Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Author of BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, Justin Gustainis, Blogs for Us!

Justin actually sent this to me yesterday, but I'd already blogged about the book, so I thought today would be a better day to post it. So enjoy this fun list of facts about BLACK MAGIC WOMAN--it'll give you a hint of what's in store!

I really appreciate Chris’s invitation to blog today, the publication date (in North America, anyway) of my novel, BLACK MAGIC WOMAN.

Here are 13 things you didn’t know about BLACK MAGIC WOMAN -- both the plot and the book itself.

1. The male protagonist, Quincey Morris, is the great-great-grandson of theTexan who died at the end of the original DRACULA. Contending withsupernatural evil has become something of a Morris family tradition.

2. The book was released in the UK and Australia on January 8th. The NorthAmerican release date was pushed back to January 29th because of a problem atthe North American printer.

3. African “muti” magic sometimes involves the use of human organs – which must be “harvested” while the victim is still alive.

4. "White" witch Libby Chastain, Quincey's partner in the investigation, isbisexual, and a devout practitioner of what she calls "serial monogamy."

5. Jim Butcher, author of the "Dresden Files" novels, was kind enough to readthe manuscript pre-publication. As quoted on the book's cover, he calls BLACKMAGIC WOMAN "the best manuscript I've ever been asked to read."

6. Quincey Morris is terrified of snakes, having almost died fromsnakebits as a young boy.

7. Simon R. Green, author of the John Taylor 'Nightside" novels, was sent anadvance reading copy and said, "This is a novel that's packed with story andengaging characters, and I can't wait to read the next one."

8. "White" magic cannot be used to do harm to another -- which doesn't meanthat you can't use it to protect yourself, as Libby Chastain knows full well.

9. Waterstones, the largest UK bookstore chain, has designated BLACK MAGICWOMAN as its featured SF/Fantasy title of the month. It's got its own displayin each of their 300-some stores.

10. It’s possible to drive off a bunch of zombies without having to “kill” them. All you need is the right magic.

11. The South African national police really does have an Occult CrimesInvestigation Unit, although my character Garth Van Dreenan is not based on anyreal person.

12. Vampires really do hate sunlight. A lot.

13. When you make a deal with the devil, the notes come due in brimstone.

Thanks for indulging me, everybody. I hope I've piqued your interest and thatyou'll take a look at my novel. I'm kinda proud of it.

Justin
www.justingustainis.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One More Bookshelf for Today: THE LIAR'S DIARY

The trade edition of THE LIAR’S DIARY came out in trade edition today, and a bunch of authors are blogging about its release because Patry Francis is unable to do so. Unfortunately, Ms. Francis was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer a few weeks ago.
I think if you read the press release below, you'll see how interesting this story is!

When new music teacher Ali Mather enters Jeanne Cross’s quiet suburban life, she brings a jolt of energy that Jeanne never expected. Ali has a magnetic personality and looks to match, drawing attention from all quarters. Nonetheless, Jeanne and Ali develop a friendship based on their mutual vulnerabilities THE LIAR’S DIARY (Plume / February 2008 / ISBN 978-0-452-28915-4 / $14.00) is the story of Ali and Jeanne’s friendship, and the secrets they both keep.Jeanne’s secrets are kept to herself; like her son’s poor report card and husband’s lack of interest in their marriage. Ali’s secrets are kept in her diary, which holds the key to something dark: her fear that someone has been entering her house when she is not at home. While their secrets bring Jeanne and Ali together, it is this secret that will drive them apart. Jeanne finds herself torn between her family and her dear friend in order to protect the people she loves.A chilling tour of troubled minds, THE LIAR’S DIARY questions just how far you’ll go for your family and what dark truths you’d be willing to admit—even to yourself.ABOUT THE AUTHORPatry Francis is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize whose work has appeared in the Tampa Review, Colorado Review, Ontario Review, and the American Poetry Review. She is also the author of the popular blogs, simplywait.blogspot.com and waitresspoems.blogspot.com. This is her first novel. Please visit her website at www.patryfrancis.com.

If you’d like to buy this book, Penguin Group USA is giving a 15% discount off the paperback edition if you buy it online from us.penguingroup.com until 2/15/2008. Here’s how you get that discount: on the shopping cart page, enter PATRY in the 'coupon code' field and click “update cart” to activate it.

Bookshelf: BLACK MAGIC WOMAN

Near the end of last year, I got an email from author Justin Gustainis. He liked NIGHT RISING and was wondering if I'd give a blurb for the first book in his new urban fantasy series. I said yes to reading BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, and I was so happy and relieved that I really enjoyed it enough to give it a good blurb.

"Dracula, voodoo, the Salem Witch Trials—Gustainis mixes all of these into a thrilling, addictive brew. A great way to spend a page-turning night!" is what I said, and I think if you get your hands on this book, you'll agree. BLACK MAGIC WOMAN is about a paranormal investigator/"consultant" named Quincy Morris (and you'll find out why he carries this should-be-familiar-name during the course of the story). He's hired by a family who seems to have come under fire from something like a very mean ghost...and it's up to Quincy to get to the bottom of the family's troubles. He brings on an associate, Libby Chastain, a white witch, and their investigation leads them into some hairy situations that are going to please many a paranormal lover.

Gustainis uses several points of view to show different angles of this story, and that added layer upon layer of information and color to the action. And what action there is! To check out more, click here....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Home Stretch

I'm chugging down the home stretch for the fourth Vampire Babylon book. Three more chapters to write, plus all the revision that goes along with it. At this point in a rough draft, I'm going NUTS, not only because I want to finish so badly, but this is where all the story payoffs come and if I haven't set them up correctly, I need to go back and fix it. Uck. There's no such thing as a clean first draft with these books.

Needless to say, during all this craziness, my RITA books came about a week late. And, believe me, I could've used that week, because I want to give fair time and attention to every single entry. I got some great ones, though, so I'm excited about reading each and every one!

Also, here's a BarnesandNoble.com link to a review from Writers Unlimited for MIDNIGHT REIGN....

Friday, January 25, 2008

iPod Bookshelf: THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL

Continuing with my Tudor-era kick....

For a long time, I've wanted to read this book, which details the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn through her younger sister Mary's eyes. It doesn't get any more dramatic than the story of Anne's seduction of Henry VIII and how she persuaded him to oust his first queen, Katherine of Aragon. And it doesn't get darker, because Phillipa Gregory doesn't shy away from all the rumors about Anne's "supposed alliance" (ahem) with her brother in order to get with child because it wasn't really happening with Henry. And we do get involved with Anne's ultimate punishment, and that's always a downer. It's also interesting to hear about how Mary had an affair with Henry even before Anne did.

However, this historical fiction is at its best when it concentrates on Anne and not Mary. I hate to say that, because Mary is portrayed as a sweet, fairly level-headed girl who got swept into ugly politics in spite of her misgivings. But that's the thing with Mary: she's sweet and level-headed. Anne is fiery, very smart, and actually pretty hardcore, so she's incredibly interesting.

Since this movie is coming out soon, I had a pretty good time picturing the actors in the parts. Scarlett Johansson is actually pretty good casting, I think, even though I tend to see her in more modern terms. Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn is awesome--Portman is so gorgeous that I tend to forget she can act up a storm. And Eric Bana as Henry VIII? It sounds weird to have the babelicious MUNICH actor as a king who's often portrayed as a man who really let himself go in his later years, but when Henry was young, he was supposed to be super hot. Bana fits that bill, and the guy can act. Have you seen CHOPPER? Case closed.

The thing was, whenever the audio actress, Ruthie Henshall, imitated Henry's voice in the recording, I got icked out. That often happens when an actress tries to do a man's voice, especially when he's whispering seductive words to a lady. I'm trying to forget that part. But, otherwise, Henshall is fabulous, hitting each character on target.

Great read, you all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Academy Awards Morning

Coming at you from the depths of my writing cave, where I'm currently submersed in Vampire Babylon, Book Four....

Usually, I'm up at the ungodly hour the Academy announces their nominations. This year I forgot about the entire thing. Weird. It's probably because I went to the theater only about four times last year. Four! If you guys used to read Crystal Says... back in the days when I started my site, you'd know that I just about haunted the movie theater. But you can see in my blog that I've also gotten really tired of having to deal with how people behave in a theater now: I'm tired of the conversations, the cell-phone chatter, and the LED lights from said phones or PDAs lighting up the room and competing with what I came to see on the screen.

Anyway, I haven't seen any of the nominated films, even though I'm very interested to watch all of them. And I'm particularly happy to see that Marion Cotillard was nominated as Best Actress for her work in LA VIE EN ROSE, one of the movies I saw at the CineVegas film festival (June 14 entry).

If you haven't seen the nominations, check them out at aintitcoolnews.com....

Friday, January 18, 2008

CLOVERFIELD

Teeny tiny spoiler near the end....

Going into CLOVERFIELD, these were my expectations:

1. That I would be wowed by “a monster movie for us” (paraphrasing JJ Abrams when he spoke at Comic-Con).
2. That, based on early reviews from geeks like me, I would enjoy one hell of a horror show.
3. That I would get motion sickness from the handheld camera conceit.

I’d say all three happened to one degree or another.

Basically, if you’re not up on the zeitgeist, CLOVERFIELD started out as a genius marketing move—a mysterious movie trailer played before TRANSFORMERS that featured all these twentysomethings at a party for “Rob.” Then there’s a quake, a roar, fireballs shooting into the sky, chaos…and then the Statue of Liberty’s head goes skidding through the streets. Then the campaign went a step farther, becoming a viral marketing clue hunt online as fans tried to guess what this movie would be about, what it would be named, and whether or not it would live up to the hype. For me, it did, but I’m going to tell it to you straight—if you loved, loved, loved TRANSFORMERS, chances are good that you’re going to walk out of CLOVERFIELD ticked off.

I’m not going to go into the reasons for that, because some of you will want to see this film unspoiled, and you should. Believe me. Part of the horrific appeal is seeing the monster revealed bit by bit and letting your imagination take hold. Part of it is just not knowing what the characters are in for because seeing their “adventure” through the eye of their party camera makes you one of their crowd, and to experience their nightmare as they do is a pretty powerful thing.

And CLOVERFIELD is powerful, not just because you can’t possibly watch skyscrapers crumbling and people running from them in New York without thinking of 9/11. In fact, if you forget that you’re watching a monster movie for even a second (and I did), you could mistake the monster attack for something much more realistic. This is what might even be called the “indie-version” of TRANSFORMERS, yet instead of getting a yummy helping of popcorn, Twizzlers, and jokey robots raining down upon a city, you’re going to get an alien-like entertainment package that you’re not quite sure how to digest.

This makes it sound as if I didn’t enjoy it—but I did. I was unsettled in a good way, which means this movie doesn’t necessarily ask you to like it. For instance, the creators (one of them being Drew Goddard of BUFFY/LOST/ALIAS fame—God, he’s good) give you characters who make really crummy decisions as the city falls down around them. But, heck, if I were in the same situation, who’s to say I wouldn’t do the same? In fact, the main character makes a choice that boils down to whether he wants the rest of his days to be about quantity or quality, and I’ve heard complaints about how unrealistic his decision was, but by the end of the movie, it made absolute, perfect sense to me.

(slight SPOILER ahead!) As my audience filed out, I listened to the reactions. Most of them hated the ending, but every single group had something to say about it. CLOVERFIELD challenges the audience to do more than just sit there: it invites them to become viscerally involved and then to be upset about it afterward.

I don’t know about you guys, but I'm so up for that!

OOTB Tour: KEEPERS OF THE FLAME

Just based on this cover alone, I want to read this book! (You guys ever get like that? Way too excited about covers? I love these colors and they make me hungry to read.)

KEEPERS OF THE FLAME by Robin D. Owens
Luna

Twin sisters Bri and Elizabeth Drystan each have a special gift for healing, but they've taken very different career paths. While Elizabeth has pursued a medical degree, Bri has taken a more unorthodox and holistic path. Both of their gifts are sorely needed in the world of Lladrana, as the Dark has launched a deadly new plague. Abruptly summoned to this alien world by desperate sorcerers, Bri and Elizabeth discover they are the fourth such summoning of Earth-born women, or Exotiques. The situation in Lladrana is dire, and Bri and Elizabeth are immediately thrown into the fray. To save the lives of many, one twin may place her own life in dire risk.

Excerpt: http://www.robindowens.com/reads/KeepersOfTheFlame.pdf


ABOUT ROBIN D. OWENS

Robin D. Owens has been seriously writing longer than she cares to recall, but is very happy with how her writing career is proceeding. She was named the Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in 2004, and 2003 Writer of the Year by the Denver Area Science Fiction Association. Robin has been the librarian, contest co-chair, and President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She has given seminars at Pikes Peak Writers Conference, the Colorado Gold Writers Conference, and Romance Writers of America as well as other groups.


REVIEWS

As Owens' multifaceted saga, The Summoning, continues, the sorcerers get an unexpected bonus: two for the price of one in the form of twins...Events continue to darken in this intricate fantasy world, the stakes keep rising, and losses become inevitable. Strong characterization combined with deadly danger make this story vibrate with emotional resonance. Stay tuned as events accelerate toward the final battle. —Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times

This is one of the most engaging worlds ever to grace the universe of epic fantasy. Though the basic framework of the prior three novels is maintained, Keepers of the Flame does not follow any set "formula," but is filled with surprises as the sisters adapt and struggle in the world to which they have been summoned. Thus, what is loved about the other books is still there, but it is also a fresh, new spin on the overall story. -- Amanda Killgore, Huntress Reviews

I was utterly fascinated by this latest Exotique story. The Lladranans are coming closer and closer to finding a solution for finally facing the Dark in a final battle. They can only hope they can set all the pieces of the puzzle into place and finally triumph to save Lladrana once and for all. Robin D. Owens has pulled out all stops with this one in yet another intriguing peek into her Lladranan world. -- Kathy Boswell, The Best Reviews


Website: http://www.robindowens.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time for Some CLOVERFIELD

You guys might recall how I was all obsessed by "The Cloverfield Project"'s ad campaign last year. It was so sneaky and creepy, with that Statue of Liberty head flying into the street and the shuddering sound effects, that I was salivating to see it.

Then I found out that it's structured like BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, with hand-held cameras jerking about in "documentary" style. Damn, the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT made me so ill. So I told myself I'd have to skip CLOVERFIELD.

But, daggonit, I can't help myself. Barring an emergency, I'm going Friday, and I'll bring a barf bag if I have to. Those TV spots with just a peek of the monster are driving me up a wall. Last night I had a dream about it, too, and it kept me awake for half the night because the dream kept getting worse, and I know I'm gonna keep having dreams until I exorcise this thing from my mind.

So I'm writing my chapter for the day then scooting out the door to watch me some monster mayhem. Then I'll blog ASAP, just to express either my disappointment or my joy.

If I don't blog, it'll be because I'm in a gutter somewhere, unable to drive home because I'm heaving.

Anyone else going?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

OOTB Tour: HEAT OF THE NIGHT

Here's some hot stuff for you!


HEAT OF THE NIGHT by Sylvia Day
ISBN: 978-0061231032
HarperCollins Avon
January 8, 2008

Bad boys are her weakness and no one is as wicked as Connor Bruce…

He is the realization of every woman’s erotic fantasies. Existing in the Twilight between sleep and consciousness, Connor brings them decadent pleasures, fueled by their sexual energy. But violence and strife now tear apart both worlds, and Connor must embark on a perilous quest into the mortal realm … and into the arms of one intoxicating enchantress.

Stacey Daniels has always been attracted to the wrong type of men – and the muscular, Viking-like champion on her front doorstep is no exception. She can hardly believe the wounded warrior is from another world, a world where erotic dreams are needed to survive, a world of terrible danger that has followed him to her home. Connor finds solace in her passion, but only time will tell if he can defeat the dark foe who hunts them … and if Stacey can surrender to the promise he offers with every electrifying touch.

Cover: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41b%2BhZW2M8L._SS500_.jpg

Excerpt: http://www.guardiannovels.com/novels/heat


ABOUT SYLVIA DAY

SYLVIA DAY is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels. A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence. Her books have been called “wonderful and passionate” by WNBC.com, “wickedly entertaining” by Booklist, and frequently garner Readers’ Choice and Reviewers’ Choice accolades. She’s been honored with both the EPPIE award and a finalist nod for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award of Excellence.

REVIEWS

“I highly recommend this book especially to readers who love fantasy romance.”– Paranormal Romance Writers

“Sylvia Day’s Guardians are deliciously spicy, especially the intensely sexual Connor. Love the paranormal world! Love the characters! Love the sizzling romance! Love Heat of the Night! Love Sylvia Day!”– Annmarie, Joyfully Reviewed

“Heat Of The Night is not only a love story, it’s also an extremely adventurous tale of good versus evil. I couldn’t stop reading, waiting to see what would happen. In this story, there were characters from the first book as well as new characters, both evil and good. The adventure and love story combine, woven together by a wonderful plot. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in Ms. Day’s marvelous series.”– Marcy Arbitman, The Romance Studio

“Day’s second installment in her Dream Guardian series starts off with a bang! Her hot and steamy sex scenes will leave readers breathless and aching for more. The hero and heroine are believable and well written, and the hero is rugged and definitely dreamy. With characters from the first book added in, as well as a mixture of new faces, plus dashes of paranormal elements, Day has a winning recipe.”– Janean Sparks, RT BOOKreviews

Website: http://www.dreamguardians.com http://www.sylviaday.com

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

iPod Bookshelf: INNOCENT TRAITOR


I’ve been on this audio Tudor-era "reading" kick, you see, and it’s getting out of control.

At the present time, I’m listening to THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL by Phillpa Gregory, and I just ordered THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE by the same author. Meanwhile, I told you guys that I was embarking upon Alison Weir’s INNOCENT TRAITOR, which is about Lady Jane Grey. If you’re not very familiar with her place in history, it’s no wonder. She was just a teenager when she was crowned queen of England for only nine days, a pawn of ambitious parents and political jerks. Even though she was removed from the throne and jailed, she posed such a risk to the stability of the "rightful queen," Mary Tudor (Henry the Eighth’s daughter by Katherine of Aragon), that Bloody Mary was forced to terminate Jane's life.

If I could describe INNOCENT TRAITOR with one phrase it would be…

(crickets chirping).

And that’s not a slam at all. It’s how I felt at the end of the book, when Jane’s destiny axes down upon her with a slicing blow. Stunned silence. I couldn’t think about anything else for the entire half hour after I’d turned off my iPod. It was that crushing.

Maybe this is because of the immediacy of listening to an actress reading Lady Jane’s part, or maybe it’s just the tragedy of getting to know the innermost thoughts of an intelligent girl who endured crappy parents and an equally awful life. In Jane’s mother—and her idiot father—you’re never going to find more repulsive villains, and I had such sympathy for Jane that, at the end, I wanted to cry for the injustice of it all.

Seriously. This is a powerful, powerful story that builds with every page. I loved it even while I was hating the inevitable outcome.

The audio version uses several actors to tackle each point of view, and it was a highly effective method. Usually, my biggest problem with listening to fiction on audio is having to suffer through things like a woman trying to imitate a man’s voice (or, God forbid, the other way around—it makes the female characters too creepy when a man tries to talk like a woman). Truly, I felt as if I was sitting there, listening to each character talk to me.

BTW, if you’re wondering why I’m Tudor-obsessing to such a degree, it’s because I’m trying to keep my head in England for Vampire Babylon 4. I’m also reading P.D. James for the first time and--yay--I've found another new author to follow!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Soapbox Day

Warning: I'm getting on a soapbox today.

We're in January now, and the bucket of crap that's otherwise known as "reality TV replacements for scripted shows" is beginning its slow dump over our heads. I am not watching AMERICAN GLADIATORS. I am not watching THE FARMER WANTS A WIFE (or...whatever it's called). I am not going to support anything that is being thrown at us in the hopes that it will take the place of PUSHING DAISIES or CHUCK or BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

A pox on the suits. I want my scripted shows, and if I don't get to see more than 8 episodes of LOST this season, I am going to be in a very longlasting vile mood that will make this diatribe seem like chirping from a happy bird.

And, IMHO, it's not up to the writers to solve this. Their demands are reasonable, and if you want to watch this brief video, that point will be driven home. I mean, how can the studios maintain that "they're not sure" if the Internet/digital forms of shows will make much money and then say what they say in these clips?

Watch and wonder....

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Review for MIDNIGHT REIGN

So I only look at my good reviews, and here's one that's already come in!

From MonstersandCritics.com:

Following Night Rising, the first book of the Vampire Babylon trilogy, this picks up the story a month after a no-holds barred battle against Hollywood vampires that left Dawn no closer to locating her missing father Frank and too many unanswered questions about her unseen employer, The Voice. Kiko, the gifted telepathic member of the team suffered a broken back in the attack and worse, finds the psychic abilities he has always relied upon have suddenly disappeared leaving him feeling like half a man. Thirty-one year old weapons expert and tech whiz Breisi was romantically entangled with Frank when he vanished and finds herself struggling to maintain any hope of finding him alive.

With the appearance of a suspected copycat killer vampire, the team is sent to investigate. Although there were several similarities with Lee Tomlinson, the “Vampire Killer” something just didn’t feel right about the murders. The more the team digs into Lee Tomlinson’s past and compare them to present events, the more things just don’t add up. The Voice is obsessed with ferreting out information about the vampire Underground, an ultra secret society coexisting with humans in the heart of Hollywood. Just as obsessed is the Master of the vampire Underground, bent on destroying The Voice before he can strike against the Underground. Dawn is an unwitting pawn in the midst of this high stakes battle that may well cost even more then her life.

An exciting, high tension horror thriller with enough unresolved trust and family issues to make it credible, a hint of romance for spice and a bit of black humor to lighten up the often dark tone, this is a nicely conceived modern vampire tale that will keep readers guessing. The conclusion is certain to leave fans anxiously awaiting the final installment.

- MonstersandCritics.com
http://books.monstersandcritics.com/science_fiction_fantasy/reviews/article_1378650.php/Book_Review_Midnight_Reign

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Vampire Babylon site's New Look

I'm so, so pleased with the new look of the Vampire Babylon Web site--there's actual flash motion on the home page, the MIDNIGHT REIGN book teaser is featured, and the content is a lot more accessible. Shelley from Webcrafters also added some great music to establish quite the mood. Check it out!

Also, I know there are some STAR WARS fans out there, so you might want to enter this month's contest. There's some orignal art featuring Princess Leia at the Death Star medal ceremony (tidbit: I bought a sketch for myself, too, and it's framed and on my wall. Such a geek!).

Last month's contest winner was Bridget Colontonio, but Webcrafter Shelley is currently on vacation, so that'll be posted on the site later. But I thought you all might want to know who won the Disney package.

That's about it, unless you want to go back to the last post and see how to vote for moi at the LoveRomancesBookClub poll, where I'm nominated for Best New Author.
Cheers, all!