The Qwillery | category: 2013 DAC Guest Blog | (page 2 of 5)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Girard, author of Cain's Blood and Project Cain - August 5, 2013

Please welcome Geoffrey Girard to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Cain's Blood will be published on September 3, 2013. At the same time a YA companion novel, Project Cain, will also be published.

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Girard, author of Cain's Blood and  Project Cain - August 5, 2013

The popularity of serial killers in fiction is at an all-time high. From a dozen different television programs to the latest movie or best-seller list, you’re gonna find a prototypical serial killer: middle-aged white guy who’s knowledgeable, clever, eccentric, and just doesn’t give a damn whether you live or die.

I have two books with serial killers coming out this Fall: CAIN’S BLOOD (a techno thriller) and PROJECT CAIN (an accompanying spinoff novel for teens). In both, I spend time with some of the most infamous serial killers in American history (Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer, etc.) and their teenaged counterparts (clones). While researching and writing the books, I was mostly focused on the lives of these men and the possible science/causes behind their crimes. I never really stopped to think Why folk (including me) were so interested in these tales. Now that I’ve started promoting the books, however, I’ve gotten the “Why do we seem to like serial killers so much” question enough that I had to think about that Why some and jot down some thoughts here.

1] The early/quick answer is morbid curiosity: the same reason we check out traffic accidents, gape at Holocaust footage, and spend our dollars on slasher films and novels. Our macabre and innate fascination with someone else’s demise. We all know we’re gonna die eventually, so watching some other poor guy go down crowns the King of all Schadenfreude. And fiction makes this dark pursuit even more enjoyable because it’s, well, fiction. No one really got hurt. Right?

2] Serial killers are the monsters among us. High estimates suggest that as many as 4% of Americans are sociopaths; those who just don’t care about the feelings, needs or lives of others. That’s twelve million people. Are they all serial killers, of course not. Most, 98%, are just self-centered jerks, leaving only 2% of those twelve million as violent murder-ready souls. But that’s, um, 240,000 Americans. Maybe we’ll go with the lowest estimates, and it’d be only 40,000 Americans capable of murdering without a second thought. Better? And the really interesting/horrifying part is that they look exactly like everyone else. No long dripping fangs or hockey masks or green scales. Most are men, and that’s half the people you know. Neighbor, coworker, husband, classmate. The sun or a bucket of water won’t make these guys melt away. They’re real, and here, and you just might have passed one today. And it’s that possibility that makes them very interesting, indeed.

3] Serial killers may be our vampire. In 1897, Stoker’s Dracula was largely a response to fifty years of Victorian behavior control. At the peak of this sexually suppressed/repressed culture, came a romanticized being who screwed for fun and flung and spilled hot fluids better than a Nickelodeon game show. The last twenty years in the United States have produced similar cultural changes. From the workplace to the classroom, we don’t seem to have rules anymore – we just have referees. Our language and personal exchanges are largely controlled now by human resource memos, lawsuit-leery administrators, and the PC mob whose good intentions sometimes trample common sense. In reply, the serial killer: A romanticized being who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the right things to say or do. Living beyond Good or Evil in world nervous about what to say to someone during Christmas. A tragic hero, of sorts, for our existential age. In traditional Tragedy, the hero is the one at odds with society because he/she doesn’t fit the system and is fighting to secure their rightful station in the world. Yes, these men are bad. But they’re bad in a way we just maybe admire. Or, at least, “understand.”

Add it all up, and you get a lethal invisible fantasy imbued with smarts and style far beyond the real-life version. Fiction’s good at that. So these specific monsters likely aren’t going anywhere for a long, long while…

About Cain's Blood

Cain's Blood
Touchstone, September 3, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Girard, author of Cain's Blood and  Project Cain - August 5, 2013
Ted Bundy. The Son of Sam. The Boston Strangler. Albert Fish. Henry Lee Lucas.

The DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers has been cloned by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a new breed of bioweapon. Now in Phase Three, the program includes dozens of young men who have no clue as to their evil heritage. Playing a twisted game of nature vs. nurture, scientists raise some of the clones with loving families and others in abusive circumstances. But everything changes when the most dangerous boys are set free by their creator. A man with demons of his own, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail. But Castillo didn’t count on the quiet young man he finds hiding in an abandoned house—a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As Jeffrey and Castillo race across the country on the trail of the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears—and who may also be his last hope. Melding all-too-plausible science and ripped from- the-headlines horror, Cain’s Blood is a stunning debut about the potential for good and evil in us all.

Project Cain
Simon & Schuster Books for
     Young Readers, September 3, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Girard, author of Cain's Blood and  Project Cain - August 5, 2013
Jeff discovers he’s a serial killer clone—and he’s got to track down others like him before it’s too late. A thrilling YA companion to S&S Touchstone’s Cain’s Blood, releasing simultaneously.

This dark, literary thriller is a story about blood: specifically, the DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers, captured and cloned by the Department of Defense to develop a new “breed” of bio-weapons. The program is now in Stage Three—with dozens of young male clones from age ten to eighteen kept and monitored at a private facility without any realization of who they really are. Some are treated like everyday kids. Others live prescribed lives to replicate the upbringing of their DNA donors. All wonder why they can’t remember their lives before age ten.

When security is breached and the most dangerous boys are set free by the now-insane scientist who created them, only one young man can help find the clones before their true genetic nature grows even more horrific than the original models: a fifteen-year-old boy, an every-boy…who has just learned that he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer.

About Geoffrey

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Girard, author of Cain's Blood and  Project Cain - August 5, 2013
Geoffrey Girard writes thrillers, historicals, dark fantasy, young adult novels, and short speculative fiction for publications including WRITERS OF THE FUTURE and the recent Stoker-nominated DARK FAITH anthology. Born in Germany and shaped in New Jersey, Geoffrey graduated from Washington College with a literature degree and worked as an advertising copywriter and marketing manager before shifting to high school English teacher. Since, he's earned an MA in Creative Writing from Miami University and is the Department Chair of English at a private boys' school in Cincinnati. Simon and Schuster will publish two Girard novels in Fall, 2013: CAIN'S BLOOD, a techno thriller, and PROJECT CAIN, a spinoff novel for Young-Adult readers. For more information, visit

 Website  ~  Twitter @Geoffrey_Girard‎  ~  Facebook

Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013

Please welcome Kait Ballenger to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs and the Twilight Hunter Blog Tour.

Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013

The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground

What is the Execution Underground? The Execution Underground is a covert organization comprised of elite men, hunters of the supernatural, who fight to protect humanity from all the monsters that threaten our existence.

What is the Rochester Division? The Execution Underground includes one main Headquarters with thousands of divisions scattered across the globe. All cities with an abundance of supernatural activity have a division present that covers the extent of those individual cities hunting needs. For example, a city which is infested with vampires and werewolves will have hunters who specialize in that field. The Rochester division is the division which serves the greater area of Rochester, New York. The Rochester division is made up of six elite hunters, regular men, some of whom have trained all their adult lives for their job, who with the help of a serum injection provided by the E.U Headquarters are capable of fighting creatures with supernatural strength and healing from often near fatal wounds from battle.

The following hunters are the members of the Rochester division:

Jace from Twilight Hunter (Book 1) RELEASES AUGUST 27, 2013

Name: Jace McCannon
Occupation: Werewolf Hunter
Height: 6’4
Eye Color: Emerald
Hair Color: Auburn, chin length
Hunting Characteristics and Specialties: Increased strength, speed, and healing capabilities—above that of what the EU has already gifted him with—courtesy of his half-wolf bloodline, which he keeps secret from his fellow hunters. Jace is a great shot and intelligent when it comes to tracking the monsters he loves to hate.

David from Immortal Hunter (Book 2) RELEASES JANUARY 28, 2014

Name: David Aronowitz
Occupation: Demon Hunter/Exorcist
Height: 6’6
Eye Color: Dark Brown, near black
Hair Color: Black, very short/near buzz-cut
Hunting Characteristics and Specialties: Has the rare ability to not only hunt and kill them, but exorcise them, allowing the victim of the possession a chance to live. David is well versed in all religious rituals capable of causing hellspawn pain and also harbors minor knowledge of the occult—yeah, that’s right, demons sometimes dabble in witchcraft.

Shane from Midnight Hunter (Book 3) RELEASES LATE JUNE 2014

Name: Shane Grey, Ph.D
Occupation: Occult Specialist/Witch Hunter/Professor at the University of Rochester. He is also in charge of the security systems and technology needs of the Rochester Division
Height: 6’3
Eye Color: Honey/Golden Brown
Hair: Light Brown, just long enough for a ponytail
Hunting Characteristics and Specialties: Deep knowledge of the occult. Shane’s intellect is a force to be reckoned with, and though he’d never admit this to his fellow hunters, his knowledge of the occult runs deeper than what he’s learned from his E.U training.

Ash from Book 4

Name: Ashley (Ash) Devereaux
Occupation: Ghost Medium/Poltergeist Hunter
Height: 6’3
Eye Color: Grey
Hair Color: Golden blond
Hunting Characteristics and Specialties: Powerful ghost medium with the power to lay the wandering dead to rest.

Trent from Book 5

Name: Trent Garrison
Occupation: Hunter of Shapeshifters (Non-Werewolf)
Height: 6’4
Eye Color: One blue, one green
Hair Color: Black
Hunting Characteristics and Specialties: A previous career in the military serves Trent well in his hunting for the E.U. His time serving

Damon from Dark Hunter (Book 6)

Featured in Shadow Hunter, an Execution Underground prequel novella inside the After Dark anthology

Name: Damon Brock
Occupation: Vampire Hunter and Leader/Founder of the Rochester Division
Height: 6’4
Eye Color: Ice Blue
Hair Color: Black, military buzz cut
Hunting Characteristics and Specialties: Coming from a long line of vampire hunters, Damon has trained to kill bloodsuckers his entire life and that extensive amount of training shows in his ability to easily massacre vampires who are thousands of years old.

The Execution Underground

Twilight Hunter
Execution Underground 1
Harelquin HQN, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013
Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity...but what happens when danger collides with desire?

Jace McCannon has one loyalty: the Execution Underground. Despite his mixed blood, his hatred for the werewolves he hunts is legendary. But in his search for a sadistic killer, Jace finds himself face to face with a stunningly seductive packmaster…and longing for a night with his mortal enemy.

Nothing can stop Frankie Amato from defending her kind--or catching the rogue responsible for killing women in her territory. For that, this alpha female needs Jace’s skills more than she wants to admit. But as their investigation exposes evil truths, need burns into a passion that dare not be fulfilled. For to do so will have deadly consequences for them both…

After Dark
Gena Showalter and Kait Ballenger
Lords of the Underworld and Execution Underground
Harlequin HQN, June 25, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013
A Timeless Seduction

A Unique Temptation

And a Whole World of Dark Desires...

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter

The Darkest Angel

Winged warrior Lysander has been alive for centuries, and yet he's never known desire-until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of his enemy, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the untouched Lysander into temptation. He may try to evade her attempts, but even the most iron-willed demon assassin can resist for only so long....

And from debut author Kait Ballenger

Shadow Hunter

Vampire hunter Damon Brock's newest assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn't the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer an option when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. Forced to unite against the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they must decide between their lifelong beliefs...and their newfound desires.

And coming in January 2014

Immortal Hunter
Execution Underground 2
Harelquin HQN, January 28, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013
Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity…but at what price?

As an exorcist, David Aronowitz grew up the target of demonic assassins. Now he's a member of the Execution Underground and hellspawn everywhere fear his name. But when a demon slips into the seductive body of the only woman he's ever loved, David must confront the heartbreak of their past to save her.

The piece of her heart Allsún O'Hare gave to David so long ago left her trapped between two worlds: the Fae and the human. And when David comes to her rescue, fate reunites her with her greatest temptation—and her biggest mistake.

Now, as they're swept together into a wicked game with the demon who controls her, David must decide if saving Allsún's life is worth sacrificing his own—and the future of humanity itself.

About Kait

Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013
Kait Ballenger is a full-time paranormal romance author, wife, bellydancer, graduate student, and soon-to-be-professor. She is the multi-published, award-winning author of the Execution Underground paranormal romance series. With a B.A in English from Stetson University, Kait is currently earning an M.F.A in Writing. Kait believes anything is possible with hard work and dedication. One day, she hopes to be a bestseller and to see her novels on the big screen. Look for the next two books in her page-turning Execution Underground series: Twilight Hunter, book one (August 2013) and Immortal Hunter, book two (January 2014), and don’t forget to check out Shadow Hunter, a prequel novella to the series featured in the After Dark anthology along NYT Bestseller Gena Showalter—now available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. For more information, please visit or follow her on Twitter @kait_ballenger.

Website  ~  Twitter @kait_ballenger  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Saxon's Bane - An Accidental Fantasist - July 26, 2013

Please welcome Geoffrey Gudgion as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs, Saxon's Bane will be published on August 27, 2013 (US) by Solaris Books.

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Saxon's Bane - An Accidental Fantasist - July 26, 2013

An Accidental Fantasist

       I feel a bit of a fraud. Have you ever been invited to a party by people you’ve always admired, but never met? You wander around, smiling politely, meeting wonderful fellow-guests, with that niggling fear that you’ll say the wrong thing or that they’ll decide you don’t belong there after all. Hi, folks. That’s me, in the corner, the new guy who’s being rescued by a very gracious hostess. Hi, Sally!

       You see, I’m only here by accident. I didn’t set out to write fantasy, in fact when I started, I didn’t really understand ‘genre’. Saxon’s Bane grew into this space from the nucleus of an idea. I wasn’t trying to build a new world, the way proper fantasy writers do, just take the existing one and twist the rules a little. I wanted to put readers into a believable, twenty-first century environment, such as the kind of rural backwater you might find on a cycling holiday, and then make them wonder if everything around them could be explained by science. I imagined inviting people to walk in England’s ancient woodland, and making it so real that they would close their eyes and inhale its mighty peace. Then I’d make them shiver with the sense that they were not alone, that they had just caught the scent of an otherness. A touch of sulphur, perhaps, amidst the honeysuckle, a hint of something immeasurably old.

       So much for setting. So far, you might say, pretty mainstream. But what about that ancient otherness? England’s history is written in its landscape, for those who know how to look. So I started with a village, Allingley, which would have been Aegl – ingas – leigh in Anglo-Saxon, the clearing of the people of Aegl. At some time in the sixth or seventh century, it might have been the place an invading warlord chose to ground his spear and plant his generations. By the twenty-first century, it was just a sleepy little hamlet, sitting astride the Swanbourne stream, until the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior is discovered on its outskirts. Bone fragments from a Saxon female are nearby. The media interest that follows becomes a frenzy with the news that the warrior had been ritually slaughtered.

       Now to populate the story. I sketched out the character of a woman archaeologist who becomes obsessed with her project, and shows a preternatural understanding of the Saxon couple. She remembers the old legend of the warrior Aegl and his wife Olrun, the Swan Maiden, and she fears both madness and professional ridicule when the present begins to mirror the ancient, bloody past. I also had an idea for a man recovering from life-changing injuries in a car crash near Allingley, a man who doesn’t know whether what he ‘saw’ at the edge of death was real or the product of his own traumatised mind.

       Place, catalyst, characters. Saxon’s Bane was born. After that, the plot flowed as swiftly as the Swanbourne.

       “Wonderful book,” said a commissioning Editor from one of the largest publishing houses as we grabbed coffee at a conference, a while before Solaris bought Saxon’s Bane. “Wonderful. But I don’t buy fantasy. I mean, there’s a suggestion of a ghost, and then there’s the near-death bit. It’s fantasy.”

       I nearly told him, then. I was almost stung into blurting out my own brush with death, but I wasn’t ready and it isn’t the kind of thing you announce over coffee. ‘I heard myself left for dead, once’, doesn’t flow easily from ‘pass the sugar, please’, but some of the fantastical elements of Saxon’s Bane needed little imagination; fingertips probing my neck for a pulse, and “this one’s dead, too,” as I slipped away into a place mapped more by faiths than by science.

       That incident isn’t Saxon’s Bane, nor is it a story for this forum. You’re not reading, and I’m certainly not writing misery memoirs. But that brutal slice of personal history did allow me to craft a character emerging from trauma; he’s vulnerable, irrational, and emotionally incontinent, but he fights. Not out of courage, but of necessity. Even when the only weapon left to him is a bloody-minded refusal to let go, he fights. He’s the sort of guy who will keep fighting even when Allingley’s past comes crashing into the present, and all logic says ‘run’.

       “Ghosts and a near-death experience,” the Editor said. “Pure fantasy!”

       The irony is delicious. So here I am, people. I’m so pleased to be here, and thank you for taking me in. Another drink? You’re too kind, Sally. Perhaps a dry, white wine?

About Saxon's Bane

Saxon's Bane
Solaris, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Saxon's Bane - An Accidental Fantasist - July 26, 2013
In a supernatural novel with echoes of Alan Garner and Kate Mosse, Geoffrey Gudgion chills the modern reader as the supernatural past invades the present.

Fergus Sheppard’s world changes for ever the day his car crashes near the remote village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he returns to thank the villagers who rescued him, and stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.

Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior had been ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. And their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep.

Fergus discovers that his crash is uncannily linked to the excavation, and that the smiling and beautiful countryside harbours some very dark secrets. As the pagan festival of Beltane approaches, and Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.

"Once there was a great classical tradition of rural British horror from MR James to The Wicker Man. Now Geoffrey Gudgion has revived the style and modernised it to great effect, proving there's still nothing as creepy as the countryside." Christopher Fowler

About Geoffrey

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Saxon's Bane - An Accidental Fantasist - July 26, 2013
Geoffrey Gudgion was the scholarship boy who never realised he’d have been happier as a writer than a businessman. until, that is, he had a spectacular row with his boss and stepped off the corporate ladder. Prior to that epiphany, he made his first attempts at writing fiction during long deployments in the Royal Navy, and consistently failed to reconcile writing with being CEO of a technology company.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~ 
Twitter @GeoffreyGudgion

Guest Blog by Jason Mott, author of The Returned - The Power of Third Person - July 25, 2013

Please welcome Jason Mott to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Returned will be published on August 27, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA.  I also have it on good authority that today is Jason's birthday. Please join The Qwillery in wishing a very Happy Birthday to Jason!

The Power of Third Person

Just before I started my novel, I had a planning session with a very good friend. He and I met almost ten years ago in an undergraduate writing class and we’ve been partners in crime ever since. I always go to him when I want to solve, or just explore, some element of writing. One of the things we talked about was whether or not THE RETURNED would most benefit from being written in first-person or third-person, and that simple question led to a very long discussion on the art of both writing and learning to write.

When we start writing, we almost immediately realize how tough it is. There are so many things to consider, so many tasks to achieve in order to create a story. It can be overwhelming to say the least. And, at some point, we invariably try our hand at both first-person and third-person narration. In my experience, first-person is the one that captures our imagination the most in the beginning. From a writing standpoint—for me, at least—I still remember the excitement of creating an intriguing narrative voice and watching that character make their way through the plot points. I was always waiting to hear what this character had to say next. They became an alternate version of myself. I would say something to someone and immediately think “That’s what my character would say!”

And that was incredibly fun and exciting.

However, as time went on and I wrote more and more stories, I began to notice that, while each voice I wrote in was interesting to me, they began to share many elements. Yes, the stories they inhabited were different and, for the most part, even the voices of the narrators were different…but, still, they were beginning to overlap. More than that: theme, pacing, scene construction…all of these things took a backseat to the voice of first-person. If I ever needed something done, the easiest way was to use the character’s voice to do it. It was a little like being fast-tracked in my writing. My friends would read my stories and give me lots of compliments, but they also began to say “The story was a little off…but the voice was so interesting I just kept reading.”

That was the catch. I was creating good voices, but bad stories. Ultimately, I was focusing so much of my writing energy on these voices was distracting me from so many of the other elements of writing that help create good writers. So I made the hard decision to writer fewer first-person stories and to really focus on third-person writing.

I’d consider myself a “classical writer” now, in the sense that I’ve become a bit devoted to third-person narration—both as a writer and as a reader. Even though a couple of my favorite books are written in first-person, overall, I deeply believe that, as a writer seeking to further their craft and ability, first-person can be a trap. A good voice will do a great deal of the “heavy lifting” for a writer, which may lead to speedier publication, but in the long run, it’s like training just one muscle group and not the entire body.

Writing is tough. And the writing market is hyper-competitive. A writer needs to be skilled in as many aspects of writing as possible if they want to be successful. A good writer has to be capable not only in voice, but also in tone, scene, setting, transitions, they have to be able to both be concise or expansive when needed, and many, many more things. And while first-person narration does require these elements, I believe that writers can learn more from working in third-person.

And while I am IN NO WAY saying that first-person narration is a bad thing (Please, please, don’t come away thinking that) I do feel that, pound for pound, third-person is the best training ground for any writer. So when the time came for me to begin writing THE RETURNED, the choice was clear.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! What narration point-of-view do you think works best? And why?

The Returned

The Returned
Harlequin MIRA, August 27, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world, people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

The eBook Prequels

The First
The Returned Prequel 1
Harlequin MIRA, June 1, 2013

In Jason Mott's haunting and unforgettable debut novel, The Returned, an impossible miracle is occurring all across the globe. Read how it all begins in this short story, The First.

It's been just over a year since Edmund Blithe died, and just over a month since his fiancée, Emily, stopped wearing her engagement ring. Emily has finally begun to move on... Until Edmund mysteriously and inexplicably returns, sending the world--and Emily--into a tailspin.

Edmund is only just the beginning. Around the world, people's loved ones are returning from beyond, seeking only to reenter the lives they left behind. As the world dives deep into uncertainty, Emily and Edmund are determined to find their way back to one another...even if it means risking everything.

The reappearances continue in The Sparrow, and look for The Returned from Harlequin MIRA, a moving tale of a family given a second chance at life and a world where nothing--not even death--is certain.

The Sparrow
The Returned Prequel 2
Harlequin MIRA, July 1, 2013

In this short story by Jason Mott, author of The Returned, one determined couple seeks to reunite a young girl with the father who thought he had lost her forever...

When Heather and Matt Campbell find ten-year-old Tatiana Rusesa on the side of the highway, she is thousands of miles away from her village in Sierra Leone. She hasn't seen her family in almost two decades, not since she and her mother were killed by rebel soldiers. Now Tatiana has inexplicably returned, a lost orphan with no place to call home.

As the world dives deeper into uncertainty and chaos, Heather is determined to save Tatiana and help her find her way back to her family. But how much is she willing to lose to protect a girl she doesn't even know?

Learn how the mysterious reappearances begin in The First, and don't miss Jason Mott's unforgettable debut novel, The Returned, from Harlequin MIRA, a moving tale of a family navigating this unusual new reality and given a second chance at life.

The Choice
The Returned Prequel 3
Harlequin MIRA, August 1, 2013

In this short story by Jason Mott, author of The Returned, a man is forced to choose between the life he has now, and the one he thought was gone forever….

Peter Galvin was just seventeen when Tracy Whitland,— the love of his life—, vanished without a trace. In the years after her death, he had finally moved on, gotten married, started a family. He is content with his life now—happy, even…. Until Tracy suddenly and inexplicably returns.

For weeks, Peter and his wife, Samantha, have been watching mysterious reports of people's loved ones returning from beyond, the world spinning into uncertainty and chaos. But they never imagined it would happen to them. With Tracy's unusual homecoming, Peter and Samantha must decide where they can possibly go from here, and whether their family can survive….

Read more stories of the Returned in The First and The Sparrow. And don't miss Jason Mott's haunting debut novel, The Returned, a story of one family given an extraordinary second chance.

Note: The 3 Prequels are presently free at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About Jason

Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award. He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…The Returned is his first novel.

The Returned has also been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air on the ABC network early next year under the title “Resurrection.”

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @JasonMott

Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1) - July 23, 2013

Please welcome Jason M. Hough to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1) will be published on July 30, 2013 by Del Rey.  The second and third novels in The Dire Earth Cycle, The Exodus Towers and The Plague Forge, will follow in August and September. You may read an interview with Jason here.

Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of  The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1)  - July 23, 2013

Place as Character

There was only one requirement when choosing where to set my novel: somewhere near the equator. At the heart of the story is a space elevator, which is really just a long (long!) cord that stretches from Earth up into space. Such a device only works near the equator, where the spin of the planet constantly tries to throw the counterweight at the far end out into space, thus keeping the cable nice and taut.

I didn’t really know what I was looking for in a location, other than I wanted it to have character. What that means, exactly, is somewhat indefinable, and differs for everyone. Ask ten writers to pick an equatorial location to set this novel and you’d probably get ten different answers, all with perfectly valid reasons.

Spinning around the globe at a friend’s house one night, I decided to first see if anything just jumped out at me right away. Someplace that might have intersti—


And that’s how easy it was. Didn’t even need to spin the globe around one entire revolution. Darwin, Australia, if for no other reason than the shallowest one: I liked the name. The title, THE DARWIN ELEVATOR, came to mind instantly. It sounded like the type of thing someone might pick up off a shelf, intrigued. The extra connotation the name brings just felt perfect. So… Darwin! Done deal. Easy, right?

As it turns out, Darwin is a piss-poor location for a space elevator. It’s close enough to the equator to technically work (as I later learned), but barely so. Definitely too far away to ever be a consideration in any real-world plans for such a device. The weather sucks, though that’s something of a theme when it comes to the equator. Even the simple fact that it’s on land makes it less than ideal. If we were to build an actual space elevator, we’d put it on a floating platform well out to sea. Something we can move to avoid storms. Somewhere that radar could pick up evildoers well before they ever got close enough to do any damage.

So Darwin was a terrible choice. And thus perfect. Because in this story we didn’t build the elevator. An automated extraterrestrial ship did, for reasons unexplained. Reasons I won’t explain here because spoilers are worse than broccoli. Suffice to say they either had bad aim or, perhaps, they didn’t want things to be easy for us. One thing’s for sure, on the day this post goes live I’ll pick a random person from whoever posts the word vestibule to my facebook page for a free signed book. But beyond all this elevator-related reasoning for choosing Darwin, the city had plenty to offer.

In the world of the novel, what today is a sleepy beach town becomes the scientific epicenter of the world almost overnight thanks to the Elevator’s sudden arrival. Governments and private organizations alike flock to the wondrous alien device in a way that no human-built monument ever accomplished. Then comes the plague, and when people start to realize the space elevator is somehow protecting Darwin from the disease, a second flood of newcomers arrive: refugees from all around. Darwin is in an interesting place in the world, geographically and culturally. An English-speaking nation tucked just below Southeast Asia. As melting pots go, it works very well.

So began the worldbuilding. That’s a topic for another day. The point of all this is how place can worm its way into a story the same way characters do. A quirk of behavior or an ironic name might be the spark that leads you down the road to a memorable persona, and as a writer you just go with it and see where it leads. Place is no different.

A novel’s setting can take on just as much personality as any character, and even serve as a driver for the story. Some of my favorite examples:

TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay, perhaps my favorite book, features a story driven by the fact that the entire concept of a place, the nation of Tigana, has been wiped from the memory of anyone who did not come from there. Those who did still remember the place fondly, and it is through their memory and shared grief for the virtual loss of their homeland we get to know the place of Tigana as intimately as any character in that magnificent work.

In 11/22/63 Stephen King takes us back in time to locations both real and imagined. King’s fictional and terrifying Maine town of Derry is as strong and well-defined as any character in that excellent novel. The place absolutely oozes with creepy personality, with each resident manifesting themselves like personality quirks. And Derry, like some of King’s characters, is a recurring presence in his books.

Midworld… Hogwarts… Arrakis… I could go on, but I’d love to hear what examples you readers have in mind. What places in literature have captured your attention as much or more than characters that populated them?

The Dire Earth Cycle

The Darwin Elevator
The Dire Earth Cycle 1
Del Rey, July 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of  The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1)  - July 23, 2013
Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.

The Exodus Towers
The Dire Earth Cycle 2
Del Rey, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of  The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1)  - July 23, 2013
The Exodus Towers features all the high-octane action and richly imagined characters of The Darwin Elevator—only the stakes have never been higher.

The Plague Forge
The Dire Earth Cycle 3
Del Rey, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of  The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1)  - July 23, 2013
The Plague Forge delivers an unbeatable combination of knockout action and kick-ass characters as the secrets to the ultimate alien mystery from The Darwin Elevator and The Exodus Towers are about to be unraveled.

Check out the 'Books' section of Jason's website to see the UK Covers.

About Jason
(from the author's website)

Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of  The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1)  - July 23, 2013
Photo by Nathan
Jason M. Hough (pronounced 'Huff') is a former 3D Artist and Game Designer (Metal FatigueAliens vs. Predator: Extinction, and many others).  Writing fiction became a hobby for him in 2007 and quickly turned into an obsession.  He started writing THE DARWIN ELEVATOR in 2008 as a Nanowrimo project, and kept refining the manuscript until 2011 when it sold to Del Rey along with a contract for two sequels.  The trilogy, collectively called THE DIRE EARTH CYCLE, will be released in the summer of 2013.

He lives in San Diego, California with his wife and two young sons. Currently he works at Qualcomm,Inc. designing software that uses machine learning to make smartphones more efficient and user-friendly.

Website  ~  Twitter @JasonMHough  ~  Facebook  ~  G+  ~  Blog

Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013

Please welcome Thomas Van Essen to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Center of the World was published on June 4, 2013 by Other Press. You may read an interview with Thomas here.

Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013

I started writing The Center of the World on March 21, 2003. I had turned fifty the year before. I was doing well in my job, having climbed about as high up the ladder as I was going to get. I had wanted to be a writer in college and I had written a pretty good, I thought, detective novel shortly after I finished graduate school, but after I couldn’t find a publisher for it, I got discouraged and stopped writing. I concentrated on my career and my family.

The idea that eventually became The Center of the World had been kicking around in the back of my mind since I had been in graduate school. That March I knew I had to give it one more shot. I told my wife that I had started working on a book and that if my interest in the project lasted long enough for me to produce seventy pages of long hand prose, I would cash in some frequent flyer miles and go to England to write and to do some research (which, in this case mostly meant going to the Tate and the National Gallery and looking at pictures by Turner).

So I made the trip. In addition to London, I went to Petworth House (about an hour south of London) where I found the scenes and the inspiration for the sections of my book that were set in 19th century England. In the morning I wrote for four or five hours, a luxury my job and life did not permit; in the afternoons I soaked up Turners. It was great.

I came back to New Jersey and went on with my life, but with the important difference that every morning I woke up an hour and a half earlier and wrote. I still worked hard at my job and did all the other things I was supposed to do, but I now had this writing time which gave some important meaning, purpose, and structure to my life. I had good days and bad days with the writing, but the time I spent working every morning as I sat in my pajamas and drank my coffee, made me feel good about myself in a way that I hadn’t for years.

But I never told anyone beside my wife and one or two very close friends (who were asked not to talk about it) about my writing. I didn’t want to be a fifty-something unpublished writer, nor did I have whatever it takes to be a member of a writing community. There are, I know, lots of writer’s groups that meet in libraries or online, but I never felt like I wanted to do that. I think it would have been in some sense healthier to be “out” about being a writer—to at least define myself that way in public—but I didn’t want to define myself (at my age) as a failed (i.e. unpublished) writer. I don’t think that was a particularly healthy attitude, but that is where I was during the writing.

I hadn’t quite realized while I was working on The Center of the World that I had encoded my thoughts and feelings about writing and my relationship to writing into the very structure of the novel. Every book contains an element of autobiography and in all works of art about art, there is an implicit dialogue between the work of art in the process of being created (in this case, my novel) and the work of art that the work of art is about. The Center of the World is about a secret and forbidden painting, a painting so powerful that it transforms all who come into contact with it. There is, I have come to understand, a deep psycho-metaphorical link between the secret and “forbidden” nature of the painting in my novel and my own practice as a writer. Part of what I was trying to work out was the transformative power of writing in my own life. My writing, I was trying to tell myself, was the secret, powerful, and transformative center of my world.

Now that The Center of the World has been out for a few weeks, I am no longer a secret writer and writing is no longer forbidden. I have been thinking about what’s different. The short answer is “not much.” I feel, of course, (and this is a very good feeling) that I have accomplished something that I have wanted to accomplish since I was in high school forty years ago. It’s a good book, and I am proud of it. Most people who read it like it; it’s gotten good reviews. But now I have to own myself as a writer and I have to figure out what that means.

I think a lot about that great moment in the second act of Waiting For Godot:

         ESTRAGON: We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?

         VLADIMIR: Wait for Godot.

For writers, that waiting that Vladimir recommends is more writing. And that is what I have to do: keep writing.

About The Center of the World

The Center of the World
Other Press, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013
Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

This painting has such devastating erotic power that it was kept hidden for almost two centuries, and was even said to have been destroyed...until Henry stumbles upon it in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks. Though he knows it is an object of immense value, the thought of parting with it is unbearable: Henry is transfixed by its revelation of a whole other world, one of transcendent light, joy, and possibility.

Back in the nineteenth century, Turner struggles to create The Center of the World, his greatest painting, but a painting unlike anything he (or anyone else) has ever attempted. We meet his patron, Lord Egremont, an aristocrat in whose palatial home Turner talks freely about his art and his beliefs. We also meet Elizabeth Spencer, Egremont’s mistress and Turner’s muse, the model for his Helen. Meanwhile, in the present, Henry is relentlessly trailed by an unscrupulous art dealer determined to get his hands on the painting at any cost. Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.

About Thomas

Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013

Thomas Van Essen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his PhD in English from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his family. The Center of the World is his first novel.

Website  ~  Twitter @tvanessen2

Guest Blog by Jay Posey, author of Three - Bad Guys Are People Too - July 1, 2013

Please welcome Jay Posey to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Three (Legends of the Duskwalker 1) will be published on July 30, 2013 in the US/Canada and on August 1, 2013 in the UK by Angry Robot Books.

Guest Blog by Jay Posey, author of Three - Bad Guys Are People Too - July 1, 2013

Bad Guys Are People Too

        I’ve been a Professional Doer of Words for a while now (going on a decade if you count the time that I was doing it full-time and not getting paid), and one of the things I learned very early on is that a character who is evil for evil’s sake is less of what we call a “character” and more of a LAZY THING TO DO AND YOU SHOULD NEVER DO IT EVER.

        Which, like all NEVER rules, isn’t strictly true. An emotionless evil-for-the-sake-of-evil character can be terrifying in the proper context (say, horror, for example), but by and large if you’re trying to write something with Compelling Characters™, it’s counter-productive to put the antagonist in the “bad guy” box and not give her or him or it or frnyrx a soul. A two-dimensional bad guy is still just as flat and boring and predictable as a two-dimensional protagonist. And without an interesting antagonist, stories just aren’t all they could be. This is the point in the post where I make the obligatory Batman/Joker, Sherlock Holmes/Professor Moriarty, Kirk/Khan reference. (Also obligatory: Khaaaaaan!)

        All of this is a long-winded way of saying, when I started writing Three I was well aware of the fact that Bad Guys Are People Too. And in Three there are a lot of bad guys. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was to find a Bad Guy that would become so much of a person that I would find myself rooting for him. His name is Dagon.

        I was actually pretty pleased with how most of my characters turned out. I know the Bad Guys well enough to know they don’t really think of themselves as Bad Guys. Hopefully that comes across to the readers. They all have wants and desires, and some they get and some they don’t. They have a certain skill set and they provide certain services that other people are willing to pay for, so in a post-apocalyptic world, they’re really not any different than anybody else that’s doing what it takes to get by. As far as they’re concerned, at least.

        But Dagon stands apart from everyone else in my mind because he is, perhaps, a tragic hero in his own story. A man with good intentions who can’t quite build up the courage to make the hard choices, who can’t quite sacrifice a part of himself for the good of someone he loves, and who finds himself compelled to keep doing things he doesn’t really want to do. Or maybe who is compelled to keep doing things he does want to do, all the while wishing he didn’t want to do them.

        He has his own story that developed over the course of the writing of Three, and it was much deeper than I ever expected it to be. He was one of those cases where I felt like I wasn’t creating a character so much as discovering one.

        Dagon is, in many ways, a man who never reaches his full potential because he is constantly undermining himself. He knows what the right thing to do is, he just can’t quite bring himself to always do it.

        Which just might be about the most human thing in the world.

About Three

Series:  Legends of the Duskwalker 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books, July 30, 2013 (US/Canada)
      August 1, 2013 (UK)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print US)
ISBN:  9780857663634 (print US)

Guest Blog by Jay Posey, author of Three - Bad Guys Are People Too - July 1, 2013
The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.

But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantle of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Three For All | Apocalyptic Wasteland | A Journey Home | Fear the Weir ]

About Jay

Guest Blog by Jay Posey, author of Three - Bad Guys Are People Too - July 1, 2013
Jay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises.

A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry.

You can find him online at his website,, as well as on Twitter (@HiJayPosey).

Guest Blog by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - June 14, 2013

Please welcome Stephen P. Kiernan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Curiosity, Stephen's fiction debut, will be published on July 9th.

Guest Blog by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - June 14, 2013

Imagine an October day, 32,000 years ago. In the tundra of Siberia, a squirrel buried a seed he intended to eat during the long winter ahead. But the animal never came back, and the seed sat dormant for all of those millennia. Then, in 1995, researchers discovered a maze of petrified burrows, and unearthed thousands of seeds. After long experimentation, scientists caused one of them to flower last year.

Is this fiction? Actually, no. Biology has made astonishing progress in cell science, especially since DNA sequencing became a laboratory norm. It’s known by many names – retrobreeding, de-extinction, regenesis. And it is changing the definition of death and extinction in much the same way that cloning twenty years ago modified our understanding of identity.

Advances like these always raise interesting questions: If two sheep have the same DNA, does the original possess some kind of higher standing than the copy? Or are they equal beings? If a species considered extinct can be revived, should its habitat be preserved? Should its prey be cultivated to sustain the returned predator? Should the species that replaced the extinct one on the food chain be eradicated?

While answers remain elusive and debatable, the redefinition of mortality is real, and happening in our lifetime. Did you know that there are elephants in Russia and Korea, right now, which are impregnated with embryos containing the DNA of wooly mammoths?

Did you know that there are doves whose eggs are being spliced with DNA recovered from dead passenger pigeons (once the most populous bird on Earth, and a species considered extinct since 1914 )? Researchers on that project insist that within a few years, the world will have passenger pigeons once again.

Perhaps you saw the National Geographic magazine from April of this year. The cover painting showed a mammoth, sabre tooth tiger and other extinct species emerging from a giant test tube, under the headline: “Reviving Extinct Species: We Can, But Should We?”

A question like this is more than enough to propel a novel. It requires characters who are smart and open minded and driven. It risks empowering personalities that are obsessive and uncompromising. It raises ethical dilemmas over which people will protest, take political action, and perhaps commit acts of violence. It potentially enthralls a rabid and superficial media. And it pays close attention to every entity in the situation except the creature restored to life.

That is the premise of my novel The Curiosity. The only difference between my fiction and the genuine science is one of species. Instead of a mammoth, or feline, or harmless Siberian flower, my regenesis involves a human being.

About The Curiosity

The Curiosity
Publisher:  William Morrow, July 9, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages
Price:  $25.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-06-222106-3 (print)

Guest Blog by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - June 14, 2013
A powerful debut novel in which a man, frozen in the Arctic ice for more than a century, awakens in the present day and finds the greatest discovery is love . . .

The Curiosity

Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures—plankton, krill, shrimp—back to life for short periods of time. But the team's methods have never been attempted on larger life-forms.

Heedless of the potential consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston and reanimated. The endeavor is named "The Lazarus Project." As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was—is—a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and protests by religious fundamentalists.

Thrown together by fate, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah's new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.

A gripping, poignant, and thoroughly original thriller, Stephen P. Kiernan's provocative debut novel raises disturbing questions about the very nature of life and humanity—man as a scientific subject, as a tabloid novelty, as a living being: a curiosity.

About Stephen

Guest Blog by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - June 14, 2013
Author of the new novel THE CURIOSITY, Stephen Kiernan was born in Newtonville, NY the sixth of seven children. A graduate of Middlebury College, he received a Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Over two-plus decades as a journalist he has won 40-plus awards, including the Brechner Institute’s Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism (two time commentary finalist) and the George Polk Award.

THE CURIOSITY won an Indie Next award for July, 2013, and has been named a top summer read by the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping and Philadelphia Magazine.

Stephen taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference, and worked on the staff of the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. He chairs the board of the Young Writers Project, and sat on the advisory committee of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative and the Vermont Legislature's Pain and Palliative Care Study Committee.

As a result of his 2007 book LAST RIGHTS, Stephen travels the country speaking to a wide variety of audiences about health care, hospice and palliative care, and advance directives. Following his 2010 book AUTHENTIC PATRIOTISM, he also speaks on civic engagement, service learning, volunteerism and philanthropy.

Stephen has also performed on the guitar since he was ten years old. In addition to recording 3 CDs of solo instrumentals, he has composed music for dance, the stage, documentaries and TV specials.

He lives in Vermont with his two amazing sons.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads  ~  Twitter

Guest Blog by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - June 14, 2013

Guest Blog by Peter Stenson, author of Fiend - June 10, 2013

Please welcome Peter Stenson to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Fiend will be published on July 9, 2013 by Crown.

Guest Blog by Peter Stenson, author of Fiend - June 10, 2013

Unsolicited Writing Advice: Don’t be Such a Pussy

I showed up to Colorado State University’s MFA program thinking I was hot shit. Why? Damned if I know, but I felt pretty good about my ability to string sentences together and create characters that were detestably relatable.
      That changed after my first workshop.
      I handed in a story that was pure shit. I thought it was gold at the time—some fifteen pages of every imaginable clichéd conflict mashed together with run-ons and a few sprinkled f-bombs for good measure. I was expecting a standing ovation during my first workshop. This didn’t happen. Instead, I was told the brutal truth about my story: it sucked and was more than likely unsalvageable.
      Needless to say, I was devastated.
      I spent the next few days crying, hardly rising from bed to go the bathroom. I looked into switching from my MFA to a teaching certificate program. I played lots of video games. I was too depressed to break apart the Oreo cookies I was devouring by the fistful. I was seconds away from throwing in the towel, when my wife gave me the best writing advice I’ve ever received: Don’t be such a pussy.
      Crass? Yes. Insensitive? Perhaps. But absolutely right on the money. This was her saying you’ve wanted to be a writer your entire life. You love books more than anything. You dragged me across the country to pursue this goal. You better grow a pair and learn to take criticism.
      But I believe this mantra speaks to more than my (or any writer’s) ability to learn from criticism. I believe it speaks to the underlying fear that I feel every time I sit down in front of a blank page. It’s the antidote to the voice inside my head that tells me nobody gives a shit about what I have to say, and if on the off chance they did care, some other writer could say it better. It’s about rejection and insecurity. It’s about vulnerability. It’s about realizing I like writing genre, and contrary to MFA programs everywhere, genre is not a dirty word. It’s about knowing I can always get better—learn more, read more, revise more—and that this is part of the maddeningly beautiful process of creating art.
      So for my one piece of unsolicited advice: Don’t be such a pussy. Don’t hold back on the page. Don’t for a second quit believing what you are doing is essential, both for yourself and the greater public.

About Fiend

Crown, July 9, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Peter Stenson, author of Fiend - June 10, 2013
There’s more than one kind of monster.

    When Chase Daniels first sees the little girl in umbrella socks tearing open the Rottweiler, he's not too concerned. As a longtime meth addict, he’s no stranger to horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations.
    But as he and his fellow junkies soon discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived.
    The funny thing is, Chase’s life was over long before the apocalypse got here, his existence already reduced to a stinking basement apartment and a filthy mattress and an endless grind of buying and selling and using. He’s lied and cheated and stolen and broken his parents’ hearts a thousand times. And he threw away his only shot at sobriety a long time ago, when he chose the embrace of the drug over the woman he still loves.
    And if your life’s already shattered beyond any normal hopes of redemption…well, maybe the end of the world is an opportunity. Maybe it’s a last chance for Chase to hit restart and become the man he once dreamed of being. Soon he’s fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among civilization’s ruins.
    But is salvation just another pipe dream?
    Propelled by a blistering first-person voice and featuring a powerfully compelling antihero, Fiend is at once a riveting portrait of addiction, a pitch-black love story, and a meditation on hope, redemption, and delusion—not to mention one hell of a zombie novel.

About Peter

Guest Blog by Peter Stenson, author of Fiend - June 10, 2013

Peter Stenson is the author of the novel "Fiend" forthcoming from Crown in July of 2013. He has essays and stories published or forthcoming in The Sun, Bellevue Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, Confrontation, Harpur Palate, and Post Road, among others. He received his MFA in fiction from Colorado State University. He lives in Denver with his wife and daughter.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Guest Blog by Mark T. Barnes, author of The Garden of Stones - June 7, 2013

Please welcome Mark T. Barnes to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Garden of Stones (The Echoes of Empire 1) was published on May 21, 2013.  You may read an interview with Mark here.

Guest Blog by Mark T. Barnes, author of The Garden of Stones - June 7, 2013

Something old and something new in ‘The Garden of Stones’
By Mark T. Barnes

Let me start by saying I read a lot, and a lot of speculative fiction: fantasy and science fiction mostly, with some horror and other elements to round things out, and provide some depth and breadth. I’ve always favoured those writers who provided an immersive, layered experience, not only in their prose, but in the complexity of their plots, their character development, and their world building.

In ‘The Garden of Stones’ I aim for something similar, but as unique as I can make it. Īa is an old world, where elements of culture have been inherited down the centuries as civilisations rise, and fall: or vanish, leaving barely understood legacies behind. Part of the world building process was making shifts from paths we walk so often. Taking the story out of something comfortably European was s starting point; dispensing with standard approaches to religion, and removing deities; having a world of reason and grand invention, rather than something reminiscent of the Dark Ages; refusing to slavishly follow historical gender roles, so that gender is mostly superfluous to what a character can do with their lives; and using language to give names to things that are meaningful to different cultures in a multicultural world.

The grass roots of my world and language building were found partly in the Mediterranean, but more so in Middle Eastern and Eastern World influences. Even then, these were a high level framework, almost an abstract, from which I could build something new. While not a native of these countries, I respect their traditions and didn’t want to copy them slavishly—or misrepresent them—but used elements to weave like pieces together into something new, that was still familiar enough for readers to hold on to. World building is hard enough, without making everything so foreign that readers have no anchor to hold them fast to the characters, world and story.

Social mores are something that interest me, and it constantly surprises me that we feel the need to reflect the wilful ignorance, if not the outright arrogance, of our own history in our fiction. Isn’t fiction—and in particularly speculative fiction—supposed to give as the broad strokes we need to write about something new? For me, raised in a non-sexist, non-racist environment, the idea that anybody was limited by their gender was ludicrous. When creating the cultures of Īa, I set simple rules: anybody can aspire to social and professional advancement; war is for those trained to wage it; and gender has nothing to do with your life opportunities. So you’re a woman and you want to be a soldier? Go right ahead. Want to lead your influential family? Of course you can! You’re a man, but you want to be a courtesan and give pleasure for a living? Absolutely. I think it’s important to break down the established views on gender, and look at ways where we can represent women and men, the rich and the poor, equally with regards to responsibility, accountability, authority, and opportunity.

I think one of the most fun parts was creating a new system of magic, and making mystics more than mages. Shifting to a Renaissance mind set, with its innovation, intellectual pursuits, its revolutions in science, and its approaches to diplomacy, gave me the chance to leverage some non-standard fantasy elements. Using the seeds of archaeology, of arcane engineering, of branches of magic as a science, etc, made the world building and story telling more interesting for me. Adding arcane devices, flying ships, mystic weapons and methods of healing, artificially created races who thrived to form cultures of their own, etc, added layers to the world. Writing a story in an age of reason gave me the chance to have characters who could be motivated more by curiosity and a desire to learn, and to adapt, moving away from the fear of the unknown.

The three point of view characters all have different histories and motivations, needs and wants. Readers get to see Īa unfold from these perspectives, sometimes seeing the same thing through different lenses, and having different impressions. I’ve tried to build a world people will find engaging, populated by people who actually live in it. Through their eyes, readers will discover Īa, it’s cultures, it’s people and it’s layered history, all things I hope readers will enjoy, and make Īa a place where they will want to spend more time.

‘The Garden of Stones’ is the first book in ‘The Echoes of Empire’, and reveals part of the world, the people, and the history that makes Īa the place it is. I look forward to sharing more of my world with people, as it unfolds with the release of ‘The Obsidian Heart’ in October 2013, and ‘The Pillars of Sand’ in May 2014.

About The Echoes of Empire

The Garden of Stones
The Echoes of Empire 1
47North, May 21, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 506 pages

Guest Blog by Mark T. Barnes, author of The Garden of Stones - June 7, 2013
An uneasy peace has existed since the fall of the Awakened Empire centuries ago. Now the hybrid Avān share the land with the people they once conquered: the star-born humans; the spectral, undead Nomads; and what remains of the Elemental Masters.

With the Empress-in-Shadows an estranged ghost, it is the ancient dynasties of the Great Houses and the Hundred Families that rule. But now civil war threatens to draw all of Shrīan into a vicious struggle sparked by one man’s lust for power, and his drive to cheat death.

Visions have foretold that Corajidin, dying ruler of House Erebus, will not only survive, but rise to rule his people. The wily nobleman seeks to make his destiny certain—by plundering the ruins of his civilization’s past for the arcane science needed to ensure his survival, and by mercilessly eliminating his rivals. But mercenary warrior-mage Indris, scion of the rival House Näsarat, stands most powerfully in the usurper’s bloody path. For it is Indris who reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing man, the only one able to steer the teetering nation towards peace.

The Obsidian Heart
The Echoes of Empire 2
47North, October 15, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook

Guest Blog by Mark T. Barnes, author of The Garden of Stones - June 7, 2013
A plot to overthrow the Shrīanese Federation has been quashed, but the bloody rebellion is far from over...and the struggle to survive is just beginning.

Warrior-mage Indris grows weary in his failed attempts to thwart the political machinations of Corajidin, and faces the possibility of imprisonment upon his return to his homeland. Moreover, Indris’s desire for Corajidin’s daughter, Mari, is strong. Can he choose between his duty and his desire…and at what cost?

Left alienated from her House, Mari is torn between the opposing forces of her family and her country—especially now that she’s been offered the position of Knight-Colonel of the Feyassin, the elite royal guards whose legacy reaches back to the days of the Awakened Empire. As the tensions rise, she must decide if her future is with Indris, with her family, or in a direction not yet foreseen.

As he awaits trial for his crimes, Corajidin confronts the good and evil within himself. Does he seek redemption for his cruel deeds, or does he indebt himself further to the enigmatic forces that have promised him success, and granted him a reprieve from death? What is more important: his ambition, regaining the love stolen from him, or his soul?

About Mark

Guest Blog by Mark T. Barnes, author of The Garden of Stones - June 7, 2013
Mark Barnes was born in September, 1966 in Sydney, Australia. Raised and educated in Sydney, he was a champion swimmer who also played water-polo, soccer, cricket and volleyball. Drawn to the arts at a young age he wrote his first short story at age 7 though was active in drawing, painting, and music as well.

His career stuttered in finance, slid into advertising then leaped into Information Technology where he continues to manage a freelance Organizational Change consultancy. It was not until January 2005, when Mark was selected to attend the Clarion South residential short story workshop, he began to write with a view to making it more than a hobby. Since Clarion South 2005 Mark has published a small number of short stories, worked as a freelance script editor and done creative consultancy for a television series.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Guest Blog by Geoffrey Girard, author of Cain's Blood and  Project Cain - August 5, 2013Guest Blog by Kait Ballenger - The Specialties of the Hunters of the Execution Underground - July 29, 2013Guest Blog by Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Saxon's Bane - An Accidental Fantasist - July 26, 2013Guest Blog by Jason Mott, author of The Returned - The Power of Third Person - July 25, 2013Guest Blog by Jason M. Hough, author of  The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle 1)  - July 23, 2013Guest Blog by Thomas Van Essen, author of The Center of the World - July 10, 2013Guest Blog by Jay Posey, author of Three - Bad Guys Are People Too - July 1, 2013Guest Blog by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Curiosity - June 14, 2013Guest Blog by Peter Stenson, author of Fiend - June 10, 2013Guest Blog by Mark T. Barnes, author of The Garden of Stones - June 7, 2013

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?