Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: 'What about the little dogs?' Small Press Urban Fantasy by Melissa Hayden

What about the little dogs?  As many of you know, I love my books about any way they come; big dogs, little dogs, and loners.  These relate to the Big Publishing Houses, The Small Presses, and Independent Published Authors.

Okay, so why the dog analogy?  I don’t know.  It just came to me, and I rolled with it. Lol.

I like to find that gem of a read, THE one I love, and I will read from anywhere to find it.  And believe me there are many worthy, sparkling gems out there for the taking, you just need to hear about them.

That all being said, I want to thank Bastard for having me by today to share some Small Press Urban Fantasy gems I’ve found.  And by gems, I mean these are must buys.  Really!  You should listen. ;)

So, where do I start?  Well, today I’ll keep it short for you.  I’ll mention three amazing books or series I’ve found.  And this is just UF, I have to remind myself not Fantasy, as I’ve found a few wonderful reads there as well.

~~Let’s start with the hardcore Urban Fantasy books full of action and story.

First and foremost, this is a series I sing about all the time.  You might have heard about it, from me most likely, but I loved the characters and the storyline.  I am a sucker for a series with a strong underlining story line theme, and this series GOT IT.  As the books go you realize there is a thicker underlining plot brewing and you want, NEED, to get to the bottom of it; all around the Demons of Oblivion.  I know the books are different characters as the main POV, in the first three books.  All the characters are here in each book and the POV comes back around full circle to the previous POV in later books.  What is great is that these books showcase the thickening thread of Demons of Oblivion as each story is told.  All are touched in a demon way, and I want to know more about it.  I feel all these characters are true to their form, and lots of action.  Although, the Demon hunting Nun was a little calmer than the aged vampire or quarter demon, but she still kicks arse.

The series:   Demons of Oblivion  by Skyla Dawn Cameron.
  • Bloodlines – Book 1 (available)
  • Hunter – Book 2 (available)
  • Lineage – Book 3 (available)
  • Exhumed – Book 4 (Due out July 10, 2012)
  • Oblivion – Book 5 (TBA, but looks like January 2013)
You can read the reviews for the three available books on my blog:
And learn about the stories as well.  If you are curious about Skyla’s writing, you can start off slow with a short story on my blog; Home.  Or even purchase an enovella with 3 short stories of hers that are set in this world; Whiskey Sour.

The second action Urban Fantasy book worth a mention here is Fate of the Fallen by Sharron Riddle.  Right now this is the only book.  Sharron is working on a second one, and I’m waiting as patiently as I can for it.  I liked this one because of the blend of Immortal Gods/Goddesses, Vampires descending from full history other than just plain vampires.  And even Demons from Hell.  Action starts this book, and works all through it.  And the characters are fun, all blended with a storyline that keeps moving forward.   Yes, sounds like a lot, but don’t let that full you or stop you.  It’s all related and works wonderfully together.  Amazing!

Fate of the Fallen by Sharron Riddle
~~ Next we are going to touch on an Urban Fantasy series that is kissed by romance; The Renfield Syndrome. 

I started with J.A. Saare when she was with another small press, and then she moved to Mundania Press.  I think I enjoy her series because her main character, Rhiannon, is quick lipped, and anything flies.  Rhiannon is known to have a…sailor or trucker mouth.  She is a strong female who stands on her own two feet, but what is amazing about her is she will kick anyone’s arse, and not think twice.  She is also little special, she has a necromancy touch.  She sees dead people.  As the books  move along, Rhiannon’s necromancy is evolving and she is accepting it and using it more as she is sucked into a demons game.  Saare takes a few twists in these books that make you stop and holler, What!?! Then dig into the next book because you can’t wait.  Not only does Saare give us vicious fights, and touches on vampires in the first book, then vampires and werewolves in the second, this series comes with a touch of romance.   She might be falling in love….with a vampire, or two? Lol. You have to read the series to understand.

The Series:  The Renfield Syndrome by J.A. Saare
  • Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between – Book 1 (available)
  • The Renfield Syndrome – Book 2 (available)
  • The Ripple Effect – Book 3 (Set for July 2012)
If you would like to read my reviews of these books:
So, now that I’ve drawn this out to long, I’ll wrap it up.  I hate to see these series be missed because they are not printed by the big houses and in the local book stores.  They are AMAZING!

I think the books are well worth the price they are.  But if you are worried about the price, there are always deals running over at Amazon, and Book Depository.  Mundania Press even offers a discount from time to time as well.  BUT, the best thing, the eBooks are soooo cheap!  Really.  The price of the eBooks are very competitive with any other publishers eBooks.  Mundania Press has the eBooks, in any format you need, for only $4.99,  That is actually cheaper than some big dogs eBooks.

I don’t mean to only stick to Mundania Press, but I feel I’ve taken to much of your time already.  There are many other small presses out there, just give them a look-see.  You might find that diamond in the rough, and be highly surprised.

Thanks for stopping by Melissa and sharing some of your favorite novels from small presses, all of them I've been meaning to give a try, but circumstances have plotted against me. Will make an effort to do so in the near future.

In any case, hope you guys give some of these a try and you can find Melissa on her blog words and pages. It's one of my favorite blogs to visit, with a lot and great mix of fantasy content. You can also add her to Twitter @MelHay.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bastard Giveaway: The Wardstone epic fantasy novels by M. R. Mathias

Great giveaway from indie author M. R. Mathias for 3 signed copies of epic fantasy novel The Sword and the Dragon, and one of those winners will also be taking a signed copy of Kings, Queens, Heroes & Fools. They're the first two books in The Wardstone Trilogy which I've seen getting quite a bit of praise, here's a review of the first book at Fantasy Book Critic. Also you can find an extensive sample here.
When the Royal Wizard of Westland poisons the king so that his puppet prince can take the throne and start a continental war, a young squire is forced to run for his life carrying the powerful sword that his dying monarch burdened him with from the death bed.
Two brothers find a magic ring and start on paths to becoming the most powerful sort of enemies, while an evil young sorceress unwillingly falls in love with one of them when he agrees to help her steal a dragon's egg for her father. Her father just happens to be the Royal Wizard, and despite his daughter's feelings, he would love nothing more than to sacrifice the boy!
All of these characters, along with the Wolf King of Wildermont, the Lion Lord of Westland, and a magical hawk named Talon, are on a collision course toward Willa the Witch Queen's palace in the distant kingdom of Highwander. There the very bedrock is formed of the powerful magical substance called Wardstone.
Who are the heroes? And will they get there before the Royal Wizard and his evil hordes do?

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

The giveaway is open WORLD WIDE, and it will run from April 23, 2012 until 12:01am ET on May 5, 2012.

How to participate:
  • Once logged in to the Rafflecopter, enter your email. This is the only mandatory thing to do to enter the giveaway.
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Entries accepted until 12:01am ET on May 5, 2012.
  • There will be 3 winners total, who will get one signed copy of The Sword and the Dragon
  • Of those 3 winners, one will get a signed copy of  Kings, Queens, Heroes & Fools
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within a week after May 5, 2012.
  • Additional entries may be had by following the steps provided in the Rafflecopter instructions, and only by doing those steps. 
  • Winners will be chosen by random selection using the Rafflecopter.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interview with Amanda Carlson author of Full Blooded

Don't know what it is about Minnesota, but it's certainly been good to me. Late last year I had the first guest post on the blog by Carolyn Crane, who resides in Minnesota, and now I have the first female author interview on the blog with Amanda Carlson, a Minnesotan herself. Amanda's first novella was released last week, Blooded, a prequel to her debut novel coming later this year, Full Blooded in the Jessica McClain urban fantasy series.

I read the Blooded novella last night, and really enjoyed it. If it's representative of what we can expect in the novel, then I certainly will be looking forward to it. It promises plenty of action, and that's right up my alley.

In any case, hope you guys enjoy the interview, it certainly was fun for me.

Bastard: Hey Amanda, glad to have you here. Welcome. Keep in mind that you're the first female author interviewed here, so no pressure. It's not like the fate of the world depends on it, or does it?

Amanda Carlson: I hope not! That may be too big of a burden for me to shoulder at the moment. But I’m certainly honored to break you in to doing interviews of the female persuasion. Us gals can write some kickass fiction, much like the guys. It’s not always about the sexy midriff, you know—just sometimes.

Bastard: Seeing how you interact with people, you give a vibe of someone who's very upbeat and friendly, and certainly very enthusiastic. Making a wild guess here, are you a morning person? Or just happy to soon be a published author?

Amanda Carlson: I’m actually not a morning person, but I am a seriously upbeat person. I love life and am so excited to become a published author! It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time. My philosophy in general is that life is too short to bitch and moan, so I prefer to spend it happy. And even though I’m not a morning person, after my first cuppa joe, life falls into place pretty damn quickly.

Bastard: So, a "Minnesota girl, born and bred," can you tell us a bit about how it was growing up and living there? I hear it's hot as hell during the winter and you got some nosy, or is it noisy, neighbors like Carolyn Crane.

Amanda Carlson: Minneapolis is a beautiful city, and contrary to what out-of-towners believe, not surrounded by corn fields. Well, that is, until you get miles out of town. We have lots of lakes right in the city & Carolyn and I walk them together on occasion! I’d describe Minneapolis as artsy, urban & a great place to raise kids. It was a fun place to grow up, so we decided to stay. The winters are wicked, but my kids play winter sports, including hockey, and that makes it tolerable. We even build a huge backyard ice rink every year. But that said, I can’t wait to travel once my kids graduate. All my destinations will be WARM.

Bastard: Before I forget, thanks for Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics fan here). How do you like this for #winning? Anything is possible!!!

Amanda Carlson: That was fun and I think I reacted the same way once I got my contract!! There was a lot of yelling and grabbing of my head. The press was all around me and I think I was in an arena. At least it felt that way, but I may have just been in my living room. Of course we wish Kevin had taken the Timberwolves to the championship, but you can’t fault a guy for being good. Maybe I can get him to read my novel?? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Bastard: We got Minnesota, we got timberwolves. On your website you mention a fascination for shifters. Seems to me that writing about werewolves was the natural thing to do. Before we talk about your novel, what is it about shifters and specifically werewolves that has attracted you so, and did living in Minnesota and all the talk about the timberwolves had any effect on this attraction?

Amanda Carlson: I am sorry to disappoint your male audience and say my love of wolves didn’t originate from basketball! Though that would be a great story (and especially since Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are sporting full beards and look a little wolfish this season). My love of wolves started mostly because I was craving more hot-blooded supes in the books I was reading. There was something I really liked about the wolf heroes in the books I’d been reading – but there were very few females leading the “Pack” so to say (in the books I had read). When this great action scene started in my head, with this kickass shifter, the book began on its own and carried me with it. Voila! The progression of wolf love.

Bastard: I know I'm putting you on the spot, so my apologies, but on your website you have a list of urban fantasy authors you recommend others to read, about 24 or so. Curiously, none of them are male authors, although Ilona Andrews is listed there who's half man, half amazing...or something. There has to be some male authors you can recommend no?

Amanda Carlson: HA! I love male authors, especially for high fantasy. I love Tolkien, but who doesn’t? My husband just finished George R.R. Martin and I’m cuing up next. Joe Abercrombie & Brent Weeks will follow soon, when my time frees up. But the reason you don’t see any on my site is: For some reason in the urban fantasy genre specifically, I like female protags. It just works better for me in the urban fantasy setting. I don’t know any men who write women leads. Do you? If you do, send the rec my way! I have no bias or preference for that author’s sex, just the protag’s. In PNR, I enjoy the male perspective, but not as much in urban fantasy. But maybe I’m missing something?? I’m open to reading any good book, so if you have a favorite, lemme know. (Or whoever is reading, give me some good recs!)

Bastard: What have you read recently that's worth mentioning?

Amanda Carlson: I actually haven’t finished a book since I signed my contract. Every waking moment has been filled with writing or editing my own projects. My routine has been to fall asleep with my computer on my lap. But on my nightstand, and partially started, are: Amanda Bonilla’s SHAEDES OF GRAY & Sandy William’s SHADOW READER. I’m enjoying both, but it’s taking some time to make my way through. I’m hoping to even out my life soon, but deadlines are scary stressful.

Bastard: Full Blooded is your upcoming debut novel through Orbit. What can you tell us about it? All I know is that you had me at "if you love kickass".

Amanda Carlson: Yes, Orbit is my publisher; they are the sci-fi/fantasy imprint under Hachette Book Group. I feel so damn lucky to be a part of such a great publishing house. My experience so far has been so wonderful. My book, and specifically my protagonist, is all kinds of kickass. Lots of action and snark. Jessica McClain is born the only female and she’s not supposed to exist at all. In BLOODED, we see her fighting for a life off Compound. In FULL BLOODED, her life changes from the very first page. (BTW, if you buy the novella, BLOODED, you get a sneak peak at the first full chapter of FULL BLOODED.) The reader gets to go through every step with her as she figures out her new life. It’s full of action and I’m hoping everyone falls in love with her like I did.

Bastard: Getting back to the werewolves, you know that there's going to be those readers who are going to roll their eyes at another werewolf book in urban fantasy. Care to enlighten us about the werewolves found in this series that may change their mind? For the record, I love werewolves.

Amanda Carlson: Every author has their own take on supernaturals; their own style to tell their story, their own voice and world they’ve created for the reader to explore. That’s the reason I love this genre! My wolves are my own and they act and operate by my rules, so when a reader dives into the story, they have a chance to experience it the way I see it. Will they like it? I hope so! What my agent & editor hold to is: Great writing sells. No matter what. If you have a good story to tell, people will read it. I think everything has been done before, really. And trying to keep up with the next “trend” is exhausting. I do agree that the bottom line is: a reader wants a really good story. And, personally, I’ve never cared if I read about vamps or weres, angels or demons, swamp things or possessed hags. Gimme something great to read. That’s exactly what I’m hoping I’ve created for you. I wrote what I loved, and I hope like hell it comes across in the pages!

The Howling II: ... Your Sister is a Werewolf
Bastard: Romance and erotica seems to always be a going concern among some urban fantasy readers. Female werewolf surrounded by male werewolves, I think it's clear what everyone is wondering. Are you going to subject us to a paranormal orgy?

Amanda Carlson: *coughs* That is such a hilarious take, it could’ve only been conjured up by a guy!! I think most women, when presented with the same plot scenario, would think: Lone female must overcome many obstacles to be a good as a man. While a man may think: Hmm, hot chick all alone surrounded by men? SEX! And the answer is NO, LOL. No orgies! This is very much an urban fantasy. Personally, I like my UF with a little steam on the side, but with the main focus on the action. Those are the rules I live by. If I want a lot of steam I read PNR. I think that’s a good divider for steam and sex.

Bastard: Blooded is your novella released on April 11, 2012. It's set in the same world as your soon to be debut novel. Anything we should know about the novella?

Amanda Carlson: My novella, BLOODED, releases April 11th (so it’s out now) & I’m so damn excited!! It’s a prequel to the series and it was a blast to write. It’s set seven years prior to the novel and gives us a look at what my heroine, Jessica McClain, went through growing up and how she was shaped into the woman she will become. There’s a lot of punching and fighting. She gets the shit kicked out of her for most of the novella. If you want more character depth, check it out, but it’s not necessary to understand the novel. You could also read it after the novel to see where she came from. Either way, I hope you like it!! It was so fun to write. It also gave me a much better sense of who she was, so moving forward, I have a very clear sense of her character, which was so helpful.

Bastard: At the moment, what are your current plans for the Jessica McClain series, and does she die at the end?

Amanda Carlson: HA! I can promise you she doesn’t die at the end. You have my solemn oath. I have more books up my sleeve, and if I sell well, maybe I’ll get a chance to write them all. That would be the dream! I see at least six books with Jessica roughly arced in my head, and then I’d love to write some spin-off books with some of your favorite characters. If you have any, LOL. Still NO orgy books, however. They will all be kickass, with heavy emphasis on the kick.

Bastard: Crap, almost forgot. Please scream at the top of your lungs what your favorite beer is, and I'll let you go to run with the wolves.

Amanda Carlson: CORONA WITH LIME!

Bastard: Thanks for the visit Amanda, hope you have enjoyed your stay at Casa de Bastard, where we treat our guests as if they were royalty, and good luck with your releases. Give us your best howl.

Amanda Carlson: I had a great time being here! Thanks so much for hosting me. I hope I was masculine enough for your male brethren!! Can’t wait to come back for the novel. Okay, here’s my howl: AR AR AROOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! (Okay that may be the silliest thing in an interview to date. But it was fun.)

Thanks Amanda and of course you're more than welcome to return when Full Blooded comes out. It's been great having you here.

If you haven't done so, buy yourself the Blooded novella and after that go pre-order the Full Blooded debut novel. For more information please visit Amanda Carlson's website.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bastard Invades the Internet

I was invited for two guest post recently, coincidentally both of them went live today. My first guest post can be found on the excellent SF Signal site, as I was invited to their latest MIND MELD: A Look at Genre Reviews which was organized by Paul Weimer; I'm sure you've seen him around. Inviting authors and reviewers, he asked this question:
"Q: What does a good review of a piece of genre work do well? Where do reviewers fall down on the job? How can reviewers improve their craft for the benefit of readers, writers and fans?"
Well, in typical Bastard fashion I went on a bit of a rant. You give me free reign to talk about something, and it's hard to shut off the crap that goes around in my mind. In any case, hope you guys have a look and enjoy not only what I had to say, but that of the other guests. Here's the link once again:

My second guest post can be found on The Passionate Foodie blog ran by Richard Auffrey, who shouldn't need any introduction around this little corner of the internet, but got one anyways a couple of weeks ago here. This time I was invited to participate on Authors, Alcohol & Accolades: Volume 6, where Richard asked fellow bloggers to strip naked and do the Macarena. A few of us didn't have webcams, so he asked us in turn to write two paragraphs, the first one about two of our favorite authors, and the second one describing our favorite alcohols.

I found the first portion hard to answer, considering I have many authors I like, so I opted to mention the authors of my favorite novels of last year. As for the alcohols portion, well beer was mentioned obviously, but I didn't leave it at that. Although you wont find any naked Macarena dancing, please visit the following link for a fun post where us bloggers do a cocktail of authors and alcohol:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bastard Giveaway: Chrysanthe by Yves Meynard

Another interesting giveaway, open world wide at that, coming up from the good folks over at TOR; this time for one physical copy of Chrysanthe by Yves Meynard. Don't know much about the book myself, but here's an excerpt to see if it's something that might interest you. And of course, a book trailer too:

Christine, the princess and heir to the real world of Chrysanthe, is kidnapped as a small child by a powerful magician and exiled in a Made World that is a version of our present reality. In exile, supervised by her strict "uncle"(actually a wizard in disguise), she undergoes bogus memory recovery therapy, through which she is forced to remember childhood rape and abuse by her parents and others. She is terribly stunted emotionally by this terrifying plot, but at seventeen discovers it is all a lie. Christine escapes with a rescuer, Sir Quentin, a knight from Chrysanthe, in a thrilling chase across realities.

Once home, the magical standoff caused by her exile is broken, and a war begins, in spite of the best efforts of her father, the king, and his wizard, Melogian. And that war, which takes up nearly the last third of the work, is a marvel of magical invention and terror, a battle between good and evil forces that resounds with echoes of the great battles of fantasy literature.

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

The giveaway is open WORLD WIDE, and it will run from April 2, 2012 until 12:01am ET on April 14, 2012.

How to participate:
  • Once logged in to the Rafflecopter, enter your email. This is the only mandatory thing to do to enter the giveaway.
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Entries accepted until 12:01am ET on April 14, 2012.
  • There will be 1 winner total, who will get one physical copy of Chrysanthe by Yves Meynard
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within a week after April 14, 2012.
  • Additional entries may be had by following the steps provided in the Rafflecopter instructions, and only by doing those steps. 
  • Winners will be chosen by random selection using the Rafflecopter.

Well, that's pretty much it. Have fun, and good luck!