Hey readers. Hope your summer is off to a great start. I have big plans for travel and lounging by the pool--how about you?

What do all my summer activities have in common? They require a huge pile of books to read.

If you're looking to pad your TBR in prep for summer, I've got just the thing. I've teamed up with several other sci-fi/fantasy authors, and we're all giving away a book for free, including my Third Realm Wars novella, Rain.

Get free sci-fi & fantasy books here

And hey, real friends tell friends about giveaways--why not share Rain and more with your friends? Tweet this.
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1. Medusa is one of the Gorgons.

Gorgons are winged human females with a hideous face and living venomous snakes in place of hair. So if you are aware of Medusa, this should sound familiar.

2. She is the granddaughter of the Earth (Gaia) and the Ocean (Oceanus).

Kinda cool, right?

3. And her parents are Phorkys and Keto, god and goddess of the sea, who represented the seas dangers.

Bonus fact: Ketos also refer to sea monsters.

4. Medusa’s gaze turned men to stone.

Some versions of the myth say this is because of her monstrous ugliness; others because of her incredible beauty.

5. She has two sisters, Sthenno and Euryale.

Medusa was the only mortal of the three. As far as I could find, there is no explanation for this, so I figure it’s kind of like how some of us are just born muggle and others get to be wizards.

6. Medusa’s monstrous form was said to be punishment from Athena for seducing Poseidon.

Of course other versions say Poseidon raped her, so … victim blame much?

7. It’s said her monstrous character followed, as the world turned against her.

A pre-Frankenstein's monster, if you will.

8. In her despair, Medusa fled to Africa.

As she wandered, snakes dropped from her hair. This is how Africa got its venomous reptiles. Still no explanation for Australia.

9. Medusa was ultimately beheaded, of course, by Perseus.

Her sisters tried to avenge her, but Perseus dodged them  by using Hades’ cap, which made him invisible.

10. Perseus, classy guy that he was, continued to use the head as a weapon.

Even after her death, Medusa’s head retained its ability to turn people to stone. Eventually Perseus gave it to Athena, who placed it on her shield.

11. And then she became a symbol.

In classical antiquity, Medusa’s head came to appear on the Gorgoneion, which was an evil-averting device. Not a bad ultimate legacy, albeit from a pretty rough life.

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As demonstrated so very recently by La La Land, artists do tend to enjoy the occasional deep dive into their own wallows.

A writer myself, I’m a total sucker for it. The highs and lows that come with artistry expose our internal quirks and vulnerabilities like nothing else.

Writers are far from impervious to the occasional navel-gazing whim. Here are a few of my all-time favorite books that indulge in some intense navel-gazing.

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There are times when we should all stand up and speak on behalf of something. Then, there are times when the best way to advocate is to step aside and let someone else speak.

African American History Month is one of those times.

So here's a roundup of great articles celebrating African American science fiction and fantasy authors. Hope you're ready to add a ton of amazing books to your to-be-read list!

A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction

Freedom to Read: The 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In

7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know

13 Coretta Scott King Award and Honoree Books to Read Now

This Month (And Every Month), Black Sci-Fi Writers Look to the Future

Read Harder: Read a Classic by an Author of Color

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If you like great fiction and also casually name-dropping awesome authors your friends have never heard of, boy do I have a treat for you.

It's called All About the Indies, it's' happening this Saturday in the D.C. area, and I'm gonna be there. So be sure to come say hi.

The deets:

All About the Indies
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, February 18
Holiday Inn Hotel Arlington At Ballston
4610 N Fairfax Dr, Arlington, Virginia 22203

In addition to a wide variety of local authors, there will be panels and giveaways!

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There is plenty being said about this particular Presidential race, our new President, and the inauguration today.

So I'll just throw my two cents in with this wise and relevant quote:

If you'd like to explore this idea further, here's some recommended reading:

I also encourage you to check out these amazing resistance posters created by the artist who created the iconic Obama "Hope" poster.

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While some genres have a tendency toward light, quick reads (ahem, romance), fantasy has always gone the opposite way. This genre tends toward dense reads … the type of book that can double as a weapon to bludgeon an assailant with.

Over at Book Riot, I'm sharing seven fantasy series that will take you all year to read. Check it out!

What are your favorite fantasy series?

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A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be a guest on Carolivia Herron's Epic City radio show on Takoma Radio, 94.3 FM in Takoma Park, MD.

We chatted it up about why Adem is so easy to root for despite his great flaws, what the heck the Orpheus myth is, and what kind of fantasy creature I would be.

Listen to the full interview here!

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With each day of the 12 Days of Books Giveaway, I’m sharing a little about my writing journey so far. And, of course, new ways to enter to win!

"Where do your ideas come from?"

It's one of those questions every author (no, every creative) gets at some point. For some reason, we tend to think of ideas as these magical things that you have to have something special to acquire. Perhaps because we spend so much time focused on what is around us instead of what is inside us.

But ideas aren't some sort of alchemy performed by the chosen. Ideas are everywhere. They sit all around us, waiting to be picked up. Ideas are like coins in a special level of Mario Brothers.

The real question is, "How do you choose your ideas?"

This is much harder to do. It is much easier to catch an idea than it is to develop an idea--as I explained on Tuesday, my last idea took me five years to develop, and along the way I caught a ton more ideas, both for the rest of the Chronicles of the Third Realm War series and for complete new projects.

Even at a much faster writing pace of six months per novel, I have enough story ideas to fill my next six to ten years, easily.

So how do I pick what to chase? I try to consider factors like marketability and what readers will want, but ultimately it always comes down to what speaks to me.

I mean this quite literally. When I started writing Mud, the first few chapters came out at lightning speed, because Adem's voice nudged me right along, telling me his predicament (and then I had to figure out where that took him).

The same happened Rain. I did not initially intend to write any novellas to complement the Chronicles of the Third Realm War series, but Nia and Calipher's tempestuous, tragic romance clung to me ... and it proved itself to be the perfect way to bring you back into the origins of Terath's doomed fate.

I try to use my head in choosing my ideas, but it always ends up coming from my heart. Where my head comes in is in sticking with that idea long enough to turn it into something meaningful for readers.

Where do you find your ideas? 

New ways to win, every day until Christmas Eve

Today's way to enter: Leave a review for Mud on Amazon.

Get More Ways to Enter the 12 Days of Books Giveaway:


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Over at BookRiot, I've shared a list of lesser-known "punks"--subgenres of science fiction in the tradition of steampunk--that you will definitely want to check out for yourself.

(Except splatterpunk, which, whoa, is not for the faint of heart.)

Along the way of drafting this post, I ended up making up a subgenre of my own, because there is a serious trend emerging in science fiction that I could not find a name for.

Meet metapunk.

As I describe in the post:

Metapunk is a rising trend in speculative fiction where the narrative follows two stories, one inner story, and a secondary outer one that analyzes and dissects the inner story. Think Westworld or Cabin in the Woods.

It's been a favorite of mine ever since my first encounter with it through Charles Yu's amazingly meta-minded How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.

Yu is one of my favorite authors, and this is his only full-length novel. While dissecting genre tropes with humor and heart, the author himself slips in and out of the story's narrative in a way that lends distance and perspective, while also blurring the lines between art and life.

As we become ever more sophisticated viewers, I think this trend will continue to expand on the screen and on the page. Which thrills me, because metapunk offers a brainy, twisty layer to my favorite genre that pulls the strings of its tropes in new directions and stretches the imagination to think in new, analytical directions.

What do you think about my new genre? Where have you seen it in action?

Check out the full list of punk subgenres (and add your own!):

Well Do Ya Punk? The Emerging "Punk" Subgenres of Speculative Fiction

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