New Release: Courting Trouble, an In Love and War story

Two weeks ago, I announced the start of a new space opera series and also that there would be more books coming soon. Then, three days ago, I announced the second novelette in the In Love and War series, again with the promise of more stories coming soon.

And today, I’m happy to announce Courting Trouble, the third story in the In Love and War series. Whereas both Dreaming of the Stars and Graveyard Shift are prequels of sorts, Courting Trouble features Mikhail and Anjali as an established couple on the run from their respective regimes.

The seeds for the In Love and War series were laid sometime last year, when a scene popped into my head: Two intergalactic mercenaries, a man and a woman, bantering while walking through a grimy spaceport. I knew at once that they were a couple and that they came from very different backgrounds which they had left behind to be together. They worked as mercenaries now, not because they wanted to, but because it was the only option left open to them. They were also on the run.

I was intrigued by the bantering couple, so I started writing. As I followed them through the spaceport, I learned a lot more about them: Their names – Anjali Patel and Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov – that they had both been elite soldiers on opposite sides of an endless intergalactic war, that they had fallen in love and run away together. I also got, in bits and pieces, the story of how they’d met and fallen in love and what had prompted them to leave behind everything they’d ever known and run away together. It was a pretty good story, so I decided to write it. I worked on that story on and off for several months, while it eventually blossomed into a novel or rather two.

However, I had always intended to give Anjali and Mikhail standalone adventures working together as an established couple. In many ways, Anjali and Mikhail are the ideal candidates for a series of standalone adventures. They are fugitives working as mercenaries, hopping from planet to planet trying to evade their pursuers. This gives them the opportunity to have a lot of different adventures on different worlds, solving other people’s problems, while trying to stay a step ahead of their own. Hey, it worked for Dr. Richard Kimble and the 1970s TV version of The Incredible Hulk. It’s still working for Jack Reacher.

Then July came along and I decided to take the 2016 July short story challenge. At this point, Mikhail and Anjali had been living in my head for several months. And while I was looking at SF concept art, trying to spark ideas for the story of the day, I came across this image and thought, “That place would make a great setting for an Anjali and Mikhail story.”

So I started writing and sent Mikhail and Anjali shopping. Or rather, I sent Anjali shopping, since Mikhail merely tags along. It wasn’t long until they found trouble or rather trouble found them.

By now, it has become something of a pattern that the In Love and War stories all have pretty extensive descriptions of food and Courting Trouble is no exception. I’m not sure why I write about food so much, both in this series and elsewhere, except that food is an element that’s traditionally missing in a lot of science fiction or is reduced to things such as food pills or protein sludge, which few people would willingly consume.

Food is also significant for Mikhail in particular, because his deprived childhood (chronicled in Dreaming of the Stars) has left him with massive food issues. These issues come to the fore in Courting Trouble, when going grocery shopping with Anjali triggers memories of Mikhail’s lost family and homeworld, which once again focus mostly on food and drink.

So follow Mikhail and Anjali, as they are…

Courting Trouble
Courting Trouble 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 eek out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

But when Anjali and Mikhail stumble upon a protection racket during a routine shopping trip, they have to make a choice: Lay low to avoid attracting attention or stay true to their personal ethics and intervene?

More information.
Length: 6700 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.

BTW, if you want to read the entire In Love and War series, there is a series bundle available at a reduced price exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

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New Release: Graveyard Shift, an In Love and War novelette

Two weeks ago, I announced the start of a new series and also that there would be more stories coming soon.

So today, I’m happy to announce the second In Love and War story, a novelette called Graveyard Shift. Like Dreaming of the Stars, Graveyard Shift is a prequel of sorts, set approximately three years before the series proper.

I started writing the story that would eventually become Graveyard Shift during the 2016 July short story challenge, but set it aside, once I realised that the story was too big for the constraints of the challenge. Then, once July was over, I picked up the abandoned story and finished it.

As with many of the July challenge stories, Graveyard Shift also began with a piece of concept art, namely this rather cheerful image of a space station interior. So I spent a page or two describing the station and sending a character on a stroll through the concourse and then did something horrible to the station, the concourse and the character.

There is another inspiration for Graveyard Shift, namely my work as a translator. In the course of this work, I occasionally get what I privately call “It wasn’t my fault, honest” reports, blow-by-blow accounts of absurd, stupid and usually extremely expensive accidents. The intent of these reports is always to prove – sometimes even with lots of graphs and charts – that whatever unfortunate thing happened was totally not the fault of whoever commissioned the report. Those “It wasn’t my fault, honest” reports are more amusing than the usual stuff I get to translate, if only because so many of them are documents of truly stunning human incompetence. Luckily, so far none of these accidents killed anybody, though they cause a lot of property damage.

I always wanted to write an SF version of an “It wasn’t my fault, honest” report, a blow by blow account of human incompetence resulting in a huge accident. Since a lot of these accidents involve a ship crashing either into another ship or a stationary structure, I wanted my fictional incident to be similar, only involving a spaceship. And when I saw the image of the space station linked above, something clicked and Graveyard Shift was born.

Somewhere along the way, I decided that this story took place in the In Love and War universe, though it’s quite an unusual story for the series. For while the other In Love and War stories focus on Mikhail and Anjali, Graveyard Shift has six different POV characters, most of them new. Mikhail appears briefly during his time as a Republican operative, though he doesn’t get a POV. Anjali doesn’t show up at all, since Graveyard Shift is set entirely in the Republic.

Mikhail’s commander/mentor Brian Mayhew is one of the six POV characters and the only series regular. I’d initially intended Mayhew to be a fairly one-dimensional villain, who ruthlessly hunts Mikhail and Anjali (he has an Imperial counterpart as well). However, Mayhew steadfastly refused to cooperate and clearly did not want to be a villain. He also turned out to be rather conflicted about his job and his duty. I also realised that his connection to Mikhail goes a lot deeper than I’d initially assumed. This upset my plans for the series, though it also made Mayhew a more nuanced and interesting character. We will eventually see Mayhew in villain mode, but he’s a lot more than that.

Regarding the tribunal scene at the end, I gave a couple of friends the first half of the story to read and asked them who they thought was to blame for the accident. Though I didn’t tell them just what would happen to the parties found guilty, because I did not want their eventual fate to influence the decision. Coincidentally, all beta readers agreed that Commander Flynn and Lieutenant Kim should be held responsible, even though I initially hadn’t intended for Lieutenant Kim to be held responsible at all – but rereading the scene in question, I realised that she does goad Commander Flynn into taking that fatal trial flight. No one believed that Captain Woywood and Cadets Adeboye, Merrill and Watanabe should be held responsible. Opinions were divided on Cadet Giantano.

Just in case it wasn’t clear already, Graveyard Shift shows that the Republic of United Planets is a pretty awful place – and the Empire of Worlds isn’t any more pleasant, though a tad more competent.

Two days ago, I blogged about the 50th anniversary of the German science fiction series Raumpatrouille Orion, which was one of my big foundational SF influences. As a result, there are a lot of Orion references in the In Love and War series. It started when I needed a name for Mikhail’s lost homeplanet and decided to name it Jagellowsk, after the Orion‘s security officer Tamara Jagellowsk. Then it became something of a running gag that Republican worlds are named after Raumpatrouille Orion characters. There are a couple of other Orion references as well, six or seven altogther. Bonus points to anybody who manages to find them all.

However, the planet Burrichter, source of excellent cookies and pastries, is not a reference to Raumpatrouille Orion at all. Instead, I named it after one of my favourite bakeries, Café Burrichter in Vechta, one of whose specialties are Spekulatius cookies. You can see two photos of the real Café Burrichter here.

I included the coffee and pastries in the tribunal scene to give the characters something to do while discussing the case and also to show how blasé and desensitized Brian Mayhew, Roland Cox and Michelle Abasi are that they argue about whom to send to the firing squad, while having coffee and pastries.

Though I realised that all In Love and War stories to date have pretty extensive food scenes. And of course, Mikhail’s deprived childhood (chronicled in Dreaming of the Stars) have given him massive food issues, which also come to the fore in Graveyard Shift. But then, many of my stories include descriptions of food. I guess food is just something I like writing about and coincidentally also an aspect all too often ignored in science fiction.

So here’s a story of tragic disasters, rank incompetence and chilling ruthlessness:

Graveyard Shift
Graveyard Shift by Cora BuhlertWhile docked at the civilian space station Unity for repairs, the Republic of United Planets battlecruiser Great Endeavour undertakes a trial flight with an inexperienced bridge crew. Disaster strikes and the Great Endeavour crashes into Unity’s shopping concourse, killing more than three hundred people.

A tragic accident, but in times of war, the public is not willing to accept tragic accidents. And so the Republic’s government sends its best troubleshooter, Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Republican Special Commando Forces to initiate a cover-up.

 

More information.
Length: 14100 words
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or 1.99 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.

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A new release and a new series: Dreaming of the Stars

As mentioned before, there will be quite a few new release announcements coming up (well, I can’t blog about SFF awards all the time). And today, I have a special new release to announce, because I not only launch a new book, but also a new series.

Let’s have some background:

Sometime last year, a scene popped into my head: Two intergalactic mercenaries, a man and a woman, bantering while walking through a grimy spaceport. I knew at once that they were a couple and that they came from very different backgrounds which they had left behind to be together. They worked as mercenaries now, not because they wanted to, but because it was the only option left open to them. They were also on the run.

I was intrigued by the bantering couple, so I started writing. As I followed them through the spaceport, I learned a lot more about them: Their names, that they had both been elite soldiers on opposite sides of an endless intergalactic war, that they had fallen in love and run away together. I also got, in bits and pieces, the story of how they’d met and fallen in love and what had prompted them to leave behind everything they’d ever known and run away together.

I’ve always enjoyed science fiction romance, particular science fiction romance which is basically space opera with a strong romance thread running through it. So I decided to write the story of how they’d met and fallen in love against all odds, with the option of sequels featuring them having adventures together (because there aren’t nearly enough books featuring established and happy couples having adventures together).

So I worked on the story on and off for several months, while it eventually blossomed into two novel length works. However, I had also always intended to give my couple smaller standalone adventures.

Then in July 2016, I did the July short story challenge, which involved writing a short story per day in July 2016. But I also still had the characters I’d been living with for several months at this point at the back of my mind. Then one day, while I was looking at concept art for inspiration, a piece sparked an idea for a standalone adventure featuring my mercenary couple. So I wrote that story.

Eventually, I wrote two more stories about these characters during the July short story challenge. One was another standalone adventure, the other was a prequel featuring the characters as teenagers, chronicling how they ended up becoming elite soldiers in the first place. After I finished the July challenge, I also wrote a fourth story, another prequel of sorts set in the same universe.

So now I suddenly had four stories in a new series, now called In Love and War. I’ll release them over the next weeks, but for now here is the prequel novelette, Dreaming of the Stars.

Of the 31 stories I wrote for the July short story challenge, this was the longest. It’s currently 8500 words long, though it gained a thousand words or so in rewrites. But even the first was definitely over 7000 words long. It was also one of the most emotionally harrowing stories to write, particularly the second half featuring the young Mikhail.

By the time I wrote Dreaming of the Stars, I already knew that Mikhail had lost his entire family to the war (unlike Anjali who comes from a largely happy family background – we meet her sisters in Dreaming of the Stars) and that he’d grown up in a prison-like camp for war orphans. However, until I started writing his story, I didn’t realise how horrible that place really was.

Coincidentally, writing Dreaming of the Stars also gave me a lot more insight into Mikhail’s character and how he came to be the man he is. For the novel I’d been working on for several months at that point was told almost entirely from Anjali’ POV for reasons that will become apparent, so I’d spend a lot more time in her head than in his.

So get ready to meet Anjali Patel and Mikhail Alexeievich Grikov, as they are…

Dreaming of the Stars
Dreaming of the Stars by Cora BuhlertEven in a galaxy torn apart by war, the young still have dreams.

On Rajipuri, a poor planet in the Empire of Worlds, Anjali Patel and her two younger sisters look up at the stars and dream of escaping the limitations of a traditional and rigidly stratified society.

At the same time, in a camp for war orphans in the Republic of United Planets, Mikhail Grikov also looks up at the stars and dreams of escaping a life of pain and abuse.

One day in the far future, they will meet and change the galaxy. But for now, they’re merely dreaming of the stars…

This is a prequel novelette of 8500 words or approx. 29 print pages to the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 8500 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.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2016

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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. We have a whole lot of epic fantasy this month, but also urban fantasy, portal fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, funny science fiction, hard science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, Cyberpunk, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, fantasy romance, young adult fantasy, weird western, vampires, werewolves, witches, wizards, mummies, aliens, sentient spaceships, outlaw swordfighters, gender-swapped musketeers, sky slayers, wild mages, psychedelic coffee 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:

Deviants of Giftborn by Zuri AmarcyaDeviants of Giftborn by Zuri Amarcya:

Better deviant than dead.

Raised among hostile, violent beggars, Nemma longs for the safety of her family and a better quality of life. She uses trickery and brute force to survive, but living among the desperate has its risks. When she inadvertently kills two powerful magiens, with a power she didn’t realize she had, she is forced to flee and seek help. This sets in motion a chase that will have a fatal end for her if she is unable to escape the all-powerful Sovereign Order.

Ambitious merchant, Clisantha, manipulates others to work her way up the social hierarchy in Torak City. She uses her illegal powers to preserve her status, scrutinize her devious Lord stepfather and meddle with a mysterious magien. However, when hidden memories of her long-deceased father resurface, she becomes absorbed in the mystery surrounding his death, forcing her to put herself, her beliefs and everything she has strived for at risk.

Nemma and Clisantha’s lives collide and revolve as they fall deeper into the secrets of their past, revealing a truth far more devastating than they could ever have imagined.

Deviants of Giftborn is the first installment of The Etherya Series, a thrilling epic fantasy saga exploring the cost of consequence, justice and power. If you like compelling action, determined heroines, and magical societies, Zuri Amarcya’s adventurous and enchanting tale is perfect for you.

After the Pretty Pox by August AnselAfter the Pretty Pox: The Attic by August Ansel:

“It’s worse than that. God will ignore us entirely.”
A searing act of bioterrorism. A catastrophic plague they call the Pretty Pox.
Most of the human race is dead, and for two years Arie McInnes has been alone, riding out the aftermath of the Pretty Pox, waiting for her own inevitable end.

Hidden in the attic of her ruined home, Arie survives by wit and skill, ritual and habit. Convinced that humans are a dangerous fluke, a problematic species best allowed to expire, she chooses solitude…even in matters of life and death.

Arie’s precarious world is upended when her youngest brother – a man she’s never met – appears out of nowhere with a badly injured woman. Their presence in the attic draws the attention of a dark watcher in the woods, and Arie is forced to choose between the narrow beliefs that have sustained her and the stubborn instinct to love and protect.

In Book One of August Ansel’s captivating new post-apocalyptic series, After the Pretty Pox casts an unwavering eye on what it means to be human in a world where nature has the upper hand, and the only rules left to live by – for good or ill – are the ones written on our hearts.

Wild Mage by Joseph J. BaileyWild Mage by Joseph J. Bailey:

Heaven has fallen.
The legions of Chaos have overrun the world.
Uërth is in ruins.
With the Heavenly Host’s fall, Angel Swords rained from the heavens, littering the world in what was.
Only the most honorable and purest of heart are able to take up the Angel Swords and wield them against the throngs of Chaos. These mighty Empyrean Knights are all that stands between Uërth and annihilation.

Maeraeth is neither a hero nor a great warrior. Nor does he wish to become an Empyrean Knight.
He just wants to be left alone with his studies.
And not be killed by demons.
But, with the destruction of the Chaos Gate, Uërth may have a chance at redemption.
If the hordes of Chaos can be contained and if no more portals to the Abyss are created.

Maeraeth’s teacher, Master Nomba, has other plans for him. Plans that involve both containing demons and preventing their arrival.
So much for his studies.
And not being killed by demons.

Roko's Labyrinth by Michael BlackburnRoko’s Labyrinth by Michael Blackburn:

The world is dying.

And Nick Rose watches from the sidelines.

With an enhanced mind and born to the ruling class – The Board – Nick spends his days hacking AI. Tasked with eradicating the bots created by Roko Kasun, the long-dead architect of the Artificial Intelligence that’s crippling the planet, Nick takes refuge behind his keyboard. He’s no hero.

The Board had been severing ties with the rest of mankind, retreating to safety, unplugging and conceding the fate of the world, or so Nick had thought. Now, a summons from Leadership draws Nick into the very real disaster-zone on a last, desperate mission to save everything, and he’ll need to trust the most unlikely ally of all: Roko himself.

In the machine, evil never dies – fortunately, neither do heroes.

Fall of the Western Kings by J. Drew BrumbaughFall of the Western Kings by J. Drew Brumbaugh:

Gant is a commoner, forbidden from learning swordsmanship. He trains in spite of the law and ends up branded an outlaw. However fate intervenes while Gant is on the run and soon he is embroiled in an odyssey with forces of darkness that can only be vanquished with help from his friends, not all of whom are human. An epic that delivers the best in the tradition of classic fantasy.

 

 

Dreaming of the Stars by Cora BuhlertDreaming of the Stars by Cora Buhlert:

Even in a galaxy torn apart by war, the young still have dreams.

On Rajipuri, a poor planet in the Empire of Worlds, Anjali Patel and her two younger sisters look up at the stars and dream of escaping the limitations of a traditional and rigidly stratified society.

At the same time, in a camp for war orphans in the Republic of United Planets, Mikhail Grikov also looks up at the stars and dreams of escaping a life of pain and abuse.

One day in the far future, they will meet and change the galaxy. But for now, they’re merely dreaming of the stars…

This is a prequel novelette of 8500 words or approx. 29 print pages to the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Lost Wolf by Stacy ClaflinLost Wolf by Stacy Claflin:

She’s hiding a dark secret. It already killed her once.

Victoria can’t wait to start college, but there’s a hitch—she can’t remember anything before arriving on campus. Her memories finally spark when she sees her ruggedly handsome math professor, but she senses something terrible happened. The shock on his face affirms her fears.

Toby is an alpha wolf who never thought he’d see his true love again—not after she died in his arms. Nothing could have prepared him for her walking into his class. But to his dismay, not only has she forgotten the past, she doesn’t even know who she is.

He’s determined to do whatever it takes to restore what they’ve lost. Can Toby help Victoria recover her memories, or will he lose her forever?

USA Today bestselling author, Stacy Claflin, brings you Lost Wolf, the first book in the Curse of the Moon series. It’s a paranormal romantic suspense saga that features gripping supernatural drama, surprising twists, dynamic characters, and heart-pounding romance.

The Sky Slayer by Joel CornahThe Sky Slayer by Joel Cornah:

All who kill a pterosaur are cursed. But Rob Sardan went a step further – he killed their King.
To break the curse he must escape a prison of ice and crystal, south of south, beyond all hope. With a ragtag team of former pirates, a failed thief and a strategist who cannot be trusted, they seek a ship that can sail on a sea of fire.
They must cross the grinding ice, challenge an empire, and face the dread pirate Skagra before she unleashes the Crown of Black Glass. But above all, Rob must face the ghosts of what he has become…
King Killer. Sword-breaker. Sky Slayer.
‘Glory is like a circle in the water which never ceaseth to enlarge itself, till, by broad spreading, it disperse to naught’.

Bite the Hand that Feeds by Lucy EldritchBite the Hand that Feeds by Lucy Eldritch:

The leader of the new breed, Robert James, is missing. The few remaining vampires are being picked off, one by one.

Vampiress Elaine Sullivan is keeping her head down, working as a barmaid and trying not to attract attention. Until, that is, she falls for a man who claims he can cure her vampirism. It’s her only hope for survival and she grabs it. The trouble is: he lied.

‘Bite The Hand That Feeds’ is the follow-up to ‘The Young Vampire’s Survival Guide’ and the second in the ‘New Breed Vampires’ book series. Written in British English, it can be read as a standalone novel. This new adult horror book contains bloody violence, swearing, lashings of vampires, paranormal strangeness, sex and other good times.

61B9a4pIs7LThe Bloody Frontier by Jim Johnson:

The first three books in the Pistols and Pyramids series (an ancient Egyptian-themed spaghetti western with magic and mummies), now available in one collection at a great price!

Kekhmet, the empire of the Two Lands, is a faded shadow of its former glory. Once the shining jewel of the world, the empire has been split apart by the invasion of foul Hesso marauders and the depredations of corrupt governors. The gods and goddesses of Kekhmet are all but silent, and the people struggle to find hope in their hardscrabble lives.

RANGER OF MAYAT: When Tjety, an exiled Ranger of the goddess Mayat, discovers a ransacked fishing village along the lawless northern frontier, he marshals his training and divine hekau magic to hunt down the vicious cultists responsible for the attack. But can he find them before their prisoners are twisted into mindless slaves serving a ruthless necromancer bent on shattering the tenuous balance between order and chaos?

FLIGHT TO THE FORT: Tjety, an exiled Ranger of Mayat, and Ruia, a young fisherman’s daughter, team up to guide the survivors of a bandit attack through the dangerous and rugged Kekhmet frontier. Can they reach the safety of Fort Sekhmet before foul cultists and their horrible mummified creatures can capture them?

HOUSE OF THE HEALER: After surviving a brutal cultist attack on her village, Ruia led the other survivors to the safety of Fort Sekhmet with the help of Tjety, a Ranger of Mayat. With Tjety’s life now hanging in the balance, can Ruia gather enough help and learn to use her newfound hekau magic to heal Tjety before the forces of darkness close in and snuff out all hope?

That Day in the Desert by Carol Holland MarchThat Day in the Desert by Carol Holland March:

A romantic fantasy of love spanning worlds

The First Storyteller Tale: Through the Portal
If Larreta is your destiny, you will find it.

Valerie finds herself on Larreta, but it looks so much like California, she doesn’t believe she has entered a new world. Leo knows his chance for love has come and gone, but when he meets Valerie, the beautiful newcomer makes him wonder if there are second chances.

As the Storyteller begins her tales of the dreamwalkers of Larreta, Valerie and Leo are thrown together to forge their destinies on what looks like a perfect world. But as Valerie learns about Larreta, she discovers not everything is as it seems.

That Day in the Desert is the first tale of the dreamwalkers of Larreta, a romantic fantasy that spans worlds and time, an adventure of eternal beings who must overcome the legacy of their journey into the human world so they can reclaim their heritage.

Lizzie in the Land Beyond by Susan McDonough-WachtmanLizzie in the Land Beyond by Susan McDonough-Wachtman:

Lizzie is a teenager, an AP student, and a singer of folk songs. She wakes one day in a strange world. The women who revive her tell her they have summoned her to help them understand the aliens who have landed on their shores. They also tell her she can never go home because they scooped her up when she was about to die. Captured by witches, kidnapped by a dwarf, enraptured by river sprites — Will Lizzie ever find her way home?

A beautiful mixture of sorcery, mythical beasts, and aliens, Lizzie in the Land Beyond is a fantastic read from beginning to end. I love the characters, the voice of Lizzie and her bumbling youthful arrogance, the larger than life Adeline, and curmudgeonly Sculdar, and the strong and silent Osric. — Cynthia Varady on Goodreads

Red Horizon by Salvador MercerRed Horizon by Salvador Mercer:

The truth of discovery is on mankind’s horizon, a Red Horizon.

For nearly two long years, the world’s superpowers have mobilized their people and resources in preparation for the next discovery, Mars.

The race against one another pales in comparison to the inherent dangers of travelling through the vastness of the cosmos, going where mankind has never gone before. Facing the hostile and challenging environment of space, and nations ready to do anything it takes to win, Richard, ‘Rock’ Crandon pulls his team together in an attempt to reach the alien technology on the red planet first, and discover the intent behind the alien species.

Will mankind tear itself apart in the name of discovery, or will the truth reveal something more sinister, the true intent of the aliens?

The Harvest Moon by David NethThe Harvest Moon by David Neth:

A legacy of magic and danger.

All Danielle Bowen wants is a normal life: white picket fence, kids in the nursery, and peace and quiet with her husband Simon. But she can’t escape the fate her family has wrought for her. Born into a tradition of witchcraft, she has also inherited a deadly enemy: Toxanna, a dark witch who will stop at nothing to destroy the last of the Bowen line.

But will Danielle’s powers be enough to save her family—or even herself? And when Toxanna sets her sights on Holly, Danielle’s only daughter, will anyone have the strength to rescue the newly fledged witch? The darkness is closing around the last of the Bowens. In a world of wizards and powerful demons, how can one family of witches survive?

Bound
(Exclusive to the Deluxe Edition of The Harvest Moon)

Orphaned by the shocking murder of both his parents, thirteen-year-old Drew must conceal his magical powers as he navigates the foster care system. But it might be easier for a young wizard to control his cracking voice than his magic. When one of Drew’s spells attracts the attention of a local coven called the Fire Wizards, Drew sees his chance to solve the mystery of who killed his parents with the coven’s help.

There’s just one catch: once you enter the coven, you’re bound for life. And the more involved Drew becomes with the Fire Wizards, the faster his façade of safety crumbles. Can he find justice for his parents without binding himself to a world of magical peril?

Venturi by Annie NicholasVenturi by Annie Nicholas:

I grew up in space.
Never been on a planet, let alone an alien one.
We crashed—I crashed—our ship on a huge green world.
Communications were down, the ship was broken in two, the crew mostly injured, and there were things out there. Animals with razor sharp teeth.
The emergency beacon lay on the other side of the jungle, our only way to call home, and I drew the short straw.
I was doomed before I ever stepped out of the airlock.
But we weren’t alone…

Part one of a serial about a human traveler, her alien mate (not that she knows that yet), and an adventure through which he’s determined to keep her alive, and safe, and entirely his.
Warning: hot aliens, short serial, cliffhanger.

Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner RobertsMusketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts:

“I haven’t got a blade. I haven’t got a ship. I washed out of the Musketeers. If this is your idea of honour, put down the swords and I’ll take you on with my bare hands.”

Dana D’Artagnan longs for a life of adventure as a Musketeer pilot in the Royal Fleet on Paris Satellite. When her dream crashes and burns, she gains a friendship she never expected, with three of the city’s most infamous sword-fighting scoundrels: the Musketeers known as Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

Even as a mecha grunt, Dana has a knack for getting into trouble. She pushes her way into a dangerous political conspiracy involving royal scandals, disguised spaceships, a tailor who keeps getting himself kidnapped, and a seductive spy with far too many secrets.

With the Solar System on the brink of war, Dana is given a chance to prove herself once and for all. But is it worth becoming a Musketeer if she has to sacrifice her friends along the way?

MUSKETEER SPACE is a gender-swapped, thoroughly bisexual space opera retelling of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Three Musketeers.

Liberty by Alasdair ShawLiberty by Alasdair Shaw:

Struggling with newfound sentience and desperately trying to repair itself, The Indescribable Joy of Destruction is a ship trying to find a new home. In a galaxy torn apart by generations of civil war, that isn’t an easy task. Tired of being used as a killing machine, it has a huge decision to make: hide and save itself, or help other artificial intelligences achieve freedom. Unable to make the decision alone, it revives the sole human aboard – the enemy officer who crippled it.

 

Uncommon Life by T.S. PaulUncommon Life: The Minerva Lee Story by T.S. Paul:

Minerva Lee is her planets greatest living commander. From her command chair on board Freedom Station She rules the space above her planet. But it wasn’t always like this. She once wanted a different life, a life more simple. It was all ripped away from her and she had to chose another. Read how Athena Lee’s older sister fought battles that captured the hearts and minds of an entire planet.

 

 

Of Bots and Beans by Colin SpindlerOf Bots and Beans by Colin Spindler:

Colin Spindler’s CULT Group Coffee Sequence is a mystical space yarn for lovers of psychedelic science fiction.

CULT Group, a corporate entity shrouded in mystery and connected somehow to humans’ colonization of Mars, is promising the impossible. It claims that the human mind can be separated from the body via a strange VR-like process called Sequencing. If CULT Group’s claims check out, then human beings might just be able to cheat death.

Could disembodied immortality be at last within humanity’s grasp? Or is CULT Group full of beans? The mysterious Participant sets out to investigate.

Of Bots and Beans introduces readers to the reclusive actress Dame Saffron Von Scruplescotch, the fumbling Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger, the mysterious Participant, the eccentric ideas of Sir Francis Buildobare, and the ever-present metamorphic nanobiotech bots crawling all over everything.

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The Silencer returns in “Fact or Fiction”

As you know from my last post, I spent the whole of July doing a writing challenge, which involved writing a short story per day. So expect a bunch of new releases, including a new series, in the next weeks or months.

The first of these new releases is already here and it features an old friend, pulp writer Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer.

What inspired Fact or Fiction was the realisation that even though Richard Blakemore is a pulp writer, we hardly ever see him writing. So I decided to remedy that and give Richard a quiet evening at home, since the weather is too foul for crimefighting.

In the course of that evening, we not just finally get to see Richard writing, we also find out just how much he embellishes the Silencer’s adventures for the pulps to satisfy his editor’s requests for relentless action and euphemistic descriptions of rosy skin and lush curves. Oh yes, and don’t use the word “brothel”, cause it will upset the guardians of public decency, and absolutely don’t mention to rat shit.

Richard’s fiancée Constance and the kitten Richard rescued at the end of Elevator of Doom reappear as well. The kitten is now called Edgar, named for Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Wallace. Because Richard absolutely would name his cat for his literary heroes.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up your copy of Fact or Fiction today.

Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction by Cora BuhlertNew York City, 1936: It’s a rare evening at home for Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp writer by day and the masked vigilante only known as the Silencer by night. But even though crime never rests, next month’s Silencer novel doesn’t write itself. And besides, Richard enjoys the chance to spend some time with his fiancée Constance Allen.

Pulp fiction thrives on exaggeration and non-stop action. And as always, the question is how much of the Silencer’s adventures are fact and how much is fiction?

 

More information.
Length: 2700 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.

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

Last year, I took part in the “July short story challenge”, which was inspired by Dean Wesley Smith who challenged himself to write a short story per day in July 2015.

I played along and ended up with 31 short stories in various genres, most of which are now published, either as standalones or in collections. I also blogged about the challenge here.

This year, Dean Wesley Smith announced another July short story challenge in the context of an additional challenge of writing 200 short stories in a year.

Now it was pretty obvious to me that writing 200 short stories in a year just wouldn’t be possible for me at this point. I think fifty stories in a year is the maximum I can manage/have managed, which basically adds up to Ray Bradbury’s “write a short story per week” challenge.

However, I know I can write a short story per day for a whole month, since I did it last year. And since I enjoyed last year’s July short story challenge a whole lot and found it incredibly inspirational, I wanted to give it another try.

There was just one problem. Last July, I had something of a lull in work and therefore enough time to do the challenge. This year, however, I had a huge translation job, which extended through the first week of July, as well as several smaller ones. And while one of my German classes for refugees finished in late June, the second was set to run through the summer holidays, even though it ultimately didn’t (turns out that refugees also like relaxing during the summer holidays, who’d have guessed?). So in short, it looked as if I would have a lot less time for the short story challenge in July 2016 than in July 2015.

Nonetheless, I decided to give it a go and see how many stories I would get done. So I wrote a short story on July 1. And then another the next day, and so on.

After ten days, Dean Wesley Smith, the initiator/inspiration behind the July short story challenge, realised that his brain wanted to write novels instead and stopped. Which is actually more or less what always stopped me from officially doing NaNoWriMo, namely that my brain inveitably wanted to work on something else rather than the NaNo novel. And indeed, this is why I like the July Short Story Challenge, because a short story a day is a much smaller investment than working only on one novel for a whole months. Plus, I get bored easily, so I like the idea of writing something different every day.

And so, in spite of translation work and classes, at least for the first half of the month, as well as two day trips, I wrote a short story every day in July. So at the end of the months, I had 31 new short stories altogether, which feels pretty damn amazing.

Like last year, the range of genres, subgenres and styles is pretty broad, with the majority being some flavour of speculative fiction. One thing I noticed this year is that I found myself experimenting with genres I don’t normally write such as western and horror. And indeed, the ability to experiment is one of the things I love about this challenge in particular and about writing short fiction in general.

So here is the genre/subgenre breakdown for the 2016 July short story challenge:

  • Post-apocalyptic science fiction: 5 stories
  • Horror/dark fantasy: 4 stories
  • Space opera: 3 stories
  • Steampunk: 3 stories
  • Urban fantasy: 3 stories
  • Crime fiction: 3 stories
  • Dystopian science fiction: 2 stories
  • Alien invasion: 2 stories
  • Straight western: 2 stories
  • Weird western: 1 story
  • Pulp thriller: 1 story
  • Other science fiction: 1 story
  • Epic fantasy: 1 story

I should note that a lot of the time, the different subgenres bled into each other. Hence, two of the three Steampunk stories were Steampunk westerns, the two alien invasion stories were also horror and one was post-apocalytic as well, a lot of the horror stories were also dark comedies (somehow, I have problems writing straight horror – whenever I try it turns into parody horror) and urban fantasy and horror bled into each other as well.

The 2016 stories also turned out longer than the ones I wrote for last year’s challenge. Last year, I wrote a lot of flash fiction stories and only a handful that were longer than 2000 words. The longest of last year’s stories was 3300 words long.

Meanwhile, the shortest story I wrote for this year’s challenge was 750 words long, the longest was 7600 words long, i.e. just crossing the threshold into novelette territory. Only two stories were flash fiction, i.e. under 1000 words, whereas seven were longer than 3000 words. All in all, I wrote a little over 70000 words in July 2016, which is well above the NaNoWriMo limit of 50000. And since I tend to be what writers call a putter-inner, i.e. my stories always tend to get longer in subsequent drafts, I suspect that quite a few of the stories from the 2016 July short story challenge will turn out to be pretty substantial, once published.

Okay, so let’s talk about story ideas. Writing 31 short stories in 31 days certainly requires generating a lot of ideas. Coincidentally, it’s also an excellent exercise for those who have problems coming up with story ideas.

Like last year, the approach that worked best for me was using images, usually SFF art, as writing prompts. Altogether, 18 stories for this challenge were inspired in some way by SFF imagery plus one story that was inspired by a sculpture (more on that later). io9’s concept art writing prompts yielded several ideas as did imagery found on Pinterest and deviantart. In one case, a story was inspired by checking out the work of the 2016 best fan artist Hugo nominees, since the Hugo voter packet was somewhat incomplete in that regard.

Other inspirations were text writing prompts and headlines such as the tag line of a vintage western paperback and the very silly German title of an Italian western (the German versions of Italian westerns often have supremely silly and melodramatic titles which have nothing whatsoever to do with the original title, e.g. “Once Upon a Time in the West” is known as “Play me the song of death” in German and that’s not even the silliest one by far).

Other inspirations, finally, were just random things that caught my eye and fired up my imagination: The Pokemon Go craze inspired a story, as did this article about Muffler Men (Here is another article about the phenomenon with lots of photos). Yet another story was inspired by finding a handwritten tense little scene that was almost all dialogue (and ended on a cliffhanger, probably because I ran out of time) that I wrote for a university creative writing workshop more than ten years ago. Yet another story was inspired by this sculpture of a giant disembodied arm in front of the entrance to the Bremerhaven maritime museum.

Like last year, I also noticed that certain themes began to emerge during the challenge. For example, I wrote a lot of post-apocalyptic stories for this challenge, which I suspect were at least partly inspired by a generally grim world political situation with seemingly another spree killing or terrorist attack every other day. The many horror stories I wrote for this challenge are also due to this, I suspect.

Three of the post-apocalyptic stories I wrote for this challenge were set in a flooded post-climate change world. For variety, I also had a frozen post-climate change world as well as a killer virus/zombie story. I also found myself writing a lot of stories with maritime settings, eight altogether. Now maritime settings and stories are nothing new for me, since I grew up close to the German North Sea coast, born into a family of sailors, sea captains and naval engineers (we even have a priest who worked at a seaman’s mission) and work as a translator for the nautical and shipbuilding industries among other things, so I have a certain affinity for maritime themes and settings, as my published works show. However, the sheer amount of maritime stories I wrote for this challenge, anything from flooded worlds to sea monsters, was still a surprise.

Talking of settings for which I have an affinity, I also wrote three monster stories set in the Louisiana bayous. Now I spent a memorable and very important year as a kid in Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf coast with frequent trips to New Orleans, so I have a lasting affinity for the Gulf coast, its people, food and culture. There was nothing that specifically reminded me of those experiences and indeed all three stories in question were inspired by SFF art. However, what I suspect happened is that my mind looked at imagery of creatures in swamps and immediately connected it to my memories of the US Gulf coast (Germany does have swamps and moors, but they don’t look like that) and resulted in a spate of Southern horror stories.

Come to think of it, the Muffler Men story was also at least in part inspired by my time spent in the US Deep South as a kid, because I looked at those images and thought, “Hey, I remember those. They were cool.” Coincidentally, my Mom claims no to have any memories of seeing Muffler Men in the US at all, though my Dad does. “I guess I just didn’t pay attention to advertising figurines”, she said to me. “Well”, I said, “you weren’t five. Cause trust me, those figurines are extremely memorable and cool, when you’re five.” Coincidentally, a lot of my memories of that year in the US South involve weird roadside attractions, which are extremely cool, if you’re very young. Besides, while Germany might have a lot of amazing sights, fibreglass figures and Bible gardens assembled from pottery shards are not among them. Coincidentally, the fact that my parents were a) determined to see as much as possible and b) rather clueless with regard to US history and culture also meant that I visited a whole lot of rather creepy plantation houses, Confederate forts, Jefferson Davis memorials and the like. Interestingly, I both recognised that the place was racist as fuck, probably better than my parents did, and yet saw absolutely no conflict about plantation houses and Jefferson Davis memorials presented as tourist attractions.

Talking of the Muffler Men story, that one was part of another theme that appeared during the challenge, namely a theme of stories about monsters that aren’t very monstrous and humans that are. There are at least five stories which fall into that theme and often involve humans involving non-human beings (Pokemon, Muffler Men, zombies) for profit and personal gain. Again, I suspect that this is something inspired by a generally grim world-political situation.

Another theme that appeared during the challenge was westerns. All in all, I wrote two straight westerns, two steampunk westerns and one weird western, which surprised me a lot, because westerns are normally a genre I have problems with, particularly the Hollywood westerns of the 1930 through 1960s, which were pretty much ubiquitous on TV during my childhood and tended to infuriate me a lot with their blatant racism and sexism. Meanwhile, there also were westerns I enjoyed, e.g. Karl May’s Winnetou novels and their film adaptations, Italian western movies, B-movie serials and pulp Romanhefte. Eventually, I sat down to list all the elements of westerns I enjoyed and those I hated to see if I could make the genre work for me. Outlaw Love was one result of that. Nonetheless, the western was never a go-to genre for me, which is why I am surprised that I wrote five westerns (with or without added speculative elements) for this challenge. The first western showed up early in the challenge, inspired by the really silly German title of an Italian western, which I suppose primed my mind to come up with more ideas along the same lines.

In general, I believe that everything we read, watch or experience goes into the big stewpot of the subconscious and that everything I or any other writer (disregarding the “write to market” types for a moment) writes arises from that stewpot, usually so transformed and blended that the influences can become unrecognisable even to ourselves. Creating under pressure – and writing a short story per day for a whole month creates a lot of pressure – speeds up that process to the point that whatever I read, watch or experience at the time influences the stories I write for the challenge to some degree.

Last year for example, I read both The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction by Justine Larbalastier and Galactic Suburbia by Lisa Yaszek, while doing the challenge, and promptly wrote a lot of stories playing with and subverting the tropes and gender dynamics of Golden Age science fiction (collected in Bug-Eyed Monsters and the Women Who Love Them). A couple of other stories were influenced by following the readings for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize on TV. This year, I did my Hugo reading during the challenge period and promptly found some of my output influenced by that. A day trip to Bremerhaven also inspired at least two stories.

And since the stewpot of my subconscious was working overtime, a whole lot of stories turned into an unholy mash-up of influences. For example, one of my favourite stories I wrote for the challenge mashed up one of io9’s concept art writing prompts (not even an image I particularly liked, just one that stuck with me) with one of the works on the 2016 Hugo shortlist, which started out with a really cool idea and then did nothing with it, but went off on a completely different tangent. So I had a mash-up of two ideas, added the protagonists of a new series I’m working on and out came a pretty tense science fiction yarn.

Last year, not a single of the 31 stories I wrote for the July short story challenge was part of an established series or set in an established world, which was quite contrary to Dean Wesley Smith’s experience. This year, however, five stories were part of an established series or set in an established world. And so I wrote a new Silencer story and Hallowind Cove story (Hallowind Cove is the fog-shrouded seaside town that is a magnet for weird happenings, which features in The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock). All right, so Hallowind Cove isn’t actually a series yet, since there is only one story so far, but I always intended to write more stories set in that town.

What is more, for a while now I have been working on In Love and War, a space opera/science fiction romance series about two elite soldiers from opposite sides of an intergalactic war, who fall in love. The first two books in the series are novel-length, which is why they’ve been taking me a while to get finished. However, I had always planned to give my central couple shorter one-off adventures, once they’d gotten together. During the challenge, a piece of concept art sparked an idea for such a one-off adventure, so I wrote it. Some time later, another piece of concept art sparked an idea for a prequel story featuring the central couple as teenagers, showing where they come from and what turned them into the people they later become, so I wrote that as well. Then, on the last day of the challenge, my brain mashed up a piece of concept art I’d seen at io9 and a cool idea from another story which that author didn’t really do anything with, while I was dozing in bed. “That would make a great In Love and War story”, it occurred to me, so I got up and wrote it pretty much straight through. So I now have three stories, coincidentally three of the longest I wrote for the challenge, in a new series. The In Love and War stories were also some of the most emotionally harrowing I wrote during the challenge, probably because I was a lot more invested in these characters and their lives than in the characters I created largely from scratch for the purpose of the challenge.

Talking of characters, like last year I found that the challenge stories resulted in a highly diverse range of characters of different ages, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and economic backgrounds, etc… including several non-human protagonists. Particularly the In Love and War stories have characters of very different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. In the three stories I wrote for the series, I have characters of Indian, Russian, Turkish, Serbian and Chinese origin. There’s a white guy of Anglo-American origin as well – a quasi-villain (it’s complicated). So even if you are creating under pressure, there really is no excuse to default to straight white Anglo-American men as your protagonists (though I have those, too, and they’re not all villains).

To sum it up, I think the greatest benefit of doing something like the July short story challenge is that it pressures you to come up with ideas on a short notice and write without overthinking everything. It’s the ultimate pressure cooker for your creativit and puts the stewpot of your subconsciousness into overdrive. What comes out is frequently strange and unexpected, but it can also be quite remarkable.

Should you do the July short story challenge or something like it? If you have the time, you should certainly give it a try.

Will I do it again sometime? Probably.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for July 2016

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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. We have a whole lot of space opera and military science fiction this month as well as funny science fiction, dystopian fiction, Steampunk, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Asian fantasy, young adult fantasy, young adult science fiction, fairytales, horror, vampires, fae, superheroes, blighters, alien invasions, galactic conspiracies, royal weddings, interrupted dinners, cardboard spaceships, haunted houses, time travel 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 Threat of Shadows by J.A. AndrewsA Threat of Shadows by J.A. Andrews:

There are decisions that can’t be unmade, paths that cannot be unchosen, choices that change us too much for us to ever change back.

In a desperate attempt to save his dying wife, Alaric has sacrificed everything. He’s abandoned his position as advisor to the Queen, he’s cast aside his role as a Keeper, he’s betrayed his deepest beliefs.

And still he has failed.

Now he’s found one last chance at a cure. Haunted by the choices he has made and surrounded by companions who have dangerous secrets of their own, he returns to the people and land he turned his back on.

But soon the quest to save his wife becomes entangled with a larger quest. Gathering shadows threaten the land, whispering of the return of a dark lord, thought to be defeated.

To fight this enemy, the world needs the Keeper Alaric used to be, not the broken man he has become.

Can he regain what he’s lost? Or do some choices change us too much for us to ever go back?

Alaric must decide or, in the face of all the growing shadows, it may be the darkness he carries within himself that destroys everything.

The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert by Cora BuhlertThe Three Quarters Eaten Dessert by Cora Buhlert

Bertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about sharing a dessert at an upscale restaurant escalates and threatens their friendship with their neighbours, the Hoppenstedts.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 6000 words or approximately 25 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s. With bonus recipe.

 

Cleon Moon by Lindsay BurokerCleon Moon by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that she’s retrieved the Staff of Lore, Captain Alisa Marchenko can finally dedicate herself and her ship to finding her kidnapped daughter. Her scant clues lead her to Cleon Moon.

Unfortunately, since the fall of the empire, mafia clans have taken over the domed cities on the harsh moon, and exploring there isn’t easy. Even with the cyborg Leonidas at her side, Alisa struggles to survive vengeful mafia clans, rogue Starseers, and genetically engineered predators. To further complicate matters, she must worry about the ancient relic hidden on her ship, a beacon to anyone in the system who craves its power. If Alisa can’t navigate the moon’s chaos, she may lose her only chance to catch up with her daughter.

The Immortality Cure by Toni CentanniThe Immortality Cure by Toni Centanni:

Henri Dunn was damn good at being a vampire, until her immortality was ripped away from her.

Now she must solve a murder or be executed for a crime she didn’t commit.

Six months ago, Henri was stuck with a syringe full of the poison known as “The Immortality Cure.” Now, after almost a century of being an immortal monster, Henri is human again and she’s not loving it: her body aches, she has too many mortal needs, and the other vampires shun her as a Blood Traitor. All she can do is keep her head down and bide her time until she can find a way to get her immortality back.

When vials of the serum are stolen from the lab and another vampire is murdered, Henri is the number one suspect. With the help of a melodramatic vampire “king” and his mortal groupie, Henri must find the real killer or face the wrath of vengeful vampires.

The Immortality Cure is the first book in The Henri Dunn Urban Fantasy Series, featuring a badass female protagonist and a sardonic sense of humor.

Hollow House by Greg ChapmanHollow House by Greg Chapman:

No one in Willow Street pays it any notice, not the disgruntled Campbell family next door, not Alice Cowley and her suicidal daughter, or Mr. and Mrs. Markham down the road. Not even Darryl, the loner at number seventy, who is abnormal himself, thinks much about it. It is just the old Kemper House, forgotten and abandoned.

Until it makes itself known.

When the stench of death wafts from Kemper House through Willow Street, and comes to the attention of recent resident and newspaper reporter, Ben Traynor, it starts a chain of horrors that brings Kemper House’s curse into their own homes and leads others direct to its door. Kemper House not only haunts its neighbours, it infects them with an evil that traverses time and reality itself.

The Cardboard Spaceship by Matt Snee and Gregg ChirlinThe Cardboard Spaceship by Gregg Chirlin and Matt Snee:

Lewis Darby, a science fiction writer of some repute, is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

Also known as the Captain, Lewis lives with his mother in modern day Indiana. What nobody knows is that sometimes Captain crawls beneath an old refrigerator box in the basement and pretends it’s a spaceship. And what Captain doesn’t realize is that he has a date with destiny.

One peculiar April morning, Captain crosses paths with Jennifer Pichon, the child of legendary space explorer Marty Pichon and Kitty Malhotra, the Princess of Saturn. They join forces just in time as the terrifying astronomical event called “No-Shape” is poised to ravage the Solar System from Mercury to Neptune and beyond.

Together, Captain and the mysterious Jennifer face such terrors as the jungles of Venus, the perilous Worm Caves, and the decaying, giant insect-ridden wastes of Mars – and perhaps even fall in love along the way.

Their journey is filled with trials, but they alone can save the solar system from certain doom.

War's Reward by Michael ChatsfieldWar’s Reward by Michael Chatsfield:

The Second Kalu War rages across known space.

The newly formed Union undergoes it’s first baptism, the baptism of war.
The Free Fleet is barely holding the line against the Kalu. Salchar and the other commanders of the Free Fleet have one goal. Survive.

As war rages politics and power brokering are at work behind the scenes in the Union.

Even if the Free Fleet survives the war, will they survive it’s aftermath?

Callow Lily by Sara CobbCallow Lily by Sara Cobb:

Countries have fallen only to be replaced by corporations. After spending years in the unclaimed districts of the unemployed; Lily has nearly given up hope that anything will change. When she is told that her Mother is dying and nothing more can be done, Lily is desperate enough to try anything.

When her family is offered a position at Trustmedia, Lily thinks that all of their problems are solved. Until she realizes that her acceptance is conditional. She will have to prove that she has what it takes to stay. If she fails, she will be thrown out and never see her family again.

Lily quickly finds that staying will be harder than she expected, even Father seems intent on seeing her fail. Things become complicated when her Father injects her with an unknown substance and she begins to have intensely vivid dreams. Lily is on the verge of having everything she has ever wanted, but does she have what it takes to keep it?

High Flight and Flames by Kate CoeHigh Flight & Flames by Kate Coe:

The land of Quorl is under attack. S’ian, badly injured when her Glider crashed is trapped in a city under siege. Meanwhile out on the plains, Toru is desperately defending his own city and people from the advancing enemy. The fighting is no longer between men: a battle for the air has started, and new weapons force both sides into desperate measures. Even if Toru succeeds in pushing the enemy back from Meton, what will the cost be? Can Toru reconcile his duty to his country with his own dreams?

 

Woven Peril by Jeffrey CollyerWoven Peril by Jeffrey Collyer:

The Guardian’s forces may have left the forest, but they haven’t departed from Michael’s mind as he struggles to learn what his enemy will do next. Torn between feelings of guilt and love, he must now push ahead to find mythical halls deep in the earth, where secrets from the distant past are spoken of, and new riddles unearthed.

Entering dark paths, Michael must learn to use his growing power if he is to discover that which will save the land, at the same time as trying to protect those now under his care from new and deadly monsters sent to hunt him.

And all while he struggles to understand mysteries surrounding his mother.

Woven Peril is the thrilling second book in the Aylosian Chronicles, and continues the epic tale in a world of unusual magic and unique creatures.

Heartfelt Sounds by C.M. EstopareHeartfelt Sounds by C.M. Estopare:

Orphaned Naia Belle is an apprentice songstress, attached for life to her silkhouse in the illustrious pleasure capital of Sorrel, Felicity. But as the dark clouds of war descend upon Felicity, Naia, ill-prepared and not yet fully trained, is forced from her home and into a nightmare she never imagined.

Driven once more from the haven she finds, posing as a boy and conscripted into a foreign army, Naia struggles to remain hopeful in spite of the trials she faces. Then she discovers there are those who wish to reopen Heaven’s Gate and allow titans to walk the mortal realms once more. Only one power can stop them.

As her friends and allies fall around her, beset by sand wraiths and the soulless dead, with everything she loved now lost to her, Naia faces yet another challenge: the blackened plains of the Void, where she may learn the true power of her voice. A power the necromancers and titans would kill to stop.

HEARTFELT SOUNDS, is the first book in the exciting fantasy coming-of-age trilogy, THE WORLD OF SORREL.

The Cauldron's Gift by Marina FinlaysonThe Cauldron’s Gift by Marina Finlayson:

When Vi and her twin sister CJ started spitting frogs and diamonds with every word, they discovered their parents worked for a secret organisation dedicated to keeping the magical denizens of the world safely locked away. Vi thought life couldn’t get any weirder, but then Dad became a bear, and her world really fell apart. Because it’s starting to look like that’s one spell the warders can’t undo. They’re all too busy trying to unmask the traitor who is secretly aiding the Sidhe.

Vi managed to keep the Sidhe from breaking out of their magical prison, but she couldn’t stop the Morrigan from stealing back the great cauldron of the Dagda. And of course now CJ says the only way to save Dad is to get that cauldron back from fairyland. Talk about a suicide mission. Vi would have to be crazy to consider it, but as time runs out for Dad and the Morrigan threatens everyone Vi loves, craziness starts to look like the only sane option.

Noa's Ark by C. GockelNoa’s Ark by C. Gockel

First contact didn’t go as planned…

Time Gate 8, one of humanity’s portals between the stars, has been overrun by a mysterious alien intelligence, and the planet Luddeccea is now cut off.

Haunted by those she left behind, Commander Noa Sato is on a desperate mission to save her homeworld. Navigating the ancient Ark, she seeks a hidden gate that will transport her ship to Earth and the Galactic Fleet. But the Luddeccean system harbors dangers, and so does her crew.

The only crew member she completely trusts is James Sinclair, but he doesn’t trust himself.

James isn’t the man he once was. He has a hunger that is never sated, kills without regrets, and is fitted with extraordinary augments he doesn’t remember getting. Can James control his augments, or will they control him?

In a future where almost all humans are augmented, James’s answer and Noa’s mission will determine the fate of the human race … and the enemy is already within the gates.

Wrong Side of Time by J.J. GreenWrong Side of Time by J.J. Green:

When the greatest minds in the galaxy can’t solve a problem through logic or reason, they call Carrie Hatchett.

Carrie and her reluctant sidekick, Dave, have succeeded in driving the evil mechanical aliens, the placktoids, to their only remaining hiding place—the past. But the danger isn’t over. The Transgalactic Council suspect the placktoids are trying to change the course of history and re-emerge as rulers of the galaxy.

Carrie and Dave are sent on a mission to defeat them, but even attacks from Carrie’s psychotic cat can’t prepare the two for the challenges they face when they travel back in time to the placktoid planet: searing temperatures, a barren landscape and primitive robots with OCD. And waiting in the wings is the placktoid High Commander, whose 3D printing ability is lethal.

Naively optimistic Carrie needs to recognise what’s staring her in the face if she’s to defeat the placktoids and avoid being trapped in the past forever.

Amped by Kevin HardmanAmped: A Kid Sensation Novel by Kevin Hardman:

Electra – the beautiful, unflappable girlfriend of teen super Kid Sensation – headlines her own adventure for the first time.

A foundling adopted and raised by the Alpha League (the world’s greatest superhero team), Electra has exhibited super powers since infancy. However, her past has remained a mystery for the most part, with those few people with any knowledge of her background being reluctant to talk.

Refusing to remain ignorant of her own origins, Electra embarks on a fact-finding mission intent on discovering who she really is. However, in addition to providing more questions than answers, her investigation causes her to cross paths with a powerful group of supervillains, who see in her a means of furthering their goal of world domination.

Finding herself in the crosshairs, Electra must now find a way to stop those seeking to exploit her unique talents for their own nefarious purposes. Because if she can’t, the world will pay a heavy price.

Autonomy by Jude HoughtonAutonomy by Jude Houghton:

Balmoral Murraine works in a Battery, assembling devices she doesn’t understand for starvation pay. Pasco Eborgersen is the pampered son of an Elite, trying to navigate the temptations of the Pleasure Houses, the self-sacrifice of the Faith, and the high-octane excitement of Steel Ball. They never should have met, and now they will rip the world apart.

What happens when ninety percent of the world lives on skaatch – a jellyfish and insect composite?

What happens when mankind spends more time in alternative life sims instead of in the “real” world?

What happens when economic interest is the sole determinant of global decision making?

What happens when a single secret is discovered that calls into question everything we have ever believed?

Welcome to the Autonomy. Welcome to your future.

Beacon's Spark by Jim JohnsonBeacon’s Spark by Jim Johnson:

Twentysomething Rachel Farran dropped out of college after family pressures drove her to the edge. Now disowned by her parents, the only things going for her are her girlfriend, her bestie, and visits to her ailing grandpa, the only member of her family who even really likes her.

When Rachel stumbles into the mystical Veil separating the mortal and spirit worlds, her world is turned inside-out. She soon discovers that she is a Beacon, a descendant of the ancient Fates and a guide for lost souls who can manipulate magical ley threads. But when the malevolent being known as the Spinner harnesses the ley to drag helpless souls through the Veil to devour them, can Rachel learn to control her newfound abilities before her grandpa and many others are lost forever?

Beacon’s Spark is the first book in Potomac Shadows, a new paranormal fantasy series set in the Washington, DC metro area.

Blighters by Tim MajorBlighters by Tim Major:

Them Blighters are everywhere.

They fell out of the sky last year, great horrible armour-plated slugs with razor-sharp fangs. But ugly as they are, they give the ultimate high to anyone nearby: a blissful, gleeful contentment that people are willing to kill for.
Not Becky Stone, though. All she wants is to drink beer, listen to her dad’s old vinyl, and get her life back to how it was before everything was all messed up.
Blighters? Frankly, she could do without them.

“Contains true craft and substance… You’ll finish this novella and immediately start it over again.”
Urban Fantasy Magazine on Carus & Mitch

Five Kingdoms by T.A. MilesFive Kingdoms by T.A. Miles:

With the Celestial Swords and their bearers united, Xu Liang heads for his homeland. Having lost his spiritual connection with the Empress, he is unprepared for the severity of Chaos’ grip on the land and its people. Fear is spreading throughout Sheng Fan. War is in the air. There is dissension in the ranks of the Empire and Xu Liang’s favor with the Empress seems to be in question, his once influential position now tenuous. The coming together of the Blades seems for naught while enemies from within threaten to tear apart his allegiance with the outsiders he dared to bring into Sheng Fan by spreading dangerous rumors. It seems that Xu Liang can do little more than watch as the Dragon continues to rise, every hour clawing its way deeper into the heart of the Empire, which slowly rends itself apart with the governors of the Five Kingdoms taking up arms against each other, as well as against the Song Dynasty. Those allied by the Swords must put Chaos to rest—be it an actual dragon, or war itself—but first they must find peace within themselves and amongst each other.

The Mercy of Men by S. Hunter NisbetThe Mercy of Men by S. Hunter Nisbet:

The anticipated second installment of the Saint Flaherty series moves from the hills of Appalachia to a city where law no longer prevails.

When Simon Flaherty’s routine of training and fighting is interrupted by a sudden eviction, he never expects his new neighbor to be the one person he thought was long gone from Scioto City: Connor Hall.

It’s been six years since they escaped from Buchell together—six years since Connor walked out of Simon’s life and never looked back. For Connor, it hasn’t been long enough. Trapped in a cycle of debt to the syndicate he works for, he’s barely making it payment to payment while juggling two jobs and university. One more burden will destroy him, and the help Simon is willing to give can’t balance the shadows of their past.

Fighting isn’t all Simon’s been doing in the years since arriving in Scioto, and the crime bosses of the city have their eyes on him. Getting involved with another syndicate’s business isn’t an option. But if Connor doesn’t find a way to pay back his debts, Simon will do anything to make sure Connor doesn’t pay the price for breaking a deal with a syndicate boss.

In a city without mercy, “anything” goes a long way.

Prelude to War by T.S. PaulPrelude to War by T.S. Paul:

With the destruction of the Earth ship Colossus the 3rd interstellar war is about to begin. The Cabal plan to reveal their political intentions to the Galaxy, but before they can, they have to eliminate their enemies first. Athena and her whole family are in their sights along with anyone that stands in the way of progress and control. Who will survive the onslaught and who will die? Only time will tell.

Join Athena, Wilson and the CATTs as they set out to prove that might does not equal right!

 

Brother's Pride by Jim RudnickBrother’s Pride by Jim Rudnick:

While the wrecked alien ship on Ghayth provides some interesting new technology, Admiral Scott has nothing on his mind but his upcoming wedding to the Lady St. August. In only a couple of months, he’ll have vows to pledge and a ring to don as he becomes a Royal himself to take the new title of Lord Scott. And the only thing in his way—even though he doesn’t know it, is his sister Gia who has pledged revenge upon him for the death of their sister, Nora.

With the upcoming release of the Ikarian longevity vaccine, the RIM Confederacy realms are all wanting more and more of the vaccines to double their lifetimes, while the Baroness is purposely chocking off the supply. Added to that is the fact that the Master Adept knows what will happen at the wedding and she is hurriedly training her own replacement and the wedding will be where the assassination attempt is made.

But the Master is not the only wedding party member to die at the altar as the admirals sister takes careful aim and screams out her revenge and Tanner falls as do others—all to pay penance for his crime of decades ago…

Felix R. SavageThe Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad: Skint Idjit by Felix R. Savage:

Fletcher Connolly hasn’t got a lot to lose. Since he, and half the galaxy, signed on to the rat race of the technological relics trade, Fletch has long since come to terms with the idea that he will join the ranks of the unlucky explorers that perish lightyears from home without a dime to his name.

As the first mate of an old, decrepit exploration ship–the Skint Idjit–things can’t get much worse. As if that isn’t enough, he has a hard time convincing himself his luck is bound to change when he finds himself stranded on the planet Suckass, on a remote branch of the Interstellar Railroad. With his new assignment an unlikely candidate to hide alien treasures, true to his personality, Fletch settles down to work on his tan.

But when disaster strikes and a member of his crew is killed, Fletch finds himself torn between loyalty to the surviving crew and the siren song of an unsuspected trove of A-tech.

Can Fletch save the Skint Idjit and her crew from a horrible death? Or will he ignore their dying screams and laugh all the way to the bank?

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Christmas in July Sale

13592699_10208780752749912_2699365943989540605_nWriter Stacy Claflin has organised a Christmas in July sale for holiday-themed e-books.

This weekend, more than 80 different e-books will be available for 99 cents or free. Two of mine are included, Christmas Gifts and Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café, along with more than 80 other great holiday reads in the genres romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense, humor and inspirational fiction.

The full list of participating books can be found on Stacy Claflin’s site.

So what are you waiting for? Christmas is coming (eventually), so grab yourself some cozy holiday reads now.

Christmas in July

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New Release: Alfred and Bertha return in “The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert”

Alfred and Bertha, those crazy kids of the twenty-first century, are back for a new adventure. This time, they are having dinner with their neighbours, the Hoppenstedts – a dinner which quickly escalates into an argument.

A bit of background: Alfred and Bertha were born in response to the Not Really SF Short Story Challenge issued by writer E.P. Beaumont. At the time, there were a lot of complaints from certain quarters of the SFF sphere that literary writers were invading science fiction with their literary ways and that the virtues, values and scientific rigour of science fiction’s so-called “golden age” were being ignored. So the idea behind the challenge was to stage a counter invasion by writing a mundane short story – the sort of slice of life piece one would expect to find in literary fiction – and write it in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s, complete with dated gender roles, “As you know, Bob…” dialogue and overexplanation of every mundane bit of technology.

My response to the challenge was The Four and a Half Minute Boiled Egg, a story about a married couple – Alfred and Bertha von Bülow – arguing at the breakfast table. And because I had so much fun chronicling Alfred and Bertha’s amazing life in the twenty-first century, I wrote more stories about them.

The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert is the latest of those stories. Once again, I borrowed the basic plot from a skit by legendary German comedian Loriot a.k.a. Vicco von Bülow. The skit in question is called Kosakenzipfel (Cossack’s Prick).

Lots of Latin, mansplaining, sciences versus humanities, totally random explanations of taxes, food – this story really has it all. So what are you waiting for? Experience the marvels of the twenty-first century today:

The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert
The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert by Cora BuhlertBertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about sharing a dessert at an upscale restaurant escalates and threatens their friendship with their neighbours, the Hoppenstedts.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 6000 words or approximately 20 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s. With bonus recipe.

 

More information.
Length: 6000 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, Flipkart, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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Our Five Year Anniversary

July 3 marks Pegasus Pulp‘s five year anniversary, therefore I should theoretically make another big posts breaking down sales according to vendor and books. However, we crossed the 2000 lifetime sales mark less than a month ago and the percentages haven’t changed that much since then, so if you want to know how we’re doing, just check out that post.

I also hoped to have a new release to announce in time for the anniversary, but while I do have a new book – No. 4 in my Alfred and Bertha’s Marvellous Twenty-First Century Life series of science fiction parodies – currently making its way through the various vendors, it’s not actually available everywhere yet, so I don’t want to officially announce it yet. However, if you’re an ardent Alfred and Bertha fan (and they do have very enthusiastic fans), you can check out the dedicated book page here.

Meanwhile, I’m also trying for a repeat of last year’s July short story challenge, which was to write a short story per day in July, i.e. 31 stories and 31 days. It’s the early days yet, but so far I got three short stories out of this, all of them quite god.

So it’s ever onwards for us here at Pegasus Pulp.

 

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