A Much Arranged Marriage, or, Further Adventures With Tallis and Friends

Cover A much arranged marriageAs I said, I spent a little time reading over the long Christmas weekend, and one of the things I read was A Much Arranged Marriage, the newest book in The Port Naain Intelligencer series by Jim Webster. As usual, poet Tallis Steelyard and friends have become embroiled in a mystery, though this time in a rather less dramatic fashion than in Flotsam or Jetsam. But just because it didn’t start with a bang doesn’t mean it didn’t finish with one:

Benor is asked to help warn off a blackmailer who appears to be threatening a young girl’s chances of marriage. But the deeper he digs, the more dangerous things become.

It all starts with a request for help from Tallis Steelyard’s patron, Mistress Bellin Hanchkillian. She seeks to help the granddaughter of a childhood friend, but nothing about the situation is exactly what it seems. Once Tallis and Benor were on the job, I couldn’t stop reading – I had to know what would happen next. I read the whole book in one sitting, which is both good and bad. It’s great because it’s nice to read something a little shorter every now and then, but it also kind of stinks because I’m always left wanting more. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have to wait long between installments! 🙂

If you haven’t yet read A Much Arranged Marriage, what are you waiting for? It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

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I’m back!

Howdy! Did you have a nice Christmas? Are you all recovered from the hustle and the bustle? Or could you have used another day in your weekend?

Lord knows I could have. I spent Christmas with a migraine of epic proportions, and the day after wasn’t a whole lot better (though it did involve a Star Wars marathon, and really the only thing better than that is a Star Trek marathon, or possibly a JAG marathon). Thank goodness I was feeling better yesterday; though I still wasn’t back to my usual self, it was a definite improvement over the previous two days.

I had planned to do a bunch of reading over the long weekend, and while I did do some reading, I didn’t do as much as I had planned. I’ll be making up for it this week, though, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on what I’m reading right here, so stay tuned!

And now, to bed. It’s warm in bed. It’s not warm outside. Winter appears to have struck at last, and now I must go hide. 🙂

Has winter struck where you live yet?

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Wowza!

DSC_0167Can you believe it’s the week of Christmas already? I sure can’t!

It’s been a crazy month so far and I suspect it’s only going to get crazier between now and the big day at the end of the week. With everything that’s going on, I’ve decided to take a little blogging break to catch up on my sleep and keep my sanity. Hopefully things here will get back to normal next week.

From my family to yours, merry Christmas!

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

And now for the review!


Yes, that’s right, it’s review time! Because nothing says weekend like books, glorious books. 🙂

Okay, fine, nothing says it’s the weekend like sleeping in, but that’s not the point.

Books. That’s the point.

And this book is a fantastic one.

Literally. 🙂

The people here are as harsh as the landscape, but they’re not without their warmth, and in a land of perpetual winter, warmth is important. Heck, even in a world not cursed with perpetual winter, warmth is important. The warmth Marishka finds is not exactly conventional, which makes her story all the more intriguing.

How do you survive as an outcast in a place as harsh as Ingary? Beyond that, how do you thrive?

Read this book and find out. Seriously, read it – if I keep talking, there will be spoilers. 🙂

Bleizgeist is wonderfully evocative and beautifully written, the kind of story that sticks with a person. I can’t wait to read it again.

You can find Bleizgeist for sale at Amazon US and UK, and you can even get it in paperback! And with a cover as beautiful as this one, you’ll want it in paperback. 😉

In case you missed the blurb earlier this week, here ’tis again:

Ingary is a harsh land. Cursed by a perpetual winter, the isolated little town has all but forget why they worship the wolf.

Marked by magic she cannot control, Marishka is an outcast. Alone and starving she is plagued by geiste, the unconscious minds of the people of Ingary, roaming the wilderness as they sleep. Attracted to the gramarye in Marishka’s blood, the geiste give her no rest. Losing herself to madness, she is saved when she chances to fall in love. But when her affair is discovered, all hope is taken from her.

Beaten and lovelorn, she resigns herself to death.

And then the wolf walks through her door, and Marishka recalls the meaning of Bleizgeist—the spirit of the wolf.

And if you were wondering about the author, you can find her at her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and at the Bookshine Bandit.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Farewell

The winter wind is
Biting once again. Fare thee
Well, sweet summer breeze.

Please come back soon! This
Winter wind is far, far too
Bitter to withstand.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Love in the Dark


Today I’m happy to have one final guest post from Hazel Butler. Enjoy! 🙂

A friend of mine read Bleizgeist shortly after I’d finished writing it. Their response was two-fold. First, they asked me how I managed to write such dark fiction. Then, they asked me if I didn’t think it was a little too dark.

I was able to easily answer the first question.

I write a lot, and most of what I write is dark. I believe the reason for this is largely to do with my world-view, and my life experiences. I have not had an easy time over the years, for various reasons. The world has not been kind to me, and it is often equally cruel to others. Pretending this isn’t the case does nothing to improve the universe, it simply gives people a warped view of what reality should look like. I find it easy to write dark fiction—and in particular dark fantasy—because that is the world in which I have dwelt since I was young. It’s the only world I truly know. One of my favourite authors, C.S. Lewis, once said that, ‘Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage’. I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more, however I am also of the opinion that it does children—and adults—very little good to give them the impression there is no such thing as evil in the world, that good always triumphs, and that doing the right thing never necessitates an alarming degree of personal sacrifice.

Sometimes there are no happy endings.

Sometimes the princess falls under an evil curse and never wakes up.

Sometimes it’s Prince Charming who causes her downfall.

Dark Lords triumph (if you don’t believe me, then how do you explain David Cameron?).

Heroes fail.

Grand adventures may…

Camouflage

mightyhunterI like to think that
I’m an expert at keeping
My feelings hidden.

But there is one who
Disagrees because he can
Read me like a book,

And I truly can’t
Wait for him to come back home,
Camouflage and all.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Why Write Strong Female Leads? Because You’re Still Asking That Question.


Back again today is author Hazel Butler to talk about strong female characters and what makes hers different. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

One of my favourite writers (and directors), Joss Whedon, famously recounted an incident with a journalist during an Equality Now speech in 2006. It went something like this: the journalist asked, ‘So, why do you write these strong female characters?’, and in the style we have come to love and adore from the man who brought us Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and The Avengers (amongst other things), Whedon simply responded, ‘Because you’re still asking me that question’.

I’m fairly certain that everyone who has ever written a tale involving strong female characters—in particular a lead character—has been asked some variation of, ‘Why did you make your women so strong?’, and/or, ‘Why did you make your hero a woman?’

caI find it mildly ridiculous, but sadly not surprising, that this still happens. But it was a comment from a friend of mine after she read my first novel, Chasing Azrael, that really got me thinking about this. The friend in question is no chauvinist. She’s no stranger to strong female characters, in fact she’s all for them. What surprised me was her assertion that it was the first time she’d read anything wherein there was a strong female protagonist whose strength depended, not on her physical power or supernatural abilities, but due to her strength of character.

Andee Tilbrook is not a strong character because…

Graffiti

English: Graffiti en el barrio de Aranbizkarra...

English: Graffiti en el barrio de Aranbizkarra de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Imagen tomada el 27-12-2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clouds line the horizon,
Dark and gray,
Smoke rising from
A burning sky.
Nature’s graffiti
Darkens the day,
Obliterating color,
Drabbing the world.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Unleash the Night: Dark Fantasy and Allegory


Today fantasy author Hazel Butler joins me to share her thoughts on Dark Fantasy and allegory.

Dark Fantasy has always been my favourite genre. Whether I’m reading or writing, it is a genre I return to again and again. This is partly due to my love of the dark, the gothic, the macabre, and the vaguely terrifying, but it is mainly due to the characters and meaning that often come with Dark Fantasy.

Mark Lawrence, Anne Rice, Joe Abercrombie, Stephen King, Clive Barker, even Neil Gaiman and Robin Hobb exist in the murky realms of Dark Fantasy.

It’s not a coincidence that almost all my favourite authors are on that list.

This is a genre that allows, far more than most others, for the consideration of characters, themes, and actions, which would otherwise be considered unpalatable in mainstream fiction. The ability this genre has to reveal and explore the darkest aspects of human nature and experience has always been appealing.

When I first put pen to paper to scratch out an outline for Bleizgeist, I had no idea it was going to be a Dark Fantasy tale. In fact, I was intending to write something a little more mainstream, a little more literary, something after the fashion of Rita Mae Brown or Sarah Waters.

What I ended up with was considerably different, but it should not have come as a surprise.

The character I had in mind, right from the very start, was a girl whose inherent nature was for some reason taboo. This made her an outcast, with few friends, no family, and only one means of survival—using the very nature that cursed her to her advantage.

I was looking for…