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Descent by Ken MacLeod

DESCENT Ken MacLeod

Author of 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated Intrusion tells a science fiction story for the twenty-first century – what happens when conspiracy theorists meet Big Brother?
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THE LASCAR’S DAGGERGlenda Larke

The start of a brand new epic fantasy trilogy from the author of the Stormlord series – full of scheming, spying, action and adventure.
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Posts Tagged ‘vampires’

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John Charming has been fighting the forces of darkness for a long time – a very long time. So you could say that he’s something of an expert on the subject. So before going out tonight, check out these helpful Pro-Tips.

Okay, so imagine that it’s the seventh century.   It’s late October although they probably have a different name for that month in your village of Sucksalot, but however your calendar works, it’s that time of year when crops are dying and families are slaughtering and salting livestock so that they’ll have enough meat to survive the winter.  There are no antibiotics except for a few plants with mild anti-septic qualities and maybe a few poultices whose ingredients include boiled urine, so now that flu and pneumonia seasons are coming around, villagers are dropping like pants at a Vegas convention.   Death is everywhere, literally and symbolically.  Souls are travelling through doorways between the physical world and the spirit world a lot more frequently, and this makes it easier for metaphysical predators from the other side to slip through.

So what do you do?  Containment and appeasement rituals.  You sacrifice some of your slaughtered cattle and toss their bones in the fire so that beings who can’t physically digest the food can still mingle with its essence.  Your local priest leads crowds of children dressed like spirits from house to house to collect donations for the dead.  You hollow out turnips or pumpkins and carve scary faces into them and light fires in their center because this is symbolic of life surrounded by death, of light surviving in the darkness.

That’s the origin of Halloween.  Lighting a candle in the darkness and praying for survival.

So how can we 21st century denizens protect ourselves on a holiday that is traditionally the supernatural world’s equivalent of an office party?  Well, common sense rules like staying in well-lit areas and keeping crowds around you still apply.  The truth is, on this particular holiday it’s not about protection so much as deflection.  You’re never going to make yourself invincible – but you can make yourself less attractive.  For the spirit world, Halloween is a smorgasbord.   You don’t want to be the banana pudding with vanilla wafers crumbled in, you want to be the pickled fish that probably should have gotten tossed out a day ago.

With that in mind, here are a few basic pointers.

Tip 1:  BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE

It isn’t Santa Claus that’s coming to town, it’s spirits that can’t let go because they have unresolved issues.  We’re talking anger management, self-loathing, greed, selfishness, or revenge fantasy type issues.  The kind of souls who populate that train station between our life and the life that comes after are basically like the worst ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend that you’ve ever had.  And one of the key principles of magic is that like is attracted to like.  So on a purely pragmatic level, it might make sense to invite someone who doesn’t run very fast to come with your group so that you can leave that person behind to distract pursuers if things go to hell, but you know what?  That kind of thinking is messed up, and not all threats are physical.  That kind of thinking will cause beings looking for weak or evil minds to come knocking on your mental door.   By the same reasoning, this is a season where the worst types of cunning folk come looking for harvest sacrifices, and it’s not the best time to be a virgin.   So on one level, becoming unchaste might be logical, but you also don’t want to do anything that’s going to damage your self-esteem too close to D-Day.  There’s a line where being practical is good, but being ruthless and selfish are counter-productive.

Or to quote Austin Powers, “Oh, Behave!” Read the rest of this entry »

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A Big Easy Halloween

“Some cities are naturally holiday cities. London is a Christmas city. Paris is a Valentine’s Day city. And no place in the world is a Halloween city more than New Orleans.” –The opening lines of “RUSTED VEINS (US | UK)

While I am a huge fan of both New Orleans and Halloween, I not yet had the good luck to be in the Big Easy on All Hallow’s Eve. However, I’ve been to NOLA many, many times over the last decade, and I’ve researched the city’s Halloween traditions extensively (for my book GREEN-EYED DEMON [US | UK | AUS]). Even though we can’t all just drop everything and go to New Orleans to celebrate Halloween this year, it doesn’t mean we can’t bring it to our own houses.

I am not exactly a party planner (except for fictional ones where budget is no object), but I do love to attend a good party, so I’ve put together my dream New Orleans-themed Halloween party. I’m tempted to throw this party to celebrate the release of my Sabina Kane Halloween novella “Rusted Veins.” Since it is available this week and happens to be set in New Orleans, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

The Invites:

chicken footTie a calligraphied invite to a chicken foot or gris-gris bag for a charming voodoo touch. If it’s in the budget, have a second line band deliver them door-to-door while playing a funeral dirge.

The Music:

  • “Bloodletting” by Concrete Blonde
  • “Hoodoo” by Muse
  • “Voodoo Child” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” by Tom Jones
  • “504” by the Old 97s
  • “Louisiana Blues” by Muddy Waters
  • “Apache Rose Peacock” Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Costumes:

Guests will be invited to dress as their favorite real or fictional New Orleans resident. I’ve included some suggestions below.marie laveau

For the ladies:

  • Marie Laveau, Voodoo Priestess
  • Madame Delphine Lalaurie, Famous murderess
  • Lulu White, famous Storyville Madam
  • Blanch DuBois or Stella Kowalski from Streetcar Named Desire
  • Anne Rice, author
  • Bella Donna Boudreaux, from X-Men Read the rest of this entry »

A Halloween Cover Launch: The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross

The Rhesus Chart: a Laundry Files novel by Charles Stross

LONDON CAN DRAIN THE LIFE OUT OF YOU . . .

Bob Howard is an intelligence agent working his way through the ranks of the top secret government agency known as ‘the Laundry’. When occult powers threaten the realm, they’ll be there to clean up the mess – and deal with the witnesses.

There’s one kind of threat that the Laundry has never come across in its many decades, and that’s vampires. Mention them to a seasoned agent and you’ll be laughed out of the room.

But when a small team of investment bankers at one of Canary Wharf’s most distinguished financial institutions discovers an arcane algorithm that leaves them fearing daylight and craving O positive, someone doesn’t want the Laundry to know. And Bob gets caught right in the middle.

The newest Laundry Files novel, and a jumping-on point for readers new to the series, THE RHESUS CHART will be released in hardback and digital July 2014. Cover design by Crush Creative.

The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

Don’t forget you can now buy all four of the previous Laundry Files novels in these gorgeous paperback editions.

COLD BLOODED releases today!

For all you urban fantasy fans out there, your week just got a whole lot better.  The wait is over — COLD BLOODED (US | UK | AUS) by Amanda Carlson releases today!

If you read urban fantasy and you haven’t checked out the Jessica McClain series, I know the perfect book for the top of your “to read” pile.  FULL BLOODED (US | UK | AUS)  kicked off the series last year and the action has not stopped since.  Jessica McClain proves that it’s not easy being a girl.  It’s even harder when you’re the only girl in a family of werewolves.  But it’s next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race… Meet Jessica McClain — she just became part of the pack.

The third book in the series, COLD BLOODED, takes Jessica to new heights, and combines all of the best of the genre.  There are vampires, witches, and a really hot guy (oh my!). It will keep you on your toes and leave you guessing — by the end, you won’t know which way is up and you’ll be loving it the whole way!

Jessica McClain is on the run… again.

Finally reunited with Rourke, Jessica arrives home to find that her best friend has been kidnapped, her father has vanished, and the supernatural Sects — witches, demons, and sorcerers — don’t even have the courtesy to wait until she is unpacked to attack.

Now, mastering her powers as the sole female werewolf might not be enough to save them.  Thrown together in a shaky truce with the Vampire Queen, Jessica must show all the different Sects what the true meaning of “the enemy of my enemy” is or her father will die…

All three books are out and available now in your local bookstores.  And if that isn’t enough good news for this week, I am very excited to share that the Jessica McClain series will be continuing for two more books starting in 2014! Get a jump on the series now because I can guarantee you… you won’t want to miss what’s next.

 

 

Vampires beware – a new hero has come to town: CHARMING by Elliott James

This debut introduces a self-deprecating, wisecracking, and honorable-to-a-fault hero who can stand up to such established protagonists as Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden and Seanan McGuire’s October Daye….” Library Journal (starred review)

John is not your typical prince charming figure. He’s not going to passing very many manners class, but he can kill a vampire in at least ten different ways.  Which is good because he’s going to need all of those skills in CHARMING (US | UK) by Elliott James.

Bringing a unique new spin to the familiar supernatural creatures and folklore, CHARMING is the debut urban fantasy not to be missed. Want to hear more? Read an excerpt or check out this interview with Elliot James:

What made you want to become an author?

The same things that make anyone want to become an author, really. A combination of crippling loneliness, habitual lying, greed, and delusions of grandeur. I mean, I could slather it on about how the imagination is the key to freeing the mind and all that, but let’s face it, ultimately it all comes down to the wild parties, the women, and the limos full of cash. Speaking of which, when are those getting here anyway? [Looks at watch.] Plus I like to read.

When did you start writing?

At the age of five. It was kindergarten, and I penned an opus about a backward planet where cows gave chocolate milk (I’m not sure how that’s backward, but it made sense at the time) and grown-ups went to school to get away from their jobs and learn how to play from kids. The thing I still think is kind of cool about that story is that every word was spelled backward. Or misspelled backward in many cases. After that I flirted around with writing. I had a minor fling with journalism, briefly got involved with advertising, and lived with teaching English. But I didn’t really get serious about writing until a few years ago, and then writing rejected my first proposal. Rejected quite a few of my proposals, actually. But I persisted, and now I’m ready to settle down and start having kids. Or maybe writing is. OK, I kind of lost track of the half-assed metaphor I had going there.

Read the full interview here.

If CHARMING has caught your eye, be sure to check out the earlier adventures of John Charming too in these three short stories by Elliott James:

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“What’s it about?”

The first question I get when family or friends find out that I have a novel being published is: “What’s it about?”

 So I go ahead and tell them:  “GET AWAY FROM ME!  I HAVE TO GO FEED MY TURTLES!  I’LL CUT YOU!”

Okay, that’s not true.  I just thought it was more dramatic than what I actually tell them, which is that CHARMING is about John Charming, the modern day descendant of all those characters named Prince Charming from the fairy tales.   In my fictional world, there wasn’t some crazed serial bigamist inspiring all of those different stories, there was in fact an entire family line of witch finders and dragon slayers extending through the centuries.

The next question comes in one of three variations.  People either say “Oh cool!  How did you get that idea?”  Or “Oh cool!  How come nobody has ever thought of that before?”  Or just “Oh.”

My response to that is a little more complicated.  I know there’s a lot of fairy tale stuff out there right now, and some of it I’ve read and watched and some of it I haven’t, and I talk about that in an interview in the back of my book.

I also mention that I was an army brat.  We moved pretty regularly, and my grandparent’s farm was an island of stability in my childhood, the place we always went to on vacations or between moves or when my father was going to be gone for a long time.  My grandmother was an English teacher and a pack rat, and her house was stuffed with books on folk lore and fairy tales and mythology, and not just European stories and not just children’s tales.  I’m talking the real stuff, dark stories full of fantastic places and creatures of nightmare where macabre events are described by a third person narrator with a matter of fact attitude.  That’s my happy place.   Not Christmas memories.  Not my first puppy. It’s lying on my grandparent’s porch swing reading stories that were totally inappropriate for children.

So there’s that.

And I really wanted to root my character in a literary tradition.  Actually, that’s not true.  I wanted to root my character in all literary traditions relating to folk tales and fables and myths.  I start out with vampires and werewolves, but I start introducing new/old mythological creatures into the mix pretty quickly.   Really, if I have any serious literary ambitions for my John Charming tales at all, it’s that I would like to make the urban fantasy genre as a whole a little more aware of how rich and varied the story telling traditions it’s been strip mining for vampire and werewolf stories are.  And I’m not saying that no one else is doing this.  My favorite urban fantasy authors do this.   It’s largely why they’re my favorites.

Read the rest of this entry »

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OUT FOR BLOOD by Kristen Painter4As Halloween approaches, so does the need for many of us to stock up on candy and other assorted treats in order to successfully bribe the neighborhood children into not TP-ing our houses or soaping our cars.

Paradise City is no different. Okay, maybe it’s a little different considering many of the inhabitants are creatures most likely to become Halloween costumes. Doesn’t mean they’re not in the Halloween spirit, though! Should you go trick-or-treating in Paradise City, here’s what my characters will be filling your goody bag with:

1. Malkolm, vampire – Let’s be honest. You can knock all you want. Mal’s not opening the door. If he does? Run.

2. Chrysabelle, comarré – If you can actually make it onto the private island where she lives, then past her estate’s security gates, you deserve a treat. Chrysabelle’s treats are the uber expensive Amedei Porcelana dark chocolate bars. She’ll then send someone along with you to make sure you don’t run into trouble the rest of the night.

3. Doc, varcolai (leopard-shifter) – Since juicy steaks are liable to ruin your other treats, Doc’s handing out packages of locally made gator jerky. Try it. You’ll like it. It bites back.

4. Fi, sometimes ghost – With Fi’s sense of humor, she’ll be stuffing your goody bag full of gummy spiders, severed finger cookies and skeleton bone lollipops. If you think that’s gross, you should see her ghost form. Mal’s the one who killed her, you know…

5. Dominic, vampire – Ever the entrepreneur, Dominic will be handing out coins good for one free entrance to Seven, his night club. Note I said entrance. Getting out of Seven is up to you.

6. Creek, Kubai Mata agent – Halloween isn’t really Creek’s thing, but his grandmother, Rosa Mae Jumper, has stepped in to help, providing him with enough raven feather charms for everyone. Put yours on immediately. You never know who might be trying to steal your soul.

7. Tatiana, evil vampiress – If you happen to be in the hidden city of Corvinestri, Romania and you’re unfortunate enough to knock on Tatiana’s door, that will probably be your last stop of the night. See, Tatiana isn’t known for her hospitality, but she loves humans. Mostly as a snack. On the off chance she does put something in your bag…trust me, the apple’s poison.

As you can see, the House of Comarré characters are an interesting bunch with different takes on the meaning of treat. If you want to see them in action, check out the next book in the series, OUT FOR BLOOD (UK | US | AUS), which is available now!

OUT FOR BLOOD – The Wait is Over!!

OUT FOR BLOOD by Kristen Painter4After the first three explosive books in the House of Comarré series were released three months in a row, waiting a whole ten months for the next installment was pure TORTURE. But the time has finally come! Orbit is very excited to be releasing OUT FOR BLOOD (UK | US | AUS) this fall, book four in the House of Comarré series by Kristen Painter.

After nearly dying at the hands of the Aurelian, Chrysabelle finds new determination to move beyond life as a comarré. That is until the Kubai Mata bring a new task to her doorstep: rescue the child Tatiana has kidnapped, or Mal becomes enemy number one.

Magic, trouble, loss, and love (and of course the verydelectable Mal) await you in this fabulous next installment from Kristen Painter.  Enjoy and then join me in the count down (eight months until book five, eight months until book five, eight months until book five!)

Praise for the House of Comarré:

“Prophecy, curses, and devilish machination combine for a spellbinding debut of dark romance and pulse-pounding adventure.” — Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Painter scores with this one.  Passion and murder, vampires and courtesans — original and un-put-downable.  Do yourself a favor and read this one.” — Patricia Briggs, New York Times bestselling author

“Kristen Painter brings a sultry new voice to the vampire genre, one that beckons with quiet passion and intrigue.” — L.A. Banks, New York Times bestselling author of The Vampire Huntress Legends series

Check out the rest of the series!
   

 


 

An Interview With Some Vampires

Jaye Wells is something of an expert on the undead. After writing five sexy paranormal fantasy novels featuring the kickass Sabina Kane, she knows all the major players in the vampire underworld. Collected here a five interviews with some of the biggest names in the bloodletting business.

To find out more about Jaye, the books, and her upcoming events and promotions – visit her website.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this series will go down as one of the best paranormal fantasy sagas of all time and Sabina Kane will be remembered as one of paranormal fantasy’s most iconic heroines. ” – Paul Goat Allen, BN.com.

Blue Blooded Vamp is out now!

BLUE-BLOODED VAMP (USUK | AUS) is the final novel in the Jaye Wells series. It has everything you would want in a urban fantasy novel: vampires, blood, action – and a bit of romance thrown in.  I can’t believe that I’ve worked on these novels for so long! Insane! But they’re one of the fastest and most fun UF that’s out there right now. A bit about the story:

 Sabina Kane is on the hunt. Her prey: Cain, the father of the vampire race and the one who murdered her family and her friends. Unfortunately, Cain is hunting Sabina too.

The one man who holds the key to defeating Cain is, of course, Abel. A mage with secrets to spare and, hopefully, the power to match it. Unfortunately, for Sabina, he’s in Rome and may not want to be found.

Sabina sets out for Italy with her friends, Giguhl and Adam Lazarus, to track down the only man who can get her the revenge she hungers for. But will he help her or oppose her? And just who is Abel, really? Worst of all, when Sabina figures out the goddess Lilith has a plan for her-she realizes this trip is getting deadlier by the minute. As they say: when in Rome-SURVIVE.

But don’t listen to me:

 ”Jaye Wells is the next coming of Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison.”
— Paul Goat Allen, bn.com, on Green-Eyed Demon

But not to worry – even with the publication of the final book, which I know you guys are drooling to read, there is more exciting news! Jaye will be doing a new series – Dirty Magic (imagine The Wire with Wizards), coming soon…. More on that later.

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