A New Release

A guest post by Stephen Zimmer to commemorate the opening day of 48 date Spirit of Fire blog tour

An image of award-winning fantasy author Stephen Zimmer.This is the first day of the Spirit of Fire blog tour, and I thought it would be a good idea to make this first guest posting somewhat of an introduction to the new book and series. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be on Fantasy Book Review, which was among the first group of review sites to take a look at my debut novel, The Exodus Gate, when it was released back in 2009.

Quite a lot has happened since that point, not the least of which has been the growth of both of my series. One, the Rising Dawn Saga, which began with The Exodus Gate, has seen three titles released, while the other is the focal point of this blog tour, as the third title in the Fires in Eden series is about to hit the streets.

Cover image of Spirit of Fire by Stephen Zimmer.As my regular readers know, I have a very definite approach to a series, with my first books being very foundational in nature, and the subsequent titles building upon that foundation with a cohesive progression of my story threads. I believe this has a strong effect on how each title comes across, as I do not set things up, and then walk away from them. I believe in giving the readers payoffs, and big payoffs at that, with the things they have invested in the story.

Spirit of Fire is a book that really illustrates that dynamic, as many things set in place during Crown of Vengeance, the first title, and Dream of Legends, the second, are realized in spectacular fashion during this installment. It is a very action-heavy title, as the lands of Saxany and the Five Realms are both immersed in the cauldron of war.

The ensemble that have come into Ave from our own world find themselves being taken in new directions, as the group is spread even wider apart. A little more is revealed about why they are deemed so important to the Unifier. In the process, the reader will get to explore Avalos, the city that serves as the seat of the Unifier, and the lands of Midragard far to the south of Ave.

As with all of my other titles, Matthew Perry created a wonderful set of illustrations to go with the new cover art. As an author, it is a lot of fun to see how an award-winning artist interprets various scenes and characters from a book. It is especially interesting to see how some of the interpretations evolve.

Matt did a Trogen brandishing a longblade on the back of a Harrak steed as one of the pieces for Crown of Vengeance, and sketched an Arcamon upon its infernal steed for the limited edition version of Dream of Legends. In the Spirit of Fire set, we get to see a great rendition of the Trogen warrior Dragol, and also get another view of an Arcamon, in a piece that includes Matt’s first rendition of Mershad Shahab. It was a lot of fun for me to compare the two Trogen pieces and the two Arcamon pieces, as you can see Matt gaining a stronger sense of these two creatures in the more recent depictions.

The new book also features something that has been requested of me by many readers; a map. I did not put a map of all of Ave into this title, as I want the reader to discover the new lands for themselves in the future, but I did include nearly all of the territory relevant to the story threads in Spirit of Fire. About the only area mentioned several times in the books but not depicted on the map is the Shadowlands, but readers can see the layout and shape of places such as Midragard, Saxany, Gael, the Five Realms, Avanor, Ehrengard, Eberias, the Sunlands, Saljuka, the Fahtamid lands, and more. Matt really made the map look nice from the very rudimentary sketch I handed him with the outlines of the lands.

There is also an appendix in the new book to serve as a quick reference with some of the creatures, characters, and other elements in the series. I intend to expand upon this appendix quite a lot in the future, including putting a version of it online.

With the appendix, map, and artwork, I think the readers have been provided with some great additional material to enhance their enjoyment of the new title.

I had another wonderful experience working with my editor for this series, Karen M. Leet, who I affectionately call “The Literary Commando”. She’s very meticulous, and fills notebooks for her own use when she analyzes the manuscript. Her insights and suggestions were fantastic, and the book was made stronger because of her involvement. She has a love for fantasy and has been thorough in her analysis of my series, and as a writer it is very reassuring to have an editor who gives it so much focus.

At the end of the day, though, it is the readers who will determine the merits of a new book and its place in the series. Knowing what the readers have enjoyed in the first two installments, I am confident that they will really enjoy Spirit of Fire, but the jury is out as the book release arrives. We’ll have to see what happens, but no matter what, my readers know that I give them every last ounce of effort I have to bring these books to them.

The More Things Change In Publishing

Article by Steven Shrewsbury

The more things change in publishing the more they stay the same?

Not hardly.

Technology, oh that wonderful beast, has made publishing different as well as the process of writing itself. That’s another topic.

cover-smallerFrom working in a printing facility most of my life, I’ve seen the prep process change from film files shipped in and assembled into pages by hand to PDFs downloaded, rasterized to digital images and burnt on plate with a laser. This method is just for stuff they will print on paper. The idea of reading a book transferred onto a small device via an ‘internet’ sounded sci fi to say the least just twenty-five years ago.

I recall in the 80s sending poems in to horror and fantasy magazine I found in Janet Fox’s SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER and then buying a huge guide at the bookstore out of town to find places for stories. One would mail to the big name magazines and actually use the postal service to send them. Self-Addressed stamped envelopes? I had ‘em. There was one rag that returned a story unread because I placed my name on the wrong corner of the header. I learned what a form reject was, too. Sometimes, editors wrote a note back on a reject. Karl Edward Wagner jotted some advice once with his own hand. I still have the note. Look up who that is if ya dunno, kids.

Gorias Riding, an illustration from Overkill by Stephen Shrewsbury.These days, it’s very fast. Communication zips by and the world is smaller. This is a great thing all in all, and I know so many more folks, but things seem so Stone Age back then by comparison.

I oft wonder if in those days, when we used real typewriters and a cell phone was something a company car had & it outweighed most newborns, we were more thoughtful. Forgive me if I still expect someone to say, “Kirk to ENTERPRISE!” when they open a phone (but even those types are getting old, too).

Back in the 30s Lovecraft and Howard wrote each other long, attentive letters (that I wish would be collected soon). Each letter proved very insightful to each person’s character. In the era of email, I wonder if they would’ve been less perceptive and perhaps too busy with others to ponder such great thoughts.

Pergamus, an illustration from Overkill by Stephen Shrewsbury.I’m still a lover of paperbacks, though, even if many can download a book to a Nook or Kindle. It’s truly amazing that technology has brought us these things, and in turn, more opportunities to spread the written word. So many writers can be heard more so than in the past. Now, in certain cases, that may be a bad thing, leading to sloppy writing reaching a bigger audience. The cream will rise to the top, I think. Proper editors and good storytelling will trump cut and paste slap dash nonsense of trolls who think they are endowed with a vision to spew. A publisher with a good business model and a fine editing process also is key, that and comprehending what’s going on in today’s ever changing world of promotions. For example, this is a blog, read on a computer or device, whereas in the past, it might be called an article.

Whip, an illustration from Overkill by Stephen Shrewsbury.So, while publishing is different, and I don’t envy the increase in submissions via this new route, I think it’s truly an exciting time to be alive. So many books never available unless one tracked them to the ends of the earth are at one’s fingertips. Same with music, so much is right there. How can one decide if the book is right for them? As with any artist or sample of music, sample a writer, look him or her up and see if a tidbit is right for you. Perhaps a free download or just how they are on FACEBOOK. Many a writer can turn one off by their manner, so choose wisely. Word of mouth is certainly different, more like a process of reading and finger-play. Huh. That sounds different indeed.

It’s a bizarre world out there in the publishing industry, for it is that, an industry, not just a business. They want to sell a product and folks are looking to buy. A smaller pub can reach a larger audience than in the past. With a smaller press, true, there is a more intimate thing going on as fewer writers are in the stable and a grater amount of attention can be paid to the product…and it’s not an assembly line.

New four book urban fantasy series from Michael West

A cover image of Poseidon's Children, by Michael West.Seventh Star Press has recently announced a new urban fantasy series from Michael West. The series, entitled Legacy of the Gods, will consist of four books, the first of which will be Poseidon’s Children.

The award-winning horror author’s foray into urban fantasy is his second series with Seventh Star Press, joining his Harmony Indiana novels in a schedule that will see two books a year released.

Poseidon’s Children has already received high praise from Maurice Broaddus, whose series, The Knights of Breton Court, has been making big waves in the urban fantasy world.  As Maurice commented, “Poseidon’s Children is some of Michael West’s best writing and storytelling!”

As with all Seventh Star Press novels, the books will feature interior artwork, with covers and illustrations being done by acclaimed fantasy/horror artist Matthew Perry.

"This has been an epic story that I have been passionate about for a long time, an idea that would not let go of my brain, it just kept growing, and growing, demanding that I start writing it all down,” Michael said in regards to the upcoming series.  “I’ve talked about wanting to do this series for years, and my faithful readers kept asking me, ‘When are you going to do that? When is it coming out?’  Well, I’m happy to say that the answer is now, and I am so pleased that Seventh Star Press has given me the opportunity to finally make this dark, horrific, fantastical dream a reality."

In Poseidon’s Children, man no longer worships the old gods; forgotten and forsaken, they have become nothing more than myth and legend. But all that is about to change. After the ruins of a vast, ancient civilization are discovered on the ocean floor, Coast Guard officers find a series of derelict ships drifting in the current–high-priced yachts and leaking fishing boats, all ransacked, splattered in blood, their crews missing and presumed dead.

And that’s just the beginning.

Vacationing artist Larry Neuhaus has just witnessed a gruesome shark attack, a young couple torn apart right before his eyes … at least, he thinks it was a shark. And when one of these victims turns out to be the only son of Roger Hays, the most powerful man in the country, things go from bad to worse. Now, to stop the carnage,Larry and his new-found friends must work together to unravel a mystery as old as time, and face an enemy as dark as the ocean depths.

Michael West’s work includes The Wide Game (Graveside Tales), Cinema of Shadows (Seventh Star Press) and a single author collection, Skull Full of Kisses (Graveside Tales). He also has an array of short fiction published, spanning many magazines and anthologies, including appearances in Shroud Magazine, and the Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

"Seventh Star Press is simply amazing to work with,” Michael commented.  “They know good fiction, put out hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions of the highest quality, and they support their authors and releases more than any other publisher in the business. I could not be happier to be working with them on my Harmony, Indiana books and now the Legacy series."

The projected release date window for Poseidon’s Children is March of 2012, with versions released in limited hardcover, trade paperback, and several eBook formats, such Kindle, iPad, the Nook, and Sony/Sony compatible eBook reading devices. The second novel is slated for spring of 2013, with other titles to follow on an annual basis.

Thrall, the new heroic fantasy novel from Steven L Shrewsbury

Image: Thrall cover Seventh Star Press has recently announced the release of Thrall, the new heroic fantasy novel from author Steven L. Shrewsbury.

Set in an ancient world, Thrall is gritty, dark-edged heroic fantasy in the vein of Robert E Howard and David Gemmell.  It tells the story of Gorias La Gaul, an aging warrior who has lived for centuries battling the monstrosities of legend and lore.  It is an age when the Nephilum walk the earth, and dragons still soar through the air … living or undead.  On a journey to find one of his own blood, Gorias’ path crosses with familiar enemies … some of whom not even death can hold bound.

“Sometimes I think Steven Shrewsbury could very well be the reincarnation of Robert E. Howard, in a writing sense. As a huge fan of David Gemmell and Robert E. Howard, I can say with absolute confidence that Steven Shrewsbury is exceptional at writing dark-edged heroic fantasy.  It is not an exaggeration to say that Gorias La Gaul could one day join the heroic fantasy pantheon with Conan, Druss the Legend, and other legendary fantasy figures.  I can’t wait to read more adventures with Gorias in the future,” commented fellow Seventh Star Press author Stephen Zimmer

The Seventh Star Press editions feature cover art and additional illustrations from fantasy artist Matthew Perry. The limited edition packages feature the artwork in a special set of 5X7 glossy prints, a set of bookmarks, and a full-sized Gorias poster that come with every pre-ordered hardcover or trade paperback.

By the first week of December, the book will be available in hardcover, trade paperback, and several eBook formats, for owners of the Kindle, the iPad, the Nook, Sony eReaders, and other compatible electronic reading devices.

For more information, visit www.seventhstarpress.com.