Skip to content
J Wilbanks
She has a cat.

Seanan McGuire is the missing princess of Urban Fantasy

Seanan McGuire is the missing princess of Urban Fantasy published on No Comments on Seanan McGuire is the missing princess of Urban Fantasy

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

It’s common that a series has an ebb and flow to it. It’s entirely subjective, of course, and one woman’s favorite book may be the least favorite of someone else. The Winter Long (you’ve read it, right?) was insanely good — the revelations therein were intense, and it was obviously created to be a pinnacle in the series itself, surrounded by smaller (though no less lovely) mountains. This was my first impression, and Red Rose Chain (though I loved it, I promise!) did not prove me wrong. Not every book can be like The Winter Long, right?

And then Once Broken Faith came along and blew me away. I read it in one sitting, on my iPhone, courtesy of Berkley Publishing and Netgalley. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Even in that slow, sweet start meant to be a preemptive balm against the shattering things that come after. Seanan McGuire does something amazing with her craft in this. The building tension, the heartbreak, the characterization… all of it.

You don’t want to miss this one. You don’t even want to wait a week or so and mosey on down to the bookstore, because you don’t even know it, but you need this book so much.

Sherrilyn Kenyon dialed this year’s Dark-Hunter novel in

Sherrilyn Kenyon dialed this year’s Dark-Hunter novel in published on No Comments on Sherrilyn Kenyon dialed this year’s Dark-Hunter novel in

I have been a fan of the Dark-Hunters since Night Pleasures came out, have spent countless hours discussing the series, have recommended it high and low to lovers of both romance and fantasy. And I have never, ever been more disappointed both in a book and in an author.

Dragonmark was a $14.99 ebook. Over 75% of the story is sections (not even sections with Illarion!) straight up copy/pasted from Son of No One and Dragonbane. Styxx was a wonderful story that showed a parallel perspective on familiar scenes from the series. Dragonmark is fucking 75% chapters we have already read with almost ZERO additional information interspersed in the words we’ve already read. She didn’t even bother to rewrite the scenes from Illarion’s perspective. This was straight up copy and pasted, slapped on a novelette about how Illarion and Edilyn met the first time. There is only one chapter that takes place after Dragonbane. One.

I can’t fucking believe that this book was NOT ONLY $14.99 as an ebook, but that it wasn’t a novella in the first place. I intend to write to her publisher and to iBooks. I know there is little chance of a refund, but this is ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT.

Anyone like to take a crack at explaining how and why this happened?

An Interview with Lynsay Sands

An Interview with Lynsay Sands published on No Comments on An Interview with Lynsay Sands

About the Interviewee

Lynsay Sands is the New York Times bestselling author of the Argeneau Vampire series. She has written more than thirty-four books and anthologies since her first novel was published in 1997. Her romantic comedies span three genres — historical, contemporary, and paranormal — and have made the Barnes & Noble, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller lists. Her books are read in more than twelve countries and have been translated into at least six languages. She’s been a nominee for both the Romantic Times Best Historical Romance Award and the Romantic Times Best Paranormal Romance Award, was nominated and placed three times in the RIO (Reviewers International Organization) Awards of Excellence, and has several books on All about Romance’s Favorite Funnies list.

Lynsay’s latest novel is Runaway Vampire.

The Interview

GW: Hi, Lynsay! Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview with us! We are celebrating Valentine’s Day (okay, we celebrate Valentine’s Month) by sharing with our readers – who mostly read traditional fantasy and science fiction – some of the stand-out writers and series from the Paranormal Romance side of the street. Of course, you are one of our favorites. Where would you suggest new-to-romance readers start with your Argeneau series?

51zmj81S8zL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_LS: Most of my Argeneau books are standalone stories, so you can read them in whatever order you choose. That being said, I do know some readers like to read them in their written order, for them I’d suggest they start with book #1, A Quick Bite.

(Argeneau Reading Order)

For those who don’t mind reading them out of order, though, then it really depends on preference. If you’re in the mood for humor then I’d suggest Single, White Vampire, The Accidental Vampire or Under A Vampire Moon. Or if you’re in the mood for more of a thriller then I’d suggest The Immortal Hunter, Immortal Ever After or The Immortal Who Loved Me.

GW: Your series is one of the longer and more successful series in the paranormal romance category. I’ve seen other series get somewhat repetitive, but not yours! In fact, the series seems to have series within it: we have deeply personal family books, we have Enforcer books, light-hearted romps, dark mysteries, and what seems like everything in between. Do you have a strict pattern of what you’re going to write next in terms of thematic elements, do your editors make suggestions, or does the story evolve organically?

LS: No, there’s no pattern and no suggestions. I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal. I write the stories as they come to me. I sometimes have an idea or two percolating for a few years in my head before I write them, but it’s mostly just ideas, scenes I’d like to write, or characters I want to play with. I don’t actually plot anything out before sitting down to write it. I find when I do that and start writing already knowing what’s going to happen, I get bored with the story and don’t want to do it. And I believe if I’m bored, the reader will pick up on that and be bored as well, so I toss that story aside and start another instead. Fortunately, my editor doesn’t insist on outlines and whatnot, but gives me my creative space and lets me do my thing. I guess I’m lucky that she has that much faith in me and gives me that kind of leeway.

38568GW: What I am most impressed about regarding the Argeneau series is how ably you create arcs that last for several books. For example, the name of a character’s dog all the way back in the first book is revealed to be significant in the ninth book. Does this happen naturally, or do you have a series Bible you consult in order to layer in your mysteries?

LS: Mostly it just happens naturally. I do have a character archive that I can refer to, but when I named that dog back in the first book, I had no idea what was coming in book nine (good thing I didn’t name him Spot or something, huh?). And there are loads of other things that have happened that later turn out to be important where I’ve thought to myself, “Wow, it’s like I planned it or something,” when in truth I didn’t, at least not consciously. Actually, to me, it sometimes feels like a host of characters decided I should tell their story for them, flew into my head to act out their history, and I’m just watching the film of their life in my mind and scrambling to get it all written down. Their actions quite often surprise me. I’ll be typing madly away and give a startled laugh at their antics because I didn’t see it coming, or I’ll be thinking, “You little devil. I can’t believe you did that!” or “Oh wow, that explains a lot!” LOL.

Hmmm…I probably shouldn’t have admitted that. I should say, oh yes, of course it’s all plotted out. Every word, every coincidence, every thing…which reminds me, you can cut this out if you like, but I recall when I was in one of my University English classes, the professor pointed to a description in a novel we had to read. The description was of shadows moving across the floor as a door opened and he assured us that this was deliberate foreshadowing from the author of the tragedy that was going to happen in chapter twenty-something. I remember thinking at the time. “Really? Holy crap, I don’t write like that. I don’t foreshadow way ahead or even plot way ahead. Maybe I’m not a good writer. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong!” It really made me doubt myself. But now, sixty plus books later, I wonder if the truth isn’t that the professor was wrong and it wasn’t a simple description of what the author saw in his/her mind’s eye as he/she wrote. I don’t know. Every one has a different writing technique. Perhaps some authors do spend weeks or months or even years fretting over every word placement and such, but I don’t have the patience. I just enjoy the movie playing in my head and write down what happens in it.

As for that archive I mentioned… Unfortunately, I don’t always think to check it, and even when I do accidents happen. Like in one of the earlier books Marguerite claimed to prefer showers to baths because they are faster, and then in her own book she claimed to prefer a nice relaxing bath. We didn’t think to put her bathing preferences in the archive, and I didn’t remember myself, but readers certainly noticed, lol. I don’t just need the archive, I need someone to double check every little thing I write down, unfortunately, that would take forever and readers don’t want to wait forever for the books. So, there are mistakes on occasion, and I just have to accept that I’m not perfect.

1422252GW: One of the major villains in the series was recently put to rest. Forcefully. Will we see another villain rise up who has a several book arc?

LS: Yes. I’m working with one now. He was supposed to appear two books ago, but sometimes characters don’t play nice and he was one of them. So I put that book aside and wrote The Runaway Vampire where the evil character is merely mentioned, or his handiwork is. And then I meant to introduce him in Tomasso’s story, but again, he wouldn’t play, so Tomasso’s story steered away from him to a sandy beach and was written with just the revelation of this villain’s name. Now I’m working with him again.

So far he’s cooperating, but we’ll see. I suspect part of the problem is I really don’t like this villain. This guy’s a real piece of work, a brilliant psychopath as opposed to the major villain you mention who was more of a disorganized sociopath. The things this new villain has done to people…ugh! And his victims are mortal and immortal alike. Definitely a psychopath. But I’m sure there will be other villains like that as well. I like challenges and a proper villain is usually smart enough not to get caught right away. He’d hardly be a challenge if he were stupid enough to get caught in one book.

Besides that though, there’s still a villain from past stories out there who will eventually have to be dealt with, but I don’t have any plans for him in the immediate future.

(Here’s a fun question for readers…Can you guess who I’m referring to? )

GW: We know that Dante’s book will be followed by Tomasso’s (can’t wait!). But do you know yet what the future holds for the Argeneaus? Can you give us a scoop on what we can look out for in 2017?

LS: LOL. Guess I kind of just answered that, but I’ll tell you more. If this villain stays to play this time, and I have high hopes he will (after all, third times the charm, right?) then this book will introduce a whole host of new characters who are– Hmm, not sure how to put this, they aren’t immortals, but they certainly aren’t your average humans either. Guess that’s the best way to describe them for now. And if I like these characters as much as the Argeneaus, this book might start a new series all it’s own.

However, there will definitely be more Argeneau stories to come in 2017. I can’t say much more than that though, mostly because I don’t know much more than that myself and don’t want to. Wouldn’t want to get bored and drop my Argeneaus, I enjoy them too much to risk that.

20452210GW: Thank you so much for your time! We always like to conclude our interviews with a silly question: What is your silliest childhood memory?

LS: Well… Wow, silliest childhood memory. Okay, well the first one that comes to mind isn’t my silliness so much as my mom’s, but believe me I take after her so… Anyway, it was the day my younger sister came home from the hospital after being born. I was seven, my older sister ten and we were both excited about this day. We’d helped pick out the pretty pale yellow dress she would wear home and everything. Well, the car pulled up and my parents came in, my mother carrying this little bundle all wrapped up in a blanket. My big sister and I rushed forward, squealing to see the baby and Mom smiled and bent down as she lifted the blanket aside to show us our new sister. We both gaped, then sort of blinked, looked at each other and asked with confusion, “Why is she yellow?”

Mom frowned and peered down at the sweet little face, bit her lip and said, “I’m not sure. I thought maybe it was just the dress making her look yellow.”

I think it was Grandma who frowned and said, no she didn’t think that was the case. The baby was definitely yellow. It looked like she was jaundiced. Well a panic ensued and my parents rushed out and hurried back to the hospital, thinking our baby was sick and needed immediate attention. They were back surprisingly quickly, and with another baby. It seemed a mistake had been made at the hospital. A switch. My mother had been given the wrong baby. The nurses realized that when they checked the baby’s hospital tag and saw that it said “baby Small.” They asked my mother hadn’t she read the hospital tag when she was given the baby? Yes, she said, but she thought it referred to the baby’s size.

It still makes the family laugh, and it is funny in retrospect, but it’s also kind of frightening to think that if that child hadn’t been jaundiced, Mom never would have known that Small was the family’s last name, not the size, and we might now have a different sister. Imagine that! No, don’t, aside from loving my sister, I quite like her as well and wouldn’t want any other.

Easter*Con Interview

Easter*Con Interview published on No Comments on Easter*Con Interview

The beginning of the author chat delves into his origin story as a writer: how he grew interested in writing in the first place, how he was mentored in graduate school, and how the Dresden Files came out of trying to prove his instructor wrong by doing everything she told him to do. He discusses how he never set out to write urban fantasy, he didn’t want to write urban fantasy.

EASTERCON: “I’m seeing new subseries in the Dresden Files develop over the years. You’ve got the continuing subplot with the Black Council, the White Court and Black Court – though the Red Court has been thoroughly resolved – and you have the Denarians, and then you’ve got Mab’s scheming. And – it’s really coming into view the cross-cultural, cross-mythological, and then there’s sort of Cthulhu lurking in the shadows. Was this deliberate, did you set out to design it this way, all these interlocking playgrounds as it were, or is this sort of an emerging property of the thing?”

JIM BUTCHER: “Oh, pretty much the emerging property, except one thing I had planned, I knew that every fifth book I wanted to have the Denarians show up. So they were scheduled for books 5, 10, 15, and 20. Yeah, it’s really that simple.”

EASTERCON: “Do you often have major new factions appearing?”

JB: “Well, yeah, to a degree. Kind of – the most popular bad guys of the series are only just now starting to show up. The Fomor, we’ve been seeing bits and pieces of those in the last few novels, and even more closely followed in the short stories that have been out lately. You get the closest glimpse of them in John Marcone’s story, which is called Even Hand, which is one of my favorite short stories because God, that is a scary guy. A lot of what I’ve been doing, a lot of the writing I did in the early series, I was very good about trying to set up for the end of the series. I remember wondering to myself – am I ever going to be able to write the end of the series? I’m having fun. I love getting to pay off things that I’ve been laying out for a long time. The one I’m working on now, this one is Peace Talks. Basically all the member nations of the Unseelie Accords are gathering together. I’m sure everything will go smoothly, then afterwards they’ll all go down to the bar together and sing some songs.”

They spoke a lot of the Codex Alera, and how it sprung out of a bet Butcher made with someone who was wrong on the internet. An interesting thing to not: If he returns to Alera, it would be to cover the adventures of the first Cursor class after Tavi becomes First Lord.

EASTERCON: “You talk about the twenty book arc for the world – what about the character arc? Do you have an outline of what those characters are learning through that journey?”

JB: “The character arcs that I had in mind are – were – for very objective stuff. This character is going to have to grow this much in order to face this amount of danger or risk. That was mostly centered around Harry. But how they got to that point was not scripted very closely. Personality wise, I didn’t script it very well at all because at that point I wasn’t capable of keeping track of that as a writer. That’s something I’ve been learning as I’m going on. One other thing I specifically did not do, was I did not script Harry’s love life. I wanted that to be something that was organic and part of the books. As it turns out, the people you love can have some minor effects on the rest of your life. I don’t know if Harry will get a happy ending in that sense. That’s something I’m telling myself.”

EASTERCON: “After you complete Dresden Files, do you see yourself writing more stories within that sort of setting, some of the other characters, slightly spinning off and expanding?”

JB: “I’ve got one spin-off series in mind at the moment. It stars a character we’ve already met. I’m not gonna tell you who. Then I’ve got a young adult series my sister and I are sketching out now, it’s gonna be Maggie going to St. Mark’s Academy for the Gifted and Talented with Mouse. It showed up in one of the Bigfoot series. It’s a school where a bunch of supernatural beings send their kids to school together.”

Jim Butcher Interview Links

Jim Butcher Interview Links published on 3 Comments on Jim Butcher Interview Links

This is a new kind of post for us. As you may know, a part of The Butcher Block’s goal is to 1) compile and transcribe interviews with Jim Butcher, and 2) earn our own interview with the author. Here is the so-called “table of contents” for that goal, starting with the most recent and continuing on further back.

FALL 2015

This one does not have new Dresden information, but since a lot of us are aspiring writers, this is writing advice gold:

October 12, 2015 Author Stories Podcast with Hank Garner

_____________________________________________________
Interviews from The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour:

Several of these interviews contain a lot of information about The Aeronaut’s Windlass (as they should). We look forward to someday analyzing the crap out of the Cinder Spires, but we will have to wait until several more are published. If you have not yet read it, you are in for a treat. In almost every interview, he mentions how much fun he had writing it, and it shows. It’s breathless, breath-taking, fun, and generally any positive adjective you can think of.

October 02, 2015 The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour – Petaluma
Interview and Transcript

October 02, 2015 The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour – Google
Google Interview and Transcript

October 01, 2015 The Aeronaut’s Windlass Tour – Skokie
Interview and Transcript

September 22, 2015 Reddit AMA
Reddit AMA – Dresden Information

September 21, 2015 DRAGON*CON!
Interview and Transcript!

SPRING 2015

April 12, 2015 Easter*Con
Interview and Transcript

_____________

Does The Butcher Block have a chance at scoring our very own interview?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Google Interview

Google Interview published on 1 Comment on Google Interview

I have spent the last day listening to and reading interviews with Jim Butcher, and I have to admit that some of them are frustrating in the repetition of standard questions. But I should have known that Google would have something special – not only did the interviewer push beyond the stock questions, but she obviously read and was delighted by The Aeronaut’s Windlass. She is savvy about promotion, and she kept her questions about TAW. She was great!

GOOGLE: “What book are you reading right now?”

Jim Butcher: “I just got done reading Tribal Bigfoot by David Paulides for my nonfiction which is a book that compiles Bigfoot sightings and encounters in connection with Native Americans. And I’m reading the first Powder Mage book by Brian McClellan.”

GOOGLE: “Does the nonfiction book have anything to do with Dresden?”

JB: “No, I’ve just been fascinated by Bigfoot since I was a small child, I used to have nightmares about him.”
____________________

GOOGLE AUDIENCE MEMBER I FELL IN LOVE WITH: “I’ve read all the Dresden Files, and I’ve recommended them to friends, and I say: “But the first two… they seem a little… like he didn’t know where he was going”. And then Summer Knight happens, about book three or four, and it seems to just gel and all of a sudden there’s this major arc. Is that a correct assessment, or is that incorrect? At what point did you have that big arc that you’re building now? And I hope I’m not offending you.”

JB: “Oh, not at all. Okay. When I first wrote the first Dresden Files book, I turned in the first couple of chapters and my teacher told me I did it. It was publishable. Then she told me I needed to plan out the rest of it. She meant the rest of the book—I took it to mean the rest of the series. […] As I’ve continued writing, I’ve learned to trust the readers a whole lot more. When I first started setting up the story, I was only dropping one or two little hints and a couple little things that were going to continue into the long haul and otherwise trying to focus on Harry’s immediate surroundings, basically. And then I realized – oh, wait a minute, readers are much better at putting all these things together than I thought. So I started incorporating more and more, more subplots, more characters, more hints to the future, and more pay off from the past. I’m basically writing for people like me, for nerds. Nerds are smart, they can work this stuff out. As I learned to trust the audience more, the books got better.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE: “I love the Dresden Files, the arc, the payoffs. Normally I would never ask this, but it’s driving me nuts. Every time a new Dresden File comes out, I reread the entire series and take notes. In Proven Guilty, when Harry’s driving back, he gets hit by a drive-by, and there’s some hints, and that never gets resolved in that book and I haven’t seen a resolution since. Is that – will that—“

JB: “YEEEEEEEEEAH, THAT’S WEIRD, RIGHT? There’s a lot of little stuff like that that’s been seeded through, actually, and will get answered eventually but hasn’t been yet. And that’s cool. It’ll be more fun later.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE: “Back to the role-playing thing. We as readers love to see characters level up. But I’ve seen many authors that level up too much. The campaign goes Monty Hall and it ceases to be fun, almost. In your books, thankfully, you don’t seem to have an issue with that. Is it hard not to write yourself in a corner that way, though?”

JB: “No, because I know what the end is. The reason why series get too long, and people get too powerful, they get handed the dagger of Cain or whatever and it just keeps going and going… the story was supposed to end before that, but they didn’t end it. Stories aren’t stories unless they have an ending to them. I don’t believe in a neverending story. It’s easy to keep Harry in check in terms of where he’s getting at as he gets more buff and more contacts. It’s because I know what he’s going to be fighting, you know, like in the next book or down the line. I can kind of gauge – oh, he needs to be about this far here, so that he is never the super overpowered guy who just smashes things. It’s all about pacing and where we’re going to wind up.”

GOOGLE AUDIENCE: “Silly Dresden Files question. I remember in Cold Days the shenanigans regarding the origin of Demonreach. And can we expect more time shenanigans in future books?”

JB: “More time shenanigans? SIR, one of the Laws of Magic states that you cannot mess with time like that! OF COURSE, there will be more time shenanigans! I only established the seven Laws of Magic so I could have Dresden methodically break them one by one!”

Primary Sidebar