Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gail Z. Martin talks Alternative History in her Day of the Dead blog tour.

Please welcome Gail Z. Martin, whose novels with Solaris Books include the upcoming Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC, and The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series co-authored with Larry N. Martin. I asked Gail to tell us a bit about what it means to write "alternative history."
*   *   *

What Flavor is your Alternative History?
By Gail Z. Martin

What do you think of when the term ‘alternative history’ comes up?

Some people think of pivotal battles or moments in history. What if Hitler had won World War II? What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War? What if Lincoln had stayed home instead of going to Ford’s Theater? From that altered battle or event, the new timeline moves forward, and the author imagines a world different from our own.

Sometimes, the change is more subtle. What if an invention had come along earlier, later, or not at all? What if an influential philosopher or politician who is credited with setting a movement or ideology into motion never lived? That begs the question of whether or not an idea or invention would have come along eventually, if not by the person in our timeline who developed it, then by someone else. But what difference would a delay (or advance) in timing make?

Imagine the different route history might take if a natural disaster (like Hurricane Katrina or the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius that buried Pompeii) never happened. Or if a narrowly-averted natural disaster (the many hurricanes that veered away from making landfall on the East Coast at Category 5 status, for example) did happen? In a nod to the famed ‘butterfly effect’, that a tiny, random change that seems insignificant (like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings) can cause a huge difference when the ramifications play out. Many stories have been written about the difference one ‘average’ life makes (think “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which is really alternate history).

In Iron and Blood, the steampunk series co-authored with my husband, Larry N. Martin, we take a look at a Victorian Pittsburgh with crucial differences. In the real world, inventor George Washington worked briefly with genius Nikola Tesla, and then they went their separate ways. In our world, they found Tesla-Westinghouse Corporation, a nexus for steam-powered inventions. A disastrous flood, fire and earthquake that didn’t happen in real life occurs in our steampunk world, leading to the rise of the shadowy Oligarchy who stepped in to impose order after the catastrophes. That same Oligarchy sabotaged the nascent oil industry at Drake Well, so that steam power remained ascendant over petroleum.
Those are just a few of the altered details, but the ripple effect on history becomes larger and larger as time goes on, and it affects everything about the story and the characters, making the book a tale that could only happen in that alternative timeline.
One of the coolest things about alternative history is how it gives us a different lens to look at actions and consequences, to trace back how we got to where we are now and what might have changed that, and where we could have ended up. So whether you like your alternative history as steampunk, military adventure, sci-fi or fantasy, there are plenty of flavors to choose from!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! For details, click here.

About Iron & Blood
Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company, travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake's cousin, Veronique 'Nicki' LeClercq . Smuggling a small package as a favor for a Polish witch should have been easy. But when hired killers come after Jake and a Ripper-style killer leaves the city awash in blood, Jake, Rick and Nicki realize that dark magic, vampire power struggles and industrial sabotage are just a prelude to a bigger plot that threatens New Pittsburgh and the world. Stopping that plot will require every ounce of Jake's courage, every bit of Rick's cunning, every scintilla of Nicki's bravura and all the steampowered innovation imaginable.
Extra Days of the Dead Trick or Treat Freebies!

*   *   *
You can read an excerpt from the upcoming Vendetta here.
Purchase Iron & Blood on Amazon.
Get yourself some book swag here (before Nov. 1).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS Goodreads #giveaway and tons of other news!

So much going on this October!

My book launched. You probably know that, but just in case, you can check it out on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Kobo, iBooks, and so on.

My YA urban fantasy story "Compound Spelling" was published in Vitality Magazine.

I published a ton of writing advice:
- In my Kid Lit Insider column on EatSleepWrite
- On Drunk Monkeys
- On Rate Your Story

I set up a Goodreads giveaway. Enter for a chance to win one of three copies. This is open until Nov. 15 to fans in the US, Canada, and UK. (You're welcome!)

Let's see...what's coming up? Here are the highlights so far:


There's a month-long event called #99centNovember I'll be part of. Details soon!

Sunday, Nov. 15, 11:00 am (Eastern), I'll hold my official launch party for THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS. Everyone of all ages is invited! Details on the Facebook Event Page.

Monday, Nov. 16, 7:00 pm (Eastern), I'll read a story from THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS as part of the Rough & Ready reading series in Manhattan. I'll post more details as they're available.

Fri, Nov. 20- Sun., Nov. 22, at PhilCon in Cherry Hill, NJ, I'll do a reading and be on some panels. I'll post my entire schedule once I know it.


My YA story "Toori's Constellation" will be published in Young Adventurers: Heroes, Explorers, and Swashbucklers from Intrigue Publishing.

A Peek at 2016:
My story for adults "Proof of Reincar(bo)nation" will be published in Alternate Hilarities 5: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife from Strange Musings Press. If you like my Webrid novels, you'll enjoy the style of humor in this.

My children's story "Organized in the Nick of Time" will be published on the Rainbow Rumpus website.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Krysten Lindsay Hager: #YAlit NEXT DOOR TO A STAR and writing all the time

Please welcome Krysten Lindsay Hager, whose new YA book is called Next Door to a Star. She admits how thoughts of writing pervade her every waking moment. Boy, can I relate to that!

*   *   *
Writing: The Job You Never Turn Off 
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
People think being a writer must mean that I play make believe all day and spend long hours on the couch watching bad daytime TV. In reality, writing isn’t a job you fit in when you have time to pick up a pen or get to a computer—it’s a job you never walk away from. If you’ve seen most writers’ computers you’ll notice several tabs open at all times. Now imagine what our minds are like! It’s like a million ideas swirling at all times—new plots, themes, how to rework the ones we already have churning in their minds, and then rewriting something we’ve already sent to the editor. Even going out for the night doesn’t take us away from the work.

Before I wrote my latest young adult novel, Next Door to a Star, I went to the beach towns I write about several times. I scouted out Grand Haven, Michigan (the main setting for the book) to check out the beach, shops, pier, and downtown where my character, Hadley, and her friends hang out. I also went to Saugatuck, Michigan where the Hadley and Asia go on a day trip and run into the rock star Hadley has a crush on. When I was in Grand Haven, my friend was looking forward to spending some time in the sun. So while she was catching some rays, I had mapped out where my characters would be going so I could see if how I planned a scene for the book would actually work in reality…right down to the actual steps the characters (Simone and Hadley) would take on the pier. 

On another visit, while my husband was taking in the sun, I was taking in the sites and jotting down notes and taking pictures with my phone so I could capture the scene exactly from every single angle. To look at my phone gallery you’d think I took a million pictures of the same scenery to get one decent picture, but nope. I needed to see that scene from every possible angle so I could go back to my laptop and recreate the setting in the book. It helps me to go in person to see the downtown where Simone (the former teen TV star) would go to get her hair down with Hadley and where they’d run into her ex getting pizza with a new girl—an older high school girl. Then, I take all my pictures so I can plot out where the girls go and make sure I have the landmarks in the right order for anyone who reads the book who is familiar with the area.

Later, I went to shops my characters would visit and imagined where their conversations would take place—like when Charlotte and Hadley are invited out with the popular girls and feel out of their element. I sat on a bench to emails notes to myself so I didn’t forget anything all while Instagraming shots to my followers of places they could expect to see in my next novel.  

When we made a snack stop, I saw an ice cream place across from the beach that I needed to go into. My husband said, “You want ice cream?” And I replied no, I didn’t, but my Hadley and Simone might want some and I needed to see the setup of the store. So he got some ice cream to give me an excuse to scout out the place and jot down details.

People don’t always realize all the details that go into creating a scene, but I like to take the reader right into the world that I am creating. I’m always on the lookout for something that will add to the story, make it richer, and bring you into my character’s world. Sure it means I can’t turn my brain off from writing, but I assure you, I had just as much fun that day researching and scouting out places for my book as someone who sat in the sun enjoying the beach.

Watch the Next Door to a Star Book Trailer:

*   *   * 
Learn more about Krysten Lindsay Hager on her website and on Instagram.

Buy Next Door to a Star on Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It's Launch Day for #kidlit #scifi #stories THINGS FROM OTHER WORLDS

Hey, Hey and Happy Day!

Today I am pleased as pink bubbly to announce the launch of my book

15 Alien and Fantasy Stories for Kids

"Enchanting!" -Ellie Ann, New York Times bestseller

Many strange things wait inside these pages. There's a fuzzy ball of kindness, camped out on a grumpy man's porch. A chewed piece of gum with a mind of its own. A smart Alec who actually stands in line twice when they're handing out brains. A girl who isn't afraid when all the plants in her neighborhood come to life.

This collection of 15 science fiction and fantasy stories for kids by award-winning author Anne E. Johnson is perfect for ages 8-12, or anyone with a child's heart.

Things from Other Worlds is available as both print and ebook. Here are some of the places you can find it:

If you'd like a signed copy, here's what you do:

1. Attend one of my live events (details to be posted soon here, on my website, and on Goodreads).
2. Email me at to ask about buying the print book directly from me or requesting a signed book plate.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Left My Brains in San Francisco by Karina Fabian, now an audiobook!

Got Zombies? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Author Karina Fabian created this fearless and hilarious character. Now you can get the Neeta Lyffe tale I Left My Brains in San Francisco fed directly into your brains through your ears. And Karina has a few things to say about using funny Zombies for a serious purpose.

*   *   *

Why Zombies?  
Using the absurd in fiction to show the absurd in life
by Karina Fabian

Acura reached into the box of "Rename Tenderloin!" flyers for her notebook.  "I can appeal in two weeks, but I need a new strategy."  Her voice grew bitter.  "Apparently, the idea of renaming an important sector of our city for a cruelless, savory treat instead of the barbaric meal of abused animals is just too philosophical for our city government.  I was thinking that maybe we could point out the damage to the psychological attitudes of children growing up in an area named for a fat-laced meat?  Or how about promoting diversity by recognizing vegetarian Americans?"

"Lard, please!"

"Beets!  You know I hate that phrase!"  Acura followed her friend's gaze.  Her nose curled with distaste.

A disheveled guy wandered around the paved path, passing out flyers.  Pale skin, ratty clothes, hair falling out in clumps...

"Can you believe the nerve of those Global Fattening people?  Taking advantage of that zombie exterminator convention to promote their cause."

"Yeah!  And do you hear him?  Groaning, 'Faaat.'  You just know he's having fun at the expense of the expansively bodied."  Beetle, never one to stand by while a woman was emotionally abused, stood and shouted across the table.  "You!  Ugly protestor guy!"

He turned and shambled their way.  Acura wrinkled her nose.  He even smelled disgusting.  He stopped at the table and glared at them.  "Faaat!"

"Oh, don't give me that 'Global Fattening' crap.  You're just playing at a useless unfounded cause to give yourself an inflated sense of importance.  Shame on you!  If you want to hawk your inconsequential ideas, go do it on your side of the park."  With an outstretched arm, she pointed to a less populated area.

The guy stared at her for a moment, as if it was taking longer than normal to process her words.

"Go on!" Beetle yelled.

That apparently got through.  He slammed a flyer on their table.  "Faaat!" he groaned and shambled off toward the duck pond, leaving the flyer behind.

Along with one of his fingers.
---From I Left My Brains in San Francisco, by Karina Fabian

It's an age-old science fiction writers' trick--use the future to discuss an issue of today. So when I was asked to write zombie novels, I decided to give the old trick a new twist. 

I started with a simple premise:

In the 2040s, zombies have become a reality.  They rise from the grave, intent on eating brains or on completing something that they didn't finish in life - even if it's a beer and a TV show.  And, true to so many phenomena in life, people react differently:
·         Some people want to treat them like an emerging species in need of protecting.
·         Some want to profit over speculating why they came to be.
·         Some people want to believe they are still people – capable of love, rehabilitation, and voting in the next election.
·         Some want to exploit them for their own causes (which is the plot for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, which comes out in audiobook this month.)

All of this made a delightful mishmash of insanity into which to drop one woman who just wants to protect people by rekilling the undead, making a little money and having some kind of social life while she's at it. Neeta Lyffe is a zombie exterminator. She’ll spray your house for ants and take out the shambling undead. All part of the job.

I enjoy writing the Neeta Lyffe novels because they aren’t so much about surviving the brainless undead as they are dealing with life that can be just as mindless and crazy, and often in a very comic way.

Anxious for some zombie humor? So are we, but I Left My Brains in San Francisco still isn’t up on Audible. BUT you can get the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go to Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

*   *   *
Learn more about Karina Fabian and her books and audiobooks on her website.