, THERE’S MORE… she’s actually going all out on a long blog tour, trekking with digital backpack and data shoes along the ether to bring more aspects of her creativity to as many sites as possible. Kinda like a cheerful writer’s version of Santa, in a way…

Anyway. Besides her post here, she also has delivered, for your reading and listening enjoyment:

The Well-Mannered Woman’s Guide To Kicking Ass Whilst Wearing a Corset

A detailed post on Goodreads about what’s coming up in the months ahead (and the freebies, mustn’t forget to read about the freebies!)

(John G. Hartness podcast) Literate Liquors: What To Drink While Reading Deadly Curiosities

Older posts that are just as worth reading:

2013 Days Of The Dead Blog Tour:

Looking Over The Brink

The Hardest Part

Other great articles:

My So-Called Writing Life

Writing the Ensemble Cast

Please note: For the absolute freshest links, please check Gail’s Facebook and Twitter feeds; she posts the latest and greatest blog stops daily. Enjoy!



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Cursed Trinkets and Haunted Heirlooms

There’s a new holiday (only in the sense that we hadn’t previously made note of it–this one’s been around for quite a while)  to talk about here at TSL. It’s called The Days of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos–a Mexican holiday, primarily, but other cultures celebrate it as well. And no, it’s not about partying with zombies; it’s a time to gather with our friends and family to appreciate one another’s love and support, and to honor those who are no longer with us. That’s a sentiment that we can certainly get behind!

Gail Z. Martin runs a blog tour every year during this time, with lots of free fiction giveaways, interviews, computer wallpaper, contests, and more. We’re honored to have her here today, talking about her Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series–which is absolutely excellent and really ought to be picked up by anyone into spooky, fast-paced UF.

Read on! Here’s a pumpkin-spice latte hot chocolate with no seasoning in it at all, and a plate of your favorite cookies. Pull up a big ol’ overstuffed chair and prepare to be seduced into a new series.


Deadly Curiosities, Gail Z MartinCursed Trinkets and Haunted Heirlooms


By Gail Z. Martin


In my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series of books, Trifles and Folly is an antique and curio shop in Charleston, SC that exists to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands.

Cassidy Kincaide is the proprietor, and she’s a psychometric, someone who can read the history of objects by touch. Together with her assistant, Teag Logan, who has his own magic and her business partner, Sorren, who is a nearly six hundred year-old vampire, Cassidy and her team intervene when it turns out that there’s a touch of evil or a hint of haunt lingering over old trinkets or heirlooms.

I grew up going to antique stores, used book stores, flea markets, and museums as a kid. When I was amusing myself at an antique store or flea market, I would wander the aisles looking at the old and unusual items. I loved finding out what strange pieces actually did, and when certain objects caught my eye, I made up stories about where they might have come from and who might have owned them.

Sometimes, old objects seem to already know they should belong to us. If you’ve ever walked into a store like that and had a particular item just seem to call your name, you know the feeling. And if you’ve ever put a family heirloom into a drawer or tucked it away in storage because it made you feel uncomfortable, or put a piece in a prominent place because seeing it made you happy, you know the kind of connection antiques can make with your soul. Those experiences all shaped my Deadly Curiosities world, and influenced me as I created the magic and danger behind that world.

The first book in the Deadly Curiosities series came out in June of 2014, and I’m working on the second book for a Fall 2015 debut. But the books actually happened because of a short story, Buttons, that I wrote for Solaris Books award-winning anthology, Magic: The Esoteric and Arcane. The editor liked the story so much he asked if I could do a series in that world. And while Buttons is set in modern-day Charleston, as is the Deadly Curiosities series of books, that story actually grew out of a fictional universe I had invented for prior anthologies, with stories set in the 1500s and 1700s.

Fast forward a little, and I’m still writing Deadly Curiosities short stories for anthologies. Retribution appears in Athena’s Daughters from Silence in the Library Publishing, and The Restless Dead is included in Realms of Imagination from Dark Oak Press. Buttons has been reprinted in three different anthologies. There’s also a free Deadly Curiosities novella, The Final Death, on Wattpad.

Leona sez: Check out the post Gail wrote on Goodreads about switching from short to long formats!

Last year, I started writing stand-alone Deadly Curiosities stories and bringing them out on Kindle/Kobo/Nook. These stories include some set in prior centuries, but most tell about new exploits of Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren, falling before, between, and around the books in the series. Each story runs about thirty pages, so there’s plenty of room for magic, thrills and chills. You don’t have to read the stories to enjoy the books, but if you do choose to read the short stories, you’ll learn a lot more about the characters and my slightly altered version of Charleston.

Right now, there are over a dozen Deadly Curiosities short stories on ebook, with more to come. I’m having a lot of fun imagining new adventures. Every time I go into a museum or flea market, I spot new objects that would be perfect as the centerpiece of a new story.

So the next time you stop at a garage sale or walk through an antiques market, imagine that you can read the history of those pieces by touching them. If you could do that, would you? What secrets might you discover? Something that might be better off left unlearned…

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for stories and books by author friends of mine. And, a special 50% off discount from Double-Dragon ebooks! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat:

Enjoy an excerpt from Bad Memories, one of my Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories here.

And a bonus excerpt from Among the Shoals Forever, another of my Deadly Curiosities Adventures here.

And a second bonus audio reading from my friend David B. Coe’s The Witch of Dedham here.

Gail Z. Martin can be found on Twitter (@GailZMartin), Facebook (/WinterKingdoms),Google+ (+GailZMartinAuthor), YouTube (/ghostwriter45), and even has a newsletter (go to her site to sign up).