Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Darklands by Nancy Holzner

UFI welcomes Nancy Holzner Author of The Deadtown Series. Thanks for Joining us!!

What Makes a Great Summer Beach Read?

When Deadtown was released just after Christmas in 2009, Publishers Weekly said that the novel "would be a great beach read if it weren’t coming out in the middle of the winter." (I think maybe the reviewer was longing for a midwinter Caribbean getaway.) It took four books to get here, but finally a Deadtown novel is coming out in the summer—just in time for readers to take it to the beach. Darklands hit shelves on July 31, so don't forget to toss it in your beach bag!

This got me thinking about what constitutes a great beach read. I don't often get a chance to lie around and read all day, perhaps pausing to sip a tropical drink or splash in the surf. If I'm going to spend a day on the beach, what kind of book do I want to take with me?

These are the qualities I find essential in a good beach read:

Escapism. Hey, I'm on vacation. I've left my stresses and problems and worries behind me, at least for a few days. I don't want depressing literary fiction about dysfunctional families. I don't want shocking true crime stories. I don't want deep analysis of economic, social, or political problems. I'm interested in these things, but I'm not taking them with me to the beach.

A likeable protagonist. Anti-heroes definitely have their place. But when I'm reading for fun, I want to cheer for a main character I like and admire. Someone I'd enjoy meeting for margaritas after the sun goes down.

Adventure. A great beach read throws its characters into a high-stakes situation. Something important is at risk—life, a loved one, the fate of the world itself—and the protagonist must struggle to save it. I heart-pounding action. I want the afternoon to zip by as quickly as I can turn pages.

Humor. In my day-to-day life, I sometimes feel like I don't laugh enough. Vacations are the perfect time to throw your head back and laugh. Humor doesn't have to be the focus of the book, but a chuckle here and there is definitely a bonus.

Romance. Vacations are made for romance, so a little happily-ever-after is always welcome in my beach reading. Romance doesn't have to be the focus of the book, but it's one of the things that makes life worth living, and it rounds out characters for me. And what better time to fall in love than when you're saving the world?

An overall positive outlook. I love dark fantasy. I adore horror and shivers-up-your-spine ghost stories. I might bring a few dark, creepy books along with me on vacation, but lying in the bright sunshine isn't the best time for terror and spooky chills. I'll save those for autumn and its lengthening shadows.

Exotic locations. A book is such a wonderful way to travel. Whether I'm lazing on a distant tropical beach or reading on a bench in a local park, my favorite summer reading takes me to faraway places.

So there are my ingredients for the perfect summer beach read. I like to think Darklands contains most of them. It's got fantasy, action and adventure, suspense, dashes of humor, and a touch of romance. As for exotic locations, the story ventures deep into the realm of the dead (which isn't what you might expect).

How about you? What do you look for in a summer beach read? What are some of your favorite books that you've read on vacation?

Nancy Holzner grew up in western Massachusetts with her nose stuck in a book. This meant that she tended to walk into things, wore glasses before she was out of elementary school, and forced her parents to institute a “no reading at the dinner table” rule. It was probably inevitable that she majored in English in college and then, because there were still a lot of books she wanted to read, continued her studies long enough to earn a master’s degree and a PhD.

She began her career as a medievalist, then jumped off the tenure track to try some other things. Besides teaching English and philosophy, she’s worked as a technical writer, freelance editor and instructional designer, college admissions counselor, and corporate trainer. As Nancy Conner, she writes how-to and reference books on topics ranging from classical mythology to using Office 2010.

Nancy lives in upstate New York with her husband Steve, where they both work from home without getting on each other’s nerves. She enjoys visiting local wineries and listening obsessively to opera. There are still a lot of books she wants to read.
Find Nancy and her books

Deadtown #4
July 31, 2012
 They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border—but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…

Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear—in the realm of the dead itself.
Nancy is offering a Great Beach Read gift pack, including a woven straw beach bag, beach towel, and a signed copy of Darklands
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This sounds like a series I need to read. The Boston setting is a plus.

  2. I agree with Nancy's ingredients for a great beach read, however I read what ever really appeals to me at the time. So, a Snata anthology in mid-summer is possible and a bubbly romance in the dead of winter.

  3. I have heard so many great things about this series! Thanks for the giveaway! :)

    As for my favorite beach reads, I love to read anything with humor and romance!

  4. Hi, everyone, and thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

    @Lisa I went to school in Boston and then lived there for a number of years, so it's been fun to imagine demons rampaging through its streets. :)

    @Anne, I know what you mean. I've had the experience of packing books for a trip and then not being in the mood to read any of them because my mood changed. (That's what will eventually make me an ebook convert!)

    @Kimmie Thank you! I think you've nailed what many readers consider the perfect beach read--something that goes along with the fun and (hopefully) romance of being on vacation.

    Thanks to Urban Fantasy Investigations for hosting this post and TWO Darklands-related giveaways!

  5. Cant pass up a good book with zombies and a girl with a flaming sword. Great giveaway.

  6. Thank you for such a fun post! I'm such a fan of Nancy's series and I'm always so excited to see the newest :)

    I absolutely agree w/ your list, but that's also what I look for in everyday reading! Vacations... I'm kinda familiar w/ what they are... haven't had one in a long time :( but if I could, I'd definitely take your book to the beach!

  7. @Rain Maiden I'm the same way! I try to write the kinds of books I love to read.

    @erin Thank you for reading my series! And I know what you mean about vacations. It's been a while for me, too. Like they say, though, a good book is the best vacation. (Well, OK, maybe an oceanfront suite in a luxury hotel is better, but a good book goes a long way when you can't get away from home. And the oceanfront suite PLUS the good book? Bliss.)

  8. I try and go for lighter and funnier in a beach read. These days, my new secret obsession for a beach read... British books. Or at least, books with British characters. Sophie Kinsella with her Shopaholic books and Gail Carriger with her Parasol Protectorate being two of my favorite. I've been anticipating Darklands for so long now, that I would read it anywhere. On a beach, on my couch, in bed, during visits to my in-laws.... lol

  9. Love, love, love this series! Can't wait to read this one.

    My favorite Summer Beach reads? A book by any of my favorite PNR/UF authors will work! I love strong heroines with attitude.

  10. One thing is for certain, there is always some action going on in Deadtown and you have to keep on your toes LOL I am definitely looking forward to Vicky's new adventure. For a beach read, my criterion runs to must be a GOOD read as there are so many awesome distractions at the beach. So give me some action and some paranormal chills and I am one happy gal! Thank you for taking the time to share with us today and I wish you all the best success with the new release in this awesome series.

  11. Thanks so much, Mizz Rizz! Gotta say I definitely would have benefitted from bringing along a flaming sword when dealing with my former in-laws. (My current mother-in-law is a sweetie.)

    @Karen, me too! I really enjoy reading about women who know what they want and go for it (especially when they get to save the world in the process).

    @Denise, good point about distractions. I love it when I get so lost in a book that it takes me a minute, after I look up, to remember where I am.

  12. I've always wondered what reviewers mean by "good beach read". Reading on the beach has never been my habit (rather be in the shade with a cool drink and comfy seating) but I do read on vacation - just not quite as much as usual.
    On vacation, I usually look for romance, urban fantasy and mysteries. The more cerebral end of science fiction usually is home reading.
    I do think there is a type of book for long flights though. That's when I pull out the very long suspense thrillers which are often used books that I can toss away when I finish.

  13. I've only read the first one- great start! I should probably pick up the second one soon.

  14. @Carol You and I have the same tastes in a vacation! I'm fish-belly pale and burn after about two minutes in the sun, so the shade and a cool drink are definitely my own preference. (I agree with your tastes in reading, as well.)

    Thanks, Bethany! I hope you'll have a chance to keep going with the series. Each book raises the stakes.

  15. I really enjoyed the first in this series. Looking forward to reading more.

  16. I just look for an entertaining read to take to the beach, something with some action, adventure and humor with interesting characters. Pretty much what I like to read most of the time. :D

  17. Thank you, donnas! Good luck with the giveaway!

  18. Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to read this book. Please enter me.

  19. The book sounds intriguing.

  20. I love this series and your books always have me laughing. I loved the bar bachelorette party in the last one. What is your writing schedule like? Are you a morning person or a night owl when it comes to writing?

  21. Hi Jennifer,

    To answer your question, I'm cursed with being a night owl who works best in the morning. :) I tend to stay up late (1:00 or 2:00 a.m.), so "morning" for me means waking up around 8:30 or 9:00. If I manage to focus on writing before I get distracted by other things, I usually make good progress. If I let myself take "just a minute" to scan headlines or check my email, I'm sunk. Well, not *sunk* maybe, but it can be harder to get down to work.

    Thanks so much for reading my Deadtown books!


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