Paradox Bound, by Peter Clines

Eli’s willing to admit it: he’s a little obsessed with the mysterious woman he met years ago. Okay, maybe a lot obsessed. But come on, how often do you meet someone who’s driving a hundred-year-old car, clad in Revolutionary-War era clothes, wielding an oddly modified flintlock rifle—someone who pauses just long enough to reveal strange things about you and your world before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires? So when the traveler finally reappears in his life, Eli is determined that this time he’s not going to let her go without getting some answers. But his determination soon leads him into a strange, dangerous world and a chase not just across the country but through a hundred years of history—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

I read Paradox Bound in its entirety on a lazy Sunday. I expected to enjoy it since I enjoyed The Fold. Crown was kind enough to send me a hardcover, and it now lives on my shelf next to the aforementioned The Fold. Whereas The Fold seemed to derail from about 50% – 75%, Paradox Bound is brilliantly executed all the way through. I’m not just saying that to be nice. As a writer who also has time travel fiction under my belt, I was pleasantly surprised by a few twists that I did not see coming. If an author can trick me, then they definitely know their writing chops. And the teasers! Oh my, they are wonderful. Just when the antagonists started to become tiresome, Clines switched gears and made me care again. The ending is well thought out, and the fictionalization of real-world people is something I thoroughly enjoy in fiction with a historical slant. Paradox Bound is a five-star read, and I’m glad I had a Sunday to dedicate to reading it.

Peter-Clines

Peter Clines grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and–inspired by comic books, Star Wars, and Saturday morning cartoons–started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, Lizard Men From The Center of The Earth(unreleased). He is the writer of countless film articles, several short stories, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing , and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll. He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.

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War of the Worlds Updates

One of you wonderful internet denizens emailed to ask for permission to use the cover art designed for the non-English editions of Retaliation in a wikipedia article. I’m cool with that for wikipedia, reviews, interviews, etc. As long as you don’t try to pass off my covers as your own, I’m cool with any of my released covers to be on Wikipedia, etc. In fact, here are some unreleased Retaliation covers for y’all to drool over:

The Afrikaans project (above) was cancelled, and this may or may not be the final cover for the chinese version (below):

I’m hoping to sign the contract soon for a French version, but time will tell.

After talking to some industry professionals, I’ve decided to only actively pursue language contracts for Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, French, & Italian. Don’t worry if you read in a language not on that list, if someone comes along and offers a contract on another language, I’ll definitely consider it. (I mean, is “no” even in my vocabulary?)

(You wikipedia guys and gals can use this draft version of Firestorm for your article.)

Those of you who are close to John and I know that the biggest delaying factor for War of the Worlds: Firestorm is me. People tell me that I’m a prolific writer, but John can outwrite me 4-to-1. (Autocorrect kept changing that to “outwit.” Maybe my computer knows more than I do…) I emailed the latest vomit draft of my last chapter to John over the weekend, and I’m like 90% certain he’ll respond with three of his own chapters, sticking me with the onus to move the project forward. We’re more than 2/3 finished with the rough draft. It’s gonna be tight to get that done before the end of October, but it’s totally possible. Nonetheless, we’re golden for a presentable draft in November.

Personally, I’d like to see Firestorm release at the same time John and I get a nomination for a Hugo or Nebula, but I think I recall an adage with wishes and horses and beggars and stuff. I ran into Alan Dean Foster at Prescott Comic Con, and he basically dashed my hopes of a Nebula nomination. (He was the president of the Nebula selection committee for a thousand years or something.) Mike Stackpole went poo-poo on my dreams of a Hugo while we were at Phoenix Comicon together. They weren’t being dicks or anything, they just wanted to make sure I had my head on straight and could manage my expectations. I’m still gonna hold on tight to my dream, and maybe something will pop out if I squeeze hard enough.

It’s getting late here in the Copper State, so I’ll head to bed, and post a book review in the morning.


Mourning the Trilogy by Adan Ramie (plus a FREE e-book!)

Women and Words

Happy Sunday! Today we’re joined by author Adan Ramie. She recently released the third book in her Deviant Behaviors trilogy, Eager Observer. To celebrate, she’s giving away an e-book copy to one lucky reader. Drop a comment in the space below and we’ll draw the winner on Friday, October 6.

Good luck!


Letting go is the hardest part of a writer’s life.

This month marked a turning point in my career. After six years, my suspense trilogy, Deviant Behaviors, has come to an end, and I’m faced with a huge loss. Not only do I have to say goodbye to something I spent countless hours on, I have to say goodbye to all the characters who became like family to me.

Characters Become Friends

Once upon a time, I was a naive short story writer with aspirations to become a novelist and a strange, disjointed story idea brewing…

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Solstice, by Jane Redd

There are four ways to get banished from the last surviving city on earth: 1. Cut out your emotion tracker, 2. Join a religious cult, 3. Create a rebellion against the Legislature, 4. Fall in love. Jezebel James does all four. Jez is on the fast track to becoming a brilliant scientist, with one goal–save her city from total extinction. But the more Jez learns about the price of a fresh beginning, the more she realizes that carrying out the plan will lead to few survivors, and among the dead will be those she cares about the most.

It has been said that all stories are just derivative of about five plots. It’s also been said that every story has already been told, and what makes new works of fiction special is the author’s unique way of telling the same old story. The problem arises when the author just tells another rehash of the same old story. It’s not to say that writing to genre is a bad thing, it’s just not refreshing.

Solstice follows a common trope in young adult storytelling: A young person, controlled by parents/state/ability must save the world/city/universe by overcoming his or her contemporaries and several obstacles that prove to the young adult, his or her contemporaries, and the parents/state/ability that he or she truly is the only one that can save the world/city/universe.

Believe me, I get it. Many young adults see the world in black and white, and often feel the pressure from peer groups, and stifled by their parents/school/job. It’s fun to escape into a world where young adults have a say in their own destiny, and that they can absolutely save the world.

We stopped teaching our children that they can do anything, and instead we teach them that they are equal to their peers. We teach them that everyone deserves a chance, and then being really good at something is somehow a detriment. (Except sports, of course.) So it’s no wonder that young adult fiction shows what initially appear to be ordinary young characters achieving great things. It’s a classic empowerment story.

And who doesn’t want to feel empowered? Unfortunately, Solstice is a rehash of the young adult genre. Sure it’s got a dystopian world controlled by a totalitarian government, and there is a clear division of wealth. There’s class warfare, albeit on a small scale. It’s standard fare for a young adult story. There isn’t excessive violence or sex. There’s no cussing. There’s a cliffhanger to get you reading the next book.

I think I’d call Solstice “popcorn dystopian.” It’d make a decent movie. Young actors and actresses would likely make this story akin to Maze Runner or The Fifth Wave. Sometimes you just want to turn your brain off, and follow a narrative. It doesn’t matter that early in the book, you can tell who the villain is, and who the hero is. The pratfalls are easy to spot, and the outcomes are predictable. But I don’t always want to spend my reading time thinking deep thoughts.

Solstice is that book. Not a lot of thinking – just follow the story to its conclusion. This review may seem overly critical, but Solstice is well written – no typos or clunky sentences. The plot was easy to follow, and there were no plot holes or otherwise weirdness. The characters are believable within the narrative. It was just predictable. I saw that the sequel, Lake Town, is already available. I’d read it. I’ll award Solstice three and a half stars. If you want a quick dystopian YA read without a lot of executive-level thinking, then this book’s for you.

Writing under Jane Redd, Heather B. Moore is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than a dozen historical novels set in ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica. She attended the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican International School in Jerusalem and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University. She writes historical thrillers under the pen name H.B. Moore, and romance and women’s fiction under the name Heather B. Moore. It can be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom.

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Is Playster Rejecting LGBT+ Books?

Censorship is alive and well in the 21st century.

The Active Voice

PlaysterValuesLike many indie authors, I distribute my books to some retail platforms through Draft2Digital, a company I’ve always found to be competent, responsive, and trustworthy. At some point in the fairly recent past, D2D added Playster to its roster of retail platforms. Playster is a digital entertainment subscription service that includes ebooks, similar to Scribd, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, and the now-defunct Oyster: for $9.95 a month, you can access what Playster advertises as a library of more than 250,000 “premium titles” — “the world’s only truly unlimited ebook service” (source).

Playster’s site is full of the rhetoric of freedom and limitlessness — attempts, I assume, to play off the name of Amazon’s program while distinguishing itself from Scribd, which restricts borrowing within certain genres. Just a sampling: “Entertainment Unlimited is about freedom of choice, and that’s what we’re giving you with Playster” (source); “The best…

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The Man of Legends, by Kenneth C. Johnson

New York City, New Year’s weekend, 2001. Jillian Guthrie, a troubled young journalist, stumbles onto a tantalizing mystery: the same man, unaged, stands alongside Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gandhi in three different photographs spanning eighty-five years of history. In another part of town, Will—an enigmatic thirty-three-year-old of immense charm, wit, and intelligence—looks forward to the new year with hope and trepidation. Haunted by his secret past and shadowed by a dangerous stranger, he finds himself the object of an intense manhunt spearheaded by an ambitious Vatican emissary and an elderly former UN envoy named Hanna. During the next forty-eight hours, a catastrophic event unites Will, Jillian, and Hanna—and puts them in the crosshairs of a centuries-old international conspiracy. Together, the three must unravel an ancient curse that stretches back two millennia and beyond, and face a primal evil that threatens their lives and thousands more.

It’s hard to talk about The Man of Legends, by Kenneth C. Johnson without spoiling it. I’ll do my best to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this wonderful tale, so bear with me. I’m already a sucker for time travel and the thought of the immortal person toiling in our world. I’ve written immortal characters myself, and I only hope that they are as believable as Kenneth Johnson makes his.

In short, The Man of Legends feels like a clever mashup between The Man From Earth, by Jerome Bixby, the television show Forever, and possibly Reincarnation Blues, by Michael Poore. (If you haven’t seen/read any of those three, go get them right now.)

I read to about 32% in one setting. The story was mesmerizing. I wanted to keep reading, but I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t stop until I had consumed every word that Kenneth C. Johnson had put between the covers. And it is a long book. 428 pages. Between 32% and 76%, the story languished while doing an eclectic mash-up of various flashbacks. I felt that these flashbacks could’ve been pared down to shorten the size of the time, but I’m sure I’m in the minority there. The flashbacks were richly detailed, and built, story by story, the history of the mysterious immortal.

I had wagered a guess at whom the immortal man was at around the 40% mark, and I was so close to being correct. The reveal at the 65% mark was tantalizingly satisfying, and never have I been so glad to guess something incorrectly. After the reveal, the story moves at such a break-neck pace, I knew that I would finish the story fourth night, damn the consequences.

Despite my grumblings about the muddy middle of the story and the longish length, The Man of Legends is a solid five stars. Fans of historical fiction, science fiction, and even those that like their thrillers to dabble in the supernatural and religious occult will enjoy this page-turner. I recommend you go out and get this book right now.

Creator of V, The Incredible Hulk, Alien Nation, The Bionic Woman and other Emmy Award Winning shows. Director of numerous TV movies and the feature films Short Circuit 2, and Steel. Winner of the prestigious Viewers for Quality Television Award, multiple Saturn Awards, The Sci-Fi Universe Life Achievement Award, plus nominations for Writers Guild and Mystery Writers of America Awards, among others.

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San Francisco Comic Con appearance cancelled

Well, I’m afraid I have bad news. Due to reasons that are beyond the control of myself and Bard’s Tower, my appearance at San Francisco Comic Con has been cancelled. I know that my fans and the fans of the other authors that were scheduled to attend will be disappointed, but [stuff] happens, and we just have to roll with the punches.

I’ve already had the same questions asked a few times when I was letting people know, so I’ll put together the Mark Gardner’s not going to SFCC FAQ:


Are you angry?
Well, I’m disappointed. I was totally looking forward to seeing all y’all at SFCC. I fail to see how raging and being a jerk about it will achieve anything other than me being ostracized from future events. I feel bad for the other authors that were scheduled to attend. For many authors, Labor Day weekend marks the end of the con season (the beginning of the season being Memorial Day weekend.) I’m also geographically close to San Francisco; it was to only be a two-hour flight from Phoenix. I was even going to go to work on Thursday before my flight. I’m sure there were other authors that were scheduled that were more geographically distant that required more planning, etc. So, yeah I’m disappointed. But, quoth the Dread Pirate Roberts: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Will you get a refund for shuttle service/airfare/etc?
Nope. You all already know I’m not a fan of the airlines, so I wasn’t surprised that the airline tickets were non-refundable. American Airlines offered to rebook within a year at a $200 fee, so there’s that… The shuttle service that was to run me down to Phoenix will refund their fare, since it’s still two weeks from my scheduled departure. All in all, I’m out about $300. It’s a lot for some people, nothing to others. I never spend money that I don’t have, so yeah, it sucks that I’m out the $300, but it’s not like I sold a kidney to pay for the airfare or anything. I wish that more people would stop spending money that they don’t have. It gives banks and credit card companies so much power over you. Quoth the genie from Disney’s Aladdin, “No substitutions, exchanges or refunds.”

Should we boycott San Francisco Comic Con or Bard’s Tower?
Heck no. While I’m flattered that you think highly of me, why would you bail on an exciting event like San Francisco Comic Con? If I could afford the hotel and admission, I’d go anyway, but after having to replace my vehicle this month, I got nothing. Bard’s Tower are wonderful people. They helped me maintain my sanity at Phoenix Comicon. They didn’t have anything to do with the appearance being cancelled, and I’d be sad if they ended up having to short-change the other authors that were scheduled to be there. I hold no ill will toward Bard’s Tower or SFCC, and you shouldn’t either. Any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans? I’ll quote Rupert Giles, “To forgive is an act of compassion…”

Are you sure?
Let’s face it, Comicon and retailers like Bard’s Tower are businesses. They need to make money to keep bringing you the stuff you enjoy. Remember the craziness with War of the Worlds: Retaliation and Random House? I’ve confided in a few close friends that I probably would’ve made the same business decision if I were in Random House’s shoes. But hey, if Random House hadn’t gone with Stephen Baxter instead of me and John, then we wouldn’t have gotten the contract(s) with Severed Press, and there might not be another War of the Worlds book. You know, the one that is more than a third complete? Yeah… Sweet Martian payback… For this question, I’ll quote Alexander from The Time Machine: “Sometimes we need to accept what’s happened to us even if we don’t want to.”
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