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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus story: Shipbound

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

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

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

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

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evacuation Order by Cora BuhlertEvacuation Order by Cora Buhlert:

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

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

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

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

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

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

His crime?

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

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

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

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

Missing Signal by Seb DoubinskyMissing Signal by Seb Doubinsky:

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

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

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

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

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

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

War Mage by Chris FoxWar Mage by Chris Fox:

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

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

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

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

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

Humanity’s first deep space colony.

Humanity’s last hope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 horror Stories. One legendary music venue.

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

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

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

Compiled by Matt Hayward. Edited by Doug Murano.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part witch, part ghost, total book nerd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Betrayed by Vanessa NelsonBetrayed by Vanessa Nelson:

A missing war mage. Death in the heartland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

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

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

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

Flea Flicker by David ChillFlea Flicker by David Chill:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She had everything…

Until she drew her dying breath.

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

Was Jessica’s death a simple accident?

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

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

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

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

Nothing says Welcome Home like a murder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cold Open by Patricia McLinnCold Open by Patricia McLinn

As spring beckons, winter chill remains …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch out! The past will always haunt you.

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

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

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

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

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

Rising Force by Wayne StinnettRising Force by Wayne Stinnett:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for July 2018

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

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

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

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

Pendulum Heroes by James BeamonPendulum Heroes by James Beamon:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glitch by Victor DeckardGlitch by Victor Deckard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you going to do?

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

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

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

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

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

A mage clan torn apart…

Evil deeds avenged…

Dark magic awakened…

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

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

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

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

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

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

A boy remembers the woman he was.

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

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

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

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

Grab yourself a second life!

Not a Zombie by Madeline KirbyNot a Zombie by Madeline Kirby

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

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

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

Oh, and somebody gets murdered.

Now with fewer carbs and more caffeine!

Entangled Earth by David LeaEntangled Earth by David Lea:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concealed by Vanessa NelsonConcealed by Vanessa Nelson:

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

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

The shape-changers suspect the Erith of murder and Arrow nearly becomes the first victim in a new war between races, her life spared so she can seek answers. Except someone does not want their secrets uncovered. Not only is her freedom at risk, but so is her life. It will take all of her training and skill with magic to live long enough to find the answers in time to avert a bloodbath.

Darkblade Seeker by Andy PeloquinDarkblade Seeker by Andy Peloquin:

The price of truth is blood and death

The Sage and The Warmaster. Names whispered by dying lips, the true power controlling the demons hiding among mankind.

And now, the Hunter has climbed the highest mountain peak to put an end to their reign. Facing a secret sect of professional torturers and the descendants of a long-dead race, his skills as an assassin will be put to the ultimate test.

But the twin temples of Kara-ket harbor more than just his enemies. Built by a long-dead race, they house secrets that could not only give him the answers he seeks, but unleash a whirlwind of chaos and bloodshed across their world.

He must make a choice: will he obtain the answers he seeks at any cost, or sacrifice himself for the sake of those who rejected him?

Cybershot by Jaxon ReedCybershot by Jaxon Reed:

An ancient organization has created a psychic with untold power. Raising the boy in secret, they hope to make him a world leader. But he escapes and heads for Texas to find his father, Gerald Bryce, the empathic detective. When someone tries to warn Bryce, a criminal mastermind uses the latest technology from neural immersive video games to kill the informant. Now Bryce and his partner must race the clock as a level three psychic terrorist battles the military for control of the city, and perhaps the world.

 

Vesta's Clockwork Companions by Juli D. RevezzoVesta’s Clockwork Companions by Juli D. Revezzo:

When Vesta Bartlett, a wealthy alchemist and inventor, arrives in England to finalize an arranged marriage and help overhaul a family friend’s outdated ironworks, she never expects to find the family so secretive, nor to develop feelings for her fiancé’s younger brother, Henry.

But the growing attraction between Vesta and Henry is just the beginning of their troubles. Things really heat up when they’re drawn into a secret project for Queen Victoria’s military, one that requires Vesta’s knowledge of clockwork and Henry’s iron.

An epidemic has wiped out all the dogs in Britain, and beyond. If the military fail in their effort to restore the species, a clockwork creation may be all that stands in the way of a world without canine companionship.

Are Vesta and Henry up to the challenge?

Arcane Awakenings by Shelley Russell NolanArcane Awakenings by Shelley Russell Nolan:

A hidden past. An uncertain future.

In Angel Fire, all Andie wants is acceptance, a task made difficult thanks to the nightmare that’s plagued her for the past fifteen years. Then she learns it’s a terrifying memory of the night she lost her identical twin. When Angel’s spirit calls to her, begging to be saved, Andie is determined to discover what really happened the night her sister died.

The story continues in Wild Lightning, when Celeste wakes in a mental institution with no memory of who she is or why she can shoot lightning from her fingertips. Spurred on by a vision of Angel, Celeste escapes and searches for answers as her captors close in.

Andie and Celeste must battle ruthless adversaries as they seek to uncover the truth, but will this lead to a future more dangerous than what they’ve left behind?

Arcane Awakenings – a fast-paced paranormal fantasy novella series.

Space Deputy by Jenny SchwartzSpace Deputy by Jenny Schwartz:

A millennium into the future, the Saloon Sector is where the Wild West meets the 1950s, in space, with robots. It’s where careers go to die.

Thelma Bach graduated top of her class after four years at the Galactic Justice academy. But she’s a Rock Sector citizen. The core worlders were never going to let her transcend her background. So she’s been assigned to serve her seven years as a deputy in the Saloon Sector. The message for the Federation’s out-world citizens is clear: you’ll never be our equal, so don’t even try.

The stuffy bureaucrats of the Galactic Justice service chose the wrong person to push around. Thelma will subvert her interstellar sheriff, charm artificial intelligences, fight bandits and hunt the legendary Eldorado Cache. But with the frontier region holding secrets of its own, she needs to choose her new allies wisely because a scary, business-suited enemy is hunting her.

“Space Deputy” is a fast-paced, offbeat space adventure.

The Renegade by Alasdair ShawThe Renegade, edited by Alasdair Shaw:

Some renegades are born rebels, some forced into it to survive, while others make the choice on principle.

The Renegade is an anthology of eleven science fiction short stories by writers from across the globe. It is part of the Newcomer series of scifi anthologies.

The stories are:-
Conscience – Alasdair Shaw
First – Nate Johnson
Atonement – Rick Partlow
The Stepford Florist – JT Lawrence
Tyrant – Mark Gardner
Live by the Ten, Die by the Gun – Milo James Fowler
S.A.D. – Jody Wenner
Chameleon – C Gold
Learning Curve – John Triptych
A Pirate’s Life – Al Macy
Needs of the Many – Troy McLaughlan

Kill Code by Justin SloanKill Code by Justin Sloan:

When a Marine turned video gamer is recalled for the world’s first virtual war, he finds he’s unable to escape the simulation and that his fellow Marines are being killed off both in the sim and in real life. This was supposed to be impossible.

In his struggle for survival, he discovers the sim has been hacked. What follows is a crazy adventure of one Marine searching for survivors, battling mechs, and finding abnormalities in the sim that tie back to his old-school days as a gamer. His only help comes in the form of three badass warrior ladies. He’s not sure he can trust them, but is willing to try.

It’s up to him and his new friends to win this war, or die trying.

Code Blood by Val St. CroweCode Blood by Val St. Crowe:

Experience the thrilling conclusion to this spy urban fantasy series

Jesse Talon wants Wyatt Flint. But it’s complicated. Because he’s got some weird connection to Morgan Steele, the woman who absorbed his arch nemesis the Green King.

Which is fine, really, because who wants to be distracted by annoying romantic entanglements when trying to hunt down a megalomaniac with godlike powers?

(Apparently, Connor and Duke do. Wow, is that some hot guy-on-guy PDA.)

But not Jesse. She’s all about work.

Once Wyatt kills Steele, then they’ll see.

If Wyatt kills the Steele.

It’s maybe a teensy problem that they can’t find her.

Exile by Glynn StewartExile by Glynn Stewart:

A shackled Earth, ruled by an unstoppable tyrant
An exiled son, and a one-way trip across the galaxy
A perfect world, their last hope for survival

Vice Admiral Isaac Gallant is the heir apparent to the First Admiral, the dictator of the Confederacy of Humanity. Unwilling to let his mother’s tyranny stand, he joins the rebellion and leads his ships into war against the might of his own nation.

Betrayal and failure, however, see Isaac Gallant and his allies captured. Rather than execute her only son, the First Admiral instead decides to exile them, flinging four million dissidents and rebels through a one-shot wormhole to the other end of the galaxy.

There, Isaac finds himself forced to keep order and peace as they seek out a new home without becoming the very dictator he fought against—and when that new home turns out to be too perfect to be true, he and his fellow exiles must decide how hard they are prepared to fight for paradise…against the very people who built it.

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

In a society that lives in fear of beasts and the curse they carry, imprisoning victims is the only thing to do.

Convoy captain Jonathan has a guilty secret: he killed a traveller who was cursed while under his protection. The killing wasn’t to defend the innocent, but to hide governmental employment of curse victims—like Jonathan—who have developed paranormal powers.

To assuage his guilt, he bends the rules to help another, younger victim. His growing fatherly affection for her leaves him vulnerable to pressure from an unethical researcher. Can he navigate the bureaucratic web, do his duty and still keep his conscience intact?

Lost Highways, edited by D. Alexander WardLost Highways – Dark Fiction From the Road, edited by D. Alexander Ward:

It’s dangerous out there…on the road.

The highways, byways and backroads of America are teeming day and night with regular folks. Moms and dads making long commutes. Teenagers headed to the beach. Bands on their way to the next gig. Truckers pulling long hauls. Families driving cross country to visit their kin.

But there are others, too. The desperate and the lost. The cruel and the criminal.

Theirs is a world of roadside honky-tonks, truck stops, motels, and the empty miles between destinations. The unseen spaces.

And there are even stranger things. Places that aren’t on any map. Wayfaring terrors and haunted legends about which seasoned and road-weary travelers only whisper.

But those are just stories. Aren’t they?

Find out for yourself as you get behind the wheel with some of today’s finest authors of the dark and horrific as they bring you these harrowing tales from the road.

Tales that could only be spawned by the endless miles of America’s lost highways.

So go ahead and hop in. Let’s take a ride.

Line-up:

Introduction by Brian Keene
doungjai gam & Ed Kurtz — “Crossroads of Opportunity”
Matt Hayward — “Where the Wild Winds Blow”
Joe R. Lansdale — “Not from Detroit”
Kristi DeMeester — “A Life That is Not Mine”
Robert Ford — “Mr. Hugsy”
Lisa Kröger — “Swamp Dog”
Orrin Grey — “No Exit”
Michael Bailey — “The Long White Line”
Kelli Owen — “Jim’s Meats”
Bracken MacLeod — “Back Seat”
Jess Landry — “The Heart Stops at the End of Laurel Lane”
Jonathan Janz — “Titan, Tyger”
Nick Kolakowski — “Your Pound of Flesh”
Richard Thomas — “Requital”
Damien Angelica Walters — “That Pilgrims’ Hands Do Touch”
Cullen Bunn — “Outrunning the End”
Christopher Buehlman — “Motel Nine”
Rachel Autumn Deering — “Dew Upon the Wing”
Josh Malerman — “Room 4 at the Haymaker”
Rio Youers — “The Widow”

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

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for July 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 June books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, humorous mysteries, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, children’s mysteries, animal mysteries, culinary mysteries, crime thrillers, action thrillers, spy thrillers, noir, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, serial killers and their daughters, superheroes, spies, shady butchers, zombies, crime-busting witches, crime-solving dogs, kidnapping, blackmail, impossible crimes, murder in Amish country and much more.

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Butcher by Nathan BurrowsThe Butcher by Nathan Burrows:

Remember that nice joint of pork you tucked into for your Sunday lunch? Well, what if it wasn’t pork…?

Frank Pinch is a butcher. Not a very successful one, what with Brexit and everything, but he still knows how to carve a joint of meat. His brother, Tom, is a pig farmer with very few pigs to his name. The farm they both live on is struggling now that the United Kingdom is out of Europe. Even the migrant workers have stopped coming – the legal ones, anyway – and the brothers are forced to use illegal labour to keep the farm afloat. After a horrible accident in one of the pig sheds, Frank and Tom come up with a novel way of disposing of the resulting body. But it doesn’t quite go as planned.

Emily Underwood has just started work as an inspector for the Environment Agency. As the new girl, she’s struggling hard to find her feet, and one or two minor disasters don’t help. From machete wielding restaurant owners to rioting football fans, her first few months don’t go as expected. When she crosses paths with Frank and Tom Pinch, things get a whole lot worse.

From the author of Blind Justice, this deliciously funny dark comedy will change the way you look at sausages forever.

Immoral Justice by M.A. ComleyImmoral Justice by M.A. Comley:

A chance encounter leads to a gruesome conclusion.

But there is much more to this case than first meets the eye.

Yet another case for determined DI Lorne Warner and her team to solve.

The investigation proves to be a complex one from the outset, revealing not just one murder to solve but several.

Just when Lorne believes she has all the answers, the killer contacts her and makes a terrifying threat.

She’s up against it, mentally and physically…

Will Lorne be able to pit her wits against a killer who isn’t afraid of getting caught?

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

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

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

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

What are you going to do?

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

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

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

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

Diamonds and White Lace in Osprey Cove by Luisa Marietta GoldDiamonds and White Lace in Osprey Cove by Luisa Marietta Gold:

The mysterious find in the secret compartment of the Corvette has indeed changed and intertwined lives, irretrievably so. And from these altered lives, new mysteries have emerged that have spanned decades. No one has been affected more than Catherine, who has sought escape and refuge at The Osprey Cove Lodge. Is recovery possible? Will there be a happily-ever-after? It is time for secrets to come out of the darkness and for mysteries to be solved. Book Eight of The Osprey Cove Lodge Series will bring an exciting and dramatic, if not unexpected, conclusion to the storylines raised in Books 1-7.

Drizzle of Death by CeeCee JamesDrizzle of Death by CeeCee James:

Georgie Tanner didn’t expect much more than old world charm when she led a group of tourists on a visit to a local Amish township. But when a young girl pulls her aside, she discovers a dark underbelly to this peaceful village.

A young man, just returned from Rumspringa – the Amish rite of passage to adulthood – has been found murdered. The girl is terrified to tell any of the elders for fear she’ll be banished from her community. With nobody else for her to turn to, Georgie reluctantly agrees to help.

But when the community moves to cover things up, Georgie discovers her only witness has gone missing. With no evidence and no one willing to listen to her, it’s up to her to find the missing girl before she becomes the next murdered victim..

Arctic Wargame by Ethan JonesArctic Wargame by Ethan Jones:

All they had left was . . . survival.

Mysterious icebreakers appear off the Arctic coast.

A treasonous plot is in the works.

CIS Spymaster Justin Hall has no time to put the pieces together.

Betrayed, disarmed, freezing, and left for dead, Justin must save himself and his entire country.

If you like Baldacci, Thor, or Flynn, you’ll love Arctic Wargame.

An adrenaline-drenched chilling spy thriller filled with action, suspense and betrayal.

Enjoy the book that started the Justin Hall best-selling espionage series.

Not a Zombie by Madeline KirbyNot a Zombie by Madeline Kirby

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

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

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

Oh, and somebody gets murdered.

Now with fewer carbs and more caffeine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trip Wire by C.J. LyonsTrip Wire by C.J. Lyons:

Heartless killer…or helpless victim?

It’s perfectly normal to be a little shaky on your first day back to work. Especially if you’re Morgan Ames, returning to work after killing her serial killer father, waking up from a coma, fighting back through rehab…and, with the help of her boyfriend, keeping her vow never to kill again.

Except when Morgan walks into the Galloway and Stone offices, she finds her boss holding a bomb.

Definitely no time for the shakes as Morgan jumps right back into her old life and saves the day. But the bomber has other ideas, igniting a killing spree targeting those Morgan holds most dear.

Morgan must decide what to sacrifice: her promise to never kill again or the lives of everyone she loves.

Phyllis Wong and the Secrets of Mr. Okyto by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Secrets of Mr. Okyto by Geoffrey McSkimming:

Conjuring is in Phyllis Wong’s veins. The love for all things magical was passed down from her great-grandfather who, before his mysterious disappearance, was one of the world’s most brilliant and successful stage magicians. Now Phyllis lives in what was his beautiful old home in the middle of the city with her father and her loyal dog Daisy.

When a series of incomprehensible robberies takes place in the city, Phyllis realises that there is more to the crimes than meets the eye. It all may be baffling her friend Chief Inspector Inglis, but Phyllis is determined to find out more. Who is this thief? What does he want? And how is he achieving the impossible?

An exciting mystery about a young sleuth with sleight of hand (and lots more up her sleeve) from the author of the ever-popular Cairo Jim chronicles, Geoffrey McSkimming.

The first Phyllis Wong: Time Detective Mystery.

Back AT You by John W. MeffordBack AT You by John W. Mefford:

The voice was disguised.

The agonizing message was not.

Alex gets a call no parent should ever receive. It’s a dagger to her heart. But she can’t afford to stop.

Forced to carry out the wishes of the captors, Alex is threatened at every turn. It defiles her, but she’ll do anything to get her daughter back. Will it work?

The treacherous journey is never-ending. Her life is threatened, but she brushes it off. The connection to her family member is still strong. But will she ever see her again?

An Amber Alert in San Antonio — and Ivy Nash intercepts the assailant. But the story behind the story grabs her by the throat. Would a mother actually do such a thing, or is this simply a custody issue?

Two paths intersect, and neither Alex nor Ivy will back down. They must save the lives of these young girls.

The opioid crisis devours people by the thousands. And those behind it slither around like snakes, using the addicted like they’re animals on the end of a leash. Can anyone stop the cycle of abuse?

It all has to stop. One life at a time. One daughter at a time. Alex and Ivy will either succeed or die in the process.

Who will make it out alive?

But in the end, could there be one shining moment?

Man's Best Alibi by Tara MeyersMan’s Best Alibi by Tara Meyers

Something strange is happening in the mountains of Sanctuary

Veterinarian Ember Burns makes a grisly discovery and it leads authorities to the body of a man in the woods above her home. Although the circumstances are suspicious, the only witness is her dog and the death’s ruled a suicide.

But things aren’t that simple. When Ember looks into the man’s local connections, it creates more questions than answers. Including the source of an unusual rock, and what he was really doing in the mountains.

As a mysterious illness sickens the local animals, Ember’s battle to save them leads to a startling discovery. She races to prove both the cause of the animals’ symptoms and how the man died, but will it be too late?

Cybershot by Jaxon ReedCybershot by Jaxon Reed:

An ancient organization has created a psychic with untold power. Raising the boy in secret, they hope to make him a world leader. But he escapes and heads for Texas to find his father, Gerald Bryce, the empathic detective. When someone tries to warn Bryce, a criminal mastermind uses the latest technology from neural immersive video games to kill the informant. Now Bryce and his partner must race the clock as a level three psychic terrorist battles the military for control of the city, and perhaps the world.

 

Gideon's Rescue by Alan RussellGideon’s Rescue by Alan Russell:

Something wicked his way comes…

LAPD detective Michael Gideon and his German shepherd K-9 partner, Sirius, walked through fire to catch an infamous serial killer, and Gideon is still paying the price with his PTSD fire dreams. To assist the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, Gideon has agreed to monthly prison visits with Ellis Haines, aka the Weatherman. This time, a homicide case the FBI wants Haines to analyze sparks a chilling discovery: A new serial killer has struck, and he’s lacing his crime scenes with hidden messages intended for Haines.

Haines isn’t the only killer whose twisted game Gideon must try to break up. A missing man’s love poems are delivered to his fiancée with the message: So sorry for your loss. And when a sweet pit bull named Emily is rescued after being left for dead, Gideon and Sirius pull out all the stops to try and bring down the dogfighting ring that abused her.

Northtown Eclipse by Robert WhiteNorthtown Eclipse by Robert White

The brutal summer heat seems to have everyone in Northtown, Ohio on edge. A high school reunion is the catalyst for long held grudges to bubble up to the surface but quickly becomes a sideshow as private detective Raimo Jarvi is drawn into a murderous rampage that extends far beyond his usual remit of unfaithful wives and petty personal disputes. Raimo knows his estranged brother Rikki is up to his neck in something big and as the conspiracy starts to unravel it’s clear if he doesn’t move quickly they could both end up dead. This perfect slice of mid-western noir grippingly captures the long hot summers and simmering resentments of small town America where secrets are buried deep but the past is never quite forgotten

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Voting is open for the 2018 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards

efestival of word award 2018 nomineeAs I mentioned before, my In Love and War short story “Baptism of Fire” is a finalist for the 2018 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards.

Voting is now open for the awards and the official ballot is here.

And yes, I’d be very happy if you would vote for “Baptism of Fire” in the best short story category. But if you like another story better and would rather vote for that one, that’s all right as well.

There are also a lot of other fine indie e-books nominated. For example, The Guardian, the anthology in which “Baptism of Fire” was first published, is nominated in the best anthology category. Children of the Shaman by my friend and co-host of the Speculative Fiction Showcase Jessica Rydill is nominated in the best contemporary/urban fantasy category. I also spot several other author friends as well as authors I’ve featured among the finalists.

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Our Seven Year Anniversary

July 3 marks Pegasus Pulp’s seven year anniversary, so it’s time for another overview post. In those six years, our catalogue has grown to 122 titles in two languages.

In other news, I’m currently trying for a repeat of the July short story challenge, where the idea is to write a short story per day in July (for a summary of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 challenges, see here). I’m not sure if I will manage to do it for the whole month this year, but so far I’ve written three stories in as many days, including a lovely In Love and War story. And since writing a short story every day takes time, this post will be a bit more basic than usual:

So let’s take a look at the figures and percentages. The figures of previous years may be found here BTW.

Warning, lots of statistical neepery under the cut. Continue reading

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for June 2018

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

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some May 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, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, horror, gaslamp fantasy, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Cyberpunk, Biopunk, poetry (yes, poetry), werewolves, dragons, shifters, ghosts, superheroes, monsters, aliens, street gangs, demon fighters, space pirates, space cops, prisoners, amnesiacs, cursed watches, airships, dying gods 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:

Pretty Waiter Girls by Greg AlldredgePretty Waiter Girls by Greg Alldredge:

Some monsters are still human.

In a magical 1899 San Francisco, the new millennium is quickly approaching. Of course, new inventions happen every day, some wondrous, some mundane while the streets produce a new murder every night.

Set against this backdrop a debutante goes missing, and socialite Helena Brandywine takes it upon herself, along with her trusted manservant, to discover what happened.

Did the woman run afoul of the Tongs in Chinatown? What horrors might she have exposed? Discover this Gilded Age while Helena uncovers her family’s secrets. The good and evil, where danger lurks around every corner. Can Helena Brandywine be prepared for the monsters she will uncover? Come search for the, Pretty Waiter Girls.

Hyperspace Radio by James BeachHyperspace Radio by James Beach:

A young boy comes to terms with his father’s undead lifestyle. A caveman faces failure at the world’s first art show. A thief runs afoul of a pusher who sells death. God goes to therapy and receives a diagnosis. A tech entrepreneur creates an Internet startup based on a genie’s lamp. A secret worldwide society of dudebros meets to consider an entirely new kind of bro.

These tales and more brought to you from dimensions both strange and familiar, at the speed of imagination.

 

The Luck Thieves by James BeachThe Luck Thieves by James Beach:

Someone stole Aurelian’s luck – and is coming for his life.

 

 

 

 

 

In The House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns by Elizabeth BearIn the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns by Elizabeth Bear:

A man has been turned inside-out.

Fifty years in the future, in the sleek modern city of Bangalore, a scientist working on revolutionary bioengineering techniques has been discovered inside his own locked home, his body converted into a neat toroidal package of meat. It’s up to Police Sub-Inspector Ferron to unearth the victim’s complicated past and solve the crime, despite the best efforts of the mastermind behind the murder, aliens beaming signals from the Andromeda Galaxy, her overbearing mother, and an adorable parrot-cat who is the only witness.

The Shantytown Robin Hoods by Cora BuhlertThe Shantytown Robin Hoods by Cora Buhlert:

Latisha, Moses and Tim are three street kids eking out a living in a dystopian future. Together, they are the Shantytown Robin Hoods, a street gang that steals from the rich and gives to – well, themselves.

“The Hole” is the hottest night club in Shantytown, where the rich and the famous can party among the less fortunate. But “The Hole” is also a favourite hangout for Latisha, Moses and Tim to find marks they can rob.

But then their latest job is derailed by a mobster with sticky fingers and a prize on his head, a teen pop sensation, a trigger-happy bodyguard and a red-haired assassin.

Soon bullets are flying in Shantytown and Latisha, Moses and Tim must keep their heads down to survive and steal another day…

This is a short dystopian crime story of 2800 words or approximately 10 print pages.

Terra Nullis, edited by Kate Coe and Ellen CrosháinTerry Nullius, edited by Kate Coe and Ellen Crosháin:

Land belonging to no-one. An anthology of speculative fiction that explores the colonisation of our Solar System and far beyond, where pioneers carve out a new existence under other stars. New worlds and new challenges bring out rich stories filled with alien races and strange technology, but against this backdrop there’s the many facets of human emotion as colonists struggle to make a new home.
This is human life on the final frontier.

Thomas J. Spargo — Jessica Rydill — K.N. Johnson — Jessica Reisman — Jonathan Oliver — Will MacMillan Jones — E. M. Eastick — John Bayliss — Gregor Hartmann — G. H. Finn — Matthew Pedersen — Steven Poore — Jill Hand

Super Starr by Kat CottonSuper Starr by Kat Cotton:

As the Demon Fighters’ Council gains more power, Clem travels to Bucharest to find their Head and destroy him. Simple, she thinks. After all, she has her newfound powers. She’s practically invincible.

But first she needs to find the Council headquarters. Then she finds out there’s a serious condition attached to killing the Head.

Meanwhile, the Council have started rounding up paranormals, innocent or not. When Nic’s pack become targets, the fight turns personal.

Even if Clem can fight the Council, she has personal demons to destroy.

This is the final book in the Clem Starr: Demon Fighter series.

New Blood by Zen DiPietroNew Blood by Zen DiPietro

Emiko thought she knew what it meant to work hard. She was wrong.

She’ll have to guard her secrets even as she battles to be at the top of her class at the Planetary Alliance Cooperative academy. Failing to become an officer is not an option. Failing to become a special ops officer isn’t even worth thinking about.

The training isn’t everything she thought it would be, though. As she struggles to learn what it truly means to be a PAC officer, she’ll discover what it takes to lead, how it feels to give up everything in the name of the PAC, and what it means to become far more than she ever dreamed.

Wolf's Bane by Aimee EasterlingWolf’s Bane by Aimee Easterling:

Secrets are my specialty.

I’m Mai Fairchild — fox shifter, sister’s keeper, and bane of the local werewolf pack. In a world where different is dangerous, my sister and I must pretend to be human at all costs. Too bad I just lost the job that lets me live under the radar while putting food on my sister’s plate.

Enter an enticing werewolf who offers enough cash to upgrade our diets from ramen noodles to salami if I join him on a magical hunt. But can I afford to accept the opportunity when the risk of working closely with every fox shifter’s sworn enemy is so great?

The Prize of Zelimir by Elizabeth GabrielThe Prize of Zelimir by Elizabeth Gabriel:

Magic is forbidden in Atlantis City. Despite this, Anne Arnold is a prisoner of a cursed watch, constantly stuck around her wrist. Teaming up with an Alpha named Roswell, Anne is determined to be rid of the watch, all while being chased by assassins, criminals, and a city official who appears to be behind a conspiracy. In the midst of all this, Anne makes discoveries about herself and her past. She soon realizes that having a watch that belonged to one of the Grim Reapers may be the least of her worries.

 

Ghostlight by Rabia GaleGhostlight by Rabia Gale:

Trevelyan Shield would rather fight demons and exorcise haunts than deal with debutantes, alive or dead. But when he encounters the charming but ghostly Arabella Trent, his duty is clear: send the young woman into the afterlife. Otherwise, she risks attracting the denizens of the Shadow Lands, who hunger for mortal souls.

Arabella doesn’t remember the runaway carriage that hit her and left her for dead. Nor does she know why her body was found so far from her. But something—or someone—is preventing her from returning to it, and she’s determined to find out why.

As Arabella and Trey race to unravel the mystery, a sinister plot unfolds and the boundary between the demon and mortal worlds grows thin. If they don’t act soon, Arabella won’t be the only one to fall prey to the Shadow Lands.

Pirates of Mars by Chris GerribPirates of Mars by Chris Gerrib:

Mars has a pirate problem – a big one! The pirates are even attacking the Volunteer Space Rescue Service! The Service and the individuals in it have a decision to make, namely fight or give up. But it’s not just the Service that must decide – pirate victim Janet Pilgrim’s boyfriend was kidnapped by pirates. Does she sit on the sideline or go into action?

 

 

Hands of the Colossus by Nicole GrotepasHands of the Colossus by Nicole Grotepas:

One massive shadow organization. One bad ass heroine.

Holly Drake just wants one thing: to destroy the Shadow Coalition and the evil at the heart of their business. With an endless supply of tips from the secretive man pulling her strings, Holly and her crew swoop in, break up the cash drops and steal the money. If one or two baddies die on accident, no big loss, right? They could do this forever, picking the Coalition apart till not even bones remain.
That is, until someone goes missing. In that moment, everything changes.

To save the victim, Holly and her team will put everything on the line to penetrate the mysterious Shadow Coalition and stab at their enigmatic leadership, the Hands who protect the Heart. Treacherous journeys across the 6-moon system in space-zeppelins, dangerous infiltrations of the Coalition, bartering with thieves and relying on the seedy underbelly of the 6-moons. Anything it takes.

But…is the whole set up a trap. How many snares will Holly and her crew have to spring to the save just one victim?
This is Holly Drake and her crew of thieves. If they have to, they’ll go into the hornet’s nest to get the job done. Will it be their last time?

The Hands of the Colossus features a snarky, strong, bad ass heroine fighting against the odds to save the helpless.

If you don’t like seeing a woman experience self-doubt, overcome obstacles, and then dominate, this book is not for you.

Love strong female leads, an entertaining cast of characters, and adventure? Then grab your copy today!

Sierra Bravo by Simon HaynesSierra Bravo by Simon Haynes:

Planet Dismolle is supposed to be a peaceful haven. So what’s with all the gunfire?

A criminal gang has moved into Chirless, Dismolle’s second major city. Elderly residents are fed up with the loud music, noisy cars and late night parties, not to mention hold-ups, muggings and the occasional gunfight.

Chirless has no Peace Force, so Harriet Walsh of the Dismolle City branch has to help out. That puts her up against a gang of hardened criminals with only her training pistol and a few old allies to lend a hand.

And these allies aren’t just old, they’re positively ancient!

Sierra Bravo is the third novel in the Harriet Walsh series. Peace Force and Alpha Minor are already available in print and ebook.

Celestial IncursionCelestial Incursion by Eddie R. Hicks:

Humans, aliens, and dragons. Who will inherit the galaxy?

They said aliens didn’t exist, until they landed on the White House lawn.

They said dragons didn’t exist, until they arrived in the galaxy . . . To turn it into cosmic dust.

A new threat from beyond the galaxy rim has emerged, taking the lives of humans and aliens across the Milky Way. They look like dragons. They sound like dragons. They burn our cities like dragons . . . and apparently our spaceships too.

Captain Rebecca Foster is no stranger to saving the galaxy from mythological beings that shouldn’t exist but do. Dealing with dragons from beyond the galactic rim is a task she and her crew are more than qualified for. The new Earth government, however, disagrees, and sends the Marines instead, grounding Rebecca and her crew until further notice.

And then things don’t go according to plan . . .

Salvation for the galaxy now lies in the hands of Rebecca’s ability to get back into the captain’s chair and show the galaxy how you slay dragons with 22nd century weapons and technology.

Science-fiction and fantasy collide with explosive results in this action-packed adventure set in the Splintered Galaxy universe.

Juno Rising by Patty JansenJuno Rising by Patty Jansen:

A prisoner, a secret he can’t remember, and the military force that will destroy planets to get their hands on it.

When Fabio Velazquez arrives on the secretive military base on Jupiter’s moon Io, he knows two things: one, that he’s had his memories erased and two, that he has a secret. Except because of point one, he can’t remember what point two is.

The portents aren’t good: he’s hated by his fellow soldiers, responsible for “the greatest f***-up in military history”, traitor and human guinea pig. Yet, he managed to be trusted with a secret so big that the military has almost killed him and still haven’t gotten their hands on it. Where is it, and who does it belong to?

His nickname might be Escape Artist, but in the hostile environment of Io there is no escaping punishment. Or so the military thinks, but they’re not the only ones interested in him.

A secret group lurks in a base in the cloud tops of Jupiter. They watch. They wait. They will strike.

Leviathan by L.S. JohnsonLeviathan by L.S. Johnson:

We will survive this, Caroline.

It has been several months since Harkworth Hall burned, and mere weeks since Joanna Chase came back into Caroline Daniels’ life. But when a stranger arrives in their village and asks to see the damaged bay, they know that word of the creature has spread. With tensions simmering between France and England, they depart in haste for Medby, where Sir Edward’s brother resides. There they hope to discover if Thomas Masterson has stepped into Sir Edward’s shoes, and now wields the monster called Leviathan.

The situation in Medby, however, is far worse than they anticipated. Claiming the French attacked his ships, the younger Masterson seems about to launch an audacious reply. But his true plans are not so straightforward and there is little time for Caroline and Jo to uncover them.

With the threat of war demanding risks in kind, Caroline and Jo must weigh their deepening affection against the greater good … and learn to trust not only their instincts, but their hearts as well.

Dragon's Egg by B.R. KingsolverDragon’s Egg by B.R. Kingsolver:

When did I become everyone’s paranormal Miss Fixit?

When the Lords of the Icelandic Elves summon me to use my talents to find a lost Dragon’s egg, I find it hard to say no. I’ve seen what a Dragon can do, and a young, just-hatched Dragon is a being of pure destruction.

But word of the egg gets out, and the race to find it begins. Mages from many realms are in the hunt—including a Dragon—and they don’t always play well together. Unless I want to join the casualties, I need to find that egg and return it to where it belongs. Luckily, I have help, but I wish that damned golden-winged Nephilim would keep his shirt on.

The Werewolf Whoops by Amanda M. LeeThe Werewolf Whoops by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes is back on her feet and ready for action. Luckily for her, The Legacy Foundation officially has its first job in weeks and they’re on the hunt for … werewolves.

It seems two campers have gone missing, the campsite littered with strange animal prints. Charlie is excited for adventure but sometimes wishes are more dangerous than they seem.

After meeting a woman and her daughter in the woods – and getting a gander inside her head – Charlie finds she’s on two missions. She wants to find a werewolf and, even more, she wants to find out what makes the secretive Zoe Lake-Winters tick. There’s something about the woman that sends Charlie’s curiosity into overdrive … and that’s not always a good thing.

The Michigan woods are full of dark surprises and Charlie is in for a few herself. She’s hiding a secret, but so are many others, and some of those secrets are worth killing for.

This outing may be one for the record books, especially when multiple mysteries reveal themselves at one time. Survival isn’t always easy, but in this instance, it will be more difficult than Charlie ever imagined.

Sit back and enjoy the show, because the secrets are going to be flying fast and furious … and so is the danger.

War: Dark Poems by Alessandro Manzetti and Marge SimonWar: Dark Poems by Alessandro Manzetti and Marge Simon:

Look in my eyes. My bronze skin reflects the flames of the battles.

I feed on bullets and shrapnel.

I have trenches instead of veins and a bombardier’s whirring plays my favorite symphony inside my big head. This is my story, with some of my best camouflages and disguises, and you should expect your peace plans to fail. Because that’s what I do for living.

Look at my million golden teeth necklace. Ring any bells? Maybe you’re too young. I probably should have mentioned the fireworks over the Baghdad night sky, my new friend, or the live broadcast of two great skyscrapers disintegrating. You know what I’m talking about, right? So, you can call me by one of my many names: Great General, Lock-box of the Powerful, Red Rain, Lord of Steel or, more simply, WAR.

I appear as strife of many kinds, from Stalingrad to Scotland. Africa to Afghanistan, the civil war of Italy and the War Between the States, ghostly wars, drug wars, the battle of the sexes, World Wars I, II and visions of a holocaust yet to come. It’s all herein and more, with poems both collaborative and individual.

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

Space Corps Revelation by K.D. MattisSpace Corps Revelation by K.D. Mattis:

Admiral Kayla Asher has waited her whole life for this—commanding the inaugural spaceship of the US Space Corps in a race against the Chinese to set up the first self-sustaining colony on another planet. Instead, the Explorer is diverted to rescue the Chinese astronauts after their ship is damaged.

Expecting to find the ship debilitated by an asteroid, Asher and her crew are stunned to find something far more sinister. An alien force with technology that far surpasses anything on Earth has attacked the ship, and they have a message for mankind—they aren’t interested in peace.

Now they’re headed straight for Earth, and it’s up to the Explorer to stop them before it’s too late. Fighting against bureaucracy as well as their own conflicting emotions as trained soldiers and compassionate human beings, Asher and her crew engage in an epic battle against an unknown enemy.

Knight Flyers by Ann McCuneKnight Flyers by Ann McCune:

If you fall asleep within a twenty-mile radius of Twisted Pines without a dreamcatcher, chances are you’ll never wake up. The locals call it the sleeping death, doctors usually call it altitude-induced cardiac arrest, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still a one-way ticket to the afterlife.

Liz Lawson always slept under a dreamcatcher. She even had one hanging from the rearview mirror of her Jeep, just to be on the safe side. She had no idea where it ended up the night she hit the moose, but for the first time she didn’t need it.

Shawn Ericson, a gorgeous stranger, saved Liz from the monster trying to kill her in her dream, and changed her life forever.
Shawn said Liz wouldn’t remember the dream, but Liz always remembered hers. When Liz found out Shawn was a Knight Flyer and part of a super-secret group whose mission was to save people from the monsters plaguing their dreams, she wanted to know why he kept invading her dreams and why she was the only non-knight who remembers them.

The last few months of her junior year of high school are anything but boring as Liz battles the monsters in her dreams, learns she isn’t a typical sixteen-year-old, and deals with high school drama.

The Boathouse by William MeikleThe Boathouse by William Meikle:

Dave Wiggins is taking a trip to his past. He doesn’t much want to—but his Ma is dying.

He intends to get in, do his duty, get out and forget about his small town roots.

But there is something back home that has been waiting for his return—something that lurks, waiting in a tumbledown boathouse in an abandoned community offshore.

Once Dave and his past meet up again, the game is on.

A hurricane, a scrimshaw chess set, beer, rum, cigarettes, old friends and past mistakes all conspire to keep Dave right where he least wants to be.

The game is on.

And it’s his move.

Escape by Bruno MillerEscape by Bruno Miller:

Could you protect your own?

Recent EMP attacks have left the country in a state of chaos and upheaval. With two of his children on the East Coast, Ben Davis has left Colorado behind, embarking on a cross-country journey with his eldest son, Joel, one of Joel’s classmates, Allie, and the family dog, Gunner.

Very few modern vehicles remain functional, but thanks to Joel’s 1972 Chevy Blazer, Ben and his crew are mobile and able to carry supplies. But that doesn’t mean they’re safe in this post-apocalyptic world.

They soon discover that life as they know it is over. Danger fills every moment of their new reality. No longer can people be trusted. Especially with resources dwindling and new threats around every bend in the road.

Survival means working together, but it also means the teenagers have to grow up fast. Ben struggles with some decisions he’s forced to make, but he refuses to let his family suffer at the hands of the desperate. Even if he has to shed blood to keep them safe.

Ben’s skills as a former Army Ranger are tested repeatedly as he fights to lead his crew across the new wasteland of America. Will there come a time when the dark road ahead is too much?

Shadow Magic by Nazri NoorShadow Magic by Nazri Noor:

The gods are dying. But for one man, death is only the beginning.

Murdered as a ritual sacrifice, amateur thief and professional charmer Dustin Graves mysteriously survives, finding himself gifted with strange, dark magic. Then more dead bodies turn up. Some are human, but one is a god of the old world, slain at his own doorstep.

Mortal or divine, the bloodshed must end, and Dust is the mage for the job. But first he must contend with a succubus, a talking sword, a spider queen, a goddess of magic, and eldritch abominations from beyond the stars. No big deal… right?

Mabus by Dean RencraftMabus by Dean Rencraft:

From the ashes, he will rise.

Orphaned by an unfortunate series of catastrophic events, David is pursued by tragedy, doubt, and loneliness as he is shifted from home to home until his prestigious education and bold experiments in technology and bio-engineering bring him to the attention of the first A.I. ever created.

Morpheus opens doors David had only ever dreamed of as he explores the world and the two attempt to mitigate the destruction that corruption, men, and war have wrought over the earth and its people.

David’s intentions are pure, but as time goes on, he is forced to ever more desperate and questionable methods in order to achieve his goals and still survive.

In this thought-provoking and action-packed coming of age thriller, David faces the epic battle between good and evil that opens questions about religion, prophecy, and even his own sanity. Will he survive and be renowned for his work and all the good that he has wrought? Or were his life and fate already written in an age long past?

The Sunkiller Affair by Dave RobinsonThe Sunkiller Affair by Dave Robinson:

When Vic Frank is arrested on trumped up charges while Doc Vandal and the team are searching for a kidnapped scientist, explaining it to her mother is the least of Doc’s problems.

He’s also got to deal with… Vic’s irate girlfriend Ming… Nazis infiltrating the NYPD… and whoever just broke into the 87th floor of the Republic State Building and stole the plans for a device that can blow up the Sun!

Join Doc Vandal and the team in a fight against the Technarchy’s flying commandos, the German American Bund, and the vacuum of space itself!

Enjoy a complete pulp adventure with Nazis, talking gorillas, and Zeppelins in Spaaaace!

Anachronism by Jennifer Lee RossmanAnachronism by Jennifer Lee Rossman:

It’s the same old story: Time traveler meets girl, time traveler tells girl she’s the future president, time traveler and girl go on a road trip to prevent a war…

Petra Vincent is at the end of her rope – or rather, the edge of a bridge. Her world is falling apart around her and she sees no way out of the meaningless existence the future has in store. But when stranded time traveler Moses Morgan tells her that she will one day
lead the country out of the rubble of a nuclear civil war as President of the United States, she’s intrigued – and when another time traveler starts trying to pre-emptively assassinate her, she realizes Moses might be telling the truth…

Anachronism is a time-traveling, adventure-filled novella with a whole bagful of danger, twists, and snarky banter.

Holding On By Our Fingertips, edited by Kate Coe and Amanda RutterHolding On By Our Fingertips, edited by Kate Coe and Amanda Rutter:

An anthology of science fiction and speculative stories exploring the many different reactions and experiences of people during the 24 hours leading up to the end of the world. Our base instinct is to survive, but when the end is nigh, do we simply lie down and die? Or do we celebrate our life and achievements?
Love, loss, forgiveness, revenge, or just that final goodbye…

Gaie Sebold — James Everington — Sarah Higbee — Charlotte Bond — Kim Lakin-Smith — Steve Carr — Leontii Cristea — Charlotte Strong — Tabitha Lord — Theo Graham — Adrian Faulkner — Phil Sloman — C.A. Yates — Ren Warom — Terry Grimwood — Scott Hungerford — Courtney Privett

Star Forged by Justin SloanStar Forged by Justin Sloan:

Semper Fi, Do or Die, the Marines say. But superpowers have changed the equation.

Gunnery Sergeant Trent Helms wanted to be among the first Marines through the gateway to the stars. But as they say, no plan survives first contact. There was definitely no plan to become super-powered and discover the deadliest threat ever known.

Back on Earth, Intel Agent Shrina Collins will do whatever it takes to see the threat extinguished, but discovers a government conspiracy that changes everything. Now it’s up to these two to save the universe, or watch as it unravels.

Earth’s first journey through a gateway to the stars unlocks a great evil, but equally great potential.

Empowered Rebel by Dale Ivan SmithEmpowered Rebel by Dale Ivan Smith:

What do you do when a conspiracy suppresses super powers?

Mathilda Brandt fights to keep her fellow Empowered friends and the Imbued refugees from Sanctuary alive and safe. Environmental disasters are ravaging the world. Her former master, the secretive government agency known as Support, hunts her and the other rogue Empowered and Imbued across the world, seeking to capture or kill them. Only the strange Dark-Net, an extra-dimensional road, keeps Mat and her friends free.

Mat is also desperate to find her mother, who until a few months ago Mat thought was dead. Her mother’s fate is somehow intertwined with the people hunting her, and Mat wants to learn how.

When the Dark-Net begins to fail, Mat realizes she’ll have to do the last thing she ever wanted to do: lead a desperate rebellion to save her mother and free the world.

Spaceships and Spellcasters by Glynn StewartSpaceships and Spellcasters by Glynn Stewart:

A mage cop on his first assignment learns the world isn’t as black and white as hoped

A jump mage and a starship with matching needs turn out to be a magnet for trouble

Digging in 1940s New York City awakens a monster–and brings in the elite of the Fae

The protected heir of an interstellar dictatorship is called to a battle no one expected him to fight

An explosive collection of four novellas from science fiction and fantasy author Glynn Stewart, spanning his ONSET, Starship’s Mage, Changeling Blood and Exile universes, including two brand new urban fantasy novellas.

Infinite Dysmorphia, edited by Kate Coe and Peter SuttonInfinite Dysmorphia, edited by Kate Coe and Peter Sutton:

An anthology of science fiction and speculative stories exploring how science and technology could change what it means to be human. Bio implants, cybernetics, genetic modification, age reversal, robotics and technology…what is the human experience of undergoing these procedures, and what is the advance of technology going to bring?
What does the future hold in store for those who are pushing the definition of humanity?

Ren Warom — David Boop — Isha Crowe — Dolly Garland — Thomas J. Spargo — Elizabeth Hosang — Ron Wingrove — Sean Grigsby — Courtney M. Privett — Steve Cotterill — Anne Nicholls — David Sarsfield — Frances Kay — Alec McQuay

The Tenth Reaver by Sandell WallThe Tenth Reaver by Sandell Wall:

The Kingdom of Haverfell is sinking into darkness. A millennium ago, the High King fell into shadow, struck down by treachery at the height of his power. Corruption rules in his absence, and the throne sits empty. Now whispers of the kingdom’s former glory are punished, and the memory of the High King is blotted from the annals of history.

Kaiser Pellathor, Tenth Reaver of Northmark, is the fallen kingdom’s greatest champion. Undefeated in the arena, unbeatable on the field of battle, he carries out his orders without question, mercy, or fear. He must, for if he should he ever fail in his duties, his family will pay the price.

But for the first time in a thousand years, old powers begin to stir, and rumors of hope are voiced in secret. Tasked with crushing this dissent, Kaiser finds himself on the wrong side of justice. If he stands against tyranny, his family dies. His only other choice is to become the tyrant himself.

As the Shrouded King seeks to reclaim what was lost, Kaiser must decide where his loyalties lie…

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for June 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 May books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, historical mysteries, international mysteries, British mysteries, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysterie, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, pulp adventure, noir thrillers, romantic suspense, private investigators, vigilantes, amateur sleuths, serial killers, drug smugglers, street gangs, mobsters, assassins, kidnappers, missing persons, luck thieves, innocents in prison, crimebusting accountants, revenge, murder in London, Greece, Portland, Florida, Hawaii, Bangalore and outer space 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:

Rose City Renegade by D.L. BarburRose City Renegade by D.L. Barbur:

Dent Miller used to believe in justice.
Now all he wants is revenge.

Six months ago, his enemies took everything from him. It was the biggest mistake they ever made.
He’s been looking over his shoulder ever since, waiting for them to come.
He’s not afraid.
He just wants them back in his sights.

If you loved Rose City Free Fall and thought the tension couldn’t get any higher, buckle up, because this book cranks it up to 11.

Rose City Renegade is chock full of gritty action, believable characters, and a story that just won’t quit.

The Luck Thieves by James BeachThe Luck Thieves by James Beach:

Someone stole Aurelian’s luck – and is coming for his life.

 

 

 

 

 

In The House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns by Elizabeth BearIn the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns by Elizabeth Bear:

A man has been turned inside-out.

Fifty years in the future, in the sleek modern city of Bangalore, a scientist working on revolutionary bioengineering techniques has been discovered inside his own locked home, his body converted into a neat toroidal package of meat. It’s up to Police Sub-Inspector Ferron to unearth the victim’s complicated past and solve the crime, despite the best efforts of the mastermind behind the murder, aliens beaming signals from the Andromeda Galaxy, her overbearing mother, and an adorable parrot-cat who is the only witness.

The Shantytown Robin Hoods by Cora BuhlertThe Shantytown Robin Hoods by Cora Buhlert:

Latisha, Moses and Tim are three street kids eking out a living in a dystopian future. Together, they are the Shantytown Robin Hoods, a street gang that steals from the rich and gives to – well, themselves.

“The Hole” is the hottest night club in Shantytown, where the rich and the famous can party among the less fortunate. But “The Hole” is also a favourite hangout for Latisha, Moses and Tim to find marks they can rob.

But then their latest job is derailed by a mobster with sticky fingers and a prize on his head, a teen pop sensation, a trigger-happy bodyguard and a red-haired assassin.

Soon bullets are flying in Shantytown and Latisha, Moses and Tim must keep their heads down to survive and steal another day…

This is a short dystopian crime story of 2800 words or approximately 10 print pages.

Murder Breaks the Bank by Maddie CochereMurder Breaks the Bank by Maddie Cochere:

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, a man hires the investigative firm of Two Sisters and a Journalist to protect him. Jo Wheeler accompanies him to the bank with disastrous results. Jo, Pepper, and Jackie must now scramble to find out who murdered their client before Sergeant Rorski sends the wrong man to prison.

A rash of car vandalism and a Brussels sprouts caper also keep the three women on their toes, and it doesn’t help Jo’s mounting headache that Mama is preparing a comedy routine for open mic night at a local pub.

Only the Truth by Adam CroftOnly the Truth by Adam Croft:

He’s not the perfect husband. But he is the perfect suspect.

Dan Cooper has never been the perfect husband to Lisa. He travels for work and plays the carefree bachelor when he can. But now, on a solo business trip, in a remote coastal hotel, he’s surprised to find Lisa in his bathroom. She’s dead.

He has no idea how she got there but one chilling fact is clear: everything points to Dan having murdered her. Someone is trying to frame him. Someone who might still be watching. In a panic, he goes on the run. But even as he flees across Europe, his unknown enemy stacks up the evidence against him.

Dan is determined to clear his name and take revenge on Lisa’s killer, but the culprit is closing in. And then there’s the agony of his own guilty conscience. No, he didn’t kill her—but is it all his fault?

Ice Cream and Incidents by Agatha FrostIce Cream and Incidents by Agatha Frost:

A free holiday to a seaside B&B run by drag queens sounds like the perfect way to spend a relaxing week away from Peridale, or so Julia South thought. When she arrives at the quirky B&B with her family, she’s determined to have a fun break, but she quickly finds herself in the middle of another puzzling mystery when a lighting rig falls on the star drag performer, Simone Phoenix.

Was it an accident, or something more sinister? Julia quickly befriends the owner, Russell, and learns that the seemingly tight-knit drag family working at Sparkles are not without their problems. With secrets and lies revolving around love, money, and revenge, each of them appears to have a motive for wanting Simone out of the way. Can Julia resist the lure of cracking yet another case for the sake of having a peaceful family holiday by the sea, or will the urge to uncover the truth take over once again?

Shallow Breeze by Jack HardinShallow Breeze by Jack Hardin:

Pine Island, Florida, has a reputation for being a sleepy fishing town, not a coastal waterway for drug dealers.
So when a plane loaded with cocaine crashes into an iconic pier, the locals begin to wonder if any other secrets are about to fall out of the sky.

Fresh off an exemplary career with the CIA, Ellie O’Conner has landed into a new venture with the DEA, and things are off to a blazing start.

But while Ellie secretly struggles with new information unfolding about her family, she tries to unravel the truth, wherever it leads.

And truth often rides in on the back of a lie.

Sierra Bravo by Simon HaynesSierra Bravo by Simon Haynes:

Planet Dismolle is supposed to be a peaceful haven. So what’s with all the gunfire?

A criminal gang has moved into Chirless, Dismolle’s second major city. Elderly residents are fed up with the loud music, noisy cars and late night parties, not to mention hold-ups, muggings and the occasional gunfight.

Chirless has no Peace Force, so Harriet Walsh of the Dismolle City branch has to help out. That puts her up against a gang of hardened criminals with only her training pistol and a few old allies to lend a hand.

And these allies aren’t just old, they’re positively ancient!

Sierra Bravo is the third novel in the Harriet Walsh series. Peace Force and Alpha Minor are already available in print and ebook.

Pound to a Penny by Cynthia E. HurstPound to a Penny by Cynthia E. Hurst:

Gideon Young was a fast-talking con man who could convince gullible people to gamble on almost anything. But even Young wouldn’t have bet on being outwitted by a clock repairer and a thief turned housemaid, as his plans to fleece the residents of a Cotswold market town go terribly wrong. A woman with a mysterious past and a sheep shearer with a grudge add to the mix as Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm help the police solve a mystery involving love, loyalty and loaded dice.

‘Pound to a Penny’ is the sixth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Bend the Rules by Susan Amanda KellyBend the Rules by Susan Amanda Kelly:

Everyone deserves a second chance and Mary Holmes, accountant extraordinaire, is determined to make the most of hers. Sure, she’d love to get her old life back – she used to be thin, well-dressed, engaged-to-be-married, on the corporate ladder and regularly bought three kinds of lettuce. Back then, she could afford the hair products needed to keep her hair sleek. But one unused wedding cake, a regrettable public safety incident and a teensy prison record later, her life goals have shrunk to being able to afford to eat regularly. To do that, she needs to make a success of her second chance… an accounting job with Vetruvious Security.

Everything is proceeding according to Mary’s detailed, color-coded, new-life plan until Vitruvious Security hires a specialist, Crash Coolidge, to work undercover to smash a truck cargo heist ring. Crash is sexy, insolent, sexy, disheveled, sexy and scarily relaxed about the prospect of killing people. Even in a tough-guy company like Vitruvious Security, Crash is the equivalent of a Rottweiler surrounded by Chihuahuas. After Mary is assigned to his team, her life-plan rapidly derails. She is targeted by the sinister and mysterious head of the heist gang and only Crash stands between her and an undignified death.

Mary finds herself doing things that most definitely were not in her employment contract like stripping the shoes from a corpse; adopting a deaf, rank-smelling guard dog; clue-hunting with Crash’s crazy, supermodel sister and lurking in a biker bar to locate a specific tattoo artist. All because Mary ends up wanting a second chance for Crash Coolidge as much as she wants one for herself. And she must find the sinister and mysterious head of the heist gang before Crash does. Because she doesn’t want Crash to do something reckless that lands him in prison. Not when he has become a vital part of her detailed, color-coded, new new-life plan.

*A high-octane cocktail of romance, crime and humor. Some strong language and steam.

Outta Crime by Alex A. KingOutta Crime by Alex A. King:

Two Godmothers. Zero Wands.

It’s not easy being dead. Just ask Kat Makris. She’s stuck in an underground bunker, watching her own funeral, where more people are laughing than crying. Being dead has other consequences, too. Her face is in all the papers, her bank is convinced she’s an identity thief, and the sexy Detective Melas is under siege by his trampy ex-girlfriend, who happens to work for Greece’s version of the CIA.

The timing couldn’t be worse; she just figured out where her missing father might be.

Escaping Grandma’s cozy bunker is the only way find her dad—a feat that would be simpler if she could access her own bank account and ride something other than the local bus. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Marika’s unborn baby is sending her psychic messages—messages that send Kat all the way to Germany, where Grandma’s oldest nemesis is cooking up some payback …

The Governess by Mary KingswoodThe Governess by Mary Kingswood:

The first of a brand new series by the author of Sons of the Marquess.

When Mr Edmund Winterton of Woodside dies, his daughters find themselves penniless and homeless. What can they do? Unless they wish to live on charity, they will have to find genteel employment for themselves.

Annabelle becomes governess to the daughters of the recently bereaved Earl of Brackenwood. She has no idea how to teach, but her pupils can learn all they need from books, so how difficult can it be? She’ll need all her ingenuity to cope with the rebelliousness of her charges, and the unwanted attentions of their father. But when her past returns to haunt her, she has to make a difficult decision.

Allan is slowly getting used to life as a widower, but his mother is determined that he must marry again and produce an heir. He is determined that he won’t, although the new governess is just the sort of woman he could fall in love with. But when a face from long ago reappears and stirs up suspicion, he has to consider the possibility that his wife’s death was not natural. What is worse, he himself is the obvious suspect. If he can’t prove his innocence, he may lose everything – his home, his new love and even his life.

Book 1 of the 5-book Sisters of Woodside Mysteries series, each a complete story with a HEA, but read all of them to find out all the family secrets!

The Werewolf Whoops by Amanda M. LeeThe Werewolf Whoops by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes is back on her feet and ready for action. Luckily for her, The Legacy Foundation officially has its first job in weeks and they’re on the hunt for … werewolves.

It seems two campers have gone missing, the campsite littered with strange animal prints. Charlie is excited for adventure but sometimes wishes are more dangerous than they seem.

After meeting a woman and her daughter in the woods – and getting a gander inside her head – Charlie finds she’s on two missions. She wants to find a werewolf and, even more, she wants to find out what makes the secretive Zoe Lake-Winters tick. There’s something about the woman that sends Charlie’s curiosity into overdrive … and that’s not always a good thing.

The Michigan woods are full of dark surprises and Charlie is in for a few herself. She’s hiding a secret, but so are many others, and some of those secrets are worth killing for.

This outing may be one for the record books, especially when multiple mysteries reveal themselves at one time. Survival isn’t always easy, but in this instance, it will be more difficult than Charlie ever imagined.

Sit back and enjoy the show, because the secrets are going to be flying fast and furious … and so is the danger.

Wired Secret by Toby NealWired Secret by Toby Neal:

Paradise is filled with deadly secrets.
What would you do if you were a killer’s loose end?

Palm trees, volcanoes, and black sand beaches are the backdrop for murder as security specialist Sophie Ang, and her dog Ginger, are swept up in a multi-layered case on the Big Island of Hawaii working with a US Marshal to protect an important witness. A ghost from Sophie’s past returns to haunt her, and a love triangle tears at her heart. Sophie will need all of her friends, lovers, tech-savvy, and skills to stay alive…and that’s just her day job.

The Sunkiller Affair by Dave RobinsonThe Sunkiller Affair by Dave Robinson:

When Vic Frank is arrested on trumped up charges while Doc Vandal and the team are searching for a kidnapped scientist, explaining it to her mother is the least of Doc’s problems.

He’s also got to deal with… Vic’s irate girlfriend Ming… Nazis infiltrating the NYPD… and whoever just broke into the 87th floor of the Republic State Building and stole the plans for a device that can blow up the Sun!

Join Doc Vandal and the team in a fight against the Technarchy’s flying commandos, the German American Bund, and the vacuum of space itself!

Enjoy a complete pulp adventure with Nazis, talking gorillas, and Zeppelins in Spaaaace!

A Lie in Every Truth by Jamie Lee ScottA Lie in Every Truth by Jamie Lee Scott:

It’s spring, and yet private detective, Mimi Capurro, still hasn’t faced the proposal she received from homicide detective, Nick Christianson, at Christmas. She knows she should be making plans, but business is good, and she’s short an investigator. She’ll think about it later.

Just as things are getting on track, Mimi’s mom brings a case to Gotcha Detective Agency. Lydia’s good friend was found dead in her car almost two weeks earlier, and the police ruled it a suicide. Both Lydia and the victim’s husband think the police are wrong.

While Mimi and Lydia investigate, Charles has an investigation of his own. One he’s not sharing with the Gotcha crew.
Do Mimi and Nick have a future together, or will Charles’s investigation change their lives forever?

Stabbed in Shoreditch by Samantha SilverStabbed in Shoreditch by Samantha Silver:

Cassie’s living life on the edge of a knife…

When Violet is hired to prove the innocence of a convicted murderer, Cassie discovers that not only is an innocent man’s life at stake, but also that solving a ten-month-old murder has its own unique challenges.

But what initially seems like it might be a straightforward case quickly becomes more complex with the discovery of a secret computer file, and an encryption even Violet can’t crack.

Meanwhile, Cassie finds herself helping Brianne discover who’s been stealing supplies from the hospital – a great distraction as Cassie avoids making a decision about going back to medical school.

As Violet and Cassie get closer to cracking the encryption, they find themselves embroiled in the middle of a conspiracy even Violet couldn’t have predicted.

Will they be able to solve the case and give an innocent man his life back before they become the next victims?

After the Sunset by Mark StoneAfter the Sunset by Mark Stone:

Dark clouds dampen bright futures and, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, you never know when you’ll be stuck in the eye of a storm.

With his wedding fast approaching, Detective Dillon Storm couldn’t be more at peace. The thing about peace though is that it can be fleeting, very fleeting in a place like this.
When Naples’ newest mayoral candidate’s wife comes to Dillon with concerns about her son’s safety, Dillon takes it seriously. When that same son is then involved in a car accident and placed in an ambulance that promptly vanishes on the way to hospital, Dillon knows he’s dealing with something much more deadly than a mother’s worry.

What he finds is a deadly game of cat and mouse that will twist everything he knows, threaten to ruin the reputation he’s built since his return to Naples, send him crashing into familiar waters, and quite possibly derail his wedding before he even has a chance to say ‘I do’.

Happy endings are hard to come by, and sometimes the most dangerous moments can happen AFTER THE SUNSET!

Taker of Lives by Leslie Wolfe4Taker of Lives by Leslie Wolfe:

How can you outrun a killer you won’t see coming?

Until yesterday, no one knew Miami had another killer on the loose. Special Agent Tess Winnett calls this particularly elusive one the Taker of Lives.

The crimes: bewildering

After a well-known model commits suicide, Tess refuses to accept the findings and pushes for an investigation into the reasons behind the beautiful young woman’s decision to end her life. What she finds surpasses her wildest fears.

The evidence: disturbing

Each new crime scene brings more questions than answers. While secrets are revealed, even those meant to be kept forever in the dark, Tess can draw only one conclusion: she’s not the one in charge; the Taker of Lives controls the game, the players, even the course of the investigation.

The race: intense

With little information and even less evidence, Tess must connect the dots of a deadly scenario with a large number of potential victims. If she fails, another beautiful, young girl will die tonight, and the blood will be on her hands.

The Taker of Lives might be closer than you think. Who’s watching you sleep tonight?

Medieval to Modern, edited by Sarah WoodburyMedieval to Modern: An Anthology of Historical Mystery Stories, edited by Sarah Woodbury:

Join amateur sleuths, private detectives, and feisty female protagonists in a journey through time with this anthology of historical mysteries spanning nearly a thousand years, from Medieval Wales to 1940s Ohio. This collection of eight novellas and short stories is the perfect introduction to five award-winning series in settings ranging from the back streets of Elizabethan and Regency London to the steep slopes of Victorian San Francisco.

— Libi Astaire, the Jewish Regency mystery series.

— Anna Castle, the Francis Bacon mystery series and the Professor & Mrs. Moriarty mystery series.

— M. Louisa Locke, the Victorian San Francisco mystery series.

— M. Ruth Myers, the Maggie Sullivan mystery series set in Depression-era Ohio.

— Sarah Woodbury, the Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mysteries.

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