Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year Luck Spell

It has always seemed to me that a day that happens only once every four years must be especially lucky. (Not for me this year, but that's another story, and nothing to do with the day itself.)

So I thought I'd come up with a fun Leap Year Luck Spell, just for the heck of it. Enjoy!

Take a Leap of Luck so high
Reach your fingers to the sky
Jump and skip, run and dance
Take a risk, take a chance

Give it everything you've got
Striking while the iron's hot
Every four years, run amok
And tap into some leap year luck

May you have good luck with all your endeavors!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Alex Bledsoe on Writing a Female Villain

A note from Deborah: I had so much fun doing a blog swap with my author pal Jim C. Hines a couple of weeks ago, I decided to do it again with long-time buddy Alex Bledsoe, the author of the Tufa  novels, plus a bunch of other great series. He wrote up something to post here on his thoughts about writing a female villain (which he did INCREDIBLY well in his latest book, LONG BLACK, I hated that woman!). I'm over on his blog talking about writing novellas and novels for the same series--mine, that is. I'm giving away a copy of WICKEDLY POWERFUL over at his blog to one lucky commenter, and he is giving away a copy of his book here.

My post for Alex can be found HERE

by Alex Bledsoe

Coming up with a villain is never easy.  Your villain is the measure against which your hero* must stand, so you never want to have a weak one.  More, the best villains believe that, from their perspective, they are the heroes. 

The antagonists gender can present issues as well.  Im a firm lover of film noir and classic detective fiction, where the femme fatale occupies pride of place among villains. Brigid OShaughnessy very nearly outsmarts Sam Spade in THE MALTESE FALCON, and Irene Adler does outsmart Sherlock Holmes.  Even Disney presents an array of wicked queens, stepmothers and witches, and at least one femme fatale (Jessica Rabbit).

When I was writing LONG BLACK CURL, my most recent Tufa novel, I knew I needed a new villain.  The one from the preceding book, WISP OF A THING, had lost both his power and prestige in the community, and I thought that restoring it would be a cheat.  So I came up with Bo-Kate Wisby, one of the only Tufa to ever be permanently exiled, and her plan for revenge.

The Tufa novels are not action-adventures, so Bo-Kate didnt have to be the toughest character.  Nor did she necessarily have to be the smartest.  But she is without a doubt the most devious, and has one skill that makes her especially dangerous: the ability to pick out an opponents weaknesses.  She knows where to poke the knife, both literal and metaphorical.

I also wanted Bo-Kates reasons for her villainous behavior to be both clear and sympathetic, like Annie Wilkes in MISERY.  Bo-Kate believes shes fully justified in what shes doing, even when it costs innocent lives.  What was done to her was so horrific that any act of retribution is justified.

Shes also sexy, as a femme fatale should be.  Not all female villains areDolores Umbridge, for example, is about as sexy as a wet sock, but shes villainous through and through, as is Nurse Ratched from ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST.  Bo-Kate is much more in the tradition of Lena Olin in the delirious ROMEO IS BLEEDING, willing to do anythinganythingto see her plot to completion.

In a lot of popular culture, theres been the trope that a female villain must only face a female hero: think Faye Dunaway vs. Helen Slater in SUPERGIRL, or Halle Berry vs. Sharon Stone in CATWOMAN, to use two atrocious examples.  Both parts of KILL BILL were essentially nothing but girl-on-girl violence.  The idea seems to be that male heroes are simply too tough for a female villain to overcome, but thats clearly not true: again, see the history of femme fatales.

It was fun writing Bo-Kate, but by the end, I sympathized with her, too.  I think thats the sign of a good villain, and I can only hope that readers of LONG BLACK CURL share that sympathy by the final page.  If they do, then Ive done my job.

*hero and villain, unless otherwise specified, are genderless terms.

Tell Alex and me who your favorite female villain is, or what traits you would love to see in one that you haven't seen before. (Or just say hi.) We'll pick a random commenter in a week, on Wednesday the 24th.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Flash Giveaway!

I confess--Valentine's Day has never been my favorite day. It has been many years since I had a significant other (and frankly, I never dated guys who were good at That Day). My beloved grandmother died five years ago today (way to mess up a perfectly good Hallmark holiday, Germambie). On top of that, it was MINUS twenty degrees out this morning when I woke up, and Minerva is very sick again. Plus I have a migraine and I *really* need to be writing.

I know...whine, whine, whine.

But here's the thing. Despite all that stuff, I am still a very lucky woman and I know it. I may not have romantic love, but I have so many people who love me, and who I love back. Plus, of course, the kitties. And my wonderful readers. I love all of you guys too!

So I'm going to do what I always do when I'm feeling crappy, and do something nice for someone else. This never fails to cheer me up. (Try it--you'll be amazed how much better you'll feel.)

If I could, I'd give each and every one of you a Valentine's gift. But since I can't, I'm going to do a Flash Giveaway (two, actually, because I'm also doing one over on Facebook at the same time). Look what I've got! A signed copy of Wickedly Powerful (it still has that new-book smell), a cute little "Be Wicked" broom, and a $10 Amazon gift card, in case the winner still needs to pick up Wickedly Ever After


Angus approves.

I love these little brooms, don't you? I special ordered them through Etsy all the way from France!
Since this is a Flash Giveaway, it is only on for the next two days, ending at midnight on Monday the 15th (EST). But it is open to everyone everywhere! (*waves at foreign readers*) And if you're on Facebook, don't forget to go enter the Flash Giveaway there, featuring the same goodies.

But leave a comment here too, and tell me who you would most like to spend Valentine's Day with (real or imaginary). Me, I'd like to go sit on a beach with MacGyver :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wickedly Powerful Giveaway Roundup

Hi all!

I'm just back from my trip to Coastal Magic Con (that will be the next post up) and trying to catch up on All the Things. I'll probably put up another giveaway here next week to celebrate Wickedly Powerful's release. (Just out of curiosity, have you gotten your copy yet?) But in the meanwhile, I've got giveaways going on all over the Interwebs at other people's blogs, so I thought I'd do a round-up here in case you'd missed some of them.

FRESH FICTION -- Going on until Feb 29th, I'm giving away this cool prize pack

Huge double-sided tote, notebook, dragon, adorable mini-broom!
THE QWILLERY -- This one ends today (Wednesday the 10th) at midnight! But there are a couple of excerpts from the book which will still be up, if you want a sneak peek. Here's the prize pack for that one:

Notebook, mug with all three covers, a different adorable stuffed dragon, and the cute "Be Wicked" broom!
I'm also over at Maria V. Snyder's Blog where she has a fun interview with me and I am giving away a signed copy of the book as well as one of the cute little brooms.

I'll be at Harlequin Junkie on the 17th, and I'll post a link to that when the contest goes live.

I hope you're having as much fun with these contests as I am! Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jim C. Hines Stories of Magic and Vice Versa

My author pal Jim C. Hines and I were tickled to find out that we both had books out on the same day, February 2nd. So we decided to swap guest blog posts. I can tell you that I love everything of Jim's that I have read (which is all but a couple of the first series he did, which I own but haven't caught up on yet), and can genuinely recommend both the writing and the man. (If you're not following his blog, you should be. Just sayin'.)

Stories of Magic, and Vice Versa
Jim C. Hines

Deb and I are new book twins this week. For her, it’s Wickedly Powerful, which I’m guessing you might have heard of? In my case, it’s a book called Revisionary. I’m going to talk mostly about the latter, but if you haven’t checked out Deb’s Baba Yaga stuff yet, you totally should. What I’ve read of it so far has been lots of fun.

Revisionary is my twelfth published fantasy novel. It’s also the fourth and final book in the Magic ex Libris series. Without getting too spoilery, this is a series about:

  • A magic-using librarian from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who can pull things out of books.
  • A motorcycle-riding hamadryad with shapeshifting wooden swords.
  • A spider who sets things on fire when he’s scared or angry.
  • A secret magical organization run by Johannes Gutenberg, who’s in an on-again, off-again relationship with Juan Ponce de Leon.
 Note from Deborah: YES, this is as cool as it sounds!!!

The basic idea behind libriomancy is that people like my librarian Isaac Vainio can open a book and tap into the belief of the readers, using their passion and imagination to help create things from the pages. There are limits, of course. Whatever the libriomancer creates has to fit through the pages. No making an X-Wing and flying off to a galaxy far, far away. Pulling intelligent creatures from books tends to end badly (as exemplified in the bloody massacre known as “The Smurf Incident”). And Gutenberg has locked some books whose potential power is simply too dangerous for the world.

Part of the fun in writing these books was getting to indulge my inner fanboy and play with toys from other worlds. Isaac is a shamelessly enthusiastic geek, and he loves this stuff—books and magic and possibilities. Even when he’s running away from enchanted clockwork insects that really, really want to kill him, a part of his mind is marveling at the artistry and wonder of those murderous little automatons.

Most of us understand that books are magical. But the series title “Magic ex Libris” isn’t quite right. It means “magic from books,” which works…Isaac is constantly pulling everything from healing potions to light sabers to pixie dust from various books about his person. But books are simply the medium. At its heart, the series is about the magic of story. It’s about imagination and asking “what if?”

I’m a big believer in the power of story. Story can change the world, for good or for ill. Look at the number of sharks hunted and slaughtered in the wake of Jaws. Or consider Abraham Lincoln’s alleged comment to Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.” Think of stories that have opened your mind or changed the way you think about things.

I remember receiving an email from a reader early in my career. She’d read my goblin books while in the hospital for a nasty procedure, and said the humor and fun of the story helped her get through the days. Understand, my goblin books aren’t exactly Deep, Life-Changing Literature, but they provided comfort and escape during a very difficult time. I’ve seen people sneer at “escapist” literature, but if that kind of escape isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

One of my favorite examples of the power of story comes from Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in the original Star Trek. Nichols originally intended to quit the show after the first season. Then she met a man who introduced himself as her biggest fan—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In Nichols’ words:

“[H]is face got very, very serious. And he said, what are you talking about? And I said, well, I told Gene just yesterday that I'm going to leave the show after the first year because I've been offered - and he stopped me and said: You cannot do that. And I was stunned. He said, don't you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen. He says, do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch. I was speechless.”

Stories can show us the world, and they can show us ourselves. They can create love and hate and despair and hope. They can change lives. They’re powerful. They’re magical.

I wanted to write a series that celebrated that magic.

Sure, I also wanted to write about a librarian who pulls out a lightsaber to fight a vampire in the steam tunnels of Michigan State University. And undermining various urban fantasy tropes was a lot of fun too. But ultimately, Revisionary and the rest of the series is all about the power of imagination and passion and story.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Deb for lending me the blog. You can check out excerpts from the books over at my website if you’d like. Or leave a comment here, and I’ll pick one person at random to win an autographed copy of Libriomancer, the first book in the series. (If you’ve already read Libriomancer, I’m happy to send you a later book in its place.)

Purchase links: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Thanks for dropping by, Jim!

Jim C. Hines is best known as a fantasy novelist and the guy who did those gender-flipped SF/F cover poses. His first novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Actor and author Wil Wheaton described the book as “too f***ing cool for words,” which is pretty much the Best Blurb Ever. After completing the goblin trilogy, Jim went on to write the princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s currently working on the Magic ex Libris books, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from northern Michigan.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

IT'S RELEASE DAY! Wickedly Powerful is Out at Last

Is it just me, or have we been waiting a looonnnnggg time for book three in the Baba Yaga series to come out?

Well, it's here now! Happy Release Day to Me! (And to everyone else who has been waiting for it.)

Well, what are you hanging around here for? Go buy it/read it/spread the word/other activity of your choice.

Yay! Release Day!

(And happy release day to Jim C. Hines, who also has a book out today. And will be here tomorrow with a guest blog, while I guest blog over at his place.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

COVER REVEAL: Dangerously Charming!

As if this week wasn't going to be exciting enough, with WICKEDLY POWERFUL coming out on Tuesday, I got the new cover for DANGEROUSLY CHARMING, the first of the Riders books. It's being marketed as a new trilogy, but don't worry, they are a continuation of the Baba Yaga series, and the Babas will appear in the stories. It is just that each of the Riders will get his own book. Mikhail Day is up first.

Dangerously Charming won't be out until October 4th (although believe it or not, it is already up for preorder, at least on Amazon) but I figured you'd like to see the cover now anyway. Am I right?

As an author, you always have to worry that the art department, wonderful folks that they are, won't get the character on the cover looking like your own personal image of him or her. I'm happy to say that the lovely folks at Berkley did a great job. I love this cover. What do you think?