Category: Blog Tour

The Gauntlet Runner Blog Tour – Real AI

Real AI

J. Scott Coatsworth


With all the talk of Generative AI these days – ChatGPT, MidJourney and the like, I think we lose sight of what “real” artificial intelligence is.


Generative AI really isn’t intelligence at all, or at least not yet – some people think it could be a springboard for true intelligence at some point. But for now, it’s just an advanced version of the thing that powers your phone’s text predictor – that thing that shows the next word(s) it thinks you might be about to type based on what you’ve already typed so far.


The Measure of Sorrow Blog Tour: Time and the deep, black lake: resurrecting a story you’ve given up for dead

Time and the deep, black lake: resurrecting a story you’ve given up for dead

Have you ever written a story you loved so much but just couldn’t get to work? A stack of pages (whether real or metaphorical) you look upon with pangs of regret each time you slide open your (real or metaphorical) desk drawer—that drawer where all the other trunkers lay, forsaken? Do you ever take it out to reconsider with a kind of conflicted longing, as you might think back on a past lover—a lover with whom things were both electric and ill-fated—wishing it would either reveal itself in all its naked glory, or stop calling and let you get on with your life? 

Some stories are just like that. And though it may be painful, to set them free we have to let them go. (Let them go, yes—but never, not ever, throw them away.)

I wrote the first draft of the title novella in my short story collection, The Measure of Sorrow, close on ten years ago. I wrote it in a white heat of ideas piling on ideas, of puzzle pieces attracted one to another that just fit, of sustained inspiration that took me deep down, away from the original story seed, and into places I’d never explored before. It was exhilarating. I loved it. But it didn’t work.


The Merry Dredgers Blog Tour: Answering Your Writing-Related Questions

Answering Your Writing-Related Questions

by Jeremy C. Shipp


For the sake of this post, I decided to hop around from social media platform to social media platform, collecting writing-related questions from aspiring and established authors. I visited Facebook, Twitter, Mastodon, Hive, Mammoth, Swarm, Toilet Bowl, Void, Eldritch Cucumber, Flibbertigibbet, Tally-ho, Razzmatazz, the Other Void, Giant Brain, Giant Brian, Egg, the Lost City of Atlantis, the Found City of Atlantis, Cookie Jar, Dimension Number 8364883, Eldritch Pickle. Anyway, here are some of the questions people had for me, along with my attempts to answer them.


Cover reveal: The new Robert P. Ottone novel is almost here!

It’s always exciting when we get to know, see or read something before it officially hits the public consciousness – it’s one of the perks of being part of the Horror Tree team. But sometimes that excitement brews and bubbles and is just about ready to boil over from how buzzing we are. The title, the writer, the cover – my word, that cover. Sometimes it all comes together perfectly. And this is one of those times.

Friends, countrypeople: we are gathered here today to launch the cover of Robert P. Ottone’s new tome, The Vile Thing We Created. You’ll need to open this article page to see it, but it’s worth it. It’s beautiful. 

Robert P. Ottone is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The Triangle, Her Infernal Name & OTher Nightmares, and, now, The Vile Thing We Created, a suburban folk horror about becoming a parent. Robert is, of course, also the publisher and owner of Spooky House Press, and no stranger to our dark worlds.

TWF editor Lauren McMenemy got to chat with Robert about the cover, the book, parenthood horror and more for the HorrorTree YouTube channel. Watch the interview here, or read on for an edited transcript of the discussion.


A Q&A With Stephen J. Wolf On His Upcoming Release ‘Kershin the Fire Mage’

Stephen J. Wolf earned his PhD in science education in 2006, and has worked as a science teacher since 2001. His passion for chemistry and physics was inspired by watching Mr. Wizard’s World as a child, and learning that many of life’s biggest and most fascinating mysteries could be explained through science.

When he isn’t helping his students discover logic and wonder in the classroom, Wolf enjoys spending time with his husband Kevin, and watching Doctor Who with their cats, Merlin and Monty. Wolf currently resides in New York.


UK Readers – Enter Our “Children Of Time” Trilogy Giveaway!

Today, we’ve got another great giveaway to offer up to our UK readers! We have 1 paperback copy set of the Arthur C Clarke Award-winning Children of Time trilogy by Adrian Tchaikovsky to give away, and you have a chance at being the lucky winner! We’ve got a few easy entries to enter so get them in before December 16tth, 2022!

For those unfamiliar with the series:
Adrian Tchaikovksy’s award-winning novel Children of Time, is the epic story of humanity’s battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age — a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

Enter here:

‘Third Front’ Blog Tour – Inside E.M. Hamill’s Creative Process

Elisabeth “E.M.” Hamill is a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci-fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and wherever she can steal quality time with her laptop.
She lives with her family in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

How long on average, does it take you to write a book?

Sparks in the Dark Blog Tour: A Conversation With James Siewert

James and his husband live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Part-time office drone, part-time storyteller, full-time sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast (and some spooky ghost tales), James couldn’t find enough stories involving guys like him and his hubby are: big men with big hearts, full of big ideas!


Taking matters into his own hand, James seeks to share high adventure, low-angst stories where the heroes are solid blokes who take centre stage. Come join the adventure and explore bold new worlds full of authentic characters, gripping scenes, lush imagination, and a touch of mushy stuff – there’s a whole galaxy waiting for you to discover!

Here, he speaks about his latest release, “Sparks in the Dark” and more!

When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I was a teenager, but it’s only within the past year or so that I’ve made the leap into sharing my work with others. It took a long time for me to build the confidence I needed to make public what was otherwise intensely private, but after some encouragement from my co-workers (all who enjoyed how I wrote the office newsletter), I thought I’d give publishing a story a go, if only to see where it took me.  

I can’t say if I’m any good at writing – I think I’m pretty decent and am always looking to improve, but I do enjoy the process of writing stories immensely. Everything from creating characters that resonate with me, to finding adventures for them to experience, to building the world that they inhabit.  It’s a mental holiday for me to just step into my character’s shoes and see their world through their eyes, to figure out their reactions, to say what they would say.   

How would you describe your writing style/genre?

As of this moment, the writing style I am most comfortable with is the one that I most enjoy reading – the first-person perspective, where we really get to experience the character’s world, as they do.  I find it more intimate, and more realistic, to see events unfold before the character’s eyes, and experience their reaction. For me, it makes the characters easier to relate to and connect with, as we’re able to share their thoughts and feelings in real-time.  In the future, I might experiment with different writing styles, but for now, telling a story as though it were a diary of the character is just the ticket for me.  

I also try and write stories as though I were watching a movie, setting the scenes and providing details like I was sitting back with a bowl of popcorn, watching my characters in a feature film.  I love excitement and adventure, and so I make sure my writing contains a lot of big-screen, high-octane action – Michael Bay eat your heart out.

What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.

Allure of Oartheca, my first published work, was as much an experiment as it was a book. I had never written a full-length novel start-to-finish before, and to be honest, I wasn’t very hopeful that it would be well-received, as the story has some rather unique characters in it, ones that are not everyone’s cup of tea – anthropomorphic space-bears are not an easy sell!  But it was the story I wanted to write, and I figured what’s the worst that can happen?  I love the end result, I learned a lot, and other folks got the chance to explore a universe unlike any they’ve ever seen before.

Turns out Allure wasn’t just a story on its own, it was the opening instalment of a feature-length saga, with a plethora of ideas spilling out in every direction on where to go and what to do.  The sequel, Barons of Oartheca, continues the saga, and I am currently writing the third instalment, Captains of Oartheca.

Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.

I planned a three-day excursion to the British Museum in London, all so that I could get a better understanding of life in England during the Napoleonic Wars – specifically, what everyday people wore, the tools they worked with and the day-to-day life they experienced, just so I could hone the realism of my story.  I really needed to understand the life of the common person, as well as a soldier on the front-lines, all for a story I was (and still am) formulating that takes place in that era and location.  Oddly, the thing I learned the most pertained to be their dental hygiene – if you ever want to give yourself nightmares, study pre-20th century dentistry.  Yikes.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Writing historical-based fiction is definitely my Achilles heel, to say the least. Avoiding time-anachronisms, either in language, actions/reactions, social situations and technology, is no easy feat. There’s so many chances to slip-up that the whole creative process becomes frustrating and defeats the purpose of why I write to begin with: enjoyment.  It’s a bit of a heartache, because there’s lots of stories I want to get out there that take place in our history, but the risk of messing up is just so high.  Readers are smart, and they’ll catch you out on a time-mistake faster than you can blink, so it will take a lot more reading of Jane Austin, Walter Scott and the like before I feel even remotely comfortable in giving the world of the nineteenth-century a go.  Shame, because the story I have for it is really cool – it involves mind-controlling immortal aliens of all things!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Start now and stop worrying! I am very critical of myself, and for the longest time, I thought that I’d never be at the level necessary to consider publishing a novel.  That was until I read about four pages of a very popular series that first started out as fan-fiction but now has been made into movies, and discovered a dozen or so grammar mistakes. I figured that if something of this, uh, ‘quality’ can be considered literature, then I have nothing to worry about.  

That’s not to say that I don’t need practice and improvement (far, far from it), but that perfection is an illusion, and it’s sometimes the effort that matters, more than the result.  Oh, and I would tell my younger self to experience more things – writing about something that you know nothing about first-hand is a fool’s errand, so go out and live a little more, experience more, and feel more, even if it means you get a couple of bruises along the way.     

Book Blurb:


Space: Where discovery and danger are two sides of the same coin.


Meet Albert ‘Buzz’ Buchanan, a retired space marine now freelancing as a gun for hire, who finds himself accepting a deal too good to turn down, even if it’s too good to be true.


Meet Thomas Cutter, a star-ship engineer who’s a lot more than what he first seems. He seeks knowledge and adventure, and the offer to team-up with the sexy space marine is just what Cutter’s been waiting for.


As our two heroes set out, they encounter more than they bargained for: a discovery of a lifetime, but only if they can escape with their lives. Will the galaxy reward them for their bravery, or will they fall victim to the great unknown?


Join Buzz and Cutter in their very first episode as they journey across the galaxy, finding high adventure and untold dangers in the darkness of space … along with discovering a friendship that promises so much more.


Warnings: Sexual situations


Non-Exclusive Excerpt:


I see him, standing in the line-up to get into one of the numerous Bow Ties clubs—The Bull & Tackle, a low-key, pub-like establishment well known as the hunting grounds for men on the prowl for other men, without all the noise of a dance bar. I myself was headed to QuaTzar—the prime-time, holo-powered disco-nasium that attracts the partygoers of the galaxy, but after catching a glimpse of the hefty hulk of a man waiting in line for the pub, I changed my mind.


Broad shoulders that narrow to a solid waist, heavily muscled frame, tall and with a buzzed blond haircut so short he’s nearly bald. He’s not a ripped Adonis—there’s some heft and bulk to him that suggests he’s not afraid of a good meal, sorta like I am. Even though his firm backside is turned to me, I can tell this one’s going to be a looker. 


He’s dressed in tight tan breeches, tucked into heavy workman’s spacer-boots, and he wears a khaki tank top that shows off his impressively built arm muscles. His dark leather belt has a pistol holder strapped to one side, though it’s currently empty (all weapons are checked at the security airlock to the station). Fair-skinned, but with a rich tan, like he’s been in the sun a lot. 


He’s standing fifth in line from the entrance, which is twenty men deep. I gotta catch his attention somehow, so I walk to the front of the line, making my way to the automaton bouncer guarding the entrance. I ask the machine how long the wait will be, and after I get the answer, I turn, my eyes finding and locking on Mr. Number Five.


Ah, he is a looker!  Strong, classically masculine features—wide jaw, firm squared chin, proud, straight nose. Wears a short blond beard, kept neatly trimmed, but not stylised. Mouth looks like it was built just for kissing. Incredible eyes too—blue like mine, but more on the green side, like stormy waters. Older than I appear to be, but not by a lot—there’s some wisdom in his handsome face as much as there is quiet strength.


 I can’t help but give a low smile in appreciation at such a fine example of a man in the prime of his life, and my trick’s done its job—Mr. Five catches me sneaking a look at him, and gives me that deep stare that clearly shows he likes what he sees too. As I walk past him, I give him a quick nod of my head in greeting, and he’s fast to respond.


‘How long did the ‘bot say the wait was?’ he asks, his rumbly voice causing a delightful shiver in me.


‘Thirty minutes or so,’ I reply, sounding blasé. ‘Too much of a wait for me.’


‘Same,’ Mr. Five says. There’s a short pause as he inspects the line, then looks back at me, the corner of his lips curling. ‘You wanna find another club with me?’


I pretend to ponder the question for a believable amount of time. ‘Sounds good, you got something in mind?’


He steps out of the line, closer to me. Man, he’s tall, a good twenty centimetres on me, but we’ve got the same muscled build, so it’s not a case of David versus Goliath here. As his eyes wander over me, I can tell that he appreciates what he’s seeing, and I find I’m giving him the same grin he’s giving me.


‘Kinda hungry,’ he answers, his tone low and inviting. ‘We could go somewhere quiet, get a little something to eat.’


‘Got me a suite in the upper-levels,’ I say, casually. ‘Can always order room service.’


A split second is all the time it takes for him to answer. ‘Sounds perfect. Lead the way. Name’s Buzz, what’s yours?’


‘Cutter,’ I answer. 


 His smile broadens. ‘Good to meetcha, Cutter.’ He extends one of his meaty hands, covered by a fingerless gunman’s glove, and I shake it, firmly,   


‘Likewise, Buzz,’ I reply, genuinely, and flash him an appreciative smile. I extend my hand, showing him the way towards the lifts to the upper levels.


Ten minutes later, we’re up in my suite, and I’ve already got his shirt  


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Author Bio:


James and his husband live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Part-time office drone, part-time storyteller, full-time sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast (and some spooky ghost tales), James couldn’t find enough stories involving guys like him and his hubby are: big men with big hearts, full of big ideas!


Taking matters into his own hand, James seeks to share high adventure, low-angst stories where the heroes are solid blokes who take centre stage. Come join the adventure and explore bold new worlds full of authentic characters, gripping scenes, lush imagination and a touch of mushy stuff – there’s a whole galaxy waiting for you to discover!


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