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2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013 Winner


The 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars winner for March is No Return by Zachary Jernigan with 38% of the votes cast. No Return was published by Night Shade Books on March 5, 2013.  The cover artwork is by Robbie Trevino.



2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013 Winner






The final results:

2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013 Winner






The March Debut Covers

2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013 Winner






Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue soon with voting on the April 2013 Debut covers.

2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013


It's time for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars for March 2013!




Since Cover Wars was so much fun as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, we're doing it again for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge. Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from each month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2013 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is released in the US. Cover artist/illustrator information is provided when I have it.








Cover Design: Lauren Panepinto






Cover Artwork: Robbie Trevino


















Cover Artist: Nekro








Interview with Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - March 9, 2013

Please welcome Zachary Jernigan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  No Return, Zachary's debut, was published on March 5, 2013.  You may read Zachary's Guest Blog - Write, Write, Write: The Pressure to be Productive - here.



Interview with Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - March 9, 2013



TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Zachary:  Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here!



TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Zachary:  Oy. That’s difficult to answer, honestly. I certainly didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I didn’t even start reading novels in earnest until the age of fifteen or sixteen. In my early twenties, I’d often feel the urge to write (coupled with an unhealthy dose of jealousy directed at those who did write), but I never finished anything; most projects made it barely past the first page. It wasn’t until half-way through a disastrous 5-month trip to Chile in 2005 that I actually completed a story—and that was only about 1500 words long.

Still, it wasn’t the beginning of much, as another two years would pass before I’d really give writing another go. The event that inspired me was another trip outside the US border—to Liverpool, UK, in order to begin a Masters program in Science Fiction Studies. (Yes, seriously.) I realized, just before the program started, that I wouldn’t in fact be content to study sf; I wanted to write it. (Of course, a person can do both, but I didn’t have enough money for that.)

As to why I even felt the urge to write? Well, I guess it’s because it never felt like enough, to simply read or comment on reading. I wanted to contribute my own work, and be part of the ongoing conversation that way. I’m fully aware that, for me, this comes from a somewhat self-conscious place. It’s a need to prove something, I guess. Still, I’m grateful for whatever it is that drives me. After years of OCD-related depression, it’s given me a reason to smile more. Nothing like setting a goal and reaching it to brighten your day!

(I hope that what I’ve written above doesn’t make it sound like I believe there’s a literary hierarchy, with writers at the top. I don’t believe the act of writing “creatively” is any more laudable than the act of reading, or critiquing, or teaching. Some people simply don’t feel drawn to writing stories or essays or whatever, and this emphatically does not mean that they’re less ambitious or inspired. I hate when people act as if the “creator” is better than the consumer. Anyway, sorry for the rant.)



TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Zachary:  Wow. Good question. I don’t know if I really have an interesting quirk. Probably the one that’s the most striking is the amount of time I don’t spend writing—or maybe even the verbal lengths I’ll go to in order to prove how much I don’t like writing. Basically, I think writing is a pain in the butt. It’s hard, hard work, perhaps especially so for someone like me, who is not all that bright to begin with and edits as he goes.

In truth, I’ll do most anything to avoid my writing chore. As is the case with a good workout, I know it’ll make me feel better, but I’m just so lazy and weak-willed.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Zachary:  Well, the one novel I’ve gotten through was plotted somewhat loosely beforehand. I knew where I needed to go in each chapter, but not necessarily how I’d get there. The fun/maddening part about it was discovering new things I didn’t know I wanted in there. One whole character—Churls’s ghost-daughter Fyra—seemed to literally come out of nowhere!

So… Both a plotter and a pantser?



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Zachary:  Can “everything” be an answer? It all seems like an immense challenge.

Still, I should be able to answer better than that. I think the entire first draft process is simply exhausting. As I said earlier, I edit as I go along, so it’s very slow going. If I don’t like a sentence, I can’t move on to the next sentence. (Of course, once I go back to revise I find that—despite my attention to detail—all of them still stink. Isn’t that wonderful?)



TQ:  Describe No Return in 140 characters or less.

Zachary:  A violent, frankly sexual novel of religious warfare, featuring fighters in skintight battle suits, metal men, and alchemical astronauts.



TQ:  What inspired you to write No Return?

Zachary:  Writers like Roger Zelazny, Samuel Delany, Alice Sheldon, Cordwainer Smith, Phyllis Gotlieb, and Sean Stewart—people who have crafted widescreen mythological works using wonderfully efficient and beautiful language.

Also, jealousy. Never forget jealousy.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for No Return?

Zachary:  I didn’t do much, first off. Second, I hope it doesn’t show.

I’m loathe to do research (again, I’m lazy), so I try to keep it to a minimum. No Return takes place on a different planet, which made some things frightfully easy. No chance of mistaking the layout of cities, or getting the geography or local history all wrong. Mostly, my research consisted of finding out how far a person or horse could travel in a day.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Zachary:  Another great question! The easiest to write was Churls, a down on her luck professional fighter. She’s partly based upon my girlfriend-at-the-time-of-writing, a tough yet compassionate roller derby player. That informed the writing, of course, but ultimately Churls was just so much more fun to write than anybody else. She flowed naturally, perhaps because I just like her a lot. Out of everybody in the book, she’d be the most fun to throw back a dozen beers with. I’d be intimidated as hell by her, but I’d still enjoy myself immensely.

The hardest was undoubtedly Vedas, the guilt-ridden warrior-monk who kind of acts as the counterpoint to Churls. He’s, for all of his qualities, not a very fun person to be around. In many ways, he’s like me (though I’m super fun and not a physically perfect black man): a product of religious indoctrination who’s slowly coming to understand how beliefs affect his actions, as well as a pretty uptight guy. Maybe because he mirrors me in these ways, his trials emotionally represented my own.

Self-discovery is difficult. Writing is even more so. Combining the two was hell.



TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in No Return?

Zachary:  I never, ever, ever—ever!—thought I’d say this, and goodness knows it makes me uncomfortable to admit… but my favorite scene involves a rape. It’s the only such act in the book and the only nonconsensual sex I’ve ever written.

A little background on it: I hadn’t intended to write a rape scene, because, well, they creep me the hell out—as I think they should. During the week it took to write mine, I was a wreck, irritable and depressed by turns. After I finished it, I felt unclean. I don’t remember my dreams very often, and I’m glad I don’t, because I shudder to think what those were like during that period. Still, there was some reward for my effort. When Elizabeth Hand—my mentor for the third semester of my MFA program, and the first reader of No Return—got to the end of “the rape chapter,” she wrote, “Bravo! A virtuoso performance.” on the manuscript. It meant the world to me.

So… Summoning all the objectivity I can muster (not much), I do think it’s a good scene. It’s brutal, but for the right reasons. It moves one character forward in an inevitable way, just as it destroys another.



TQ:  What's next?

Zachary:  Um… International stardom? Debt-free financial independence? Muscles without working out?

Nah. Most likely, my next project will be a sequel to my debut. I don't think No Return demands a sequel—it is, I think, relatively self-enclosed—but it does end with quite a few questions unanswered.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Zachary:  Thank you so, so much! I enjoyed answering these questions immensely.





About No Return

No Return
Night Shade Books, March 5, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - March 9, 2013
On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists–only what his intentions are.

Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon–a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle–warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Danoor, on the far side of Jeroun’s only inhabitable continent.

From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Berun, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Danoor, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.

On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas–which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him? Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced, author Zachary Jernigan takes you on a sensuous ride through a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction, in this first installment of one of the year’s most exciting fantasy epics.





About Zachary

Interview with Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - March 9, 2013
Zachary Jernigan is a 32-year-old, quarter-Hungarian, bald male. He has lived in Northern Arizona, with occasional forays into the wetter and colder world, since 1990. His favorite activities include: listening to 70s-00s punk and post-punk music, cooking delicious and often unhealthy foods, riding human-powered vehicles, talking and/or arguing about religion, and watching sitcoms. During his rare periods of productivity, he writes science fiction and fantasy. NO RETURN, his first novel, comes out March 5th, 2013 from Night Shade Books. His short stories have appeared in a variety of places, including ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION, CROSSED GENRES, and ESCAPE POD. Visit him at zacharyjernigan.com



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Guest Blog by Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - February 9, 2013

Please welcome Zachary Jernigan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge. No Return, Zachary's debut, will be published on March 5, 2013.



Guest Blog by Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - February 9, 2013



Write, Write, Write: The Pressure to be Productive
By Zachary Jernigan


Of all the writing advice I've heard since 2009—the year I consider myself to have entered the writing "community"—the most practical is simply WRITE. Write, as often as you can. Write, when you feel like doing it but also when you don't. Write every day.

Write, write, write write write.

The reasoning is sound. Professional athletes train nearly daily in order to keep their muscles hard, their reflexes sharp. Why should the building of writing muscles be any different? You only get good at something by practicing.

It all makes sense. It does, obviously. It's so clear it's almost stupid.

And yet I hate it. I think it can be counterproductive to tell someone to always write, and I'll tell you why.

#

1. Reading is just as important—probably more important—than writing.

Oh, how often I've read this question in an interview, "What do you read, Writer Person?" only for the author-in-question to respond, "Well, I write so much now that I don't have a lot of time to read."

Ugh. Are you serious? I can't possibly see how that won't have a deleterious effect on your writing. Reading, after all, is how you become discerning about literature; it is how you develop taste; it is, in short, how you learn to tell the difference between crap and genius.

In order to aspire to something, you must have a goal in sight. You must read. If you're running a race only against yourself, don't be surprised when reviewers start noticing your little solipsistic game. Don't be surprised when people start accusing you of becoming a fossil because you've failed to remain aware of what others are doing.

#

2. Periods of reflection are good for you.

Just as reading is necessary to keep your brain from becoming self-referential mush, periods of reflection are necessary to understand the course you're on. It's all fine and good to be productive, of course, but don't forget that quiet moments ground you to the reality of being a writer. Use such moments to question whether or not you're on the right track, if that plot point or character motivation makes any sense.

#

2. Writing uncritically, day-in, day-out, can cement bad habits.

I know a lot of writers at this point, and one thing I think I can spot is a lifetime writer—that person who's been writing since they were little. Almost always, they have quirks that reveal how much they've carried forward from youth. This isn't to say they're not good writers, but it is to say that they reveal weaknesses different from those people who started writing as adults.

It's a matter of being uncritical, of being so enthused by writing as a child that you don't question the method of writing. This can happen to adults, too, of course: Sometimes you get taken with what you're doing and forget to turn the critic on.

But the critic must be turned on if you're to become good at writing. Use those moments of reflection I mentioned above to criticize yourself—compassionately, yes, but also with as much objectivity as you can muster.

Above all, don't get caught in the self-deception that simply because you're writing, you're improving. Be an editor, now and then. Stop and look and really see what you've accomplished.

#

4. Understanding why one writes is important.

Too often, I think we view productivity as a virtue in and of itself, when in reality work for the sake of work is just that: work. There is more to which one should aspire, frankly—and that is truly transformative effort.

Writing every day, as much as you can, can keep you from understanding the very reason you're writing in the first place. Don't get so caught up in the act of writing that you forget what it is you wanted to accomplish. Don't be that person in the Lifetime movie who's so intent on achievement that they forget who they are.

Just like a good Lifetime movie, writing is about LOVE. It should be difficult and sometimes heartbreaking, but in the end it should ground you further to the underlying reality that what you do is awesome.

#

5. Always writing can blind one to one's emotional reaction.

Say you sell a book, as I did last year. You're thrilled. You're jumping around the house.

The first advice you receive (after the congratulations) is, "Don't rest on this achievement. Write the second book. Now."

You... Don't know what to do. You—and yes, I'm giving up the pretense that I'm referring to anybody but me in this example—are crazy excited and tired and, yes, lazy. Suffering through another book is the last thing you want to do right now. It'd be nice to rest on your laurels a bit, you think. So, you procrastinate. Or, as you put it, you wait for a compelling reason to write again. You like the pressure of a deadline, blah blah blah.

But... on a deeper level that can feel suspiciously like self-justification, you know how valuable it is not to ignore what you are experiencing. It's your first novel sale—a big deal, the culmination of a decades-long dream—and you want to experience the aftereffects of it. You don't want to be so consumed with achieving the next goal that you don't give the current achievement its proper due. You want to consciously come to terms with what you've done. You want to feel the gratitude that the moment deserves.

You want that moment of reflection, so that years later you'll be able to look back and know you felt it happening. You don't want all your memories to be of sitting at your desk, always chasing the next big thing.

Big things are happening now, for everybody. Give yourself room to appreciate them.

#

Please don't misconstrue me here, Qwilllery folks. I'm not advocating that you shouldn't write if that's what you're drawn to. By all means, write as much as possible.

Nonetheless, you should also question whether or not you should be writing to the detriment of other things. Question if a portion of your time could be better spent reading that challenging book, or taking a walk to resolve that plot issue.

More than anything, don't write for the sake of writing. Write with purpose and love. Know, as best you can, what story you want to tell and why.

Thanks for reading!






About No Return

No Return
Night Shade Books, March 5, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - February 9, 2013
On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists–only what his intentions are.

Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon–a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle–warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Danoor, on the far side of Jeroun’s only inhabitable continent.

From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Berun, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Danoor, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.

On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas–which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him? Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced, author Zachary Jernigan takes you on a sensuous ride through a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction, in this first installment of one of the year’s most exciting fantasy epics.




About Zachary

Guest Blog by Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - February 9, 2013
Zachary Jernigan is a 32-year-old, quarter-Hungarian, bald male. He has lived in Northern Arizona, with occasional forays into the wetter and colder world, since 1990. His favorite activities include: listening to 70s-00s punk and post-punk music, cooking delicious and often unhealthy foods, riding human-powered vehicles, talking and/or arguing about religion, and watching sitcoms. During his rare periods of productivity, he writes science fiction and fantasy. NO RETURN, his first novel, comes out March 5th, 2013 from Night Shade Books. His short stories have appeared in a variety of places, including ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION, CROSSED GENRES, and ESCAPE POD. Visit him at zacharyjernigan.com

Twitter : Blog : Facebook



2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013



2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013

I recently updated the 2013 Debut Author Challenge page with 3 new to the Challenge authors. Here is more about their debut novels.


Zachary Jernigan

No Return
Publisher:  Night Shade Books, March 5, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $26.99 (print)
Genre:  Fantasy/Genre Bender
ISBN:  9781597804561 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013
NOT FINAL COVER
On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists—only what his intentions are.

Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon—a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle—warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Tchootoo, on the far side of Jeroun’s only inhabitable continent.

From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Manshep, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Tchootoo, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.

On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas—which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him? Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced, author Zachary Jernigan takes you on a sensuous ride through a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction, in this first installment of one of the year’s most exciting fantasy epics.






Lori Sjoberg

Grave Intentions
Series: Grave Intentions
Publisher:  January 3, 2013
Format:  eBook, 96,100 words
Price:  $5.99
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
ISBN:  9781601830067

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013
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.

You may read an interview with Lori here.





Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Ginni
Publisher:  Harper, April 23, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages
Price:  $27.99 (print)
Genre:  Historical Fantasy
ISBN:  9780062110831 (print)

2013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013
An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, Helene Wecker's sparkling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899.

The woman is a golem, created out of clay to be her master's wife -- but he dies at sea, leaving her disoriented and overwhelmed as their ship arrives in New York Harbor. The man is a jinni, a being of fire, trapped for a thousand years in a copper flask before a tinsmith in Manhattan's Little Syria releases him.

The novel traces their respective journeys as they explore the strange and altogether human city. Chava, as a kind old rabbi names her, is beset by the desires and wishes of others, which she can feel tugging at her. Ahmad, christened by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, is aggravated by human dullness. Both must work to create places for themselves in this new world, and develop tentative relationships with the people who surround them.

And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet.

A marvelous and compulsively readable work of fiction, The Golem and the Jinni is a fresh combination of vivid historical novel and magical fable.



2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013 Winner2013 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2013Interview with Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - March 9, 2013Guest Blog by Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return - February 9, 20132013 Debut Author Challenge Update - January 5, 2013

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