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