Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2015 Winner

The winner of the April 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Desert Rising by Kelley Grant with 36% of all votes.

The Final Results

The April 2015 Debut Covers

Thank you to everyone who voted, Tweeted, and participated. The 2015 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will continue with voting on the May Debut covers starting on May 15, 2015.

Review: Fish Tails by Sheri S. Tepper

Fish Tails
Author:  Sheri S. Tepper
Publisher:  Harper Voyager, October 21, 2014
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 720 pages
List Price:  $32.00 (print)
ISBN:  9780062304582 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own
Upcoming:  Trade Paperback, July 28, 2015

In her 35th novel, science fiction master Sheri S. Tepper boldly weaves together the storylines of eleven of her previous works—from King’s Blood Four (1983) to The Waters Rising (2010).

In Fish Tails, two of Sheri S. Tepper’s beloved characters—Abasio and Xulai (A Plague of Angels and The Waters Rising)—and their children travel from village to village scattered across the sparsely populated land of Tingawa. They are searching for others who might be interested in adopting their sea-dwelling lifestyle.

Along their journey they encounter strange visitors from the far-off world of Lom, characters from Tepper’s nine-book True Game series of novels—Mavin Manyshaped, Jinian Star-eye, and Silkhands the Healer—all of whom have been gathered up by an interfering, time-traveling, rule-breaking do-gooder to do one last good deed on earth before its metamorphosis is complete. For the waters are rising and will soon engulf the entire planet, transforming it utterly and irrevocably.

Brandon's Review

I think the first introduction to Tepper’s work for me was Beauty or the omnibus of The True Game. There are things that you can rely on to be present in almost all of her writing: strong female characters, eco-friendly messages, and deep seated worry for the future. Something else I find is that as dark or hopeless as some populations of humanity can be, she agrees and paints their future in bleak terms. Without fail though she also tells the story of how humanity can save itself.

Fish Tails draws on several of her previous works. Included at the end of the book was a synopsis of the stories and books involved in this story and while reading the other items first isn’t required reading this can help make sense of some of the plot points and characters. I am not really clear on why this wasn’t a preface or something more clearly offered to readers before leaping head first into a deep pool of work.

The primary mover in this book was the need to convince people of the coming of a flooded earth where normal people would not be able to survive and the only way to preserve humanity was with a genetic change allowing people to live in the water. The princess and former pauper who lead the cast on a trek to proselytize the populace struggle with the uneducated and bigoted in their path to changing the course of human existence. With a touch of Canterbury Tales meets the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Tepper draws together talking animals, griffins, aliens, monsters (human and non), and struggles with the best way to deal with a drowning planet and those who refuse to acknowledge the danger.

I am and will always be a huge fan of all of Sheri Tepper’s work because I think she isn’t wrong when it comes to the need for a more eco-feminist approach to saving ourselves from…well ourselves, but this book was not as subtle or enthralling as some of her other works and the inclusion of seemingly unrelated stories feels more like fan fiction of her own earlier works. For fans I think this is a solid book in her catalog, but for the uninitiated I would recommend starting with some of the precursor books both for the world building and to get a sense of the messages that are a little lighter than in this polemic against climate change deniers.

Childhood Fears - 2nd Horror Anthology from Samhain Publishing

I took a bit of time yesterday to start preparing the May 2015 genre list and noticed these 4 eNovellas from Samhain Publishing. The 4 eNovellas will be published in digital format on May 5th, with a print version collecting the 4 novellas out this fall. Don't look if you are coulrophobic (afraid of clowns) or creepy pandas scare you.

Author: Christine Hayton
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015

They do more than frighten birds. Much more.

Early one morning in the fall of 1964, Robert searched for his missing six-year-old daughter, Cathy. He found her asleep in a nearby cornfield, covered in blood and holding a small axe. A few feet away lay the mutilated body of her classmate Emily.

Assumed guilty of murder, Cathy lived in a hospital for insane children. She always gave the same account of what happened. She talked of murderous scarecrows that roamed the cornfield on moonlit nights. Her doctors considered her delusional. The police, her neighbors and the press thought she was dangerous. And so she remained incarcerated. No one believed her. That was a mistake.

The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave
Author: J.H. Moncrieff
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015

Sometimes evil looks like a fuzzy teddy bear.

Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn stuffed teddy bear from his new stepfather. He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy...and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things begin to happen.

Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth—Edgar will always get even.

Author: JG Faherty
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015

You’d better watch out!

No one in Anders Bach’s family believed his old tales of Winterwood, a place where Krampus and his Wild Hunt rule a frozen land and where bad children don’t get coal for Christmas, they get baked into pies or forced into slavery. But now the Yule Lads have kidnapped Anders’s grandsons, and he has to rescue them before they’re lost forever. Anders and his daughter must cross the divide between worlds and enter Winterwood, where evil holds sway and even the reindeer have a taste for human flesh. By the time the sun rises, they’ll learn the awful truth about Winterwood: there is no escape without sacrifice.

Nightmare in Greasepaint
Authors: L.L. Soares, G. Daniel Gunn
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015

Some family legacies are best left buried.

Will Pallasso has brought his wife and young son, Billy, back to his childhood home to settle his late mother’s affairs…and remove all traces of his haunted past. But now hideous memories are coming back to Will, and Billy has started suffering from night terrors. Returning to this house was a big mistake. Some memories should not be disturbed, and some nightmares will not stay buried forever.
Especially nightmares that wear greasepaint spattered with blood.

The Press Release

Samhain Horror announces accepted authors for upcoming Childhood Fears anthology
Second Samhain Horror anthology to be published in May, 2015

Cincinnati, OH (PRWEB) October 15, 2014

International publisher Samhain Publishing® today announced that executive editor for Samhain Horror Don D’Auria has selected authors for the second Samhain Horror anthology. The anthology, titled Childhood Fears, will be published in two parts. First, the four individual novellas will be published as ebooks in May, 2015. Then, all four novellas will be combined for print and will be published in trade paperback in October, 2015. This is the same model of release used for Samhain Horror’s highly successful Gothic horror anthology collection, What Waits In The Shadows, which was published in 2014.

The anthology call for submissions was once again very popular among horror authors. Out of more than one hundred submitted works, the four selected manuscripts are:

Nightmare in Greasepaint, by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn
Scarecrows, by Christine Hayton
The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave, by Holli Moncrieff
Winterwood, by J.G. Faherty

“We were excited to receive so many excellent submissions for this second anthology call at Samhain Horror, resulting in four remarkable tales of horror from the depths of childhood memories and fears,” says D’Auria. “In addition to welcoming back author J.G. Faherty, we are proud to introduce authors Christine Hayton, Holli Moncrieff, and L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn as new Samhain authors.”

To learn more about this title and all Samhain Horror books, and to order books at a special discounted rate, visit the publisher online at

About Samhain Publishing

Samhain Publishing® is an international publisher of ebook and traditional print fiction, whose diverse array of titles include all genres of romance fiction, award-winning horror fiction, and Retro Romance® fiction—a program which enables previously print-only titles to reach a new e-reading audience. An acknowledged expert in digital publishing since its founding in 2005, Samhain is dedicated to ensuring extraordinary stories reach every reader. To learn why at Samhain “It’s all about the story…”, visit Samhain Publishing online at

Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview with Brendan Duffy, author of House of Echoes - April 24, 2015

Please welcome Brendan Duffy to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. House of Echoes is published on April 14th by Ballantine Books.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Brendan:  It’s great to be here—thanks for inviting me!

Unintentionally abstract picture books in elementary school, ghastly poetry in high school, short stories in college: in one form or another I’ve been writing for nearly as long as I can remember. As for why I started writing…I guess there are things inside me that want to come out.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Brendan:  I’m a pantser in deep denial. I start out with every hope of sticking to an outline and it never works for me. Events and characters always take on a life of their own. Watching me work is a study in inefficiency. I have hundreds of thousands of discarded words to prove this!

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? You have been an editor. How does this affect (or not) your own writing?

Brendan:  Revising is hardest for me. God, it’s so tough: trying to be objective while poring over hundreds of pages representing months or years of work. Forcing myself to be ruthless in determining what works and what doesn’t is a kind of torture. But being an editor does help a bit with this. Years of wrestling unwieldy pages into something cohesive and consistent and focused removes some of the preciousness from the writing process. While revising, you need to accept that characters and events are going to change as the book evolves into what it’s supposed to be. It’s a painful process and hard work, but absolutely essential.

TQ:  Describe House of Echoes in 140 characters or less.

Brendan:  A young family in trouble. An old mansion with secrets. A terrible winter is on its way, but there's much more to fear than the weather.

TQ:  Tell us something about House of Echoes that is not in the book description.

Brendan:  In many ways, House is a classic Gothic setup, but with modern characters with modern problems. This is where the meat of the book is for me. There are external factors involved, but the driving conflict in the novel is the relationship among the Tierneys, the family at the center of the book. The tension and history between them. The differences between what they say and what they mean. This is very much a story of a young family under extreme stress. Their situation becomes more strained as the narrative progresses, and their survival depends on whether they’ll be able to reconnect with each other by the end.

TQ:  What inspired you to write House of Echoes. What appealed to you about writing a psychological thriller?

Brendan:  My inspiration for House was to write the kind of book that I most enjoy reading. I read very widely and very enthusiastically, but the kinds of stories I get most excited about are the type that straddle several categories at once. House is a psychological thriller, so it has suspense, but it also has features of crime and horror along with some historical elements. It has roots in the Gothic tradition, but it takes some surprising turns along the way. Something I love about many psychological thrillers is the way they play with POV and unreliable narrators. Sometimes readers don’t know exactly what kind of book they’re reading until they get close to the end. I loved assembling the components of the novel for the reader in such a way that, by the climax, they all come together like the pieces of a puzzle box. Only then are you able to see the full story.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Brendan:  Charlie, the Tierney’s eight-year-old son, was both the easiest and most fun for me to write. With its shifting POVs, complicated narrators, and atmospheric setting, House pushes right up against the line between reality and fantasy. This line becomes deliciously blurred from Charlie’s POV. He’s at this great age where imagination and reality overlap. The rules of his world haven’t yet solidified, and this was wonderful territory to play in.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from House of Echoes.

Brendan:  Two of my favorites are:

“Caroline wanted to believe that this was a whole new life, but it wasn’t. Not really. Ben knew that no matter how far you run, you’re still yourself when you get there.”

“Charlie had learn things about the dark during that long night...He knew that the dark was not one thing but many.”

TQ:  What's next?

Brendan:  I’m in the process of revising a novel that I’m very excited about. Like House, it’s a blend of categories, and presses the confines of reality to its breaking point. It’s structurally complicated and several of the characters have evolved in thrilling and unexpected ways. It’s about friendship and love and secrets and revenge.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Brendan:  It’s been my pleasure!

House of Echoes
Ballantine Books, April 14, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.

Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.

When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.

House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.

About Brendan

Photo by Patricia Gilhooly
BRENDAN DUFFY is a talented young author with a background in publishing. Before writing HOUSE OF ECHOES, he was an editor at both Putnam and Hyperion. He lives in New York, where he is at work on his second novel.


Twitter @Brendan_Duffy


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update: The Empress Game by Rhonda Mason

The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

The Empress Game
The Empress Game Trilogy 1
Titan Books, July 14, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

One seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire’s supreme ruling body, the Council of Seven, remains unfilled, that of the Empress Apparent. The seat isn’t won by votes or marriage. It’s won in a tournament of ritualized combat in the ancient tradition. Now that tournament, the Empress Game, has been called and the women of the empire will stop at nothing to secure political domination for their homeworlds. Kayla Reunimon, a supreme fighter, is called to battle it out in the arena.

The battle for political power isn’t contained by the tournament’s ring, however. The empire’s elite gather to forge, strengthen or betray alliances in a dance that will determine the fate of the empire for a generation. With the empire wracked by a rising nanovirus plague and stretched thin by an ill-advised planet-wide occupation of Ordoch in enemy territory, everything rests on the woman who rises to the top.