New Release No. 2: Anjali and Mikhail become “Hunter and Hunted” in a new “In Love and War” Novella

In my last post, I said that there would be two new release announcements in the near future. This is the second new release announcement, a new novella in my In Love and War series.

But first, I’d like to point out a the SFF Book Bonanza, a huge cross promo that is currently going on. There are more than sixty books in various SFF subgenres included in the promo, including one of mine, and they’re all available for only 99 cents from May 21 to May 27. A list of all participating books, organised by subgenre, may be found here. So what are you waiting for? Grab your next SFF read.

And now back to my own new release announcement. As mentioned above, it’s a new novella in the In Love and War series called Hunter and Hunted which pits Anjali and Mikhail against a crew of bounty hunters intent on capturing them for the prize on their heads.

The initial inspiration for Hunter and Hunted was a piece of music. For one day, I heard the 1980s A-ha song “Hunting High and Low” on the radio, which I hadn’t heard in a long time. Now I am heavily music-synaesthetic, i.e. certain pieces of music basically trigger scenes and sometimes whole mini-movies in my head. “Hunting High and Low” is one of those songs and the scene it always triggers in my head is that of two men fighting in the snow, while the girlfriend of one of the men sleeps peacefully in a nearby cabin. When I heard the song on the radio again lately, complete with the matching mini-movie playing in my head, I thought, “That’s actually a pretty good scene. Maybe I should write a story to go with it.” And then I realised that the scene in question was perfect for an In Love and War story. And so I sent Anjali and Mikhail on a mission to a frozen planet, with bounty hunters on their tail.

I started writing Hunter and Hunted sometime in March, when it was still cold outside, so writing about fight and flight throughout a snowy landscape wasn’t too much of a stretch. However, then it suddenly got very warm very fast and just stayed that way, which was quite jarring, because suddenly I was sweating while writing about Anjali and Mikhail battling hypothermia in addition to a squad of bounty hunters.

Now I tend to classify the In Love and War stories as cozy space opera, because there is as much focus on the characters and their relationships as on the usualy space opera action. However, Hunter and Hunted is actually a very action packed story by the standards of the In Love and War series, because it’s a sequence of fight scenes interspersed by brief moments of respite. What is more, Anjali and Mikhail both get put through the wringer physically in this one (come to think of it, I do tend to put them through the wringer a whole lot), though that also means that those moments of respite include some nice hurt/comfort scenes.

The cozy aspects of cozy space opera as well as the comfort part of hurt/comfort both take place in the supremely cozy setting of a secluded cabin in the snowy woods. Now the cabin already features in the original inspiration (in the mini-movie in my head triggered by the song in question, it’s always a log cabin), but I still had to find a way to make it work in a science fiction setting. I had already established that the mountainous parts of Harketon, the planet where the story is set, were a popular destination for holidaymakers. And so I simply decided to use the mountain lodges in the Alps (and elsewhere) as a model for the cabin where Anjali and Mikhail find shelter. After all, the initial purpose of these lodges was providing food and shelter for stranded travelers, though they have morphed into hostels in modern times.

Most mountain lodges in the Alps have a lodgekeeper, who takes care of the lodge and the guests, keeps it stocked with food and firewood, etc… The lodge where Mikhail and Anjali find shelter has a lodgekeeper as well, but because this is still a science fiction story, the lodgekeeper is an AI I named Toni after the popular German pulp novel series Toni, der Hüttenwirt (Toni, the Lodgekeeper). So I guess you call Hunter and Hunted a science fictional Heimatroman – because the In Love and War series clearly doesn’t mix genres enough already (after all, a cabin in the snow is not science fictional enough for certain people, at least according to a rather infamous review of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice).

As always with the In Love and War stories, there’s also action, fights, desperate last stands, romance, food (though no recipes this time), vid dramas and even opera, because on occasion space opera should include some actual opera.

The cover art is once again by the talented Thai artist Tithi Luadthong a.k.a. Grandfailure, whose stunning artwork graces all In Love and War covers so far. And this piece of art is really pitch perfect for this story, because we have the frozen landscape, a lone figure and a cozy cabin in the distance.

So what are you waiting for? Get Hunter and Hunted today!

Hunter and Hunted
Hunter and Hunted 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.

On their way back from a mission, Anjali and Mikhail are ambushed by a squad of bounty hunters. Wounded and hunted through a frozen landscape, they find shelter in a mountain lodge.

But their pursuers are still out there, tracking them. And with Anjali too injured to fight, Mikhail must face down seven bounty hunters on his own…

More information.
Length: 21000 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, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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The Return of Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd in “Bloody Bananas”

I have two new releases to announce in the next few days.

As the post title indicates, the first of these new releases is a new Helen Shepherd Mystery. This is already the twelfth story featuring Helen and her team, making it my longest series to date.

The inspiration for this mystery was a news story about how cocaine packages were found inside banana crates at several Aldi discount supermarkets. The case made headlines, because the amount of cocaine seized was one of the largest in postwar Germany. And the police didn’t even have to do anything, they only needed to pick up the cocaine packages at Aldi, after the supermarket employees called them in. I even blogged about it at the time.

The news story about the cocaine packages found in banana crates at Aldi not only sparked a lot of jokes – “This week’s special at Aldi – Cocaine, fresh from Columbia” – but it also sparked an idea for a crime story. For what if the supermarket employees did not call the police, when faced with an unexpected delivery of cocaine? What if they decided to keep the drugs for themselves to sell them? And what if someone disagreed?

The ingredients were ideal for a murder mystery and so I turned them into a story and let Helen Shepherd and her team, including new additions Detective Sergeant Terrence Quincy of the drug squad and his detection dog Rex (“a highly qualified police officer who just happens to be a dog”), loose upon the case. There’s even time for a bit romance for Police Constable Martin Jackson who acquires a girlfriend in this story.

So what are you waiting for? Read…

Bloody Bananas
Bloody Bananas by Cora BuhlertWhen supermarket employee Nelson Grant is found bludgeoned to death next to a half empty crate of bananas, the case seems a complete mystery. For Nelson Grant was well liked by his colleagues, so who could possibly want him dead?

But then Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team discover that the crate contained more than just bananas and the case suddenly acquires a whole new dimension.

 

 

More information.
Length: 12300 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.

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“Baptism of Fire” is a nominee for the 2018 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Award

efestival of word award 2018 nomineeThe nominations for the 2018 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards, which are run by the small press Bards & Sages, were announced today.

I was going to put the link to the announcement into the weekly link round-ups at the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene respectively, but first I took a gander at the list of nominees and all but fell from my chair, because there, a bit down the page, was my name. For it turns out that “Baptism of Fire”, my contribution to the science fiction anthology The Guardian, edited by Alasdair Shaw, has been nominated in the “Best short story” category. I had absolutely no idea about this, until I saw the nominee list.

“Baptism of Fire” is a prequel story to my In Love and War series and features Anjali on her first very mission with the Shakyri Corps. The story was originally written during the 2017 July short story challenge. You can either get it as part of The Guardian, together with ten other great science fiction stories, or as a standalone edition for series completists.

I’m really happy about this nomination and thrilled to be in the company of so many other great books and stories by indie and small press authors, so many congratulations to my fellow nominees and thank you to everybody who nominated me.

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New Story Available: Blasters of Forever

It’s time for another new release announcement. While the last new release announcements were all parts of existing series, this story is a true standalone. It’s also something for those of my readers who enjoy the lighter and funnier side of my writing.

Blasters of Forever is another story to come out of the 2017 July short story challenge. One of the big challenges of the July short story challenge project – beyond writing a story every day – is coming up with ideas for a whole month worth of short stories. So I sometimes need a little help to generate story ideas.

And so I found myself looking around the various generator sites on the Internet, while doing the 2017 July short story challenge, and eventually came across something called the merchandiseable toy generator, which generates names for the sort of toy franchises that come with tie-in cartoons. I played around with the generator and wrote down the best names I got, hoping that one of them would spark the inspiration for a story. In the end, however, I liked the various titles so much that I thought, “Why don’t I use all of them and write a story about someone who writes toy tie-in cartoons for a living?” And this is how Simon St. John and his many creations were born.

Now I have a deep and abiding love for cartoons, particularly for the toy tie-in cartoons of the 1980s. Of course, I know that they were basically just advertising, even though the toys they were advertising often weren’t even available in Europe. What is more, toy tie-in cartoons or indeed almost any kind of action cartoons were hardly ever seen on German TV in the pre-private television era, when only the most harmless and wholesome fare was permitted and even Porky Pig was cancelled as “too violent”. As for cartoons meant to advertise anything, including toys – forget it. That sort of thing was far too commercial and would never have been permitted.

However, in the 1980s my Dad worked in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and lived in an apartment which had cable TV, at a time, when cable TV was still a distant dream at home. Via cable TV, we received about ten different channels, which was a huge number in the three channel world of the pre-private TV era. Four of those channels were Dutch and Belgian TV (mostly dull, but sometimes it had cartoons and music), then we got the regular three German public channels (dull as usual) plus two German language private channels (much better, since they had soap operas and US TV shows).

But the very best TV channel available was the earliest incarnation of Sky, back when it broadcast nothing but music videos, 1960s US TV series and cartoons, lots of cartoons. The cartoons were broadcast in the context of a program called The DJ Kat Show, hosted by Linda de Mol and a puppet called DJ Kat. I loved The DJ Kat Show and in particular, I loved the cartoons. And the best cartoons were the many toy tie-in cartoons such as M.A.S.K., Jem, Transformers, Go-Bots, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra – Princess of Power, Bravestarr, Galaxy Rangers, Defenders of the Earth, Dungeons and Dragons, Thundercats, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony and many others. I already homaged The DJ Kat Show in Cartoony Justice. Blasters of Forever is an homage to the cartoons I loved so much back in the day.

Rewatching some of these cartoons as an adult shows that much of what I loved about them existed merely in my head (and that I totally missed all the hints that many of the characters are gay – well, they had to be, considering how very few women there were), because frankly they are not very well made. The animation is jerky, the stories often make little sense, any depth the characters have existed primarily in my mind and the “morality bits” at the end are as patronising as I remember them. However, you cannot help but admire the enormous inventiveness displayed in stories whose main purpose was selling some pretty silly toys to children.

Regardless of their actual quality, the toy tie-in cartoons I watched as a kid had a huge influence on me and also on my writing. These neon-coloured adventures embedded themselves in my subconscious and bits and pieces of them quite frequently emerge in the stories I write today. And yes, it is kind of embarassing, when you realise that some of your best ideas can be traced to some rather silly cartoons whose main purpose was selling stupid toys. Therefore, Blasters of Forever is also a story about how – to quote Captain Chronos – inspiration can be found in the strangest of places.

Now we are living in an era where we regularly see big budget Hollywood adaptations of things none of us ever expected to see on the big screen, whether it’s a whole series of Transformers movies or the Marvel movies which give even the most obscure superheroes their moment in the spotlight. When they created the Marvel universe in the 1960s, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko et all could never have foreseen that these stories and characters would one day become bid budget movies and that they would break box office records. And whoever created the Transformers probably never expected to see a live action version on the big screen. Just as Simon cannot imagine the lasting impact his own throwaway creations will have.

I’ve noticed that stories about writers and their creations are one of the themes I keep coming back to. After all, I already wrote a story bringing a creator face to face with his creation in the “Crisis” portion of Muse and Crisis. And come to think of it, the Silencer stories also fall under the broad umbrella of stories about the relationship between writers and their creations, except that Richard Blackmore actually is the character he created or at least cosplays as the Silencer to fight crime.

The reunion of Steve, the protagonist of “Crisis”, and his character Channa is exactly a happy one – well, Steve does write dark and gritty comics. Meanwhile, Simon’s meeting with the Blasters of Forever is a much happier and lighter story, even if it is interrupted by a time travelling assassin. But then, the Blasters of Forever come from the generally goofy world of toy tie-in cartoons, where even the villains are not too villainous.

None of the toys and cartoons described in Blasters of Forever ever existed. However, they are not all that different from many that did. 1980s toy tie-in cartoons were full of cyborgs, dinosaurs, time travellers, talking dogs, teen pop stars and characters with very silly names. The voice chips, the colour-changing and transforming action and the infrared targeting were all used in real toys of the period, too. And yes, most of them never really worked as advertised. My lone Transformer has been a sportscar for ages, since no one can figure out how to safely transform him back. Coincidentally, Simon’s magnum opus People on a Bridge never existed either, for which we can be thankful, for it’s easy to imagine just how awful that movie would have been.

Designing a cover for Blasters of Forever was something of a challenge, because 1980s cartoons had a very distinctive look that’s not easy to capture. Luckily, I came across the striking pop art inspired graphics of Valeriy Kachaev, which were perfect for my purpose. The character depicted is clearly Amy Extreme – dancer, cyberneticist and Kung Fu blackbelt – because Felicia Galaxy, the other female member of the Blasters of Forever, is black. The typography and the garish and clashing colours are also inspired by real cartoon logos of the 1980s.

So let’s step back in time and prepare to meet the Blasters of Forever, time cops with superpowers, as they meet their creator and inspiration Simon St. John. But of course, mayhem ensues, for the evil Doctor Chronos never rests…

Blasters of Forever
Blasters of Forever by Cora Buhlert1985: Screenwriter Simon St. John makes his living writing toy tie-in cartoons and dreams of finally getting his screenplay “People on a Bridge” produced.

But one night, when Simon has just come up with his latest creation, a group of time travelling cops known as the Blasters of Forever, a portal opens inside his living room. Out of the portal hop none others than the Blasters of Forever or at any rate, people who look very much like them.

The Blasters explain that they are from the future, where Simon is considered not just one of the greatest creative minds of the twentieth century, but also the inspiration for the time travel program that eventually led to the formation of the Blasters of Forever.

However, not just the Blasters of Forever are real. The villainous Doctor Chronos, sworn enemy of the Blasters of Forever, is real as well. And so is his cadre of time travelling assassins.

More information.
Length: 5500 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.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for April 2018

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 March 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, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, science fiction mystery, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, alternate history, horror, weird fiction, non-fiction collections, dragons, knights, dark elves, gargoyles, grim reapers, shifters, superheroes, airships, aliens, mercenaries, yakuza, space mages, mutants, killer plagues, windwalkers, space cops, lovers on the run, foiled weddings, Bonnie and Clyde redeemed, new books by a Hugo finalist, a Nebula finalist and a Kitschies winner 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:

Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks:

Captain Marta Ramos, the most notorious pirate in the Duchy of Denver, has her hands full between fascinating murder mysteries, the delectable and devious Delilah Nimowitz, Colonel Geoffrey Douglas (the Duke of Denver’s new head of security), a spot of airship engineering and her usual activities: piracy, banditry and burglary. Not to mention the horror of high society tea parties. In contrast, Simms, her second in command, longs only for a quiet life, filled with tasty sausages and fewer explosions. Or does he? Join Captain Ramos, Simms and their crew as they negotiate the perils of air, land and drawing room in a series of fast-paced adventures in a North America that never was.

Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures includes 4 novellas and a short story about piracy, banditry, burglary, jail-breaking, several brilliant bits of detective work and all manner of otherwise lawless hijinks performed by the valiant Captain Ramos and her crew.

Murder on the Titania: Colonel Geoffrey Douglas, the Duke of Denver’s new head of security, is drawn into a high society murder mystery on the Airship Titania. None of the passengers are quite what they seem, including the mysterious young woman who always turns up where she is least expected.

The Curious Case of Clementine Nimowitz (and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog):
A simple burglary goes horribly awry when Captain Ramos and Simms stumble across a dead body, a small dog and the deceased’s heirs, the noisome Morris and the rather too interesting Delilah.

The Jade Tiger: a mysterious woman enlists Captain Ramos’s aid in getting her revenge on her former employer and Captain Ramos finds herself doing an unintentional good deed.

The Ugly Tin Orrery: Captain Ramos and her crew embark on what appears to be a perfectly ordinary train robbery, only to be drawn into the Duke of Denver’s political machinations via a strange metal artifact. Throw in a spot of jail breaking and an encounter with the lovely Delilah, and it’s all in a day’s work for Captain Ramos and Simms.

The Flying Turk: The Airship Titania is entering a new era and welcoming its first automaton pilot. Or, perhaps not. Captain Ramos and Simms are back aboard the Titania for a heady mix of murder, robbery, peeved scientists and oblivious peers, with a spot of engineering thrown in.

The Knight's Secret by Jeffrey BardwellThe Knight’s Secret by Jeffrey Bardwell:

Sir Corbin, the retired Hero of Jerkum Pass, rides for honor, glory, and his pension with the aid of a magic ring. The knight’s mission takes him to the capital of the Iron Empire. The city is in an uproar. The emperor has been slain by rogue mages. The new empress is livid. Soon all mages are suspect . . . including Corbin’s daughter.

When Corbin dies on the eve of the mission, his granddaughter Kelsa dons his armor, his manner, and his face to save her mother. Hidden behind the magic ring, she infiltrates his old regiment. The army has become a slithering nest of vipers. Imperial mages and cavalrymen move warily around each other. Both sides snare the disguised hero in tight coils of suspicion, politics, and lies. When the vengeful empress launches a vendetta against all mage kind, Kelsa must decide whether to save her family or preserve the empire.

Unravel The Knight’s Secret, the first fantasy adventure of The Mage Conspiracy series. Discover a world of lurid entanglements and political intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.

Fire Ant by Jonathan P. BrazeeFire Ant by Jonathan P. Brazee:

Floribeth Salinas O’Shae Dalisay is an Off-Planet Worker, employed as an exploration pilot by the giant corporation, Hamdani Brothers. Sent on a routine mission to analyze one of the millions of systems in the galaxy, she stumbles across something that could threaten humanity’s very existence. She barely escapes with her life, but in the process, has to shut down her scout’s AI.

As with all OPWs, she has few rights, and instead of being lauded as a hero, the corporation thinks she is lying. Her managers believe she found something valuable and shut down her AI in an attempt to hide that fact, hoping she can sell that information to the highest bidder. Grounded, and with a huge debt now over her head, Beth has to convince the powers that be that a very real danger to humanity is lying in wait out there in deep space.

C.H.U.D. Lives! edited by Eric S. BrownC.H.U.D Lives! A Tribute Anthology, edited by Eric S. Brown:

Today’s top Horror and SF authors pay tribute to C.H.U.D. in this anthology of original fiction.

C.H.U.D. is a genre defying, cult classic film featuring monsters living in the sewers below New York. The stories in this anthology expand the world created by the film and add depth to the C.H.U.D. universe like never before. From stories of apocalyptic horror and all out monster action, to tales of underground parties interrupted by uninvited guests and evening strolls that end in death, this anthology will leave you both smiling and breathless.

Relive the fear as these original stories take you beyond the movie to events that occurred before, during, and after the scenes we remember so well.

Includes C.H.U.D. related stories by Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, JG Faherty, Mort Castle, Michael H. Hanson, Martin Powell, Ben Fisher, Jason White, Chad Lutzke, Ross Baxter, Philip C Perron, David Bernstein, Nick Cato, Alex Laybourne, Christopher Fulbright, Angeline Hawkes, David Robbins, Robert Waters, Greg Mitchell, Ryan C. Thomas, and Eugene Johnson.

With an introduction by David Drake. Compiled by Eric S. Brown.

C.H.U.D. Lives! also features in-depth interviews with Andrew Bonime (producer) and Parnell Hall (screenwriter), as well as never before seen behind-the-scenes photos from the classic 80s horror film.

Vampire Vigilante by Elena BryceVampire Vigilante by Elena Bryce:

A kick-ass heroine and a gargoyle with a stone age view of women

Iona Thorn is an immortal with a gift. She can see into the hearts of man and know exactly how much evil dwells there. But as a Guardian, Iona won’t take a human life, no matter how corrupt they may be. Instead she uses her talents to rid the world of the darker strain of vampires, and L.A. is rife with them.

While battling to hold on to her most treasured possession, a stake that contains a genuine nail of the cross, Iona accidentally awakens a gargoyle. Edrick might share her passion for justice, but he has the manners and instincts of another era, and is determined to protect her, even from herself.

Iona wants to reclaim her holy stake, but the enemy may be too formidable to beat, unless a strapping hunk of stone can be convinced to weigh in. But the longer Edrick remains awake the weaker he gets, and even a rock can break…

Freedom's Horizon by Cora BuhlertFreedom’s Horizon 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.

After a run-in with a Republican spy on the rim world of Metra Litko, Anjali and Mikhail need to get off planet fast. So they sign on as security aboard the freighter Freedom’s Horizon, which is supposed to transport a valuable cargo through pirate infested space.

But they have far bigger problems than pirates, for the Republic of United Planets sends no less than three battlecruisers after them, commanded by none other than Colonel Brian Mayhew, Mikhail’s former superior and now their most determined pursuer.

The chase culminates in a stand-off in orbit around Metra Litko, where Anjali and Mikhail have to make a fatal choice. Fight and endanger the innocent crew of the Freedom’s Horizon or surrender and face death and worse at the hands of the Republic.

This is a short novel of 55000 words or approximately 185 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Double-Cross by Cora BuhlertDouble-Cross 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.

When they are hired to retrieve a shipment of bootleg medical nanobots, it seems like a routine job at first. But it quickly turns out that they are not the only ones who are after the nanobots. And their client has an agenda of her own.

This is a story of 5100 words or approx. 20 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Oaths by Lindsay BurokerOaths by Lindsay Buroker:

General Ridgewalker Zirkander is getting married.

Sardelle—the woman who’s battled dragons, shamans, and countless enemy soldiers at his side—has accepted his proposal, and it’s the perfect time for a wedding. It’s been two months since any dragons or sorceresses attacked the city, the Cofah haven’t come after their kidnapped emperor, and King Angulus has stopped yelling at Ridge for his inadvertent role in destroying the castle.

Yes, it’s the perfect time for a wedding.

Never mind that the resident dragon who thinks he’s a god is pressuring Ridge to build a temple for him, or that the pirate-turned-scientist Tolemek has disappeared. Or that Ridge’s mother is on the verge of discovering that magic exists and her future daughter-in-law is a sorceress. These are small hiccups, and the wedding will go smoothly. Ridge is sure of it. Really.

Windwalker. Forbidden Flight by H.G. ChambersWindwalker: Forbidden Flight by H.G. Chambers:

Sixteen-year-old Kiva Fariq has always dreamed of soaring on the four-winged raptors that scour the desert skies. But the windwalker sect is closed off to women. What’s more, it’s said the deadly predators can only be bonded by men.

Undeterred, Kiva attempts the deadly windwalker trials in secret. Should she survive, she will face an even greater challenge: bonding a raptor of her own. When signs of an ancient enemy appear upon the plains, she desires more than ever to protect her people. But the threat is closer than anyone realizes, and will soon bury them all in a tomb of sand and stone—unless she can stop it.

Shards of the Nightmare by Joel CornahShards of the Nightmare by Joel Cornah:

They expected her to die within hours of being born, this strange child with blue skin. But she grew; unnatural, wild, curious and defiant.

And then her mother found the Sea-Stone Sword, and her father became a tyrant.

Torn between who she is and who she wants to be, Sini follows her bodyguard into the forgotten lands and the forbidden seas, searching for an answer that the Seers have sought for centuries: how can they defeat a tyrant? How can the Sea-Stone Sword be silenced?

And the answer lies in the Shards of the Nightmare.

Scylla and Charybdis by Lindsey DuncanScylla and Charybdis by Lindsey Duncan:

Anaea Carlisle, raised on an isolated space station populated solely by women, believes the rest of the universe has been plunged into anarchy and ruin by an alien-engineered disease known as Y-Poisoning. On a salvage mission, she helps rescue a hypermental named Gwydion who challenges everything she thought she knew.

Forced to flee the station with Gwydion, Anaea finds herself in an inexplicable, often hostile world, permanently divided between the Galactic Collective and the Pinnacle Empire. She longs for some place to call home, but first, she’ll have to survive …

Yesterday's Spacemage by Timothy EllisYesterday’s Spacemage by Timothy Ellis

Pirates and Slavers Beware, the Space Mage is coming for you!

All Thorn wanted, was to be a Battle Mage.

He had the talent, and his whole future was before him.

On the day of Choosing, he finds things don’t always go as planned. Suddenly Thorn’s life is thrown into fast forward, and he finds himself in a world not of his own choosing.

In a world of spaceships and blasters, instead of horses and swords, Thorn needs to adapt and survive, make new allies, and rediscover that although nothing is familiar, he’s still a Mage, and pirates and slavers beware.

Yesterday is history, and today he’s become, Yesterday’s Spacemage.

The Big Bumper Felapton Digest 2017 by Camestros FelaptonThe Big Bumper Felapton Digest 2017 by Camestros Felapton:

An exciting compilation of essay, pictures and nonsense from the 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanwriter, Camestros Felapton. Featuring Timothy the Talking Cat and Susan Triceracopter, the collection is a meandering sample of posts from the eponymous blog camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com. Covering topics such as The Last Jedi, Doctor Who and the sureal politics of 2017, the digest is Lancashire hotpot of gravy, potatoes and strange bits of meat in a tasty gravy. Enjoy!

 

Magic After Midnight by C. GockelMagic After Midnight by C. Gockel:

Magic is real, and Marcia’s life is a fairy tale. Except, according to her stepdaughter, she’s the wicked stepmother. Undermined by a meddling godmother, Marcia is struggling to raise three teenagers in a world of enchantment and monsters. When she’s introduced to a Night Elf who appears half her age, love is the last thing on her mind.

Count Darerick Razvano is a Night Elf–please don’t call him a vampire! Fighting for the survival of his race, he has no time for matters of the heart. When a charming widow inadvertently threatens the Night Elves’ most carefully guarded secret, Darerick must seek Marcia out to save his people.

Marcia’s devoted to get children. Dare’s determined to save his race. They aren’t looking for love, but love might find them.

In a world of monsters, love may save Night Elves and humans alike.

A standalone, slow burn, paranormal romance in the world of I Bring the Fire.

Harriet Walsh: Peace Force by Simon HaynesHarriet Walsh: Peace Force by Simon Haynes:

Harriet Walsh is desperate for work, but when an intergalactic crime-fighting organisation offers her a job she’s convinced it’s a mistake. She dislikes puzzles, has never read a detective mystery, and hates wearing uniforms. So why did the Peace Force pick her?

Who cares? Harriet needs the money, and she’s happy to go along with the training for as long as they keep paying her. She’d better dig out some of those detective mysteries though, because she’s about to embark on her first real mission…

Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFallBonnie and Clyde: Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall:

THE REDEMPTION OF BONNIE AND CLYDE

Saving the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting people back to work. Set to harness the mighty Colorado River for electricity and irrigation, the dam is an engineering marvel and symbol of American can-do spirit.

So, why is someone trying to blow it up?

When an informant on the construction site is murdered, Bonnie and Clyde—spared from their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life working for the government—are given their second assignment: stop the bomb and protect the thousands of laborers and families in the company town. It’s their most dangerous mission yet: working for a living.

Can the notorious lovers put aside their criminal ways long enough to find out who wants to extinguish the American dream, and hopefully reclaim a shred of redemption along the way?

The thrilling story cuts back and forth between the modern era where a reporter interviews the now-elderly Bonnie Parker, and the dangerous 1930s undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde, as they are thrust into a fight to defend the working class against corporate greed.

Dam Nation continues the explosive “what-if” series about two unlikely heroes fighting to defend the working class during America’s Great Depression, a historical thriller with unsettling contemporary parallels.

Kiss of the Demon Girl by Eddie R. HicksKiss of the Demon Girl by Eddie R. Hicks:

Ruthless, foulmouthed, and sometimes drunk. That’s me on a good day. Just imagine what I’m like on a bad day.

My name is Reika. I don’t know who I am anymore other than the following facts:

I’m unlikeable.

I used to be a member of the Yakuza.

I think a succubus has a thing for me.

The police shot me six times.

After my discharge from the hospital I learned that I had the unique talent to control fire. That’s right, a modern day pyromancer. I have no idea where these powers came from, the doctor that worked on me upped and vanished, along with all records of me ever being admitted to the hospital.

That’s when shady people from the shadows began to stalk me, some even had the balls to attack me. Don’t worry, I flambéed them all, I can take care of myself. What I am worried about are the people of New York City. Who’s going to defend them when my war with these shadow people reaches a boiling point?

I don’t want to be a heroine. I just want my life back.

Star Warrior by Isaac HookeStar Warrior by Isaac Hooke:

In a galaxy where the fabric of reality can be bent and shaped by a privileged few, and almost any skill desired is a mere injection away, one young man is thrust into the fight of his life.

Tane, a hydroponics engineer with some mean crop gene-splicing skills, decides to get chipped. The operation gives him full control over his autonomic nervous and endocrine systems, plus the ability to install custom memories.

All seems well until a couple of days later aliens come knocking at his door. And they aren’t the friendly type.

Soon Tane finds himself on a frenzied flight across the galaxy with a woman who can warp the very fabric of spacetime, her partner–who’d just as soon kill Tane than protect him–and a starship that calls him snarky pet names. He’s on the run not simply from the aliens but the whole damn human space navy.

He only wished he knew why.

Unfortunately for Tane, the answer might just destroy him. Not to mention the entire known universe.

Rectifier - The Electric Man by Brian D. HowardRectifier – The Electric Man by Brian D. Howard:

Oliver Stewart just wanted to be left alone after his life fell apart. He never expected to be kidnapped by a secret lab and dumped in a mass grave, left for dead as a failed experiment.

Except it didn’t fail.

Now he can control electricity.

When the people he feels most responsible for, some only teenagers, are abducted by the same men in their van, the clock ticks down before they end up dead—or worse.

To save them he’ll have to confront his most shameful mistakes, find the lab to mount an impossible rescue, and pick sides in a vicious gang war with far-reaching implications.

This gritty, must-read adventure is the second book in the After the Crash superhero series but stands alone as a complete story.

Blank Tapes Volume 2, edited by Paul HuxleyBlank Tapes Volume 2: more weird and dangerous tales, edited by Paul Huxley:

‘blank tapes’ returns with 17 new weird and dangerous tales. This is not a typical collection of stories. If you feel discomfort, uneasiness, a sense of disassociation and mild paranoia after reading these stories the publisher cannot be held responsible.

‘blank tapes’ is a challenging and daring mix of poetry, experimental fiction and short stories with dark themes. It is not for the faint of heart, weak of bladder and narrow of mind. Inside you will find missives from the outer parts of human experience, and a few from beyond that, which have slipped through the cracks in reality to find their way into your hands.

Perimeter by David M. KellyPerimeter by David M. Kelly:

PERIMETER – Deceit has no boundaries

Joe Ballen’s working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. When a savage Atoll attack decimates his crew, Joe is injured and must return to Earth to recover. While it’s a setback for the project, at least it means he can rebuild his relationship with his wife after nearly a year away.

But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment.

But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him?

Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.

Blood Lore by Erme LanderBlood Lore by Erme Lander:

You are always welcome to come home… aren’t you?

“The saw rasped against bone and Mika clenched her jaw as her own teeth remembered the red stained ivory sliding beneath them. A crack of powerful muscles and the marrow laid bare. Ears back, eyes hooded – watching. She knows the man will die on the table.”

After five years of hard study, Mika has achieved the rank of Journeyman Medici. Few know that she is a girl pretending to be a boy in the male dominated world of Ackbarr. Far fewer know of the animal concealed beneath her skin.

Searching for any knowledge of her kind, she is determined to travel back to Cassai. The forests of her childhood are seductive, calling to the memories buried deep within but she discovers that her world has moved on without her. Or maybe it never was as she remembers.

The events in this book take place about five years after those in “The Lion of Ackbarr.”
Book One of The Medici Chronicles

Grim Tempest by Amanda M. LeeGrim Tempest by Amanda M. Lee:

Life should be good for Aisling Grimlock. She’s engaged to a great guy, she’s getting the hang of being a reaper, and her rich father spoils her rotten on a regular basis. All that changes when a series of storms hit and the Michigan populace starts turning downright dangerous.

The streets are running with blood as people turn on one another for no good reason and the hospital is filling up with the sick and injured. That’s on top of the ones who are dying in terrible fashion … and leaving nothing but angst in their wake.

Right from the beginning, Aisling is convinced the storms are magical in origin. Of course, because she’s prone to theatrical fits, no one believes her … until the storms hit a little too close to home and Aisling herself is in danger from the one person she trusts above all others.

As a cop, Griffin Davenport is used to putting his life on the line. What he’s not comfortable with is being a threat to the people he’s supposed to be helping. The storms, you see, don’t affect reapers but those they love are in a heap of danger.

Aisling is determined to find the source of the storms, even if it leads to someone in her own family. She’s willing to claw, scratch and fight until the danger is eliminated. She’s also willing to whine, cajole and beg if it means she gets her way.

A big fight is coming, and it will be under a cloudy sky. Will the Grimlocks live to reap another day or have they finally found an enemy that’s big enough to take them out?

Suicide Run by Nathan LowellSuicide Run by Nathan Lowell:

A new ship. A young crew.
A dream job gone horribly wrong.

When circumstances drive Zoya and Natalya to accept an offer from the most powerful organization in the Western Annex, it looks like their ship – literally – comes in. The job fails to live up to its promise and the pair soon find themselves fighting for their lives against a booby trapped ship and its unseen master.

Will they unmask their enemies and survive their Suicide Run?

Of Blood and Ashes by Kyoko M.Of Blood and Ashes by Kyoko M.

The world’s deadliest dragon, the infamous Baba Yaga, is loose on the streets of Tokyo.

Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali have been tasked with helping the government take down a dragon the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex after it sends part of the city up in flames. Things worsen when they lose track of dragon in none other than Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest–a section of woods in Japan that is rumored to be one of the most haunted places on earth. They’ve also got the yakuza who cloned the dragon hellbent on getting her back, and they don’t care who they kill in order to re-capture the dragon.

Jack and Kamala are joined by CIA field agent William Fry and dragon-hunting expert Juniper Snow as they infiltrate the forest to hunt the dragon before she can hurt anyone else. Between the ruthless yakuza hot on their trail and the growing mistrust in their small hunting party, it will take a miracle for Jack and Kamala to make it out alive…

Of Blood and Ashes is the second book in the series, following the Amazon bestselling Of Cinder and Bone.

hypnoSnatch by Trisha McNaryhypnoSnatch by Trisha McNary:

Is it love, or is it alien abduction?

A young human, Antaska, encounters love and its dark side while traveling in outer space with her psychic cat and a giant alien. 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. But her unexpected kidnapping spoils their plans.

Relationships can be complicated, especially between different species. A fast-paced dark comedy set one million years in the future.

Alien Pets, formerly Pets and Masters in Space, is the prequel to this book.

Misfortune of Song by Christy NicholasMisfortune of Song by Christy Nicholas:

~ Even a soldier cannot fight love ~

In 12th century Ireland, all Maelan wants is to do his duty to his Chief and maintain his family’s good name. However, his granddaughter Orlagh, is hell bent on wreaking havoc, with no care for the consequences

When Orlagh falls in love with an itinerant bard, Maelan must rule with an iron fist to keep her from running away. However, her rebellion against his strictures results in disaster and he almost loses her in the same way he lost his beloved wife.

Maelan must make some difficult decisions and bargains with the Fae to save his granddaughter’s life and future. Can he save her happiness as well?

Emergent by Michael S. NuckolsEmergent by Michael S. Nuckols

An emergent artificial intelligence immobilizes the world’s computers on the same day that a genetically-modified influenza virus begins killing millions. Is it war? Or something worse?

At his new job with a Seattle biotech company, Ridley Pierce refuses to use artificial intelligence to code software for synthetic organs. Fuzzy calculations,sweeping assumptions, and infinite loops can kill. What Ridley doesn’t know is that an AI is already in control and his parents are among its first victims.

Can Ridley rescue the digital world before society collapses? Or, has the Information Age already been lost to history?

The Lunar Deception by T.E. OlivantThe Lunar Deception by T.E. Olivant:

Alya has anxiety issues. Well, so do a lot of people. But not everyone explodes their enemies when they lose control.

Alya is a Geep, a mutant. Her genes were contaminated by an accident on the moon. This gives her extraordinary powers, but it also makes her a threat.

Determined to discover the secret of the contamination, Alya takes a position in the Lunar University. Unfortunately, the Continuum controls the moon, and it doesn’t like Geeps. There’s nothing the organisation would like better than to wipe out Alya’s people completely. But Alya is not about to let that happen.

Section 12 by Krista StreetSection 12 by Krista Street:

To save them, she’ll risk everything.

The last time Dr. Meghan Forester saw Davin and the other infected Kazzies, she made a heart-wrenching choice. Now, her new life is filled with loneliness.

Trying to carry on while Davin and her friends are held captive on Reservation 1, Meghan begins a daunting position at Compounds 10 and 11 in Washington state. There, she is thrust into a challenging new world with a handsome assistant as her guide.

But Meghan refuses to abandon her friends, so when reports surface of atrocities being committed within Reservation 1, she returns to South Dakota and discovers the only way to save Davin and her friends is to face her old enemy. An enemy who will stop at nothing to keep the Kazzies contained, even if that means taking a life.

Alliance Stars by Michael WallaceAlliance Stars by Michael Wallace:

Captain Jess Tolvern of HMS Blackbeard is leading a Royal Navy expedition across long-dormant space lanes toward Old Earth when an alien fleet ambushes her battle cruiser. The aliens are Adjudicators, an ancient race whose ethos is to judge other species and reduce their survivors to a stone age existence.

Tolvern sends a desperate message back to headquarters and retreats with her damaged ship to friendly systems. By the time she returns, the aliens have already invaded Alliance territory with a powerful fleet of star fortresses and accompanying dragoon ships, trapping and laying siege to the allied fleet.

While repairing her ship, Tolvern cobbles together a squadron of damaged allied warships, former raiders, and the local survivors of an Adjudicator attack to drive off the alien fleet.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for April 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 March 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, international mysteries, British mysteries, YA mysteries, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, steampunk mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, romantic suspense, spy fiction, lawyers, spies, traitors, gunrunners, stalkers, serial killers, school shooters, grim reapers, the Greek mafia, innocents in prison, foiled weddings, murder on theatre stages, aboard airships and in outer space, spy action in the Middle East, crime in Las Vegas, Chicago, Alaska and Greece 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:

Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks:

Captain Marta Ramos, the most notorious pirate in the Duchy of Denver, has her hands full between fascinating murder mysteries, the delectable and devious Delilah Nimowitz, Colonel Geoffrey Douglas (the Duke of Denver’s new head of security), a spot of airship engineering and her usual activities: piracy, banditry and burglary. Not to mention the horror of high society tea parties. In contrast, Simms, her second in command, longs only for a quiet life, filled with tasty sausages and fewer explosions. Or does he? Join Captain Ramos, Simms and their crew as they negotiate the perils of air, land and drawing room in a series of fast-paced adventures in a North America that never was.

Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures includes 4 novellas and a short story about piracy, banditry, burglary, jail-breaking, several brilliant bits of detective work and all manner of otherwise lawless hijinks performed by the valiant Captain Ramos and her crew.

Murder on the Titania: Colonel Geoffrey Douglas, the Duke of Denver’s new head of security, is drawn into a high society murder mystery on the Airship Titania. None of the passengers are quite what they seem, including the mysterious young woman who always turns up where she is least expected.

The Curious Case of Clementine Nimowitz (and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog):
A simple burglary goes horribly awry when Captain Ramos and Simms stumble across a dead body, a small dog and the deceased’s heirs, the noisome Morris and the rather too interesting Delilah.

The Jade Tiger: a mysterious woman enlists Captain Ramos’s aid in getting her revenge on her former employer and Captain Ramos finds herself doing an unintentional good deed.

The Ugly Tin Orrery: Captain Ramos and her crew embark on what appears to be a perfectly ordinary train robbery, only to be drawn into the Duke of Denver’s political machinations via a strange metal artifact. Throw in a spot of jail breaking and an encounter with the lovely Delilah, and it’s all in a day’s work for Captain Ramos and Simms.

The Flying Turk: The Airship Titania is entering a new era and welcoming its first automaton pilot. Or, perhaps not. Captain Ramos and Simms are back aboard the Titania for a heady mix of murder, robbery, peeved scientists and oblivious peers, with a spot of engineering thrown in.

A Staged Death by A.G. BarnettA Staged Death by A.G. Barnett

When showbiz gets ugly…

The world of showbiz comes to Bexford when the new series of hit TV show Foul Murder is launched there. Soon, life imitates art as a murder is committed, live on stage.

Luckily, Detective Sergeant Guy Poole and Detective Inspector Sam Brock are in the audience to take charge of the scene.

When it becomes clear that one of their own is the prime suspect, they are determined to help prove his innocence, no matter how annoying he is.

The Gate House Secret by Debra BurroughsThe Gate House Secret by Debra Burroughs:

Reporter Jenessa Jones’ wedding is right around the corner…until her nemesis Grey Alexander digs up an explosive, long-buried secret and threatens to expose it unless she calls off the wedding.

Feisty Jenessa is determined to fight to keep her skeletons buried, but soon she is rocked to the core when a scandalous murder puts her entire future in jeopardy…not to mention her life. Can she uncover the killer, hold on to her fiancé, and make it to the altar alive?

 

Blind Justice by Nathan BurrowsBlind Justice by Nathan Burrows:

Gareth Dawson is an innocent man. Not a murderer. His main problem is that the British justice system doesn’t agree with him.

He might be a reformed thief guilty of many things in his past, but not murder. In the space of a few short months, he’s gone from being married to the woman of his dreams to facing a life sentence.

Inside Her Majesty’s Prison Whitemoor, a Category A prison in Cambridgeshire, Gareth’s got all the time in the world to go over the events that led to the guilty verdict. The guilty verdict which cost him everything in the world that he loved. His dignity. His freedom. His wife.

Gareth is approached by a lawyer, Paul Dewar, who claims to have information that will vindicate Gareth. But is it enough to set him free? As threats against Gareth increase on the inside, Paul Dewar’s challenge, and Gareth’s fight for freedom, begins.

Against All Odds by Stacy ClaflinAgainst All Odds by Stacy Claflin:

Betrayals. Secrets. Tragedy.

It started as a day like any other for Alex Mercer. Then he heard the news. Something that only happens in other places is happening in his hometown.

Just a few miles away at his daughter’s middle school, a shooter is on the loose. Alex does what every other parent in town does—he races to the school to find out if his loved ones are safe.

His world falls apart around him, and he can’t turn to his best friend because they’re both dealing with scathing terror.
As the motive behind the shooting comes to light, secrets and betrayals spiral out of control.

Will Alex give into old temptations in the face of the current situation, or will he be able to move past everything and help those he loves the most?

No Direction Home by John EllsworthNo Direction Home by John Ellsworth:

Michael Gresham is the lawyer you’d want to call about a crime. Especially if you were guilty…

Visana, proudly packing away her brand new medical license, leaves for Iraq. She has accepted a medical mission to the Kurds. After landing in Baghdad, her driver heads north toward Kirkuk. For six straight months, Visana treats maimed and burned children who wandered into the path of the war. Saddam Hussein’s soldiers are now in charge. And they are looking for her. Baghdad knows she’s there, knows she’s a doctor, and wants to use her in the war to treat Saddam Hussein’s soldiers. Or so they say.

But once she’s in their grasp, her whole world turns upside-down. Hussein uses her to commit crimes more horrible that any she’d ever imagined. Meanwhile, outside the walls of the clinic, the war rages. After six months of back-and-forth fighting, the American Army gains control of Kirkuk. Visana is released from the horror of her captivity. But she is a broken woman with no idea how to fix herself. Using every resource she can muster, she is on a jet bound for Chicago by the next evening. Home has never looked better: a place to rest and weep and start to heal.

Instead, one afternoon as she’s walking along Michigan Avenue, she is arrested. The U.S. Army is charging her with war crimes. If she’s convicted she will be put to death–the Army prosecutors make that very clear. There can be no forgiveness.

Her family knows nothing about lawyers in Chicago, especially criminal lawyers. But then, “Several years ago,” her grandfather tells her, “there was a lawyer here who never lost. His name was Gresham.”

Michael Gresham gets the call. Visana has tracked him down. She tells him her story. He has never heard of such horror before, but he agrees to help.

And why not? He believes she’s actually innocent.

As innocent as they ever are.

Winter City Wolf Moon by Elvis EnglishWinter City Wolf Moon by Elvis English:

When the bodies of two young Alaska Native women are discovered along the banks of Ship Creek, and their deaths are ruled “accidental” and “undetermined” by police, burned out gumshoe Lewis Bocarde, well-acquainted with life on the gritty streets of Anchorage, senses something sinister rising. Allied with a suicidal social worker named Grace and a street-savvy group of indigenous contrarians, Bocarde races to discover what flocks of ravens already know.

And to thaw the frantic screams frozen in the snow.

 

Harriet Walsh: Peace Force by Simon HaynesHarriet Walsh: Peace Force by Simon Haynes:

Harriet Walsh is desperate for work, but when an intergalactic crime-fighting organisation offers her a job she’s convinced it’s a mistake. She dislikes puzzles, has never read a detective mystery, and hates wearing uniforms. So why did the Peace Force pick her?

Who cares? Harriet needs the money, and she’s happy to go along with the training for as long as they keep paying her. She’d better dig out some of those detective mysteries though, because she’s about to embark on her first real mission…

Betrayal by Ethan JonesBetrayal by Ethan Jones

A hero, sent out as a mark. Who’s behind the betrayal?

Spies on the hunt.

A traitor in their midst.

Suspicions are high and time is short.

Who is behind the betrayal?

Spy Master Javin wants to eliminate two terrorist masterminds, but he’s not the only one looking for them. When the mission suspiciously goes awry, his team is now forced into a dubious alliance with Mossad and the infamous Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Pursuing the terrorists deep into hostile Saudi Arabia, they not only discover an assassination plot that could topple the Saudi kingdom, but also suspect a traitor has infiltrated their team. Who is behind this betrayal? With suspicions high and time short, can Javin and Claudia unmask the traitor and stop the assassination plot before the Middle East is plunged into an all-out war?

Good Crime by Alex A. KingGood Crime by Alex A. King:

Have Greek car, will travel?

The bad news:
Kat Makris’ car just went up in flames.

The good news:
Kat has a new …

Well, it’s not technically a car, but it could be if she squints and ignores the braying.

Kat is going nowhere fast on her new mode of transport, but the world is changing shape around her. Dad is thinking of selling her childhood home; the devastatingly sexy Detective Nikos Melas is no longer speaking to her; and scrumptious Xander, double agent, has been keeping his distance.

The ground under her feet lurches sideways again when the Godfather of the Night himself, Baby Dimitri, rocks up to the family compound, begging for sanctuary. An old enemy has clawed his way out of the grave. He wants Baby Dimitri dead. He wants Grandma dead. Basically he wants everyone dead. And he wants them to do their dying to the beat of a 1980s soundtrack.

With a funeral to orchestrate, a long-neglected filing cabinet to sort through, and a KGB agent’s familiar flunkies following her every move, Kat doesn’t want to get involved.

Until Grandma’s kidnapping leaves her with no other choice.

Grim Tempest by Amanda M. LeeGrim Tempest by Amanda M. Lee:

Life should be good for Aisling Grimlock. She’s engaged to a great guy, she’s getting the hang of being a reaper, and her rich father spoils her rotten on a regular basis. All that changes when a series of storms hit and the Michigan populace starts turning downright dangerous.

The streets are running with blood as people turn on one another for no good reason and the hospital is filling up with the sick and injured. That’s on top of the ones who are dying in terrible fashion … and leaving nothing but angst in their wake.

Right from the beginning, Aisling is convinced the storms are magical in origin. Of course, because she’s prone to theatrical fits, no one believes her … until the storms hit a little too close to home and Aisling herself is in danger from the one person she trusts above all others.

As a cop, Griffin Davenport is used to putting his life on the line. What he’s not comfortable with is being a threat to the people he’s supposed to be helping. The storms, you see, don’t affect reapers but those they love are in a heap of danger.

Aisling is determined to find the source of the storms, even if it leads to someone in her own family. She’s willing to claw, scratch and fight until the danger is eliminated. She’s also willing to whine, cajole and beg if it means she gets her way.

A big fight is coming, and it will be under a cloudy sky. Will the Grimlocks live to reap another day or have they finally found an enemy that’s big enough to take them out?

Chicago Creed by Stewart MatthewsChicago Creed by Stuart Matthews:

She took an oath to uphold the law, but oaths can be broken.

Chicago PD Detective Shannon Rourke is falling apart, but by now, she’s used to it.

Her misfortune, however, has infected the people she loves. Her boyfriend worries she’s concealing a dark secret, and his daughter is tormented by memories of a deranged serial killer–who targeted the girl because of Shannon.

She needs a break from work before she snaps, but her problems have to wait when she’s called to a puzzling crime scene on Chicago’s deadly West Side. With a killer dropping fresh corpses every day, she fights to keep her demons shackled while she goes on the hunt. A single misstep could turn her misfortune into deadly tragedy–not only for herself, but for the family she loves.

The Dead Woman by Jennifer SamsonThe Dead Woman by Jennifer Samson:

Secrets can kill …

Tim Kelly makes a deal with Mexican gunrunners that will bring him much-needed cash and improve his standing in Vegas’ criminal underworld. Then he gets stiffed, and the only person with an explanation isn’t talking.

Lupe Delgado is on the run from a powerful cartel and her only goal is to put distance between her and the man who wants her dead. Her escape is thwarted when she ends up in Tim’s hands.

Tim offers an exchange: information on the location of his weapons shipment for Lupe’s freedom. Lupe reluctantly agrees to help Tim, but refuses to tell him why she fled Mexico.

When hitmen arrive in town, Tim and Lupe take the fight to Mexico. Surrounded by enemies, Lupe must reveal her secret if they’re going to survive – and it’s one the cartel will kill to keep.

Because... Anonymous by Diana L. SharplesBecause… Anonymous by Diana L. Sharples:

It’s tough to be a good guy … when everyone thinks you’re a stalker.

On the run from an abusive father, Noah Dickerson is supposed to be lying low and staying out of trouble.

Mistake #1, falling in with a group of anime fans who aren’t as harmless as they seem.
Mistake #2, crushing on a beautiful girl who isn’t fooled by Noah’s good looks and charm.
Mistake #3, being in the wrong place when she receives threatening notes in her locker.

But the biggest mistake, Noah learns, was when his mother escaped North Carolina with him. Because, it turns out, transporting a minor over state lines in the middle of the night is a felony.

Secrets and Lies by Rachel SinclairSecrets and Lies by Rachel Sinclair:

A young billionaire, Silas Porter, is accused of murdering his socialite wife, Ava.

Damien takes the case, not knowing the real reason why Silas, CEO of Porter Enterprises, an international tech firm, is so determined that he represent him. Him, and only him.

As Damien digs deeper into the case, he realizes that nothing and nobody are as they seem. After finding out Silas’ deep, dark secrets, Damien attempts to withdraw from the case. But there’s no way that he’s going to let him drop his case so easily.

By the time the trial rolls around, Damien doesn’t know if he’s coming or going with his client. Then a surprise witness emerges that tosses everything on its head.

With a surprise twist that you’ll never see coming, and the twists and turns that you’ve come to expect from a Damien Harrington Legal Thriller, Secrets and Lies is not to be missed!!!

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A Triple New Release and Some Thoughts on Cozy Space Opera

Now that the excitement caused by the triple whammy of Easter, Passover and the announcement of the 2018 Hugo Finalists has died down somewhat, I have an announcement of my own to make. And it’s a big announcement, because I have not one but three new In Love and War stories to announce, two short stories and one short novel.

The first of the two short stories isn’t quite that new, because it has been available as part of the anthology The Guardian for a while now. However, if you want a standalone edition, here is your chance.

Like Dreaming of the Stars and Graveyard Shift, Baptism of Fire is a prequel to the In Love and War series proper, though it is listed as Part 2 at most vendors, because they don’t support prequels very well.

With Baptism of Fire, there now are three prequel stories to the In Love and War series, because I like showing who Anjali and Mikhail were before they became the people they are today. In Dreaming of the Stars, we meet them both as teenagers and learn what drove them both to join their respective militaries. The next two stories focus on their respective military careers. We’ve already briefly seen Mikhail as an operative of the Republican Special Commando Forces in Graveyard Shift, though he’s only a supporting character in that story. In Baptism of Fire, we now see Anjali as a young cadet with the Shakyri Corps.

If you’ve read some or all of the In Love and War stories, you know that it isn’t exactly a conventional space opera series, let alone conventional military SF. In Love and War is basically the story of two people who decide to run away from the typical space opera/military SF plot, in this case an endless intergalactic intergalactic war. Only that the plot keeps coming after them, trying to drag them back. In fact, as mentioned here, the In Love and War series was born out of frustration, because after the third or fourth time of running into a science fiction plot featuring a couple that couldn’t be together because of reasons, I got very sick of the whole thing and wished they’d just run away together to become space pirates or intergalactic outlaws or open a restaurant on a far away planet or something. However, space opera and military SF characters don’t normally run away from the plot, no matter how logical that would be, so I had to write that story myself.

However, while the In Love and War series isn’t conventional space opera or military SF, Baptism of Fire is as close as it probably comes to that. After all, the story was deliberately written to attract new readers to the In Love and War series, many of whom may well prefer a more traditional adventure in space. And so the story follows Anjali as a seventeen-year-old cadet on her very first mission with the Shakyri Corps, where things go of course disastrously wrong. We also meet Anjali’s commanding officer Captain Vikram as well as fellow recruit and later Anjali’s good friend (and he’s really just that, no matter how much Mikhail might suspect otherwise), Anil Golkhari. Both characters will probably appear again in future In Love and War stories.

Baptism of Fire
Baptism of Fire by Cora BuhlertCadet Anjali Patel had hoped for something more exciting than guard duty for her first mission with the legendary Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, the best fighters in the Empire of Worlds.

However, this boring job quickly turns hot, when an enemy convoy comes up the mountain pass Anjali is supposed to guard.

This is a prequel story of 4500 words or approx. 18 print pages to the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

 

More information.
Length: 4500 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.

While Dreaming of the Stars, Baptism of Fire and Graveyard Shift are all prequels of sorts, Freedom’s Horizon is (to date) the first book proper in the In Love and War series. Coincidentally, it’s also the longest at 55000 words, which makes it a novel, albeit a short one, by SFWA standards.

Though Freedom’s Horizon is the true beginning of the In Love and War series in more ways than one, because it was – at least in part – the first In Love and War story I ever wrote. For approximately two years ago, a scene popped into my head: Two intergalactic mercenaries, a man and a woman were 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 and about to apply for a security position aboard a freighter, because the ground had gotten too hot for them. This early scene became, in slightly altered form, the second chapter of Freedom’s Horizon.

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. Eventually, I went first back in time to the story of how they met and fell in love against all odds (which will eventually be published, though it is emotionally draining to write) – and then forward to other adventures set when Anjali and Mikhail were already an established couple. Because by Freedom’s Horizon, they haven’t been together long and are still trying to figure out how they feel about each other. That is, Anjali is trying to figure out how she feels about Mikhail and their relationship and the loss of her old life. Because Mikhail already knows very well how he feels about her.

After I’d published several stories of varying lengths in the In Love and War series, I went back to take another look at that very first story I wrote that I’d never finished and noticed that I had a solid story there that was approximately two thirds finished, even though it wasn’t the story I’d initially thought I was telling. Because originally, I had intended for the story that eventually became Freedom’s Horizon to be a kind of Firefly-esque space opera, chronicling the adventures of the crew of the Freedom’s Horizon, including new recruits Anjali and Mikhail, during their voyage through pirate-infested space. However, as I wrote the story, trouble found Anjali, Mikhail and the Freedom’s Horizon before they could even leave the orbit of Metra Litko. And the trouble that found them was a lot more exciting than any altercation with space pirates could ever be. I also realised that Anjali and Mikhail were the true focus of the story, while the crew of the Freedom’s Horizon, though interesting people, were secondary characters. Coincidentally, Elijah Tyrone, Captain of the Freedom’s Horizon, also appears in Graveyard Shift, where you learn more about his family and his background.

So is Freedom’s Horizon a typical space opera? Well, it has spaceships, shoot-outs, fight scenes, chase scenes, desperate last stands, a seedy spaceport bar named The Scuttling Cockroach, a big space battle and a dramatic stand-off in orbit – in short, lots of the good stuff. However, it also has romance, friendship, emotions, people talking about their feelings, characters bonding over vid dramas and food – in short, lots of the mushy stuff. It even includes a recipe, because there is so much talk about food, I thought that some readers might like to know how to make one of the dishes. And yes, I know that recipes in the backs of novels are a thing in the cozy mystery genre and occasionally pop up in romance as well, but they aren’t very common in science fiction, though Joyce Chng includes recipes in some of her novels.

Coincidentally, I also added a new author’s note to Graveyard Shift, where I talk a bit about the pastries that the members of the military tribunal eat, while plotting cover-ups and handing out death sentences. No recipes this time, because these aren’t my pastries, but those of one of my favourite bakeries. And yes, I tuckerized the bakery.

When I was getting Freedom’s Horizon ready for publication and writing a different In Love and War story, where food also plays a big role, at the same time, I thought, “Other writers put recipes into their cozy mysteries, but I put them into my space opera. I guess I’m writing cozy space opera here.”

And then I thought, “Actually, cozy space opera sounds pretty cool.”

Of course, I didn’t invent that term. A bit of googling revealed that the newly Hugo-nominated podcast Sword and Laser referred to Becky Chambers’ debut The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet as cozy space opera, which it absolutely is. Ditto for A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers’ second novel.

Also of interest in this context is Liz Bourke’s Tor.com article on domestic space opera from last year, in which she names Becky Chambers’ books as well as C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series and Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya Universe stories as examples.

Liz Bourke defines domestic space opera as follows:

Yet the operatic element—the intensity of emotion and of significance—still comes to the fore in all of these stories, for all the ways in which they take place in intimate settings and concern, often, small acts. It is this reaching for the high pitch of intensity, albeit in small and sometimes domestic contexts (and whether always successful or not), that makes them space opera, I think.

There is enough emotional scope within one single person’s life and relationships to cover any artist’s canvas in furious colour. And there’s something faintly radical about treating an individual in quieter settings as just as worthy and interesting a subject as the clash of empires…

Shaun Duke responds to Liz Bourke’s post with his own reflections on domestic space opera and points out that the personal is political, in space opera as in life. He also adds parts of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy and her novel Provenance and the works of Joyce Chng as examples of domestic space opera.

Let’s have a quote from Shaun as well:

I’d like to add one thing more: the personal is fundamentally representative of the political, and the use of domestic spaces can reveal the influences of the political sphere on everyday life. How people live, what they do in their homes or among friends or family, etc. are all fed by the larger political systems in play, such that the traditional space opera tensions are echoed in the tensions within the domestic. Indeed, you might say that much of space opera — and its fans — has focused on the macro level, looking at the tensions produced by big sweeping motions of the writer’s brush; domesticity, however, focuses on the micro level, giving us a glimpse into how those much larger tensions actually impact individual relationships and behavior at home.

These definitions definitely fit the In Love and War series, where the eighty-eight year war between two galatic powers is reflected in the relationship between two people, who manage to fall in love with each other, even though their respective nations are at war and have been for longer than either of them have been alive. We also see the endless war and its consequences reflected in other characters such as Elijah Tyrone, Captain of the Freedom’s Horizon, and Colonel Brian Mayhew, Mikhail’s former mentor/surrogate father turned antagonist, who is probably the character who surprised me most, considering that I originally intended him to be just a simple villain.

The In Love and War series has quite a bit of action – after all, Mikhail and Anjali are elite soldiers turned mercenaries, and fighting is what they do. However, there are also plenty of quieter moments, plus love, friendship, family, characters bonding and of course, food.

But this is still a new release announcement, not a rumination about cozy space opera, so why don’t you give Freedom’s Horizon a try, cause it really has all of the good stuff – seedy spaceport bars, chases, shoot-outs, space battles, emotions, feelings, love, friendship, family – all that and recipes, too.

Freedom’s Horizon
Freedom's Horizon 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.

After a run-in with a Republican spy on the rim world of Metra Litko, Anjali and Mikhail need to get off planet fast. So they sign on as security aboard the freighter Freedom’s Horizon, which is supposed to transport a valuable cargo through pirate infested space.

But they have far bigger problems than pirates, for the Republic of United Planets sends no less than three battlecruisers after them, commanded by none other than Colonel Brian Mayhew, Mikhail’s former superior and now their most determined pursuer.

The chase culminates in a stand-off in orbit around Metra Litko, where Anjali and Mikhail have to make a fatal choice. Fight and endanger the innocent crew of the Freedom’s Horizon or surrender and face death and worse at the hands of the Republic.

More information.
Length: 55000 words
List price: 3.99 USD, EUR or 2.99 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, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

The final new release for today is another In Love and War short story. I should maybe say something about the reading order for the In Love and War series now. In principle, all In Love and War stories can be read as standalones in any order, because they’re all self-contained. However, if you want an official reading order, start with Dreaming of the Stars (which is also the quiestest story of the series), then Baptism of Fire and Graveyard Shift, then Freedom’s Horizon, followed by Courting Trouble. Then Bullet Holes, Dead World and finally, the last new story for today, Double-Cross. This is also as good a moment as any to point you to the special In Love and War series bundle, where you can get all of the stories in the series to date at a drastically reduced price. Only at DriveThruFiction.

Double-Cross is another story to come out of the 2017 July short story challenge, where the goal was to write a story per day in July 2017. Baptism of Fire was another July short story challenge story, by the way.

Like many of the July short story challenge stories, Double-Cross was inspired by a piece of science fiction concept art, namely this lovely piece of Cyberpunk art. The image intrigued me, so I sent Anjali and Mikhail into that rain and neon-drenched environment on a retrieval mission. They successfully completed their mission and retrieved the McGuffin and I was stuck regarding what should happen next. So I looked through my folder of inspirational images again and came across this piece of Cyberpunky concept art, which sort of matched the first image. And suddenly I knew what would happen next.

While we’re on the topic of art, I’d also like to add a shout-out to the wonderful artist Tithi Luadthong a.k.a. Grandfailure, whose striking artwork graces all of the In Love and War covers so far.

Like all of the In Love and War stories, Double-Cross has plenty of banter between Anjali and Mikhail. It also has nanotech, noodles, space ninjas and a double-crossing client.

So go and check out…

Double-Cross
Double-Cross 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 they are hired to retrieve a shipment of bootleg medical nanobots, it seems like a routine job at first. But it quickly turns out that they are not the only ones who are after the nanobots. And their client has an agenda of her own.

More information.
Length: 5100 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.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2018

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 February 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, paranormal mystery, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, funny science fiction, science fantasy, horror, weird fiction, weird western, dragons, elves, werewolves, shifters, superheroes, aliens, mercenaries, starship mages, killer asteroids 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:

Last Dragon Standing by Rachel AaronLast Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron:

Dear Reader,

There is no way to write a blurb for this final book without spoiling all of the others. Suffice it to say, mysteries resolve, dragons war, pigeons abound, and no one is safe as Bob’s grand plan finally comes to fruition.

But the Great Seer of the Heartstrikers isn’t the only one whose schemes are nearing completion. The Nameless End is coming, and even the machinations of the world’s most brilliant dragon seer might not be enough to stop it. As everything comes crashing down, it’s up to Julius to prove what he’s always known: that seers can be wrong, and Nice Dragons don’t always finish last.

Baptism of Fire by Cora BuhlertBaptism of Fire by Cora Buhlert:

Cadet Anjali Patel had hoped for something more exciting than guard duty for her first mission with the legendary Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, the best fighters in the Empire of Worlds.

However, this boring job quickly turns hot, when an enemy convoy comes up the mountain pass Anjali is supposed to guard.

This is a prequel story of 4500 words or approx. 18 print pages to the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Gold Dragon by Lindsay BurokerGold Dragon by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that Trip’s siblings are safely back in the capital, he would like it if life got back to normal. As normal as possible for a half-dragon army officer learning to use his magical powers when he isn’t busy piloting with Wolf Squadron.

But trouble keeps popping up, and the capital isn’t the safe haven Trip had hoped. More and more dragons are working together, with attacks growing frequent as they scheme to claim the country for themselves. Equally daunting, Rysha wants to introduce Trip to her parents, parents who want a proper nobleman for their daughter, not some odd commoner sired by a dragon.

If Trip is to have any chance of bringing peace to the country—and impressing Rysha’s parents—he’ll have to finally and fully embrace what he is and what he can do. Before time runs out.

Right Ascension by Nicole ClaireRight Ascension by Nicole Claire:

“This is Captain Anderson. Brace. Brace. Brace.”

Sophia Anderson has a heritage she should be proud of, but to those onboard the AUS Corvus, she’s not earned her position like the rest of them.

Every day she has to prove herself to the Anderson Universal crew onboard her ship. And then the worst thing happens.

The captain is killed in battle and Sophia, as First Officer, must take his place.

Teaming up with the unflappable Lieutenant Commander Leo Sait?, Sophia finds her footing onboard the beleaguered vessel as well as something much more precious.

Intimacy and destiny align amongst the planets and stars, but can the chief science officer and captain overcome the pressures of command when falling in love and still save their fleet?

And can any of them hope to survive the treacherous voyage to New Earth unscathed?

When humanity reaches for the stars in a race for survival, only the most daring amongst them will succeed.

Going for Broke by Zen DiPietroGoing for Broke by Zen DiPietro:

There’s no place like home.

Cabot’s adventures have brought him all the way around to his home planet.

Ditnya Caine has turned on the PAC, even as it continues to battle the Barony Coalition.

At least Cabot’s on a familiar battleground.

He’ll dig up some old connections and forge some new ones to figure out what Ditnya and Barony are plotting. In the process, he’ll even have to deal with some personal unfinished business.

They say you can never go home, but Cabot’s about to prove them wrong.

This book concludes the Mercenary Warfare series, but fear not—Cabot, Nagali, and Omar will continue in the overarching Dragonfire Station series. It’s always a good day to be a trader.

Berserker by Dyane FordeBerserker by Dyane Forde:

“Love…can destroy, it can build, or it can do both at once…”

With the Papilion’s whereabouts unknown, the Shadow pursues its plan for Marathana’s destruction. In control of the Northern tribes and strengthened by allies in the Deep Southernlands, the Shadow prepares to unleash its ultimate weapon, the berserker.

Jeru’s sudden reappearance reveals the presence of a powerful, new will at work. Blessed by the Lightbearer and supported by a ragtag group of survivors and unexpected allies, Jeru prepares to lead the small army into enemy territory.

As war breaks, Kelen and Jeru clash one last time. One brother seeks to destroy, the other to save. The strongest will prevail, sealing Marathana’s ultimate fate.

Double Trouble by Simon HaynesHal Spacejock 8: Double Trouble by Simon Haynes:

Hal Spacejock dons a flash suit, hypershades and a curly earpiece for a stint as a secret agent, while Clunk is invited to a ‘unique business opportunity’ by a pair of rusted friends.

Inevitably, things turn sour, and it’s all hands to the pumps as the good ship Spacejock springs leaks from stem to stern.

 

The Empire of Dust by Robert I. KatzThe Empire of Dust by Robert I. Katz:

Michael Glover survived every mission the Empire assigned him and then he survived the revolution that ended it all.

But can he survive when everything he knew and held dear has vanished into the past?

Awakened after 2000 years to find a new Empire rising to replace the old, Michael is given a second chance to make a difference. Can he take advantage of that chance? Does he even want to?

Trouble is brewing among the stars. Ships are vanishing. Military bases are being attacked. Chaos is spreading. Is this random piracy or a wide-spread conspiracy?

Naval intelligence is desperate to find out and Michael Glover, a soldier without a country, a man thought dead for over 2000 years, reluctantly decides that he cannot stand by when duty calls.

It’s a new Empire but the same old mission, and Michael Glover, deep in his soul, is still a soldier who can be counted on.

But Michael Glover has an independent streak. He’ll carry out the mission but he’ going to do it in his own inimitable way, whether naval intelligence likes it or not.

Gods and Demons by B.R. KingsolverGods and Demons by B.R. Kingsolver:

Life’s tough as an Elf girl stranded in Earth’s realm. Humans don’t believe in Elves or magic, so I try to stay low key.

Then a jaguar shifter drops in out of nowhere and tells me about an ancient blood-magic statuette, powerful enough to blow holes in reality. She needs an Elf to track it down, and I’m the only Elf available.

But every blood mage in the world also wants it. Enter stalker werewolves in a black Mercedes, a master magician leaving a calling card on my door, and demons every time I turn around. It wouldn’t be so bad, but some of them are really rude.

Time for a lesson in manners.

Not a Mermaid by Madeline KirbyNot a Mermaid by Madeline Kirby:

It’s July in Houston, and when heat waves and storm warnings finally give way to flooding rains, Jake Hillebrand’s strange dreams take a sinister turn. When the flood waters recede, the body of a young woman is found on the banks of Buffalo Bayou – a young woman whose life overlaps with that of Detective Victoria Perez.

With Perez on the sidelines, maybe she and Jake can finally come to an understanding. Or not.

Petreski’s working with a new partner, Jake’s declared a major, Jennifer Katz is moving on with her life, and Don has no idea that the new cat hanging around his apartment is not what she appears.

Contains even more carbs than “Not a Werewolf”, plus all you can eat shrimp!

Dragon Lost by Lisa ManifoldDragon Lost by Lisa Manifold:

I’m Aodan. A thief. A really good thief.

My best friend Margrite and I are nearly out of this crappy city. With this last job, we’ll have enough to disappear on an island somewhere. We’re so close I can practically smell the rum drinks.

But then all hell breaks loose when I wake up as a dragon. You know, teeth, claws, blue scales, furniture exploding under my massive form. The feeling of smoke is a permanent fixture in my throat. The dragon appears when it wants to, and I black out.

I don’t have time for this.

To add to all this drama, I think someone is trying to kill me. My home is gone. I have nowhere to hide while I sleep off the crazy dragon hangover that comes after each appearance of the beast. As if the dragon scales weren’t enough, I’m now plagued by this new voice in my head – some annoying guy wanting to talk, and meet, and who knows what else? All I want is for me and my best friend to get out of town alive.

If I could stop sprouting a tail at inappropriate times, that would be pretty great too.

Dragon Lost is the first book in the Dragon Thief series.

Oblivion by David NethOblivion by David Neth

Ethan still doesn’t know what happened to his missing brother four months ago. No idea where he went, who took him, or where to find the answers. But then he discovers Fizz, a mutant whose acid spit can melt off a man’s face, and he has a new lead.

Meanwhile, Carlo Martelli is in a rage. His cousin’s murder can only be a threat to his rule in the local mafia. The immediate suspect is the traitorous Michael Bello who ratted him out to the police. As the mob war erupts, Fuse finds himself in the cross-hairs, which may have been a trap for him all along.

Frozen Shadows by Gene O'NeillFrozen Shadows And Other Chilling Stories by Gene O’Neill:

Hitch a ride with the master of setting as he blends and bends genres with science-rich, thought-provoking short stories. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

“A maestro of the field, Gene O’Neill’s stories are consistently well-executed. He writes with authority, depth, and loads of worldly and writerly experience, and delivers fascinating stuff.” – Darren Speegle

Along the way you will travel to the top of Mt. George, up and down Napa Valley, through Sacramento, and into the heart of the Bay Area, to the ‘Loin in San Francisco, Hotel Reo, Chapel of the Chimes, the back streets of Oakland, and other familiar dark places. The stories explore quantum entanglement, Visual Migraine Events, electro-shock treatment, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome experimentally treated with Temporary Deep Brain Stimulation. And as you read you may start to notice all these stories are connected in a way.

Includes:

“Frozen Shadows” – Coming of age autobiographical
“The Algernon Effect” – A transgressive love story
“Transformations at the Inn of the Golden Pheasant” – A damaged vet describes a bizarre transformation
“On the Right Side of the Road” – An ex-con suffering from Visual Migraine Effects may just save the world
“Black Tar/Red Alien” – A heroin addict’s confrontation with a horrific alien
“Broken Lady” – An aging singer pays a terrible price for defending herself during a rape
“The Shaking Man” – An ex-con receives an experimental treatment for his Tourette’s Syndrome with unexpected results
“3-Dot People” – An amnesiac man drops literally into the Tenderloin of San Francisco
“A Faint Scent of Musky Lime” – A fan of the writer Tom Really finds himself experiencing one of Reamy’s horrific stories
“At the Lazy K” – A historic epic of a ghost plaguing a rehab clinic on an old ranch

High Barrens by Alice SaboHigh Barrens by Alice Sabo:

Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.

She can change a life or even the world with her words.

She should have kept her mouth shut.

Flint thought that having six older brothers and growing up in a dangerous frontier town would prepare her for anything. She soon discovers that the world is a lot more complex than she expected, and it’s going to take more than a strong back and good intentions to achieve her goals.

When it comes to magic, all the wishes in the world won’t change who you really are. And sometimes that’s okay.

300 Degree Days and Other Stories by Deborah Sheldon300 Degree Days and Other Stories by Deborah Sheldon:

‘Sheldon’s stories lift the skin of small, suburban lives to expose the raw nerves beneath. Her writing is intimate, compelling and alarming…’ – The Short Review, UK.

Sometimes, the ties that bind are sharp enough to cut. In these eleven stories, set in contemporary Australian suburbia, Deborah Sheldon examines the darker side of family relationships. Unsettling and incisively written, each story of betrayal, envy, loss or bad blood resonates for a long time after reading.

Pursuit by Val St. CrowePursuit by Val St. Crowe:

The war between the humans and the aliens is over. The humans lost.

Gunner Jisse captains the Star Swallow, a ship that takes whatever job it can, from running guns for the Resistance to smuggling food to hidden human outposts. If the aliens discover what he’s doing, he and his crew are dead.

Eve Harlowe sees visions. She’s always known her future is to be the mother of a champion, who will finally defeat the aliens and set humans free. The first step toward her fate is setting foot on Gunner’s ship. He’s destined to be the father of this champion.

Gunner’s not interested in any of that. He thinks seeing the future is hogwash until Eve sees an attack that comes to bloody fruition. If it weren’t for annoyances like busted rescav thrusters and firefights in space, he’d have gotten Eve off his ship already.

Because the aliens have visions as well, and they’ve identified Eve as a threat. The aliens will chase her to the dark corners of the galaxy with one goal. Destroy.

Mage Provocateur by Glynn StewartMage Provocateur by Glynn Stewart:

Vengeance hunts them.
Rebellion seeks them.
Loyalty commands them.
The shadows will fear them.

Captain David Rice and Mage Maria Soprano have made their choice, signing up with the Martian Interstellar Security Agency and converting Red Falcon into a covert operations ship for the Protectorate.

Their new duties drag them back into the very underworld they once strove to escape, intentionally provoking the Azure Legacy into a renewed conflict. They find unexpected allies with secret agents from Legatus’s rebellion against Mars as they seek to stop Mikhail Azure’s Blue Star Syndicate from being reborn.

The Azure Legacy wants revenge. Legatus wants blood. David and Maria are bound by the overriding duty of all officers of the Mage-King’s Protectorate:

Protect the innocent.

Spacer by J.A. SutherlandSpacer by J.A. Sutherland:

Jon Bartlett’s path is clear before him: finish his last year of schooling, then off on the family’s ships to learn the intricacies of interstellar trade. But a message of tragedy at home comes for him, and his expected life is flung far out of reach and he’s cast into a role he never wanted.

A portion of Spacer was previously published as the short story Wronged, by J.A. Sutherland

 

 

The Promise of a Battered Moon by Jack TengThe Promise of a Battered Moon by Jack Teng:

A planet-killer asteroid is hurtling to Earth and everyone is freaking out. But not Manon Fontaine. She knows what the asteroid really is and it’s hers. Once she controls it, she’ll revive the world’s post-war economy and also her mother’s mining company. But first, she needs to navigate family betrayals and kidnapping attempts before she can finally determine her own fate.

Meanwhile, Ann Wilson, an augmented Union super-soldier, has been having problems (beyond the mental strains of indiscriminate killing): her last targets were blown up with fractional deuterium devices, and made things very messy. Ann hates messes. What she hates more is a commanding officer who jerks her around and then sends her, of all places, to Luna City. Little does she know she’s conducting illegal missions to gain control of the asteroid.

In the middle of it all, is Eric Lin, a Union-born-Chinese thruster mechanic. Because of the war with the PPA, he’s been ostracized and forced off-planet to Luna City and the orbital colonies. All he wants is to be accepted and left in peace. This apparently is too much to ask, as both the Union and the PPA send soldiers to drag him away for the-hell-knows what. The reason is in fact that he holds the key to controlling the asteroid.

Amidst traitorous double-agents and assassinations, Manon, Ann and Eric’s paths collide, leaving a wake of destroyed orbital stations and rampaging mobs, ultimately leading them into a confrontation on the moon.

Sparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn ThomasSparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn Thomas:

After twenty-five years of single-minded determination, Marianne Gordon has finally achieved her ambition and been promoted to Principal of the Vesper School for Zero-Gravity Artistic Display.

But her moment of triumph is cut short when she discovers that she must share her position with Josephine Knight, a celebrated zero-gravity performer who doesn’t know the first thing about teaching. Deeply insulted, Marianne does her best to carry on as though Jo isn’t there, but Jo has a way of making her presence felt.

When the future of Marianne’s beloved school is threatened, Jo may be the only person who can help – but only if Marianne can learn to let her in.

Nepenthe Rising by John TriptychNepenthe Rising by John Triptych:

In the far future, two major factions are locked in a galactic cold war. As tensions mount between the technocratic Union and the genome-harnessing Concordance, both sides anxiously watch for a chance to conquer the other.

The Nepenthe is a pirate vessel, loyal to neither. Led by the enigmatic Captain Dangard, her rough and ready crew includes the cat-like alien Commander Creull, Zeno the immortal synthetic, the dashing Garrett Strand, and Duncan Hauk, a promising young recruit.

Hired by a cryptic employer, the crew waylays a transport ship carrying a mysterious passenger. In due time, this incident sparks the beginnings of an interstellar conflict that could threaten the state of known space.

The first of an epic new sci-fi series, Nepenthe Rising delivers what today’s fans want: detailed world-building, thrilling action, and mind-blowing adventure on a grand scale.

Dusthunter by Dean F. WilsonDustrunner by Dean F. Wilson:

Nox is a wanted man.

While searching for a criminal, the fabled Coilhunter wanders into a tribal village massacre. He didn’t do it, but that doesn’t matter. The clues point to him, and he’s made a lot of enemies over the years. Many would happily see the tables turned.

His pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. No sooner does he try to find the real killers than posters go up across the Wild North—posters with his face and his name. He isn’t the only bounty hunter out there. Dozens assemble to cash him in.

Tasked with finding out who’s framed him, Nox must also survive the constant onslaught of frontier law. He’s used to hunting others. He’s not so used to life on the run.

This is a standalone book in the Coilhunter Chronicles series, which can be read in any order.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for March 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 February 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, small town mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, WWII mysteries, British mysteries, humorous mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, romantic suspense, sea adventures, spy fiction, hot FBI agents, reformed thieves, stalkers, serial killers, superheroes, spies, doofus detectives, intrepid reporters, crime-busting librarians, innocents accused 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:

Darke Accused by Parker AvrileDarke Accused by Parker Avrile:

An FBI agent goes undercover to catch a thief who turns out to be too hot to handle.

Darke Davis destroyed evidence to give his partner-in-crime time to flee with thirty-nine million dollars— and Special Agent Flare Greene is determined to get that money back. Hooking up with Darke at a popular gay roadhouse seems like a brilliant way to insinuate his way into Darke’s life.

Flare didn’t plan on the two of them stumbling over a body and finding themselves on the run from charges of first-degree murder. It’s the perfect opportunity to bond with Darke, but if they can’t work together to solve these crimes, they may find themselves locked up together for longer than just one night.

No cliffhangers, and you may expect the killer to find justice. However, because Darke and Flare are at the beginning of their journey together, they reach a happy for now ending with relationship challenges remaining ahead of them.

Dead on the Docks by David BannerDead On The Docks by David Banner:

Brandon Waters was never expecting everything to go as planned, but he never imagined it would go this far off the rails…

After receiving a phone call from a new client he finds himself in St. Augustine, Florida ready to go to work. But right from the start, this is no ordinary case and it isn’t long until he finds himself caught up in the underground world of organized fight clubs and twisted millionaires.

With an seemingly innocent woman’s freedom on the line and a rogue FBI agent at his side he must try to find the truth in the lies and help uncover what really happened to his former best friend’s father. Were the police right, was the woman in jail really guilty of the crime or was there more to the case?

Dead on The Docks is the highly anticipated third installment of the hugely popular Dangerous Waters series.

Her Sister's Secrets by V.J. ChambersHer Sister’s Secrets by V.J. Chambers:

An anonymous letter summons Emilia Farrow to Siesta Key. An oceanfront house has been rented there for her, its closet stocked with designer clothes in her size. The mysterious correspondent promises that if she comes, she will find out what really happened to her sister Violet.

Her death wasn’t an accident.

Immersing herself in a world of wealth and privilege, Emilia has nightmares about the Wainwright mansion next door. Her mother used to work there years ago. Recently, her sister also worked for the Wainwrights. Just looking at the house makes Emilia feel as if she can’t breathe. Her strongest memory of the place is her mother packing up her and her sister and fleeing in the hours before dawn.

What happened all those years ago? Was Violet murdered? Who killed her? And who rented this house for Emilia?

Found Drowned by B.K. DuncanFound Drowned by B.K. Duncan:

Smuggling. Prostitution. Murder.

London. 1920 and coroner’s officer May Keaps is tasked with solving the mystery that surrounds the death of a young boy, found drowned in The Thames.

But was it murder or an accident?

May knows that when children go missing, the reason is often linked to money but she is in danger of underestimating the corrupting influence of power . . .

On streets where poverty and exploitation walk hand-in-hand everyone has a price. And some are more valuable dead than alive. But who is pulling the strings?

May must journey into the dark underbelly of London to find the answers.

The Zero Commandment by Lawrence J. EpsteinThe Zero Commandment by Lawrence J. Epstein:

It is 1941. The country is on the edge of war. In New York, three men are murdered. The detective Charlie Singer is drawn into the case after rescuing a young woman being attacked in Central Park. With Katie Walker, his partner, Charlie deals with a famous gossip columnist, an organization devoted to fighting Hitler, and a violent group of haters. As Charlie uncovers the lies and secrets, he discovers a blossoming relationship with Katie who is undergoing a major life change.

 

Game of Bones by Geraldine EvansGames of Bones by Geraldine Evans:

Sergeant Llewellyn’s remark that, perhaps, ‘Someone ELSE had made them a gift of Professor Anthony Babbington’ as the murderer, was just sour grapes, in Detective Joe Rafferty’s opinion.

But Llewellyn could plant a doubt where none had existed before. And Rafferty, sure in his own mind that they had the culprit, disregarded Llewellyn, who was known to greatly admire Babbington. They had so much proof it was embarrassing: Babbington’s fingerprints on the murder weapon; the victim’s blood on his shirt; and his DNA on the dead man.

Rafferty couldn’t believe it when his ‘sure thing’ began to slowly unravel. He refused to admit his growing doubts about Babbington’s guilt to Llewellyn, who championed the professor, and was as convinced of Babbington’s innocence as Rafferty was of his culpability.

But gradually, all Rafferty’s certainty vanished into dust, and he was left to prepare himself to face the music when Superintendent Bradley came back from his expensive holiday, to find that the ‘sure thing’ he had left with Rafferty, had inexplicably become anything but.

Unless Joe Rafferty could find some way to turn defeat into triumph…

Double Murders are Twice as Bad by Milo James FowlerVic Boyo, Doofus Detective in Double Murders are Twice as Bad by Milo James Fowler:

Two murders. One detective. Half a brain.

1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can. With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop. Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband. She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent. And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

The Corrector by Ethan JonesThe Corrector by Ethan Jones:

When covert operations go wrong, the CIS sends in . . . The Corrector.

After a botched retrieval operation, Javin Pierce is sent in to complete the mission where others failed. But, before even getting started, Javin and his less-than-trusted partner, Claudia, must deal with a devious terrorist plot. Their search leads them to a flash drive containing scandals that could topple world governments and plunge Europe into absolute chaos if they do not retrieve it in time.

How will The Corrector fix this disastrous mission? Uncertain if they can even trust each other and unprepared for the shocking truth that could cost their lives, Javin and Claudia must stop the treasonous plot, retrieve the elusive drive, and save themselves and the entire European continent, all without leaving a trace . . .

Not a Mermaid by Madeline KirbyNot a Mermaid by Madeline Kirby:

It’s July in Houston, and when heat waves and storm warnings finally give way to flooding rains, Jake Hillebrand’s strange dreams take a sinister turn. When the flood waters recede, the body of a young woman is found on the banks of Buffalo Bayou – a young woman whose life overlaps with that of Detective Victoria Perez.

With Perez on the sidelines, maybe she and Jake can finally come to an understanding. Or not.

Petreski’s working with a new partner, Jake’s declared a major, Jennifer Katz is moving on with her life, and Don has no idea that the new cat hanging around his apartment is not what she appears.

Contains even more carbs than “Not a Werewolf”, plus all you can eat shrimp!

Extra! Extra! Dead All About It by Amanda M. LeeExtra! Extra! Dead All About It by Amanda M. Lee:

The primary election is almost here and Avery Shaw is in her glory. Her boss has unleashed her on the leading candidates – including two of whom she downright loathes – and Macomb County’s leading reporter (and pot-stirrer extraordinaire) is about to turn the election on its ear.
She just needs to find a story first.
When her nemesis Tad Lancaster loses a volunteer, Avery sniffs out a bigger story … or at least she thinks she does. She has a pile of documents, too many insidious ideas to wrangle, and a long-suffering boyfriend who can do nothing but shake his head.
Avery is determined to find out the truth, even if it doesn’t lead to Lancaster’s downfall. She only has a limited time to do it, too, and the clock is ticking down to election day.
In short order, Avery has to uncover a pile of financial corruption, irritate her co-workers to the point where they don’t want to steal her story, hook her ex-boyfriend up with a new girlfriend, survive family dinner, convince her boyfriend she’s not chasing ghosts but rather something that’s really there, and save Macomb County’s election process for the people.
Oh, she also needs to figure out a way to avoid a baby shower, too.
It’s all in a day’s work for one hard-working and fast-talking reporter. She just needs to survive the final showdown to prove to everyone exactly how superior she really is.

In Silence Sealed by J.R. LindermuthIn Silence Sealed by J.R. Lindermuth:

Lydia, daughter of Swatara Creek Police Chief Aaron Brubaker, is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Jason Russell, handsome but feckless stepson of Clay Stoneroad, a famous writer who recently moved to a farm outside town.

Daniel ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, now a county detective, is determined to prove Lydia’s innocence. His job is made more difficult when the weapon her father insisted she carry is found missing.

Mysteries surround the Stoneroad family. Vickie Walker, a strange young woman—also recently arrived in town—insists Nan Calder, the writer’s secretary, is her sister, a claim Calder denies. Then Diana Wozniak, reporter for a sleazy tabloid, is the victim of a hit-and-run accident, and police learn she attempted to blackmail the writer.

The sudden disappearance of Lydia and Vickie puts Hetrick and his friends in a desperate race against time to find them, unravel secrets, and apprehend the real killer.

Oblivion by David NethOblivion by David Neth

Ethan still doesn’t know what happened to his missing brother four months ago. No idea where he went, who took him, or where to find the answers. But then he discovers Fizz, a mutant whose acid spit can melt off a man’s face, and he has a new lead.

Meanwhile, Carlo Martelli is in a rage. His cousin’s murder can only be a threat to his rule in the local mafia. The immediate suspect is the traitorous Michael Bello who ratted him out to the police. As the mob war erupts, Fuse finds himself in the cross-hairs, which may have been a trap for him all along.

Murder is in Fashion by Danielle OceanMurder is in Fashion by Danielle Ocean:

When Lindsey visits the site of the Fasha magazine photo shoot with her friend Jenna they expect to be dazzled by the spectacular clothes of the new edgy designer. What they don’t expect is to try to solve a murder. But then the stunning model, Dawn, is found murdered. The police decide to cancel the fashion show that was planned for that night at the same place for security reasons, unless the murderer is found. Lindsey decides to help out and try to find the killer before the show gets canceled.

This is the first novella in the Lindsey Brown mystery series.

Final Chapter by Pam StuckyFinal Chapter by Pam Stucky:

For Megan Montaigne, library director, living in the top floor of the mansion-turned-library is a dream come true. At least it was, before the murders started.

Megan Montaigne has always secretly wanted to be a forensics investigator. The small-town library director has just begun rebuilding her life after tragedy tore it apart less than a year ago, and is happily settling into her new apartment on the top floor of the library by the river. But when a local celebrity turns up dead, the time has come to put her sleuthing fantasies into action. Has she unwittingly invited the murderer into her own home? And will she be able to prove her innocence before she becomes a victim herself?

Serial Stalker by A. WoodleySerial Stalker by A. Woodley:

By murder number five, Lennie is becoming more and more aware that these killings could have something to do with her.
The man she keeps seeing in inconspicuous places, doing natural-looking, everyday things appears to be anything but innocent to her as time goes on, but is she being silly and paranoid? Or is he really out to get her?
Lennie is forced to make changes to her life in order to keep her contacts safe but while the body count rises around her, a pattern seems to be emerging and Lennie is sure it must be only a matter of time before he kills again.
Tracking the stalker, when the police come up empty, brings its own consequences and it begins to look as though he’ll never be caught.
Will Lennie ever be free of him?

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New Two-Fisted Todd Adventure Available: Flesh Trade

Remember thatI promised you that there would be more Two-Fisted Todd Adventures coming soon? Well, the next Two-Fisted Todd Adventure is finally here, albeit with some delay, because one of the vendors had problems getting new books up. Not to mention that I caught a nasty cold, which significantly impacted my writing, editing and blogging time.

Though Flesh Trade is the second Two-Fisted Todd Adventure published, it is actually the first one written. Because, as described in this post, approximately twelve years ago, I found some success selling short stories to a magazine that billed itself as a successor to the men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s.

Since I had hit upon a market that gave me steady sales, I also endeavoured to find out more about the actual men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s (about which I knew little aside from some lurid covers I found on the Internet). And so I also came across this art book which collects hundreds of covers of vintage men’s adventure magazines and also offers an overview about the genre, it’s development, prominent themes and subjects and what sort of content might be found inside those lurid covers. So I promptly bought the book.

The book also included interviews with artists, models and writers who had worked on these magazines. And one of the writers said that quite often, the covers were painted before there even a single story had been written. And afterwards, a writer would be commissioned to write a story to match the cover. And considering some of the really lurid illustrations on those covers – rugged men being attacked by all sorts of likely and unlikely wildlife, while buxom maidens were being tortured and menaced by evil Nazis, evil Communists, evil biker gangs and evil beatniks (the last one doesn’t quite fit) – coming up with a story to match must have been quite a challenge.

Now I have never been able to resist a writing challenge, so I decided to set myself the same challenge as those men’s adventure magazine writers of old, namely to write a story to match the cover of one of those magazines. So I opened the art book at random, picked one of the covers shown and decided to write a story based on it. The cover I picked was this one from the July 1960 issue of Man’s Life, by the way.

So I came up with a suitably rugged hero, freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan a.k.a. Two-Fisted Todd, who is hired to find a bunch of American college students who have gone missing in the Caribbean, and sent him careening all over the island of San Ezequiel, punching suspects and taking names, all the while headed towards the scene depicted on the cover image I’d picked. The story eventually stalled out two thirds of the way through, so I set it aside. Then life got in the way and the magazine in question changed direction and became a sexy horror mag, depriving Two-Fisted Todd of his intended market (try as I might, I could not fit a sexy vampire into the story). Eventually, self-publishing became a thing, making previously unviable stories suddenly viable again. And through it all, Todd was biding his time in some tropical paradise, a cool drink in his hand, waiting for another job.

Todd’s moment finally came, when I dusted off the character for the 2017 July short story challenge and wrote what would eventually become The Crawling Death.

In the wake of editing and publishing The Crawling Death, I also took another look at the Two-Fisted Todd story I had abandoned years earlier. The story clearly needed some work, but I still liked it. And so I continued writing where I had originally left off and completed the story in a couple of days.

So here it finally is, more than ten years late: The very first Two-Fisted Todd story, which is now the second Two-Fisted Todd Adventure:

Flesh Trade
Flesh Trade by Cora Buhlert1966: Freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan is hired to locate four American college students who have gone missing while doing humanitarian work on the Caribbean island of San Ezequiel.

While punching suspects and taking names, Todd learns that the college students as well as a young nun were kidnapped by a local crime boss named Cabeza.

So now Todd is engaged in a desperate race against time to rescue the kidnapped women before they can be sold to the highest bidder.

This is an adventure novelette of approx. 9800 words or 35 pages in the style of the men’s adventure pulps of the 1960s.

More information.
Length: 9800 words
List price: 2.99 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.

Will there eventually be more Two-Fisted Todd Adventures? I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, since they are fun to write. Plus, I have a whole book full of inspiration for more strange and deadly situations into which I can thrust poor Todd and watch him fight his way out.

But first, there are more In Love and War adventures coming, since I am currently about to finish the final proofread on the latest In Love and War story. After that, look forward to a new Hallowind Cove story, After the End 2 – More Stories of Life After the Apocalypse as well as Murder in the Family 2.

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