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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What Happens After...

A happy day today.

No sooner had my fourth novel Song of the Beast been published than readers started asking me if I was ever going to write a sequel.Song. my only standalone novel, told the story of Aidan MacAllister - musician, singer, visionary, cousin to the king of Elyria, a man imprisoned just as his fame was approaching its height. The story actually begins on the day of Aidan's release from that seventeen year imprisonment and tells of his slow recovery and his search for the reasons behind it. No one had ever bothered to tell him. I'm certainly not going to tell here what he discovered or what he had to do about it. I told inquirers that I liked where Song ended, and that I would not write a follow-on unless I had something important to add to Aidan's story - a new idea. I wasn't just going to say how he was doing.

Then, a few years ago, I was asked to do a story for an anthology of romantic fantasy - romantic in the larger sense - called Lace and Blade, and somehow Aidan came to mind. I had to search that fantasy world inside my head to find out what he was doing...and in that search for the story that could take me back into his world, I realized that the search for a hero long after his story was over Was the Story.

So I wrote a short story called "The Heart's Coda." It was all set to  be published in the third edition of the Lace and Blade anthology. But Things happened, the publisher postponed the book three years in a row, and the story came back to me and sat in my trunk. And sat.  Nagging at me. Every once in a while I pulled it out and as I learned more about writing in general, totally rewrote it, stretched it into a novelette, rewrote the ending.

And then last year I hear from the lovely editor Deborah Ross, who says that Lace and Blade is now a part of the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Trust and did I have a story for the newest edition? Aidan waved his hand at me and said, "What about me?  It's about time." And so it is.

Fifteen years have passed since Song of the Beast was published (and it is still in print), but only three years have passed in storytime. A young Elhim named Glyn has been sent to find Aidan after he vanished into the west with some very dangerous companions.

Here is the opening of this very special story....

After a lonely month's slogging through that chilly, rainy, miserable wilderness, one might expect the excitement of my first royal mission entirely exhausted. But as I approached the summit of yet another steep rise, anticipation still shivered my skin. Would the legend be waiting beyond this crest? The Dragon Singer, Aidan MacAllister, beloved of the gods? Would he dwell in a temple or palace or a fortress of dragon bones? Or would I top this verdant, boulder-strewn slope and walk straight into one of his visions?

            Tales said that at the height of his fame, before he was thrown into prison and broken, Aidan MacAllister's music could transport your soul right out of your body. No matter how terrible your circumstances, for that one moment you would exist in a place of beauty and harmony. What a wonder that must have been.

            I scanned the clouds lowering over the crags and stretched my hearing into the unsettling quiet.

            Then again, I might only find the Singer's beasts beyond the rise. The dragons. Perhaps I'd find naught but the Singer's scorched bones.
            A belching, world-ripping bellow rumbled the misty upland, as if to illustrate my worst imaginings. My boots tried to reverse course on their own and take me directly back the long way I'd just come.
            So newly emerged from the Elhim Covert, I had been spared the horrors of dragon warfare—or any warfare, to be honest. I'd never so much as laid an eye on one of the beasts, save those sketched in my books and carved or painted on every wall, column, and lintel in Elyria. Images were terrible enough.
            Despite seventeen years in the barbarous prison called Mazadine, MacAllister had found his voice again and sung the dragons free of their own cruel enslavement, ending five centuries of dragon wars. Then he had followed the beasts into these wild lands west of Elyria, vowing to return them to sentience if it took another five hundred years.
            Another braying screech near melted my liver. I backed into a standing boulder twice my height and held still until my heart unclenched.
            Good Davyn, my worthy progenitor, who had dispatched me on this mission, had tried to make his assurances of dragon intelligence and MacAllister's intimacy with the beasts so solid that I would not falter when I heard their bawling.
            If these are the cries of free and cheerful dragons, please, O One Who Guides, honor those who survived our past with hearts, souls, and livers intact!
          Sucking in my courage, I hunched my cloak around my shoulders, striving to appear small and uninteresting. Then I commanded my reluctant feet to climb a little farther. I could not, must not fail...

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Conference vs Convention

Just back from my 11th or 12th trip to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. As always, it was a great time, seeing old friends, making new ones, renewing professional contacts, and even sitting in on a few learning sessions, too.  Not to mention staying up way too late talking writing.  One of my facebook posts drew a common question:

I'm always wondering if I should go to a con like this. I've written a couple of practice novels, but over the past several years have focused on short stories. I've written over 60 short stories and I'm getting tired of creating a new world for each one, so I've decided to start writing novels ... I like the look of the PPWC, but wonder if it'll be worth the expense.
First off, PPWC is not a con like a science fiction convention where information is presented via panel discussions by a mix of authors and fans, alongside, gaming, art shows, masquerades and costuming and so forth. Writers' conference presentations are 90% workshops featuring skilled presenters who cover either craft topics - like creating richer characters, strengthening plots/scenes, making your prose more clear or more vivid - or writing business topics - like how to pitch your book, how to write good synopses or queries, how to create book trailers or how to use social media more effectively. Writers conferences are not focused on sf/fantasy, though they might include some specialized workshops like my Fantasy Fundamentals presentation last weekend. (But good plotting is good plotting, good characters are good...ad infinitum) Guest editors and agents will talk about what they are looking for submission-wise, and also what the market is doing.  They will usually talk about flaws that make them pass on a submission, or how their particular publishing house or agency works with authors. Attendees get the opportunity to socialize with the guest authors, editors, and agents, and also sign up to read their opening pages for one of them or pitch their books to someone who might be interested. There is lots of informal networking as well. So there is a lot of bang for the additional bucks. Most writers conferences are focused on novel writing, but of course, the craft aspects can apply to all lengths of work, so it may or may not be right for you.

I love both sf/f/ conventions and writers' conferences (PPWC and the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver are particularly good ones) but they are very different events. Read more of this post!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Being Social

I have resisted being sucked into excess social networking. I do find it an easy distraction when the writing gets tough.

On the other hand, I enjoy it immensely.  My kids were on facebook, so I had to join that.  And since then, I've feel like I've come to know many of my readers and conference friends and friends of my

friends well.  I love the sense of a worldwide network. It bugs me that I don't have time to read every post - even when skipping all the cat photos and chain memes.

My agent has begged me for years to get on twitter, but I kept hoping it would go away.  I was sure I would drown.  I tried blogging for a year, but there are so many people who do it better (eg. John Scalzi, whose blog is erudite and informative) and I never garnered many followers. But then, there are times when I would like to say a little more than a facebook post...and times when a little less will do.  What is a confused writer to do?

For the next few months I am going to juggle a bit, and impose a little self-discipline.  Maybe this is the influence of Lucian de Remeni (see Dust and Light and Ash and Silver).  While still foregoing Instagram and Pinterest and a host of other sites, I am going to jump into:

  • Twitter:  handle is @cbergwriter - which is a bit obscure but there were other Carol Bergs and I already have some followers, so it has to stay
  • Facebook: carolberg is the relevant access
  • This (textcrumbs.blogspot.com): I'm reviving the blog a couple of times a week.  This will be longer posts on the WIP, and other writing topics and whatever else comes to mind.

I'll do my best to link these to each other so that one access point is all that's necessary.

If I can limit to a reasonable time each week, maybe this will work.  Come along and bring your friends!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Something New

I talked last time about starting out a new project with an ensemble cast, each person with an unusual skill. I had a whisper of an idea about each of four people, their milieu, the shape of stories they could tell. To accomplish anything they need a leader, and I decided which one that would be.

I diddled a bit with the world. Thought up some ideas of how the story would run. Talked with my muse, Linda, over a very long lunch about how the story might get going. Wrote a page of notes and watched a DVD series from the History Channel that pertained to my chosen time period. I even had an idea for an opening scene.

All of this was good--but every time I sat down to look at it, the project became more daunting. After creating five distinct worlds over the course of fifteen books, the notion of starting over from scratch appeared bigger than Trump's ridiculous wall on the Mexican border. Not only did I need to come up with cool ideas, I had to stay out of my own way. Surely I hadn't included every favorite bit of world structure/custom/myth or character foible/skill/hangup that I love!

Certainly not, but still I couldn't get going even to write that first scene. Panic time. And then I went to Vancouver Island...

Now I adore writing retreats at my friend Brenda's house overlooking the Saanich Inlet almost as much as I love retreating to a certain funky little retreat hotel in the heart of the Rockies. Being away from home and its myriad distractions helps me focus. And somehow being surrounded with awe-inspiring beauty provides extra fodder for words. Certainly the energy of other serious writer friends working hard gives me energy. But it was Brenda herself who said about five words that broke the dam. She is a generous listener, and when I started running on about the backstory of my lead, she stopped me.

"Why don't you write that story?" she said. "If it works out, it could be a short story to accompany the novel. If you decide not to write the novel, you'll not have spent so much time and effort on it."

Perfect sense. Seven thousand words appeared over the next few days...like magic.

Now you who have talked about character interviews all these years can laugh at me. Yet this is truly a story, not interview notes.  (Though one could say, Romy is interviewing for a job.) And those who tell me that writing short fiction can be less intimidating that starting a novel...I give you points, too. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

For now I am continuing to write a bit of story that might never appear in a novel, but is a delight for me anyway. We'll see how things pan out. Read more of this post!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Every Project Starts the Same Way - Or Does It?

Every one of my books/series (now up to 15/5) truly begins with a character.  In the Books of the Rai-kirah, it was the arrogant, the-world-is-mine-to-enjoy desert warrior Aleksander (not Seyonne!).  The Bridge of D'Arnath rose from the bitter, exiled duchess Seri.  The novels of the Collegia Magica were to be a home story for the brooding necromancer Dante (nope, not Portier). Lucian, the non-renegade, the upright believer in pureblood discipline, was the whole reason for the Sanctuary Duet. Only for the Lighthouse Duet did I have ideas about the world and the world's problems before I had an idea of that character. But I didn't write a word until the image of a lanky renegade drug addict came to me. He was face down on the floor of an abbey church taking holy orders, and I could hear an unforgettable voice, saying, "What the hell am I doing here?" Anyone who's read those two books knows very well that Valen shaped and drove the story of Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone in the same way that Aidan, the visionary musician, shaped the story of Song of the Beast.

Even my pieces of short fiction that now number more than nil took off with the idea of a character. Gareth, the talentless farmer, was the inspiration for Unmasking, Girl told of her experience At Fenwick Faire. Valen, my favorite blackguard, was the seed for Seeds. The encounter of a novice constable with a familiar unnamed necromancer was the starting point for Uncanonical Murder (now out in the spring issue of Pulp Literature ).  And Saverian from Breath and Bone demanded to star in an almost-novelette for a new anthology to be announced later in 2016.

All the other characters, the world, the settings, the plot grew from ideas about that one person, even if, on occasion, a character I believed secondary became the more important than the instigator.  So there.

But when I started noodling around with a new (big) project last month...

I settled on an ensemble cast, each person with an unusual skill. I had a whisper of an idea about each of four people and then I ran into a wall that seemed near insurmountable. This will be a different process. Maybe.  I'll tell you how it's going next time.  Read more of this post!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Well, everywhere, of course!  Your local chain or indie brick and mortar bookstore.  Your favorite online bookseller, be it Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon (despite a Penguin/Amazon hitch that suspended sales for a week in December) or the online store of your favorite bookseller like Mysterious Galaxy, Powell's City of Books, or Seattle's University Bookstore.

It is always tough to let a child go out into the world. But response has been great. (And thanks for that!) Yet I wouldn't recommend releasing a new book in December. It's tough to schedule events; everyone, including the author, is distracted by the holidays, and review sites are very busy putting out best of the year lists. (And yes, Ash and Silver did make a few of those, despite it's late release date.)

Lots of people are asking if Lucian's story is finished.  Or if, perhaps, the storyline of the Sanctuary Duet will ever entwine with the storyline of the Lighthouse Duet.

  And the answer is ...

I hope so. It is no accident that Ash and Silver ended on the same night as the climax of Breath and Bone.  I'm certainly not sure that Lucian and Valen would always get along, and both of them could easily end up at odds with good King Eodward's chosen heir. Could make for some interesting fireworks.

But I've some other things I want to work on before I return to Navronne.  Some short pieces and some long.  So I'm going to let ideas about a follow-on duology simmer in that great stew of a fantasy writers' mind for a while.  Stay in touch!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

November Sighting

OK, who stole the past year?

His name is Greenshank...though he knows that's not his true name.  He is a reticent man, and took something over a year and a half to tell me his story - a story entwined in mystery and murder, war and redemption and political manipulation.  It does him well to be reticent, as he has a very hard time determining who is friend and who is enemy and who is . . . something other.

Of course I know that his story began in Dust and Light, released last year.  But for a long while, I thought it was going in one particular direction, and then it took off on a path I didn't expect. Certainly Greenshank didn't.  And I hope my readers will enjoy its twisty unraveling.

That's why the book is releasing in December and not August as I had hoped, so I trust it won't get buried in holiday bustle.

A greenshank is a water bird, as it happens.  Many of Greenshank's fellows are also named after water birds, as much of Ash and Silver's action takes place on the cold, wet northwestern coast of the kingdom of Navronne.  Just off the coast lies an island fortress that might call to mind a fascinating place in our own world.  Fortress Evanide is a place of mists and storms and rampaging tides, and, in Greenshank's experience, a strict and mysterious military order that calls itself the Equites Cinere' or Knight of the Ashes.

For this week, 11/23/15 through 11/30/15, you can register to win a copy of Ash and Silver at Goodreads. I'll be hanging around Goodreads from now through New Year's, answering questions.

You can also head for my website to Read Chapter 1 or check out my coming Appearances or sign up for my newsletter.

Or friend me on Facebook.

I'll be back soon with more news! Read more of this post!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dust and Light - In the Wild!

Out today, Dust and Light, the first novel of Sanctuary.

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her....After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous....

You can find Dust and Light at
    Your local Independent Bookstore
Or online at
    Barnes and Noble

For an autographed copy, contact my good friends Nina and Ron Else at the Broadway Book Mall - 303-744-BOOK - in Denver.

Read the starred review from  Publisher's Weekly
Read an excerpt
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Launching Dust and Light!

August is going to be a busy month.

Any month where you give birth is busy - though I hope to get more sleep than in those human baby days! I'll be all sort of places online in August and do a little traveling, too. A book's legs are established in its first month out.  And an author's career teeters on those legs.  So I'm off to the races.

I'm going to kick things off this Friday.  Yes, the book isn't quite  out yet.  August 5th is the official date.  But I had an opportunity to share an evening of talk and reading with E.C. Ambrose.  Back when E.C. Ambrose was writing as Elaine Isaak, a very cruel dark-fantasy writer, I shared a  couple of panels with her at conventions.  We had fun comparing our wicked ways with our heroes.  The word?  She makes me look like a pansy!  And so does her alter ego, EC.

Anyway she is in town launching her own new book, and she couldn't make it in August.  So we'll have our little soiree on Friday evening, July 25th at 7:00pm at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins.

Next up will be Bubonicon, August 1-3 in Albuquerque.  The book won't officially be out then, either, but my good friends at the Broadway Book Mall are in charge of the bookstore at the con and have gotten early release permission from my publisher.  So if you want it early, come visit us in Albuquerque.

Then it's off to California and a Sunday, August 10th, 2pm event at the flagship sff bookstore Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego.

Saturday, August 23, at 2pm, I'll be back in Denver for my Colorado launch at the wonderful, friendly Broadway Book Mall.  And I'll be reading, and parlaying with Laurey Patten, longtime writing partner, who has just released her excellent sword-and-sorcery adventure The Talent Sinistral.

And then there are the online appearances.  Here's where you'll be able to find me online in August:
Thursday August 7:
John Scalzi's Big Idea;
Magical Words: Guest Author on Dust and Light;
Thursday August 14:
Reddit Fantasy AMA (Ask Me Anything) Real Time starting at 7pm Central;
Magical Words: Guest Author on Characters;
Thursday August 21:
Magical Words: Guest Author on Blowing Up the Dam;
Thursday August 21:
Magical Words: Guest Author on The Writing Life;
Join me so I'm not sitting lonely at my keyboard. You can ask me anything at any of these stops (not just the Ask Me Anything).  And Stay Tuned for a few more stops!

What about autumn, you might say...

In September I'll be thrashing and burning, trying to finish off Ash and Silver. The forecast is cloudy. But I will also be appearing at the Colorado Gold Writers Conference and teaching some workshops on worldbuilding and NOT outlining. Later in the fall I'll be at MileHiCon in Denver and then at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington DC in early November.  More on those later. Read more of this post!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Same World, New Story

How easy is it to go back to a world you've created?  Lots of authors do it.  Sometimes with sequels, sometimes with prequels.  Sometimes with time jumps.  Often with wholly a wholly new cast of characters.  When I finished the novels of the Collegia Magica, I realized that I had created five fairly complete worlds, all of which I loved.

I try very hard to make my series have a good resolution.  I want readers to believe that the mysteries and dilemmas of the plot have been untangled and finished off in a satisfactory - and believable - way.  And that the characters live on in the new directions they've taken, with love, magic, companionship, hope, grief, whatever I've left with them. I have always sworn not to go back to a previous cast of characters or world unless I had a new story to tell.

That's why I picked Navronne - the world of the Lighthouse Duet, Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone.  Not only was the world - with its mythic underpinnings and rich history - one I enjoyed, I felt a nagging sense that I had left a lot of interesting story on the table.  Valen, the hero of the Lighthouse books, was a rebel, a wanderer, and the path of his life took him to a most unexpected place.  While the part of the world that he had spent his life running from - the families of pureblood sorcerers with their strange culture, their strict discipline, and their unique position in the world - was left almost entirely unexplored.  Valen hated the life his birth condemned him to - and he discovered the life he was meant to have.  What would life be like for a man of similar age and similar status who embraced the role he was born to?  Who had a family that appreciated his talents and loved him dearly.  That man is Lucian de Remeni-Masson, a very wealthy, privileged sorcerer, born not with one, but two strong magical talents - most unusual, as it happens - and who believes that his magic is a divine gift.  Lucian embraces the strict life that Valen abhorred.   And then, of course, because he is my hero...

  ...everything goes wrong.

That is the story begun in Dust and Light (Roc Books, August 2014). More next time on the peculiar difficulties of going back - not only to the world but to a parallel timeframe, so that the civil war, the environmental collapse, and the rampaging Harrowers that were so much fun in the first series, could set up problems for Lucian as well.  Just very different problems. Read more of this post!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Here is a snip from this morning's news:

John barrymore 1922
John Barrymore - 1922

All in the family: Former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter (D), is going to run for Georgia governor next year, and so he might be on a Democratic ticket that also has former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA)’s daughter on it -- Michelle Nunn, who’s running for the Senate. Indeed, here’s a reminder of all the other famous names and relatives who are going to be running in 2014 or who are up for re-election:
-- Liz Cheney (daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney)
-- George P. Bush (son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush)
-- Gwen Graham (daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, D-FL).
-- Shelley Moore Capito (daughter of former WV Gov. Arch Moore).
-- Mark Begich (son of the late Rep. Nick Begich, D-AK)
-- Mary Landrieu (daughter of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu and brother to current Mayor Mitch Landrieu
-- Mark Pryor (son of former Arkansas Gov. and Sen. David Pryor).
-- Andrew Cuomo (son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo)
-- Jerry Brown (son of former California Gov. Pat Brown)

Why do I mention this?  Because news stories like this prompted my creation of the purebloods strict familial relationships in the Lighthouse Duet - Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone - and that I'm now working with in the Sanctuary Duet - Dust and Light (August 2014) and Ash and Silver.

I had noticed how often in our times professions run in families, whether in the arts (the Barrymores from John and Ethel and Lionel to Drew, the Sheens, Nat King Cole and Nora Jones) or in auto racing (the Unsers, the Pettys, the Earnhardts), in banking, philanthropy, etc.  and then I made the great step that fantasy and science fiction writers always take...

I asked What If...? 

What if magic could be inherited?  And what if a young man or woman could only pursue the talent inherited from the mother's bloodline or the father's?  How might those things be reflected in a society?  And what happens when things aren't quite...normal...

The Lighthouse books deal with a young man who despises the whole way of life.

The Sanctuary books will deal with a young man who...   Well that's the story, isn't it?
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

You may have seen other authors posting this meme. I was tagged by my new excellent friend, the lovely Leigh Evans, and I thought it would be fun. Answer some questions; tag some of my author friends to do the same. Here goes!

What is the working title of your next book?
Dust and Light, the first book of the Sanctuary Duet.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Unfinished business! My novels Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone took place in a deliciously complex world. A civil war raged in a kingdom suffering a disastrous decline in the weather. Magic was confined to a group of wealthy families - known as purebloods - who provided their services to cities, nobles, clergy, or whomever else could afford to pay for them. To nurture and preserve their magic, purebloods kept themselves detached from ordinary society and politics.  They created a mannered, disciplined subculture, linking themselves to their clients by strict contracts.

It had been great fun to develop and structure the pureblood culture – but as it happened the hero of Flesh and Spirit had spent his life running away from his pureblood family. In fact he called the life of a pureblood sorcerer “slavery with golden chains.” But his jaundiced viewpoint  left many aspects of pureblood life unexplored. When I started considering what project I wanted to work on when I finished The Daemon Prism and the Collegia Magica series, I wondered if there might have been someone else interesting raised in the pureblood social structure—someone who embraced and believed in it—and that’s when I met Lucian de Remeni-Masson.

Unlike most pureblood sorcerers, who inherited the talents of either the mother’s bloodline or the father’s, Lucian demonstrated gifts in both his mother’s artistic line and his father’s bloodline magic of history. That’s when the story took off.

What genre does your book fall under?
Mythic fantasy with a strong mystery element.  Or something like that.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, I never do this – or if I do, I don’t tell. I’ve found that my readers have such widely varying images of my characters, so I don’t like to skew them too much. The lesson came clear when I had readers casting Seyonne, the hero of Transformation, with everyone from a young Daniel Day Lewis to Orlando Bloom! Suffice it to say that Lucian is a lean, good-looking young man of twenty six with typical pureblood features: dark, straight hair, aquiline nose, and dusky skin.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Maybe I can distill it into three. Lucian de Remeni, pureblood sorcerer with a bent for portraiture, has grown up in wealth, privilege, self-discipline, and the conviction that his beloved family’s magical talents are the gods’ gift to a troubled kingdom. But a family tragedy begins a spiraling downfall that sweeps the young sorcerer into a life he had never imagined. Banished to the crude society of a bustling necropolis, Lucian’s task of becomes the key in two murder investigations which threaten to upend the war for Navronne’s crown and unravel the very foundations of pureblood life.

Before I go on, I want to tag those who are next up on this branch of The Next Big Thing.

Diana Pharaoh Francis is the author of two fantasy series – the Path series and the Crosspointe Chronicles – and the fabulous Horngate Witches urban fantasy series.  I’m jealous when I report that not only does she write exciting adventures, but she is also a professor of English at the University of Montana, rider of horses, wife, mom, and exceptionally fun person to hang out with at a science fiction convention.  You have never met a professor like Di!

Cindi Myers has authored more than forty novels, spanning romance, historical, western, and women’s fiction.  Her work is consistently excellent, and she is the most focused and productive writer I know.  I go hang out with her on mountain retreats just hoping to absorb some of her professionalism.  Again, it just isn’t fair that she’s gorgeous, generous, and a great teacher.

Mindy Klasky is the author of fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal chick-lit novels, and under her alter ego, Morgan Keyes, a fabulous new YA fantasy called Darkbeast.  A reformed lawyer and law librarian, Mindy sat alongside me on our first ever convention panel – My First Novel at the 2000 Chicago WorldCon.  Our first books had come out one month apart, from the same publisher, and as women of other professions, we bonded immediately.  Now with twenty-eight novels between us, I guess our panel was a success - our friendship certainly is!

Compared to these three, Linda Joffe Hull is just a newbie.  But her first novel, The Big Bang will likely leave all of us genre writers in the dust. Library Journal describes it as "a fun, sexy suburban soap opera with a touch of mystery." I’ve known this book since it was a baby, and believe me it is like nothing else out there.  Neither is Linda, who is also fun, smart, and sexy!

And now back to the NBT questions:  

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I've worked with agent Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency from my first sale thirteen years ago. Dust and Light will be published in 2014 by New American Library/Roc Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Knowing how unlikely it is that I'll reach the end of the story before my deadline of June 2013, it will have taken me a year and a half. I would love to think I could be a third of the way into the second (as yet untitled) volume of the duology by that time, but I'm not placing any bets.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My books have been compared to those of Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Mary Stewart, and Lynn Flewelling.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My favorite authors of my favorite kinds of stories - murder mysteries, historical political intrigues, and world myths. The heart of Dust and Light is the interweaving of two mysteries - the strangling death of a young street urchin in the royal city and the savage massacre of a wealthy family by rampaging fanatics. The resolution of these mysteries leads my hero to dangerous discoveries about the fundamental nature of pureblood magic in Navronne.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? These books are not a sequel, but a parallel story to Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, involving entirely new characters. (Dust and Light actually begins a bit more than a year earlier than Valen's story.) One will be able to read either pair first. But for those who've already read the Lighthouse books, there will be some "Easter eggs" – references to some old friends and places. I think that will be fun.
Read more of this post!