Review and Interview: Marshall Ryan Maresca

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The exciting debut to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Streets of Maradaine fantasy series!


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Rynax brothers had gone legit after Asti Rynax’s service in Druth Intelligence had shattered his nerves, and marriage and fatherhood convinced Verci Rynax to leave his life of thievery. They settled back in their old neighborhood in West Maradaine and bought themselves a shop, eager for a simple, honest life.

Then the Holver Alley Fire incinerated their plans. With no home, no shop, and no honest income—and saddled with a looming debt—they fall back on their old skills and old friends.

With a crew of other fire victims, Asti and Verci plan a simple carriage heist, but the job spirals out of control as they learn that the fire was no accident. Lives in Holver Alley were destroyed out of a sadistic scheme to buy the land.

Smoldering for revenge, burdened with Asti’s crumbling sanity, the brothers and their crew of amateurs and washouts swear to take down those responsible for the fire, no matter the cost.


ENCHANTED REVIEW

The Holver Alley Crew is the first in a new series set in his existing Maradaine world, and it’s a great start to a new series!

Having read some of the others in this world, reading this one is like visiting a familiar place but going somewhere new. The world-building is one of my favorite aspects of Maresca’s work (as evidenced in some of my interview questions below!) and The Holver Alley Crew does not disappoint. We get to see a different side of the world in Holver Alley, the not-so-nice-don’t-buy-a-suburban-ranch-in-this-part-of-town kind of side.

The Rynax brothers, Asti and Verci, couldn’t lead more different lives if they tried, and when their futures area irrevocably altered by a fire, they have tough decisions to make. In the spirit of not spoiling the book, I will say that they plan a simple heist, but their plan takes a very different turn as they learn that the truth about the Holver Alley fire.

I highly recommend The Holver Alley Crew and give it my highest rating: five lanterns!

5 Lamps


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Enchanted Alley: Welcome to the Alley! We’re certainly glad you’re here.

I’ll start off with an easy question. If you had to choose one book or series to read over and over for a lifetime, what would it be and why?

Marshall Ryan Maresca: You mean, other than the combined Maradaine books?  Because that would be the obvious answer.

Real answer: Watership Down by Richard Adams.  I’ve read it many, many times, and I keep coming back to it.  It’s deep, rich fantasy filled with mythology, adventure, a heist and a war.  But with rabbits.  And it’s amazing.

EA: That is a great book and author. Good choice! Speaking of great books and great writers, what are your “must have” tools for writing? Can you give us a glimpse into your process?

MRM: In terms of tools: I need my laptop with Scrivener on it, and a good set of headphones that let me tune out the world.  Add in coffee in the morning or rooibos tea in the evening, and that’s the core of “what I need”.

Now, if I have space to sit, lay out my notebooks and outline materials, all the better.  But if I have my laptop and headphones, I can work just about anywhere.

EA: If you could live in the world of The Hover Alley Crew, what your life be like?

MRM: So, if I lived in Maradaine, I probably wouldn’t live in North Seleth, the neighborhood where Holver Alley Crew takes place.

Ideally, I would live on the other side of the river in neighborhoods like High River or Fenton, which have their share of artist communities, coffee shop and wine clubs, and is near one the fancier institute of higher learning.  A perfect place to write, engage in the arts and talk philosophy into the late hours while drinking coffee or wine.

But North Seleth wouldn’t be terrible: it might be a poor neighborhood, but it’s a community where people know each other and take care of one another.  There certainly are worse places in the city to end up.

EA: High River and Fenton are my kinds of towns. That’s one of the best things about books, getting to visit places you wouldn’t otherwise!  Up next, how long does it take to plot and write a novel? Which part of the process is your favorite? Least favorite?

MRM: It varies, but the plotting/outlining process is usually about a month, and then the writing process from five-to-eight months, depending on what else is going on.  Of course, since I have many projects going forward, at any given time I have different things in different stages.  But my favorite part is definitely that end-stage of drafting, where all the elements have come together, and it’s mostly a process of letting it race out of your fingers into the keyboard.  Worst part?  That middle phase, where even though I know what needs to happen (because: outline), it still feels like pulling teeth.

EA: I’ve heard the middle is a least favorite part for lots of writers! Okay, so which character is your favorite to write?

MRM: Oh, this is one of those “which child do you love most?” questions.  But OK, I’ll pick.  In all the Maradaine books, it’s probably Corrie from the Constabulary books.  She’s an absolute hoot.  If I narrow to just the Holver Alley Crew, then I’ll go with Helene.  Actually, Corrie and Helene would probably get along pretty well, if they weren’t on opposite sides of the law.  That could be a fun pairing….

Yes, that would be fun! I’d love to read that (hint, hint…)

Thank you so much for coming to hang out with us at The Enchanted Alley. We love your work around here and can’t wait to have you back again. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State.  He now lives Austin with his wife and son.  His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over TexasHe also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at http://www.mrmaresca.com.


Essential Information

29097931

Title: THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW

Author: Marshall Ryan Maresca

Series: Streets of Maradaine #1

ISBN: 9780756412609

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Publisher: DAW MASS MARKET

List Price: $7.99

Book Review: The Frost Bloom Garden

Romarin is back, and she does it again!


Enchanted Review

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and I was a little concerned I wouldn’t like this one because that’s a hard act to follow and second books often suffer from droopy syndrome. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Demetri has really hit her stride with The Frost Bloom Garden. Mystery, action, twists, and turns bring the book to life and leave the reader with a sense of urgency that is really hard to create on the page.

Reading this first book in the series would be, I think, essential, so check out A Mirror Among Shattered Glass before this one. But definitely read this one, too.

Overall, I am definitely looking forward to book 3!


About the Book

As if the Supernatural London Underground couldn’t open up any further, Romarin is immersed in different cultures, struggles, and factions— including the revelation of her first dangerous foe—that make the hidden world what it is: treacherous. As a detective in pursuit of a Jack The Ripper type killer, Romarin’s sole purpose is to destroy evidence of their secret world, reminding her of how blurred all of their roles are, and that the price for that could very well be one’s life. With rumors of a safe haven, an island where people like her can go to be free and understood, perhaps she won’t need the cure she vehemently seeks. A cure for a broken heart however, that’s another story. And then a cure for a burning heart? That’s just impossible.


About the Author

15057660.jpgRomarin Demetri, author and creative force, is a story crafter who loves black coffee and traveling abroad. When her characters come home in some sort of trouble, Demetri swears she didn’t invent it. Pulling from her Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology, her debut series, The Supernatural London Underground, is a blend of fantasy ground in reality and a world readers can truly escape to. As an eccentric and reader, she still enjoys creating the alternate reality in her urban fantasy series (more than anything!), and her interactive world waits for you at RomarinDemetri.com.


Essential Information

32177767

Title: The Frost Bloom Garden

Author: Romarin Demetri

Publisher: Block 13 Publishing

Length: 241 pages

Release Date: December 1, 2016

Purchase Link: CLICK HERE*

 

 


*Affiliate Links provided for your convenience*

Guest Post: A Month in the Coop by Lucy Blue

The Alley would like to welcome the Little Red Hens! Today we have Lucy Blue here to talk about what a month in the coop looks like and to give you an excerpt from one of their latest releases! Please help me in extending Lucy an enchanting welcome! 


My sister, Alexandra Christian, and I have our very own micro-press, Little Red Hen Romance, through which we deliver our brilliance to a grateful public. At the risk of rendering you all mute and paralyzed with envy, let me give you a rundown of what that means exactly, an average “month” in the life in the Coop.

Week One: What In the Name of the Benedict Cumberbatch’s Quirky Brand of Handsome Are We Going to Put Out Next Month?

Every publishing cycle begins with a lunch meeting conducted in the glamorous abandoned file room full of broken office furniture at the back of Lexie’s day job. Specifics vary, but here’s our basic agenda:

  1. What the heck are we doing this for?
    • We aren’t making any money
      1. Amazon are f*ckers
        • Kindle Unlimited can kiss my a$$
      2. We pay more for cover art than we make every month
    • You’ve got to at least finish your d@mned series
    • I’m still working on that other thing
    • Let’s give it another month
  2. Do we have a theme?
    • Holiday?
    • Is a new season of Sherlock about to come out?
    • I’m still having that Russell Crowe cowboy dream
  3. Do we have anything already written?
    • Sure <maniacal laughter>
      1. I’m still working on that thing
      2. I can dig out my old computer from the attic; I think there’s a story on the hard drive
      3. I still have that thing I didn’t finish when we did this theme last year
    •  Nope
      1. Brainstorming
      2. As long as we put SOMETHING out, we’re fine
  4. Deadlines <laughing so hard soda comes out our noses>

By the time we both have to go back to work at the jobs that actually pay us, we have a pretty good idea where we’re headed. Sometimes it’s not even straight off a cliff. And even if we don’t know at the end of the meeting, we know by the end of that first week.

For example, for Halloween in October, we knew we wanted to do a LRH Nightmare anthology (when it’s your press, you can make up as many imprints as you like!) instead of a handful of standalone shorties. I had a couple of things that were a lot harder and more horrific than our norm that LRH had never published; Lexie had a couple of erotic horror shorts that had been released back to her from the exploding wreckage of her former publisher, and we had several horror-themed shorties in our back catalog that hadn’t been in an anthology yet. So we thought, awesome, all we need is a cover, and we’re done! Except… because we’re masochistic geniuses, we realized we wanted to do some kind of framing story that would give the anthology as a whole some kind of throughline theme beyond “scary sexy stuff!” We talked about the Crypt Keeper and about the awesome Hansel and Gretel riff in the Tales from the Darkside movie, and Lexie had an amazing idea for a story about a haunted writer’s desk that we both loved.

But once she started writing, we realized that 1) it would make a dang fine novel, and 2) she’d never finish it in time to get an anthology out before Halloween, and even if she did, it would take up more space than the stories it was introducing. I was at that same time completely exasperated with the production company that’s filming a horror TV show for pay cable in our small town, and I started fantasizing about a fate worse than death for their lead location producer. And out of that, in the space of a couple of days, came “Living Dead Girl,” the black comedy frame for Until Death. Lex’s desk story was way more complex and interesting, and I hope she’ll finish it. But we needed something NOW.

Weeks Two through Three (or Four or Five): Writing, Compiling, and Covers, Oh My!

This is where I highly recommend working with your very talented sibling. Lex and I have very similar writing styles; we love one another’s work; and we trust one another’s judgment completely. Consequently, we can trade rough first drafts and do edits for one another very, very quickly; we can communicate problems almost by osmosis and get them fixed. I would dearly love to hire another set of talented eyeballs to do edits for us, and I still hope at some point we’ll be able to do that. We both know the mechanics. I have a master’s degree in English lit and used to teach composition; she has a degree in education and used to teach kids how to write; we’ve both published lots of stuff with big, traditional publishers as well as indies; and we each have a fair amount of experience editing other people’s fiction. But we still need another editor. (Enchanted Alley piping in here… I KNOW AN EDITOR!) The same connection that makes editing each other comfortable cheats us of all the many benefits of a truly objective point of view. But right now, we don’t make enough money to pay somebody else, nor do we have the time to give another editor a turnaround schedule that is anything close to reasonable.

This is also when we start working on covers. Again, we do our own because we can’t afford to pay somebody else. (Though my husband the artist has stepped in more than once to help us out with stuff we couldn’t manage.) We try to find stock art that already hews very closely to the vision we have so we don’t have to do much blending of images or many effects—I’m still using Gimp, and I’m not what you’d call proficient. We spend hours going through page after page of imagery to find stuff that will look clean and original, then try hard not to screw it up. With Until Death, Lexie offered to do the cover since I was writing the frame, and I think she did an amazing job. She found an image called “Romantic Zombie” (Andrey Kiselev/Dreamstime.com) and dirtied up fonts and played with colors until she got what I think suits the stories inside perfectly.

Week Four (or Five or Six or Seven): To Market, To Market

Once we have clean versions of each story and covers we like, it’s time to publish. We do everything through Amazon through my Kindle Direct Publishing account. Amazon are indeed f*ckers, and we’d love to expand out to other platforms. But the sad truth is, everybody either has a Kindle or the Kindle app on their non-Kindle e-book-reading device. (The main alternative I’m interested in exploring at this point is iTunes, but they’re f*ckers, too.) As much as I’d love to have a couple of hours every week to exchange emails with a reader who’s trying to open my book on her Cricket phone after downloading it from Alice The Much Nicer E-Bookstore Owner’s World of Romance website, I just don’t. We use my KDP account so we have everything plugged into Amazon’s excellent sales and royalty tracking resources. We can tell exactly how many sales we have all over the world almost the moment they happen. (Lexie either has one reader in Denmark who compulsively checks Amazon to download her stuff as soon as it comes out, or she’s HUGE with an extensive cult of Danes.) Uploading the stuff is very easy—all you need is a cover created to the Amazon specifications (very easy to find on the KDP website), a Microsoft Word version of the story (including any table of contents—Amazon does the conversion for you), all your frontispiece information (authors, editors, etc.), and seven little keywords. Things usually show up on Amazon within 12-24 hours.

We’re constantly marketing stuff, of course, but this is also the week we get serious about that new release, using social media a lot, offering to write blog posts for dear friends kind enough to let us. But I can’t stress enough that marketing isn’t something that you do one book at a time one month at a time; we are constantly on the lookout for ways to get all of our releases in front of the eyeballs of readers who will love them.

I don’t know that I’d advise anybody to take up self-pubbing right now or start their own indie press, even with their darling sister. It’s a much tougher, much crazier market than it was just a few years ago. But all griping aside, we HAVE found a lot of readers, and we ARE publishing exactly the stories we want to publish in exactly the way we think they should be done. And for now, that still makes it worth the aggravation. Next month, we might quit, but for now, we’re thinking about Christmas.

Find us at our website at: http://lucybluecastle.wixsite.com/littleredhenromance or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/littleredhenromance/ .

until-death-1And check out this snippet from “Living Dead Girl,” the frame story from our latest collection, Until Death: An Anthology of Twisted Love Stories, available now from Amazon:

“That’s supposed to be a love story?” he said, feeling a little sick.

“Of course it is,” she said. Her zombie make-up was horrifying; his crew was talented. But her eyes shining in the moonlight were almost enough to make him not notice. “Rhett’s love for Cynthia was so strong, even after she died, it could sustain an immortal sex demon. That’s beautiful.”

“If you say so,” he said. Twisted but cute, he thought. “I guess that’s what I get for looking for love advice from a zombie.”

“True love is everywhere,” she said. “Anything can bring two people together if they’re meant to be, even zombies.”

“Yeah, that’s what the writers tell me,” he said. “Then half a season later, they kill off the love interest, and the internet goes crazy.”

“I know a story of two people who never would have stayed together if they hadn’t been attacked by zombies,” she said.

“Real zombies?” Maybe too twisted after all.

“Well….my grand-daddy said they were real,” she said. “But he used to tell me spaghetti grows on trees, so I’m not sure we should believe him. It’s a good story, though, a western. You want to hear it?”

The set-up was still at least an hour from being ready. “Sure, why not?”

 

Review: The Dead Seekers by Barb and JC Hendee

Enchanted Review

I’m a tabletop gamer (mostly Pathfinder and D&D), in addition to writing, editing, developing, and publishing games, so I can’t help looking at fiction from that perspective as I read. I’ve previously read and enjoyed the witches series (The Mist-Torn Witches, Witches in Red, Witches with the Enemy, and To Kill a Kettle Witch) by Barb Hendee and Dhampir by Barb and J.C. Hendee. The setting is what I enjoy best about the books, which are all set in the same world—that of the Noble Dead (http://www.nobledead.org/)—which is a bleak, dark, medieval atmosphere where feudal lords make life tough on others, vampires feed on the average peasant in the late hours of the evening, and people fear to travel anywhere after sunset. These books, especially Dhampir and the wonderful The Dead Seekers, a new Noble Dead series, show you what it would be to live in a world like that of the long-running game world variations of Ravenloft—a world infested with the undead, most of whom rule various territories of humans.

So, that atmosphere continues to excite me with the new book focusing on ghost hunters. Yet, what I find refreshing is that the authors do not get bogged down in the world of their fiction: the world remains backdrop to character-driven stories, as I believe it should be. I happen to be one of the readers who believes the setting should not overshadow the story, and that authors absolutely do not have to spend pages and pages providing world and landscape description. If you like that in your fiction, you’ll not find it here. However, if you want intriguing stories and stimulating characters set in a dark world that posits the existence of the undead in a medieval setting, then the Hendees are absolutely your kind of authors!

In The Dead Seekers, the reader is introduced to Mari Kaleja, one of the Móndyalítko, a gypsy folk. At the age of 10, a dark being and controller of spirits killed her family in the Wicker Wood. Since then, she’s been seeking out the one called the Dead’s Man, whom she believes murdered her family with his pet spirits in the forest, to gain her revenge.

The Dead’s Man turns out to be Tris Vishal, a baronet who was born dead. Ever since he was a child, he has seen into the spirit world, and he knows he has a dark half in the spirit realm who wants to kill him and take his place. Tris has spent long years away from his baron father, having left home after his mother’s death to a strange sickness. He, instead, earns his living by legitimately ridding villages and towns of vengeful spirits.

Tris and Mari meet when she saves him from several bandits while he is on his way to remove a troubling spirit of a young girl in another village. She travels with him, seeking to be certain he is the man she seeks, and before long, she is working with him as his translator and following him where the removal of ghosts leads him. Along the way, she uncovers his secrets—and he hers, of course. They are later joined by an interesting alchemist who helped train Tris in his ghost-removing career.

I was simply enthralled by the first part of the book, which really introduces you to the characters, and the pace was fast. The book slowed some when the characters sought the spirit who had created their village ghost in a nearby city’s guard barracks. The pace relaxed because this half of the book centers more on a mystery of the identity and nature of the haunting spirit and its motivations. I eagerly followed the mystery to its conclusion, and was satisfied with the ending.

I absolutely recommend the book to those who like high fantasy with a touch of darkness to it. You won’t be disappointed.

This review copy was received for free via Net Galley. However, the reviewer will be buying a print and electronic copy for her own library.

— Reviewed by Christina


 About the Book

In the New York Times bestselling Noble Dead saga, Barb and J.C. Hendee created an engrossing mix of “intrigue, epic fantasy, and horror.”* Now, they present a bold new series set in the same world, where the destinies of two hunters shaped by the shadows of their pasts are about to collide…

In the dark reaches of the eastern continent, Tris Vishal travels from village to village, using his power to put unsettled spirits to rest. He works alone, having learned that letting people close only leads to more death. Still, he finds himself accepting the help of the Móndyalítko woman who saves his life—a woman whose gifts are as much a burden as his own.

Mari Kaleja thirsted for vengeance since the night her family was taken from her. She has searched far and wide for the one she thinks responsible, known only as “The Dead’s Man.” But before she can kill him, she has to be sure. Mari hopes traveling with Tris will confirm her suspicions. But as they embark on a hunt where the living are just as dangerous as the dead, she learns the risks of keeping your enemy close…

Because it’s no longer clear who is predator and who is prey.

— Book description from Amazon.com


About the Authors

Barb and J. C. Hendee are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Novels of the Noble Dead, including The Night Voice, First and Last Sorcerer, and A Wind in the Night. Barb’s short fiction has appeared in numerous genre magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the Vampire Memories and Mist-Torn Witches series. J.C.’s poetry, nonfiction, and short fiction have also appeared in many genre magazines.


Essential Info

51-7dkomk3lTitle: The Dead Seekers

Author: Barb and J.C. Hendee

Publisher: Penguin

Cost: $13.99 (ebook)

Length: 332 pages

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Purchase Link: CLICK HERE


Links to Other Works Mentioned in the Review

The Mist-Torn Witches: https://www.amazon.com/Mist-Torn-Witches-Book-ebook/dp/B009UZ8U3K/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483055654&sr=1-3

Witches in Red: https://www.amazon.com/Witches-Red-Novel-Mist-Torn-Book-ebook/dp/B00FX7LYP0/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483055654&sr=1-2

Witches with the Enemy: https://www.amazon.com/Witches-Enemy-Novel-Mist-Torn-Book-ebook/dp/B00O2BS67W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483055654&sr=1-1

To Kill A Kettle Witch: https://www.amazon.com/Kettle-Witch-Novel-Mist-Torn-Witches-ebook/dp/B013Q70AK8/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483055654&sr=1-4

Dhampir: https://www.amazon.com/Dhampir-Noble-Dead-Barb-Hendee-ebook/dp/B002D9ZMJA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1483055828&sr=1-1&keywords=dhampir

Giveaway: Dark Faerie Prize Pack

The lovely E.J. Stevens is here with a chance to win an awesome prize pack!

Read below for more details and a look inside the prize! 


Let’s celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year with fabulous prizes.  Today we are giving away a HUGE dark faerie themed prize pack.

Dark Faerie Prize Pack

We are giving away a Dark Faerie Prize Pack, including a coloring book, faerie necklace, book, earbuds, and more!

  • Gothic Dark Fantasy Coloring Book
  • Faerie Necklace
  • Amy Brown Faerie Greeting Card
  • Ivy Granger LED Keychain Flashlight
  • Ivy Granger Button
  • Shadow Sight (Ivy Granger #1) Ebook
  • Signed Ivy Granger Postcard
  • Custom Purple Earbuds
Dark Faerie Prize Pack EJ Stevens Ivy Granger Fantasy Purple

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to the US, UK, and Canada.  Giveaway begins December 15, 2016 and ends December 31, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your favorite creature from folklore?
(Faeries, Banshees, Unicorns, Trolls, Pixies, Goblins, Kelpies…)

New Release: Nice Guys Bite by Jennifer Estep

Happy book birthday to Jennifer Estep!

NICE GUYS BITE is the latest in the Elemental Assassin series and sure to delight readers.
51dj8jODYaL.jpg

About the Book

NICE GUYS BITE takes place after the events of UNRAVELED (#15). It is told from the point of view of Silvio Sanchez, Gin’s personal assistant.

Working for Gin Blanco (aka the Spider, the assassin who runs the Ashland underworld) doesn’t leave much time for romance, especially with Gin’s holiday party planning in full swing. But when he catches the eye of a charming gentleman, Silvio finds himself going out for coffee.

All’s fair in love and war, though. Just as Silvio is starting to enjoy himself, he realizes he’s being watched. His nice-guy date doesn’t sense the danger, and Silvio wants to keep it that way (and, well, keep the guy alive) so Silvio ends the date early—only to be abducted by some villainous giants.

Will Silvio survive the night and make it back to the Pork Pit in time for Gin’s holiday party? Only if he decks the hall with bodies …


51dj8jodyalEssential Info:
Title: NICE GUYS BITE (Elemental Assassin #15.5)
Format: e-novella
Author: Jennifer Estep
Purchase links:

Giveaway!

Jennifer has a $20 Amazon gift card giveaway for this book blast! Giveaway runs Dec. 12 – 19. Click below to enter the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

 Jennifer Estep Author Pic.jpegAbout Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Unwanted, e-novella #14.5 in the series, will be released on July 18. Unraveled, book #15, will be released on Aug. 30.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter.

Blog Tour: David B. Coe, The Outlanders

The Enchanted Alley would like to welcome David B. Coe!

David is here today as a stop on his blog tour for the newly re-released edition of The Outlanders! He’ll be talking to us about the things he’s learned since The Outlanders was originally released — things about writing, about publishing, and about the facing the challenge of returning to your earlier works once you’ve learned a few things. 

About THE OUTLANDERS!

Four years after the insidious, devastating invasion by agents of Lon-Ser, Tobyn-Ser’s Order of Mages and Masters is riven by conflict and paralyzed by inaction. From the outlander, Baram, they have learned much about their neighbor to the west: Unlike Tobyn-Ser, which is served by the Mage-Craft of the Children of Amarid, Lon-Ser is devoid of magic. Instead it possesses a dazzling and deadly technology that shapes every aspect of its people’s daily life.
Frustrated by the Order’s inability to act, Orris, a young, rebellious mage, takes it upon himself to prevent further attacks on his homeland. Taking Baram from his prison, he embarks upon a perilous journey to Bragor-Nal, an enormous, violent city in Lon-Ser, ruled by a brutal, feudal-like system of Break-Laws, Nal-Lords, and Overlords. As Orris soon learns, however, Baram has been driven insane by his captivity. Upon reaching his strange and fractured homeland, the man abandons Orris.
Armed only with his magic, Orris is thrust into a world whose language he does not comprehend and whose technology he can barely fathom. Together with Gwilym, a man with strange powers, whose vision of Orris has lured him out of the mountains and into the chaos of the Nals, and Melyor, a beautiful Nal-Lord who harbors a secret that could cost her life, Orris must end the threat to Tobyn-Ser without getting himself and his companions killed.
THE OUTLANDERS is the second volume of the LonTobyn Chronicle, David B. Coe’s Crawford Award-winning debut series. This is the Author’s Edit of the original book.

And without further ado, here’s David! 

“Lessons Learned in the Writing Trade”

by David B. Coe

I have recently released the Author’s Edit of The Outlanders, the second novel in my very first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. This follows the re-release of Children of Amarid, book I in the series. Book III, Eagle-Sage, should be re-released in December. These books are incredibly special to me. They launched my career, won me the Crawford Fantasy Award as best new author (this was back when novels were still published on granite tablets), and established my career critically and commercially.

But I also recognized from the time I wrote the books originally that they suffered from many of the flaws that afflict first novels. They were earnest, ambitious, and in many ways quite good, but they were also wordy, overwritten, and longer than they needed to be. Hence the Author’s Edit of the new versions. The Author’s Edit is kind of like the Director’s Cut of a movie — I have revised the books to make them more readable without, I hope, compromising them in any way when it comes to essential story elements like plot, setting, character, pacing, etc. I was able to do this now because at this stage in my career, after writing nineteen novels over as many years, I’ve learned a thing or two about writing and storytelling.

So, I thought it might be helpful to look at some of what I’ve learned and at a few of the lessons I was able to apply when I edited these beloved but imperfect early novels.

  1. Less is more — One of the things I did in editing these books was remove exposition, adverbs, and unnecessary dialog tags including gestures and facial expressions. Not all of them, but enough that the new version of The Outlanders is some 14,000 words shorter than the original. Children of Amarid I cut by 20,000 words. Why? Because readers don’t need to be told every little thing. For instance, sometimes — most times if we’re doing it correctly — dialog conveys meaning through wording and context. We can usually tell from what a character says whether she is angry or sad or joyful. In the original versions I put in so many expressions and gestures that my characters read as caricatures, their facial expressions changing with every word until they seemed like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. “Less is more” means what it sounds like. I could get away with describing fewer of those expressions and gestures without losing meaning. The result is a cleaner, leaner manuscript.
  1. Trust your reader — This is something my editor told me a lot while working on those early books. Readers don’t need to have every little storytelling nuance explained to them. In fact, as with “Less is more,” if we do our jobs as authors we shouldn’t have to explain much at all. Readers can figure out from dialog, from action, from the little details we show, from limited internal monologue, all that they need to follow our stories. We need to trust their ability to intuit what they need to know. Overtelling, pointing out the already obvious, undermines our writing. In a sense, “Trust your reader” is another way of saying “Trust yourself.” Err on the side of telling too little. Let your story speak for itself. And if your Beta readers or your editors don’t understand something, they’ll let you know and you can bolster the narrative with a bit more exposition.
  1. Don’t overuse adverbs — Some people will say that we should NEVER use adverbs. That’s ridiculous. Sometimes adverbs add to our readers’ understanding of context, scene, and emotion. The danger lies in overuse of adverbs. The problem with adverbs is that when used too often they become of symptom of showing rather telling. I used way too many in the original versions of these books and I removed a lot of them in the edits. Some remain, and they add to the narrative. You don’t need to ban them from your writing entirely (see what I did there?); just beware of them.
  1. Reach high, push yourself — This is actually a lesson I was reminded of in reading through these old books, a lesson from my younger self to my older self. They were ambitious novels that demanded a lot of me when I wrote them. I sometimes wonder if my more recent books have been too “safe” in a way, and I am currently writing a new epic fantasy that is as sprawling and far-reaching as these early efforts. And I’m having a blast. So if you sense something lacking in your current work-in-progress, maybe you need to push yourself a bit harder. You might be surprised by how much fun you’ll have if you do.

Lessons learned. Every writing project teaches me something new, whether I’m editing or writing. I love that about this craft. It keeps my work fresh, and it keeps me feeling challenged. As long as that continues to be the case, I’ll keep writing.

Thank you, David!

Everyone here at the Enchanted Alley hopes you will be writing for a very long time. 


About the Author

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David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of nineteen fantasy novels. As David B. Coe, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first two books, Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes came out in 2015. The third volume, Shadow’s Blade, has recently been released. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach.

David is also the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he is in the process of reissuing, as well was the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.


Where to find David online


Essential Information

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Title: THE OUTLANDERS (The LonTobyn Chronicle, Book 2)

Author: David B. Coe

Publisher: Lore Seekers Press

Price: $4.99 eBook/ $18.95 Paperback

Length: 561  pages

ReleaseDate: October 2, 2016

ASIN: B01M0ZQPZ9

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