Watch for me at Balticon!

Once again, Ravencon in Richmond VA was a fantastic event.  From the steampunk Darth Vader to the wealth of panels to choose from, to the great dealer room, it’s always a well-run con and a darn fine party.

Personal panel schedules were not available when I checked in, so I started the con by showing up at the wrong panel (they let me stay), but I had a blast anyhow.  One of my favorite panels was on the “magical middle class”—characters in Harry Potter who weren’t main characters, but who kept the world running.  It was the perfect topic for a panel, and we had a full room with people who were not afraid to participate—which is ideal for those of us upon the panel who don’t want to do all the talking.

One of the evening highlights was an invitation-only scotch tasting party where I learned a lot about both scotch and Scotland.  As usual, the Capclave and Barflies parties were both well attended and great places for free-wheeling discussions.  And although I didn’t make it to the Belle Morte concert, I have it on good authority that it was fantastic, as was the masquerade, which I did attend.

Next up is Balticon, where I have a short story in the Spells and Swashbucklers anthology that will be having its launch party.  I hope to see you there!

I’ll be a panelist at Balticon in Hunt Valley, MD over the Memorial Day weekend, so please look for me!

My short story, “The Low Road” will be in the Spells and Swashbucklers anthology that will be having its launch party at Balticon, so that’s definitely an exciting element of the weekend for me.

If you’ve missed my latest signings, there should still be some signed copies of my books at Park Road Books and at the Books A Million in the Cotswold plaza in Charlotte.

What I’ve been up to!

In addition to being a panelist at Ravencon and Balticon, I’ve actually gotten some writing done!  I turned in a new short story, “Buttons” to Solaris Books for their “Magic” anthology.  I’ve completed the line edits for Ice Forged, and sent those back to Orbit.  And I’m making good headway on Reign of Ashes, the second book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga.

I’ll be working on Reign all summer, but I also owe a short story for a steampunk anthology, and am looking forward to writing that.

Otherwise, there have been some book signings, my monthly writing Meetup group, and family time.


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The Dread, Book Two in The Fallen Kings Cycle, is now available!

The Dread is the conclusion to the struggle for control of the Winter Kingdoms that began in The Sworn.  For those who have read my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, it’s the sixth book following the lives, struggles and adventures of Tris Drayke, Kiara Sharsequin, Jonmarc and Carina Vahanian, and the rest of the crew.

As plague and famine scourge the winter kingdoms, a vast invasion force is mustering from beyond the northern seas. And at its heart, a dark spirit mage wields the blood magic of ancient, vanquished gods.

Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Neighboring lands reel toward anarchy while plague decimates their leaders. Drayke must seek new allies from among the living – and the dead –- as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle.

Then someone disturbs the legendary Dread as they rest in a millennia-long slumber beneath sacred barrows. Their warrior guardians, the Sworn, know the Dread could be pivotal as a force for great good or evil. But if it’s the latter, could even the Summoner-King’s sorcery prevail?

So is this the last book in the Winter Kingdoms?  No.  But I’m going to step away from these characters for a while and give the survivors a much overdue rest  (the action of the six books takes place over the course of about two years, so they’ve earned it).  Later this year, I’ll tell you more about what comes next, but for now, I’m very excited to share the rest of the story with you and take you along on the dark and dangerous road to save the Winter Kingdoms.

Here are some extra goodies in celebration of The Dread’s launch:

  • “Like” my WinterKingdoms page on Facebook and enter to win a prize package of signed books, foreign editions and rare Advance Review Copies
  • Watch the video:
  • Four excerpts to get you started:
  • Excerpt #1
  • Excerpt #2
  • Excerpt #3

  • Excerpt #4

  • Order from Amazon through my link at and get special bonus downloads from a slew of my author friends!

And I’ll be out and about with The Dread, so catch me here:

  • Reading and signing at SheVaCon in Roanoke, VA Feb. 16 – 18
  • Launch party at Mysticon in Roanoke, VA from 7 – 9 pm in the Con Suite on Feb. 24
  • In-store signing at the Barnes & Noble at Carolina Place Mall, Charlotte NC on Feb. 4
  • In-store signing at Books-A-Million at Concord Mills, Concord, NC on Feb. 11
  • Watch for more in-store signings to come!

I’d love to hear from you—please comment on my blog or on Facebook, and of course, I always really appreciate it when you forward my posts to your friends.

I hope to meet you at a convention or signing this year.  Enjoy!


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Days of the Dead—Or should it be Days of the “Dread”?

Welcome to my annual Days of the Dead Online Event.  This year it’s more exciting than ever, with new book giveaways, free chapter and short story excerpts, guest author downloadable goodies, a new book video, new audio readings and all-new interviews with five of the baddest bad-ass vayash moru (vampires) in the Winter Kingdoms!

For any fan of the supernatural, this week is a time of mystery.  Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos all in one week—you just know something big is going to happen.

What’s so special?  I’m looking forward to the launch of The Dread, book Two in the Fallen Kings Cycle.  It’s available for pre-order, but you can read four different excerpts for free on my Days of the Dead partner sites.

I’ve also got two new short stories coming out in anthologies in 2012—Spells and Swashbucklers with DragonMoon Press and a UK anthology that I can’t name yet.  But you’re going to get never-before-seen sneak peeks at these two stories plus two other short stories of mine that I’ve never offered excerpts of before.

There’s also a brand new book video for The Sworn and The Dread and it’s premiering during this tour, too.

Several of my author friends have also provided excerpts as Trick-or-Treat goodfies.  You’ll find download links sprinkled throughout the partner sites.

Four different partners are doing drawings for signed copies of The Sworn (and other prize packages), so make sure you enter—you can’t win if you don’t play!

The Broad Pod from Broad Universe has an all-new audio reading from one of my favorite vayash moru scenes in the whole series, so please listen in.

What are you waiting for?  You can get in on all the Days of the Dead fun on a treasure hunt/Trick-or-Treat just by visiting these sites.  And please, “like” my TheWinterKingdoms page on Facebook when you visit to get the goodies!

Here’s where the action is:

  • Orbit Books (—book giveaway plus blog post and an interview with Lord Uri of the Blood Council and a chapter excerpt from The Dread, along with my new book video for The Sworn and The Dread
  • Solaris Books (—book giveaway plus an interview with Lord Gabriel of the Blood Council
  • DoubleDragon Books (—a Q&A with me about power and immortality
  •—a book giveaway plus interview with Kolin, helper to Lady Riqua of the Blood Council
  •—fantastic music to listen to while reading my books (I listen to it while I write)—they’ll be doing another giveaway contest for The Sworn
  • Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist—a fourth excerpt from The Dread plus a book giveaway contest
  • The BroadPod (—A reading of one of my favorite vampire scenes in the Chronicles of the Necromancer series.
  •—An interview with Lady Astasia of the Blood Council plus the Days of the Dead overview and a special Q&A with me about why I love the Blood Council, and a different chapter excerpt from The Dread, and sample chapters from books by several of my author friends—and the all-new book video!
  • TheWinterKingdoms on Facebook  (please “like” my page!) a downloadable excerpt for “Steer a Pale Course” and “Among the Shoals Forever”—two of my never-before-excerpted short stories, plus excerpts from books by some of my author friends.
  •—an interview with Laisren, vayash moru armsmaster at Dark Haven, plus a third excerpt from The Dread, download links for excerpts from several of my author friends and an excerpt to “Vanities”—another never-before-excerpted short story of mine with plenty of vampires! And a sneak peek excerpt from my brand-new Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (coming in 2013).
  •—pre-order The Dread and get free downloadable excerpts from more than a dozen of my author friends!
  •—Links to two more of my never-before-excerpted short stories,  “Among the Shoals Forever” and “The Low Road”, plus links to downloads from some more of my awesome author friends!
  • —Yet a different excerpt from The Dread plus links to more author friend downloads!

Want to see the brand new book video for The Sworn and The Dread?  It’s right here (and please share it with your friends)!

Here it is—the brand new book trailer for my newest books—The Sworn and The Dread (Books One and Two in the Fallen Kings Cycle).  See it here first!

As plague and famine scourge the winter kingdoms, a vast invasion force is mustering from beyond the northern seas. And at its heart, a dark spirit mage wields the blood magic of ancient, vanquished gods.

Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Neighboring lands reel toward anarchy while plague decimates their leaders. Drayke must seek new allies from among the living – and the dead –- as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle.

Then someone disturbs the legendary Dread as they rest in a millennia-long slumber

beneath sacred barrows. Their warrior guardians, the Sworn, know the Dread could be pivotal as a force for great good or evil. But if it’s the latter, could even the Summoner-King’s sorcery prevail?

Here’s the link to excerpt #2 of four from The Dread: A link to an excerpt from my new book, The Dread—available for pre-order now!

Remember—each partner site with an excerpt from The Dread has a different excerpt!

And as an extra Trick-or Treat goodie, here’s a link to a deleted scene from Scimitar Moon by my good friend, author Chris Jackson

I hope you have a lot of fun and enjoy the free “treats” during this online tour—load up on lots of virtual goodies (without worrying about calories or tooth decay).  Enjoy!


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Interview with Astasia

In honor of my Days of the Dead blog tour, I’d like to introduce you to one of my vayash moru (vampire) characters from the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings series.  Vayash moru play an important part in my books, aiding–and sometimes opposing–Tris Drayke and Jonmarc Vahanian.

Here, I’d like to introduce you to Lady Astasia, the youngest member of the Blood Council.  She is beautiful, wily, and guided both in life and undeath by a strong sense of self-interest.  In the conflict with Temnotta, she has deserted her Blood Council colleagues to site with the invaders, making her and her brood outcast, and making the rest of the Council bloodsworn for her destruction.

Q:  What has immortality taught you?

A:  Most mortals are fools and the rest are liars and cheats.  Only the strong deserve to survive.

Q:  You’ve often set yourself against the purposes of Jonmarc Vahanian.  What are your intentions in this conflict?

A:  I would see him in his grave.

Q:  You’ve left the Blood Council, and some would say, gone rogue.  Now, the Winter Kingdoms face an outside threat.  Where are your loyalties?

A:  I want to see the palaces of the Winter Kingdoms burn.  I wish to see the power of the Volshe gain ascendance and to serve the ancient Nachele as they rise from their crypt-prisons to conquer.

Q:  What is your biggest disappointment about immortality?

A:  That the strength, speed and wealth I have gained as an immortal are not readily accepted by mortals as proof of the superiority of the vayash moru.


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Why I love the Blood Council by Gail Z. Martin

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings Cycle series, there is a ruling council of vayash moru (vampires) called the Blood Council.  At least in the seven lands of the Winter Kingdoms, the Blood Council forces vayash moru to play relatively nicely with each other, at the risk of sanctions including permanent destruction.

Not surprisingly, every now and then, some vayash moru decide that immortality means never having to follow the rules.  That’s when it gets interesting.

The original Blood Council had five members:  Gabriel, Rafe, Uri, Riqua and Astasia.  Each of the Council members was chosen for the Council because (at least for now), they represent the strongest and eldest of the immortals.  They and their broods agree to abide by Council rulings and to punish those who go rogue or refuse the Council’s discipline.

It’s a good idea; too bad it doesn’t work as well in practice as it does on paper.  The seeds of conflict are sown right in the personalities of the Blood Council themselves.

Lord Gabriel, one of the Council’s eldest members, a one-time war lord who is also a mystic and a man of many interests, and who has deep devotion to Istra, the Aspect of the Sacred Lady who is the patron of Those Who Walk the Night.  The Blood Council also enforces the Truce between mortals and the vayash moru that enables the vayash moru to exist with relatively little wide-spread persecution in five out of the seven of the Winter Kingdoms.

Lord Rafe was an ascetic and a scholar in life.  He thirsts for knowledge, and tends to favor the rational even when circumstances prove that rationality is not going to carry the day.  Rafe has retained his idealism, which is both a good point and a flaw.

Lord Uri gained his wealth and title after his death as a card sharp who lost money to the wrong vayash moru and took blood as a substitute for gold.  Uri is cynical, jaded, motivated by money, and yet intensely loyal to his own brood, even when they go astray, as several of his get did during the insurrection (Dark Haven/Dark Lady’s Chosen).  Uri likes being underestimated, but there’s more to him than meets the eye, including a dollop of thieves’ honor.

Lady Riqua was the wife of a wealthy merchant, and she retains a bourgeoisie practicality after death.  She is fiercely protective of her brood, and has been known to adopt the get of other vayash moru if she believes they are being mistreated.  Unlike Uri and Rafe, Riqua sees value in continued interaction with mortals, and sees value in peaceful coexistence beyond the terms of the Truce.  She and Gabriel willingly create vayash moru-mortal alliances out of practical considerations, regardless of the scorn this earns them from Uri and Astasia.

Lady Astasia is the youngest of the Blood Council, and the most unpredictable.  Having gained her title, power and wealth through highly questionable means while alive, Astasia plays by her own rules after death.  Seduction, betrayal, and games for the sake of games amuse her.  She loves intrigue and politics, as well as the sheer excitement of setting mortals against each other just to watch the outcome.  Astasia bet on the vayash moru Insurrection and lost.  Much of her brood was destroyed, either in battle or by the other members of the Council who became Bloodsworn against her and her get.  In the Fallen Kings Cycle, Astasia allies with the Temnottan invaders, hoping to see the thrones of the Winter Kingdoms fall in flames.

Really, with all of those personalities in the same room, how could I not love writing about the Blood Council?  (Maybe I’ve been on too many nonprofit and corporate committees.)  Just among the five of them, you get the best and worst of immortality, the promise and the failure of human nature.  I have a blast writing about the Blood Council, even though they aren’t actually main characters, because they’re so deliciously “real”, and they give me the sandbox to explore the good, the bad and the ugly parts of immortality.  But don’t take my word for it—take a look at my books and get to know them for yourself!


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Catch me at a con!

Fall is just around the corner, and that means that I’ll be back on the convention circuit.  If you’re headed to one of these conventions, please stop by one of my panels/readings or catch me in the hall and say hello!

Dragon*Con—Labor Day Weekend

Here’s my official panel schedule:

My #DragonCon schedule: Title: Breaking In: How it’s Done Description: Trying to break into the SF/Fantasy/Dark Fantasy/Urban Fantasy markets? Fri 01:00 pm : Manila / Singapore / Hong Kong – Hyatt

My #DragonCon schedule: Title: Broad Universe Reading Description: Quick cuts read by some up and coming female authors; their own works or works they find influential. Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: Greenbriar – Hyatt

My #DragonCon schedule: Title: 101 Fascinating/Gruesome Ways to Kill a Character Description: What’s the most fascinating way to kill a character? Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: Manila / Singapore / Hong Kong – Hyatt

My #DragonCon schedule: Title: Podcasting Writers Roundtable Description: Join popular Podcast authors to discuss the changing face of books and online media. Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: 204 – Hilton

My #DragonCon schedule: Title: Broad Universe Reading Part 2 Description: Quick cuts read by some up and coming female authors; their own works or works they find influential. Sun 01:00 pm Location: Fairlie – Hyatt

My #DragonCon schedule: Title: Down and Dirty Internet Marketing Description: How to get your stuff noticed. How to interest potential readers, viewers, listeners, etc. Time: Sun 05:30 pm Location: 201 – Hilton

Then Oct 14-16 I’ll be at Capclave, Gaithersburg, MD.  The week of Halloween, Samhain, Dia De Los Muertos and All Hallow’s Eve is my Days of the Dead online blog event, Oct. 24 – 31.

Nov            18-20 I’ll be at Philcon in Cherry Hill, NJ, and then I hope to be in several Charlotte-area bookstores in early December.

Next year is already shaping up.  Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

I’ll be chillin’ in Boston for Arisia in January!

I’ve accepted invitations to SheVaCon and Mysticon (both in Roanoke) in February, and should be back in Charlotte book stores with the launch of The Dread, Book Two in The Fallen Kings Cycle.

In March I’ll be at Ravencon as well as at the Arizona Renaissance Festival outside of Phoenix.

I’ve also been invited to Book Expo (BEA) in June, although I don’t have a schedule of events yet.

That’s what’s solid so far—I’ll add dates as I get confirmations.  And if you just like to talk about the craft and business of writing, please join me in person for my monthly Meetup, the  Thrifty Author Publishing Success Network!




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Welcome to the 2012 Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek of The Dread!

Still reeling from plague and civil war, the Winter Kingdoms face an invasion force from across the Northern Sea led my a dark spirit mage in the name of ancient, vanquished gods. Summoner-King Martris Drayke and an untested generation of new rulers must stand against an unholy alliance of shadowy invaders.  To prevail, Tris must win the uncertain support of the Dread, spirit-beings that stand guard within the sacred barrows over an even more fearsome threat imprisoned within.  In the balance lies not only the freedom of the Winter Kingdoms, but Tris’s life and the soul of his young son, whose untested magic might be the biggest spoil of war.

The Dread is Book Two of The Fallen Kings Cycle, and it picks up the adventures of Tris, Jonmarc and the Winter Kingdoms gang immediately after the events in The Sworn.

The Dread will be available in stores and online world-wide in February, 2012.  But you can read an excerpt here, plus get exclusive Q&A, interviews and other online goodies by visiting the partner sites, which are listed on my web page.

During the Hawthorn Moon event, you can find never-before-released excerpts, interviews, audio, video, and goodies, plus book giveaways on a variety of great fantasy sites that have agreed to be part of this debut party.

Here’s where to find the goodies:—First look at the cover art for The Dread plus a Q&A with Tris Drayke.—Contest to win a free autographed copy of The Sworn plus an exclusive excerpt from The Dread—Three times is a charm—get lucky and win a free autographed copy of The Sworn!—Can a female author write a believable male character?  Can a mortal write a believable undead, or shapeshifting creature?  Read my exclusive blog post and find out!—Get the first look at Chapter 1 of The Dread on my Twitter feed before it posts to my web site—A different exclusive excerpt (there are three completely different excerpts in all) from The Dread plus an interview with Jonmarc Vahanian (Please “like” the page while you’re there!)—Are magical objects a cheat?  Find out what I think in my special blog post!–All-new Q&A with me talking about writing, passion and the love of magic.—Brand new audio of me reading an excerpt from The Dread

MySpace (GailZMartin) and my ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer newsletter—an interview with Adaine, the Ghost Whore

And on my web site, you’ll find the following “party favors”:

  • Another exclusive excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Dread  (one of three different excerpts)
  • An interview with Kiara, Queen of Margolan
  • An all-new author video message with hints about the new series after The Dread!

Thank you for checking out my Hawthorn Moon sneak peek party.  Enjoy!
Listen here:


Watch here:


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Interview with Tris Drayke

Q:  Are you worried about rumors that Temnotta has sent a dark summoner after you?

A:  Sure.  But I’ve always known there were dark summoners.  My grandfather, Lemuel, was possessed by the spirit of a dark summoner, the Obsidian King.  I know that this type of magic makes it very tempting to use the power for personal gain.  I didn’t think I’d be the only summoner of power around forever.  But I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded it if it had been many years in the future before I had to deal with such a thing.

Q:  The Temnottan invasion appears to be as much magic as military.  Given the recent plague and unrest, can Margolan stand against that?

A:  By the Dark Lady, I hope so!  We’ve seen more than our share of sorrows, and now this.  The Margolense are a proud people, and they’re strong.  I believe they’ll rise against the invaders.  I pray to the Lady that I don’t let them down.

Q:  How does the civil war in Isencroft affect you?

A:  On a personal level, King Donelan is my wife’s father, and a man for whom I have great respect.  I would not like to see him come to harm.  Isencroft has been a peaceful neighbor, and although the history of our kingdoms has sometimes been turbulent, throughout my father’s reign relations were good.  The betrothal contract my father and Donelan agreed to years ago averted a war, but caused new problems later on.  Some in Isencroft still view Margolan with suspicion, and the Divisionists don’t like the idea of a joint crown until Kiara and my children are of age to take the crown and return a sovereign king to Isencroft.  The troubles in Isencroft affect me very personally.

Q:  What about the Dread?  Are they enemies or allies?

A:  They are more powerful than anything we’ve seen in a thousand years.  By the Crone!  I hope they’re allies, or there may be no one left alive.


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Interview with Kiara, Queen of Margolan

Q.  This war is forcing hard choices on its rulers, and dangerous times are on the horizon.  Isencroft has experienced terrible turmoil.  The Winter Kingdoms have been scourged by plague and famine.  Your husband, Tris Drayke, suspects that a dark summoner may not only be behind the invasion, but instrumental in the attacks on your son, Cwynn.  What is your biggest worry?

A.  My dreams are dark.  I fear for the people I love, and for both my homeland of Isencroft and my new home of Margolan.  People have already suffered so much, and it looks as if there will be many dark days before all is well again.

Q:  Do you think Isencroft will survive what is shaping up to be a civil war?

A:  I pray to the Lady that the conflict does not become a true civil war, but I can’t deny the signs.  Although father has tried to spare me, I’ve heard the news from my homeland and it’s frightening.  I grieve knowing that although my marriage was one of both love and necessity, it has been a cause of this conflict.  And I pray that my children will see a better future.

Q:  You’re married to the most powerful mage in the Winter Kingdoms, but your own magic has been limited.  No one can be certain of Cwynn’s magic.  What of the regent magic that is part of the heritage of Isencroft’s monarchs?

A:  My own magic is very limited, especially compared to Tris’s power.  Perhaps someday when I inherit the crown, the full measure of regent magic will come to me, but I sincerely hope that day is far in the future.

Q:  Your son, Cwynn faces dangerous enemies.  Can you protect him?

A:  The most terrifying truth any mother faces is that there are no guarantees.  Even with the resources of the crown and the power of Tris’s magic, it is impossible to assure Cwynn’s safety.  But we’re surrounded by loyal friends and powerful allies, and although I’m a queen and a mother, I’m also a trained warrior, able to use at least some of my skills to protect my family.  Yet there are threats both seen and unseen, and new terrors that have risen with the invaders.  I fear for us all.



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Excerpt from The Dread


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