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Days of the Dead Blog Tour – Guest Post: Gail Z Martin

Hey everyone, Dave here! 🙂

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It’s that time of the year again – Gail Z Martin, author of many novels -including those that make the Chronicles of the NecromancerThe Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Fallen Kings CycleDeadly Curiosities and plenty of short stories– is preparing us all for a massive 2015 by taking over the blogosphere with guest-posts, giveaways, excerpts and much more!

So, let’s welcome Gail once again, with a guest post exploring characters… 😉

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What Characters Do Between Books By Gail Z. Martin

Have you ever wondered what characters do on their days off?

What I mean is, do you ever think about what characters might be doing between books, when the author isn’t looking?

Those of us who live with multiple casts of characters in our heads think about strange things like this. Often, we are faced with characters who might be ready to mutiny on a moment’s notice if they thought it would get them a new book contract or a series of short stories.

Really, it’s not easy being in character limbo. And to tell the truth, that’s not how I think of my characters in between the tales I tell.

For example, my Chronicles of the Necromancer series is on hiatus as I write the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. I have six more books I plan to write in the world of the Winter Kingdoms, but there is a natural seventeen-year break in the action in the books, and it was a good resting place for me to go off and do some other projects for a while.

That doesn’t mean the characters are resting on their laurels.

In my mind’s eye, I can tune in and see what my characters are up to while they wait for their next book. In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, King Martris Drayke and his queen, Kiara of Isencroft are busy chasing two young boys, one with special magical needs, while rebuilding two kingdoms—Margolan and Isencroft—torn by war, famine, plague, and invasion.

Meanwhile, Lord Jonmarc Vahanian and his wife, Carina, are busy with twin girls, and Jonmarc must juggle the demands of his role as Lord of Dark Haven against his responsibilities as Champion to Queen Berwyn and her consort, Gethin of Eastmark. In Dhasson, newly-crowned King Jair struggles to lead his kingdom after the death of his father while grieving the loss of his wife and trying to raise a son who is both the rightful heir to the crown and the next shaman-chief of the nomadic Sworn.

Those are just a few of the characters readers got to know in the series, but as I go through the list, I can tell you how the others are doing, what their recent triumphs and trials have been, and what’s next for them.

From a storytelling perspective, these character-years aren’t important to chronicle because they fall between the big events. They’re the normal time, the breath between the storms. Yet for the characters themselves, the time is filled with personally momentous occasions as children grow, kingdoms rebuild, communities knit back together. The business of waging peace isn’t as exciting as conducting war, but it is demanding and busy, just the same. And even my characters know in their hearts that the good times must also come to an end someday…

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! Details here:

www.AscendantKingdoms.com

Trick or Treat: Enjoy an excerpt from The Sworn, Book One in my Fallen Kings Cycle here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/books/the-fallen-kings-cycle/the-sworn/the-sworn-chapter-one/

And a bonus excerpt from Ice Forged, Book One in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/books/the-ascendant-kingdoms-saga/ice-forged/an-excerpt-from-ice-forged-book-one-in-the-ascendant-kingdoms-saga/

And a second bonus excerpt from Raider’s Curse, the first of my Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures short stories here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/short-stories-and-more/the-jonmarc-vahanian-adventures/raiders-curse/excerpt-from-raiders-curse/

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I’ve never regretted letting Gail take over the blog, and this post is a prime example why- always interesting and illuminating! Don’t forget to check out the full list of celebrations as listed on Gail’s official site; there is a massive amount of things going on! 🙂

Many thanks to Gail for writing this excellent guest post, and for coordinating this post along with Gemma at Orbit – I’m definitely looking forward to the next Days of the Dead, as I’m sure you are!

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

P.S. You wanna see something EPIC? Follow this link. 😉

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Book Tour, Guest Post, Spotlight

 

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Guest Post: Gail Z Martin – Why Book Covers Still Matter

Morning! 🙂

I’m honoured to have Gail Z Martin -author of Chronicles of the Necromancer (Solaris), The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit), The Ascendant Kingdoms Cycle (Orbit), Deadly Curiosities (Solaris) and numerous shorter tales-  back on the blog with another guest post. This time she’s  talking about a topic very close to both reader’s and writer’s hearts – book covers. Over to Gail!

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Back when the only place to get books was in bookstores, browsing the shelves for new and interesting covers could be a pleasant Saturday afternoon pastime. Even before bookstores added coffee shops, it was easy to while away several hours just perusing the covers of books, looking for a hidden gem, a new adventure, or a tempting tome.

Now, much of our book buying has moved online, either to purchase paper books via Internet booksellers, or to download ebooks. It’s gotten harder to leisurely browse, in part because there are fewer brick-and-mortar bookstores than there used to be, and in part because those physical stores that do exist have often cut back on their range of books in order to feature profitable extras like gifts, music, movies and coffee.

So in an age when shoppers may only see the cover as the size of a webpage thumbnail, do covers really matter?

I believe they do. I know that some people lament the death of book covers in the same way they lament the passing of music album covers in the age of CDs and iTunes. And I agree that books do face some of the same threats that music has faced, although there are significant differences. All the same, I think that the reports of the death of book covers, to paraphrase Mark Twain, has been greatly exaggerated.

We’ve often been exhorted to not judge a book by its cover, yet covers are often the first connection an author makes with a reader. This is especially true if the author has not yet reached the superstar ranks of name recognition, or if the reader has never read anything by the particular author in the past.

It does appear true that the better known an author is, the less effort goes into their covers. Make it to the pinnacle of success, and covers often feature only the author’s name and the book title with a solid color background. But for most books, the cover signals the reader that this book is part of a particular genre, like other books the reader has enjoyed, and begins the job of shaping expectations before the book even gets lifted off the shelf.

A good cover–one that accurately signals the reader as to the genre and type of story–plays a major role in attracting an audience for the book. The quality of illustration and bookbinding also tells a reader something about the book, as many small press and self-published authors will attest. Watch readers move through a book festival or the vendor room at a genre convention, and notice which books get handled more often, and which ones never get picked up. Good covers make a difference.

What makes a good cover? It’s a complex mix of elements that starts with a professional quality illustration. Poor art is a stumbling block few books can overcome. Appropriate illustration is the next hurdle. Readers understand the visual shorthand that signals mystery, thriller, urban fantasy, epic fantasy and other genres. Send a miscue, and you’ll lose many potential readers while disappointing those who buy expecting a different sort of book.

Type font, placement and color matter, just as it matters to have a catchy title for the book. I’m not a graphic artist, but I can tell when the placement of the words on a book cover doesn’t look professional. Traditionally published authors don’t have to think about these things, but it’s a detail that many small press and self-pubbed authors struggle with as they strive to gain legitimacy in the reader’s eyes.

The back cover matters, too. I have my books face up on the table at signings to attract readers, but when I engage prospects in conversation, I’ll hand the book to them back cover up, encouraging the person to read the book summary and endorsement quotes. A gripping teaser of a recap goes a long way toward pulling in a reader and building a hunger to read the rest. If the reader has never read a book by a particular author, endorsement quotes by familiar authors or publications decreases perceived risk. While not every reader is swayed by blurbs, those quotes matter a lot for a certain type of book purchaser, and as an author, we want to send good cues on as many different levels as possible.

Authors like to believe that it’s the words between the covers that really matter, and they do. But without a cover that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them pick up the book, those words never get read. I can’t count the number of times a reader has told me, “Your cover made me buy your book.” I make sure to profusely thank my cover artists, and I work as closely with them as possible to provide the details necessary to do justice to the story inside. Covers matter!

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About the Author: Gail Z. Martin writes epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and short stories. She is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle series and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series of epic fantasy books, as well as the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world and coming in 2015, Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Gail is a frequently contributor to US and UK anthologies. She also writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

Find her at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com. She leads monthly conversations on Goodreads and posts free excerpts of her work on Wattpad. An original novella set in the Deadly Curiosities universe, The Final Death, is available free on Wattpad here.

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Massive thanks to Gail for this excellent guest post, and to Anna Gregson for arranging it! 🙂

Wishing you all a kickass weekend!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Guest Post

 

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Gail Z Martin’s ‘Days of the Dead’ Blog Tour – Guest Post

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Hey Girls and Guys, I’m back with a guest post by an author whose work you’ve been following for years, and who continues to impress – not only with the quality of her work, but also the quantity, since she’s one of the most prolific storytellers working in Epic Fantasy today. 🙂

Ladies and Gents, here’s Gail. 🙂

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Found Families

By Gail Z. Martin

“I’m a great believer in found families, and I’m not a great believer in blood.”—Joss Whedon.

“Found families” are the ones we make for ourselves, not the ones into which we’re born.  I think that sci-fi and fantasy may resonate quite so strongly with those of us who are fans because we know what it means to create and inhabit found families of our own.

The members of the Fellowship of the Ring were a found family. So were the bridge crew of the Enterprise, and the crew of the Serenity, the team at Torchwood, the companions and The Doctor, and so many more. Often, the members of a found family might not have come together as a unit under ordinary circumstances, but isolated and fighting for their lives, strong bonds can be formed among the most unlikely people.

If you’re very lucky, you like the people to whom you’re related by accident of birth.  For some people, that works out okay.  For the rest of us, with a few exceptions, we go through life believing that we must have been switched at birth. To survive, we begin creating found families of our own.

My characters, not so coincidentally, all know something about found families.  In my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle series, Tris Drayke creates a found family of his own when he is forced to flee for his life.  Three friends accompany him, but along the way, their group picks up additional people and the bonds connecting them grow stronger.  Fierce bonds of loyalty are forged under fire.

In the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, Blaine McFadden forfeits his birth family when he is exiled for murder and sent to a brutal arctic prison colony.  In order to survive, Blaine builds a “family” of friends as a prisoner and later as a colonist in a harsh environment where someone’s got to have your back. As the series moves forward, this group of convict friends bring their unique skills to the post-apocalyptic ruin of the kingdom they left behind, in order to restore the magic upon which their civilization depended.

And in my upcoming urban fantasy book, Deadly Curiosities, Cassidy Kincaide has created a found family among the circle of close friends who know about her gift as a psychometric and are willing to risk their lives to aid in the quest to remove dangerous magical items from circulation.

I suspect that I’m a sucker for journey-quest stories because they almost always involve the building of found families.  I tend to favor ensemble casts for the same reason.  I don’t buy into the lone hero theory, where one intrepid man (or woman) single-handedly saves the day because he (or she) is just so damn ruggedly awesome. I find the lone hero approach incredibly arrogant, and unbelievable more than once. The go-it-alone type may have lots of good reasons and plenty of scars that have made him (or her) a self-centered, commitment-phobic loner, but there’s a shallowness there that just doesn’t interest me.

I also find the lone wolf approach very myopic, because although he believes himself to be fighting all alone, the truth is, he is relying on others at every step, for his training, his weapons, his infrastructure, his intel, and his cover.  Usually, these types of “heroes” leave a wake of dead bodies, people who die because of them but are never acknowledged for their contribution because the lone wolf is too busy patting himself on the back for doing it alone.

For me as a writer, it’s a lot of fun developing not just a few main characters, but the bonds between those characters.  I learn more about my characters when they are interacting with each other, within the network of those found family bonds.  I think my readers learn more about my characters in that kind of a setting, too, where it’s not just about how well a hero can save the world, but how does he keep his word? How does he treat those around him? Can he be depended upon in matters that don’t require swords and explosions? Is he an honorable friend or lover?

Creating and nurturing found families requires commitment.  It not only requires showing up regularly, but being willing to allow others to depend on you, and permitting yourself to depend on them.  It requires trust, and honor. It means watching out for other people as well as yourself, and thinking about what’s good for the group.  Lone wolves need not apply.

Come check out all the free excerpts, book giveaways and other goodies that are part of my Days of the Dead blog tour!   Trick-or-Treat you way through more than 30 partner sites where you’ll find brand new interviews, freebies and more — details at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books.  My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

About the author: Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and the upcoming Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, April 2014), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn  and The Dread) from Orbit Books.  In 2014, Gail launches a new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, from Solaris Books. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.  Find her at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com.

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Hope you enjoyed that – I know I did. 🙂 That’s the thing about Fantasy authors – practically everything they have to say is interesting. 😉

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Blog Tour

 

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