Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Guest Blog by Delia James - Plus Review and Giveaway of By Familiar Means

Please welcome Delia James to The Qwillery. By Familiar Means, the 2nd Witch's Cat Mystery, was published on September 27th by Berkley.


     So, it turns out cats have taken over the world.
     This is not going to be news to cat owners, or to cats themselves. They just wonder why it took so long for the rest of us to notice.
     I am a cat person. I grew up with cats. When I was little we had a highly independent calico named Buttercup who learned to walk without making her bell collar ring and who mercilessly teased the great dane who lived next door. Since then, I’ve shared my home with a number of felines, from my (frankly) psychopathic Siamese, to Kuzbean who loved everybody, except Isis, to our current kitty, Buffy the Vermin Slayer who is sitting by my shoulder as I type this up.
     Every last one of them has known their exact position at the center of the universe, and every last one of them has made sure that it was remembered.
     So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that I drew heavily on my personal cat experiences, as well as the cats owned by friends and family to create the character of Alistair for the Witch’s Cat mysteries. For instance, Colonel Kitty, the black, three-legged cat owned by Frank Hawthorne, is the namesake of a cat owned by good friends of mine, who was able to climb trees, fences, chairs faster than most four-legged cats. Miss Bootsie, the cat at the Harbor’s Rest hotel, may or may not be related to any number of cats I’ve met in bookstores and bed and breakfasts.
     Alistair, however, is his own particular self. Big, sassy, convinced (and rightly so) of his own intelligence. But loving and loyal. When he feels like it.
     One of the reasons I enjoy writing the witch’s cat mysteries so much is the relationship between Anna and Alistair. They are such a great team, and Alistair’s personality just leapt off the page as soon as I began to write him. Like his human friends, Alistair has more abilities than average, and maybe an extra helping of smarts (although my own cats would argue this point). Despite this, I’ve tried to keep him one hundred percent cat. For instance, He sits on everything; papers, laundry, open books, toes that aren’t moving fast enough. The state of his food bowl is of constant and intense importance to him, especially if it is not full, or is full of the wrong thing. This last is borrowed straight from a trick of Buffy’s of standing at the bottom of the stairs to our room and meowing, loudly, at five in the morning, because we haven’t gotten up quickly enough (For the record, I am not exaggerating about the five in the morning part).
     Frustration. Exasperation. Confusion. Laughter. A little strange fame, or maybe infamy. Magic. The kind of love that you would not choose to live without. That is what it is to be a cat owner, and that’s what I want to pour into the pages of the Witch’s Cat books.

By Familiar Means
Series:  A Witch's Cat Mystery 2
Publisher:  Berkley, September 27, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780451476586 (print); 9780698405585 (eBook)

In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house.

After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years.

But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer…

Jennifer's Review

By Familiar Means in the second installment in Delia James' Witch's Cat Mystery series. The story follows Annabelle Britton, who has recently discovered that she is an honest-to-goodness witch, as she navigates her magical studies and new life in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. While training with local witches to hone her latent skills and entertaining her eccentric grandmother, from whom Annabelle has inherited her magical powers, she also manages to stumble upon a body and finds herself investigating the murder to help her new friends.

This book builds upon the solid foundation that was laid in the first book of this series. The author expands the depth of recurring characters and draws more color into the locals, both magical and mundane. As with the first novel, Alistair, Annabelle's feline familiar is featured heavily and is given a delightful personality. The mystery moves nicely and is given a very satisfying ending. I look forward to seeing what Annabelle, Alistair, and her magical crew get mixed up in next.


A Familiar Tail
A Witch's Cat Mystery 1
Berkley, February 2, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Magic and meows meet in the first enchanting Witch’s Cat mystery!

Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

Suddenly saddled with a witch’s wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town….

Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her more than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.

See Jennifer's Review here.

About Delia

Born in California and raised in Michigan, Delia James writes her tales of magic, cats, and mystery from her hundred-year-old bungalow home. She is the author of the Witch’s Cat mysteries, which began with A Familiar Tail. When not writing, she hikes, swims, gardens, cooks, reads, and raises her rapidly growing son.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @MysteryDelia

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of By Familiar Means by Delia James from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on October 7, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interview with Colin Gigl and Review of The Ferryman Institute

Please welcome Colin Gigl to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Ferryman Institute is published on September 27th by Gallery Books.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Colin:  Thank you, happy to be here. I started writing some time around age 3 or 4, I think — "mom" being the first, last, and only word in my debut, which was awarded an illustrious place on the family fridge. I began taking it more seriously in college after a professor made the mistake of saying she thought a piece I wrote was funny. You can blame her for this.

I started writing because I (usually) enjoy it, at least when I'm in the moment. Sometimes, when you're writing, the world sort of falls away, and when you snap back to it, you've got 100 words on the page you don't really remember writing that you can't believe are your words... That's a special feeling.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Colin:  Mostly pantser, sort of hybrid though. On the plotting side, I'll jot down key points or themes I want to try and hit, and I don't like to start writing the first draft until I've got at least most of the narrative shape in my head.

Other than that, though? Pure flinging spaghetti at walls.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Colin:  Getting the spaghetti to stick to the wall. Pasta just doesn't adhere well to smooth surfaces.

Honestly, there are a lot of challenges, but I think the biggest I face is doubt. I often have a nagging feeling that every word/sentence/paragraph I write has some alternate, perfect version, but I'm just not talented enough to see what that is. Dealing with that feeling can be tricky. I've just tried to accept this weird duality of not being easily satisfied with what I have on the page while also recognizing that not everything will be perfect and I can only do the best I can.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Colin:  Marketing comparisons aside, reading Christopher Moore growing up really changed the way I looked at writing. Here was a guy writing genuinely laugh-out-loud speculative fiction. Up to that point, I hadn't realized that authors were allowed to be funny. I know that's strange to say, but that's how it felt to me.

Also, THE MASTER AND MARGARITA left a big mark on me — I loved its magical realism. That really struck a chord with me. Mythology obviously influenced me, too. After that, the list gets pretty exhausting.

TQDescribe The Ferryman Institute in 140 characters or less.

Colin:  Two broken souls — one an immortal guide to the dead, one about to be dead — end up on an adventure together that just might save them both

TQTell us something about The Ferryman Institute that is not found in the book description.

Colin:  I think this story can be a bit sadder and/or more introspective than the description lets on. I certainly hope it earns a smile or two along the way, but it's not exactly light fare.

Also, there's kissing. So, uh, if that grosses you out, or something, you should be aware of that, I guess. Just saying.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Ferryman Institute? What appeals to you about writing contemporary fantasy?

Colin:  Someone very close to me was battling with severe depression, among other things. I woke up one morning with the distinct thought of _What if you wanted to kill yourself, but couldn't?_ I know that's not exactly the cheeriest thought the world has ever been privy to, but it was an interesting and almost reassuring idea at the time. The rest sort of snowballed from there.

The thing I enjoy about fantasy is that, as the author, you get to design the rules, so to speak. You want a character who can jump off cliffs all willy-nilly because he feels like it? Go for it. I believe fantasy carries these inherent elements of discovery and suspense, even when dealing with the mundane, because at any given moment, the story can tap into the unexpected. There is always the potential for surprise and wonderment around every corner in a good fantasy.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Ferryman Institute?

Colin:  I shudder to think what my Google search history looks like thanks to this book. Psychologists would probably have a field day with that: "Well, given his Googling on myths, suicide, the Lincoln Tunnel, and affect versus effect, we can only conclude he was an acolyte in an ancient cult going to perform a sacred blood ritual in the Lincoln Tunnel. Oh, and his grammar was horrifyingly atrocious."

TQIn The Ferryman Institute who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Colin:  Easiest: toss up between Alice and Cartwright. For whatever reason, their voices came naturally to me — it felt more like I was taking dictation than I was writing them.

Hardest: Javrouche. He ended up getting rewritten several times. His using of French honorifics was actually from one of the latest drafts, so he was evolving even to the very end.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Ferryman Institute?

Colin:  I think having a fantastical lens to view a story through sometimes brings issues in the real world into sharper focus. The suicide angle was more of a personal desire to try and tell a story that was ultimately about hope -- that, even at the possible moment, when all seems lost, there's still a chance things can turn around.

TQWhich question about The Ferryman Institute do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Colin:  "What's the best way to give you several hundred million dollars as gratitude for bringing this book into the world?"

What a great question that would be to get, right?

On a more serious note: "What do you hope to accomplish with this book?"

Really, I just wanted to tell a good story. My writing has a ways to go, but if I could provide the means by which a reader loses him or herself for a while, I'd be thrilled. If it helps someone pick up a little bit of hope when they were in need of it, well, all the better.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Ferryman Institute.

Colin:  Oof... Really tough to pick a favorite, but here's one I enjoy: "Death was such an abstract concept right up until the point when it wasn’t anymore."

TQWhat's next?

Colin:  Hopefully another book, but I'm trying not to get too ahead of myself. I feel extraordinarily lucky to even have a chance to share this book with the world, so surviving this one is where my head's at.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Colin:  Thanks for the opportunity!

The Ferryman Institute
Gallery Books, September 27, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

In this stunning, fantastical debut novel from a bold new voice in the bestselling traditions of Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde, a ferryman for the dead finds his existence unraveling after making either the best decision or the biggest mistake of his immortal life.

Ferryman Charlie Dawson saves dead people—somebody has to convince them to move on to the afterlife, after all. Having never failed a single assignment, he's acquired a reputation for success that’s as legendary as it is unwanted. It turns out that serving as a Ferryman is causing Charlie to slowly lose his mind. Deemed too valuable by the Ferryman Institute to be let go and too stubborn to just give up in his own right, Charlie’s pretty much abandoned all hope of escaping his grim existence. Or he had, anyway, until he saved Alice Spiegel. To be fair, Charlie never planned on stopping Alice from taking her own life—that sort of thing is strictly forbidden by the Institute—but he never planned on the President secretly giving him the choice to, either. Charlie’s not quite sure what to make of it, but Alice is alive, and it’s the first time he’s felt right in more than two hundred years.

When word of the incident reaches Inspector Javrouche, the Ferryman Institute's resident internal affairs liaison, Charlie finds he's in a world of trouble. But Charlie’s not about to lose the only living, breathing person he’s ever saved without a fight. He’s ready to protect her from Javrouche and save Alice from herself, and he’s willing to put the entire continued existence of mankind at risk to do it.

Written in the same vein as bestselling modern classics such as The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, The Ferryman Institute is a thrilling supernatural adventure packed with wit and humor.

Qwill's Thoughts

The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl is the story of Charlie Dawson, Ferryman extraordinaire. He's been working as a Ferryman for over 200 years and he's exhausted. He's tired of ferrying. He's tired of saving the day when a death is difficult and the soul he's dealing with may be traumatized. He's spending more and more time away from the Ferryman Institute. Out of the blue he receives a special and secret assignment from the President of the Institute. He's sent to ferry Alice Spiegel after she commits suicide. But for the first time ever he's given the choice to save a person or not. Charlie saves Alice.

There are many rules that Ferryman have to obey including not revealing themselves to living humans. Charlie breaks this rule (along with others) and he is in a huge amount of trouble - being locked up for centuries trouble! Inspector Javrouche who is the internal affairs officer is after Charlie for this breach among others.

Charlie is a wonderful main character. He's conflicted about what he does. He's compassionate and caring. He's somewhat sarcastic and funny. However, his work has become senseless to him. He has good friends at the Institute. Individuals who are worried about him, but he bottles up everything he is feeling and continues to do his job. He's one of the best Ferryman that has ever existed and the Institute needs him. He's greatly admired, but that is not enough for him. He doesn't want to be a hero.

Alice has had a difficult life recently - she's going nowhere professionally, she's been heartbroken in more ways than one, and she sees no continued use for her existence. Meeting Charlie (and not killing herself) starts to bring her out of her sadness. She's got a spark of self-worth left. If Charlie can nurture that, Alice may have a chance. She's a terrific counterpoint to Charlie. She's strong and independent but needs to lean on Charlie to see that she has much to live for.

Inspector Javrouche is mean, spiteful and really, really dislikes Charlie. There are reasons for this which become apparent over the course of the novel. His behavior towards Charlie is the catalyst for a lot of what happens in the novel though Charlie's saving of Alice is the linchpin event.

There is a fabulous cast of supporting characters as well - Charlie's friends and co-workers. In particular his best friend and mentor, Cartwright, is just lovely.

The Ferryman Institute is steeped in Greco-Roman lore. The Institute's history is deeply interesting and there are quite a few surprises about the Institute's founding, how it works, and its bureaucracy. Gigl has created a well thought out and developed backdrop to the novel.

The Ferryman Institute is a terrific novel. It's full of action, tension, excitement, and fascinating characters. It's a really, really fun read with moments of both laughter and introspection. Charlie Dawson is a reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless.

About Colin

Photo by Carly Gigl
Colin Gigl is a graduate of Trinity College with degrees in creative writing and computer science (no, he’s not quite sure how that happened, either). He currently works at a start-up in New York and lives with his wife in New Jersey.

Website  ~  Twitter @cgigl  ~  Facebook

Monday, September 26, 2016




New York, NY—September 21, 2016 — The security of the Marvel Universe is fractured. The world’s first line of defense, S.H.I.E.L.D., can no longer be trusted. The United States no longer has a super-spy agency with its best interests at heart – until now. Prepare for the U.S.AVENGERS!

They’re the team you can trust!

For the launch of this all-new series, U.S.AVENGERS #1 will feature over 50 unique variants assigning one Avengers to that state! Sam Wilson soars high over Maryland, Iron Man rockets across the Golden State of California, Black Widow defends the Constitution State of Connecticut, and Spectrum shines a light on evil in Louisiana. With more state variants to be revealed in the upcoming days, which Avenger will be protecting you?

The View From Monday- September 26, 2016

Happy last Monday in September!

There is one debut this week:

The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to that novel's Amazon page.

From formerly featured DAC Authors:

Dishonored: The Corroded Man by Adam Christopher;

The Purloined Poodle (Oberon's Meaty Mysteries / Iron Druid) by Kevin Hearne;


Cloudbound (Bone Universe 2) by Fran Wilde.

Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to that novel's Amazon page.

September 27, 2016
Operation Arcana John Joseph Adams (Ed) F - Anthology
Black Jade Kylie Chan UF - Celestial Battle Trilogy 3
Dishonored: The Corroded Man Adam Christopher SP - Dishonored
The Dreaming Hunt Cindy Dees
Bill Flippin
F - The Sleeping King 2
Mystic (h2tp) Jason Denzel F - The Mystic Trilogy 1
Dark Ghost (h2mm) Christine Feehan PNR - Carpathian Novel 28
Dandelion Dead Chrystle Fiedler CM - A Natural Remedies Mystery 4
The Force Awakens (h2mm) Alan Dean Foster SF - Star Wars
Brian and Wendy Froud's The Pressed Fairy Journal of Madeline Cottington Wendy Froud
Brian Froud
Stardust (ri) Neil Gaiman LF/FairyT
Shadow Silence Yasmine Galenorn UF - Whisper Hollow 2
Raising Caine (tp2mm) Charles E Gannon SF/SO - Caine Riordan 3
The Ferryman Institute (D) Colin Gigl CF
Time Travel: A History James Gleick History/SocSci/Science
Darkest Journey Heather Graham Cr/R/M/GH - Krewe of Hunters 20
Forever Free (e)(ri) Joe Haldeman SF
The Coming (e)(ri) Joe Haldeman SF/Dys/AC
Guardian (e)(ri) Joe Haldeman AH
A Night Without Stars Peter F. Hamilton SF/SO/Th - Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers 2
The Tengu's Game of Go Lian Hearn F - The Tale of Shikanoko series 4
The Fall of the House of Cabal Jonathan L. Howard H - Johannes Cabal Novels 5
The Haunting of Hill House (ri) Shirley Jackson GO/H/Psy - Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
By Familiar Means Delia James PCM - A Witch's Cat Mystery 2
Bats (e)(ri) William W. Johnstone H
The Regulators (ri) Stephen King H
Gerald's Game (ri) Stephen King PsyTh
Ashley Bell (h2mm) Dean Koontz Sus/F
Bite Me (ri) Shelly Laurenston PNR - The Pride Series 9
Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon Tim Lebbon SF/H - The Rage War 3
The Silence (tp2mm) Tim Lebbon H/DF
The Bloodsworn Erin Lindsey F - A Bloodbound Novel 3
Prey: Book One: Hell's Heart John Jackson Miller SF - Star Trek
The Vanishing Year Kate Moretti Sus
Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed (h2tp) Joseph Nassise (Ed)
Del Howison (Ed)
H - Anthology
An English Ghost Story Kim Newman GH/H
The Immortal's Guide (e) S.C. Parris DF - The Dark World 2
Second Glance Jodi Picoult GH
The Gradual Christopher Priest HistF
Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories (h2tp) Ray Russell GO/H/Occ/Sup - Collection
Chills Mary SanGiovanni H/M
A Vampire's Honor Carla Smith PNR - Vampire's Promise 3
The Sinner Amanda Stevens Sus/Th/GH - The Graveyard Queen 6
Menagerie (h2tp) Rachel Vincent MR/F/DF/UF - The Menagerie Series 1
Star Wars: Secrets of the Galaxy Deluxe Boxed Set Daniel Wallace SF
The Road to Hell (h2mm) David Weber
Joelle Presby
SF/SO - Multiverse Series 3
Cloudbound Fran Wilde F - Bone Universe 2
Wearing Dad's Head: Stories Barry Yourgrau GB - Collection

September 28, 2016
The Black Guard A. J Smith F - The Long War 1

September 30, 2016
The Purloined Poodle Kevin Hearne UF - Oberon's Meaty Mysteries / Iron Druid

October 1, 2016
The House on Cold Hill Peter James H/GH
Salsa Nocturna: A Bone Street Rumba Collection (e)(ri) Daniel José Older UF - Bone Street Rumba Collection
Otared Mohammad Rabie Th/Sus
The Bell Tower (h2tp) Sarah Rayne Mys/H - A Nell West and Michael Flint Haunted House Story 6
Conversations with William Gibson (h2tp) Patrick A. Smith SF/F/HC

D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
Ke - Kindle only eBook
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback

AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CM - Cozy Mystery
CoA - Coming of Age
Cr - Crime
CW - Contemporary Women
CyP - Cyberpunk
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tale
FolkT - Folk Tale
FR - Fantasy Romance
GB - Genre Bender
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghosts
GN - Graphic Novel
GO - Gothic
H - Horror
HC - History and Criticism
Hist - Historical
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistTh - Historical Thriller
HU - Humor
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legends and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PRS - Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Psy - Psychological
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
R - Romance
SF - Science Fiction
SFR - Science Fiction Romance
SO - Space Opera
SocSci - Social Science
SP - Steampunk
SpecFic - Speculative Fiction
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
UF - Urban Fantasy

Note: Not all of these genres and formats are represented in the book above.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 DAC Cover Wars - September Winner

The winner of the September 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp from Orbit with 37% of all votes.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Orbit, September 13, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

"Ingenious and funny . . . Magnificent." -- Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen and V for Vendetta

Jack Sparks died while writing this book.

It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed.

Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed -- until now.

The Results

The September 2016 Debut Covers