Author Archives: Mark Gardner

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior.

Musing from the dead

It certainly has been a while since I posted.

A lot happened in 2019. I got laid off from my long-time broadcasting job in April. (I started that job in November 2007!) Life was difficult this year. I suffered from bouts of apathy, no doubt, depression from my life situation. My writing career seems to have stalled, and I went from getting invited to everything to no one wanting me. (I know it’s not true, but depression has a nasty way of making you believe things…) Of course, I haven’t written a damned thing since April. I’ve kept reading, but Amazon’s odd policies on writers reviewing other works of fiction resulted in no reviews. I’m not sure that anyone read my reviews, but I’m probably not going to do those anymore. Goodreads will be my primary reading portal reporting thing, since I can still leave starred ratings.

I started a new career in September. (I know, broadcasting was my new career.) So education is my new new career. I took a job as a Data Operations Specialist at a local liberal arts college. I didn’t realize how much I hated my broadcasting job until I got the college job, to contrast how much fun this new job is. I’m also going to start my graduate program in January 2020. I received my undergraduate degree in 2017 after five years of NAU, so getting an accelerated graduate degree in a year will be a challenge that I look forward to completing. The educational future for my family and me is looking good.

As for writing, I just got back from an educational training event in Portland, OR. I spent my evenings with fellow writer D. Paul Angel. We ate food and saw the sights in Weird Portland. Yes, I know that “Keep Portland Weird” is an unofficial slogan, but I don’t care. Anyway, with the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be writing the next Tupper Jones mystery, and have already written 1500 words of Brass Queen. I’m not sure of the timetable for the Brass Automaton sequel, but it’s revived. (Can you believe that it’s been since 2016 since we wrote in this universe?)

Anyway, I hope to blog more now that I’m feeling better with life. November may be light, since I want to focus on writing two stories for NaNoWriMo. Twitter will be the best place to follow that. So, in closing, it’s good to be back, and I look forward to the challenges of the future.


What Dawn Demands, by Clara Coulson

After watching his city fall to pieces during his archenemy’s last attack, Vincent Whelan is finally ready to take the fight to Abarta. But in order to defeat an age-old god and his growing army of vicious fiends, Vince will have to take Kinsale’s selection of subdued paranormals and somehow turn them into a first-rate fighting force. To complicate matters, the vampires have made themselves at home in Kinsale, and the city’s recovery is threatened by their escalating violence. So when Vince stumbles upon a major scheme in the making, spearheaded by the elder vampire who wants his head on a plate, he’ll have to navigate not only the dangers of Abarta’s next big move but also the rising risk of a vampire insurrection. A cunning trap that could destroy the city. An ancient summoning that could destroy the world. A pair of powerful people determined to achieve their dark ambitions. And the only thing standing in the way of all this chaos is a half-fae with a cop badge, a cool sword, and a massive chip on his shoulder. It’s Vincent Whelan versus the forces of absolute destruction, and the odds are far worse than fifty-fifty.

This fourth book in the series had a slightly different feel to it. Vince seems to have matured between the events of books three and four. I think I like this confident Vince better than the “hidden” one. I will say, that this is the first book in the series to have a cliffhanger ending, and it felt longer than any of the previous books. I’m not usually a fan of the cliffhanger, but Coulson pulls it off without book four feeling incomplete. It’s been fun reading Vince grow as a character, and we learned a lot about the past histories of the world, Vince, and the fae. If I had to find fault, it’s that the recurring villains are getting a little stale. I realize that Abarta is the big bad, and his defeat would likely mean the end of the series, but he seems like doctor claw from inspector gadget. I still love the snark between Vince and Saoirse, and between Vince and everyone who shunned him before his lineage was revealed. Everybody cheers for the underdog, and Vincent Whelan is an underdog I can really get behind. Five stars like the rest of the series, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Therin-Knite

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently, in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites.

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http://www.claracoulson.com/
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City Before Sunrise out now!

Hey, you. Yeah, you. My second murder mystery with Amber Cove Publishing is out now. I know, I know, you want to know why the series is called “Tupper Jones Mysteries” when the protagonist is Caroline Collins. Really, it’s because I’m a bit of a trickster. You picked up on the fact that I do stuff like naming the FBI agents after pregnancy terms, right? You dig the puns, right? Well, City Before Sunrise has the same level of snark and excitement as Score of Silence. Like more even. I guess I should say something like “Now with 17% more snarky banter!” I took a customer behavior course while getting my undergraduate degree in human behavior, and I know that that statement is meaningless. What isn’t meaningless is that gasp, there’s another dead body. (Do I really need to use “dead” as a qualifier? I mean if it’s a body, then it’s obviously dead, otherwise, it would be a person.) Some of you emailed me and said that the blood in the opening chapters of Score of Silence was too much. Okay, maybe it was. City Before Sunrise has 63% less blood. Like the description says, the team’s back together, and ready to get their man. For fans of Kimberly and/or Tiffany, they have bigger roles in City Before Sunrise. Flat-face, er, I mean Agent Braxton returns with 5% less vein-bulging, red-faced anger. So, get the book. Get two or three so you can give them to your friends. Oh, and just so you know, the rough draft of book three is finished, so expect another Tupper Jones Mysteries book March 2020. (It’s a pattern!) P.S. I could use some reviews on both titles, so you know, please…

Caroline Collins just can’t catch a break.

When an old friend comes calling, Caroline finds herself embroiled in a case involving clandestine meetings, bank robberies, a shady import-export business, and the murder of an FBI agent. And where this fearless female sleuth goes, Tupper Jones is sure to follow–only this time, following could mean a long walk off a short pier into Lake Michigan.

Hot on the heels of the events in SCORE OF SILENCE, CITY BEFORE SUNRISE explodes with action, danger, and a touch of snark. The band is back together and Team Collins won’t stop until false allegations against their friend are laid to rest and the Chicago mob is in need of a new boss.

City Before Sunrise
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q131CHX/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43471669/

Score of Silence:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B4F7ZD3/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39405579/


Release Party This Saturday!

The Verde Valley Comic Expo coincides with the release of my second murder mystery this year. City Before Sunrise is scheduled to release on March 26th, but you can get your copy early at the Verde Valley Comic Expo on March 23rd! Entry is only $5 ($3 if you bring two non-perishable food items). I’ll be there from 10am until the event closes at 5pm. Last year, I skipped the afterparty with Tales of the Con, but plan on tagging along this year. I’ll also have a Bards and Sages swag bag that the Cottonwood library will be raffling off to support their summer reading campaign. VVCE regulars, Tales of the Con, Everybody’s Hometown Geek, & Arizona Ghostbusters will be there too.

Here’s the description for City Before Sunrise:
Private Investigator Caroline Collins just can’t catch a break.
When an old friend comes calling, Caroline finds herself embroiled in a case involving clandestine meetings, bank robberies, a shady import-export business, and the murder of an FBI agent. And where this fearless female sleuth goes, Tupper Jones is sure to follow—only this time, following could mean a long walk off a short pier into Lake Michigan.
Hot on the heels of the events in SCORE OF SILENCE, CITY BEFORE SUNRISE explodes with action, danger, and a touch of snark. The band is back together and Team Collins won’t stop until false allegations against their friend are laid to rest and the Chicago mob is in need of a new boss.

But wait, there’s more! My daughter and teen artist, Alyssa, will be at VVCE2019 with me. She’ll have framed artwork for sale for only $15. She’s gotta buy lunch from the Copper State Pizza truck, so stop in and buy some of her artwork. For those of you on the south side of Mingus Mountain, she’ll also be at the Teen Art Showcase on Friday the 22nd at the Prescott Valley Library from 6pm – 8pm. The showcase will be her first public appearance ever, so stop on by to either event and say hello.

Here are some links:
VVCE2019 website
VVCE2019 facebook
Cottonwood Public Library
Prescott Valley Public Library
City Before Sunrise Amazon page
Amber Cove Publishing
Bards and Sages Publishing
Tales of the Con podcast
Everybody’s Hometown Geek
Arizona Ghostbusters


Hello Protocol For Dead Girls, by Zen DiPietro

I wasn’t so impulsive when I was alive. Death has changed me, I guess. This isn’t a dream. It’s not the afterlife, either. This is something new. I don’t remember how I died. I only know that I did. My name is Jennika Monroe, and I need to find a way out of here. A college student reaches out from beyond the dead to solve her own murder. A struggle to identify what it means to be alive, what it means to love, and how hard a person will fight to hold on to what matters. This story is like nothing you’ve read before. It’s Altered Carbon meets Gone Girl inside a Matrix type environment. It will challenge you, then thrill you, then leave you wanting more. It’s an innovative breath of fresh air that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Step into the pounding heart of a unique digital setting and enjoy this technothriller today!

This is a fun read, which is to be expected from Zen DiPietro. I’ve yet to read a story from her that I haven’t liked. Billed as a technothriller, I think that Hello Protocol for Dead Girlswill also appeal to fans of LitRPGs. With a Ghost in the Machinevibe, we see technology through the view of a disembodied programmer. Reminiscent of Tron, Jennika interacts with other programs, and tries to not only let people know that she’s trapped in the server, but to solve her own murder. That particular nugget came out of nowhere, and I didn’t know who done it until the reveal. The story also explores themes like identity, and what it is that makes us human. Zen is no stranger to thinking outside of the box, and Hello Protocol for Dead Girlsis a short, easy read. It’s a welcome edition to Zen’s backlist, and worth the read. Four and a half stars!

zen-dipietro

Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.

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http://www.zendipietro.com
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Oath Sworn, by Meg MacDonald

Defending Lian against soulless assassins is not what Aralt “Wolf” syr Tremayne agreed to. Nor did he agree to be the guardian of an irrational teenaged Keeper of the Faith. And he certainly did not plan on sky pirates or cannibals. Aralt has his hands full. The Grand Meeting of the Northern Alliance is mere days away and Lian Kynsei, last of the soul-touched and missing for three years, turns up on his doorstep. A noble man of his word, Aralt has every intention of protecting his ward, but did he have to show up now? What’s worse, the more they get reacquainted, the less Aralt likes him. He’s reckless, emotional, and when he’s angry even the weather changes. This is the hope of a nation? Armed with the Tuned sword that is all he has left of his murdered brother, Aralt endeavors to secure a sanctuary for a reluctant heir-apparent who never anticipated his elevated status. But sanctuary proves elusive, every step bringing them closer to danger–and closer to revealing secrets neither wishes to share. The enemy has made the skies their own and unleashed a scourge intent on killing Lian–or worse. Death, Aralt realizes, might be the greater mercy.

Oath Sworn starts a bit slow, but this is a necessity to lay the foundation on which an epic noblebright series is built. From flying ships to crystal swords that sing with sorrow and jubilation, the world of Aralt and Lian is a masterpiece that yearns to be told again and again.

A richly woven tapestry of history, religion, and good old fashioned gas lamp fantasy, Oath Sworn is a tale of tales for athe ages. Exciting chapters flow with a beautiful prose that is accessible to readers young and old alike. New readers will marvel at the mastery and majesty of the author, and seasoned readers will find that they’ve reunited with a tale that is familiar, but told in a way that only Meg Mac Donald could tell.

I long for the continuation of the Wolf’s Oath series, and know that new installments will be as riveting as this introduction. Five out of five stars is an easy rating to grant, and I have no doubt that more tales from the author will quickly become a reader’s favorite.

Meg MacDonald is a time traveler from beyond the Stellian Galaxy, but she pretends to be a life-long Michigander and SFF geek whose first crush (after her daddy) was Mr. Spock. This explains a lot. She began writing the stories that would lead to Oath Sworn and the Wolf’s Oath Trilogy when she was in high school. A lot of writing and many distractions followed. She has trained dogs and horses, rescued cats, renovated old houses, gone spelunking, and fostered children. Her husband thinks she’s cute, her kids think she’s weird, and her cats just want her for her lap. She loves woolly mammoths, Coca-Cola, men in kilts, and has never been to the moon, but hope springs eternal. Meg’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in Weird Tales, Masques of Darkover, The Temporal Logbook, and other short story anthologies both in print and online. She was editor-in-chief of the semi-pro SFF magazine PANDORA back in the day and credits that experience with nurturing her love of short fiction, honing her critical skills, and delaying her writing career by at least a decade.

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https://kyrrimar.com/
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The Harpy, by Julie Hutchings

Charity Blake survived a nightmare. Now she is one. Punk-rock runaway Charity Blake becomes a Harpy at night—a treacherous mythical monster who preys upon men just like the ones who abused her. Struggling through an endless stream of crappy coffee shop jobs, revolted stares, and self-isolation during the day, Charity longs to turn into the beast at night. Doing the right thing in all the wrong ways suits her. But a Harpy’s life belongs in Hell—the gruesome Wood of Suicides, where the Harpy queen offers Charity just what she’s looking for: a home where she can reign supreme and leave behind the agony of her past. The choice to stay in Hell would be easy, were it not for a rock-and-roll neighbor who loves her for the woman she is—even when he discovers the creature she becomes—and unexpected new friends with their own deranged pasts and desires who see Charity as their savior. But salvation isn’t in the cards for Charity. Not when her friends see through her vicious attitude and fall in love with her power as the Harpy. Struggling between the life of an injured outcast and the grizzly champion of a blood-red hellscape, Charity must thwart her friends’ craving for her power enough to fear her corruption—and determine once and for all where her salvation lies: in eternal revenge or mortal love.

The Harpy, by Julie Hutchings is dark. Characters deal with abuse, violence, and a touch of gore when they deserve it. Charity is a flawed protagonist, but who wouldn’t be with the same backstory? Always snarky, with a brutally honest look at humanity’s underbelly, The Harpy is an excellent voyage into darkness. Characters are not who and what they claim to be, and everything’s fair game. If you like your stories dark, and your protagonists covered in blood, then this is the book for you.

Julie’s a mythology-twisting, pizza-hoarding karate-kicker who left her ten-year panty peddling career to devote all her time to writing. She is the author of Running Home, Running Away, The Wind Between Worlds, and forthcoming The Harpy. Julie revels in all things Buffy, Marvel, robots, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband, two magnificent boys, and a reptile army.

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https://juliehutchings.net
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