Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: August 2014

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”. And this month, the round-up will even be crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a new group blog dedicated to all things speculative fiction.

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 a broad spectrum of titles, featuring science fiction, space opera, epic fantasy, Steampunk, paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, urban fantasy, Chinese mythology, Norse mythology, fairytale retellings, zombies, shapeshifters, shamans, witches (lots of witches for some reason), angels and demons, time travel, superpowers, sea adventures and much more. We’ve even got a bonafide Campbell award nominee this month.

This is also one of the most international “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month” round-ups, featuring writers from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Poland and Thailand.

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:

Justice Calling by Annie BelletJustice Calling by Annie Bellet

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.

Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series.

Geodesic by Morton BlakeGeodesic Episode 1: Fabio by Morton Blake

When Fabio Velazquez arrives on the secretive military base on Io, he knows two things: one, that he’s had his memories erased and modified and two, that he has a secret. Except because of one, he has to piece together from bits of memories what two is.

The portents aren’t good: he’s hated by his fellow soldiers, responsible for “the greatest fuck-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.

His nickname might be Escape Artist, but in the hostile environment of Io there is no way to escape. Or so the military thinks.

Unlocked by K.J. BryenUnlocked by K.J. Bryen

New York, 1985.
Sophia Parks is used to battling demons. But when she is approached by a girl who needs help banishing a demon, Sophia struggles to help her, and must go up against the most powerful demon she’s ever faced. To fail might mean losing everything she loves . . .

This short prequel to “Lokte” (coming in September) delves into Sophia’s past, and incorporates some unlikely characters from the novel.

 

Zombie Flood by Victoria ChampionZombie Flood: Disaster of the Dead by Victoria Champion

A storm of undead is coming to the Louisiana swamps.

In the churning fury of the strong winds and rain of a natural disaster, an unnatural contagion is born. The sickness is carried within the storm surge’s relentlessly advancing tide.

As the first wall of the hurricane assaults the lush swampland, humans and innocent creatures are infected. Their resultant mutation brings with it an insatiable and shocking hunger. The savage herd of monstrosities goes in search of food.

Guided by one-hundred and thirteen mile-per-hour winds at their backs, the gruesome horde slogs towards a small rural town known for its alligator tours.

Stranded by the flooding in Lustre Perle, federal agents fight alongside local Cajuns against the horrifying and deadly invasion, and although they are from different worlds, they must overcome their prejudices, fears, and distrust and rely on each other if they are to survive.

Strikers by Ann ChristyStrikers by Ann Christy

One hundred and twelve years after the fall, the Republic of Texas is built on two foundations: total freedom and total responsibility. A law broken means a strike against the lawbreaker. Five strikes means execution. The only hope for the law breaker is to escape Texas—to go Striker—before justice comes for them.

Sixteen-year-old Karas Quick has never had it easy. The daughter of a Striker and an alcoholic mother, she’s gotten everything she has the hard way — even the strike on her neck. Yet try as Karas might to stay above-board with the authorities, there are some things you just can’t plan for.

Like seeing the face of her long-lost father paraded through the town square in chains.

In the blink of an eye, Karas’s life changes forever. Potential strikes be damned, she has to see her father one last time. What she discovers propels her upon an unimaginable journey, one she can only hope she’ll survive.

Benton, Vol. 2 by Jolie du PréBenton: A Zombie Novel, Volume 2 by Jolie du Pré

Jennifer Benton’s family died in the first wave of zombie attacks. She found friends in a small group of survivors, and she’s fallen in love with Mark, the charismatic young man leading them.

Though the survivors now have a fragile sense of safety, some of Jennifer’s new friends die, and she has a beautiful blonde rival. Jennifer thinks jealousy will bring Mark back.

She’s wrong.

And now everything may be over—for everyone…

Part 2 of the Benton series, following Benton, Volume 1.

Accession by Terah EdunAccession by Terah Edun

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn’t trained to rule a coven. That was her sister – perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.

After stepping in to fill her sister’s shoes, Katherine realizes she didn’t have a clue – faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.

For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.

But when Katherine’s youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, especially in a queen’s court, is as it seems.

Half Faerie by Heidi GarrettHalf Faerie by Heidi Garrett

Melia is an eighteen-year-old half-faerie, half-mortal who longs to fly like the full-blood faeries. She also yearns for a life that’s truly her own, which might prove more difficult than sprouting wings. Her faerie mother practices black magic and her mortal father plots to bring war to the enchanted world. No matter how she yearns to distance herself from them, Melia can’t seem to escape their long shadow.

After the half-faerie is accused of being her father’s spy, her best friend advises a trip to the Illustrator. The mysterious woman marks Melia’s forehead with an ink blotch, then claims the indigo stain will call a green-eyed stranger from distant lands to the half-faerie’s aid. Spooked more than comforted, Melia dismisses the woman’s words. Rather, she travels to the mortal world to confront her father.

The fallout from her visit destroys what’s left of their already fractured family. Melia’s mother is unforgiving. The punishment she metes out will leave her middle daughter torn between guilt and ecstasy, challenge the bonds between three sisters, and complicate Melia’s relationship with the green-eyed stranger. The half-faerie is sucked deeper into the vortex of her family’s dark history when her younger sister pursues their parents’ damning legacy. Melia and the green-eyed stranger must stop her–or risk the rise of Faerie’s darkest queen.

Daughter of Light is a spinoff of the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine. A high fantasy with fairy tale elements, it’s great for readers who enjoy fairy tales retold. The variety of female characters, layered story, and intriguing cosmology make it a great read for young adult and older readers.

The Tree Hugger by Heidi GarrettThe Tree Hugger by Heidi Garrett

Born and raised in the Free Territories, Magnolia Lee Winthrop, prefers the company of trees and nature to spending time with most people. Although she’s not much of a talker, she’s got plenty of strong opinions about life and how it should be lived, just like her mother and grandmother.

After the settlement’s forest farm is burned to the ground, Magnolia’s life can never be the same. To cope with her grief, she’ll have to leave behind everything she’s ever known and loved for a hard journey through a foreign, paved, and abandoned world.

The Tree Hugger is a dystopian retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Dryad.”

Warriors by C. GockelWarriors by C. Gockel

When science meets Chaos, what could go wrong?

Bohdi Patel is keeping the revelation that he is Chaos incarnate a secret, and handling the revelation about as well as one would expect. He’s in a downward spiral: losing his lease, totaling his car, and trying to keep everyone he cares about at arm’s length.

Veterinarian Amy Lewis is wondering what happened to the funny, flirty, curious Bohdi she knew in the land of the Norns. He’s become moody and sometimes cruel. She is definitely glad she didn’t become romantically entangled with him … most of the time.

When tragedy strikes Amy’s beloved mutt Fenrir, and Odin strikes Bohdi’s best friend Steve, they have to work together again. Amy’s knowledge of science, Bohdi’s talents for theft, and both of their survival skills are put to the test. But more than Steve and Fenrir’s lives are at stake. Amy and Bohdi may unlock the key that saves mankind from the gods … or bring about the apocalypse.

This is Part V of the I Bring the Fire series.

A126608-NJL._SL1500_Mr. Ruins by Michael John Grist

In the tsunami-drenched dregs of a ruined future world, ex-Arctic marine Ritry Goligh is a loner with no roots, future, or ambition. He works as a diver of minds in the floating slums beyond the tsunami wall, smoothing language injects into gray matter. He spends his nights in an alcohol-fueled blur of petty violence and sex, until a shadowy figure with an excellent hat drops the corpse of Napoleon at his feet.

This is Mr. Ruins. He offers Ritry a better future, and in the rusted hull of a belly-up cathedral ship, in the abandoned remnants of old-war infrastructure, unveils an awesome truth: the memories of the dead linger on, and can be consumed for strength. Ritry signs on, and with that new strength begins to grow again.

But Mr. Ruins asks a terrible price. In a metaphoric world where memory is magma and consciousness is a chord of seven lost marines battling through the mind’s molten core, Rit must learn to fight for his sanity, and the sanity of every person he loves. Because Mr. Ruins knows them now, and wants them for himself.

From Death by Nigel HenryFrom Death by Nigel Henry

Every year Tobin North and his father make the months-long trek to Miner’s Quarry on behalf of their village. They always return home with a fresh supply of encircling crystals, the one item that can protect humans from the undead demons that swarm outside their doors every night. But this year is different, because this year Tobin and his father were told they aren’t getting a new batch of crystals. To make matters worse, their old supply is running low, which means their village is on borrowed time.

And time’s almost up, because families are starting to die.

This is book 2 in the Demons of Sedona series, following The Healer’s Pact.

High Coven by Mona HannaHigh Coven by Mona Hanna

Ariel is getting used to being a new mother and is excited to see her best friends Hallie and Sean again. She just wants to spend time with them and relax and hear about their wedding. Unfortunately, relaxing is the last thing any of them can do on this visit.

Thrust into a new place, the High Witches are delighted to find the fourth—but the circumstances couldn’t be worse. A group of men are determined to stop them from casting a spell that could change the world, bringing immense joy but also great disaster. The risks of the spell might be beyond their ability to handle.

A great darkness is coming. It will take more than two High Witches to stop it: it will take a coven.

High Coven is the third and final book in the High Witch series, following High Witch and Witch Emerging.

Blood of the Water by Jamie MaltmanBlood of the Water by Jamie Maltman

Fire returned in a blaze of war and destruction.
What will Water bring to the one who finds her?

A slave dreams of freedom for all.
An aristocratic soldier yearns for power.
A sculptress covets revenge.
But the painter she loves urges her to use her Talent for peace.

When those aims collide, new friends join in the desperate race through foreign lands and ancient ruins to uncover knowledge of the mysterious Damoz. What do they want? Can they be stopped?

Blood of the Water (Arts Reborn: Book II) continues the journey of Simon, Elysia and Persei that began in Brush With Darkness.

Ruin by Harry MannersRuin by Harry Manners

Before the End there had been great cities, knowledge, power, bustling billions. All silenced when the vast majority of the world’s population, quite suddenly, vanished.

After forty years, an ominous force is laying waste to the survivors, and famine has struck. Norman Creek is struggling to feed the many mouths of New Canterbury, which clings to life while thousands starve or burn out in the wastes. Yet still they collect books, computers, art, saving all they can. They have a mission: to begin again.

And Norman has a destiny: to lead them, prophesized at birth to bring about the return of civilization. But all he ever wanted was to disappear into the crowd, and turn his back on the legend.
When a barbaric horde sets out to conquer the British Isles, and past misdeeds spell the city’s doom, Norman must overcome self-doubt and mount their final stand, as the last war of mankind begins.

A Rip in Time by Monique MartinA Rip in Time by Monique Martin

An old enemy returns threatening to destroy not just Simon and Elizabeth but the timeline itself. To keep that from happening, they travel back to 1888 London to find Jack the Ripper…and save his life. If he dies, the timeline changes, everything they know and their lives together, will be lost. But they soon discover the only thing harder than saving a monster is finding him.

The Crosses are back in book 7 of the Out of Time Series.

 

Liquid Blue by S.A. MulraneyLiquid Blue by S.A. Mulraney

Part II continues the story of Caeden Llewellyn. With Caeden’s apparent death, his father and best friend investigate what caused the Jupiter mining rig malfunction. Meanwhile, a not-so-dead Caeden is reunited with a long lost relative and discovers the creatures behind a plot that could bring war to Earth’s solar system.

Liquid Blue, Part II is 20,000 words and the second of three parts. Liquid Blue, Part I is here.

 

Spirit Blade by M.A. NillesHunters and Chains by M.A. Nilles

Part 1 of 5

Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the dagger and the spell that the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence. She is finally ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by using the power of an ancient device.

The Adept leaders desire the power of the dagger to serve their purposes, but the messenger they sent to retrieve it from Nadia is the last person she wants to see…

Part 2 of 5

Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the dagger and the spell that the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence. She is finally ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by using the power of an ancient device.

When Lord Je’Kaoron is taken captive by an enemy demonlord, Nadia is determined to free him, but she has to free herself first…

Code Burn by Elizabeth Noble DayCode Burn by Elizabeth Noble Day

Everyone in the small, secluded town of Mahogany has a Gift — including absorbing electricity, Knowing the future, putting people to sleep, and causing earthquakes.

Lilliana Cooper, seventeen, is a Fire Wielder. When an ominous red streak appears in the sky, Lilliana’s Gift changes. Instead of releasing fire from her palms, her entire body bursts into flames. Code Burn, a twenty-four hour time period where Gifts are amplified, has begun.

A lantern can end Code Burn and restore Mahogany back to normal — but it is missing.

With people like Belle (who has a job ringing the bells in the bell tower but has no sense of rhythm), Darlene (Lilliana’s grandmother who recently returned after a long absence. The last time Lilliana saw her, a man died in a fire), Boris (an alarm technician who uses hammers to crush alarms — because that’s how you stop an alarm from ringing, right?), and Francis (the shoe salesman who doesn’t wear shoes), Lilliana navigates Code Burn and searches for a way to end it — before it causes Mahogany permanent damage.

Memories from a Different Future by David PandolfeMemories from a Different Future by David Pandolfe

For Nikki, it feels like no time has passed since they rescued Henry’s sister from her abductors. After all, in the in-between realm, time is completely different than for those still “living.” Even though it’s been almost twenty years, only lately has Nikki started crossing between realms again. She’s been checking on Ian—the person they knew as Curtis before he jumped into a new life. Nikki hasn’t admitted it to the others but she’s been curious. Could Ian’s life really be as good as it seems? Can she find the courage herself to try the other realm again despite what happened last time?

When Nikki suddenly starts receiving ghostlike visits from Curtis—all these years since he returned to the physical realm—she can’t imagine how it’s possible. She also realizes it has to mean something serious. Nikki soon learns that, three days from now, an incident on Earth will end Curtis’s new life. Now, Nikki, Henry and Jamie must find a way to alter the outcome of a future event only they know will take place. They’ll also have just minutes to make that happen. Otherwise, Curtis is going to die again, taking with him any hope Nikki and her friends had for starting over.

This is the sequel to Jump When Ready.

Darkmoon by Christine PopeDarkmoon by Christine Pope

The answer to the end lies at the beginning….

One hundred and fifty years ago, a terrible curse descended on the Wilcox clan, dooming generations of women to an early death should they bear a child to the bloodline of Jeremiah Wilcox. Now Angela McAllister is carrying Connor Wilcox’s child, and if she can’t find a way to break the curse, that same doom will fall upon her.

The solution to her dilemma lies somewhere in the past—her own, and that of the woman who cast the curse so many years before. Angela’s quest to find the answers she needs will transform the lives of everyone she knows, Wilcox and McAllister alike, and will forever change everything she has ever believed about herself.

This is Part 3 of the Witches of Cleopatra Hill series, following Darkangel and Darknight.

Terminus Shift by Chris ReherTerminus Shift by Chris Reher

Seth Kada, a deep-cover agent working for the Commonwealth, has tracked a group of rebels to the remote Tayako Orbiter. But before he can seize them, the rebels are captured by a powerful rival faction and spirited away.

Seth manages to re-capture one of the rebels, a subspace navigator named Ciela, and soon realizes that her crew’s origin and purpose are far more pivotal than anyone could have suspected.

Caught up in a violent clash between rebel factions, Seth and Ciela’s divergent loyalties must be put aside to prevent the destruction of a peaceful civilization – and find her people before their ultimate destiny is realized.

Watch Over Me by Alice M. RoelkeWatch Over Me by Alice M. Roelke

On a grasslands world, a hero’s daughter falls for a shape shifter—the one man she can never have.

When a shape-shifter attacks 15-year-old Meri, a mysterious guy named Porse comes to her rescue. He’s also a shape-shifter—the friend of Meri’s hero, the dead freedom-fighter named Balile.

When Porse tells Meri that she’s really Balile’s daughter, and the current ruler wants her dead, it turns her world upside down. Porse brings her to a town hidden from danger in the midst of the grasslands. There she grows up, making friends and enemies and meeting her only living relative.

She also inherits her father’s blue sword—and falls increasingly in love with Porse, the one man she can never have. Consumed by her first love for her rescuer and friend, Meri struggles to find her place in the world, all the time knowing some will always wish to kill her.

Sometimes it seems as though only Porse stands between her and danger, and he’s the most trustworthy person in the world. But is he? Meri would give anything to have him return her feelings, but he claims he doesn’t. Yet he gives off mixed signals.

And will he always be here to protect her like she wants to believe, or will he disappear without a moment’s notice, the way her aunt claims?

The Deviant Underground by Elisabeth RoselandThe Deviant Underground by Elisabeth Roseland

Even with the ability to stop time, you still can run out of it.

Kathryn should be institutionalized or incarcerated.

That’s what happens to deviants—people born with unusual abilities. And if the government knew she can teleport and stop time, she can say good bye to her freedom. Not that her life is all that great anyway. Her inability to control her gifts forces her to keep everyone at a distance. Few friends. No meaningful romantic relationships. Until Susan introduces her to Charge, that is.

When the 6’4” guy with the caramel-colored skin and million-watt smile shows up at her door, she lets her guard down. What she discovers is that her best friend and her new lover have gifts of their own, and there’s an entire underground network of undetected deviants living freely in society. Kathryn’s brought into the fold with open arms, and she’s finally found something she’s never had—a family.

But now, people are disappearing. Some come back weeks later with strange scars, sutured wounds, and missing limbs, with no memory of what happened. Some don’t come back at all.

When Charge becomes the next victim, Kathryn is willing to teleport to the edge of the world to find him, but confronting the mastermind behind the kidnappings puts her life in jeopardy. And when the rescue attempt goes horribly wrong, she wonders if dying might have been a better idea.

Warning: This book contains teleportation, mind control, and sparks that fly in sexy–and possibly deadly–ways.

The Glass Mountain by Jessica RydillThe Glass Mountain by Jessica Rydill

Now aged sixteen, Annat is living in the city of Masalyar and training as an apprentice shaman. Struggling with the pangs of first love and a wish for freedom, she is horrified to see the crows flying over her city. Something she thought destroyed for ever has risen again: a spectre from the past.

When her brother disappears, she and her aunt set out to find out what has become of him. But Annat is caught and imprisoned in the Glass Mountain, a place from legend.

A powerful Magus needs their souls and their father’s heart to cast his greatest spell, to bring a dead man to life. Unless he can be stopped, Annat, her brother and their father will die; and the country will be overthrown.

But there is something hidden in the Mountain that will change their lives. They must fight to protect their own world, and to save another: one so small it can be hidden in a suitcase.

This is the sequel to Children of the Shaman.

Wes and Kit by Hollis ShilohWes and Kit by Hollis Shiloh

Wes has a soft heart—even if it is a gear heart from when he was mechanicalized during the war. Now close to homeless and in desperate straits, he still finds himself taking on a stray dog—and helping out an injured man he stumbles across in an alleyway.

That’s how he meets Kit. A harmless, gentle clock repairman with a heart condition of his own, Kit is in danger…because he’s working on a certain clock.

He hires Wes to protect him until the danger is past…whatever its cause. But they find their feelings for each other are becoming too strong to ignore, despite the danger.

When a chance to solve the mystery presents itself, Wes finds he might just lose the man he’s come to love…if he can’t find Kit in time.

The Fingers of the ColossusThe Fingers of the Colossus by Keith Soares

From the author of The Oasis of Filth comes a collection of ten short stories covering science fiction, fantasy, horror, and revenge. Includes:

  • The Space Between – One in a million odds can seem a lot more dangerous when you’re millions of miles from home.
  • The Last – When you can’t remember your past, do you still have a future?
  • The Vacancy of Dreams – A prequel story in the world of The Oasis of Filth.
  • Black Fire – Of all the mages, Huldrych was, by far, the least respected, and for one simple reason: he was incapable of producing black fire.
  • All That You Know is Lost and Abandoned – An innocent conversation is one way to pass the time, even for those who may not be innocent.
  • Tilting – In the frigid waters off Kodiak, Alaska, a man can lose himself. Or be lost.
  • The Fingers of the Colossus – Failure is not an option for a colonel in the queen’s forces, even when the entire planet may be against him.
  • Time in Time – Some things are never really lost.
  • Have a Seat by the Fire – Angela Vengaza sits in a small house in the middle of nowhere on a mountainside, hoping to hold on for an hour.
  • Walking on the Spot – A grandfather and grandson, like mirrors through time, debate fate before taking an important journey.

The Archer Who Shot Down SunsThe Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale Bright Stories by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

A sampler of short stories taking place before and connected to SCALE-BRIGHT in chronological order. Chinese mythology retold from the time of humanity’s creation to contemporary Hong Kong.

“The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate” (first published in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, 2013. Ed. Scott H. Andrews). The story of Xihe, the mother of suns, when she was young and the world was new: how she met her husband, lost herself, and found it again.

“Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon” (first published in GIGANOTOSAURUS, 2012. Ed. Ann Leckie). Houyi rose in heaven, bow and arrow in hand: the hunt was her joy, the slaying of demons her delight. But most delightful was a serving girl called Chang’e.

“Chang’e Dashes from the Moon” (first published in EXPANDED HORIZONS, 2012. Ed. Dash). Chang’e has been a prisoner on the moon while the world turns and cities rise. For centuries Houyi has looked for a way to free her wife, and now she has found it in a distant grand-niece: a young mortal woman named Julienne.

The Rise of the Fallen by J.J. ThompsonThe Rise of the Fallen by J.J. Thompson

Thirteen year old Christopher Wright was a kid from the streets. When word got out that he could heal with a touch, a gang known as Talon tried to recruit him. When Chris turned them down, the gang attempted to take him by force. On the run, Chris met Judge Hawkes, the head of a mysterious group known as the Angelic Dominion. The judge informed the skeptical teen that he was one of a group of young people who had been born with the souls of angels. They had been sent to Earth to stop the forces of Hell from bringing about the Apocalypse.

To escape Talon, Chris reluctantly accompanied the judge back to his home to learn that he had, in fact, been telling the truth. He met others like himself and discovered that he wasn’t simply the bearer of an angel’s soul. His was the soul of one of the very first archangels: Sariel, brother of Michael and Lucifer.

Doomed to dwell in Purgatory and guard the Gates of Heaven, Sariel is determined to stop his Fallen brother’s forces here on Earth before they can destroy humanity and march on Heaven itself.

This is part 2 of the Angelic Wars series, following Confronting the Fallen.

Admiralette by Andrzej TucholskiAdmiralette – A Swarm of Black Birds by Andrzej Tucholski

Smart and brave Sephira, the Admiral’s daughter, believes that she can handle anything.

No one warned her, however, that a massive mutiny is about to rage across her floating country. Powerful social and political players clash and exploit ancient sea-faring traditions in order to destroy the stability of the multi-cultural Fleet. Will Sephira be able to diffuse this time bomb? Or will the demons of the past catch up with the current events and make things even worse?

In order to save her nation, Sephira embarks on a wind-powered adventure full of ocean breezes, strong sun, and true friendship.

The Chains of War by Dean F. WilsonThe Chains of War by Dean F. Wilson

THE FINAL HOUR. THE FINAL FIGHT. THE FINAL WAR.

The first of Agon’s chains has broken, and the others are straining. It is only a matter of time before he is free, before the world is engulfed in chaos and death.

There are few left to stop him. Most of the gods can only sit and watch in horror from their prison in the heavens, but the resurrection of the father god Corrias gives the people of Iraldas a sliver of hope, a fighting chance.

Yet the memory of Corrias’ failure to defeat Agon in ages past plays heavily on all minds. Many know that it is only the might of the Warrior-god Telm that can defeat the Beast. That god is dead, but his power lives on in his bloodline, in Ifferon and others like him, and they are tasked with waging a final war against the Beast.

Enter the world of Iraldas. Break the Chains of War.

This is the third book in the Children of Telm series, following The Call of Agon and The Road to Rebirth.

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An Interview and Introducing the Speculative Fiction Showcase

I’ve been interviewed at the Speculative Fiction Showcase and talk about writing, food, movies, recycling and speculative fiction, of course.

This reminds that I haven’t actually talked about the Speculative Fiction Showcase yet. The Speculative Fiction Showcase is a group blog dedicated to all things indie speculative fiction, run by Heidi Garrett, Jessica Rydill and myself.

The Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month round-up will be crossposted there and I’ll also be posting a weekly round-up of speculative fiction links. We’ll also be having new release spotlights, posts on all sorts of speculative fiction related topics such as Jessica Rydill’s WorldCon report, guest posts like this one by British SF author Harry Manners about writing post-apocalyptic fiction and author interviews. If you want to be featured, drop us a line.

And since we needed a guinea pig for the author interviews, I ended up doing the first interview.

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The Eight Hour Fiction Challenge for August and “The Cork and the Bottle”

You may remember the eight hour e-book challenge, a semi-regular event instigated by Joe Konrath last year and since then continued by Donald Rump.

I took part three times so far, and even though I’m currently putting the finishing touches onto a Shattered Empire double release (both the long awaited Debts to Pay and a short story called Seedlings will be coming out in September) I still decided that I didn’t want to miss the first anniversary of the eight hour challenge.

After two false starts, a historical romance short and a piece of puply retro science fiction respectively, both of which turned out too complex for the scope of this challenge, I finally settled on writing another crime short. This one even turned out to be a mystery in the narrower US sense rather than crime fiction in the looser European sense – for in the whole crime/mystery/suspense/thriller supergenre, subgenre borders and definitions vary quite widely between the US and Europe (which would be a whole blogpost in itself).

However, The Cork and the Bottle, my eight hour fiction challenge story for August, actually features an investigator, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, who finds herself faced with a crime and resolves it by the end of the story, putting together several clues. And if you’ve read some of my other crime fiction, you’ll know that’s not always the case with my crime shorts. So hurray, I have a proper mystery, at last.

I also found that I quite like the characters of DI Helen Shepherd, PC Walker and Dr. Rajiv and may well revisit them for future mysteries.

The inspiration for The Cork and the Bottle came via one of those crime shorts still found in the backpages of many German magazines, which inspired me to start writing short crime fiction in the first place, assuming it would be easy to sell, since there obviously was a market (alas, only in German).

Around the time, I figured out that my attempt at retro style pulp science fiction wouldn’t work within the framework of an eight hour challenge, I chanced to read a short crime story in one of my Mom’s gossip mags. I’m usually pretty good at predicting mystery plots – the drawbacks of being a writer – but I expected this particular crime short to go in a completely different direction than it did. I also thought the solution I had come up with was pretty good. So I thought, “What the hell? Why don’t I write that story?”

I changed setting and details, from Germany to Britain and from a café to a pub, and of course the “whodunnit” and wrote my story straight through. Research for this one was fairly minimal. I had to look up some of the UK police terms and ranks. Now I watch a lot of British crime drama and know most of the ranks, but for example I did not know what the official term for a medical examiner in the UK was. I also had to look up the exact wording of the rights reading in England and Wales. I also had to check whether Old Spreckled Hen really comes in brown bottles. Finally, I checked with an elderly relative whether hearing aids – after all, a hearing aid or rather the absence of one is the vital clue – were really taken out at night.

Regarding the name of the pub, there are several generator for tavern names online (here is a good one), though they’re mostly intended for fantasy writers and gamers. But while generator sites like Seventh Sanctum, Choatic Shiny, the Generator Blog or Generator Land are a godsend, particularly for eight hour fiction challenges, I chose to go another route and instead consulted a list of cool or interesting names for shops, restaurants, pubs and the like that I keep. Basically, whenever I run across an interesting shop or restaurant name, I write it down and go through the list when I need something. And somewhere on that list, I came across The Cork and the Bottle, which struck me as very fitting, because not only is it a great name for a pub, it also matches the story perfectly, since the murder weapon is a bottle. And so it eventually became the title of the story as well.

For the cover, I searched the free stock image sites as well as my own holiday photos from the UK and finally found a great photo of a pub by night on one of the free stock image sites. I altered the image a bit to blank out the name of the pub, added title and author name, was ready to go. Then some editing and formatting and I was finally ready to hit “publish”.

Now Amazon’s recent publishing delays also hit The Cork and the Bottle and so the story took almost 48 hours to go live, six times as long as it took to write, proofread and format, but now it’s finally here:

The Cork and the Bottle
The Cork and the Bottle by Cora BuhlertWhen the landlord of The Cork and the Bottle ends up dead in a puddle of blood on the floor of his own pub, the case seems clear. The teen burglars who broke into the pub to steal the contents of the till are the culprits.

But there are things about the case that just don’t add up. And eventually, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd begins to suspect that the killers are to be found much closer to home…

 

 

For more information, visit the The Cork and the Bottle page.
Buy it for the low price of 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Casa del Libro, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, Libiro, Nook UK, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

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A Bestseller in Australia

It’s been a while since I hit an Amazon category bestseller list, especially since the introduction of Kindle Unlimited messed up the rankings and also caused them to lag behind the sales reports.

However now Flights of Madness has hit two category bestseller lists at Amazon Australia:

 

 

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Yet more Amazon bashing from Germany

I’ve been planning this post for a few days now, gathering links, when Amazon decided to escalate its battle with Hachette by sending a rather strange e-mail to everybody with a KDP account. At first, I actually thought this was yet another petition started by indie authors and that someone had put me on the mailing list without my consent, but then it turned out the mail was genuine. I still find it a strange move, especially since I don’t want to be enlisted into a fight that isn’t mine. I didn’t sign any of the other petitions that have been making the rounds and I’m not going to sign this one. And I’m very definitely not going to e-mail bomb the Hachette CEO about this.

The Passive Voice, The New York Times, Re/Code, Jake Kerr, Damien Walter, John Scalzi, Chuck Wendig (with bonus Grosse Pointe Blank clip – must rewatch that movie) and Deirdre Saoirse Moen have more. The last post also quotes some tweets by me, pointing out that Amazon’s whole analogy is somewhat faulty when viewed from a non-US perspective.

Here in Germany, Amazon is currently caught up in a mini-version of the dispute with Hachette, namely a contract dispute with the publisher Bonnier. Now Amazon’s battle with Bonnier is no more my fight than Amazon’s battle with Hachette is. Actually, I’m more affected by the latter, since I own a lot more Hachette than Bonnier books. In both cases, I feel sorry for the affected authors.

Like in the US, both sides are rallying their troops and authors are joining one side or the other. I already posted about the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit asking several well known international author about their opinion about Amazon. The result was overwhelmingly negative. Now the actual responses are finally available on the Zeit website. What is more, Die Self-Publisher Bibel, which – as the name suggests – is a German self-publisher site, responded to the Zeit feature by asking several indie authors about their views on Amazon.

As in the US, the dispute between Amazon and Bonnier has brought a lot of anti-Amazon sentiments out of the woodwork, mostly courtesy of the German cultural establishment. And while I can understand disagreeing with Amazon’s negotiation tactics (I’m not a fan of those tactics myself), a lot of the debate here in Germany tips over into blanket Amazon bashing, laced with a liberal dose of xenophobia.

Believe it or not, this report yesterday in the cultural TV program aspekte (starts around the 20 minute mark) is one of the more balanced entries into the debate. As expected, the head of the German booksellers and publishers association Börsenverein (remember them?) laments Amazon’s blackmail tactics and claims that Franz Kafka would never had been given a chance in a world dominated by Amazon (which frankly we have no way of knowing). There is a longer version of the interview here. However, the report also quotes a pro-Amazon view expressed by Andrea Hanna Hünninger, author of this (trad-pubbed) memoir about her youth in post-1989 East Germany (longer interview here). She’s also planning to self-publish an essay. Even Tanja Dückers, the other author interviewed, mostly points out that traditional publishing is a choice she prefers for herself, though she also calls people who order books at Amazon lazy (longer interview here). Even the Berlin based indie bookseller (this is his store BTW) doesn’t see his own business endangered (longer interview here). And BTW, aspekte, it’s totally not cool that I have to hunt down all of those links myself (the bookseller was particularly problematic, because he happens to share a name with a WWII general).

Finally, aspekte also interviewed Jo Lendle, head of the Carl Hanser Verlag, who claims not to hate Amazon, though he believes they don’t know very much about books, at least no more than about washing machines (Uhm, has he ever seen the rather poor range of washing machines on offer at Amazon.de?). Hanser is also founding their own digital first imprint. Furthermore, Mr Lendle believes that German publishers are very good at developing and nurturing authors. Which might be so, though I couldn’t help but notice how many traditionally published German authors, including the two ladies interviewed by aspekte, don’t even have an Author Central page at Amazon. And if publishers can’t even manage something as basic as setting up an Author Central page or at least telling their authors how to do it, I’m not really convinced by the whole nurturing aspect. On Twitter, I dared to disagree with Mr. Lendle’s statement by pointing out that I don’t need my hand held by Mr Lendle and that I can write just fine on my own (and set up my own Author Central page), whereupon somebody told me I wasn’t a real writer anyway. Mr Lendle himself also favourited my tweet pointing out that I don’t need my hand held, which I will take as a statement that he is not interested in nurturing the likes of me either. But then, I don’t really write the sort of thing Hanser publishes anyway.

Meanwhile, Deutschlandradio Kultur, a nation-wide cultural radio program, also decided to offer its take on the Amazon debate. First of all, German writer Jan Brandt (who doesn’t have an Author Central page either, but here is his novel) fears that Amazon in general and the new Kindle Unlimited subscription program in particular will cause the superficialisation of literature, since Amazon bestseller lists are dominated by genre fiction. He also dislikes self-published books, because they’re supposedly not even proofread.

However, this article by Michael Schikowski at Deutschlandradio Kultur really takes the cake, because according to him, Amazon is not just attempting to destroy literature and the German bookselling and publishing world, no it’s actually part of a capitalist conspiracy to destabilise the German state and take over the German middle class like big international oil companies destabilised Nigeria. Apparently, the growth of private schools and private tutoring franchises (neither of which has anything to do with Amazon) is another symptom. Now one can certainly criticise the privatisation of education (I’m not a fan myself) and one can criticise neoliberal economic policies and even the capitalist system in general. But why on Earth all this needs to be folded into an article about Amazon I have no idea. Never mind that the early adapters of Amazon, the people who were already ordering their books online ten or more years ago, were precisely the supposedly endangered middle class knowledge workers, students, teachers, professors, because they were happy to be finally able to easily order any book they wanted or needed without having to wait for weeks, while paying the grossly inflated prices charged by the distributors particularly for foreign language books.

I also vehemently reject the whole “only lazy people order at Amazon” vibe that runs through most of those articles and interviews. I don’t order my books at Amazon, because I’m lazy (and for the record, I still buy a lot of books in brick and mortar stores as well), but because for me Amazon is the best and for a long time the only way to get the books I want to read. As I’ve pointed out before, Germany’s rich bookselling landscape (which was only ever rich in the big cities) never really served my needs very well as a reader who prefers reading English language books and genre fiction at that and not the really big bestsellers either. Amazon was a godsend for me. What is more, I am highly resistant to handselling of any kind (I’ve had a book handsold to me once in my life and actually complimented the bookseller on her skills) and mostly prefer salespeople to keep well out of my way, unless I have a question or a purchase to ring up. And once I do take my purchases to the cash register, please don’t give me that “What kind of crap is she reading?” look. Oh yes, and buying a stack of paranormal romances is not an invitation to hit on me, male booksellers.

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Kobo Next in German – with Pegasus Pulp e-book/Kobo Next jetzt auch auf Deutsch – mit einem Pegasus Pulp Buch

Kobo Next, Kobo’s own indie e-book discovery platform, is now also available in German.

And one of the books featured is none other than Die Liebe in den Zeiten des Frischkornmüslis, i.e. the German edition of Love in the Times of the Macrobiotic Müsli. I’ve been noticing an unusual flurry of Kobo sales this weekend, two thirds of them for Die Liebe in den Zeiten des Frischkornmüslis, so here is the explanation.

There are lots of other intriguing German indie books as well, e.g. Shanghai Meltworld, a YA fantasy by Matthias Matting, and this collection of retro pulp style SF by Myra Çakan.

Talking of Myra Çakan, she has also been interviewed at SF Signal about her contribution to the latest volume of the Apex Book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar. Alas, SF Signal misspelled her name.

***

Kobo Next, Kobos eigene Plattform zum Entdecken neuer Indie e-Books, gibt es jetzt auch auf Deutsch.

Eines der vorgestellten Bücher ist ein Pegasus Pulp Titel, nämlich Die Liebe in den Zeiten des Frischkornmüslis. Mir war über’s Wochenende eine ungewöhnliche Ansammlung von Kobo Verkäufen aufgefallen, zwei Drittel davon für Die Liebe in den Zeiten des Frischkornmüslis. Dies ist also die Erklärung.

Es gibt da noch etliche andere interesssante deutschsprachige Indie e-Books wie z.B. Shanghai Meltworld, ein Fantasy Jugenroman von Matthias Matting, und diese Sammlung von Retro Science Fiction Geschichten von Myra Çakan.

Wo wir gerade bei Myra Çakan sind, sie wurde auch gerade auf SF Signal interviewt über ihre Geschichte in der neuesten Ausgabe des Apex Book of World SF, herausgegeben von Lavie Tidhar. Allerdings hat SF Signal ihren Namen leider falsch geschrieben.

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The July Eight Hour Fiction Challenge Revisited

A few days ago, I posted about taking the eight hour e-book challenge and presented the result, Seeing Red.

Now Donald Rump a.k.a. S.E. Gordon, instigator of the challenge, has posted information about and links to all the July challenge books. Quite a variety of works there.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: July 2014

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

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

Once again, we have a broad spectrum of titles, featuring science fiction, space opera, grimdark fantasy, Steampunk, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, urban fantasy, Asian based fantasy, fairytale retellings, the ever popular vampires, the ever popular zombies, the not quite so popular selkies, dinosaurs, gladiators, superpowers, soul thieves, funeral gatecrashers, the afterlife and much more. We even have a non-fiction essay collection

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 Heretic by Lucas BaleThe Heretic by Lucas Bale

Earth is gone.

Centuries have passed since the First Cataclysm ended life on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home.

A new Republic has formed – one in which freedom no longer exists. In return for the protection of the Consulate Magistratus, citizens must concede their rights. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology – even procreation. Organised religion is forbidden. All crime is punished by banishment or a lifetime of penal servitude on the Kolyma prison fleet.

And humanity’s true history survives only in whispers of a secret archive.

Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free.

A revolution is coming…

Wrathlight by Christopher BarrieuWrathlight by Christopher Barrieu

The Bathel: A race of psychopaths and murderers, consuming worlds and cultures with terrible sadistic joy. They have conquered every race they have found.

Now they have found mankind.

Scott Shaw, soldier, widower, and father, is the best warrior humanity has. He is trained in the alien combat of humanity’s new universe. But compared to the Bathel, he is a mere novice.

The Bathel demand a ritual combat: should Scott win, the Bathel will leave the small colony of mankind alone. Should he lose, everything and everyone he knows will suffer beyond the imaginations of humanity.

But no one has ever won, and Scott knows he heads to certain death on a foreign world.

Yet the natives speak of Wrathlight, the ultimate power, the power of judgement, wielded by powerful spirits with sky-blue eyes. An old myth, but can a mere man perhaps embody such a thing? Can he strike back for all the suffering races and save his own?

Scott is about to find out.

Steel and Song by Ani BoltonSteel and Song by Ani Bolton

Airwitch Tova Vanaskaya’s choices are few: use her magic to fly an elite aircraft in the Grand Duchy’s army or be shipped to the trenches. But invoking too much magic can kill the wielder, and her Cossack captain has a hell-bent-for-leather streak that pushes her to the brink. It’s a good thing she’s not afraid to push back.

Airship captain Piers Dashkov lost his friends, family ties and self-respect in a rash act years ago, so it’s fine by him if the odds of surviving a dogfight are slim to none. His goal is simple: find redemption through valor and regain his lost honor in death if not life. He needs the smart-mouthed airwitch to achieve that impossible goal, but he never thought she would prove to be his salvation.

While the enemy is on the move, and whispers of revolution echo from the salons of the noble Cossack Houses to the tenement slums of Muscovy, one reckless night of passion creates a connection that will reverberate fatally for nations as well as for Tova and Piers.

Degenerated by S. Elliot BrandisDegenerated by S. Elliot Brandis

Humanity is divided.

In the tunnels, beneath the city…

Flynn was imprisoned at birth, spurned by society because of his differences. By age thirteen he was ready to die. By all accounts he should have.

Now he lives amongst those who’d wish him dead, struggling to understand the affliction that saved his life. Life in the tunnels is dark and twisted. He must find a way to make things right.

On the surface, in a sun-scorched wasteland…

Pearl lives in a camp of survivors, learning to adapt to the hostile climate. The mood has begun to darken. Bad habits and dangerous ideas are infiltrating her people.

When the camp decides to attack the tunnels, she faces a choice: will she do as she’s told and stay safe, or risk her life to save a society of people she doesn’t understand.

DEGENERATED is the second novel in The Tunnel Trilogy, following Irradiated.

Zombie Town by Griffin CarmichaelZombie Town by Griffin Carmichael

From city to suburbia, zombies are all the rage as they rampage on their quest for sustenance, taking down strangers, friends and neighbors alike, without pity or remorse.

Here are nine short stories about the times when the dead walk and the living fear.

MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: What better place to be when the dead rise than the local fitness center.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CAROL: Suburban life can be deadly dull. Or maybe just deadly.

FIGGY PUDDING: Holidays are known for feasting and jubilation, but one restaurant manager comes to regret keeping the doors open one Christmas eve.

NEITHER RAIN NOR: Public servants are said to be a dedicated lot, but carrying on with business as usual after the zombie apocalypse is taking it a bit too far.

SILENT: Little children look forward to a visit from Santa with great anticipation, but there’s nothing good coming down the chimney this year.

DARKNESS FALLS: Even a sturdy fallout shelter isn’t any protection when the super flu everybody’s been predicting lays waste to the world.

FLASHLIGHT: All she wanted was a flashlight so she could see what all the ruckus outside was about. Sometimes it’s better to remain in the dark.

IN THE MEADOW: Winter has come to a small Nebraskan town, bringing huge snowfalls. But nobody is in the mood to build a snowman.

RITUALS FOR THE LIVING: Long after the dead have risen, the survivors learn to cope with new ways of living and dying.

Selkie by Claire ChiltonSelkie by Claire Chilton

She just lost her heart to the ocean…
Ex-hacker, Cassie Easton, has just made out with her boss—mistake #1. And he’s just told her he’s engaged—mistake #2. She thinks her heart might have just been shredded for good.

The idea of going back to work with him after that is humiliating enough, but things just keep getting worse. Sean’s not acting like the man she knows and loves. She barely recognizes him anymore. Something fishy is going on, and Cassie reverts to her criminal ways to find out why sexy Sean O’Callaghan is dating an old trout and running scared.

When it turns out to be the mystic forces of the ocean that’s screwing up her love life, she wonders if she’s finally lost her mind. If she can just survive a wasted wizard, a jealous sea witch and Selkie lore, maybe she’ll get to fall in love, assuming she doesn’t get arrested first.

Selkie is the first book in The Celtic Witches series.

Hidden Intentions by Stacy ClaflinHidden Intentions by Stacy Claflin

Fun-loving Clara is keeping a dark and deadly secret from William, the love of her life.

Not because she wants to hide things from him, but because her story is so unbelievable he will probably think she’s crazy.

If she tells him, she could lose him. If she doesn’t tell him, she will.

This is a standalone novel loosely connected to The Transformed series. And yes, it’s speculative fiction.

Hunted by A.J. ColbyHunted by A.J. Colby

Vampires, werewolves, and serial killers, OH MY!

Eight years after the attack that changed her life forever, Riley Cray is confronted with something she never thought she’d have to face again: Samson Reed, the werewolf who nearly killed her, has escaped from prison. With the help of Special Agent Darius Holbrook, Riley is racing against time to stay one step ahead of the crazed werewolf. But Reed isn’t the only monster with his eyes on Riley and as the bodies are piling up she’s beginning to wonder how long it will be before she’s one of them.

Fight or Flight by Chele CookeFight or Flight by Chele Cooke

A single secret might change a war, but a lie can destroy those fighting it.

Georgianna Lennox’s biggest fear has become reality: she has been sold as a slave. Caught in the middle of the brewing war between the Adveni oppressors and Belsa rebels, she is recruited to be the rebels’ eyes behind enemy lines.

As the Belsa make bolder attacks against the cruel Adveni, Georgianna finds that the lies she is tasked to tell her owner are nothing compared to the secrets she must keep from her friends – secrets that could change the war in their favour, and lies that might destroy them all.

Part 2 in the Out of Orbit series, following Dead and Buryd, which is free right now.

The Girl who believed in fairy tales by Heidi GarrettThe Girl Who Believed in Fairy Tales by Heidi Garrett

Heidi Garrett has written a lyrical collection of short stories woven with the threads of three very poignant fairy tales that pull this literary tapestry together to create a shimmering picture of love and acceptance.

THE GIRL WHO WATCHED FOR ELVES desperately needs to find her elf–it’s her only hope for happiness and, ultimately, survival.

THE GIRL WHO DREAMED OF RED SHOES is slowly dying inside until she learns that nothing is right until it’s the right fit–and in vivid, living color.

Lastly, THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SING has to step out into her dream or she’s going to die with her song hidden inside her heart.

Anyone who misses these tales, will miss the experience–no, transformation of a lifetime. It’s time for everyone to get their real on!

The Wish by Judy GoodwinThe Wish by Judy Goodwin

Jodi is in love. The problem is that she’s in love with her best friend, Tanya. And her best friend is in love with Roger. Even worse, they’re getting married. As her friend prepares for a big wedding combining her Japanese and American traditions, Jodi finds herself praying to a long lost Japanese goddess for help.

When the goddess answers, Jodi is faced with a terrible choice. She can either have passion and heartache, or she can have friendship and loneliness.

Wishes always come with strings attached.

Bonus short story: Reflections of Chi

Geneva Lin runs a respectable interior decorating business. Her orderly world turns to chaos when a woman barges in, insisting that her house is rearranging itself. Geneva only hopes a little Feng Shui will solve the problem.

The question is, what do you do with a house that may want to kill you?

Warbound by C.P.D. HarrisWarbound: The Shield Maiden by C.P.D. Harris

A LOST CONTINENT. A LEGION IN PERIL. THE FATE OF TWO EMPIRES.

In the Domains of the Chosen magic is power.

The Grand Championships are over. Two Gladiators have joined the ranks of the immortal rulers of the Domains. As Gavin and Sadira learn their way as Chosen, their friend, Vintia sets sail with an expedition that will reshape the future of the empire. Chosen Brightloch has found the way to Ithal’duin, a continent lost since The Reckoning. New allies, and new dangers await. Fortunes will be made and the balance of power will shift. It is up to Vintia and the Ninth Legion to safeguard this expedition. Yet, while the Legions faces strange foes, the politics of the Chosen might present an even greater danger.

This is the third book in the Domains of the Chosen series, following Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale and Bloodlust: Will to Power.

The abnorms by Gregory HoffmanThe Abnorms by Gregory Hoffman

The world thinks they are useless.

Society thinks they are freaks.

They are Abnorms.

People born with special powers that set them apart from normal humans. Abnorms with useful or dangerous powers are snatched up by the government and never seen again, those with powers deemed useless are set free, back into a population that hates and shuns them. This is a story about a group of so-called useless Abnorms but these teens must do their best to make their useless powers useful as they try to rescue one of their own from the clutches of the government, and maybe fall in love along the way.

Heir's Revenge by Patty JansenHeir’s Revenge by Patty Jansen

If Miran had princesses, Ellisandra Takumar would be one. Smart, pretty, engaged to a high-profile man, everything a high-class Mirani woman should be. But things are not well in Miran. Many years of boycotts have taken their toll on society, and the regime becomes more desperate to keep its citizens under control. Revolt is brewing. As director of the state theatre, Ellisandra has been asked to stage a violent traditional play which stands stiff with threatening political messages for the populace. She hates it, but speaking out would risk that she’d be cast out from the only world she’s ever known.

Next to her house is the burnt ruin of the house of another high-class family, the Andrahar family. They fled Miran for political reasons when Ellisandra was a little girl and the house has lain untouched ever since. One night, she spots a mysterious young man walking around the yard, putting out pegs and pieces of string. He’s re-building the house. That makes no sense, because the family is no longer welcome in Miran, and who is he anyway?

She is curious and investigates. He seems too good-natured and naïve for his own good, so rather than telling her brothers, she tries to shield him from her own society. And so starts the slide that leads to her being cast out from the only life she’s ever known.

This is the final book in the Return of the Aghyrians series, following Watcher’s Web, Trader’s Honour and Soldier’s Duty.

Mission: Flight to Mars by V.A. JeffreyMission: Flight to Mars by V.A. Jeffrey

Bob Astor is a Quality Assurance agent working at Vartan Inc. Lately his days have been stressful, to say the least. Butting heads with upper management has put his career on life support. A surprising change in circumstance has Bob going on a business mission to the moon city, Langrenus. On the way, he meets one of the delegates on board the Starbird, a desperate man with a dark past and a very dangerous secret. Through a mysterious series of events Bob finds himself in the middle of an interplanetary crises that no one knows about. These secrets could change – or destroy – all human life on Earth. The key to the answer of the crises is on the Red Planet, Mars. It’s up to Bob, the burnt-out Q. A. agent to rise to the occasion and stem the dangerous tide coming from beyond the solar system.

The Dinosaur Four by Geoff JonesThe Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones

They came for the coffee and wound up in the Cretaceous.

A ticking sound fills the air as Tim MacGregor enters The Daily Edition Café, hoping to meet his new girlfriend for coffee. Moments later, the café is transported 67 million years back in time, along with everyone inside.

As Tim and the others try to find out what caused the disaster and how to get home, one survivor plots to keep the group trapped in the past, in a world filled with prehistoric monsters.

Dark Legion by Paul KleynhansDark Legion by Paul Kleynhans

Once a Prince, now a slave. Once a torturer, now a liberator. But still his transformation is nowhere near complete…

Saul Baz Sharmoun has been holding onto something lost to many of his fellow slaves: hope and a desire for justice. A fire was set ablaze within him, growing brighter with each of the twelve years since the Emperor slaughtered his family, and he knows the time to escape his shackles – and to free his people – is now. With his hunger for retribution fueling him, Saul begins an epic journey, searching for his brother and looking to rebuild a world that would allow the crown in his family’s name to rise from the ashes.

But the road to justice is never a straight one. Saul and the uncertain allies fighting alongside him find themselves up against a much greater enemy than they could have imagined. If he is to emerge victorious, he must fan the flames in his heart, and never allow himself to forget that he will stop at nothing to see this done…no matter how much blood must be spilled along the way.

She Who Fights Monsters by Kyoko M.She Who Fights Monsters by Kyoko M.

Jordan Amador. 23. New Yorker. Waitress. Investigator for souls with unfinished business, also known as a Seer. Michael O’Brien. 25. New Yorker. Lead guitarist. Commander of Heaven’s Army. The dynamic supernatural duo is in the middle of trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one. After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost. When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?

This is the third part in a series, following The Black Parade and The Deadly Seven.

Masque of Shadow by T.A. MilesMasque of Shadow by T.A. Miles

Heartbroken over the premature death of her young sister, Estelle conceives a dark plan to recover Lunette’s innocent soul from the thief she witnessed taking it. The price is higher than she anticipated, reaching far beyond the loss of her own innocence when she enters voluntarily into the realm of the Lord of Shadows, into a theater of madness constructed by the souls of the dead.

This is a short story. Contains violence, mild gore, sexuality, and thematic elements

 

A Brief History of the Future by Sunny MoraineA Brief History of the Future – Collected Essays by Sunny Moraine

As an author, scholar, and essayist, Sunny Moraine has mused on a variety of things in a variety of ways. In this collection, spanning over two years of work, they make their way through thoughts on the form and business of writing, the nature and meaning of games, the interweaving of society and technology, and the anxieties, awkwardnesses, and hopes of the everyday.

Gently humorous, self-deprecating, and occasionally painfully honest, these essays offer a journey through a process of body, heart, and mind, and hints of what waits beyond.

The Commons by Michael Alan PeckThe Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman by Michael Alan Peck

“Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.”

And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America—stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead.

Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.

Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever.

But first they have to save themselves.

Strangers at a Funeral by PhronkStrangers at a Funeral by Phronk

Brandon notices them at his grandpa’s funeral first: a pair of men in sunglasses who nobody seems to know. They’re not family, they’re not friends, they’re just … there. No big deal, until they show up again at the next funeral. Drawn into a world of funeral selfies and burial crashers, Brandon needs to know what these strangers want from the dead.

Only problem is, nobody gives a crap except him, and his school frowns upon skipping classes to watch people get buried. His sanity can’t take many more funerals, and those bulges under the strangers’ coats probably aren’t concealing anything pleasant.

Strangers at a Funeral is a 5500 word (22 page) short story.

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The Eight Hour E-Book Challenge No. 3 and Seeing Red

You may remember the eight hour e-book challenge, a semi-regular event instigated by Joe Konrath last year and since continued by Donald Rump.

I took part twice so far, once in the original challenge and once in January.

I wasn’t actually planning to take part this month, because I’m up to my neck in translation work (specifications specifying the bleeding obvious in great and extensive detail) and the theme “politically incorrect” didn’t appeal to me at all, because I interpreted it as “write something horribly offensive” and I don’t want to do that.

However, then inspiration struck in the form of this TV commercial for Heinz Ketchup. Now I like Heinz Ketchup, I really do. Heinz is my brand of choice for ketchup and for baked beans. Nonetheless, the commercial infuriated me, particularly the scene near the end where a man distracts his girlfriend with a kiss, so he can sneak some ketchup into her pasta sauce. First of all, because ketchup does not belong in pasta sauce, unless you’re having Japanese style Spaghetti Napolitan. Secondly, I hated the boyfriend’s patronizing behaviour. He doesn’t ask her if they can add ketchup to the sauce nor does he add ketchup to his own serving after the fact, no he distracts her and just dumps it in. The fact that the song playing over the commercial is “One way or another”, originally by Blondie, which must be one of the most irritating tunes known to mankind, doesn’t help either. I even managed to sneak the song into the story BTW.

As I watched the commercial, I jokingly said, “If that was my boyfriend, I’d brain him with the ketchup bottle.” And then I thought, what if she really did brain him with the ketchup bottle? What if she actually killed him? What else would have to go wrong in a relationship that an argument over pasta sauce would escalate to murder?

So I began writing and wrote all 3600 words of Seeing Red straight through with a break for dinner. Again, I did very little research, because research-intensive stories don’t really work for the very limited timeframe of an eight hour challenge. I did look up the NFL playoffs of the 2013/14 season to coincide with the publication of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, the book Maggie is reading. Now I don’t care about American football at all and initially I just picked the names of two teams I’d heard of. But it occurred to me that other people would care and so I picked a real match, the playoff match between the New Orleans Saints (who are one of the very few teams I’ve heard of and the only one I ever saw in action more than 30 years ago) and the Seattle Seahawks. And while I was at it, I also had to look up the average length of a match of American football.

An unexpected difficulty was posed by Dan’s preference for inauthentic overly sweet pasta sauce. Initially I wanted to have Dan say that he liked Mirácoli, which is dry spaghetti sold in a all-in-one package with some kind of tomato sauce concentrate, a spice sachet and a sachet of faux Parmesan cheese flakes. Here in Germany, Mirácoli is a very well known brand and pretty much synonymous with faux Italian pasta. It’s something that kids like (plus, it’s easy to make for yourself, even if you’re a kid) and adults usually don’t. And yes, the sauce – at least as I remember it, since I haven’t actually eaten it in more than twenty years – tastes more like ketchup than like normal tomato sauce.

So I had Dan proclaim his love for Mirácoli and then decided to do a quick check to confirm that Mirácoli was also available in the US. Since it was a brand of Kraft Foods, I assumed that it was, I just wanted to go sure. And that’s where the trouble started, for it turned out that even though Mirácoli was produced by Kraft Foods, it was only ever sold in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and entirely unknown in the US.

“Okay”, I thought, “They may not have Mirácoli, but they surely have something similar under another name.” So I checked some online groceries, but nothing remotely similar popped up. Next, I read taste test reports for tomato sauce in a jar. Again nothing. Finally, I came across Chef Boyardee, purveyors of canned pasta products. The brand is as ubiquitous in the US as Mirácoli is in Germany and it has a reputation as the sort of thing kids like, but that people usually grow out of once they become adults. And check out that ingredient list.

In the end, the good chef did not make it into the story after all, partly because I didn’t want to slander a real brand by having Maggie call it disgusting. Instead, Dan professes his preference for generic canned spaghetti.

Once I finished Seeing Red, it went through two editing/proofing passes. In the meantime, I found myself ambushed by another idea for a crime short, namely the story of an elderly woman who – when her husband experiences his third heart attack – makes very sure not to call 911 until he has safely expired. So I wrote a nice little 1000 word story named Third Time Lucky. Since 1000 words are too short for a standalone, I packaged the Third Time Lucky together with Seeing Red, a good match, since both stories have a similar theme.

I checked my favourite free stockphoto site, found a suitable photo and created a cover. Again, the upload process took a couple of days, since Apple and the Tolino stores are rather slow.

So what did I learn from taking the eight hour e-book challenge for the third time? Nothing really new. Mostly it just confirmed what I had already learned from the first two go-arounds: Yes, it is possible to write a complete short story (or two in this case) from initial idea to publication ready e-book in approx. eight hours. It’s not for every story, since some of them need more marinating time. It also works best with shorts – and shorts that a fairly straight forward and not research intensive at that – since I doubt I could write and publish a novelette in eight hours.

Nonetheless, if you have some time, it’s a fun thing to do. And now to the result:

Seeing Red
Seeing Red by Cora BuhlertTwo tales of bad relationships, angry women and murder

Seeing Red

It was supposed to be just sex. But then Dan gradually wormed his way into Maggie’s life and into her apartment. And though Dan insists that he loves her, Maggie suspects he is far more interested in her sixty inch plasma screen.
Living together brings out the vast differences between Maggie and Dan. And so Maggie’s patience is stretched to a breaking point to a breaking point, until an argument about pasta sauce and Dan’s addiction to ketchup lead to murder…

Third Time Lucky

Hilda’s abusive husband Walter has already survived two massive heart attacks. But the third time’s a charm… or is it?

For more information, visit the Seeing Red page.
Buy it for the low price of 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Casa del Libro, Scribd, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, Libiro, Nook UK, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

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A Bestseller in India

Pegasus Pulp has finally conquered the Indian market, cause yesterday we made our first sale at Amazon India.

What is more, the book in question, Seraglio, also promptly hit a couple of category bestseller lists:

 

 

 

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