Friday, June 30, 2017

Amazon gift card & author Jean Lowe Carlson's "Blackmark" [giveaway]

Been raining a lot near you? Consider a dark and gritty sword and sorcery series.

Award-winning author Jean Lowe Carlson writes adventurous fantasy fiction with a dark twist. Her raw worlds and deep, realistic characters are reminiscent of George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, and Robert Jordan.

Award-winning author Jean Lowe Carlson

In 2016, Jean was the recipient of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist medal for her dark fantasy Tears. She was also long-listed for the 2016 Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize for her dark fairy tale The Man in White.

As of this writing, Jean has two books in The Kingsmen Chronicles series, a dark and gritty sword and sorcery series that explores a complex world of treachery, passion, sex, and magic. Readers who enjoy Game of Thrones (hello, right here!), Outlander, the Kingkiller Chronicles, or the Wheel of Time will love this fantastic adventure.

A nation's most elite warriors vanished overnight. A throne in jeopardy on the heels of murder. War devouring the survivors, fanned to fury by a shadowy cabal born of ancient magic. And the five friends who can stop it, banished to the corners of the continent as traitors. Welcome to a land where dreams die and men do what they must.

Blackmark, book #1 of The Kingsmen Chronicles

Still curious about The Kingmen Chronicles series? Time for an interview with Jean Lowe Carlson...

What inspires you to write?
Life inspires me. The phrase goes, Truth is stranger than fiction, and I feel that’s really accurate, but it makes great fantasy fiction, too! I draw many of my influences from real-life situations, deep internal motivations, and the dark sides of our personalities that we’re all working on, or running from. I feel a deep connection to humanity, and it’s a passion of mine to explore the human condition. Some people do that through realism, but I take realism and put it inside intense fantasy-world situations. The scenarios often come from my dreams, which are vivid and detailed, cinematic. And I write that cinematic experience into my fantasy novels, but keep the character interactions adult and real.

How long does it take you write a book, on average?
It depends. The longer novels, like my dark epic fantasy Kingsmen Chronicles series, can be upwards of 180K words, and those take me about a year and a half to fully plan and flesh out. The stories are intricate with numerous characters to interweave (think George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, and Robert Jordan), and it takes a lot of editing to create a smooth, consistent experience. But I have smaller novels, especially some dark fantasy and sci-fi series I’m working on, that I can complete anywhere from 9 months to a year. Plus, I’m often working on two or more novels at once. I’ll get an idea for one, write on it for a few weeks, then get stuck and put it down, then have an idea for the other one - and on it goes!

What are you working on right now?
Lots! I’m currently writing the third novel of the Kingsmen Chronicles series, called Goldenmark. That should be out March 2018. I’m also editing the first book of a badass new dark fantasy series about a whorehouse madam/gunslinger in an alt-world old west who teams up with an asshole of a fallen angel to shoot their way to retribution and punish their enemies. The first book of that series is called Sixgun and should be out in the fall. I’m also writing on a sci-fi series about alternate dimensions, and I am in talks right now with two Amazon top-100 authors about a co-writing project – but I can’t say more about that just yet. ;-)

What's the best writing tip you can offer an aspiring author?
Want to write? Just do it. The Nike slogan is really true. Write a million words. Get your 10,000 hours in. Then repeat the process with learning how to edit your shit. Then repeat again with learning marketing. Fuck the police and the writing-world gatekeepers. Big publishing is dying, and indie is on the rise, but only if you do it right. Read your favorite authors and imitate their style until you find your own. Do NaNoWriMo and push yourself. Take courses in independent publishing and marketing (I recommend Nick Stephenson and Mark Dawson – no affiliation, they just bootcamped my ass into a whole new place marketing-wise!). If the 2016 Author Earnings Report is any indication of trends, indie publishing here to stay. But readers still want a very high-quality experience, even without big publishing house gatekeepers involved. So learn how to create that, and then just fucking do it. Have a job to keep you afloat at first, but don’t let anyone hold you back. My favorite indie horror author and good friend J. Thorn has unpublished 1 million words from the beginning of his catalogue! His first books were shit (J admits this himself), got 1-star reviews, and were horribly edited with bad covers. Did he stop? Hell, no. He learned how to do it better until now he writes full-time and makes a good living doing what he loves. So can you.

What's a book written by another author everyone should read in their lifetime?
Oooh… so many. But I’d have to say Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I’d love to say Tolkien or King, Martin or Sanderson, but this particular novel of Heinlein’s was formative for me. Not because of his style, but because of the arresting perspective of his main character. What does our humanity look like from the outside, to an outsider? What about our social culture, our habits, our reactions? Heinlein took all that and dumped it on its head during a formative time for the human experience in 1961. And that inquiry is just as necessary today, whether you write contemporary fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, or any other genre. It’s a tale that struck my heart, deeply. And that, I believe, is the point.

Here's what a couple folks have said about the first book, Blackmark:

“Spellbinding! Strong development of characters, fully integrated storylines with intriguing plot twists, and deep world building. Takes you on a journey you never want to leave!” – Michelle G., Amazon Review

“Like George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie, Carlson writes in this genre for grown-ups, with flair and elegance. A complex world with characters that develop well, this story reveals as it builds!” - Daniel F., Amazon Reviewer

So who wants to win something?! Jean Lowe Carlson and I have partnered up to give away a few things - two lucky Giveaway Guy readers will win a paperback copy of Blackmark (The Kingsmen Chronicles #1) and another reader will win a $40 Amazon gift card.

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below. You may share on Twitter once a day for extra points for the duration of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to users in the U.S. only. Winners will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter, which I will contact by email after entries are verified. The winners will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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About Me

I'm Seth, owner of the Giveaway Guy blog. I live in the suburbs outside of Boston with my wife and have a career in SEO. I enjoy writing reviews and entering giveaways in my spare time.
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