Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some September books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, YA fantasy, cozy fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, space exploration and colonisation, dystopian fiction, LitRPG, horror, Steampunk, weird western, time travel, alternate history, writing advice, dragons, robots, dragons versus robots, alien invasions, galactic empires, cities on the moon, restaurants in space, waking starships, intergalactic crime lords, bounty hunters, superheroes, myth seekers, gnomes, elves, crime-fighting ghosts, wild west mages and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Invasion by Jay AllenInvasion by Jay Allen:

War…like none that has come before.

The Hegemony has launched the invasion Tyler Barron and his Confederation comrades have feared, and all the Rim is ablaze with the fires of war and destruction.

The Hegemony has brought its vast fleets, its advanced technology, and its endless legions of grim cyborg warriors to impose its system of rigid genetic hierarchy over all humanity on the Rim.

The Confederation fleet is outnumbered and outmatched, but they will fight nevertheless, struggling and dying to hold back the onslaught any way they can, even as the Marines they leave behind dig in and prepare to defend worlds swallowed up by the advancing battle lines.

Barron and his people will fight, they will fight like demons unleashed, and Jake ‘Raptor’ Stockton will lead his wings of strikefighters in one desperate attack after another into the teeth of the enemy armada, but time is running out…even as the enemy pushes relentlessly toward the Confederation’s Core and final victory.

The Myth Seeker by Cora BarclayThe Myth Seeker by Cory Barclay:

A banshee who just wants to sing.
A leprechaun with a gambling problem.
A sex-addicted succubus in recovery.
Vampires who want a sunny day at the beach.
And then there’s Steve, the regular Joe who inadvertently brought these flawed mythical beings to our world. But he has no idea how he did it, which is a problem, because it’s his job to bring them home.
All this responsibility is putting a serious damper on Steve’s directionless lifestyle. Then he finds out a dark force is trying to kill him and his friends. And he might be falling in love with one of his charges…
Steve realizes he must get his act together, before it’s too late…

No Kitten Around by R.J. BlaineNo Kitten Around by R.J. Blain:

Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

The last thing Reed Matthews needs in his life is a kitten, but when an orphaned tabby suckers him into becoming her caretaker, he’s in for the ride of his life. Add in an angel determined to meddle in his affairs, a devil with an agenda, and a bucketful of bad omens, and he’ll count himself fortunate if he survives the clash between heaven, hell, and his ex.

In this anything goes romp, there’s no kitten around: if Reed wants to survive and regain control of his life, his only hope lies in the hands of an elf and his ex, a woman he’s sworn to never see again.

Rookie by S.J. BryantRookie by S.J. Bryant:

Freedom has a price.

Thugs, thieves, urchins – and they’re the good guys.

Nova is tough as steel and as sharp as a switchblade. She thought she’d finally found freedom when she bought a ship and flew away from her home planet, but she soon realizes that freedom doesn’t come cheap.

With crime lords, gangs, and rival bounty hunters chasing her, Nova has to fight just to keep what little she has.

But there’s more at stake than her beat-up ship.

Nova has never needed anyone; she’s a loner, a maverick, a renegade. But now she has to make the ultimate choice; fight in a team, or die alone?

Life is hard, but Nova is harder.

You’ll love this space adventure, because everyone enjoys a gritty hero with a plasma pistol who’s trying to save the Universe.

The Taste of Home by Cora BuhlertThe Taste of Home by Cora Buhlert:

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

Mikhail is on his way home, an anniversary present for Anjali in his pocket, when he suddenly finds himself irresistibly drawn towards an unremarkable storefront and comes face to face with his past.

Meanwhile, Anjali is preparing a special anniversary dinner for Mikhail, only to find that he is late to come home.

This is a novelette of 9300 words or approximately 32 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Fractured Stars by Lindsay BurokerFractured Stars by Lindsay Buroker:

McCall Richter finds criminals, con men, and deadbeats better than anyone else in the empire.

She’s proud of her success and that she owns her own spaceship, especially since she struggles to understand human motivations, can’t tell when people are lying to her, and is horrible at recognizing faces. Being autistic in the empire is frowned upon—and there’s a handy normalization surgery to correct it—but she’s managed to prove her worth and avoid irking the tyrannical regime.

Except for one thing.

Two years ago, she liberated the android, Scipio, from an imperial research facility where he was treated worse than a slave. He’s become her business partner and best friend, but if the empire finds out she has him, a “normalization” surgery will be the least of her worries.

When her ship is confiscated by a cyborg law enforcer needing to transport prisoners, McCall knows she and Scipio are in trouble. Worse, the enforcer’s pilot is a former bounty hunter and business competitor she beat to the prize many times in the past.

Soon, he’s snooping all over her ship and questioning her about her past.

And there’s something strange about him. He knows far more about what she’s thinking than any human should.

It’ll only be a matter of time before he discovers her secret. And then what?

Elven Fury by Lindsay BurokerElven Fury by Lindsay Buroker:

Jev Dharrow is trying to convince his father to cancel his arranged marriage so he can wed Zenia, the woman he loves. But when elven assassins arrive in the city, all his personal problems must be set aside.

They are after his good friend, Lornysh, an elf who has saved Jev’s life a dozen times over the years. The assassins consider Lornysh to be a traitor to their people, and they’ll kill anyone who stands at his side. They wield great magic as well as their swords, and they have the power to destroy half the city as they chase after their target.

With the arranged marriage looming and elven assassins on the warpath, Jev is running out of time to save his friend—and his own future.

The Kingfisher's Debt by Kura CarpenterThe Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter:

Magic isn’t real, right?

Within the small coastal city of Dunedin, local translator, Tamsin Fairchild has a reputation she hates. People think she’s psychic…

Always hovering around and interfering in Tamsin’s life, part father-figure, part thorn in her side, Detective Jackson, is an old-school cop. Childhood friend to her deceased mother, Tamsin wonders could her mother have let an outsider in on the truth?

Newcomer, rookie cop Scott Gale is forced to team-up with Tamsin when they investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby and a bizarre crime scene–satanic ritual or hoax?

More and more the blame starts to point towards Tamsin…

Tamsin must uncover who’s framing her, find the baby before it’s too late, unravel the mystery behind her elder brother’s disappearance, and stop Scott from entering a world not meant for human eyes.

But Scott has family secrets of his own and Tamsin doesn’t know who to trust.

But can you trust Tamsin? What if the person who saved your life is about to frame you for murder?

Enter the Shroud by Killian CarterEnter the Shroud by Killian Carter:

When Captain Grimshaw and Lieutenant Evans go renegade, the crew of the North Star must enter the Shroud. Vessels that dare travel into the infamous nebula never return to tell about it, but Taza Arkona claims to possess a key that will grant them safe passage.

With the Galactic Alliance coming undone at the seams and a long forgotten enemy looming on the horizon, Grimshaw, Evans, and Arkona must learn the secrets hidden behind the Shroud. If they fail, invaders will ravage the Galaxy unimpeded while it burns from within.

Defiance by H.G. ChambersDefiance by H.G. Chambers:

The void gathers, and shadows deepen.

The terrifying truth has finally been revealed—New Arcadia is a city-sized weapon, poised to destroy the entire planet. Now Oren, Clementine, Anzien, and Ryland must join forces and fight, if they hope to rescue the millions of civilians within New Arcadia, and stop the apocalyptic weapon from activating. But to do so, they must overcome not only their enemies, but also the demons within themselves.

Oren’s memories of Clementine have been burned away, leaving an empty chasm between them. Determined to melt his cold despondence, Clementine returns a precious gift he gave her long ago. Will it be enough to bring them together, or will the contradiction in his memories divide them further?

As the Ko’jin rebels prepare to march on New Arcadia, Anzien discovers that General Graves has been feeding her lies and cannot be trusted. With millions of lives in the balance, Anzien must make a choice—subvert the general’s plans and face charges of treason, or follow orders and risk trading one tyrant for another.

Ryland has finally begun to accept his role as the voice of the resistance. There’s just one problem: after his encounter with the Patriarch, he’s no longer sure that his mind is his own. Now, not even he can say with surety whether he will aid in the evacuation efforts, or sabotage them completely.

Humanity’s final hour approaches, and it appears all may be lost. Those who would fight must now band together in defiance if they hope to beat back the darkness, and save humanity from oblivion.

Defiance is the final book in the award winning Aeternum Chronicles sci-fi fantasy trilogy. If you like heart-pounding adventure, compelling characters, and expert world building, then you’ll love H.G. Chambers’ epic series.

Yesterday's Tears by Sam CheeverYesterday’s Tears by Sam Cheever:

It might be a murder from decades ago, but it still has its claws in the present…and someone seems determined to drag Anna into it.

It’s never a good idea to spend too much time in a haunted mansion, and Anna’s favorite cowboy ghost does his best to talk her out of it. But the opportunity to pick from the beautiful antiques left to her in a Crocker resident’s will is just too tempting for Anna and Pratt to pass up. So they’re going in…

They’re prepared to deal with a few cold spots. Maybe the occasional flickering light. But what Anna and the boys weren’t counting on was bumping up against the ghost of Josiah Baumgartner, a contemporary of Joss’ from the 1800s. And when Josiah claims the old woman who lived in the house hid his bones around the place, Anna agrees to help him find them. But something much darker is at work there. And, unfortunately for our happy little gang of antique hunters…Anna seems to have unwittingly stepped right into the middle of it.

Plato Crater by Carleton ChinnerPlato Crater by Carleton Chinner:

The independent European base at Plato Crater is the Earth’s only hope for an end to the Helium-3 crisis if they can’t persuade Yesha Chen, Empress of the Moon, to trade. Every other Earth power will stop at nothing to seize control of the Moon’s lucrative energy supply.

Jonah Barnes would rather have stayed on the Moon with Yesha, the love of his life, than be back on Earth negotiating a Helium-3 deal that might leave him being something other than human.

Yesha thought it was hard to lead a rebellion. Now she must subdue one, but her stolen battle droids have other ideas. To survive, she will need to choose between the man she loves and the woman she must become before it is too late.

Tales of Peavley Manor by Robert DahlenTales of Peavley Manor (Or, Macalley Gets It Together) by Robert Dahlen:

Alice Peavley, young heiress, had hoped life would be simple once everything surrounded her inheritance had been settled. However, life had other ideas, and Alice keeps running into touchy situations and absurd adventures! From book thievery to motorcar mayhem, riding flightless birds to outwitting mad scientists, Alice must face them all…and will hopefully triumph with the help of her eccentric and loyal friends, her brainy gnome valet Macalley, and a good cup of tea. Blending comedy, steampunk, and fantasy, Tales of Peavley Manor is an entertaining and delightful collection!

(The material in this book has been previously published in e-book format as the novelettes “Book Fair Frenzy (Or, Macalley Turns The Page)”, “The Thorn Harbour Road Rally (Or, Macalley Takes The Wheel)”, “The Missing Mallard (Or, “Duck, Macalley! Duck!”)”, and “The Rebellious Rooster (Or, Macalley Gets Cocky)”.

In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de BodardIn the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard:

From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Crossover by Timothy EllisCrossover by Timothy Ellis:

Jon Hunter is back. Whether he likes it or not!

Be careful what you ask for. A higher being might be listening.

It’s been 2 days since Jon Hunter reset the timeline, by locking the Darkness away forever.

2 days of grateful rest. For him.

For the rest of the team, it feels like a year has passed, and they’re stuck in a limbo they cannot escape.

Jane wants Jon to get back to work, and a higher power seems to want the same thing.

But Jon isn’t ready yet, and Jane thinks he only needs a wakeup call.

But when has anything Jon Hunter related ever been as simple as a wakeup call?

Weird is normal for this team, but this is Crossover, and all you can say is…

…It’s a Jon Hunter thing!

Belief's Horizon by I.W. FergusonBelief’s Horizon by I.W. Ferguson:

Treachery at home. Otherwordly visitors. What else lies beyond belief’s horizon?

Happen Fell lives on an isolated farm deep in the rainy woods on the magical planet Grith. It’s past time for him to go to the annual trade fair to begin his rites of passage, but one untimely trouble after another keeps him from exploring further than his home and the tiny school he attends with his cousin.And one person seems to lurk behind every trouble: Osgar.

Once Happen finally leaves on his journey, he fears his father’s loyal employee will turn up any moment. But when a stranger claims that Grith could be facing a threat from beyond the stars, Happen’s coming-of-age journey becomes much more treacherous—and mysterious.

That looming threat is the Lightfeeder Menace, and it could destroy everything. Almost no one on Grith—Happen included—believes it could be real. But what they don’t believe might kill them.

Belief’s Horizon is the first book in The Lightfeeder Menace series, introducing the world of Grith, where every river deep enough has its naiad, and every sea worth its salt has its dragon.

Pecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie FoxPecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie Fox:

Sometimes Verity Long would like to forget that she lives with the ghost of a 1920s gangster. But the reluctant housemates must once again work together when a dead detective blackmails Frankie into helping him solve a Great Gatsby-era cold case. Before she can say “bathtub gin,” Verity is dragged straight into a raging, otherworldly house party. Worse, every guest is hiding something.

Meanwhile, Ellis Wydell, Verity’s living, breathing boyfriend needs Verity’s help with a police case of his own. After a dead body is discovered near the pecan orchard, Verity gives her insights, thinking her job is done. But when mysterious pecan pies start arriving at her house, she wonders who might be thanking her…or stalking her.

Between hard-living ghosts and sugar-laden desserts, Verity has her work cut out for her. But will she uncover the secrets behind the pecan pies and dead guys? Or has she stumbled upon a recipe for disaster?

A warm and witty paranormal cozy mystery!

Starship Waking by C. GockelStarship Waking by C. Gockel:

On an icy, barren world, a starship dreams of doom…?

Throughout the galaxy, the reclusive alien race known as The One are incapacitated by terror.

On the planet Luddeccea, wolf-human hybrid Volka harbors a terrible secret…a secret that must explain her nightmares.?

Trapped on a luxurious asteroid, pleasure ‘bot 6T9 struggles to find purpose–until he receives a message from an Unidentified Caller.

The worlds of The One, Volka, and 6T9 are about to collide.

The galaxy will be shaken to its core.

The starship is waking.

The Concordia Deception by J.J. GreenThe Concordia Deception by J.J. Green:

Sabotage at Homecoming

After a hundred and eighty years in deep space, the colony starship Nova Fortuna has reached its destination and long-awaited Arrival Day.

Many have sacrificed everything for this moment. Leaving her life and family on Earth, genetic specialist Cariad has spent the trip in cryonic suspension, while colonist Ethan carries the hopes of six generations of volunteers who knew they would never see their final goal.

A devastating attack on the new settlement forced Cariad and Ethan together, and now they must locate and defeat a deadly foe determined to sabotage humanity’s first deep space colony.

Isolated and alone, a fractured crew of colonists struggle for survival on a planet where the enemy could be anyone.

The Concordia Deception is book one in the compelling, provocative space colonization series, Space Colony One.

Mages' Home by Kyra HallandMages’ Home by Kyra Halland:

Once, they were hated and hunted by mage hunters and Plain folk alike. Now, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of – a home and ranch of their own where they can live in peace and raise their family, and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors.

When a company from across the western sea comes to Prairie Wells, bringing marvelous new inventions, Silas and Lainie figure it only means more prosperous times ahead for the town and for them – until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head.

As troubles stirred by unseen enemies divide the town, many of Silas and Lainie’s neighbors turn on them. When danger strikes at the heart of their home and family, Silas and Lainie must fight to protect everything they love, everything they’ve worked for, before it’s all destroyed.

If you love fantasy filled with romance and adventure in a unique setting, come join Silas and Lainie Vendine in this new tale from the Wildings.

A Butt of Heads by Simon HaynesA Butt of Heads by Simon Haynes:

Events are unfolding at a breakneck pace in the Old Kingdom!

Laugh as your favourite characters spit in the face of danger … then run for the hills.
Admire the verbal jousting and witty wordplay … or is it the other way round?
Gasp as kings and queens lose their heads.
‘Enjoy’ the groanworthy puns and suffer the slings and arrows of poorly-trained archers.

But that’s not all …
Prepare to be amazed as you learn exactly what Clunk’s building in his makeshift workshop!

A Butt of Heads is book two in the Robot vs Dragons trilogy. A Portion of Dragon and Chips is book one, and it must be read first to maximise your enjoyment and my royalties.

Orbit by Leigh HellmanOrbit by Leigh Hellman:

Ciaan Gennett isn’t green, despite the brand of light hair that betrays her heritage: an Earth mother. A mother she remembers but doesn’t know, who left one day and never came back. Ciaan’s as metal as her home planet—cold and hard and full of so many cracks she’s trying to ignore that she doesn’t have time to wonder about questions that don’t get answers.

After one too many run-ins with the law, Ciaan finds herself sentenced to probation at a port facility and given an ultimatum: Prove that your potential is worth believing in. With help from her best friend Tidoris, Ciaan stays away from trouble—and trouble stays away from her. But when a routine refueling turns into a revelation, Ciaan and Tidoris find themselves forced into an alliance with an Earth captain of questionable morality and his stoic, artificially-grown first officer. Their escalating resistance against bureaucratic cover-ups begins unraveling a history of human monstrosity and an ugly truth that Ciaan isn’t so sure she wants to discover.

Now they all must decide how far they are willing to dig into humanity’s dark desperation—and what they are willing to do about what digs back.

RiftWorlds Online: Space Opera Insertion by Brian D. HowardRiftWorlds Online: Space Opera Insertion by Brian D. Howard:

In 2028 RiftWorlds Online is the most popular virtual reality MMORPG game ever. A week after its release, millions are playing in a game that spans seven unique universes. But now people can’t log out. And when they die in the game, they die in real life.

In prison for manipulating real-world currency through VR-MMORPGs, gamer Rick Danburg just wants to serve out his sentence in peace. But the President’s daughter is trapped in the game. Secret Service agents drag Rick before the President who offers him a deal: a full pardon for finding her and keeping her alive until people on the outside get RiftWorlds back under control.

That will be much harder than he is prepared for.

Warrior's Touch by Deb E. HowellWarrior’s Touch by Deb E. Howell:

Once upon a time, the last Immortal lost his powers to an Aenuk Healer and her tree. Nine hundred years later, he learns that an Immortal child is going to be born, and with it, the chance to regain his lost magic…

The Kara and Aenuk races have been enemies for centuries, but for Llew and Jonas, love won out. Now Llew faces an uncertain future: one nation wants her to breed their future army, and the other wants her dead. Her Healing talent also means she is feared – and the child she carries makes her a target.

Jonas has returned to his people, but he is torn. The woman he loves is being kept away from him, his superiors want him to carry on his bloodline with an appropriate mate, and he’s being expected to fit back into a role he doesn’t want. He is meant to be a hero, but the only champion he wants to be is Llew’s and their child – a child who might change everything.

But for their enemy to regain his powers, Llew’s child must die; and in order to retain them, every Aenuk must be destroyed.

In Warrior’s Touch, loyalties will be tested, lives torn apart and magics rejoined.

Fantastic Tales of Terror, edited by Eugene JohnsonFantastic Tales of Terror: History’s Darkest Secrets, edited by Eugene Johnson:

Discover the lost supernatural stories behind some of the most famous people and events in history.

These Fantastic Tales explore the secret history that has been hidden in the shadows of the world, and even alternative histories from other worlds. Tales such as a young man seeking the secret of immortality from none other than Bela Lugosi. The tragic story of how the Titanic really sank. The horrifying lengths the people of New York city would go to raise above the Great Depression, rather in seeking fame or trying to feed the city. And many more Fantastic Tales of Terror.

Lineup:

Introduction by Tony Todd
“The Deep Delight of Blood” by Tim Waggoner
“Unpretty Monster” by Mercedes Yardley
“The Tell-Tale Mind” by Kevin J. Anderson
“Topsy-Turvy” by Elizabeth Massie
“Ray and the Martian” by Bev Vincent
“The Girl with the Death Mask” by Stephanie M. Wytovich
“On a Train Bound for Home” by Christopher Golden
“The Custer Files” by Richard Chizmar
“Red Moon” by Michael Paul Gonzalez
“The Prince of Darkness and the Showgirl” by John Palisano
“The Secret Engravings” by Lisa Morton
“Mutter” by Jess Landry
“La Llorona” by Cullen Bunn
“The London Encounter” by Vince Liaguno
“Bubba Ho-Tep” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Gorilla my Dreams” by Jonathan Maberry
“Articles of Teleforce” by Michael Bailey
“Sic Olim Tyrannis” by David Wellington
“The Washingtonians” by Bentley Little
“Scent of Flesh” by Jessica Marie Baumgartner
“Rotoscoping Toodies” by Mort Castle
“Lone Wolves” by Paul Moore
“The Great Stone Face vs. the Gargoyles” by Jeff Strand
“The Return of the Thin White Duke” by Neil Gaiman

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

HYPO: Appetence by D.L. JonesHYPO: Appetence by D.L. Jones:

Chauncy was introduced to the experimental drug called HYPO when trying to escape from abduction. This drug gives him extraordinary physical abilities. He decides to use those abilities to catch the burglars that has robbed his store. What he doesn’t know, there are mind altering side affects. Those side effects come into play in a bad way once he finds out about a secret his wife, Becca, has been keeping from him. Tre, his childhood friend once again shows up to lend a helping hand and and try solve the problem.

This is the second book in the HYPO Series. Make sure you read HYPO: Exordium first, as this is a continuation of that story – Part 2 in a 3 part series.

Only the Lonely by Amanda M. LeeOnly the Lonely by Amanda M. Lee:

Isabella “Izzy” Sage spent her formative years on Belle Isle in Detroit, playing next to the gate that separates the living from the dead as her parents drew a paycheck from the grim reaper council.

Then the impossible happened, tragedy struck, and Izzy found herself an orphan. Her grandfather took her away and raised her among the Bruja in New Orleans, although her heart always longed to return to the gate … which felt so much like a part of her.

Now, as an adult, Izzy has worked her way up to gatekeeper status and she’s back in the place her childhood ended. She’s the one in charge now … although things don’t go how she hoped. On her very first day, the gate is breached, and the wraith that crosses over is not only murderous but enhanced.
Izzy wants to be in charge, but the local reaper council needs help so they send back-up in the form of a magical reaping family.

The Grimlocks are loud, boisterous and used to a good fight. The men are also handsome, something Izzy doesn’t want to acknowledge, even when the flirting gets out of control. In addition to all that, they’re also protective, and whether Izzy wants it or not, they’re going to infringe on her territory if they think they can keep her safe.

The past might be haunting Izzy, but she can’t look forward to the future until the danger is behind her. Those around her know more than they’re letting on, and the magic she’s been trying to hide is about to take over.

The fight is on … and Izzy is loaded for bear.

Machineries of Mercy by Tim MajorMachineries of Mercy by Tim Major:

It’s a beautiful day in the village of Touchstone.

The birds are singing. Everyone is happy.

Everyone except Ethan.

The England he knows is broken and dangerous.

But perhaps Touchstone is more dangerous still.

 

Blaze by Monique MartinBlaze by Monique Martin:

London, 1904 – All Artemis wants for her 16th birthday is a fancy new dress and maybe a few stolen sips of champagne. What she gets is a fiery sword and an inescapable destiny. She’s the Blaze—fated to protect the city from Darkness. With all of two days training, she must strike back against a rising evil. But her new powers come at a cost, and the truth behind them is more terrifying than any monster.

Cinch your corset and strap in for a wild ride through turn-of-the-century London. Don’t miss the next books in the Blaze Series.

Victoria Marmot and the Meddling Goddess by Virginia McClainVictoria Marmot and the Meddling Goddess by Virginia McClain:

Victoria Marmot is just an average teenage girl… if by “average” you mean an orphaned, multi-lingual, martial arts expert who owns her own home may or may not have magical abilities.

When Vic is told her parents didn’t die the way she thinks they did, her world is turned upside down and she’s left with the task of finding out what really happened to them. But when her quest to uncover the truth reveals a massive conspiracy by a corrupt magical government, will her efforts save the world or take the whole universe down with her?

Rick or Treat by Jaxon ReedRick or Treat by Jaxon Reed:

Rick Strickland hasn’t flown a plane since he died over three centuries ago. But after being sucked into the vortex during a fae attack on Headquarters, he lands in the back of a doomed airliner bound for London crowded with helpless passengers and a poisoned crew.

He soon discovers this world is strangely different from the one he’s used to. The American Revolution failed and territory east of the Mississippi remains colonized. The Republic of Texas controls land to the west and is the dominant hemispheric power. Nazi Germany controls most of Europe, but despite the date there has been no Second World War . . . yet.

Now, a plot by the Nazis on All Hallows’ Eve appears imminent. Rick is alone with no outside help, and fae influence on this alternate is increasingly obvious. The Texans are locked and loaded, but they’ve never faced a fae before. Then, a coded message from their rarely used embassy in New York City arrives . . . and it’s addressed to Rick. Can he foil the Nazi plot and turn their Halloween trick against them?

The Queen's Pardon by J.A. SutherlandThe Queen’s Pardon by J.A. Sutherland:

Allies and enemies are not always what they seem.

Trapped on a hostile world, hunted by pirate bands and abandoned by her fellow captains, Alexis Carew must lead her small band to safety, even though it seems every hand is set against her. Stalked by pirates in the skies above and shadowy, alien figures on the planet below, Alexis must convince former enemies to trust her even as she discovers where the tendrils of her true enemies lead.

 

Heist by James David VictorHeist by James David Victor:

It was supposed to be an easy job, but it just might take the heist of the century to get out of this one alive.

The Mercury Blade and its crew are always looking for an easy profit. When presented with a simple heist, they are all-in for easy profit. When things go south, they are faced with a dilemma that could mean life or death. Can Eliard, Val, and Irie pull of the heist of the century or will the crew of the Mercury Blade lose everything?

 

The Dead Stage by Dan WeathererThe Dead Stage: A Journey From Page to Stage by Dan Weatherer:

“The Dead Stage – the period of time between completing the working draft of a stage play and placing it with an interested party.” – Dan Weatherer

Dan Weatherer, an author turned playwright, learned quickly that there are practices playwrights can implement to dramatically increase the appeal of their work.

Inside, you’ll find advice that will enable you to better tailor your work to the needs of the theatre industry, without having to compromise on style, content or subject matter. Dan discusses his early mistakes, and presents the advice of notable theatre professionals including the award-winning playwright, Deborah McAndrew, noted actor Matthew Spence, and London Horror Festival producer, Kate Danbury (along with many, many more!).

You’ll also be able to read several of Dan’s completed stage plays, which are presented in a preferred industry format, and often contain side-notes detailing the success (and failures) of said pieces.

From budgets to set design, run-time to cast size, if you ever felt the desire to write for the stage, following the advice presented in this book will help improve your chances of pairing your script with an interested party, hopefully making The Dead Stage pass almost unnoticed.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Past Lives by R.J. WolfPast Lives by R.J. Wolf:

THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH…

What would you do to save the one you love? Would you go to Hell…twice?

Eric Strange was once a psychic detective that solved cases normal humans wouldn’t dare touch. Supplanted firmly between two worlds, he kept one foot in the shadows and one in the sun. After uncovering a dangerous conspiracy, that reached the highest levels of government and intertwined the magic and non-magic world together, Eric was possessed by an ancient demon and dragged to hell.

When Eric wakes up four years later inside of a grave, everything he loves is gone. But even worse, he has no memory of who he is or the people he’s lost. Fate takes him to a police station, where an old friend finds him and sets out to help restore his memory. The secrets behind his murky past are tearing him apart, but the truth cuts much deeper.

Possessed by Demons, touched by Angels and surrounded by darkness and a powerful magic, Eric doesn’t even know what he is. But as the fog clears, his memories slowly start to seep through the shadows and a path to even darker places is illuminated.

Welcome to Hotel California…We’ve been waiting for you

Chaos in the Countryside by Astoria WrightChaos in the Countryside by Astoria Wright:

Looking for a unique paranormal cozy mystery series that’s lighthearted and fun?

Settle into the cozy countryside of Moss Hill, where house-elves rent rooms, sprites live in gardens, a leprechaun is the best tailor in town, and a half-elf/half human named Carissa Shea owns a pharmacy known as The Seelie Tree Apothecary shop. Life couldn’t be more idyllic for Cari, but healing humans and fae folk proves challenging at times, especially when secrets unfold in The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries.

About Chaos in the Countryside
The quiet town of Moss Hill would be in trouble if not for one daring nature faerie: a sprite known as Chaos. Though she is little, she is…fierce isn’t the right word. Spirited is more accurate. She’s traveled far and wide to warn the half-human, half-elf Carissa Shae about a danger that’s coming to the countryside. Carissa’s Seelie Tree Apothecary shop is no stranger to faeries, but with this new arrival, its owner, and Moss Hill, will never be the same. Is this cozy town ready for a little Chaos?

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for October 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some August books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, Regency mysteries, Gold Rush mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, action thrillers, adventure thrillers, legal thrillers, pulp thrillers, men’s adventure fiction, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, lawyers, vigilantes, small town sheriffs, serial killers, terrorists, crime-busting ghosts, crime-busting cats, historians, opera singers, pimps and their henchmen, murder in Hawaii, Florida, New Zealand, New Orleans, the Appalachians and the California Gold Rush, in circusses, historical societies and tearooms and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Pimp's Henchman by Andrew AllanThe Pimp’s Henchman by Andrew Allan:

Butch the Henchman—ex-military, ninja-trained, mob-refined muscle ready to break legs, faces, and bodies on command. And with a turf war going on, Slide the pimp has him enforcing overtime. So, forget Sally.

That hooker keeps mouthing off, shorting the take, and bragging she’s got a fortune squirreled away. And, she’s still tricking for Slide? Please. That’s crazy trouble. So, why’s Butch intrigued? And, how much will that cost him? Distractions can be deadly in the criminal underground…where savages lurk, sin is religion, and the wrong move could flip Butch from trusted henchman to dead traitor faster than a jack shack romp.

The Pimp’s Henchman is an entertaining blast of hard-boiled crime, pulp thrills, and grindhouse movie mayhem. Download your copy now.

Snowed Under by Rickie BlairSnowed Under by Rickie Blair:

A crazy crossword conspiracy. A chilling murder. Will a green PI solve the clues without finding a deadly answer?

With Leafy Hollow in a deep winter freeze, landscaper Verity Hawkes is all out of funds. Setting up a private investigator business seems like the best way to indulge her fantasy and make a few bucks. But she never expected her first case would turn the whole town against her.

As she investigates a shady, million-dollar crossword competition, even her detective boyfriend sides with her neighbors in thinking it’s legit. But when the contest seems to connect with scruffy dog walkers and a missing investment advisor, Verity hopes she can solve the clues before the whole town descends into a scammy word-smithing frenzy. Between vegan food scandals and a village hoarder biting the dust, the landscaper-turned-PI has her hands full.

With time running out, can Verity discover the phantom killer before the culprit makes it two down?

The Kingfisher's Debt by Kura CarpenterThe Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter:

Magic isn’t real, right?

Within the small coastal city of Dunedin, local translator, Tamsin Fairchild has a reputation she hates. People think she’s psychic…

Always hovering around and interfering in Tamsin’s life, part father-figure, part thorn in her side, Detective Jackson, is an old-school cop. Childhood friend to her deceased mother, Tamsin wonders could her mother have let an outsider in on the truth?

Newcomer, rookie cop Scott Gale is forced to team-up with Tamsin when they investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby and a bizarre crime scene–satanic ritual or hoax?

More and more the blame starts to point towards Tamsin…

Tamsin must uncover who’s framing her, find the baby before it’s too late, unravel the mystery behind her elder brother’s disappearance, and stop Scott from entering a world not meant for human eyes.

But Scott has family secrets of his own and Tamsin doesn’t know who to trust.

But can you trust Tamsin? What if the person who saved your life is about to frame you for murder?

Yesterday's Tears by Sam CheeverYesterday’s Tears by Sam Cheever:

It might be a murder from decades ago, but it still has its claws in the present…and someone seems determined to drag Anna into it.

It’s never a good idea to spend too much time in a haunted mansion, and Anna’s favorite cowboy ghost does his best to talk her out of it. But the opportunity to pick from the beautiful antiques left to her in a Crocker resident’s will is just too tempting for Anna and Pratt to pass up. So they’re going in…

They’re prepared to deal with a few cold spots. Maybe the occasional flickering light. But what Anna and the boys weren’t counting on was bumping up against the ghost of Josiah Baumgartner, a contemporary of Joss’ from the 1800s. And when Josiah claims the old woman who lived in the house hid his bones around the place, Anna agrees to help him find them. But something much darker is at work there. And, unfortunately for our happy little gang of antique hunters…Anna seems to have unwittingly stepped right into the middle of it.

Peril By Post by Sheri Cobb SouthPeril By Post by Sheri Cobb South

A letter… a secret… a murder…

The eighth book in the series finds John Pickett bound for England’s scenic Lake District, where an unsigned letter has summoned him for an unspecified reason. Posing as a honeymoon couple, Pickett and his wife Julia, the former Lady Fieldhurst, take a room at the Hart and Hound as the letter instructs him. Once installed there, however, Pickett can do nothing but wait for the anonymous contact to identify himself. A midnight search of the inn’s register seems to identify the innkeeper, Ned Hawkins, as his man, but before Pickett can discover the reason for his summons, Hawkins is pushed from a cliff—surviving the fall only long enough to call Pickett’s attention to the letter in his pocket.

With his contact dead and his only clue a letter containing nothing more than a rambling account of family news, Pickett knows he’s on his own. But that isn’t the worst of his problems: Julia saw the crime being committed, and although she can’t identify the murderer, there is every indication that the killer knows he was seen—and intends to eliminate any possible witnesses.

Amidst a quirky cast of characters including a host of holiday-makers, a bucolic love triangle, an aspiring poet in the Romantic vein, and an old friend of his magistrate, Mr. Colquhoun, Pickett must discover the secret behind that urgent summons before a second, and far more personal, murder is committed.

The Perfect Lie by Adam CroftThe Perfect Lie by Adam Croft:

What if you were framed for a murder you didn’t commit?

Amy Walker lives the perfect family life with her husband and two young sons. Until a knock at the door turns their lives upside down.

It’s the police. Her father-in-law is dead and they’re arresting her for his murder.

The evidence against her is overwhelming. Forensics and witnesses place her at the scene. But there’s only one problem:

She didn’t do it.

With her family destroyed and a murder sentence looming, Amy must discover who murdered her father-in-law — and why they’re so hell-bent on framing her as the killer.

Everything is Broken by Anthony DeCastroEverything is Broken by Anthony DeCastro:

A Girl. A Private Eye. A World of Hurt

Private Investigator Fuzzy Koella likes working the infidelity trade in Myrtle Beach. Taking pictures of cheating spouses provides enough income to support his spartan existence.

But when an old friend hires him to peep on the seductive, young Marisol Rodriguez, Fuzzy finds himself caught in an impossible situation. Does he do his job? Or does he try to save Marisol from the violent men she attracts?

The simple path always appeals to Fuzzy, but Marisol needs him more than he or she knows.

Can a decent man save all that he holds dear? Or will he find Everything is Broken, including himself? If you love hard-boiled detective stories, meet Fuzzy Koella in his debut adventure, Everything is Broken.

Flagstaff Station by John EllsworthFlagstaff Station by John Ellsworth:

Attorney Thaddeus Murfee is called upon to defend a young nurse accused of murdering a public official. She calls Thaddeus, who signs on and then begins his investigation. He learns of another possible suspect, but the man is a federal agent with a clean record–the last person Thaddeus would’ve suspected. Still, there are unanswered questions.

When his client’s young son disappears, Thaddeus uncovers a dark side to the local political machine that extends from coast-to-coast. Thaddeus is left with no choice except to wade into the middle of the corruption that threatens to consume his client and her son and, in the end, even his own family.

Then he learns the terrible truth about Flagstaff Station and the stakes skyrocket.

Thaddeus Murfee is back like a raging storm in this Book 1 of the Thaddeus Murfee Justice Series.

Urgent Justice by John EtzilUrgent Justice by John Etzil:

A small-town sheriff will catch a predator come hell or high water…

Nothing raises Sheriff Jack Lamburt’s hackles like a child in danger. After a local orphaned teen disappears under suspicious circumstances, he vows to bring her home safe. And there’ll be no escape from the world of pain he’ll leave in his wake…

To track down the missing girl’s abductor, Jack teams up with the only resident who can spot the culprit out of a crowd—a feisty 90-year-old with a taste for rye whiskey and revenge. But what was supposed to be a recon-only road trip soon takes a treacherous turn. And the two traveling companions find themselves fighting for survival in a crooked town overrun with the vicious disciples of a sexual predator and self-proclaimed prophet.

To save the girl, Jack will have to bring the entire unholy criminal network to its day of reckoning…

Time Lost by Peter C. FosterTime Lost by Peter C. Foster:

He hasn’t seen her in over forty years, not since she dumped him and married his nemesis. Now she’s asking for his help to find the man who murdered her daughter. He loved her then; despite everything, he loves her still. Against his better judgement, he is drawn into the homicide investigation.

At the same time, he must deal with the ghosts of the past, and the events which bound them together and tore them apart in the days which followed the Summer of Love.

TIME LOST is a fast-paced mystery and a love story. It is also a look back at the Sixties and the passions of a generation searching for truth and justice amid the turmoil of racism and war.

Pecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie FoxPecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie Fox:

Sometimes Verity Long would like to forget that she lives with the ghost of a 1920s gangster. But the reluctant housemates must once again work together when a dead detective blackmails Frankie into helping him solve a Great Gatsby-era cold case. Before she can say “bathtub gin,” Verity is dragged straight into a raging, otherworldly house party. Worse, every guest is hiding something.

Meanwhile, Ellis Wydell, Verity’s living, breathing boyfriend needs Verity’s help with a police case of his own. After a dead body is discovered near the pecan orchard, Verity gives her insights, thinking her job is done. But when mysterious pecan pies start arriving at her house, she wonders who might be thanking her…or stalking her.

Between hard-living ghosts and sugar-laden desserts, Verity has her work cut out for her. But will she uncover the secrets behind the pecan pies and dead guys? Or has she stumbled upon a recipe for disaster?

A warm and witty paranormal cozy mystery!

The Dough Must Go On by H.Y. HannaThe Dough Must Go On by H.Y. Hanna:

Showbiz comes to Oxford in the form of Britain’s hottest new talent show and tearoom owner Gemma Rose gets a peek behind-the-scenes when she’s asked to cater for the event. But with the Old Biddies entering the contest as England’s first “granny band”, and her little tabby, Muesli, taking part in one of the acts, Gemma soon ends up with more than she bargained for… and that’s before she comes across a frozen dead body!

Now, she’s on the trail of a murderer, with four nosy old ladies giving her a helping hand, while also dealing with her embarrassing mother, her workaholic boyfriend—and even a mouse invader at her tearoom!

Murder in Cottonwood Springs by Dianne HarmonMurder in Cottonwood Springs by Dianne Harman:

Sheriff Rich got the call every lawman dreads – a relative’s murder. And it’s even worse when it’s your sister.

Brigid moved back to Cottonwood Springs to be with friends and family when her marriage and her publishing company both ended. When her best friend’s murdered, she’s determined to find the killer.

A new romance and an adopted big Newfoundland are pretty comforting at times like these.

Recipes included!

Cirque de Slay by CeeCee JamesCirque de Slay by CeeCee James:

Concello Circus is crowded with unforgettable characters- trapeze artists, sword swallowers, clowns, not to mention the famed Ringmaster. Working at the circus is exactly what Trixie expected. What she didn’t expect is to find a dead body…with a dark apparition rising up from it.

Claudette Barbarosa, the beautiful bearded lady and rumored girlfriend of the Ringmaster, has been murdered and suspects are everywhere.

Trixie is desperate to catch the killer before she is caught herself. Even more, she wants an explanation for what she saw the spooky, rainy night that Claudette died.

Were her eyes lying to her…or was everyone else lying?

Last Gasp by Howard LevineLast Gasp by Howard Levine:

Frank Tedeschi’s niece is dead, one of thousands of victims of a terrorist attack, which has been laid at the feet of “Islamic radicals” by a right-wing US government. Frank—based on a chance encounter—is one of the very few people who question the government’s explanation. He’s a Vietnam veteran who wants nothing more than to live without further controversy or conflict. Can he and his grieving brother Rob, a detective with the NYPD, obtain the necessary evidence to uncover the truth in the face of scorn and incredulity? Can they overcome their long-term estrangement to work together, given that they are putting their lives in danger?

In Last Gasp—a novel that resonates with today’s politics—the answers to these questions unfold in a way that mingles personal and societal issues and intertwines the past and present while moving relentlessly forward.

Message for Murder by Jerri Kay LincolnMessage for Murder by Jerri Kay Lincoln:

The first book in the Rutledge Historical Society Cozy Mystery Series.

Lorry Lockharte’s first day on her new job brings her a big surprise: a dead body. Two sisters dead in a week’s time—one murder, one accident. Lorry thinks the so-called accident seems a little too convenient. Is it really an accident as everybody believes? Sassy and irreverent, Lorry plans to prove otherwise and solve the murders. One recipe included!

 

Wired Fear by Toby NealWired Fear by Toby Neal:

Paradise is haunted by betrayal.

What if you discovered that those closest to you were not who they seemed?

Tech sleuth Sophie Ang, her lovable dog Ginger, and her partner, Jake Dunn, tackle a new case involving a famous hula festival on the Big Island–but that’s only one of the hot situations demanding Sophie’s attention. Repercussions from the past and the return of a deadly relative threaten to tear apart the fragile life Sophie’s trying to build. Everyone around her seems to want more from Sophie than she can give, and one of them plans to take her life.

In the midst of a volcano of conflicting agendas, Sophie must find a way to truth, victory and freedom.

The Krewe by Seth PeveyThe Krewe by Seth Pevey:

Living up to the family name comes with a price.

When Felix is told his big brother committed suicide by throwing himself under a train, his gut screams foul play. But as the Mardi Gras season descends on the Big Easy, no one is interested in the conspiracy theories of a drug-addled rich kid.

Except, perhaps, one Carnival organization in particular…

A krewe that hasn’t been heard from in decades.

Felix will need the help of a police detective long past his prime, the family’s honor-obsessed butler, and a massive pork fortune, all in order to find justice for his big brother.

His name, his family, and his very life may hang in the balance.

Girl Next Door by Willow RoseGirl Next Door by Willow Rose:

He came in the morning when they were still making lunches and getting ready for school and work. He killed them all. Mother, father, children. Brutally slaughtered them in the comfort of their own home.

They called him the Monday Morning Killer.

That was forty years ago, but now it is happening again. A mother and her daughter are brutally murdered in their house, on a peaceful Monday morning in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Home alone with six children while his wife – country superstar Shannon King – is on tour, Detective Jack Ryder gets the most terrifying case of his career, chasing a deranged serial killer unlike anyone he has ever seen.

No one feels safe, especially not the girl next door, who just bought the house where the first family was killed forty years ago.

Who is capable of such cruelty? And why?

Could one person be responsible for these brutal killings of entire families so many years apart? Or is Jack dealing with a copy-cat?

Cold Country by JD SalyersCold Country by JD Salyers:

When a wild and free paradise becomes the devil’s hunting ground…

ALONE IN THE WOODS

Quinn Galloway is in danger. Her husband has disappeared from their secluded cabin, the biggest snowstorm of the season is moving in, and she’s alone in the dangerous expanse of the Appalachian Mountains.

OR IS SHE?

There is a dark stranger on the mountain, and he’s set his sights on Quinn. By the time night falls the sweet, cozy cabin has become a snowbound prison, surrounded by plenty of predators. For Quinn Galloway, isolated and defenseless, winter is now the enemy. Over the course of a single spine-chilling night she must face all of her nightmares come true, and she might not make it off the mountain alive.

Brother Betrayed by Jenny WheelerBrother Betrayed by Jenny Wheeler:

A mysterious death. A missing partner. Can an opera singer and a businessman catch the culprit before he strikes again?

New Zealand-born Pania Hayes has won the hearts of her Californian crowds. But after her husband’s untimely death, the opera singer realizes fame and fortune mean nothing without loved ones to share it with. So when her closest friend gets caught in a web of mysterious deaths and disappearances, she vows to find the real culprit and clear his name… even after he turns his back on her.

Hong Kong-born John Russell prides himself on building his business empire from nothing. But after his beloved mentor’s death and business partner’s disappearance, he realizes the company is slipping out of his control. Within the ranks, tensions have turned deadly. And a shameful secret from his past threatens to unleash even more destruction. Without knowing who he can trust, he sets off alone to find his missing partner and piece together his broken legacy.

United in their grief but unable to reach out, Pania and Sir John must learn to work together to solve the mystery before more blood is shed.

Brother Betrayed is the second standalone book in the captivating Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series. If you like accurate portrayals of the Western frontier, fast-paced action, and tales of redemption, then you’ll love Jenny Wheeler’s pitch-perfect saga.

An Appetite For Murder by Lynda WilcoxAn Appetite For Murder by Lynda Wilcox:

Police researcher Verity Long loves fine food and wine, so she’s the perfect person to re-open the case of a murdered restaurant critic. The original investigation found no motive and no suspects, so solving the mystery of Crompton Carmichael’s death will not be a piece of cake.

With his colleagues at the Midshires Gourmet magazine proving less than helpful and saddled with an assistant whose idea of a gourmet meal is meat pie and chips, Verity begins to roux the day she agreed to take on the case.

Then, when she has the sauce to ask probing questions, her own life is threatened.
Will Verity live to taste Death by Chocolate again? Or will the killer make mincemeat of her?

Chaos in the Countryside by Astoria WrightChaos in the Countryside by Astoria Wright:

Looking for a unique paranormal cozy mystery series that’s lighthearted and fun?

Settle into the cozy countryside of Moss Hill, where house-elves rent rooms, sprites live in gardens, a leprechaun is the best tailor in town, and a half-elf/half human named Carissa Shea owns a pharmacy known as The Seelie Tree Apothecary shop. Life couldn’t be more idyllic for Cari, but healing humans and fae folk proves challenging at times, especially when secrets unfold in The Faerie Apothecary Mysteries.

About Chaos in the Countryside
The quiet town of Moss Hill would be in trouble if not for one daring nature faerie: a sprite known as Chaos. Though she is little, she is…fierce isn’t the right word. Spirited is more accurate. She’s traveled far and wide to warn the half-human, half-elf Carissa Shae about a danger that’s coming to the countryside. Carissa’s Seelie Tree Apothecary shop is no stranger to faeries, but with this new arrival, its owner, and Moss Hill, will never be the same. Is this cozy town ready for a little Chaos?

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Cozy Space Opera with Food: “The Taste of Home”, a new “In Love and War” story

Yes, I have a new In Love and War story to announce. It’s called The Taste of Home and the post title says it all, really.

The Taste of Home is another tale to come out of the 2018 July short story challenge, where the objective was to write a short story per day in July 2018. Though unlike most published July short story challenge stories, The Taste of Home is not one but two stories written during the challenge, “Tea and Memories” and “Anniversary Dinner”, which turned out to be companion pieces.

Both stories were inspired by the same combination of two of Chuck Wendig’s writing prompts, namely to write a space opera and to write about food. And since food plays a big role in the In Love and War series, to the point that I have started dubbing it cozy space opera as an analogue to the “cozy mystery” subgenre with its focus on food and recipes, that combination of writing prompts immediately sparked an idea for an In Love and War story or three, since the story “Shipbound”, which can be found bundled with Bullet Holes, was also inspired by the same combination of prompts.

“Tea and Memories”, Mikhail’s section of The Taste of Home, was the first of those three stories written. For due to his deprived childhood, Mikhail has food issues, which makes him the ideal protagonist for a space opera story about food. What is more, Mikhail not only lost his home and his family with the destruction of Jagellowsk, he also lost his entire culture and that includes food. Mikhail can never eat his favourite childhood dishes again, because there is hardly anybody left who knows how to make them.

But even though the vast majority of the survivors of Jagellowsk were children under twelve for reasons explained in Evacuation Order, there also were adult survivors, people who were not on Jagellowsk when the planet was destroyed. Natalya Shepkova, whom we meet in Evacuation Order and later briefly in Freedom’s Horizon is one of them. And wherever you have expat or refugee communities, you have restaurants serving the food of the homeland. Therefore, it makes sense that at least some of those Jagellowski refugees would have opened a restaurant somewhere in the galaxy, serving the cuisine of a dead world. And so I decided to let Mikhail stumble upon a Jagellowski restaurant on the rim.

The people of Jagellowsk are the descendants of Russians who left Earth centuries, if not millennia ago. This history would of course be reflected in their food traditions. So I thought back on my experiences with Russian cuisine and remembered a memorable dinner at Restaurant Bellevue, a more than one hundred years old Russian restaurant in Helsinki, Finland, which I visited during WorldCon 75. The food served at Restaurant Bellevue is largely based on the cuisine of Czarist Russia and therefore fits the theme of food from a lost world. And so the Restaurant Demirdova in the story is very much based on the real world Restaurant Bellevue in Helsinki, down to the description of the street where it is located. And yes, the Restaurant Bellevue offers a Russian tea tray very much like the one Mikhail is served. I even took a photo of it at the time.

Russian Tea Tray

The Russian tea tray at Restaurant Bellevue in Helsinki.

Initially, I had intended to give Mikhail a full meal. But describing a full meal takes time and “Tea and Memories” was still a short story written under the time constraints imposed by the July challenge. What is more, Mikhail would not have a full meal elsewhere, while Anjali was waiting with dinner for him at home. And so I settled for just letting Mikhail enjoy a pot of Russian tea. Which is doubly poignant, for while tea is not exactly rare in the In Love and War universe — though more common in the Empire than in the Republic — hardly anybody makes or serves tea in the way Mikhail is used to. And since Mikhail was a child when Jagellowsk was destroyed, getting to eat the pastries and sweets of his childhood again would have a special meaning to him.

The letter-shaped bukwi cookies really do have their origin in Russia, by the way, though nowadays they are much more popular in Germany than in their land of origin. They are called Russian bread over here and are very much a childhood staple. And yes, spelling out your name in cookies, as Mikhail does, is very much a thing.

I wrote “Anniversary Dinner”, Anjali’s portion of the story, a few days later. On that day, I just happened to make turkey biryani, which is a fairly complicated and time intensive dish to make, though mine is simpler than Anjali’s version. And when the time came to write my story for the day, I thought of the food prompt I had used a few days earlier and started to write a story about Anjali making biryani, while reflecting about her relationship with Mikhail.

Now biryani is very much a festive dish for special occasions — not to mention that Anjali even procured some meat, which is a rare and expensive treat in this universe — so I decided that Anjali’s biryani should be a special meal for a special occasion, too. And since I’ve already given Mikhail and Anjali plenty of adventures since they got together (and yes, the story of how exactly they got together will be written someday), it made sense for them to be celebrating their first anniversary.

Of course, a festive meal needs a festive dessert. Now I’m not much of a dessert person myself (I can whip up a dessert, if necessary, I just rarely bother), so I scanned recipe websites for Indian sweets and desserts and eventually came upon ras malai which seemed suitably tasty and festive. I even found step by step instructions how to make it, on which the description of Anjali making ras malai is based.

As I said above, I like to call the In Love and War series “cozy space opera”. And The Taste of Home is probably the coziest of all In Love and War stories. It has comparatively little external conflict and is mainly a story about memories, family and food.

So if that sounds like something you might enjoy, read:

The Taste of Home
The Taste of Home by Cora BuhlertOnce, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

Mikhail is on his way home, an anniversary present for Anjali in his pocket, when he suddenly finds himself irresistibly drawn towards an unremarkable storefront and comes face to face with his past.

Meanwhile, Anjali is preparing a special anniversary dinner for Mikhail, only to find that he is late to come home.

More information.
Length: 9300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for September 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some August books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, cozy fantasy, historical fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, science fiction thrillers, space opera (cozy and not), military science fiction, near future science fiction, science fantasy, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, horror, time travel, witches, wizards, werewolves, vampires, demons, changelings, assassins, space mages, space marines, space princesses, space rogues, haunted shops, magical circusses, wayward saints, lost girls and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Princess Lost by Odette C. BellA Princess Lost by Odette C. Bell:

Andalusia is no ordinary pirate – she’s a runaway princess.
She ran to save her people from her betrothed. He intends to use her to start a galactic war, unless she can stay out of his clutches.
When she runs into one of her old guards, she’s pulled back into the life she disavowed.
She can no longer afford to run. It is time to rise up and do what she should have done from the start – go to war.

A Princess Lost is the first instalment of the Rising Princess series. An action-packed galactic adventure, pick it up today.

Collision Course by Cora BuhlertCollision Course by Cora Buhlert:

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living as mercenaries on Metra Litko, an independent world on the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

Anjali and Mikhail are working a routine bodyguard job. But things quickly go awry, when an assassin bypasses all security measures to shoot the wrong target… or does he?

Anjali and Mikhail set off in pursuit, only to find themselves confronted with a figure from Mikhail’s past who could threaten their newfound freedom.

This is a novelette of 8000 words or approximately 27 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone.

Duty Bound by Lindsay BurokerDuty Bound by Lindsay Buroker:

Crown Agent Jev Dharrow’s good dwarf friend Cutter is missing, as is the city’s master gem cutter. Jev doesn’t know who would want them, but he’s determined to find out.

He hopes his fellow agent, Zenia, can help him locate the missing dwarves. Even though she rejected his offer of a romantic relationship because of their status differences, they have become good friends, and she has years of experience finding criminals.

But this kidnapping is anything but simple. Jev and Zenia find themselves entangled in a snarled plot that threatens the entire kingdom while making them realize their true feelings for each other. If they can’t rescue the dwarves, deter an invasion, and stop an explosive plot to destroy half the city, they may lose everything they love. Including each other.

Demon Fire by Tori CentaniDemon Fire by Tori Centani:

A witch using demon magic? It’s more likely than you think.

My name’s Dani Warren and I’m a witch with demon magic. It’s kind of a long story but if anyone finds out, I’ll be executed on the spot.

I’ve been keeping my head down working as a PI, doing the dirty jobs no one else wants. But then, to solve a murder, I’m forced to work with Conor Ramsey, a sexy demon hunter who’s with the Council. He may be pretty to look at, but he won’t hesitate to cut me down if he learns my secret.

Soon groups of demon-powered mages start attacking us. On one hand, we’re on the right track. On the other, I can’t use my magic to fight back if I don’t want to get caught.

I’m stuck between a smoking hot demon hunter and a pack of dangerous mages. Today really isn’t my day.

Demon Fire is book one of The Brimstone Magic Series. It’s action-packed, suspenseful urban fantasy with elements of humor and romance. Book 2, Demon Shadow, will be out soon.

The Ruby Heart by Ashley CapesThe Ruby Heart by Ashley Capes:

Thomas, Mia and Ethan have finally discovered the long-lost rebellion airship Clara – only to learn that it cannot grant them their freedom, since none know how to fly the mighty ship.

A desperate search for a pilot follows but disaster strikes when Thomas falls into the clutches of their old tormentor, Lady Elisabeth; master of the Sand-Hog and lieutenant to the King. Yet Elisabeth has her own plans for Thomas and they do not involve simply handing him over to her liege.

Mia and Ethan find themselves torn between chasing Thomas and following clues to the Clara’s pilot but hounding Mia every step of the way is her own doubts and fears, her confusion over her feelings for Ethan and worse, dark dreams that hide an even greater threat than King Williams could ever pose.

A steampunk adventure set in a slowly dying land where magic clashes with steam and alchemy.

Court of Shadows by C.N. CrawfordCourt of Shadows by C.N. Crawford:

A girls’ night out means three things to me: drinking whiskey with my best friend, trying not to kill anyone, and keeping my magic hidden. A fae gladiator like me isn’t supposed to exist anymore.

But my Friday night takes a bad turn when a lethally gorgeous fae–Ruadan–tries to assassinate me. He’s known as the Wraith, and he’s taken a vow of silence until he’s slaughtered the outlaws on his kill list. Outlaws like me.

Ruadan lets me live on one condition: I have to earn my place at the Institute of the Shadow Fae. As a powerful fighter, I can take the competition.

But things fall apart when I’m given an impossible choice: betray my mentor Ruadan, or my best friend dies. Now, I face a quandary my gladiatorial past did not prepare me for.

This book is from the Demons of Fire and Night world.

Skyblade's Gambit by Robert DahlenSkyblade’s Gambit by Robert Dahlen:

Captain Annabel Skyblade commands the Peregrine, the most feared pirate airship to sail the skies of Aldarre, plundering the rich and powerful. The rulers of the great sky realms have had enough of her, and Victorie Brassfeld, Cerindel’s top Navy intelligence agent, has a plan to capture the pirate, using a lure too strong to resist—a valuable, beautiful sapphire amulet.

But the amulet hides a great secret, and when it is stolen by sinister forces, Annabel and Victorie must join together to retrieve it. And as they face danger and adventure, they also have to face their feelings for each other, feelings they have never had before, when they discover…

Hearts can be stolen too.

Cut to the Bone by Zen DiPietroCut to the Bone by Zen DiPietro:

Cut off from her team, Fallon will learn some hard lessons about what it means to be a clandestine operative. She and Minho have been tasked with setting up the security system on a brand-new PAC installation called Asimov Station. It’s a lot of work to get done in a short time, and that’s only their cover assignment. Behind the scenes, they’ll be investigating the station’s captain. Either they’ll get to clear his name, or they’ll get to bring him down. Why PAC command has separated her from her team, she doesn’t know. She also doesn’t know where they are or when she will be reunited with them. All she can do is complete the job ahead of her as well and as quickly as possible, so they can once again be a team.

Mirror Flower, Water Moon by Amelia FaulknerMirror Flower, Water Moon by Ameilia Faulkner:

London’s youngest vampire. England’s newest sorcerer. And Ellis’ life is in their hands…

Han Xie had a fatal heart condition, and only the intervention of his best friend Ellis O’Neill could save him. Now Han is an unsanctioned vampire in a city happy to kill him for it, and the one man who could protect him seems to be falling apart piece by piece.

Jay Newfield became a sorcerer too late to cure his husband’s heart problem, and now that Ellis is dying it might be too late for Jay to save him, too. His only hope is the son of the last remaining sorcerer in England, the Duke of Oxford.

While Jay races to keep Ellis from turning to ash, Han discovers that his workplace is on another vampire’s territory. Caught up in more than one race against time, Han and Jay need to master their powers fast, before the Council discover – and execute – them both…

Changeling Magic by Marina FinlaysonChangeling Magic by Marina Finlayson:

For about five seconds there, my life was perfect. The fae king finally allowed me back into the magical Realms of Faerie, and his arrogant knight, the Hawk, was actually thawing towards me.

I should have known it wouldn’t last. When I get back to my childhood home in Autumn, my mother’s gone, our house abandoned. Not exactly the homecoming of my dreams.

Then an injured stranger turns up in the mortal world, claiming to be my mother, but she dies before I can question her. If I want answers, I’ll have to find her killer. And guess what? The killer is looking for me, too—but not for a friendly chat.

Everyone is keeping secrets, and I can’t even be sure who I am anymore—or how dangerous the truth will be when I finally uncover it. Just as well the Hawk has elected himself my protector. Keeping me alive will be a full-time job.

Vengeance by Jennifer Foehner WellsVengeance by Jennifer Foehner Wells:

Five years have passed since Darcy Eberhardt left Raub for dead on Ulream.

Darcy and her ragtag multispecies crew have used those years well, searching for her lost love, Adam, throughout the disreputable fringes of galactic society—though the odds are stacked against them. Along the way, they liberate the vulnerable and accumulate allies, some of them dubious. Meanwhile, Darcy continues to master her newfound powers in secret.

A cryptic message raises a ghost from the past to haunt her, forcing her to a crossroads that could lead to a reunion with Adam, or keep him forever beyond her reach.

Causal Nexus by Dan HarrisCausal Nexus by Dan Harris:

Inauguration Day on Nexus Prime. As Senator Neela Kane becomes the Speaker of the Commonwealth, unseen forces are at work: some seek to control the new Speaker, others would see her term end before it has even begun, and some…

Some just want to watch the world burn.

Yet in times of crisis, help can come from the most unexpected places, and in the galactic capitol, the smallest action can have consequences that no-one could possibly predict.

Bodyguard and politician, urchin and delinquent. Policeman and power broker, assassin and AI. Eight lives, one chain.

Action and reaction.
Cause and effect.
Life and death.

HYPO: Exordium by D.L. JonesHYPO: Exordium by D.L. Jones:

Chauncy and Tre were childhood friends. Tre, who works for a pharmaceutical company, is in town on business. Chauncy hadn’t seen Tre since college and decides they should catch up. After picking Tre up from the airport, they are ambushed and kidnapped. Held hostage in an old abandoned house. With hopes of escape, Tre and Chauncy use an experimental drug from Tre’s company that gives them extraordinary physical abilities.

This will be the first book in the Hypo Series. Hypo: Exordium. It is a Serial Short. There are 3 parts of an ongoing story. The second part will be released within 2 weeks of the first, and the final part soon after!

The Imaginary Worlds of B.R. KingsolverThe Imaginary Worlds of B.R. Kingsolver by B.R. Kingsolver:

Three new worlds. Three exciting adventures.

Three first-in-series Urban Fantasy books from author BR Kingsolver. Explore three unusual imaginative worlds. Travel with a sexy telepath in a world that could be ours, a mutant thief and assassin two hundred years in the future, and an Elven witch stranded on Earth.

Contains:
The Succubus Gift (Telepathic Clans #1)
Chameleon Assassin (Award winning first book in the Chameleon Assassin series)
Gods and Demons (Dark Streets #1)

The Succubus Gift – The Goddess blesses Her people with 25 Telepathic Gifts. In addition to Telepathy, the Gifts include command over Air and Fire, Telekinesis and Teleportation. Brenna’s life isn’t the same after she discovers her unusual and mysterious heritage. In addition to being a telepath, Brenna learns she has the Succubus Gift.

Chameleon Assassin – Libby is a mutant, one of the top burglars and assassins in the world. For a price, she caters to executives’ secret desires. Eliminate your corporate rival? Deliver a priceless art masterpiece or necklace? Hack into another corporation’s network? Libby’s your girl. Voted Best Contemporary/Urban Fantasy of 2017 by eFestival of Words

Gods and Demons – Life’s tough as an Elf girl stranded in Earth’s realm. When a jaguar shifter drops in out of nowhere and asks me for help in tracking down an ancient blood-magic statuette, I say no thank you. I learned a long time ago the key to survival is keeping a low profile. But it’s hard to ignore an artifact of the gods powerful enough to blow holes in reality.

Go for the Juggler by Leanne LeedsGo for the Juggler by Leanne Leeds:

A jarring homecoming.
An uncertain fate.
To save everyone, one witch must perform the juggling act of a lifetime

When Charlotte returns home with Gunther, Devana, and Ethel Elkins in tow, she doesn’t think her life can get any more complicated. But when one of her parents’ Animal Shelter volunteers turns up dead, her control begins to slip as her old human life and her new paranormal life collide.

While racing to come up with a plan to defeat the Witches’ Council, Charlotte must defend her family against an intrusive police investigation that risks exposing their true nature to the human world—an act which will condemn them all.

Go for the Juggler is the fourth book in the hypnotizing Magical Midway paranormal cozy mystery series. If you like eccentric characters, show-stopping magic, and twisty mysteries, then you’ll love Leanne Leeds’ crowd-pleasing whodunit.

Beneath the Lanterns by C. LitkaBeneath the Lanterns by C. Litka:

No good deed goes unpunished.

The historian Kel Cam enjoyed a pleasant life in Azera, the colorful capital of the Azere Empire. In the dark days, he taught classes at the University. In the bright days, he traveled the wide steppes to visit Blue Order communities, seeking clues about the mysterious, long dead civilization of the Elders in their libraries of ancient texts. However, when his best friend, Lefe Sol, the son of the ruler of Azere, discovers that his father has arranged his marriage to Ren Loh, the fourth daughter of the Empress of Jasmyne, Kel offers to stand by and help Lefe deal with his unexpected, and unwanted, bride-to-be. Kel soon finds himself caught up in the intrigues of empires which not only upset his well ordered life – they lay it to ruin.

“Beneath the Lanterns” is an old fashioned novel of adventure and travel set in an imaginary land – a land of colorful cities, sweeping steppes, and lush valleys littered with the ruins of a lost advanced civilization. It is a world of sixteen days of day light under the Yellow Lantern and sixteen days of night lit by the Blue Lantern. And across this wide and wild world under the Yellow and Blue Lanterns, Kel Cam finds that he must flee for his freedom, if not his life.

Things You Need by Kevin LuciaThings You Need by Kevin Lucia:

“Kevin Lucia is this generation’s answer to Charles L. Grant.” – Brian Keene

The things we want are so very rarely the things we need.

Clifton Heights, a modest Adirondack town, offers many unique attractions. Arcane Delights sells both paperbacks and hard-to-find limited editions. The Skylark Diner serves the best home-cooked meals around, with friendly service and a smile. Every August, Mr. Jingo’s County Fair visits, to the delight of children and adults. In essence, Clifton Heights is the quintessential small American town. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is treated like family. It is quiet, simple, and peaceful.

But shadows linger here. Flitting in dark corners, from the corner of the eye. If you walk down Main Street after dark, the slight scrape of shoes on asphalt whispers you’re not alone, but when you look over your shoulder, no one is there. The moon shines high and bright in the night sky, but instead of throwing light, it only seems to make the shadows lengthen.

Children disappear. Teens run away. Hunters get lost in the woods with frightening regularity. Husbands go mad, and wives vanish in the dead of night. And still, when the sun rises in the morning, you are greeted by townspeople with warm waves and friendly smiles, and the shivers pass as everything seems fresh and new…

Until night falls once more.

Handy’s Pawn and Thrift sits several blocks down from Arcane Delights. Like any thrift store, its wares range from the mundane to the bizarre. By daylight, it seems just another slice of small town Americana. But in its window hangs a sign which reads: We Have Things You Need. And when a lonely traveling salesman comes looking for something he desperately wants, after normal visiting hours, after night has fallen, he will face a harsh truth among the shelves of Handy’s Pawn and Thrift: the things we want are rarely the things we need.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

The New Magic by Joseph MalikThe New Magic by Joseph Malik:

“Tell me who you ride beside, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Once dubbed “The Deadliest Man Alive,” Jarrod Torrealday is now Lord Protector of Falconsrealm and a knight officer in the Order of the Stallion. He awakens one glorious fall morning to find his castle under siege and his alliances shattered as a new threat rises in the west: a revolution driven by a sorceress trained to kill and led by an unstoppable swordsman from the world he left behind.

Worse yet, the weapons Jarrod brought with him from Earth are rocking the country on its heels and threatening everything he came to save.

At a candlelit crossroads of dark sorcery and espionage, Jarrod must choose between embracing forbidden ancient magic for the good of the realm . . . or gambling the future of the kingdom in a showdown between profane wizardry and modern steel.

Phyllis Wong and the Waking of the Wizard by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Waking of the Wizard by Geoffrey McSkimming:

Phyllis Wong, that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth, is faced with a quest which began in the time of her great-grandfather, Wallace Wong, Conjuror of Wonder! He wanted to track down one of history’s greatest magicians … but does the person even exist? To find the answer, Phyllis will have to Transit across thousands of miles and hundreds of years.

While she follows the trail of the master prestidigitator, a sinister figure haunts her every step. What is the Great Whimpering, and who is the dastardly man intent on bringing it about? Can Phyllis find one of the most mysterious figures from history? Can she complete her mission in time to prevent the greatest calamity ever to befall mankind?

Another astonishing mystery starring Phyllis Wong, from the ever-scrawling pen nib of Geoffrey McSkimming.

The third Phyllis Wong: Time Detective Mystery.

Wayward Saint by J.S. MorinWayward Saint by J.S. Morin:

The galaxy’s worst bounty hunter just might be its most relentless hero.

Esper may dress the part. She has her own ship. She even carries a blaster—not that she ever uses it.

But she violates the cardinal rule of the galaxy’s most cold-blooded profession: get paid.

At least she’s not alone. Her partner Kubu is an alien who gets mistaken for a dog.

One is a wizard on the run from her past. The other is a lovable eating machine. Between them, they haven’t got a ruthless bone in their bodies.

But when a client hires them, they’ll do whatever it takes to bring a target home safely.

This time, it’s a teenage kidnapping victim, and Esper and Kubu will crisscross the galaxy to track her down and make sure she’s safe.

Wayward Saint is the first mission of Black Ocean: Mercy for Hire. It follows the exploits of a pair of do-gooder bounty hunters who care more about saving the day than getting a payday. Mercy for Hire builds on the rich Black Ocean universe and introduces a colorful cast for new and returning readers alike. Fans of vigilante justice and heroes who exemplify the word will love this series.

Grab your copy and support the cause of justice.

Cerenovo by Mike S. NuckolsCerenovo: The Complete Series by Mike S. Nuckols:

A mind-bending series that questions the nature of reality and the depths of human compassion.

Ridley Pierce is as surprised as anyone when a polymorphic phishing virus becomes sentient. As a plague ravages the world, he desperately tries to communicate with the entity. Upon making contact, he compels the intelligence to create technologies unlike any that have ever existed, pushing the world into a sinister new age. As people rot in immersive virtual reality and dark-matter scans reveal the secrets of the brain, Ridley begins to question whether the entity wishes to help, or to destroy, mankind.

This box-set includes the novels “Emergent,” “Exogenetic,” “Entanglement,” and “Entropy.”

Undertow by Brooklyn RayUndertow by Brooklyn Ray:

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is home to Crescent Cafe, a slew of micro-breweries, a downtown packed with antique boutiques, and violent, ancient storms. Thunder shakes rooftops and lightning cuts through dark skies, but Liam Montgomery has never been afraid.

Until now.

One night, Liam hears the scream of a kelpie, a Water horse whose cry foretells the beginning of a prophecy. Kelpies have not set foot on shore for decades, but as Liam digs into his magic and his family’s history, he uncovers a mysterious secret that could ripple into the lives of everyone around him.

Liam’s tea-leaves spells out murder. The life of someone he loves is on the line. An unwelcome kelpie speaks in riddles. The Queen of Water demands a sacrifice.

The Montgomery name is soaked in blood and secrets. Liam’s fate is sealed, but he’ll do whatever it takes to change it–even if it risks his circle, his magic, and his life.

Lost Girls by Shayne RutherfordLost Girls by Shayne Rutherford:

Fin McCrae is a finder, someone who can locate lost things with only the power of his mind. When he was a little boy, he swore to never use his talent. Now fifteen, Fin is about to break his word. Because three girls have been taken. Because the police are looking in the wrong place. And because he might be the only one who can find them before they’re lost forever. But getting to the girls is only half the problem. Saving them from the monster who took them might be impossible. And if Fin’s not careful, this might be the last promise he ever breaks.

LOST GIRLS was previously published in horror anthology DESCENT INTO DARKNESS as “Through A Dark Wood”. It is a novelette of 17,000 words.

Breakout by David Ryker and Douglas ScottBreakout by David Ryker and Douglas Scott:

When a meteor strike unleashes an alien intelligence bent on taking over the human race, only a ragtag band of Marines can stop them. The only problem is, they’re in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. For the next 98 years.

And their prison is two and a half billion kilometers from Earth on a good day.

Oh, and their fellow inmates want them dead…

Hey, nobody ever said saving the world would be easy.

The Mourner's Cradle by Tommy B. SmithThe Mourner’s Cradle: A Widow’s Journey by Tommy B. Smith:

The tale of a widow’s harrowing journey through grief and peril into the cold remnants of a dead world.

Damon Sharpe had in part found victory, he believed, in his battle to unearth a truth obscured by time. By autumn, he was dead, leaving to his wife Anne a house of unfulfilled wishes, remnants, and the key to the enigma of his obsession, the Mourner’s Cradle.

A journey through grief and peril delivers Anne Sharpe from her home in St. Charles to the faraway skeletons of a long-dead civilization where she will find the desperate answers she seeks…or die trying.

This horror novel is perfect for fans of…

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
The Fisherman by John Langan
The Grieving Stones by Gary McMahon
Daphne du Maurier
Thomas Ligotti
Shirley Jackson
Dan Simmons

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Spanish Mission by K.B. SpanglerSpanish Mission by K.B. Spangler:

Hope Blackwell, the world’s second-worst psychic, is tired of dealing with both the living and the dead. Between wrangling the ghosts of the Founding Fathers, medical school, and dodging the paparazzi, she’s got her own problems (and that last attempt on her life left her more shaken than she’ll admit!). So she packs up her friends and heads to Las Vegas for some high-octane escapism.

Their vacation is cut short when paranormal investigators show up with a story about ghost ships in the nearby Sonoran Desert. A desert is a strange place to search for pirates, but Hope knows all too well that the dead are everywhere. She tags along to make sure nobody will run into trouble if they find a homicidal ghost or two.

Hope wasn’t expecting the long-dead Spanish nun, or her pack of vengeful chupacabras. And they are just the beginning—this desert is full of ancient secrets, and psychics must beware.

Agents of Mars by Glynn StewartAgents of Mars by Glynn Stewart:

An enemy hidden in the shadows
A crack in the armor of secrecy
One chance to find an answer

Captain David Rice and the crew of Red Falcon have spent two years infiltrating the arms smuggling underworld of the Protectorate of the Mage-King of Mars. When the co-opted rebellion on Ardennes reveals a supply chain of weapons intended to fight Mars, this makes them the perfect team to investigate.

His new mission brings him across old friends and old enemies alike, but as his suspects start turning up dead, David realizes he isn’t the only one following the loose ends.

As shadowy enemies move to position themselves for civil war, Red Falcon’s crew must chase an ever-shrinking set of clues. If they succeed, they might just buy the Protectorate peace for their lifetime.

But if they fail…

Emerald Forest by Troy StoneEmerald Forest by Troy Stone:

The fate of the world lies in the hands of an inexperienced dryad and a war-weary human.

Kiri’s first assignment nearly gets her captured by a group of centaurs. A mishap placing her 600 years of training to become a Warden at risk. The Elder Dryads grant her a second chance to prove her abilities during a more dangerous task. She needs to discover the cause of a series of unauthorized portal openings and bring those responsible to trial. A fresh trail leads her to a planet long since abandoned by the dryads and a conflict tearing the world to pieces.

Johann lost his fiancee to a businessman while he fought to serve his country and watch longtime friends die in the trenches. His luck goes from bad to worse when a new enemy appear on the battlefield. Johann is caught by the group of nymphs hellbent on wiping mankind off the face of the planet. Of all the people, he happens to get rescued by a dryad that hates his guts.

Wardens are impartial but Kiri can’t help the feelings welling up inside. A part of her wants to leave Johann to die in the forest. Not only is he loud and shows a complete lack of respect for the environment, a complete no go by her books, but he’s also dangerously attractive for a human. Kiri’s heard plenty of stories about falling in love with mortals to know she shouldn’t, but teaming up with him to save mankind makes her question how tough her resolve really is.

Heart of a Dire Wolf by Carol Van NattaHeart of a Dire Wolf by Carol Van Natta:

To stay together, they’ll have to escape prison, outsmart wizards, and solve the mystery of a magical sanctuary town.

Skyla Chekal is in trouble. She’s a prisoner in an illegal underground auction house that sells magical creatures. If they learn she’s a dire wolf with free magic, they’ll hold a special high-roller sale just for her. She needs to keep her head down and escape, but she can’t because she smells someone who stirs her in the way only a true mate can. She can’t leave without him.

Siberian tiger shifter Nic Paletin can’t believe he’s found himself in a cage in an auction house run by wizards. As long as he continues to play dumb, he should be able to get out soon. But the intriguing smell of a woman who calls to his tiger has him tied up more than the shackles on his ankles.

As turned on as Skyla is by Nic’s intoxicating presence, she knows they first have to survive long enough to get free. Unfortunately, threats continue to escalate. In their escape, Skyla is sent somewhere else, and Nic has no idea where or what trouble she might be in. He must find her before the wizards do, plus figure out how to work together if they’re going to crack the secrets of a mysterious new-old town.

And they better hurry, because the greedy wizards not only know where they are, they’re after the fabled treasures of this vulnerable sanctuary town.

Continue the enthralling paranormal romance with Heart of a Dire Wolf, the third book in USA TODAY bestselling author Carol Van Natta’s fun, action-filled, steamy-hot Ice Age Shifters™ series.

Rogue by Robyn WidemanRogue by Robyn Wideman:

A dangerous warrior, living in hiding, wants nothing more than to be left alone, and occasionally extract a small portion of revenge on the royal family who betrayed him. But when assassins try to kill a young girl he intervenes. Now this betrayed warrior must forget his own vengeance and save a kingdom, a kingdom he once almost destroyed.

 

 

 

Space Rogues by John WilkerSpace Rogues by John Wilker:

Wil Calder was an astronaut testing Earth’s first Faster Than Light engine in an experimental space pod when he ended up stranded on the opposite side of the solar system. Even if NASA could come to get him, they didn’t know where to look.

But that was years ago.

Now, Wil is a lonely intergalactic outlaw and smuggler, looking for a crew, because space is lonely and boring. He’s got a ship, now he needs some friends or at least people to work with, maybe boss around a little.

What he isn’t looking for, is a plot that would destabilize the entire Galactic Commonwealth. A scheme he and his new crew aren’t remotely qualified to stop, but who looks at qualifications these days? They can’t just turn their backs on the galaxy, can they?

Between epic space battles, a quest for redemption and a daring heist, the crew uncovers a dangerous secret.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for September 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some August books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, culinary mysteries, historical mysteries, medieval mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Asian mysteries, paranormal mysteries, children’s mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, spy thrillers, legal thrillers, private investigators, amateur sleuths, spies, assassins, lawyers, kipnappings, intrepid reporters, werewolves and witches in 16th century Germany, murder in Tokyo, Hawaii, Korea and Australia, aboard cruise ships, in Hollywood, in circusses and cupcake shops and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Homicide on the Hunt by Stacey AlabasterHomicide on the Hunt by Stacey Alabaster:

When a treasure hunt turns deadly, the hunt for money and a murderer heats up.

The annual Eden Bay treasure hunt is usually a time of great fun. Secrets abound as Alyson and Claire face off, each determined to win the prize. When a dead body interrupts the hunt, the girls must find the killer before they can win the prize. Can their secrets and friendship provide a murder on the treasure hunt?

Homicide on the Hunt is the sixth book in the Hang Ten Australian Cozy Mystery series, a fast paced cozy mystery with an authentic Australian flair. If you quirky characters and unexpected twists, you’re going to love the Alyson and Claire.

Of Witches and Werewolves Trilogy by Cory BarclayOf Witches and Werewolves Trilogy Boxed Set by Cory Barclay:

Of Witches and Werewolves is a box set containing all three of the historical mystery books listed below in one epic tome.

Devil in the Countryside

It’s 1588 and a killer is loose in the German countryside. Is it the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg or something even more sinister? As the body count mounts and the mystery deepens, an unconventional investigator, a savage hunter seeking revenge, a conflicted priest, and a determined farmer’s daughter all search for answers, against the backdrop of a country reeling in religious turmoil.

In the Company of Wolves

In 1592, amid the chaos of regular witch-hunts and continued religious strife tearing Europe apart, three sets of travelers venture out on their own quests for peace and prosperity: A young thief from the slums, a ship of pirates, a priest and his wife. And as power, greed, and family secrets threaten to destroy them, their seemingly separate adventures converge in a place that may hold the key for them all.

The Beast Within

By the end of 1592, the city of Bedburg is still reeling from the horrific werewolf and witch trials that have consumed the city. Offering no comfort, a despotic lord rules with an iron fist and no one is safe. But an unlikely hero emerges, offering a group of improbable misfits their best hope for freedom: Returning to the chaos and tyranny they left behind to confront the face of pure evil head-on.

Sleepers by Mark DawsonSleepers by Mark Dawson:

When a Russian defector is assassinated in a sleepy English seaside town, Group Fifteen agents John Milton and Michael Pope find themselves in a rush to uncover the culprits and bring them to justice.

Their investigation leads them to Moscow and a confrontation with Directorate S, the agency responsible for seeding Russian sleeper agents around the world. When lies and double crossing mean that no-one is what they seem, the two agents – alone and without backup – struggle to achieve their goals under the most dangerous of circumstances.

Set one week before the opening of The Cleaner, this compulsive thriller turns back the clock to Milton as a barely functioning alcoholic, still tormented by the ghosts of the men and women he has killed in the service of his country.

Milton must fight his own demons as well as the Russian assassin sent to eliminate him. Will he be able to complete his mission and escape with his life?

The Highland Murders by J.S. DonovanThe Highland Murders by J.S. Donovan:

Rachel Harroway, a homicide detective with the ability to see the dead, balances the responsibilities of being a mother alongside her life’s calling to guide orphaned spirits home. Teaming up with her long time homicide partner Jensen Peak, she hunts for the latest crafty killer to strike in her little corner of the Appalachian Mountains. The investigation gets personal when her adopted daughter enters the crosshairs. How far will Rachel go to protect her own? How much will she be willing to give up?

 

Michael Gresham Box Set by John EllsworthMichael Gresham Box Set by John Ellsworth:

Enjoy the first three Michael Gresham legal thrillers at 50% off!

Grab the first three of this set of international best sellers while you can for one-half off the cover price. These are the books that made Michael Gresham a household name for those who love legal thrillers. But a word of warning: get ready to stay up late, because the Gresham books are known for portraying characters that readers love and want to follow.

Book 1: Lies She Never Told Me

The story of Michael Gresham’s heritage, beginning with his father’s father. The book features mob wars in 1920’s Chicago; World War II invasions and POW camps; romance between powerful men and beautiful women; the most infamous mass murder in 1960’s Chicago; and the complete growing-up story of Michael Gresham himself, from young boy to young lawyer. The book recounts the first meeting between Michael and his famous investigator Marcel in Operation Desert Shield when both young men are soldiers on the track of Saddam Hussein.

Finally, when Michael’s grandmother comes to him with a request that he track down and kill one man, can he refuse? He’s been trained as a lawyer, he believes in the rule of law, and he believes that no man is above the law. But his grandmother won’t let him go. She tells him a certain man must die for his crimes. Michael loves his grandmother with every cell in his body. Can he refuse her dying wish? Will he honor the vow he makes to this most important woman in his life?

And so the hunt begins.

Who will Michael find first: the killer or himself?

Book 2: Michael Gresham: The Lawyer

Michael Gresham is a criminal attorney with a client accused of murdering a judge’s wife. As the story progresses, the judge whose wife was murdered suddenly tries to hire Michael Gresham for himself. New revelations have the judge backed into a corner in this legal and financial thriller. Can an attorney battle the system and win the notorious case other lawyers turned down? Can Michael Gresham turn the tables on those who would see him dead? And who is going to pay for the injury and disfigurement they left him with?

A legal financial thriller that introduces the first in a five-book series about Michael Gresham, the Chicago lawyer who defends hopeless cases everyday. Watch from your front row seat as Michael walks into this courtroom drama a huge underdog. Cheer him on as he uses all his wit and cunning to defend the indefensible.

Book 3: Secrets Girls Keep

Michael Gresham is a criminal attorney whose priest has fathered a son. The boy is now seventeen, acting-out, and suddenly arrested for first-degree murder. A serious question arises as to the boy’s guilt. The priest asks Michael to take his son into his home so he can be released on bail. Michael and his wife agree and the boy, with his snake and mice, moves in.

One young client who looks more guilty with each new death…
The new houseguest gets questioned by the police for yet a second murder. Michael Gresham and his wife become uneasy and, when the young man begins acting out, they finally move him out. The snake and mice move out with him. What follows is the story of a trial for first degree murder. All pertinent witnesses take the stand and are questioned in this book. The tension mounts. A verdict is rendered by the jury, but the crime doesn’t end there. Now it becomes personal to Michael and Danny.

Murdered by News by Dianne HarmanMurdered By News by Dianne Harman:

He was a Pulitzer Prize winning publisher. She was a celebrity newscaster. Someone hated one of them enough to commit murder.

Kat’s shocked when she’s asked to help solve the murder but it looks like her daughter may be marrying into the decedent’s family. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. Nice to know there’s a Rottweiler at your back!

 

 

Dangerous Seas by Lily Harper HartDangerous Seas by Lily Harper Hart:

Ten years ago, Rowan Gray’s father didn’t return from a routine day at work. The police believed he accidentally drove into a nearby lake thanks to inclement weather, but no sign of him or the car he was driving was ever found.

Now, Rowan Gray is a photographer on a cruise ship. She’s in love with the head of security Quinn Davenport, and living a life she never thought possible. Things are going well … and her father is back. Paul Gray is going by another name but he’s a guest on The Bounding Storm, which happens to be hosting a group of high-profile authors from across the world. And, yes, Rowan’s father is among them.

The reunion process doesn’t exactly go smoothly, especially when the most famous author in the bunch turns up dead. Julia West wasn’t a pleasant woman, but she had a legion of fans.

The problem facing Rowan and Quinn is they can’t figure out who’s to blame. Was it one of the other authors? An errant fan who somehow snuck on board? Or the diabolical enemy that forced Paul Gray to abandon his only daughter a decade before? The stakes are high as the truth comes out. The only thing that’s absolutely certain is that Rowan and Quinn’s lives will never be the same again … if they can hold onto their lives, that. Nothing is a given in this brave new world.

Slash in the Pan by CeeCee JamesSlash in the Pan by CeeCee James:

Georgie Tanner and her best friend, Kari have known each other their whole lives. Georgie was maid of honor at Kari and Joe’s wedding, so when Joe is accused of a horrific murder, Georgie is determined to learn the truth.

The details look bad- a body was found in the subdivision under construction where Joe is the general contractor. The body has Joe’s favorite knife sticking out of it. To make things worse, the dead man is Devon Walters, Joe’s professional rival.

Joe doesn’t have a good alibi, and the DA quickly discovers that Devon was about to file a lawsuit against Joe. As Georgie finds out when she digs deeper, Devon had a good reason to file a lawsuit. Despite Joe’s underhanded dealings, Kari begs Georgie to prove he didn’t do it… but the more Georgie digs, the worse things look.

Worse, Georgie unearths clues that seem to tie back to her fiancé, who died years ago… this may be one case where the truth is too hard to face.

On Deadline and Under Fire by Amanda M. LeeOn Deadline and Under Fire by Amanda M. Lee:

There’s nothing Avery Shaw loves more than a challenge … at least when it comes to tracking down a story. The challenge she’s facing this time is the one thing she might not be able to overcome, though.

Vacation. That’s right, not only is Southeastern Michigan’s busiest reporter off work for a week … but she’s also on the receiving end of a visit from her boyfriend’s mother.

Eliot Kane is tough as nails but he’s obviously nervous about the two most important women in his life crossing paths. The fact that he’s nervous makes Avery agitated … and she worries about very little other than who she can upset and how quickly she can make her enemies cry.

As luck would have it, Avery stumbles on a story when she should be enjoying her time off. A high-rise apartment fire leaves one dead … and ties to organized crime are abundant. The only thing Avery knows about the mob is what television and movies have taught her. That doesn’t mean she’s not keen to learn.

Avery is in a pickle. She has to uncover the motives behind a murder, get her boyfriend’s mother to like her without losing herself, and keep her family out of trouble even though they’re sniffing around and causing mischief. Oh, and she has to pull it all off without melting down or letting Eliot know what she’s up to.

Things are about to get wacky and dangerous in Avery’s world. She wouldn’t have it any other way … even if it ultimately kills her.

Go for the Juggler by Leanne LeedsGo for the Juggler by Leanne Leeds:

A jarring homecoming.
An uncertain fate.
To save everyone, one witch must perform the juggling act of a lifetime

When Charlotte returns home with Gunther, Devana, and Ethel Elkins in tow, she doesn’t think her life can get any more complicated. But when one of her parents’ Animal Shelter volunteers turns up dead, her control begins to slip as her old human life and her new paranormal life collide.

While racing to come up with a plan to defeat the Witches’ Council, Charlotte must defend her family against an intrusive police investigation that risks exposing their true nature to the human world—an act which will condemn them all.

Go for the Juggler is the fourth book in the hypnotizing Magical Midway paranormal cozy mystery series. If you like eccentric characters, show-stopping magic, and twisty mysteries, then you’ll love Leanne Leeds’ crowd-pleasing whodunit.

Lady Rample and the Silver Screen by Shéa MacLeod Lady Rample and the Silver Screen by Shéa MacLeod:

When an invitation to a Hollywood wedding arrives in London, Lady Rample and Aunt Butty are living the glamorous life among the rich and famous in California. But when their movie producer host is found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot, they find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving a silver screen starlet, a conniving butler, and kidnapping gangsters!

Suspicious from the start, Lady Rample is determined to prove that their friend didn’t commit suicide. Unfortunately, proving murder might end in another murder…her own.

Lose yourself in 1930s Hollywood with the latest installment of the popular historical cozy mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries.

Overboard by Dawn Lee McKennaOverboard by Dawn Lee McKenna:

Due to a past trauma, Lt. Maggie Hamilton has a paralyzing fear of sharks that has kept her out of her beloved Gulf all her adult life.

When a group of drug dealers dumps the Sheriff’s Office investigator overboard one night, leaving her to her fate, Maggie finds herself in the middle of her most terrifying nightmare, with no hope of waking up safe in her own bed.

To survive, Maggie must not only meet her fear head on, but overcome it, so that she can stay alive long enough to be rescued or make her way back home.
Maggie’s husband, former Sheriff Wyatt Hamilton, and the town’s most notorious criminal, Bennett Boudreaux, join forces in a desperate search for Maggie.

They’re in a race against time to save her before the Gulf, her fear, or the thing she fears most takes her life.

Phyllis Wong and the Waking of the Wizard by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Waking of the Wizard by Geoffrey McSkimming:

Phyllis Wong, that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth, is faced with a quest which began in the time of her great-grandfather, Wallace Wong, Conjuror of Wonder! He wanted to track down one of history’s greatest magicians … but does the person even exist? To find the answer, Phyllis will have to Transit across thousands of miles and hundreds of years.

While she follows the trail of the master prestidigitator, a sinister figure haunts her every step. What is the Great Whimpering, and who is the dastardly man intent on bringing it about? Can Phyllis find one of the most mysterious figures from history? Can she complete her mission in time to prevent the greatest calamity ever to befall mankind?

Another astonishing mystery starring Phyllis Wong, from the ever-scrawling pen nib of Geoffrey McSkimming.

The third Phyllis Wong: Time Detective Mystery.

Curse of the Poppy by Emily OrganCurse of the Poppy by Emily Organ

A woman dies in a burglary in Fitzrovia. A man is murdered in an opium den in Limehouse. Gutsy Fleet Street reporter Penny Green suspects the two deaths are connected, but how can she prove it?

The answer may lie in Whitehall where the India Office reaps the benefits of Britain’s opium trade. But when Inspector James Blakely of Scotland Yard begins investigating, an unforeseen danger looms.

Soon Penny is forced to act alone and is put to the ultimate test when her quest becomes personal.

The Moving Blade by Michael PronkoThe Moving Blade by Michael Pronko:

When the top American diplomat in Tokyo, Bernard Mattson, is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, boxes of research, a lost keynote speech and a tangled web of relations.

When his alluring daughter, Jamie, returns from America wanting answers, finding only threats, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is dragged from the safe confines of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.

With help from ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi, Hiroshi searches for the killer from back alley bars to government offices, through anti-nuke protests to military conspiracies. When two more bodies turn up, Hiroshi must choose between desire and duty, violence or procedure, before the killer silences his next victim.

THE MOVING BLADE is the second in the Tokyo-based Detective Hiroshi series by award-winning author Michael Pronko.

The Tiger Awakens by L.P. RingThe Tiger Awakens by L.P. Ring:

Senior Inspector Choi only wants to keep his head down and lick his wounds after his latest investigation went horribly wrong. So when he picks up a simple home invasion angle with a ready-made prime suspect, it looks like this will be an easier day than most. Except someone wanted Young-bae Kim to suffer. And Choi can’t shake the feeling than there is more to this than a simple burglary gone wrong.

 

 

The Tequila Killings by Robert W. StephensThe Tequila Killings by Robert W. Stephens:

A deadly fall. A dodgy past. Can Poe uncover the truth before a match made in paradise ends in disaster?

Edgar Allan “Poe” Rutherford has the luxury of picking and choosing the cases that spark his curiosity. So when his love-struck mother-in-law demands he trail her latest squeeze, he thinks he’s wasting his time. Until a mysterious woman from the boyfriend’s past falls off his balcony to her death.

As he digs deeper, he discovers a chain of underground connections starting with a rising tide of corruption in Miami and washing up on Maui’s white sandy beaches. But Poe’s solved enough cases to know dodgy dealings don’t necessarily make the man a murderer…

With the body count climbing, can Poe protect his mother-in-law and solve the case or will a killer destroy a chance at a happy ending?

The Tequila Killings is the eighth standalone novel in a series of murder mysteries with an island state of mind. If you like charismatic private eyes, lighthearted humor, and tropical-storm-grade twists and turns, then you’ll love Robert W. Stephens’ Murder on Maui series.

You Won't Find Him by Cyrus WintersYou Won’t Find Him by Cyrus Winters:

It’s been 20 long years since a night of horror where Detective Jess Antler’s 10-year-old brother Billy was abducted. Despite Jess seeing the intruder face to face, neither he or her brother were ever found. After enduring a terrifying adolescence at the hands of her abusive Aunt, Jess has learnt to push away her feelings about her brother, and her drive to find him.

As everyone says, Billy’s never coming back. It’s time to move on.

However after uncovering Billy’s secret diary, Jess begins to unravel the mystery further and discovers shocking truths about her family and what Billy was really mixed up in.

False Justice by Larry A. WintersFalse Justice by Larry A. Winters:

A powerful corporation. A legal system bought and paid for. A prosecutor willing to risk everything for justice…

In a courthouse hallway, assistant district attorney Jessica Black runs into an old law school friend. Jessie is excited to catch up with Kelly … until she realizes the lawyer is terrified.

Kelly is representing grieving parents against a large corporation whose failure to meet safety standards caused a child’s death. The company stands to lose a lot of money, and Kelly fears someone is following her, watching her, and preparing to harm her. But without an actual threat, the police won’t help. Jessie offers to talk to her friends in the police department to try to get Kelly some protection, at least temporarily.

But that night, Kelly is found dead in what looks like a random car accident.

Now, Jessie must prove Kelly’s accident was actually a murder, find the killer, and protect the grief-stricken parents from a corporation willing to do anything to silence them. But can she succeed against a corrupt judicial system, an indifferent police force, and a bloodthirsty killer? Or will her fight for justice cost her everything?

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Two and a Half New “In Love and War” Stories Available

Yes, it’s a new release announcement and there will be more of them to come, as I get the stories from the July short story challenge ready for publication. But don’t worry, this blog is not about to turn into “Sell, sell, sell” all the time and there will also be some SFF analysis and geekery coming up, not to mention a new post at Galactic Journey.

But first of all, let’s have a commercial break, because the good folks at Kobo are holding a “3 books for 5 bucks” sale in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, where you can get three e-books, including some of mine, for five bucks in the local currency. And indie author C.B. Maurice is also running a “Sweet Firsts” cross promo where several indie authors are selling their first published romances for 99 cents. Mine is The Kiss of the Executioner’s Blade, by the way.

And now let’s return to my own new releases, both of which are new stories in the In Love and War series (I’ll explain the half new release later). The first of these, Evacuation Order, is a prequel novella and chronologically the earliest story. Yeah, so I’m writing the series out of order, but then so did Lois McMaster Bujold, Fritz Leiber and many others.

Evacuation Order takes us back to an event that’s very important to the In Love and War series, namely the destruction of Mikhail’s homeworld Jagellowsk. We meet Mikhail at the age of eight as well as his parents, his grandmother, his older sister Katya and family dog Laika. We also meet Brian Mayhew in his days as a fleet captain and learn just why there is such a bond between Mikhail and Mayhew, regardless of everything that happens later.

Initially, I had intended for Brian Mayhew to be merely a recurring antagonist, a thorn in Mikhail and Anjali’s sides. However, the character refused to cooperate and insisted that he was not a villain, even though he very much behaves like one at times. Non-cooperative characters can be a pain in the butt, though the story is usually more interesting for letting them have their way. And Brian Mayhew as a man whose desire to end the war and make the galaxy a safer place leads him to some very dark places and gradually causes him to abandon pretty much every ideal he ever had is a lot more interesting than Brian Mayhew, the one note villain. Evacuation Order shows Mayhew at his most unambiguously heroic, for he and his crew try very hard to do the right thing, even though they’re completely overwhelmed by the situation. You can argue with their decisions, but you cannot argue with the fact that they try to save as many lives as they can.

Oh yes, an Mayhew’s crack that should it become necessary to throw someone out of the airlock, so everybody else aboard the Fearless Explorer can survive, he’s volunteering, is of course a reference to Tom Godwin’s classic science fiction story “The Cold Equations”. Because there’s always time to make a swipe against “The Cold Equations”. Coincidentally, that remark makes Mayhew, who was once supposed to be the embodiment of everything that pisses me off about the typical square-jawed male science fiction hero, a lot less awful than a very famous example of the breed.

Coincidentally, Evacuation Order is also the most Star Trek like story I’ve ever written. Considering how much Star Trek I have consumed over the years, I’m surprised that it took me so long to write a Trek-like story, but for some reason both Star Wars and Raumpatrouille Orion have been a bigger influence on my work. But Evacuation Order is very much Star Trek influenced, since we have a ship, a captain, a crew, a mission, an ethical dilemma and the characters doing their best to deal with it. Of course, the Fearless Explorer and her crew are serving a regime that’s very much not a utopian society like the Federation, but then the Federation isn’t much of a utopia anymore either these days, if it ever was. While writing the story, I also became quite fond of the crew of the Fearless Explorer and I’d certainly like to revisit some of those characters some day. For that matter, I’d also love to revisit baby Svetlana to see what became of her. Though Mayhew’s first officer Natalya Shepkova does show up in Freedom’s Horizon as captain of the battlecruiser Dauntless Courage.

I started writing Evacuation Order in early 2018 and I’d known about the arbitrary age divisions in the Republic’s evacuation procedures, which cause Mikhail to be separated first from his parents and later his sister, for a long time before I wrote the story. But while I was writing the story, the news about the ICE separating children from their parents by order of the Trump administration hit and sharply brought home that separating children from parents and caregivers except in the most dire of emergencies (though a planet about to be destroyed certainly qualifies as a dire emergency) is a really bad idea. Though to be fair, pretty much everybody in Evacuation Order is aware that separating families is a really bad idea and both Anna Kim and Dana Gibson explicitly say so. They just don’t know what else to do, given the circumstances.

So if you’re curious to see just what exactly happened on Jagellowsk, how Mikhail and Brian Mayhew first met and just why this whole event was so traumatic for Mikhail or maybe if you’d simply like to read my take on a Star Trek type story, then check out…

Evacuation Order
Evacuation Order by Cora BuhlertAfter the test of a planet killer weapon goes awry, the light cruiser Fearless Explorer is ordered to the planet Jagellowsk to evacuate the scientists in charge of the test before the planet breaks apart. But in defiance of orders, Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew decide to aid the civilian evacuation efforts instead.

Meanwhile, on Jagellowsk, thirteen-year-old Katya Grikova is desperate to get herself and her little brother Misha to safety from the ever stronger seismic shocks that are rocking the planet.

The Fearless Explorer is Katya and Misha’s only chance to get away from Jagellowsk. But Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew cannot evacuate all the children waiting for rescue…

More information.
Length: 29000 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

Collision Course, the other new In Love and War story, was written during the 2018 July Short Story Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per in July 2018. Like many stories to come out of the July short story challenges, Collision Course was inspired by a piece of concept art or rather two. The first of those was this piece by Owen Freeman showing two futuristic snipers on a roof. They don’t look very much like Mikhail and Anjali, but when I started writing, I quickly realised that this was an In Love and War story and so I wrote a scene of Anjali and Mikhail bantering and eating tuna salad on a roof, while waiting for something to happen. Coincidentally, we also get to see Mikhail in full space marine mode in this story, complete with cool power armour.

Eventually, I felt the need to describe the surroundings a little more and so I went through the folder of inspirational images on my harddrive, which also has a lot of images of futuristic cities both shiny and gritty, and hit upon this rainy cyberpunk cityscape by Tim Blandin and quickly realised that the roof of the hotel in the image could be the very roof where Mikhail and Anjali were stationed. And then, when it came to writing the chase scene, I of course needed to have Anjali and Mikhail chase the assassin somewhere. So I looked at the cityscape image again and quickly decided that fleeing into the doughnut shop and out the back was the most logical escape route.

In Freedom’s Horizon, there is a throwaway line about how Anjali and Mikhail ran into a Republican spy at a place named the Plasma Café and that’s why they have to leave Metra Litko so quickly. So when I sent Mikhail and Anjali chasing the assassin into the doughnut shop, it suddenly occurred to me that this doughnut shop could just as well be the Plasma Café mentioned in Freedom’s Horizon. So what if Anjali and Mikhail ran into the Republican spy while chasing the assassin? And what if the assassin was the spy? The story pretty much wrote itself from there.

Chronologically, Collision Course is set just before Freedom’s Horizon and indeed leads directly into the latter story. So if you want to know just what exactly happened to force Anjali and Mikhail to leave Metra Litko, read…

Collision Course
Collision Course by Cora BuhlertOnce, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living as mercenaries on Metra Litko, an independent world on the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

Anjali and Mikhail are working a routine bodyguard job. But things quickly go awry, when an assassin bypasses all security measures to shoot the wrong target… or does he?

Anjali and Mikhail set off in pursuit, only to find themselves confronted with a figure from Mikhail’s past who could threaten their newfound freedom.

More information.
Length: 8000 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

That makes two new In Love and War stories. So what about the half story mentioned in the title? Well, first of all, it’s not half a story, it’s a complete story, albeit a short one. It is, however, half of a book.

The story in question, “Shipbound”, is another story to come out of the 2018 July Short Story Challenge. This one was inspired by one of Chuck Wendig’s writing prompts, namely to write about food. That prompt was certainly a fruitful one, for it generated four stories altogether during the challenge, but then I really like writing about food. I also combined the food prompt with another of Chuck Wendig’s writing prompts, namely “space opera”, and got an In Love and War story.

And so I started writing a scene featuring Pietro Garibaldi, the hapless pilot from Freedom’s Horizon, grumbling that he’s stuck aboard the ship, while everybody else is out and about, which he suspects is because Pietro is a screw-up with a gambling problem. Then, Pietro makes dinner – the only dish he knows how to make – for himself and Sabrina Cho. Pietro’s spaceport pasta is based on this recipe, by the way, which is one of my go-to quick and tasty pasta dishes. Though Pietro also adds olives (as do I). I usually also add a swig of white wine. Pietro doesn’t, because piloting spacecraft and alcohol don’t mix.

The result was a nice little story, but it was also a very short story, only 2900 words long, and very much a side story featuring two supporting characters. So it wouldn’t really work as a separate entry in the In Love and War series. However, “Shipbound” also happens parallel to Bullet Holes, so Pietro is making pasta, while Mikhail and Anjali are fighting for their lives. So I simply decided to bundle both stories together and add “Shipbound” as a bonus story to Bullet Holes.

If you have already bought Bullet Holes and would like the updated version with the bonus story and the vendor won’t update it (cause not all of them do), drop me a line and I’ll mail you the updated version in the e-book format of your choice.

Meanwhile, here is the cover again (because it’s one of my favourite) plus the updated blurb:

Bullet Holes
Bullet Holes by Cora BuhlertOnce, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

When a seemingly routine courier job turns out to be a trap, Anjali is hit by a so-called smart bullet, a Republican weapon that slowly and inevitably kills its victims. Mikhail is given a choice by his former commander Brian Mayhew: Surrender or watch the woman he loves die in excruciating pain.

It is a choice between two equally horrifying fates. But maybe, there is a third option…

Bonus story: Shipbound

Pilot Pietro Garibaldi is frustrated to be stuck aboard the freighter Freedom’s Horizon, holding the fort, while everybody else gets to enjoy themselves on the rim world of Varishka. What annoys him most is the suspicion that he wasn’t chosen to keep watch at random, but because he is considered unreliable, someone who cannot be trusted in port.

But when trouble comes calling, it becomes clear just why Pietro and his crewmate Sabrina Cho were exactly the right people to stay aboard the ship.

More information.
Length: 6200 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

And that’s it for today. However, there’ll be more new releases coming up, including another In Love and War story as well as more Helen Shepherd Mysteries, more Two-Fisted Todd Adventures, more Hallowind Cove, more tales of The Day The Saucers Came…, two more stories set in the dystopian future of The Shantytown Robin Hoods as well as a brand-new sword and sorcery series.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, YA fantasy, cozy fantasy, portal fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, dystopian fiction, prehistoric fiction, horror, Steampunk, Mannerpunk, time travel, witches, dragons, robots, haunted houses, ghost marines, dinosaurs in love, planetkiller weapons, pirates, airships, kidnapped maidens, UFO conspiracies, space mages, prison breaks, magical portals, haunted music venues and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Codex of Desire by Lauren AlderThe Codex of Desire by Lauren Alder:

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell prey to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

When Raoul Deguchi, a human palaeontologist, touches the alien-forged metal band wrapped around the forearm of a small theropod dinosaur fossil, he is mentally transported back in time to experience the tragic intersection of five dinosaur lives. Girn’ash, a shrewd and secretive female slave, falls in love with Tir’at~Esk, a dashing military prisoner — and will do anything in her meagre power to win his freedom. But Girn’ash’s queen is determined to coerce the handsome warrior into her harem, and when so many ferocious desires collide it might doom an entire civilization to nuclear extinction.

Fleet Commander Recon by Shane Lochlann BlackFleet Commander Recon by Shane Lochlann Black:

For starship captains, there are some things more important than capital weapons and mechanized infantry.

Jayce Hunter’s flagship is grounded. The majority of the battleship Argent’s space wing is either missing or destroyed, and the Judge Advocate is preparing a defense against the possibility of a general court martial aimed at Jayce and the rest of Admiral Powers’ so-called “alarmist” political allies.

Meanwhile, with her mentor veteran cruiser captain Patrick Enright in a coma from which he may never awaken, Jayce vows to hunt down the ambush fleet responsible for the destruction of the starship Revenge and the possible murder of her twin brother, Captain Jason Hunter.

After doing her best to comfort her shaken mother, and even as she fights her own worst fears Jason may truly be gone, the former Perseus Task Force Flag and skipper of the advanced strike cruiser DSS Fury pushes her authority to the limit and re-classifies her command Skywatch Special Forces Recon. Now all she needs is a team willing to share the risk of piracy charges to return to Bayone and finish what the traitorous Colonel Atwell started.

Argent’s amphibious forces are fighting to survive on the surface of an inter-dimensionally trapped planet overrun by treacherous enemies. A previously unknown alien faction armed with destructive riflecutter weapons has blockaded the sector. Now it is up to two stranded marines, a recon K-9, ten fugitive officers and an unexpected ally to fight their way through spacetime and venture deep into the unexplored labyrinth under the Lethe Deeps planetary defense base.

There they may finally discover the secrets of the mysterious Ithis technology and use it to learn the true fate of the one man who can beat Colonel Atwell at his own game.

Unification by Jonathan P. BrazeeUnification by Jonathan P. Brazee:

The Corps has been integrated by imperial decree—but that doesn’t mean everyone accepts the wyntonan Marines. Despite an impressive combat record as a grunt, Corporal Leif Hollow struggles to become an effective NCO and leader of Marines.

When then the trumpets of war sound, however, Marines forget about differences and come together to accomplish the mission. But when the odds are stacked against them, and the empire’s very existence is at stake, will that be enough?

The Lord of Always by David BrianThe Lord of Always by David Brian:

Can this really be the remains of an angel? And if it is, shouldn’t we all tremble in anticipation of what awaits at our end?

For Frank and Roz Tanner, booking a honeymoon at Penhale House, set amid beautiful Cornish landscapes, should have been the perfect getaway. But the house sits on a nexus point; a gateway to demonic realms.

Amid a turbulence of twisting realities, and facing legions of fallen angels and nightmarish servitors, Frank and Roz become separated. Frank turns to a local pensioner for assistance. But the enigmatic George Smoke is a man who offers more questions than answers.

Confronted by dark gods and cosmic abominations, Frank faces a battle for his wife’s soul. It seems a fight he is destined to lose… but he must succeed. Saving Roz is the key to everything.

Evacuation Order by Cora BuhlertEvacuation Order by Cora Buhlert:

When the test of a planet killer weapon goes awry, the light cruiser Fearless Explorer is ordered to the planet Jagellowsk to evacuate the scientists in charge of the test before the planet breaks apart. But in defiance of orders, Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew decide to aid the civilian evacuation efforts instead.

Meanwhile, on Jagellowsk, thirteen-year-old Katya Grikova is desperate to get herself and her little brother Misha to safety from the ever stronger seismic shocks that are rocking the planet.

The Fearless Explorer is Katya and Misha’s only chance to get away from Jagellowsk. But Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew cannot evacuate all the children waiting for rescue…

This is a prequel novella of 29000 words or approximately 100 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Eye of Truth by Lindsay BurokerEye of Truth by Lindsay Buroker:

After ten years at war, Jev Dharrow looks forward to hanging up his sword, relaxing with a cool mug of ale, and forgetting that the love of his life married another man while he was gone. But when his ship sails into port, a beautiful woman wearing the garb of an inquisitor from one of the religious orders waits to arrest him.

His crime?

He’s accused of stealing an ancient artifact with the power to start another war. Jev would gladly hand over the artifact to stop more suffering, but he has no idea where it is or even what it looks like. The inquisitor woman definitely has the wrong person.

Inquisitor Zenia Cham grew up with nothing, but she has distinguished herself as one of the most capable law enforcers in the city, and she’s next in line to become archmage of the temple. All she has to do is find the Eye of Truth, and her superiors are certain that Jev has it.

He tries to charm her with his twinkling eyes and easy smile, but she’s not letting any man get between her and her dreams. Especially not a thief.

If Jev can’t convince Zenia they’re on the same side, find the artifact, and clear his name, his homecoming will turn into a jail sentence. Or worse.

Missing Signal by Seb DoubinskyMissing Signal by Seb Doubinsky:

From Seb Doubinsky, author of The Song of Synth, The Babylonian Trilogy, White City, Absinth, Omega Gray and Suan Ming, comes his highly anticipated next installment in the City-States Cycle.

Missing Signal—a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a government conspiracy? Agent Terrence Kovacs has worked for the New Petersburg Counter-Intel Department propagating fake UFO stories for so long that even he has a hard time separating fact from fiction. Especially when he’s approached by a beautiful woman named Vita, who claims she’s been sent from another planet to liberate Earth.

Prison Break by Rachel FordPrison Break by Rachel Ford, narrated by Jill Myers:

Mercy is weakness. Forgiveness is blasphemy. Sin is crime. The unholy trinity – monotheists, polytheists, and technotheists – rule in unison. Justice is not blind, but soulless.

In a city of stratified wealth and endemic poverty, Father Edlin tries to make a difference. His little church and free clinics provide a flicker of hope to the downtrodden populace. But not for long.

The men with guns show up, and it’s only a matter of time before a forced confession of heresy is extracted. Now Father Edlin sits in a cell, awaiting the fulfillment of his death sentence. But somewhere in the night, a friend lurks, waiting for the chance to pay off an old debt….

War Mage by Chris FoxWar Mage by Chris Fox:

The Krox have finally reached their end game, and the sector will never be the same. Their relentless fleet darkens the skies of New Texas, home of the fabled Ternus shipyards. Their only hope lies with their sworn allies, the Shayans. But the Shayans refuse to help.

Only Aran and his company can keep their leadership alive long enough for Voria to bring reinforcements and the fabled Spellship. If they fail, the entire world burns, and Ternus morale will collapse with it.

But the war is merely a smokescreen for something much more sinister. Teodros, Guardian of Krox, plans to use the distraction to resurrect his dark father. If he is not stopped, Krox will live again.

Behind it all Talifax schemes, and Nara will pay the price.

The Fila Epiphany by J.J. GreenThe Fila Epiphany by J.J. Green

Humanity’s first deep space colony.

Humanity’s last hope.

Treachery and sabotage have dogged the early days of the Nova Fortuna colonization project, and worse problems lie in wait.

The data the colonists received about their planet was wrong. No one knows what predatory life forms threaten the colonists. Ethan makes it his job to find out. At the same time, geneticist Cariad tries to root out any remaining saboteurs while also working to rebuild the colonists’ gene pool.

If Cariad and Ethan don’t succeed in securing the colony’s safety the last surviving flame of humanity will be snuffed out.

The Fila Deception is book two in the compelling, provocative space colonization series, Space Colony One.

A Portion of Dragon and Chips by Simon HaynesA Portion of Dragon and Chips by Simon Haynes:

“An insane, inspired blend of high fantasy and low humour”

When a battered old robot washes up on the shores of the Old Kingdom, it signals the end of a fragile alliance amongst the four ancient lands.
It turns out dragons are really tasty, and having filleted, boned and baked their scaly allies to the very brink of extinction, no single kingdom can hope to win out against the other three.
Into this shaky impasse steps the mechanical man, impervious to crude weapons, magic, suspicious wedding feasts, poisoned wine, and fire of any colour, be it wild, angry or just slightly annoyed.
Each kingdom stakes their claim to the mechanical marvel, convinced the mysterious creature will lead them to a crushing victory against the others once they teach it to fly. And breathe fire. And, you know, ignore the Three Laws.
It’s just a pity none of them thought to ask the robot what it wants.

Featuring Clunk – the beloved robot from the Hal Spacejock series – as well as the oddball protagonists from The Desolator and Thonn!, this novel promises to bring you the biggest laughs of the year.

Welcome to the Show, edited by Matt Hayward and Doug MuranoWelcome to the Show: 17 Horror Stories – One Legendary Venue, edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano:

17 horror Stories. One legendary music venue.

We all know the old cliché: Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now, add demons, other dimensions, monsters, revenge, human sacrifice, and a dash of the truly inexplicable. This is the story of the (fictional) San Francisco music venue, The Shantyman.

In Welcome to the Show, seventeen of today’s hottest writers of horror and dark fiction come together in devilish harmony to trace The Shantyman’s history from its disturbing birth through its apocalyptic encore.

Featuring stories by Brian Keene, John Skipp, Mary SanGiovanni, Robert Ford, Max Booth III, Glenn Rolfe, Matt Hayward, Bryan Smith, Matt Serafini, Kelli Owen, Jonathan Janz, Patrick Lacey, Adam Cesare, Alan M Clark, Somer Canon, Rachel Autumn Deering and Jeff Strand.

Compiled by Matt Hayward. Edited by Doug Murano.

Bring your curiosity, but leave your inhibitions at the door. The show is about to begin…

Queen of the Shining Sea by Miranda HonfleurQueen of the Shining Sea by Miranda Honfleur:

Enemy mages and ships. An all-powerful organization gone rogue. One woman refuses to stand aside.

After the Divinity reveals its dark intentions, Rielle and her friends patrol the Shining Sea, doing all they can to stem the tide of gold flowing into Magehold and the dangerous goods flowing out. Facing Immortals and pirates at every turn, they wage battle after battle against clandestine Divinity ships in an effort to weaken its ability to grasp for power.

Meanwhile, Veris draws near and the Dragon King hunts Jon, whose life hangs in the balance as Olivia and Samara seek answers to heal his heart. As the werewolf presence in Emaurria escalates, Brennan is forced to confront both sides of his werewolf–noble identity and choose whether to reject it or embrace it. In a harsh and deadly wilderness, Leigh and Ambriel search for clues about the Sundering ritual, hoping to seal away the violent Immortals and save the land for good.

But the Divinity does not accept defeat — and when the Grand Divinus strikes back, it is not at Rielle but at Emaurria. Will she give up her war against the Divinity, or will Emaurria fall?

A Splash of Truth by Amy HopkinsA Splash of Truth by Amy Hopkins:

A boy is missing, and Emma needs to find him fast. The High Seat’s request to hunt down a traitor on the Council will just have to wait.

When Emma’s search leads her to the gritty underground where half-blood children are made to fight for sport, she’ll require every ounce of cunning and skill she has to bring the operation down. She must not only mingle with the arrogant nobles who run the operation but finally face down the one person who means her the most harm – her sister, Aveline.

Putting off the High Seat’s task, however, may be a bigger risk than she bargained for…

Witch Out of Water by Amanda M. LeeWitch Out of Water by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is the new witch in a town overflowing with paranormal beings. She’s ready to settle, but odd things keeping cropping up and knocking her off her game.
In addition to dating Moonstone Bay’s sheriff Galen Blackwood, Hadley has her hands full when she helps discover a body at a local festival and uncovers a decades’ old feud between two warring families.

The stories are flying fast and furious and the suspects are racking up. At the top of the list is local enigma Booker, a mysterious soul who Hadley is determined to chase until he starts giving answers about his hidden past.

Galen and Booker are at odds – and it’s over more than just the dead body – and Hadley feels caught in the middle. When another witch shows an interest in her magical development, Hadley is eager for a breather. Unfortunately for her, the old witch in town might not be on the up and up.

Hadley has a lot to do. She needs to solve a murder, figure out what’s up with the other witch and get to know a few more locals. That’s on top of bonding with a grandfather she didn’t even know she had. She doesn’t have a job but she’s always working at something … as long as she survives to see another fantastic island sunrise, that is.

Step Into Magic by Day LeitaoStep Into Magic by Day Leitao:

Not special. Not chosen. But she’s got magical shoes.

14-year old Karina doesn’t know what she wants, but knows what she’s found—fascinating silver shoes. Fascinating, dangerous, and potentially evil. On the upside, they do bring cool visitors. When a princess invites her to go to Whyland, of course she accepts. There’s that little “let’s destroy the shoes” detail she’s not crazy about, but hey, free trip. Alternate world.

But Whyland is nothing like she expected. Karina finds herself stuck in a kingdom she doesn’t understand, with no clue on who to trust. Before saving anyone, she’d better save herself—if she figures out how.

For 16-year-old Cayla, destroying the shoes is her much-wanted chance to prove her worth to her father, the king, and gain freedom. It might also be her chance to see Darian after more than one year apart. Does he still like her? Did he ever? But these are not the only questions she finds an answer for. Soon she realizes that all her learning and fighting skills are no match for the truths she’s about to face.

Step into Magic is a fun YA portal fantasy adventure. If you like books with friendships between girls, subtle romance, and some mystery, get Step into Magic now.

Spells & Death by Rachel MedhurstSpells & Death by Rachel Medhurst:

Part witch, part ghost, total book nerd.

I’m a dead witch. Sort of. As a pure Essex witch, I’m permanently attached to Mother Earth’s ley lines. Pure magic equals life force. Which is the only thing that’s stopping my body from dying and my soul from moving on.

A Paranormal MI5 agent, my life work is to protect the ley lines. The magic contained within them is sacred, pure. When a serial killer starts leaving clues for me, I quickly realise that not only does he know my secret, he’s trying to steal the magic out from under me.

As each new body is found, I feel the lessening of magic that keeps me alive. I have no choice but to tell the one person I trust. Dave, the cute admin guy. Although he sits behind a desk, his geeky mind could solve anything. Together, we have to find the serial killer, before he drains the Earth of magic, and kills every living thing on it.

Virtue at Market Price by M.E. Meegs and E. Pluribus Van SkyeVirtue at Market Price by M.E. Meegs and E. Pluribus Van Skye:

In April 1924, airship pirates descend on the luxury liner S.S. Paris and make off with twenty-odd female captives. When the various authorities appear powerless to act, one man steps forward, pledging himself to recover said booty and thereby render American womanhood secure.

Unfortunately for all concerned, that man is E. Pluribus Van Slyke….

Motivated by his twin appetites for personal enrichment and female companionship, this trans-oceanic con man and cashiered naval officer deftly persuades a succession of equally ignoble characters of his suitability for the task. Then, given command of a decrepit airship, Van Slyke heads into the empyrean with a crew of halfwits, misfits, and felons.

But this voyage into the unknown is doubly so, for it soon becomes obvious the pirates who raided the Paris descended from fictional skies. In this parallel world our would-be hero finds himself at the mercy of rum-running cutthroats and throat-cutting buccaneers. Will he survive his confrontation with the fastidious Jack Tigue, a pirate renowned for his tasteful wardrobe and his habit of eviscerating opponents? Not to mention the anachronistic Jean Lafitte and his diabolical manicure of torture?

Barely. But most dangerous of all is yet to come: Captain Bonnet, the mad pirate of Barbados. For on departing his company, Van Slyke finds himself betrothed to not one, not two, not three, but five of the Mortal Sins!

The Apple-Tree Throne by Premee MohamedThe Apple-Tree Throne by Premee Mohamed:

It is the turn of the century in an England that never was. Bright new aqua-plants are generating electricity for the streetlights; news can be easily had on the radio-viz; and in Gundisalvus’ Land, the war is over and the soldiers are beginning to trickle home. Amongst these is Lt. Benjamin Braddock, survivor of the massacre that ended the war, and begrudgingly ready to return to a world that, well, doesn’t seem to need him any more than it did in peacetime. His friends have homes and families to return to, while he’s got nothing but his discharge papers and a couple of unwanted medals. Oh, and one new thing: the furious ghost of his commanding officer.

Fortunately, since the officer’s family is so vehemently adamant that Braddock join their rich and carefree fold, he doesn’t have much time to fret about being haunted. But the secrets of the war are about to catch up to them all.

Betrayed by Vanessa NelsonBetrayed by Vanessa Nelson:

A missing war mage. Death in the heartland.

Settling into her new life in the human world, the last thing Arrow expects is a request for aid from the Erith. The Erith’s favourite war mage is missing and Arrow is asked to investigate.

For the first time in her life, she is allowed into the Erith’s fabled heartland. It does not take long for Arrow to realise that the heartland is like the Erith themselves. Full of wonder, breathtakingly beautiful, and deadly.

Arrow is drawn into investigating a death at the very heart of the Erith’s homeland with the growing sense that there is far more wrong and far more at stake than a simple murder and missing mage.

Klone's Stronghold by Joyce Reynolds-WardKlone’s Stronghold by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.

After Reeni Dutta’s ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone’s Stronghold in northeastern Oregon’s isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold’s leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it’s not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?

A Quiet Rebellion: Restitution by M.H. ThaungA Quiet Rebellion: Restitution by M.H. Thaung:

Jonathan burns for revenge after fleeing the city with only a stolen uniform and shoes—and a murder charge hanging over him. Unscrupulous scientist Silvers imprisoned him to experiment on, because Jonathan’s cursed with a secret, dangerous power. Jonathan will have to survive, reach Silvers and kill him to prevent him from doing further damage.

Rural herbalist Annetta is mortified after accidentally triggering Jonathan’s power the last time he visited her town. Convinced he’s a threat, she throws her efforts into developing a remedy to prevent him from killing again.

An escaped murderer is just another headache for Eleanor. It’s not easy being queen. She needs to negotiate the moral maze that curses raise and avoid being assassinated like her father.

With such disparate goals, will the right people come out on top?

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for August 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, small town mysteries, historical mysteries, paranormal mysteries, children’s mysteries, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, noir, private investigators, amateur sleuths, serial killers, kipnappings, missing persons, missing Shakespeare manuscripts, ex-CIA agents, ex-marines, intrepid reporters, crime-busting witches, crime-busting watchmakers, murder in Louisiana, Iowa, Wyoming, LA and the Caribbean and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Shady Shenanigans by Wendy ByrneShady Shenanigans in Iowa by Wendy Byrne:

Former Manhattanite Izzy Lewis is finally settling into small town life in Inez, Iowa—she’s got her adventurous surrogate grandmothers, the Q’s, her hot boyfriend, Gabe, and the rest of the small town’s characters to make sure her days are never boring. But when
her good friend Sheriff Nate Crowder’s ex-wife goes missing, right after having a loud argument with him, things go from interesting to downright dangerous.

When a vengeful DA sets his sights on Nate as the prime suspect in his ex’s disappearance, Izzy and the Qs jump into action. But between leads that go nowhere, mysterious strangers, enemies becoming friends, and an Izzy double stirring up trouble, they have their hands full trying to figure out what happened to Nate’s ex. With the sheriff suspended, the clock ticking, and the danger closing in, can Izzy find out the truth… before she and the Q’s are the next victims?

Flea Flicker by David ChillFlea Flicker by David Chill:

When a young football coach doesn’t come home one night, his beautiful young wife turns to Private Investigator Burnside to locate him. But things are not the way they seem in this riveting page-turner, and a simple missing persons case evolves into a shocking murder. There are no shortage of suspects in this intricately woven story, and P.I. Burnside must overcome the many obstacles in his path to get to the truth that no one seems eager to learn.

The 9th Burnside novel is a treat to read, as the story brings back some fascinating characters from Burnside’s past – as well as adding a host of new ones. And it wouldn’t be a Burnside novel without the wise cracking gumshoe engaging in the sharp and cutting banter that has come to define this award-winning series.

Don't Forget Me by Stacy ClaflinDon’t Forget Me by Stacy Claflin:

When things can’t get any worse, they always do…

Alex Mercer and his fiancée Zoey have weathered many storms, but this latest one might be too much for even them. She’s hiding a secret she fears will send him running for the hills, and she has to tell him before he finds out on his own. Time is definitely not on her side. But with his busy hours at the police academy, there hardly seems a moment to open up to him.

Alex knows something is wrong with Zoey, but he’s too preoccupied to dig into it. Not only is the academy leaving him physically and mentally drained, he’s convinced he’s seeing Flynn Myer, the man who is supposedly in jail for abducting his daughter. No one believes him, but then he starts getting texts trying to arrange a meeting between him Myer.

Meanwhile, Alex’s boss and mentor, Captain Nick Fleshman, is on the case of a serial killer whose burial ground has been unearthed at the home of one of his deputies—one he has a secret relationship with. While he considers the implications of recusing himself, her father becomes the prime suspect.

Alex wants to help Nick and needs to help Zoey, all while trying to put the Myer case to bed for good. But everyone’s secrets are slowing him down, and the killer is on the prowl again. Alex needs more time, but that’s the one thing no one has left.

Dying Breath by M.A. ComleyDying Breath by M.A. Comley

She had everything…

Until she drew her dying breath.

DI Kayli Bright receives a disturbing call that she finds impossible to ignore. The case is an unusual one that forces her to dig deep to find the answers.

Was Jessica’s death a simple accident?

Or did she lose her life due to something far more sinister?

Can Kayli sift through the shocking deception she uncovers during the investigation to find the truth?

Grab this thriller today if you enjoy an intriguing mystery that will keep you turning the pages.

Reel of Fortune by Jana DeLeonReel of Fortune by Jana DeLeon:

Nothing says Welcome Home like a murder.

It’s official. Fortune Redding is out of the CIA and a newly minted resident of Sinful, Louisiana. She never expected her homecoming to be all apple pie and hugs, but a murder wasn’t on her list of things to deal with before she’d even gotten her name stenciled on her mailbox.

Boone Carre—Hooch, to the locals—was a drunk and a louse and had shafted pretty much everyone he’d ever done business with. So when someone kills him, there is no shortage of suspects. Unfortunately, Ally is at the top of the list.

Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie know that Ally isn’t capable of murdering anyone, but with an ambitious ADA looking to make a name for himself, and the local gossip train intent on finding someone to blame, they know they have to find the killer and clear Ally’s name.

Bolt from the Blue by Cynthia E. HurstBolt from the Blue by Cynthia E. Hurst:

Luke Alden had everything to live for – a good job, a loving wife and a child on the way – until the events of one stormy night destroyed it all. Some people said it was an act of God, but police in the Cotswold market town suspect it was a very human hand that started a fire and left Alden to die inside a burning building. Did someone resent Alden’s good fortune enough to kill him, or was there another motive? Clock repairer Jacob Silver and his housemaid Sarah Simm join forces with the police to track down a killer who is as elusive as a bolt of lightning, and just as destructive.

‘Bolt from the Blue’ is the seventh book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Witch Out of Water by Amanda M. LeeWitch Out of Water by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is the new witch in a town overflowing with paranormal beings. She’s ready to settle, but odd things keeping cropping up and knocking her off her game.
In addition to dating Moonstone Bay’s sheriff Galen Blackwood, Hadley has her hands full when she helps discover a body at a local festival and uncovers a decades’ old feud between two warring families.

The stories are flying fast and furious and the suspects are racking up. At the top of the list is local enigma Booker, a mysterious soul who Hadley is determined to chase until he starts giving answers about his hidden past.

Galen and Booker are at odds – and it’s over more than just the dead body – and Hadley feels caught in the middle. When another witch shows an interest in her magical development, Hadley is eager for a breather. Unfortunately for her, the old witch in town might not be on the up and up.

Hadley has a lot to do. She needs to solve a murder, figure out what’s up with the other witch and get to know a few more locals. That’s on top of bonding with a grandfather she didn’t even know she had. She doesn’t have a job but she’s always working at something … as long as she survives to see another fantastic island sunrise, that is.

Cold Open by Patricia McLinnCold Open by Patricia McLinn

As spring beckons, winter chill remains …

In television, a cold open sometimes rolls before the opening credits, often a teaser to news or a feature to follow. For TV journalist Elizabeth Margaret “E.M.” Danniher, a nippy March and April are just a tease for spring after a long Wyoming winter. In her short time in Sherman, she’s learned that winter starts in October and might not end until June. Since last June, a series of murders have tested her and her KWMT-TV colleagues’ reporting – and amateur sleuth — skills. And the small town’s rumor mill is churning about her relationship with handsome sports reporter Mike Paycik – or is it rugged rancher Tom Burrell?

As winter winds down, Elizabeth is ready for spring and looking for a place of her own. Ah, a little peace and quiet as she begins to settle in Cottonwood County. That is, until she discovers homicide at her front door.

Phyllis Wong and the Return of the Conjuror by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Return of the Conjuror by Geoffrey McSkimming:

Phyllis Wong, that keen young magician with a talent for sleuthing and getting to the bottom of the strangest mysteries, is back! Incredibly valuable first editions of Shakespeare’s collected plays are appearing for sale, and Chief Inspector Barry Inglis of the Fine Arts and Antiques Squad suspects foul play. These rare First Folios are in mint condition, but seemingly are not forgeries. Where on Earth could they have come from? Has a crime been committed?

Luckily Phyllis is on the case. She suspects villainy dating back to the time of Shakespeare himself, which seems to be seeping into the 21st century. How can she convince Chief Inspector Inglis what’s going on? And how can she do this without giving away the greatest magical secret of all time?

As Phyllis herself says: ‘Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen … the ride will get bumpy!’

Drip Drop Dead by Willow RoseDrip Drop Dead by Willow Rose:

Watch out! The past will always haunt you.

When you hear the dripping…RUN and don’t look back!

Things are going well for Emma Frost for once. She has a sweet boyfriend and has just finished a new book. Her daughter, Maya, is doing well in high school and even Victor is thriving and playing with his new best friend, the strange girl who fell from the sky.

But soon, a murder shocks the island of Fanoe, when a woman is found dead in her bed with no apparent signs of having been killed. But as they find out she died by drowning, and more deaths like it begin to occur around the peaceful island, Emma once again finds herself following signs that lead to her own front door while chasing a killer quite out of the ordinary.

Emma has to ask herself the question: What exactly is going on in her island home and especially underneath it?

As the investigation moves on, and terrifying answers begin to emerge, Willow Rose’s compelling story evolves rapidly, resulting in a novel with almost agonizing suspense.

Rising Force by Wayne StinnettRising Force by Wayne Stinnett:

Paradise has a price. For Jesse McDermitt, that price is his moral compass and a bullet.

The retired Marine and charter skipper takes on a passenger in Nassau, a young woman who is a breath of fresh air. She introduces him to the laid-back cruising crowd on an idyllic small cay in the Berry Islands. Jesse takes to the relaxing lifestyle like a fish to water.

Living each day on its own terms is a new experience for Jesse, but it doesn’t last long. Trouble always seems to find him. When Jesse gets word that someone is destroying nearby patch reefs and poaching sea turtles — and that all this is happening in the same area where a trio of sadistic murderers may be hiding — it triggers his instincts for investigation.

Has Jesse’s urge to find out the truth cost him everything? He came to the Bahamas on a fool’s errand to reconnect with a lost love. The image of her on a beach in the Virgin Islands fills his mind as he passes out from loss of blood…

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The July Short Story Challenge 2018 – 31 Short Stories in 31 Days

You may have noticed that there was very little blogging in July apart from links to stuff posted elsewhere. This is because for the fourth year running, I did the July short story challenge, where the objective is to write a complete short story every day during the month of July.

But first of all, I have a few promos to announce. Kobo is currently running a 3 for 9, i.e. 3 books for 9 dollars, promotion in the US and Canada. There are lots of great books to choose from, including several of mine. The good folks at Magic Book Deals are also running several 99 cent promotions this August. There is one for romance, one for science fiction and fantasy and one for mysteries and thrillers. Lots of e-books in different subgenres, including some of mine, all for 99 cents all August long.

With the commercial break out of the way, let’s get back to the July short story challenge. The background is that in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. If you want to read my post-mortems of the previous July short story challenges, here are the posts for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Since I’d already done the July short story challenge three years in a row and usually enjoyed the experience a whole lot, I was aiming for a repeat this year. Plus, unlike previous years my workload was relatively light with classes mostly on hiatus and fairly little translation work. A complicating factor was that my Dad was in hospital for a scheduled operation for the first two weeks of the month and at home and unable to drive (and cranky) for the rest of the month, which meant a lot of extra errands. But a much more notable complicating factor was the extremely hot weather, which sapped my energy, especially we’ve been having pretty much non-stop heat here since early April. But still, somehow I managed to write a short story every day during the very hot July of 2018.

As in previous years, the overwhelming majority of stories I wrote were some flavour of speculative fiction with crime fiction and romance getting a look in as well. So let’s take a look at the genre/subgenre breakdown:

  • Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction: 5 stories
  • Sword and sorcery: 5 stories
  • Space opera: 4 stories
  • Dystopian fiction: 4 stories
  • Alien invasion: 2 stories
  • Mystery/crime fiction: 2 stories
  • Horror: 2 stories
  • Humorous fantasy: 2 stories
  • Urban fantasy: 1 story
  • Historical romance: 1 story
  • Men’s adventure: 1 story
  • Steampunk: 1 story
  • Other science fiction: 1 story

As in previous years, the genres/subgenres tended to blend into each other. And so, two of the dystopian stories as well as both alien invasion stories and one of the space operas are also crime stories. About half of the stories have romance subplots of some kind. The sword and sorcery stories also have horror elements (well, that’s kind of baked into the genre). One of the horror stories is also funny, since I’m still not very good at writing straight horror and will probably never be.

Let’s take a look at the length breakdown: The shortest story I wrote was 816 words long, i.e. flash fiction length, the longest was 7630 words long, i.e. just into novelette territory. This year, I only wrote one flash fiction story (i.e. under 1000 words). 23 stories were longer than 2000 words, 11 longer than 3000 words. Altogether, I wrote a little over 86000 words this July, which coincidentally is the highest wordcount I ever got during a July short story challenge.

When Dean Wesley Smith did his July short story challenge back in 2015, he found that most of the stories he wrote were part of established worlds or series. Interestingly, my experience at the time was the opposite and I wrote only standalones. Though in subsequent July short story challenges, the number of stories in established or new series slowly went up. So I wrote five series stories in 2016 and seven in 2017 (though two of those only became series subsequently). This year then, a whopping fifteen stories, i.e. almost half of the stories produced during the challenge, were part of a series. And so I wrote a new Hallowind Cove story, a new The Day the Saucers Came… story, a new Two-Fisted Todd story, a Helen Shepherd Mysteries spin-off story starring Detective Constable Kevin Walker (the story is mostly a wild chase and since usually Helen lets DC Walker do the running anyway, he might as well be the POV character this time around), two more stories in the setting of The Shantytown Robin Hoods, which is a series now I guess (tentatively called the Shantytown series), and four In Love and War stories, though two of those are companion pieces, which will be published in a single volume, while one is a companion piece to Bullet Holes focussing on the Pietro Garibaldi character from Freedom’s Horizon and the third is a brand-new story that happens just before Freedom’s Horizon. And yes, I tend to write series out of order, but then I have excellent company there in Lois McMaster Bujold, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard and many other fine writers.

Stories in established series are good for something like the July short story challenge, because the world and the characters already exist. So I don’t have to bother with worldbuilding or developing characters, I only have to come up with a plot. Besides, stories with established characters are quicker to write for me, because I already know who these people are, how they talk, how they will react in a given situation, etc… On the downside, established characters also tend bring their own baggage, which makes the stories longer and more complex. And so it’s no surprise that several of the series stories I wrote during the challenge are part of series that are linked via their setting (the quirky seaside town of Hallowind Cove, the 1950s B-movie style alien invasion of The Day the Saucers Came…, the dystopian future of Shantytown) rather than their characters, though many of the stories in those worlds/settings share characters. And the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and the Two-Fisted Todd Adventures are so designed that the characters can be plugged into a variety of mystery or respectively adventure plots. Of the four In Love and War stories, three are character pieces which are fairly low on plot, while the one that has more plot is also the one that turned into a novelette.

Finally, I also came up with a brand-new series during this July short story challenge. For towards the end of the challenge, I found myself writing a sword and sorcery story about a brawny warrior fighting monsters. By the end of the story, my protagonist Thurvok (originally called Thurok, but apparently there is a videogame and comic character with a very similar name) had also acquired travelling companion. The following day, I came up with a story idea and suddenly realised that my sword and sorcery duo would be the ideal protagonists for this story. Then, two days later I was playing around with an idea for a historical tale that I’d had on the backburner for a while, basically a burghers of Calais scenario, only with young women instead of older men. It was a solid idea, except that the conclusion relied on a pretty horrible warlord suddenly deciding not to be a completely horrible person, which is not all that realistic, even though it is supposedly what happened in the case of the burghers of Calais, if we want to believe the legend. But once I combined this story idea with my sword and sorcery adventurers (who had by now become a trio), I suddenly had a version of this story that worked. Because now, the horrible warlord turns out to be even worse than expected (and promptly gets his comeuppance via getting killed by a zombie) and a situation that was difficult to impossible to solve by physical force gets resolved via an extra dose of magic. On the following days, I came up with ideas for two more sword and sorcery tales featuring the same cast of characters, who had by now become a quartet, since two of the damsels saved from distress decided to stick around. They both turned out to be very useful, too. One is a sorceress and actually the biggest gun of the team. The other is a non-combatant, but has a head for business and makes sure that our heroes don’t drink away all the treasures they’ve pilfered. So now I have a five part sword and sorcery series. Coincidentally, I wrote those stories during the hottest week of the year, where my brain was not capable to produce anything other than characters bantering, having adventures, saving damsels in distress and slaying monsters. Still, I really like those characters and by now, I’m also getting hints of their backstories. And indeed one character’s backstory actually made it into one of the stories.

So let’s talk about inspiration. Because the key to the July short story challenge is coming up with new story ideas every single day. And if you need to quickly develop story ideas, you sometimes need a bit of help. During the past challenges, the most fruitful way of generating story ideas was to look at inspirational images, usually SFF concept art. Now I have an entire folder of SFF concept art labelled “Inspiration” on my hard drive and whenever I needed an idea, I scrolled through that folder and went with whatever sparked an idea. All in all, seventeen of the stories I wrote during this challenge were at least partly inspired by images. Other sources of inspiration were: Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenges, an article about shortwave radio number stations, a hilarious typo, someone’s humorous tweet, a particularly lurid headline in a vintage men’s adventure magazine (these are a great source of inspiration, because the headlines are so over the top), playing Pokémon Go and realising how ridiculous the whole thing must seem to someone who’s never played it, a scene in a random TV crime drama where an assassin is interrupted by a phone call, coming across a Scandinavian crime drama on TV and wondering what it would be like, if the typical protagonist of such a drama met aliens, a dish with a colourful history that I made for lunch one day, etc… Once I drew a tarot card for inspiration – and promptly incorporated the image on the card into the story rather than its meaning. A lot of the stories also drew inspiration from several sources, such as the historical tale turned sword and sorcery adventure.

As always, certain themes began to emerge during the challenge. Sword and sorcery is an obvious one, especially since it’s not normally a subgenre I write in. As for where it came from, I’m not sure. The inspiration for the first Thurvok story was an image of a brawny man (who was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, i.e. not exactly sword and sorcery garb) fighting monsters in a desert setting. However, I could easily have written a contemporary fantasy story rather than a sword and sorcery tale based on that image. Another possible reason for me turning to writing sword and sorcery is that I turned to reading it during this time. For like every year, I did part of my Hugo and Retro Hugo reading in July. And one of the stories nominated for the Retro Hugos is “The Sunken Land”, a Fafhrd and Grey Mouser adventure by Fritz Leiber. Now I know I must have read “The Sunken Land” before, but remembered very little about it, so I pulled my Fafhrd and Grey Mouser collection from the shelf to reread it and enjoyed myself so much that I promptly went on to reread some of the other tales, because they’re short, fun and not too taxing, i.e. ideal for extremely hot days. However, I didn’t even pick up the Leiber collection until I had already written the first two sword and sorcery stories.

The third possible reason why my brain decided to write sword and sorcery lies in a completely different series of mine, namely the 1930s set pulpy adventures of the Silencer. Now I did not write a Silencer story for the July short story challenge this year, because my mind wouldn’t come up with a good idea. However, in Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Richard picks up the latest issue of Weird Tales (this one) and is thrilled to find a Margaret Brundage cover as well as a new Conan and a new Jirel of Joiry story inside. He also muses that he’d like to try his hand at writing something like that someday. Ever since I wrote that scene I’ve had the idea in the back of my mind that Richard actually did write a series of sword and sorcery stories in the 1930s. I’ve also had the even crazier idea bubbling at the back of my mind that maybe I should write Richard Blakemore’s lost sword and sorcery series someday (because the Silencer stories you are reading are explicitly not the ones Richard Blakemore writes, though we do get snippets of Richard’s pulp writing). I guess all of these influences combined in the great stewpot of my subconsciousness to create the Thurvok stories. And yes, I’m actually considering publishing the Thurvok stories as pulp writer Richard Blakemore’s long lost sword and sorcery series written for Jake Levonsky’s Weird Tales competitor in the 1930s and listing myself as the editor and author of the introduction. Having characters who are writers is certainly an experience, especially if they want you to write their fiction for them.

The post-apocalyptic theme, which was already strong during previous years, re-emerged this year as well, probably because the world looks pretty grim right now and hasn’t gotten any better these past two years. I’ve also written about an apocalyptic scenario I have never tackled before, namely a super volcano eruption. This time around, the post-apocalyptic stories tended to be road trips and they tended to be set in desert settings. Come to think of it, two of the sword and sorcery stories have desert settings as well and all of them feature road trips. One of the two horror stories is a road trip as well. I suspect the intense heat is to blame for the proliferation of desert settings. Not sure where the road trips came from.

Another notable theme was food. Now food always plays a big role in my fiction, but during the challenge I wrote four stories that are centred on food (partly inspired by one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenges), plus several more where food is mentioned, but doesn’t play a central role. A related theme is stories told in bars or taverns. I have two stories where a tale told in a bar literally serves as a framing device and various others which have scenes of people telling stories in bars, taverns, restaurants or while sitting around a campfire and eating. Now once again, this isn’t exactly an uncommon theme for me, cause I have written plenty of bar and restaurant scenes and have even used the “tale told in a bar” framing device before in Old Mommark’s Tale.

Another theme that emerged during the 2018 July short story challenge was assassins. I wrote three otherwise completely different stories featuring assassins, eight if you count the five sword and sorcery stories, cause one of Thurvok’s companions is described as a thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, though he doesn’t actually assassinate anybody in any of the stories and also insists that he doesn’t do that sort of thing anymore.

Once again, I’ve found that the July challenge stories offer a huge range of settings and characters. This time around, all POV characters are human, but I’ve still got men and women, gay and straight characters, characters of varying ages, races, ethnicities and backgrounds. Which proves that creating under pressure doesn’t meant that you have to default to straight white protagonists.

One thing that the July short story challenge proves time and again (apart from that it’s possible to write a short story in a day and that those stories can sometimes be damned good) is that everything that we read, watch or otherwise consume goes into the great stewpot of our subconscious, where it’s mixed and blended, until it arises in the form of story ideas.  The July short story challenge functions like a pressure cooker for your creativity and speeds up the stewing process. And sometimes, the result is magic.

Now not every story to come out of the Juy short story challenge can be a winner. Some stories are great and need only very little work, others need extensive rewrites to be brought into publishable form. Some stories aren’t really publishable at all, because they are either too tied to a specific moment in time (which has usually passed by the time you can get it into publishable form) or because they just don’t work. But with 31 stories even the occasional one that’s not publishable isn’t a great loss.

So will I do another July short story challenge next year? Well, time and health permitting, why not? After all, the past four challenges have resulted in a lot of wonderful stories and even series that might otherwise have never been written.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for July 2018

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some June books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, grimdark fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction mystery, science fiction thriller, space opera, space western, military science fiction, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, horror, Steampunk, Mannerpunk, Cyberpunk, Steampunk romance, LitRPG, zombies, witches, dragons, superheroes, vengeful ghosts, deadly videogames, reincarnation, worldending disasters, alien pets, clockwork dogs, space deputies, renegadesm exiles and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Pendulum Heroes by James BeamonPendulum Heroes by James Beamon:

Melvin Morrow has become a barbarian warrior maiden. Will he be able to escape this new, dangerous world and the chainmail bikini he foolishly chose as his armor or will he and his friends be stuck living their lives as their game avatars?

Melvin’s a teenage boy not used to being ogled or the real world consequences of wearing a steel bikini. But the real world has shifted… him, his friends Jason and Rich, and his big brother Mike are stuck in character, in a place where danger doesn’t lurk because it prefers to boldly stride out in the open.

Mages import game players like Melvin via the Rift Pendulum. The reason: the work’s suicidal and pendulum heroes are insanely powerful. Usually. Melvin and his friends can be, too, if they’re in the right emotional state to trigger into character. Melvin’s a one-man, uh, one warrior maiden army when he’s angry but anger’s hard to find with all that mortal danger striding around everywhere.

The road back home’s at the end of a suicidal quest. Melvin better find something to rage about… because being genre-savvy only gets you so far.

Pendulum Heroes, James Beamon’s debut novel, is an adrenaline fueled adventure for anyone who’s spent a little too much time on the character creation screen instead of playing the game, those of us who have thought just how godmode we’d be with mage power, but mostly it’s for all of us who have wondered who the heck installs a portal to another world in a wardrobe. Fans of Ernest Cline and Scott Meyer better be prepared to fall in love with a new series..

What Man Defies by Clara CoulsonWhat Man Defies by Clara Coulson:

“It was all fun and games until a vengeful ghost threw a washing machine at your head.”

Three weeks after his disastrous showdown with Abarta, Vincent Whelan is well on his way to recovering from the fight and putting the whole nightmare behind him. But when a standard stretch recovery job comes to an end with an angry ghost slinging heavy objects, Vince discovers a thread he left hanging has frayed beyond repair.

For almost two months, random people in Kinsale have been mysteriously vanishing. Now their shades, damaged by terrible deaths, have begun to plague the city. Spurred by the growing list of victims, Vince goes on the hunt for the person or creature responsible for the kidnappings. Only to get more than he bargained for when one of his own friends is snatched before his very eyes.

In a race against time, Vince puts together a ragtag team to venture into the Otherworld and rescue the remaining victims before they all succumb to a horrible fate. But the path to victory is fraught with peril, and the mastermind at the end of the road may just be unbeatable.

A vault protecting a powerful relic. Merciless enemies at every turn. And countless lives at risk.

All Vince wanted was a little peace and quiet. Now he’s got the fate of the world resting in his hands.

What Man Defies is the second novel of The Frost Arcana, an action-packed urban fantasy series set in a post-apocalyptic world.

Glitch by Victor DeckardGlitch by Victor Deckard:

Max, a rather plain guy, finds himself inside a post-apocalyptic survival roleplaying videogame. He has no idea how he has ended up in the virtual reality or how to quit it. He has no choice but to play the game.

Shortly afterward, he learns that the game is quite harsh and cruel. Max finds out that in order to survive he has to scavenge, gather various resources, craft warm clothes and armor, upgrade weapons and vehicles, and so on.

Moreover, the entire game world is a full-on PvP zone. So Max has to not only fight brutal mutants but also protect himself against gamers who have teamed up in order to ratchet up their chances of survival as well as against high-leveled players who take great pleasure in murdering newbies.

And all the while Max has been trying to find out what has befallen him, how he has gotten in the videogame, and whether or not there is any chance of exiting the game. Bit by bit he gleans more and more information about the game. He finds out that the game is full of bugs. Later on he also learns that he himself is some kind of a glitch. Unlike all the other players, he feels pain in the game and can interact with some game objects while all the other players cannot…

The Jupiter Man by Nick DorseyThe Jupiter Man by Nick Dorsey:

Let’s say you’ve just gotten out of prison, and your old boss wants to rehire you. Sounds great! But what if your old boss is the Frozen Avenger? His last job was the attempted kidnapping of an acclaimed astrophysicist in order reinstate Pluto as a full-fledged planet, and now he wants you to help him steal a set of precious meteorites to fund his obsession. Still sound great?

And what if an elite team of superheroes forces you to take the job and work for them as a double agent? Do these superheroes want to put away criminals, or are they just looking for a way to get these meteorites for their own mysterious purposes? Maybe these superheroes aren’t heroes after all.

What if all of the Frozen Avenger’s old goons are turning up murdered and it looks like you might be next? What if sinister corporations are taking an interest in your work history, and you’ve got a seductive cat woman, whiskers and everything, knocking on your door at all hours?

What are you going to do?

If you’re Zach Hernandez, professional henchman, you better forget about the dream of getting a normal job, having a normal life. You better learn not to follow orders. Then you do what it takes to stay alive.

The Full Moon's Slumber by Snow EdenThe Full Moon’s Slumber by Snow Eden:

Cinnamon Mercy Claus has been a witch for two years. At least that’s how long it’s been since her grandmother let her in on their little secret. She’s in the process of picking up her life and starting over, searching for something that means more to her than her mundane existence. Then a fairy drips down out of her bathroom faucet and tells her the moon’s gone all wonky and it’s up to Cinnamon to figure things out.

Since there’s nothing like a threat to the earth’s very existence to give your new life a kick into high gear, Cinnamon heads out across the country—with a talking dog and a woman who absolutely terrifies her—to figure out a mystery she doesn’t have a clue about.

Dark Mage Rises by J.J. GreenDark Mage Rises by J.J. Green:

A mage clan torn apart…

Evil deeds avenged…

Dark magic awakened…

Carina Lin escaped from captivity and freed her mage brothers and sisters, but she is quickly caught again. Her captors are the last people she wants to meet—the Dirksens. Carina defied this proud, vindictive clan when she rescued her kidnapped brother.

Carina’s siblings are lost on a frontier planet. She must escape and find them before the Dirksens realize who and what she is.

Meanwhile, a galactic war rages. Dark magic is stirring and about to join in the conflict. Carina is one of the few who can prevent the triumph of evil, if she chooses.

When the dark mage rises, who shall stand in his way?

Dark Mage Rises is book two in the dark, exciting space fantasy, Star Mage Rises.

Two Moons by R.E. JohnstonTwo Moons – Memories from a World with One by R.E. Johnston:

A boy remembers the woman he was.

She was a brilliant scientist on a different planet, living a life of misery.

Jay Shipman is now a good student in a small town under a sky with two moons. Jay, his family, his friends, and everyone on his planet are much like us. Actually, at one time they were us—each has vivid memories of their first life back on Earth.

Memories from a previous life can be enlightening and empowering. They can be the foundation of a successful second life. They can help develop the world.

For Jay, though, memories from the woman he was on Earth are downright dangerous.

Grab yourself a second life!

Not a Zombie by Madeline KirbyNot a Zombie by Madeline Kirby

Jake, Petreski, and the rest are back for another installment of caffeine, snark, and a touch of romance.

It’s the start of a new semester and familiar faces are popping up all over – most of them unwelcome.

Jake knows Petreski’s not going to like his new study buddy and Don has a big decision to make. Jake’s mother will no longer be denied, and it’s meet the parents time. Miss Nancy’s past comes calling in an all too literal way. And to top it all off, Petreski’s ex shows up and it turns out there’s someone out there who Perez hates even more than Jake.

Oh, and somebody gets murdered.

Now with fewer carbs and more caffeine!

Entangled Earth by David LeaEntangled Earth by David Lea:

Physics isn’t easy. Rule number one should always be ‘Don’t Destroy The World’. Sometimes science doesn’t follow the rules.

An experiment gone wrong means the Earth only has days left before it is torn apart by an invisible parallel world. Everyday activities become waves of destruction as the influence of the parallel world devastates the planet. Unstoppable, invisible cars plough through buildings, flocks of unseen birds tear people apart. When death is round every corner, what hope does anyone have?

Physicist Mia Green finds herself stuck in Paris, in the middle of the unnatural disaster. With calamity only ever a step away, she has to get home to England to find her family and stop the experiment that’s ending the world, but that’s easier said than done when the entire world has become an invisible and unpredictable puzzle filled with unseen danger?

Bat Out of Spell by Amanda M. LeeBat Out of Spell by Amanda M. Lee:

Welcome to Eternal Springs, home to more than a thousand “normal” people and four feisty witches. Just a tip, the witches are more fun.

Especially Skye Thornton, an air witch about town who would rather be on the mainland than a touristy island that’s home to four climate zones and a gaping hole under the local school that allows monsters to creep through and wreak havoc on the community.

A reporter, Skye likes to be in the thick of things – she’s a busybody and proud of it – until she quite literally trips over a dead body at the island resort. In quick order, she finds herself fighting off monsters while trying to discover one of the human variety.

Since she can’t keep clear of trouble, Skye is determined to track down a murderer, fight off a wishing well beast and stay away from a local security chief who she’s always hated … or has she?

It’s a full slate of activity for Skye and her witchy friends. The laughs and insults will be flying fast and furious. Of course, so will the danger.

Look out world, here come four witches with attitude, and they’re not taking any prisoners.

The Fury Yet To Come by Steven McKinnonThe Fury Yet To Come by Steven McKinnon:

A loyal soldier. A sadistic witch. A battle to the brink of madness.

Corporal Tyson Gallows would confront any danger to keep his fiancée out of harm’s way. After his elite squadron falls to an enemy ambush, he wakes to find his hands chained and his mind held captive by a demented witch.

Tortured to the verge of insanity, he wages war in the battlefield of his subconscious and scouts for his opportunity to strike back. With his fellow soldiers’ tormented cries ringing in his ears, Gallows misfires his attack and exposes the source of his strength—his deep devotion to the woman he loves. If he can’t break free of the witch’s stranglehold soon, he’ll lose something far more precious than military secrets—he’ll lose his soulmate.

The Fury Yet To Come is a grimdark fantasy novella. If you like fierce battles, black magic, and psychological thrillers, then you’ll love Steven McKinnon’s action-packed prequel to Symphony of the Wind.

Bonded in Space by Trisha McNaryBonded in Space by Trisha McNary:

Strange things happen when a crazy alien can’t get you out of his mind. Antaska wants to forget about Marroo the slave hunter, but she can’t stop thinking about him. Marroo wants to forget about Antaska too. So he plans to kidnap another Earth female, experience her love, and move on. But it’s not working out like he expected. Just out of space school, Earth girl Pweet can’t wait to take off from Earth. But she runs into some problems. And Potat the psychic cat is miffed when another semi-humanoid cat follows Antaska home. The first chapters of Alien Pets and hypnoSnatch are included in this version.

Alien Pets – Life gets weird when you’re adopted by an alien. One million years in the future, Antaska, a young human, and her psychic cat are adopted as pets by a gigantic alien. Traveling in outer space, she becomes telepathic in a world where that’s dangerous. Then she gets into a love triangle that’s even more dangerous. Her cat tries to tell Antaska what she’s doing wrong, but will she listen?

hypnoSnatch – Is it love, or is it alien abduction? Antaska is trying to deal with life as the pet of a gigantic alien. But things keep getting weirder as she travels in outer space with the alien and her psychic cat. Mischievous but evil part-reptile humanoids team up with Antaska’s nemesis, a genetically enhanced fitness instructor, to take revenge on her to the ends of the universe. Her unexpected alien abduction spoils their plans.

Concealed by Vanessa NelsonConcealed by Vanessa Nelson:

A fragile peace, a suspicious death, and secrets that could destroy everyone.

Oath-bound to the arrogant Erith in exchange for her life, Arrow’s freedom is days away when they set her one last task; investigate the death of a high-ranking shape-changer, one of their old enemies.

The shape-changers suspect the Erith of murder and Arrow nearly becomes the first victim in a new war between races, her life spared so she can seek answers. Except someone does not want their secrets uncovered. Not only is her freedom at risk, but so is her life. It will take all of her training and skill with magic to live long enough to find the answers in time to avert a bloodbath.

Darkblade Seeker by Andy PeloquinDarkblade Seeker by Andy Peloquin:

The price of truth is blood and death

The Sage and The Warmaster. Names whispered by dying lips, the true power controlling the demons hiding among mankind.

And now, the Hunter has climbed the highest mountain peak to put an end to their reign. Facing a secret sect of professional torturers and the descendants of a long-dead race, his skills as an assassin will be put to the ultimate test.

But the twin temples of Kara-ket harbor more than just his enemies. Built by a long-dead race, they house secrets that could not only give him the answers he seeks, but unleash a whirlwind of chaos and bloodshed across their world.

He must make a choice: will he obtain the answers he seeks at any cost, or sacrifice himself for the sake of those who rejected him?

Cybershot by Jaxon ReedCybershot by Jaxon Reed:

An ancient organization has created a psychic with untold power. Raising the boy in secret, they hope to make him a world leader. But he escapes and heads for Texas to find his father, Gerald Bryce, the empathic detective. When someone tries to warn Bryce, a criminal mastermind uses the latest technology from neural immersive video games to kill the informant. Now Bryce and his partner must race the clock as a level three psychic terrorist battles the military for control of the city, and perhaps the world.

 

Vesta's Clockwork Companions by Juli D. RevezzoVesta’s Clockwork Companions by Juli D. Revezzo:

When Vesta Bartlett, a wealthy alchemist and inventor, arrives in England to finalize an arranged marriage and help overhaul a family friend’s outdated ironworks, she never expects to find the family so secretive, nor to develop feelings for her fiancé’s younger brother, Henry.

But the growing attraction between Vesta and Henry is just the beginning of their troubles. Things really heat up when they’re drawn into a secret project for Queen Victoria’s military, one that requires Vesta’s knowledge of clockwork and Henry’s iron.

An epidemic has wiped out all the dogs in Britain, and beyond. If the military fail in their effort to restore the species, a clockwork creation may be all that stands in the way of a world without canine companionship.

Are Vesta and Henry up to the challenge?

Arcane Awakenings by Shelley Russell NolanArcane Awakenings by Shelley Russell Nolan:

A hidden past. An uncertain future.

In Angel Fire, all Andie wants is acceptance, a task made difficult thanks to the nightmare that’s plagued her for the past fifteen years. Then she learns it’s a terrifying memory of the night she lost her identical twin. When Angel’s spirit calls to her, begging to be saved, Andie is determined to discover what really happened the night her sister died.

The story continues in Wild Lightning, when Celeste wakes in a mental institution with no memory of who she is or why she can shoot lightning from her fingertips. Spurred on by a vision of Angel, Celeste escapes and searches for answers as her captors close in.

Andie and Celeste must battle ruthless adversaries as they seek to uncover the truth, but will this lead to a future more dangerous than what they’ve left behind?

Arcane Awakenings – a fast-paced paranormal fantasy novella series.

Space Deputy by Jenny SchwartzSpace Deputy by Jenny Schwartz:

A millennium into the future, the Saloon Sector is where the Wild West meets the 1950s, in space, with robots. It’s where careers go to die.

Thelma Bach graduated top of her class after four years at the Galactic Justice academy. But she’s a Rock Sector citizen. The core worlders were never going to let her transcend her background. So she’s been assigned to serve her seven years as a deputy in the Saloon Sector. The message for the Federation’s out-world citizens is clear: you’ll never be our equal, so don’t even try.

The stuffy bureaucrats of the Galactic Justice service chose the wrong person to push around. Thelma will subvert her interstellar sheriff, charm artificial intelligences, fight bandits and hunt the legendary Eldorado Cache. But with the frontier region holding secrets of its own, she needs to choose her new allies wisely because a scary, business-suited enemy is hunting her.

“Space Deputy” is a fast-paced, offbeat space adventure.

The Renegade by Alasdair ShawThe Renegade, edited by Alasdair Shaw:

Some renegades are born rebels, some forced into it to survive, while others make the choice on principle.

The Renegade is an anthology of eleven science fiction short stories by writers from across the globe. It is part of the Newcomer series of scifi anthologies.

The stories are:-
Conscience – Alasdair Shaw
First – Nate Johnson
Atonement – Rick Partlow
The Stepford Florist – JT Lawrence
Tyrant – Mark Gardner
Live by the Ten, Die by the Gun – Milo James Fowler
S.A.D. – Jody Wenner
Chameleon – C Gold
Learning Curve – John Triptych
A Pirate’s Life – Al Macy
Needs of the Many – Troy McLaughlan

Kill Code by Justin SloanKill Code by Justin Sloan:

When a Marine turned video gamer is recalled for the world’s first virtual war, he finds he’s unable to escape the simulation and that his fellow Marines are being killed off both in the sim and in real life. This was supposed to be impossible.

In his struggle for survival, he discovers the sim has been hacked. What follows is a crazy adventure of one Marine searching for survivors, battling mechs, and finding abnormalities in the sim that tie back to his old-school days as a gamer. His only help comes in the form of three badass warrior ladies. He’s not sure he can trust them, but is willing to try.

It’s up to him and his new friends to win this war, or die trying.

Code Blood by Val St. CroweCode Blood by Val St. Crowe:

Experience the thrilling conclusion to this spy urban fantasy series

Jesse Talon wants Wyatt Flint. But it’s complicated. Because he’s got some weird connection to Morgan Steele, the woman who absorbed his arch nemesis the Green King.

Which is fine, really, because who wants to be distracted by annoying romantic entanglements when trying to hunt down a megalomaniac with godlike powers?

(Apparently, Connor and Duke do. Wow, is that some hot guy-on-guy PDA.)

But not Jesse. She’s all about work.

Once Wyatt kills Steele, then they’ll see.

If Wyatt kills the Steele.

It’s maybe a teensy problem that they can’t find her.

Exile by Glynn StewartExile by Glynn Stewart:

A shackled Earth, ruled by an unstoppable tyrant
An exiled son, and a one-way trip across the galaxy
A perfect world, their last hope for survival

Vice Admiral Isaac Gallant is the heir apparent to the First Admiral, the dictator of the Confederacy of Humanity. Unwilling to let his mother’s tyranny stand, he joins the rebellion and leads his ships into war against the might of his own nation.

Betrayal and failure, however, see Isaac Gallant and his allies captured. Rather than execute her only son, the First Admiral instead decides to exile them, flinging four million dissidents and rebels through a one-shot wormhole to the other end of the galaxy.

There, Isaac finds himself forced to keep order and peace as they seek out a new home without becoming the very dictator he fought against—and when that new home turns out to be too perfect to be true, he and his fellow exiles must decide how hard they are prepared to fight for paradise…against the very people who built it.

A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt by M.H. ThaungA Quiet Rebellion: Guilt by M.H. Thaung:

In a society that lives in fear of beasts and the curse they carry, imprisoning victims is the only thing to do.

Convoy captain Jonathan has a guilty secret: he killed a traveller who was cursed while under his protection. The killing wasn’t to defend the innocent, but to hide governmental employment of curse victims—like Jonathan—who have developed paranormal powers.

To assuage his guilt, he bends the rules to help another, younger victim. His growing fatherly affection for her leaves him vulnerable to pressure from an unethical researcher. Can he navigate the bureaucratic web, do his duty and still keep his conscience intact?

Lost Highways, edited by D. Alexander WardLost Highways – Dark Fiction From the Road, edited by D. Alexander Ward:

It’s dangerous out there…on the road.

The highways, byways and backroads of America are teeming day and night with regular folks. Moms and dads making long commutes. Teenagers headed to the beach. Bands on their way to the next gig. Truckers pulling long hauls. Families driving cross country to visit their kin.

But there are others, too. The desperate and the lost. The cruel and the criminal.

Theirs is a world of roadside honky-tonks, truck stops, motels, and the empty miles between destinations. The unseen spaces.

And there are even stranger things. Places that aren’t on any map. Wayfaring terrors and haunted legends about which seasoned and road-weary travelers only whisper.

But those are just stories. Aren’t they?

Find out for yourself as you get behind the wheel with some of today’s finest authors of the dark and horrific as they bring you these harrowing tales from the road.

Tales that could only be spawned by the endless miles of America’s lost highways.

So go ahead and hop in. Let’s take a ride.

Line-up:

Introduction by Brian Keene
doungjai gam & Ed Kurtz — “Crossroads of Opportunity”
Matt Hayward — “Where the Wild Winds Blow”
Joe R. Lansdale — “Not from Detroit”
Kristi DeMeester — “A Life That is Not Mine”
Robert Ford — “Mr. Hugsy”
Lisa Kröger — “Swamp Dog”
Orrin Grey — “No Exit”
Michael Bailey — “The Long White Line”
Kelli Owen — “Jim’s Meats”
Bracken MacLeod — “Back Seat”
Jess Landry — “The Heart Stops at the End of Laurel Lane”
Jonathan Janz — “Titan, Tyger”
Nick Kolakowski — “Your Pound of Flesh”
Richard Thomas — “Requital”
Damien Angelica Walters — “That Pilgrims’ Hands Do Touch”
Cullen Bunn — “Outrunning the End”
Christopher Buehlman — “Motel Nine”
Rachel Autumn Deering — “Dew Upon the Wing”
Josh Malerman — “Room 4 at the Haymaker”
Rio Youers — “The Widow”

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

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