Author Archives: Mark Gardner

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior.

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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Nominate my friends on Kindle Scout!

I’ve already tweeted about this, but it deserves its own blog post. Since I was being lazy yesterday, and playing Runescape instead of reviewing one of the books I’ve read over the last month or so, it’s time for me to get off my duff and write something. After all, a blog needs content right? After I send my ships out on missions… No, right now!

Geez, I’m so bossy! (Meg agrees.) Who’s this Meg? Why does her opinion about the degree of my bossiness matter? These are all great questions. (No one is asking these questions, you just want to pad your word count. Get on with the post, man!) Okay, okay, fine.

Meg Mac Donald is a writer friend of mine from around Flint, Michigan. She’s a classy lady who has written a noblebright fantasy series, and the first book is campaigning for a publishing contract from Kindle Press. Hey, I heard you sigh, and saw you roll your eyes. It’s not a big deal for you to spend two and a half minutes for you to log in with the Amazon account that I know you already have, and click on the nominate button. Besides, you’ll get to see the awesome watercolor cover thing I did for her. The name of the story is Wolf’s Oath, and you’ll get a free copy of it at publication if you nominate and it’s selected.

Well, more like four minutes, because you’re also going to nominate my other writer friend’s book on Kindle Scout too. He goes by L. Fergus, but we call him Linn. It works out pretty well, since that’s his first name. Linn hails from the state of Florida, and he has drafted about 27 books about an anti-heroine fallen angel named Kita. I could actually count the stories by just counting the covers I’ve designed for Linn, but I’m in a hurry to crank this blog post out before heading to work. I’ll just cut-and-paste the last line of the preceding paragraph: The name of the story is Rebirth, and you’ll get a free copy of it at publication if you nominate and it’s selected.

If you really feel like dedicating some more time and nominating another book, then I’ve got another campaign going on as well. It’s the next Sixteen Sunsets story, and features cover art by comic book artist extraordinaire, Joel Cotejar. I’m not sure if Joel knows or not, but I’ve got him down for the art for book three in January or Febuary. Anyway, many of you have already read the rough draft here on the blog. I had to password-protect all the posts to comply with Kindle Scout rules. Anyway, if you have an open nomination, add me to the list. Otherwise make sure you nominate Linn and Meg. I’m not worried if they get nominations and I don’t. I just want to see my friends succeed. Oh, Moonrise is the name of my book on Kindle Scout.

Linn and Meg are on Facebook, but since I don’t do the book of faces, I can’t post on their walls or whatever. So I’m relying on you all to share Meg’s and Linn’s campaigns on Facebook, twitter, and all the other things.


The Unsung Frame, by Greg Dragon

A war between humans and synthetics… In a futuristic Tampa Bay, skiptracer Dhata Mays and his sidekick, Lur Diaz, are on a job investigating a cheating lowlife. But after a deadly explosion and the woman who hired them disappears, nobody is safe. Suddenly, everyone is under suspicion, and the police are no longer there “to serve and to protect.” Now, it’s up to Dhata to take matters into his own hands and uncover a deep-rooted plot to escalate the tension between the humans and synths. He must stop the battle before it’s too late. But is the truth too big for a small-time skiptracer to handle alone?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Greg Dragon is an excellent writer. From urban crime novels, to space opera, to a futuristic society on the verge of a race war, to fantasy sword fighting, Greg Dragon writes all the things. Followers of mine on the blog know that I’ve read everything that’s even sci-fi adjacent that Greg has written. He is a talented author, and I’m enriched to read his stories. You can be to, just pick a few of them up. You won’t be disappointed.

The Unsung Frame is a clever play on words, that is revealed in the second half of the book. Dhata and Lurita are in the thick of things again, and this time they may have come up against a foe that they have no chance of defeating. The tensions between the synths and humes has ratcheted up several notches due to the events that transpired in The Judas Cypher. The lines are drawn, and the divisiveness is a page out of the modern day political climate.

The action is intense, but what I really like about The Unsung Frame is that Dhata is a “real” hume. Yeah, he’s got cybernetic implants, but he’s not indestructible like many protagonists. When you read The Unsung Frame, you wonder if Dhata and Lur have what it takes to survive the day. Anyone can write someone that’s bulletproof, but it takes a special kind of writer to make me worry about the protagonist.

The Unsung Frame, like the first book in the Synth Crisis series, is a must read. Action-packed from the beginning, with a splash of humanity throughout, The Unsung Frame has everything you could want from a near-future science fiction mystery. Five stars!

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Greg Dragon has been a creative writer for several years, and has authored on topics of relationship, finance, physical fitness and more through different sources of media. In particular, his online magazine has been a source of much pragmatic information, which has been helpful to many. As a result, his work continues to grow with a large and loyal fan base.

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Timeshaft, by Stewart Bint

By the twenty-seventh century, mankind has finally mastered time travel—but is also driving recklessly towards wiping itself out. The guerilla environmentalist group WorldSave, with its chief operative Ashday’s Child, uses the Timeshaft to correct mistakes of the past in an effort to extend the life of the planet. But the enigmatic Ashday’s Child has his own destiny to accomplish, and will do whatever it takes within a complicated web of paradoxes to do so. While his destiny—and very existence—is challenged from the beginning to the end of time, he must collect the key players through the ages to create the very Timeshaft itself. “Do our actions as time travellers change what would otherwise have happened, or is everything already laid down in a predetermined plan?” he asks. Critics say Stewart Bint’s Timeshaft is an expertly synchronized saga of time travel, the irresistible force of destiny, and the responsibility of mankind as rulers of the world.

One of the reasons that I’m a big fan of time travel stories is that each one has to take a hard look at free will, destiny, and predetermination. Timeshaft is no exception. These ideas are dealt a heavy hand in this story. “A” leads to “B,” leads to “C,” is common in linear storytelling, but Bint shoehorns in steps “G,” and “W” for good measure.

The stories and timelines weave on each other, and there is some confusion, as with most stories in this genre, but by the end of the story it all makes sense. Timeshaft is an interesting romp through time, and I’m eager to read more from Stewart Bint in the future. Easily a four-star read.

International novelist published by Dragon Moon Press. Journalist/magazine columnist. Active awareness campaigner for mental health and sepsis. Named on the 2016 list of “Inspirational Mental Health Advocates that are changing the world.” Previous roles include radio presenter, newsreader and phone-in host. Married to Sue, with two grown-up children, Chris and Charlotte, and a charismatic budgie called Alfie Lives in Leicestershire, UK. Usually goes barefoot.

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Canned questions with Aaron Frale

I read and reviewed Atmospheric Pressure, by Aaron Frale, and he consented to an interview. He writes sci-fi and a little bit of absurdist humor. Check out his stuff with the links below!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I wrote a story about skeletons chasing a dude in elementary school. My friends kept requesting the story at sleepovers.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I usually try to inject comedy in just about everything I write. I really appreciate it when Sci Fi and Fantasy writers don’t take themselves too seriously, and it shows up in the writing. Though there are some stories where the comedy doesn’t quite fit, so it depends on the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
That’s a good question. I’ve sacrificed a lot of my free time in order to write. However, I do like nerd games. Recently, I’ve been playing the X-Wing Miniatures game.

In one sentence, tell us all about Atmospheric Pressure.
A dystopian novel about greed, cronyism, and the dangers of climate change run amok.

What inspired you to write the book?
I worked in downtown Minneapolis, and it intrigued me that you could walk from one end of the downtown to the other without ever going outside. I thought to myself, “What if you could never leave the skyways?”

Is there a sequel on the horizon?
It’s at the editor right now.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book. It took me over a year to write the sequel to Atmospheric Pressure. Whereas this other book took me a little over a month from conception to the stage where I’m at now with the sequel to Atmospheric Pressure. Sometimes, it clicks and my fingers can’t type fast enough. Other times, I have to let it stew for a while.

What have you learned about writing now that you have several stories out?
So many things! But here are few bullet points. 1. Do your research, 2. Pay for ads, 3. Pay for an editor, and 4. Writing is a long-term game. Very few have their first works become break away hits. Stephen King had a giant nail on his wall full of rejection. I’m lucky that I came from a theatre/film back ground, so I got to learn about character development, plot, dialogue and all those craft things before I even attempted my first novel. For me, the marketing and business end of writing has been a steep learning curve. Just focus on improving one aspect at a time.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do get emails and messages on social media. Probably the most were from Time Burrito. People love to show their appreciation when you can make them laugh. Most others are usually asking about sequels. I love hearing from them, because it keeps me going.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Atmospheric Pressure?
Yeah, I’d probably tone down social commentary and increase the pace of the book. I think there were some passages in there than went on to long focusing on the injustices of their society. I also think I’ve gotten more crisp with my sentence structure

Tell us about future writing projects.
Atmospheric Pressure 2 will be out later this year or early next year. I also got a YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi coming out. They are both with different editors right now. It depends on which one gets back to be first as to which one will come out first. If you want to be the first know, sign up for my mailing list at aaronfrale.com. I’ll give you some free short stories just for joining.

Aaron’s first novel is Playlist of the Ancient Dead. He also co-wrote a no-budget comedy flick called Hamlet the Vampire Slayer. The University of New Mexico gave him an MFA in Dramatic Writing. Screaming and playing guitar for the prog/metal band is one of his pastimes. He lives with his wife Felicia, two cats, and a small dog who thinks he’s a large dog.

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Atmospheric Pressure, by Aaron Frale

Olson lives in a city that has been sealed from the outside world. He’s an Eleven Year and close to citizenship. His life is upended when one of the few adults who cares about him commits suicide – or so it appears at first. While investigating, Olson meets a girl named Natalie snooping around his school. He soon learns that one of her friends died under similarly mysterious circumstances. Together, they start looking for answers, and end up discovering the city’s darkest secrets.

Atmospheric Pressure, by Aaron Frale, reminds me of the Silo series, by Hugh Howey. The storyline is reminiscent of The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell.

Dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction seems to resonate with readers in today’s political climate. Overreaching governments, class division, and a planet that will kill those pesky humans is all the rage. I love reading these stories.

One of the things that I appreciated about Atmospheric Pressure, was that the portrayal of youths match this type of closed society – age, responsibilities, and indoctrination. The story and dialog is believable, and many of the situations the protagonists encounter, I can imagine them happening in real life.

While the story is not original, (two youths from opposite social classes team up to defeat a totalitarian regime) It’s a great read, and I look forward to reading the sequel in 2017 or 2018. Atmospheric Pressure is a great dystopian read, and an easy four stars.

Aaron’s first novel is Playlist of the Ancient Dead. He also co-wrote a no-budget comedy flick called Hamlet the Vampire Slayer. The University of New Mexico gave him an MFA in Dramatic Writing. Screaming and playing guitar for the prog/metal band is one of his pastimes. He lives with his wife Felicia, two cats, and a small dog who thinks he’s a large dog.

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http://wontchangetheworld.com/
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The Memory Agent, by Matthew BJ Delaney

Crime never changes. Punishment does. In a time when prisons no longer contain inmates behind concrete and steel, the convicted serve their time while asleep, rehabilitating in virtual reality while blissfully unaware of their crimes. Roger Parker is a professional prison breaker, skilled at navigating these strange penal dream worlds and extracting those imprisoned there—for a price. Parker wants out of the game, but a powerful senator, desperate to save his son, convinces Parker to pull one last job. The clincher? An opportunity for Parker to find his wife, herself interned, lost somewhere in a treacherous, time-shifting Manhattan cyberspace. As Parker and his team make their hallucinatory journey between worlds, memory and motive lose coherence and integrity, and the clock begins to run out: internal security detects the breaker, and sets out to remove him—permanently. Unable to rely on his perceptions, unsure of the truth or even his very identity, will Parker break out…or be broken?

The premise and ultimate reveal of The Memory Agent is nothing new. I saw it on Netgalley, and decided to give it a whirl. Inception, The Adjustment Bureau, and The Matrix come to mind as the protagonist slowly unravels the mystery of who he is and what his world is all about. The chapter structure of this book was crazypants, with the first chapter consisting of the first third of the book. That chapter has this surreal horror-chic that was a turn-off for me. I gritted my teeth, and slogged through that first chapter, and was glad that I did.

It was obvious that a lot of thought and planning went into the narrative structure of this story. Each clue, in retrospect, telegraphed the direction of the story and hinted at events to come. The author had to be quite ambitious to envision and create the world(s) that Roger Parker and his team inhabit.

The Memory Agent blends several genres, including horror, science fiction, historical fiction, and mystery. Fans of any of those genres could easily get into it and be satisfied when they finished reading. Although the story is immensely complex, sometimes requiring minor re-reads, everything is ultimately understood by the end of the book. The ending is woefully predictable, but that doesn’t detract from this four-star read.

Matthew B.J. Delaney published his first novel, Jinn, in 2003. Winner of the International Horror Guild Award, the novel was optioned for film by Touchstone Pictures, was featured as People magazine’s Page-Turner of the Week, and received a Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Delaney received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College and a master’s in public administration from Harvard. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, he left a career in finance and moved from Boston to New York City to join the New York City Police Department. He has been a member of the NYPD for twelve years and has been assigned to precincts throughout Manhattan and the Bronx as well as within police headquarters and the Intelligence Division. He is currently a decorated Special Operations Lieutenant serving in a Brooklyn violent crime suppression unit. He continues to write in his spare time.

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