Friday, January 25, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Gail Z. Martin

Martin authorpic
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, a genre that has traditionally been the domain of male authors; it always fascinates me to hear how authors get drawn to a genre that has dominated by the other gender and what crossing the gender boundary has been like.

This is part one of a five-part interview. Be sure to check out the other BRoP sites for the rest of the interview: 
Part 1 with Terri - Wednesday, January 23
Part 2 with T.W. - Thursday, January 24
Part 3 with me (waves)

Part 4 with Sandra - Monday, January 28
Part 5 with Dean - Tuesday, January 29

Let's get right down to our chit-chatting with Gail about the Creative Process.  I'll admit, it's my favorite part to learn about! 

BRoP: Where do you get your story ideas?

Gail:  I like to ask, “What if?”  What if…a society depended on magic the way we depend on the power grid.  What if…a war was settled by a doomsday magical strike, a Weapons of Magical Destruction (WMD) scenario? What if…the magic “broke” and became uncontrollable?  What if…the only person who might be able to restore the magic was a convict exiled to the far reaches of the world?

I also like to ask, “And then what?”  So there’s a battle—and then what?  The good guys win (or lose)—and then what?  Magic becomes uncontrollable—and then what?

Those two questions have never let me down!

BRoP:  How do you deal with writer’s block?

Gail:  I don’t get writer’s block much, but when I do, I find that it helps to sit down and read what I’ve written so far.  That often jogs something loose.  Or, I’ll go back to my original outline and try to do a more detailed outline of the next few chapters.  Or, I’ll go research an element like battle strategies or weapons or even food—or I’ll watch the History Channel.  Those are the things that help me.

BRoP:   How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Gail:  No “formula”, but I find that outlining, at least at a mid-level of detail helps me figure out how the plot will advance between the major milestones.  I spend a lot of time thinking about the plot, characters and world during times when I’m waiting in line, driving in the car, or on hold.  As for characters, I usually come up with a story either by getting a character in mind and then figuring out what kind of trouble he or she would get into,  or by getting a story in mind and figuring out what kind of characters are needed to make the story unfold.  The characters tend to reveal themselves to me as I write—they do some pretty surprising things!

BRoP:   Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

Gail:  A little of both!  I have to begin with an outline (it makes my editor happy, and it really does help).  But the outline tends to be rather vague about things that aren’t major milestones, so I have to “pants” my way to get through those sections.  If I’m not sure what I’m going to write, I make myself sit in front of the computer and write, promising that I can delete it all if it turns out not to be good.  Most of the time, when I read what I’ve written later, very little needs to be deleted, but telling myself that I can delete if I want to takes the pressure off.

BRoP:   Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?

Gail:  Battle scenes.  They’re important and necessary, but tedious to write.  I’d rather just say, “and then they fought!”

Gail Z. Martin’s newest book, Ice Forged: Book One in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), launched in January 2013.  Gail is also the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris Books) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit Books).  For more about Gail’s books and short stories, visit Be sure to “like” Gail’s Winter Kingdoms Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @GailZMartin, and join her for frequent discussions on Goodreads.
Read an excerpt from Ice Forged here:

Where can readers can stalk you: 

Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon | Ghost in the Machine Podcast

GAIL Z. MARTIN'S newest book, Ice Forged: Book One in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), launched in January 2013.  Gail is also the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series (Solaris Books) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit Books).  For more about Gail’s books and short stories, visit Be sure to “like” Gail’s Winter Kingdoms Facebook page, follow her on Kingdoms Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @GailZMartin, and join her for frequent discussions on Goodreads.

Martin iceforgedcover 
ICE FORGED: Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Author Platform, are you known?

I walked into the book store the other day.  Anyone who knows me, knows this isn't something new, nor something to be rushed.  I always head directly to the Fantasy shelves.  I look over the authors I know. I remember that I already have each book that catches my eye.  I step back.  So many books.  The shelves look like chaos.

I scan to see what covers look appealing, but in the end I don't pick up a new book to read.  Instead I'll head over to one of the books from those that have been interviewed on the Blog Ring of Power, or that have been suggested to me.  More often then not, it's a YA novel of speculative fiction base.  It makes me sad, even though I've picked up many great YA novels since the start of BRoP. (I admit I haven't picked up every book of every author we've interviewed.)

It's hard for me to get into a book that is completely new to me.  Either by being from an author I don't know, or just a book I haven't heard about before.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

So what makes a new book stand out above the others? What makes one author known more then another?  The answer is, word of mouth.  In all it's grand standing we sell our books by selling ourselves.  The great author platform comes to play.

Each author, or any professional for that matter, needs to build a trust on who they are and what they represent.  The platform shows the world: what the author writes, who they are and in turn, builds the relationship.  We need to gain friends and connections before we can ever hope to sell even one book.

In the information age, social networking and gaining an audience is the only way to move forward.  It's easy to interact, but it may not be as easy to know what you want to represent for your author platform.  Perhaps you are writing two different genres or have two different pen names. What would you do then?

My suggestion would be to keep them separate   Don't confuse the audience or they will find other things to distract themselves with.  It may be a lot to handle, but then if your just starting out, start slow.  One thing at a time.  Focus on the one thing you love the most, when you have the niche and are confident with it, move to the next.  Just make sure you keep up with the first one, even as you start the second.

So with going on the word of mouth theme.  Can anyone suggest a good adult fantasy-non urban, for me?  It's been a while since I've gotten into one of those.  Thanks.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Lori Sjoberg

Growing up the youngest of three girls, Lori never had control of the remote. (Not that she’s bitter about that. Really. Okay, maybe a little, but it’s not like she’s scarred for life or anything.) That meant a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits – you name it, she watched it. It fed her imagination, and that came in handy when the hormones kicked in and she needed a creative excuse for being out past curfew.
After graduating from the University of Central Florida, Lori spent over a decade working in the fun-filled worlds of retail management, financial planning, and insurance. The writing bug bit a few years later. After completing her first manuscript, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at work, and the creative half writing paranormal romance. When she’s not doing either one of those, she’s usually spending time with her husband and children of the four-legged variety.

As you all know by now, this is a 5 part interview with 5 writers.  So don't forget to check out the rest of Lori's grilling.

Part 1 @ Terri- Wed. January 16
Part 2 @ T.W - Thur. January 17
Part 4 @ Sandra- Mon. January 21
Part 5 @ Dean- Tues. January 22

Section #3: The Creative Process

BRoP:  Where do you get your story ideas? 

Lori: Oh, they come from everywhere.  Sometimes they stem from current events, while others spring from life experiences.  The idea for my current work in progress came to me while on a Caribbean cruise with my husband.

BRoP:  How do you deal with writer’s block?  

Lori: I see it as a sign that there’s something inherently wrong with what I’m writing.  Once I figure out where I’ve taken a wrong turn and how to fix it, the block usually dissolves.

BRoP: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?  

Lori: I’m more of a pantser.  When I start a story, I begin with a general story idea and write whichever scenes spring to mind.  (For Grave Intentions, I actually wrote the final scenes first.)  Then, when I get to a certain point (usually somewhere around the 40,000 word mark) I start piecing them together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. 

BRoP: Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?  

Lori: I use both critique partners and beta readers.  They’re great at pointing out things that I’ve missed, as well as providing insight into areas I hadn’t even considered.

BRoP: How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?  

Lori: I don’t have an exact figure, but I spend quite a bit of time on research.  And since my books are about grim reapers, a lot of my research revolves around death and ways of dying.  Needless to say, my Google search history is pretty gruesome!

Book Blurb:
He’s handsome, reliable, and punctual—the perfect gentleman when you want him to be. But this dream man is Death’s best agent—and now he’s got more than his soul to lose…

 One act of mercy before dying was all it took to turn soldier David Anderson into a reaper—an immortal who guides souls-of-untimely-death into the afterlife. But the closer he gets to atoning for his mortal sin and finally escaping merciless Fate, the more he feels his own humanity slipping away for good. Until he encounters Sarah Griffith. This skeptical scientist can’t be influenced by his powers—even though she has an unsuspected talent for sensing the dead. And her honesty and irreverent sense of humor reignite his reason for living—and a passion he can’t afford to feel. Now Fate has summoned David to make a devastating last harvest. And he’ll break every hellishly-strict netherworld rule to save Sarah…and gamble on a choice even an immortal can’t win.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Twitter:  @Lori_Sjoberg

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?  e-book 

E.M. Thanks so much for visiting Lori!!! I've gotta head out now, there's a book calling my name and it has a few Grave Intentions in mind. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Susan Curnow

Welcome, Susan Curnow, to the first Blog Ring of Power interview of the year! 
About the author:
Born in UK, now living in Alberta, Canada, when not writing, Susan Curnow is wrangling horses walking her Irish Wolfhound or being owned by her cats.When folk wonder why most of her main characters are males, she just smiles politely and tells them go look at her house, count the sons, the husband, the menagerie, and see just how many of them are guys.

Why science fiction or fantasy? Why not write of her epic journey with five suitcases and a dog to Calgary Airport, her hounds, her horses, her sons? No other genre offers to fulfill the scope of her imagination. 

One world is just too small.
Section #5: Words of Wisdom

BRoP: Tell us about your route to success –how did you land your agent/publisher?  

Susan: I was asked to submit because the novel I had written refused to leave my publisher’s mind. The how is sheer stubbornness, I guess. I just kept writing.

BRoP:  What are the most important elements of good writing?  

Susan:  Clarity and good editing.

BRoP:  What tools are must-haves for writers? 

Susan: A great imagination, a decent dictionary, and a lot of passion. The desire to want to write even when the odds are against you.

BRoP:  Do you have any advice for other writers? 

Susan:  Other than, don’t do it for money? No, no real advice. Writers write, it is as simple as that. Writing is so individual and one writer’s process is never the same as the next. I would, however make friends within the industry whether amateur or professional, so that you do understand more of the process of making a novel shiny enough for publication.

BRoP:  What do you feel is the key to your success? 

Susan:  Persistance, persistence, persistence. And those words came from Robert Sawyer, who I met at a convention.

BRoP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  

Susan:  Just that I hope they enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.

BRoP:  What are your current / future project(s)?  

Susan:  To write another novel set in the same world as “Games of Adversaries” and to finish editing “The Warriors of the Land” which is a science-fictional trilogy about genetic manipulation.

Contact Information:


Facebook page:!/susan.e.curnow

Goodreads author page:



Is your book in print, ebook or both? Both

GAMES OF ADVERSARIES: Yiahan rial Krais dances for his god, while in another time and another world, Commander Marcus Oregada strives to save his folk.
Bereft of families, wives and children, no loved ones live to warn them: Beware the door slammed shut to escape inhuman violence, where memories amass like cobwebs, spun by he who spilled your blood.
For there will be a day of reckoning to sweep away reason and sanity.
To break you and divide you, never knowing it will bind you, as it twists and rends your lives to face the destroyer of souls.

Don't forget to read the other parts of the interview
And Friday right here. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A New Year, But what is New?

We have come to 2013.  Most of us have not seen the end of the world.  Life goes on.  There was no Zombie apocalypse, no disaster of some strange planet X coming to wreak havoc on the land. No, our doom will be as it always was. Of our own making.

So as we enter the new year most of us are hoping to change something about ourselves or what not.  How about we just stick to what we already have.  Why change?  Why try to make things 'better' for yourself when it may not make you happy. Having more money wont make things easier, it will just create more bills. Having lost weight wont make you healthier unless you drastically change everything you do and eat.  So let's face it.  We all want to be happy and we all have some wacky idea of what will get us there.

Just don't forget what you already have.  What makes you happy?  Have you paid attention to those things around you that make life worth living.  Stop and just look around for a moment.  The best things in life are free, and most of the time, right in front of you.

Myself.  I don't have any resolutions.  This year will be like any other.  I will spend time with my family and enjoy what I can with the time I have.  I will go to work and take home just enough to keep the roof over my head, the food in my belly, and the internet on my computer.  I will write, and write some more.  I will keep doing the things I love. If I find other things that make me happy, I will try to add them to my already busy life.

I hope everyone finds at least one thing to appreciate when they open their eyes every day.  I know I will be.  Thanks for reading.

May every journey you take end with a smile.